Some of you may have noticed that I’ve recently private a post I wrote about two years ago for the Pagan Blog Project on being Skyclad. At the time I didn’t refer to it as ‘Skyclad’ I wrote it as an entry for ‘N’ and used the term n*d*ty. I was forced to private it after I realised that it was my third most popular post and that half of the visitors this blog was getting were coming here after using variations of the search term ‘n*k*d Pagan women’. So I’m kind of worried that writing about this will lead to the same thing happening… well, I suppose we’ll see…
I’ve talked about being Skyclad and The Great Rite before, I’ve attempted to break down and explore their bad reputations- today I want to talk a little about another Pagan (specifically Gardnerian) tradition that has a bit of a dodgy reputation.
The Five-Fold kiss is a custom performed in certain covens- mainly Gardnerian- whereby the High Priest/ess kisses five points of another member of the covens body whilst reciting:
“Blessed be thy feet, that have brought thee in these ways.
Blessed be thy knees, that shall kneel at the sacred altar.
Blessed be thy womb, without which we would not be.
Blessed be thy breasts, formed in beauty.
Blessed be thy lips, that shall utter the Sacred Names.”
This is often performed as part of an initiation ceremony or as part of ‘Drawing Down the Moon’. As it’s performed in a coven setting it’s not only about the blessing itself but the trust and intimacy that needs to exist for it to be performed. It’s said that this is where the greeting ‘blessed be’ comes from.
Personally, I would (hypothetically) be uncomfortable to both perform this or have it performed on me. I would be happy to go ahead with being Skyclad but a Five-Fold kiss may be a little far for me.
However, this could be down to the fact that I’m not in a coven; I’m a solitary Pagan. Personally I perform a variation of the Five-Fold kiss during most of my rituals. This involves me being Skyclad and washing each of the five areas in water that I’ve blessed whilst reciting. I think this is a really nice little ritual to perform on yourself if you’re solitary, generally I start with my feet and work up. I say a variation on the blessing above which goes:
“Blessed be my feet, which walk the crooked path,
Blessed be my knees, which kneel before the Gods,
Blessed be my womb, which carries sacred life,
Blessed be my breasts, that feed my sacred child,
Blessed be my lips, which speak the words of the Gods,”
An important part of Paganism is accepting and breaking down the taboos around sex and clothes-less-ness. I can see why, to an outsider, this custom may seem odd or uncomfortable. It does to me a little, but then as I mentioned before- I’m not in a coven. If you’re in a coven and you don’t feel comfortable enough to perform this ritual with your members then maybe you should think about why you feel like that.
I’m not in a coven because I prefer to work alone- but also because I find it hard to trust people, especially with my body. Maybe this is something that will change some day, but for now it’s one of the reasons that I don’t work in a coven environment.
The Five-Fold kiss is just another ritual that makes outsiders recoil from Paganism, it’s about trust, dedication and intimacy. In the society that we live in today we don’t encourage these things, but in a coven environment you need these things.