Nakedness had it periods of glory, traditional societies affirmed and celebrated its magical character. Which is its mystery, from where comes its fascination power? Provocative questions in a time where the gaze became accustomed to the epidermis.
In 2009 the photograph Steve Meisel has caused a storm with a campaign promoting the spring-summer collection of Calvin Klein. Three photo-models dressed only in jeans, kissing and hugging their partners. All of them were seated in the same sofa and the sensual gestures suggest something that the American televisions and Youtube considered dangerous. So it was that the commercial and the photos related to that were banned.
In the other side of the ocean, in Europe, the scandal was one more reason for the media to offer their audience the delights of banned photos.
Could it be that in our continent the mentality made the naked body more permissive? Usually yes, but the main reason is the fact that nudity sells. And the more prohibited it is, the better the naked images are sold.
The man of today sees the nakedness, as a perversion because it has, as a reflex, erotic connotations, but also defines it as a state of innocence of the cultures that live “outside the civilization”. How is it possible that nakedness is seen in such contradictory ways, and treated so differently in different contexts? The concepts of the modern mentality generate shadows and paradoxical fears.
But even today there are people who have kept the habit of not putting on clothes. The modern mentality judges them as primitive and inferior. So the missionaries, settlers, and merchants did their best to dress the “savages.” The contradiction arises in one of the most civilised societies, the American promotes religious and family values with a puritanism that is closer to rigidity about the naked body, but at the same time this same society sexually exploits nudity, sustaining industries that generate millions of dollars annually.
In comparison, Europe’s society is more open to the appearance of the naked body. So open that it tends to fall to the other end using it more and more for amazing benefits in advertising campaigns. A bombing of messages – on the street, on TV, in theaters and in the press. The naked body is used as a temptation, as a method of persuasion, as an infallible method of manipulation. And not only in advertising for clothing or luxury goods, but also to sell paint, cars, products and banking services.
Thus the media arrive at a schizophrenic attitude – on the one hand they publish some notes with moralizing critiques about people whose erotic intimate photographs as a couple came to be published on the internet without their intention, but on the other hand the same media and websites invite women to become nudity stars, presenting the weather forecast, news and promote merchandise.
In all these conditions, the fact that a Vatican priest has ordered that all naked statues be mutilated and then covered in parts of the body that his narrow mind could not bear to see, because they reminded him too much of his own sexuality, can not surprise us so much.
We live in a time of extreme violence in denial and masking these obsessions related to sexuality.
Healing the wound of separation though nudity
Nudity symbolises firstly the abandonment of hypocrisy and the removal of masks, which are imposed by society. It is a way of approaching the natural.
The Greeks considered the body an instrument of the soul. In its conception the soul must command the body and control it to free itself from the weight of impulses and attain spiritual perfection. But they did not accuse the body, they did not hide it, they did not punish it, but they wanted this coexistence between body and soul to be full of harmony.
The Greek issue about the connection between body and soul is also found in Christianity and even in other religious and spiritual traditions.
But the sense of this hierarchy has been misunderstood, and the vision that has been born praises the ascetic tendency of controlling and even denying the body, incriminating nudity as one of the most dangerous traps.
The spiritual life is understood as an elevation from the material world to the divine, and the body as a kind of enemy that must be continuously watched and repressed, so that it can not have the reins of being.
Therefore this separation between body and soul becomes a wound of the contemporary world. The body is exclusively and obsessively associated with sexuality, with shame, with interdictions. In this way, the hypnotic attraction, the greed, the desacralized vision on nudity are generated.
“The nudity of woman is the work of God.“
The dance of the seven veils
Isis is the feminine principle of nature, which can accommodate all the genesis, therefore it was called “the nanny”, “the one who receives everything” and “the one of ten thousand names” – is the nature transformed by the Consciousness that receives all forms, all ideas. In addition an ancient Egyptian hymn calls it “the unknown”, “the deeply hidden”, “the hard to achieve”, “the great invincible divinity”. She is begged to be naked in order to “to release herself from the garments”.
Although it seems to show everything, nudity remains one of the disturbing mysteries of Creation. Different cultures have understood this truth and have celebrated the hidden force of the naked body. The nakedness of a virgin was also called the abyssal nudity Afroditica.
Originally, the dance of the seven veils has been a sacred dance, also called the dance of Isis, is one of the symbolic and magical expressions of nudity. Actually it had no erotic connotation, but meant a true journey into the center of the being. Removing the veils symbolises crossing the seven internal levels, during which man is freed from the various conditionings and attachments – clothes or layers that he must abandon to reach a state of complete nakedness of the absolute and simple being.
In the sacred mysteries of ancient Greece there was a specific time when the neophytes had to undress and remain naked. Sufism also mentions the tearing of garments during mystical ecstasy – the “tamig”. Undressing the female body in the dance of the seven veils is actually a revelation of the essence of Shakti in the world, it is a spiritual metaphor of what nature means in all its forms and beyond its forms. It is a ritual in which the body comes to manifest itself in its true elements, in its virginal and superior substance to any form – the woman is gradually released from the seven veils, and at the end of the dance is completely naked.
It follows a moment of contemplation, deep meditation, epiphany, and communion with the Divinity. This has nothing to do with shouting and vulgar gestures, coarse and putting money in the dancer’s vestibules at the end of a striptease show.
In the Tantric tradition the archetypal woman associates with Kali, the Great Cosmic Power of Time, “dressed only with space.” She shows her nakedness with no shame, because she is the perfectly free and all-powerful owner of the Manifestation.
But the black color of her skin symbolizes the fact that she remains a mystery in eternity. Kali shows herself without revealing completely, and invites us to enter into her heart, to make us partakers of the mysteries, and yet doesn’t unveil it to us. Her nakedness is primordial and dissolves in fact at night, in the darkness of before Creation. Her dark skin expresses her ability to contain everything, her infinite compassion, because black is the color in which all colors melt; Black absorbs and dissolves, where it all rests.
Mahanirvana Tantra says, “as all colors are invisible in the black, so all names and all forms disappear in it.” As black is the absence of all colors, Kali represents ultimate reality, the fact that she is beyond all manifestation.
Her nakedness is transparent as nature, earth, sea and sky. Kali is free from any illusive cover, as it is beyond Maya, the universal illusion. In addition, her nakedness symbolizes her fully enlightened consciousness, her infinite knowledge.
The Great Cosmic Power of Time is one with Shiva, whose will is expressed completely, without obstacles through it; therefore she has perfect wisdom and spiritual discernment. Kali is the dazzling fire of truth that cannot be concealed by veils, or garments of ignorance. Such truth simply burns them instantly.
We are born naked and no matter how many clothes and makeup society imposes on us today, we are all naked in front of death. More than a weakness and a perpetual test for our greedy senses for pleasure, the nakedness shown and exploited obsessively in our world can become a different kind of challenge.
It can become one more reason to contemplate the eternal truths, to live them, to rediscover them in our own being, where our soul awaits us. Silently, in her bright nakedness, smiling. Immortal.