Regarding the photo in question, the caption reads: “An skyclad Blue Brothress invoketh and communeth with the Little People in Cornwall, England”
As Anne noted, the image is from Janet Bord’s “Faeries: Real Encounters with the Little People”
JANET BORD has lived in rural North Wales for the past 30 years and is well known for writing Fairies: Real Encounters with Little People, Mazes and Labyrinths of the World, Footprints in Stone and seventeen further books over a period of 25 years with her husband, Colin Bord. They also created the Fortean Picture Library, a pictorial archive of mysteries and strange phenomena. – gl
I wrote to Janet tonight to ask her for some details about the above photo.
What is “an skyclad Blue Brothress?” Skyclad refers to ritual nudity. A Brothress seems to be an occult title for a woman. A Blue Brothress? I don’t know. Hopefully Janet Bord will write back and tell me.
In Wicca and Wicca-based Neopaganism, skyclad is used to refer to ritual nudity. Many Wiccan groups, or covens, perform some or all of their rituals skyclad. While nudity and the practice of witchcraft have long been associated in the visual arts, contemporary ritual nudity is typically attributed to either the influence of Gerald Gardner or to a passage from Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches.
Gardner’s Witchcraft Today was published in 1954. The book claimed to report on the contemporary practice of Pagan religious witchcraft in England, which had supposedly survived as an underground religion for centuries. Ritual nudity was included as a regular part of Wiccan practice, and remains associated with Gardnerian Wicca. The “Charge of the Goddess“, a part of Gardnerian ritual liturgy, instructs Wiccans to practice ritual in the nude. Gardner spent several years in India, and may have picked up the concept from the Digambar Jains, a religious sect in which the monks may not wear clothing.
The origins of this instruction have been traced to Charles Godfrey Leland‘s book, Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches. The following speech by Aradia appears at the end of the book’s first chapter;
- “And as the sign that ye are truly free,
- Ye shall be naked in your rites, both men
- And women also: this shall last until
- The last of your oppressors shall be dead;”
Dr Leo Ruickbie also notes that the traditional and artistic representation of witches cannot be overlooked as a source for nudity in Gardner’s system, citing artists such as Albrecht Dürer and Salvator Rosi. – wiki