“People ask me why I wear robes and cloaks for ceremonies, but you never hear anyone asking the Orsedd why they wear robes in the Eisteddfod. It’s a part of their role in a way, like a clergyman or anyone that’s part of an Order. I only wear my robes for ceremonies. But it’s no different to when people spend an hour, an hour and a half, preparing to go out to a nightclub. It’s the same for us when we prepare to go and meet the gods and our ancestors – we like to look the part.”
– Kristoffer Hughes
Do you wear robes for ritual? Robes are one of the most obvious representations of Druids in public ritual, but not everybody wears them.
As someone who chooses not to wear robes, I’ve spent a bit of time thinking about them. Why don’t I wear them? Am I weird for not wearing them? Am I missing out on the purpose of robes? Do I just have an objection to wearing white outdoors? (Something to think about in Wellington…)
For many, wearing robes (or some form of ritual wear) is a means to get their mind into ritual space. Over time, wearing this item during ritual creates an energy that in and of itself is a ritual tool.
On the other hand, I recall one of the full moon women spoke in our circle once of the deliberate choice to turn up in jeans and a top that night. For her, turning up for ritual in her day clothes that night was her making a statement that her spiritual life and her daily life weren’t separate.
When I was pondering Druids and their Robes, I cam across a couple of blog posts that provided useful perspectives:
The Druid Robe: Damh the Bard
As always, something from our Pendragon. Damh talks about the concept of how over time, and with regular use, magical items can absorb the memories of ritual and magic. In the comments, others talk of how ritual dress can have the same effect as putting on your “work clothes” in preparing you for what you’re about to do.
Robes: Nimue Brown
In contrast, Nimue talks about the conflict when you are expected to dress in a particular way, and the association she feels with robes and authority.
Druids and their robes: John Beckett
In this article, the origin of Druids wearing white robes is discussed. My favourite part, though, is the pictures of different ritual wear!
What I do like, though, is that nobody has ever made me feel like I shouldn’t be at the ritual because I wasn’t in a robe. The conversation has been in my head, a challenge between “why should I?” and “if everyone else does, why don’t I?”. In the end, my relationship with ritual dress is a bit of each of the two views I stated above. I appreciate that ritual wear can help you get your mind into ritual space, to mark the transition from the mundane to the spiritual. But for me, robes aren’t comfortable and Wellington is cold. And I’m a Druid whether I’m in white, black, or whatever jeans were clean that day. So unless I find a particular item of clothing that speaks to me, I choose to go with my comfortable daywear.