Review: Naked in the Woods: A Guide to Spiritual Nudity, and Talking About Nakedness

[Note: This post is about nudity, which is not necessarily sexual, still, just to be safe, this might delve into NSFW territory.]

You knew my reviewing good books couldn’t last, right?

Naked in the Woods: A Guide to Spirtual Nudity by Storm Moon, who self identifies as “two-spirited” despite being white (as I was always told that this term is specifically used in reference to Native peoples), is, well, what it says, about being naked….in the woods, and spiritual stuff.

Let me sum up this book for you: Nudity is good, nudity is natural, modern life is bad, Native Americans live in HARMONY WITH NATURE! Atlantis!

Yep, it’s another one of those books. By which I mean “feel good New Age love and light books for people who find actual nature religions too scaaaaaaary”.

Some quotes, for your amusement perusal:

 Imagine camping in a forest for a week and never wearing clothing, eating and drinking from what nature provides and rising and retiring with natural cycles, with your watch, mobile phone and other links to worldly life kept tucked away for emergencies only.

NOOOOOOOO! THIS IS JUST LIKE IN MY NIGHTMARES! *shudders* No, seriously, I don’t like camping, I still remember waking up in a tent and freezing my ass off while hunting for my clothes. Clearly, I am a bad Pagan for liking central heating.

Our taste buds are assaulted by the sledgehammer of flavour ‘enhancers’, hot curries and processed foods, not to mention alcohol.

Yes, gods forbid we should consume alcohol, which has been used in sacred ceremonies (even, yes, by some Native American tribes) for eons, but no, it’s the devil’s mouthwash, dont’cha know? I should also note that sie lists “elevator music” as yet another thing that “poisons the senses”. Look, I’ll be the first to say that elevator music is an abomination unto all that is good and lawful, but seriously, that’s the best you can do?

Nature spirits when you first encounter them may not be what you expected. They are archetypal energy forms that may occasionally appear ugly or frightening. Their power may scare you and they may be as inquisitive about you as you are about them. Relax, these beings are sending pure love and joy. They will comfort you and may even be playful!

They may frighten you, but don’t worry! They’re just sending you love! It’s just very rough around the edges and comes with razor blades attached!

One of the reasons people get illnesses like ME, cancer, heart disease etc, is that they are so cut off [from nature]. They may exercise and eat ‘healthy’ food and take all the drugs, but they work in air conditioned environments, cut off from nature with electromagnetic contamination all around.

Because people way back then didn’t get all these funny diseases, amirite? If we all just ran around naked in the woods, we wouldn’t have to worry about pesky things like bacteria and viruses.

One of my favourite parts of the book is when sie talks about “submitting to (immersing oneself in) the elements” and my dirty, perverted mind automatically took that in a completely different direction. But wait! There aren’t just four elements, there are nine! They are:

Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Mud, Wood, Cloud, Wind, Space

Where’s metal (which is definitely a part of the Chinese system) , you ask? ? Sie does mention metal, but notes that it represents money, which “has no value” and “is used to control us”. So, in other words, metal, as symbolic of the industrial revolution, has no place in spiritual matters. What I want to know is why the fuck is wind a separate element from air? Wind is just moving air! WTH? Much like most of this book, I just don’t get it, maybe I’m not “spiritually evolved” enough to understand it.

I’ve actually skipped large sections of the book, because it’s basically “chakras this” and “stop being so ashamed of your body” that (although we would all do well to be less shameful of our bodies, IMHO)). I’m not even going to go into the glossary, except to note it’s definition of “Nature Religions”:

“Nature Religions: Any religion that worships nature. These include Paganism and Wicca.”

There are not enough facepalms for this. Then again, the whole book pretty much deserves a giant facepalm.

Another sticking point (for me, at least) would be the author’s constant use of the term “transsexual” which (as I understand it) is a somewhat contentious term because it sounds very medical and only really applies to specific cases (a bit like using “homosexual” when gay and/or lesbian will suffice), whereas “trans*” is the preferred usage, but YMMV.

I read all these terrible books because I get off on snarking at them for you, you know?

Anyways, enough of this terrible book. Let’s have a serious discussion about nudity and spirituality.

Okay, for starters, I have never done a ritual naked. I, like many people, have hang ups about getting naked (especially around other people, or where people can walk in 0n me). It’s not just because I’m overweight (although that definitely is a factor) and it’s not just because I’ve grown up with a religion (as the vast majority of us do) that says “nudity is shameful (even though Adam and Eve didn’t give a fuck at first)” or a society that says “nudity is always sexual OMFGS YOU’RE SHOWING A NIPPLE!”, or the feeling that I’m completely vulnerable when I’m naked, it’s all of these things, combined, and I suspect its the same way for a lot of people.

Also, I can’t help but imagine my deities being like “What are you doing, girl? Put some clothes on before you freeze your ass off!” If I elected to do a ritual in the buff. Clothing optional areas just aren’t practical for Northern Europe (well, maybe these days, but way back then when it was “freeze your ass off for most of the day”? Just because Freyr always has an erect penis doesn’t mean that he wants to see yours all the time (and vice versa for Freyja, although I don’t know if she’s ever been depicted as topless except in more modern depictions), you know?

So yeah, nudity is complicated, and some people just aren’t going to be comfortable in their own skin no matter how much you shout at them that “NUDITY IS SO NATURAL, EVERYONE!” Because, well, not everyone has a body that matches up with how they feel inside, and I can completely understand (well, as a cis woman, I can’t *really* understand) why someone in that situation really wouldn’t feel comfortable in their skin (much less comfortable showing it to others), in addition to all the other crap institutions feed us about our bodies.

Ideally, I don’t think anyone should be ashamed of their bodies. (Honestly, does anyone wake up in the morning and be like: “I want to be ashamed of myself today!”) But since this is reality, and not Gef’s Ideal World (in which chocolate would be the best thing for you and there would be no such thing as broccoli) things just don’t work that way.

2 thoughts on “Review: Naked in the Woods: A Guide to Spiritual Nudity, and Talking About Nakedness

  1. I don’t personally have a hang up about ritual nudity. (Which is odd, since I’m not the most positive person wrt my body.)

    But I remember the first and only time I approached the Hellenic Gods “skyclad,” having come from a wiccish background. I got the definite feeling of “uh, no. Really, no.” Even Dionysos seemed to say there’s a time and a place for that sort of thing.

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