Priests and Priestesses all around the world and through the centuries have always faced a certain dilemma…
What to wear?
Namely, why is so hard to find a white dress that is NOT a wedding gown?
Now, at a certain point, the values of the culture, religion, and avocation dictate this. You can’t have monks and nuns who have taken a vow of poverty running around in Vera Wang outfits. It is just not a part of their job description- they need the clothes, the uniform, in order to blend in together and displace vanity- not embrace it. That is the purpose of their outfits.
For bishops and cardinals however, it is a totally different thing. They are vested with the sacerdotal authority of their church, so they should look impressive. But at the same time, a little sameness must be obeyed. Which is why the Dean of the Cathedral, or the Bishop, have impressively embroidered robes, and the Unitarians have ministerial stoles. It sets up a visual focal point- I am not standing up here in my jeans preaching to you, I am invested with the authority of our common body to stand up and preach to you, and here is a little visual reminder of that fact.
As an aside, check out Episcopoal Priest Barbie- a wardrobe to DIE for!
But for the neo-pagan, there are certain weird issues that come into play.
The main problem is that the aesthetic culture of neo-paganism owes too much to the Renaissance Faire and to Lord of the Rings.
Don’t get me wrong, I am as enthusiastic a fan of the Ren-Faire as anyone. I even have an outfit for it, though I go but once a year, if even. And I enjoy the fantasy genre, though lately I have been reading nothing but non-fiction.
In my group, in private, we wear a kind of uniform. That works for me. It reinforces a group mindset. I get away with looking slightly spiffier because I am the High Priestess, but I don’t really choose to wear them outside our private rituals except occasionally in a gathering of other pagans-a non-mixed crowd.
But in our public events, which we have a regular stream of in our tradition, It’s not appropriate, either, because it would set us apart from our guests.
Which brings me to the white dress. Each sabbat has its own color scheme-black for Samhain, red and green for Yule, white for Imbolc (sometimes red, or black for the healing aspect of Brigid), pastels for Spring Equinox (Ostara), vibrant floral colors for Beltane, oranges and reds for Midsummer, Tawny colors (sometimes for me a deep green) for Lughnassah, and Harvest colors for Autumn Equinox. (Lughnassah is a toughy, though – it may have some harvest connotations, but I think of deep green when I think of it).
As Wiccans, we believe that there are Laws of Correspondence- that colors, and indeed symbols and myths, scents and herbs, everything- is connected and vibrates together in order to make a cohesive impact. We believe that the choices we make end up being the strings we are pulling within the world. This is what makes up magickal thinking. I wear white because it reminds me of Imbolc, of snow, of hope, of poetry, and anticipation that things will get colorful again in six weeks- even if the snow right now on the streets is dirty and pissy and the still evident lack of sunlight is depressing!
I choose to perform magick surrounded by the trappings of Imbolc and dressed in the colors of sabbat because it kindles in me the remembrance that I am part of the earthly condition. I, too, am a cycling through the seasons, feeling what the earth feels, and yearning and anticipating the change that she yearns for.
But dang, it took me a long time to find that white dress! And, I had to send it back because it was too big!
I had to settle on a blouse- but the time and energy is worth it, even if I am being vain!
Next up- some poetry for the International Blogging Brighid Poetry Slam! And more on the charity thing!
2 thoughts on “And now for a little vanity”
This is why high schools need to keep having girls get white Commencement dresses. I haven’t had a lot of chances to use mine, but I sewed it when I was sixteen and it’s much more elf than bride.
I love Episcopal Priest Barbie! Thanks for the link!
I had to wear a white dress for high school graduation too! It was a battle every year to agree on the parameters of the dress, whether to buy it, et cetera. But we all marched into the Cathedral wearing that dress when we graduated from St. Hilda’s. Just don’t know where mine is now.