Monthly Archives: June 2016
School is out in our small prairie town and that means it’s officially summertime on the prairies. The temperatures and sunshine are proof that there is indeed a time called summer. However, that said, just two days ago one of our prairie cities had almost a foot of hail fall creating a winter scene. Thankfully, our garden got spared the destruction that hail brings in its wake.
Today the school kids picked up their report cards at the school where I used to be the principal before I retired. Waving their records of success (everyone succeeds regardless of effort or ability in these times of not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings) they rushed home and piled into vehicles heading off to campgrounds towing trailers behind them. Others rush to the cottages by the lake which lies only fifty kilometres away to live in sardine fashion around the tiny lake. It’s summertime.
The exodus leaves the tiny prairie town almost abandoned. I like that because that means even more privacy when I dare to step outside the boundaries of the “safe” zone.
I’ve borrowed another of Emma’s photos that shows her joy in being bathed in the sun . I like to think of it as a small version of the Garden of Eden. For, that is what it feels like when I am naked in the sunshine with the flowers, trees, and open spaces.
The past few days have been dark, wet, and cold; and as a result, the garden wasn’t so inviting to be in. Today, the sun has returned and I am able to spend hours in the garden, even while I am writing up this post, skyclad as I was created, as the original woman and man were created.
I am thankful for sunshine and warmth as they lift my spirits when they are assaulted by the shadows of the collective unconscious. In my own garden on the Canadian prairies, there are a number of roses in scattered locations such as this island of roses I created for my wife. In the sunshine during the warmest part of the day, it is an inviting place to be as the mosquitoes retreat waiting for a passing cloud to re-emerge and torment a person. It’s a good thing that there are a few ecologically friendly products that persuade mosquitoes to search elsewhere for a meal rather than on my body. Of course, being ecologically friendly means that a determined group of biting bugs can still get their meal of fresh blood without dying a horrible death.
But, mosquitoes and other biting insects aren’t nearly the worst hazard a naturist faces when skyclad outdoors. By far, it is the human species that are the most vicious and dangerous.
I don’t have a good feeling about the direction we are going as a human race. Few people are happy anymore. I mean, truly happy. No matter how much they have, which is more than humans have ever had in the history of humankind, people somehow feel cheated.
They see others with more and sense that it just isn’t right. That more should belong to them. Entitlement – it has nothing to do with ‘deserving’ something because of extra effort. It is what is felt to be deserved. That others have irks us to extremes. If those others have less and hope for the smallest of shares in the wealth, the entitled lose it. They want these inferior others (they have to be inferior as they are different) to disappear out of the country and take their needs with them. If the entitled could, they would build walls around their wealth and space to keep others out. There just isn’t enough for all and the entitled sure aren’t going to give up any part of what they have worked so hard to achieve.
Trump in the U.S.A, and Brexit in the U.K. are a taste of what is coming as people dig trenches, lines in the sand that are meant to keep out refugees, to keep out foreigners who would work for less pay, to keep out others who are different in other ways such as religion, colour, sexual orientation, etc. If there is a difference, then there is a belief that those being different don’t belong. Where do naturists fit into the changing dynamics of societal change that is gaining steam?
There is a fundamentalist foundation to this anger and retreat from the idea of embracing neighbours to create a borderless world that John Lennon dared to Imagine. James Hollis talks about the retreat into a society of anger in his book, Why Good People Do Bad Things:
“It is the very erosion of the old “certainties” that has given rise to fundamentalism around the world. Whether Muslim, Jewish, or Christian, fundamentalism flourishes in a context of fear and uncertainty.”
When we look closely at this fundamentalism we don’t see any evidence of tolerance of differences. If anything, the fundamentalists become the harshest and loudest in condemning anything and everything about naturism, about the naked human body. There are few rights in place, if any in most places, for those who would peacefully would like to live without clothing when weather and circumstance would make such an act sensible. Nude beaches are being shut down yet the porn industry is becoming stronger than ever. Nudist camp sites are being turned into clothed-only campsites. Within the nudist sites, security is becoming more and more of an issue with the basic rule of thumb being not to trust people, especially unattached men. With other threats looming on the horizon, people are abandoning the naturist sites in favour of what is best called free range naturism.
Not there is anything wrong with being wild and free in itself. All nudists and naturists risk at least a little, being nude “off the protected spaces.” Yet, if we abandon the naturist venues too much, they will be lost to us. The angry voices would like nothing better, even using our fear of them as proof we know of their righteousness. Yet at the same time, there is also the fear of our venues becoming more of keeping us within, locked within. I don’t have answers, only this dark cloud that hangs over telling me that it is only going to get worse. Time for me to meditate.
Smiling feels good. Even when a person is depressed, the smallest smile adds light in what is felt like a deep and dark hole. One of the things I cherish about naturism is the element of joy that seems to appear much easier than when I am clothed. As I listen to others speak of their naturist experiences, joy seems to rank as one of the prime responses to being nude, especially if one is able to be nude in the presence of others who are also nude.
Being nude with others allows one to feel safer than being in the presence of others where one is the only one without clothing. At those times one is truly vulnerable and at risk. It wasn’t an accident that collectives have used nudity as part of punishment for some perceived crime against the collective. Removing the offender’s clothing in those instances is more about stripping them of dignity and protection. Then, with the message given, the sentence is then carried out leaving the offender to meet that sentence without a stitch of pride or peace that would allow the offender to endure the punishment with personal dignity. I think of Jesus, stripped like a common criminal and made to carry a cross through jeering crowds, whipped like a brute animal along the route. Naked like other common criminals punished by the Romans, he was hung from a cross. It is only after the fact, centuries later, that we placed a loin cloth to somehow make the event more spiritual and less brutally human.
However, being without clothing by choice with others who have made the same choice is empowering. There is a sense of real freedom rather than oppression. It is so easy to accept what one sees in others who trust us enough to drop their clothing and be fully present. With nothing to hide, to disguise when one risks being clothing free, one begins to accept the “self” with all its perceived imperfections. It is as though in accepting others as they really are, we break through a psychological barrier that allows us to be honest and accepting of ourselves. No wonder there is so much evident joy in social nudism. We have stopped being our own oppressors.
It is the summer solstice here on the Canadian prairies. For a short while this morning there was sunshine which I took advantage of for a meditation in the garden. Since then, the skies have been cloudy and mosquitoes have come out in force. I decided it was a good day to get caught up with my book work following the journey through Alberta which had me deliver books to six different Chapters book stores in Calgary, Edmonton, Sherwood Park, and Red Deer. All that is left is the planning for book signing events in those cities.
I was in contact with McNally Robinson Books in Saskatoon with final arrangements being made for the July 5th book signing event. Now, I have just finished a counselling session with a male client who, like most middle-aged men, is having life issues that have roots in childhood that are mother and father related – complexes that demand to be dealt with if one is to find peace in the second half of life. Like other men and women who have navigated midlife crisis, I have found rituals such as meditation that are part of the “peace” plan.
Nudity and the sun has a history that goes back at least 3,500 years. The Egyptian pharaoh, Akenaton and his queen Nefertiti are on official record as worshipping the sun while nude. And they weren’t the first. Egyptian priests had a practice of being hairless and thoroughly clean when it came time to worship, to stand in the presence of their deity. Nude priests and nude worship date to an another civilisation, the Sumerians. What was done by primitive tribes before the first civilisations became established can only be guessed. Yet, due to the lack of a need for clothing in the warmer climes where civilisations arose, we can safely assume that nudity was normal, especially for the shaman who acted as intermediary between their tribal groupings and the spirits of the other worlds filled with gods and goddesses. For all peoples throughout history, the summer solstice has been a time to worship the power of the sun. The sun meant life and as such, it typically figured at the centre of worship.
Naked meditation has been a practice in India dating back to a time before Akenaton and Nefertiti during the era of the Harappan civilisation in India. The practice continues into present times with Digambara holy men, the naked Sadhu of Jainism. It is comforting to know that my practice has early roots, and is not simply the signs of perverted madness. Who knows, I just might be on the right track?
I found this image while searching for an alternative to the WNBR which is the dominant activity this month in the world of naturism. I don’t find myself drawn to participate in the hyper social activity of bike rides. Being far from any city that hosts such an event makes it even less likely that I would participate. As these ladies illustrate, I am more apt to walk in the countryside down faint trails, far from the maddening crowd.
It is not very good weather for being an outdoor naturist today. There is a wind, the sky is overcast, rain fell early this morning, and the temperature hovers around 11C. It was good enough for me to mow the lawn in our back yard without the need to put on clothes. The trees and the fence helps create a windbreak allowing me to feel somewhat comfortable even when there is a lack of sunshine and cool temperatures.
I chose this particular photo because it is from Portugal. I will be going to Portugal in about fourteen months from now to walk the Camino Portugese from Lisbon to Santiago, Spain. Of course, I will have to walk with my clothing on as the world is not all that naturist friendly.
I have to pick and choose where and when I can be clothing free. It is no different here on the Canadian prairies. Most places I walk find me doing so with my clothes on. It is only once distant from habitation and active agriculture, usually when gravel roads turn into dirt roads that I often have the freedom to go as natural as the day I was born. I could challenge the agricultural community by risking walking nude where traffic would undoubtedly pass me by. But what is the point of this risk when there is so much open space available to me thus allowing me to enjoy my community without conflict when I return from my hiking au naturel.
I have a photo taken on a recent hike by my hiking companion as we made our way down a grid road to reach one of those fabled dirt roads that are now popular in country songs. Hmmm – maybe I’m a dirt road naturist.
I have looked at this topic once before, in a very personal manner some time ago. I was reminded of the theme by a friend who operates Clothes Free Life. He has, with the help of a few others, launched a community site for those who aspire to live clothing free, or who are already well along the way to such a way of being in the world, a place called My Clothes Free Life. He was responding to a post by someone who goes by the name of Naturist Philosopher, a post called “Is there a human need for being a naturist?”
Philosophy aside, though I have to admit to being both a quasi-philosopher and quasi-psychologist, I can only respond to that question in ‘personal’ terms. Do I need nudity? I have actively been trying to come up with a serious answer for the past number of years. In the process, I have charted my well-being through periods of no nudity, periods of occasional nudity, and those rare times when I have enviable amounts of nude time. The result was unequivocal – I need nudity.
My wife is not a naturist and feels very comfortable in clothing. She has no need to be nude though she isn’t what others might call a prude about nudity. For her, too much nudity becomes problematic. At those times, she needs to be clothed.
Obviously for one or both of us, this isn’t about a need in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs that most learn about at some point in their studies. For others, it isn’t so formal. Basically we know that we need the basics – food, shelter, safety, water, sleep, and breathable air – the physiological needs. The Naturist Philosopher does a great job of plugging in the need for nudity into this hierarchy, so I won’t go into more detail to simply rehash the same stuff.
So in answer to the Naturist Philosopher, I would have to say that there isn’t a basic human need for nudity as far as evidence exists. However, perhaps there is such a need at differing levels on the Maslow scale for individuals, a need that grows out of the psychological makeup of individuals.
For these individuals amongst whom I find myself, that need has roots that are strangely collective as well as individual and without question motivated by the unconscious on both the personal and collective dimensions. And it is through this unconscious aspect that we feel almost compelled to be nude, aching for clothes freedom, so much so that we risk the wrath of the collective who would rather all humans remain clothed as much as humanly possible.
It is a very windy day here on the Canadian prairies. In a small way, this could be considered a good thing as it keeps the mosquitoes at bay, hidden in the grass. The sky is covered with a thin cloud haze which still allows sunshine to keep things warm. It was good enough for me to find a corner in my yard for my nude morning meditation.
Meditation is a vital part of my naturist practice. When thoughts appear to be running around without any concern for my own state of peaceful mind, I turn to meditation to still those rampant thoughts.
I have experimented with clothed meditation and nude meditation frequently over the years. That experimentation has led me to adopt the nude practice as the most favourable method. I practice a mindful meditation, one in which it is important to stay present rather than disappear into a trance-like state. Eyes slightly open, skin serving as a physical sensor, and hearing all working together to help keep me from falling down a rabbit hole where riotous fantasies, and chaotic thinking rule. Meditation, for me, isn’t a religious practice in terms of Buddhism, but more of a spiritual practice that is tied to my soul which has no links to any religious framework. For me, the open sky beneath the sun becomes my cathedral in which I find myself encompassed by the universe that is timeless and without boundaries.
I got to spend four days in the Eagle Hills near Battleford with my trailer parked at the home acreage of the man who is in charge of the Prairie Suns Nudist Club. On Friday, he took me on a hike through the Eagle Hills to the west of the acreage. Once we were away from traffic, we were able to doff the clothing and hike nude while we discussed all sorts of topics that were dear to his heart, especially Christianity and nudity.
On the acreage, while waiting for a naturist pot luck event set for Saturday afternoon and evening, B. and his wife, N. were great hosts. Somehow in the middle of nowhere, we had a solar heated pool and a hot tub for the cool mornings and evenings as amenities. It was too warm, the wrong season for putting the sauna to work.
Since I had somehow forgot to pack the power supply for my laptop, I was forced to enjoy the sunshine without interruption for most of the days that passed. It was the first time I had been to the acreage for a nude gathering without my wife. So, I had to make do with calls home in the morning and late evening to fill her in with my adventures and to find out how her days and nights had passed.
The pot luck was attended by eight people, a much smaller group that last year. I contributed to the pot luck by making a potato dish in the slow cooker – potatoes, bacon, onion and cheese. It was a recipe that my wife had suggested that I make for the event since it cooked while I was hiking without my worrying whether or not it would be undercooked or burnt. I don’t have the best attention span and get easily distracted.
That served to have the topic of how to meet the changing demographics if the club was to survive. I suggested that instead of focusing on getting members for the club, that the group create open-invitation events which would be clothing-optional. Art and nature photography, body-painting, writing camps for those interested in poetry or short stories, drawing classes for the human nude, and music camps for those interested in sharing their musical talents and perhaps picking up a few ideas from other musicians. Advertising events could take many forms and would hopefully create a larger network of prairie people who would come to share an interest in social naturism.