Summer Solstice with Pookes

 

On Saturday evening I joined a fairly diverse group of people who wished to celebrate this morning’s summer solstice, timed for 4.43am this Sunday morning! I have to say that there was no clear and obvious sunrise, with light beginning to creep into the sky a good hour beforehand.

We stayed overnight as the guests of one of England’s senior druids near Glastonbury in the county of Somerset. Glastonbury, home to one of the UK’s major music festivals is also very much associated with being the capital of England’s new-age community, and attracts all manner of folk with neopagan, Wiccan beliefs and druidry. The image forming in your head may be one of ‘crusties with a dog called Vomit on a string lead’ and while I certainly saw a few there, it’s an inaccurate depiction of the disparate group who assembled on the owner’s farm.

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Druids perform a ceremony at Stonehenge

I’m not pagan, Wiccan or a druid, but Druidry is all about harmony with nature, and I was invited along to speak about naturism as part of wider discussion on how we -human beings- should interact with the world and our environment. I’m not an ‘expert’ on naturism (Ella as a naturist historian is probably much better placed to speak on it as a topic than I am) nor am I an expert on ancient belief systems. However I was delighted to accept the kind offer and to pop down to Somerset for the solstice.

I’ve no idea how the summer solstice plays out in your part of the world but in England it’s always newsworthy.

I was there at the invite of the farm’s owner. The gentleman in question part of a mystical old England and the area in which I was in has long been believed to be associated with King Arthur, Glastonbury Tor is assumed to be the site of Avalaon and, indeed Camelot may be in the area too. Please write in if you’re an authority on Arthurian legend. I’m not, so I may have jumbled some of these ‘facts’ about King Arthur up.

In the main, unlike Wicca witches and pagans who perform some ritual nude, most Druids aren’t generally associated with nude ritual (or so I’m led to believe: once again, I’m painting from memory, not having had a notebook with me to scribble down what some of the other speakers were saying). However our host was keen to underline that nudity in ritual enhances the experience, and encouraged all present to go ‘sky clad‘ for our ceremony if we felt the urge. We normally see Druids in their white robes in public ceremony, but I’m told that nudity can be part of Druidic ritual too. The writer Phillip Carr-Gomm certainly writes books which forms an association with Druidry, Wicca and nudity.

Nakedness means freedom, and although dancing on a sun-kissed hillside with shorts on seems pretty similar to dancing with shorts off, there is all the difference in the world. It is as if your clothes take on the weight of your worries and concerns – they come to embody your defences against the world, and if you can feel confident enough and safe enough, then taking them off evokes a powerful sense of liberation, of joy and freedom; and more than that – of innocence and of openness to the world.
Philip Carr-Gomm, ‘The Druid Way’

Each of us were encouraged to lose our clothes and wear a Druid’s white robe instead. A bonfire was lit in a ritualistic manner I didn’t remotely understand, before music (contemporary music, rock music -mostly in the style of, say, Afro-Celt Sound System) began to be played through speakers set up in a copse on the farmer’s land.

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A copse, a thicket of trees, similar to the woodland where I spent last night and the early hours of this morning.

After that it was, well, a bit like a rave for a while. There was home-made wine and home-brewed beer to drink (potent things both!). Toilet facilities were no-existent. Just head out into the darkness of the field, hoist up your robe and do what you need too do!!!!

There were about 40 invitees and as I say it was an odd bunch. Some dreadlocked hippy types, some druids, a couple of Wiccan witches and so on, with an age-range from people in their 20s through those of pensionable age. I fell into conversation with a charming and demure woman who looked like a librarian. Well, she actually had been a librarian until retirement, and seated on blankets by the warmth of the fire she revealed she had been a Wiccan since her teens. She then spoke to the rest of us about what it meant, and how it was necessary to be attuned to nature, with each of us who were due to speak then giving short speeches on our own particular interest. By the time a few of us had spoken and fielded questions from others, it was evident that clothing was always optional for our communing with nature. I was asked a question about if I was naturist, would it not be right to be naked right there, right then. I responded that I had no fear, shame or embarrassment of going naked. In fact, near the fire and a bit drunk, the robe I was wearing, ostensibly to ward off the cold, was too much to wear. So off it came, and it seemed to be a cue for several others to disrobe too, including my retired librarian friend.

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Not everyone went nude. One chap remained resolutely clothed throughout, although with inhibitions loosened on heady home brew, with the music and with the warmth of the fire, others threw caution to the wind as the night went on. And at dawn, 4.43am this morning, with most of the attendees now naked, we celebrated the sunrise with another ritual I again didn’t understand. After that we trooped down from the copse to the river to bathe naked. It was freezing cold, but it certainly helped shake off the fuzziness -from tiredness and alcohol- in our heads.

It was certainly an interesting experience, the rituals more to do with celebrating the earth (as far as I could tell) than with any form of ‘spells’ or ‘magic’. I headed home, grabbed a proper shower, and then fell exhausted into bed for a few hours.

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In the photos below you’ll see I’m wearing ‘druidic costume’. It required some invention to come up with this outfit, and was spotted as a ‘galabya’ at an Arabic sim. A galabya (or galabeya) is a long, loose fitting outfit you’ll be familiar with from Arab lands.

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A galabeya/galabya

 

I found this at The Dreaming Button, a sort of builders’ textures store that has one or two freebie things, including the above, and also a (free) white hijab, which paired together made for a reasonable facsimile of a Druidic outfit. What’s nice about the hijab part -the hood of my outfit- is that it could be stretched and allowed me to wear my hair underneath. As many of us know, hair and hats don’t generally make good SL bedfellows.

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It was an interesting night, but I’ve come away with more questions than answers about all of what I witnessed and participated in. I know there is a Wiccan community within SL (I couldn’t find any Druids), so what I’d like to do is follow this post up with another, next time with an emphasis on how ‘sky clad’ fits into the whole belief system, and thus keeping within the boundaries of what SLN focuses on. I would have tried to include that in this post but after only a couple of hours sleep around lunchtime, I feel it’s time for another nap! 🙂

 

Pookes

Postcards from Spain: Pushing the envelope

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I mentioned SL to Sylvia last night and all of a sudden our plans were dashed. She was fascinated by it and wanted to know all about it, so what was initially planned to be a meal in a restaurant turned into us ordering in pizza, opening a bottle of wine (ooh! my head this morning!) and me explaining SL, this blog, everything!

I find that there are two types of people in the world when introduced to SL. Those who immediately love the idea and those who are almost derisive about the concept (while simultaneously reaching for their iPhone to play Candy Crush).

I explained how I’d cast her as an avatar, and the only thing she didn’t really like was how she should be portrayed in SL. She wanted ownership of the avatar. So the avatar I invented some weeks back, Eve Bear, has now been given away to Sylvia and we spent most of the evening tweaking the avatar as to how she wishes to see herself portrayed in SL. I expect we shall see some further changes before we return home.

Before I’d revealed SL to her we’d been out in the car. I’d driven to the nearby town and we explored it a bit. Sylvia managed to spot a jewellery store where they were selling belly chains, so we each bought one. I’ve said before how I love these things, and it seems that Sylvia likes them too.

This morning, feeling delicate, we both woke before sunrise and I made tea, which seemed to help a lot and I said how I loved to go for a walk first thing in the morning, so we determined that we’d maintain my holiday tradition. Usually, when I’m here with my family, I walk alone first thing in the mornings. My routine is that I often have a T-shirt on and flip-flops and I just wander a short distance on the shoreline. Sylvia, being Sylvia, decided we should do things differently this holiday.

‘Naturist means naturist’, she said. So no flip flops, T-shirts or anything else, other than keys to let us back into the apartment.

We tip-toed across the road near our apartment and out onto the beach. The sun was just coming up, and it felt a little chilly to begin with. The naturist beach isn’t strictly defined as to where it starts and stops, but those of us who are regular holidaymakers here sort of know where the official beach ends. But not for Sylvia! When I reached the point where I thought we should turn, Sylvia marched on, so we ended up in uncharted naturist territory for me, pushing the envelope of what is the official naturist area. By now the sun had peeped out of the Mediterranean Sea, it was beginning to feel warmer, and it felt good to be out that early, making the most of the day. We ended up walking the full length of the naturist beach in both directions. Again, I would usually just walk a few hundred metres to the naturist hotel and back.

Just while we’re on the topic of belly chains…Fab Free has an item set out at the moment with free mesh jumpsuits (with a hud to change the colours)

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Part of that package is a ‘belt’. By ditching the jumpsuit itself, and just wearing the ‘belt’, you have instant belly chain as modelled by Sylvia (below).

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I’ll be back with more postings later today, but should I forget, there won’t be any SLN postings from Spain tomorrow. We’ve signed up to a bus trip to the Alhambra Palace, which sets off early and returns late, so I won’t have the opportunity to blog on Monday. Tuesday is St. Juan’s night, so the beach bars will be offering entertainment and there will be bonfires on the beach, so no posting that night, although I’ll certainly try to post something during the day on Tuesday.

 

Ella

 

 

Rape shaming & Rapist shaming

I was lying in the sun earlier, using the nearby beach bar’s wi-fi to read some news stories on my Kindle. I was dismayed and disturbed to read part of a report about an Indian feminist (the BBC’s description) who is  posting rape videos online.

Sunitha Krishnan is clearly doing some terrific work in India, such as setting up an anti-sex trafficking charity called Prajwala, and is a respected feminist (you can read more about her at this TED page)

Ms. Krishnan is, controversially, taking videos of actual rapes which are shared on social media such as WhatsApp, without so much as the assailants bothering to hide their faces, blurring faces and posting them to youtube.

You can see a news report of Ms Krishnan’s actions from Indian television

So far, so good. Anything that helps to identify the perpetrators and sees them jailed is a good thing, in my opinion.

Ms. Krishnan was asked if she was in effect taking the law into her own hands, and responded that “The offender is using this (WhatsApp) medium to shame somebody and to show their impunity. Why should I be so sensitive to their needs?”

What would concern me is that India’s ‘rape culture’ will merely respond by continuing the odious practice of filming, but start wearing masks to disguise their identities. No forward movement, maybe, in how we address the issue which should, in all instances, be that rape is always wrong.

I was particularly dismayed, however, with reference to a new Indian ‘super hero’, Priya, who is cast as a ‘rape survivor’.

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Indian comic book hero Priya

Clearly, I’ve not seen the Priya stories ‘in the round’, nor do I fully comprehend the ‘rape culture’ that appears to exist in India -it’s certainly something we’ve written about regularly before- but with a western mindset I find the idea of ‘rape survivor’ odd. In casting Priya thus, surely those young Indian males who think rape is ‘OK’ might equally be moved to imagine that ‘all rape victims are likely to survive, so rape is OK. The female survives’.

You can read a Priya ‘Issuu’ comic, downloadable for free.

In the comic, there’s a core ‘faith’ element to the tale. Whether that has traction in Indian society isn’t for me to say, nor properly comprehend, but I cannot comprehend that such a message would have any traction in the west. ‘If you rape, you will be barred from McDonalds for a month and your car will mysteriously fail to work’. Such a ‘threat’ is unlikely to stop a determined rapist. While the message in the comics is an important one to get out there, is it likely to alter mindsets? I don’t think it necessarily will.

Ella

 

Beach Balls

‘Siesta’ time, not that either of us are having a siesta. It’s just too hot out there in the afternoons. We shall lie low for a couple of hours and relax in the shade awaiting the sun to drop a little.

We spent the morning on the beach. At one point, Sylvia wandered off and returned, looking triumphant. She’d bought a beach ball! Yes, something of a naturist cliche, something we’ve written about before. Nonetheless, here she was with a beach ball she huffed and puffed into for a good five minutes until fully inflated.

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The beach ball has been constant prop in naturist photography since the birth of naturism. It’s what we naturists do, apparently.

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I have to say it’s something I’ve never done, not even with the children, until this morning. Yes, we’ve bought a small football for them to play with, but never a beach ball. Just too much of a cliche.

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Beach balls have long been used to hide certain parts, genitals, in naturist magazines. schonheit beach ball

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Sylvia decided we should play with a beach ball and effectively act out the theme portrayed in so many photographs. I have to say it was quite fun, although I’m not one for drawing attention to myself, so it was odd to be, for a little while, the centre of many people’s attention.

Fortunately, some children decided they’d like to play too, and their parents joined in, so eventually there was quite a crowd of us, all unknown to each other, just throwing and kicking a ball around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I hopped onto the Marketplace and grabbed a nice set of beach ball poses, from Nani, for L$50.

I should also point out that, as I reported last week, it’s now time to tie my hair back on a breezy beach, so I got this hair from Entwined at an IDK event today. While these poses don’t necessarily do it justice, don’t worry, you’ll grow familiar with it over the next 10 days 🙂

I just know that this week is going to push boundaries further and further, all Sylvia’s fault. I go about my naturism quietly, Sylvia is a bit more in-you-face. I’m looking forward to it, and dreading it, in equal proportions.

Ella

 

Carry on frolicking up the nudist camp

This post may go away over some people’s heads! It’s a Brit thing.

In the 1960s, there was a movie franchise in the UK called ‘Carry on‘. The films still receive regular airings on British terrestrial TV even now and, regardless of people’s age, we Brits simply love them. They’re based on our bawdy, risqué ‘seaside’ sense of humour and the dialogue is packed with double entendres.

I’m too young to remember them in the cinemas, and it’s doubtful that someone would make such a movie today, but I know them well from their outings on TV. There will almost certainly be a ‘Carry on’ season every year on BBC or ITV, the main Brit TV channels.

The films made household names of many of the actors. For those who know The Beatles’ work, John Lennon references one of the actors, Charles Hawtrey, at the beginning of ‘Two of Us’ on the ‘Let it Be’ album. That’s how much the people involved percolated into everyone’s, even John Lennon’s, life.

The films also nudged in the direction of nudity. Nothing was revealed, not so much as a nipple, but for its time, for a strait-laced British public, it was ‘edgy’. One film, Carry on Camping, even involves a bit of naturist camp activity, wherein two of the actors involved take their girlfriends to a cinema to see a movie about a nudist camp, and then decided they need to try that in real life. Of course it all goes wrong, but there’s a lot of nudist cliche involved…playing with beach balls, dialogue that refers to ‘frolicking’ and ‘romping’, words only (still) applied to naturists by a lazy media.

In another, British actress Barbara Windsor ends up in a sort of bikini/outfit, I’m not sure what I’d call it (see the photos below).

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Where’s this all leading?

Butterfly Effect have some group gifts available. A nice set of red underwear, a bikini and…the outfit I’m modelling below. (originally sourced via the Second Life Freebies and More blog)

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See what I mean? 🙂

I can practically hear someone saying ‘ooooohhhh…..Matron!‘, a phrase originally coined in the Carry On franchise (specifically ‘Carry on Matron‘) and now back in popular British use when someone innocently says something that has some sexual innuendo attached. (see a selection of British ‘saucy’, double entendre filled postcards below)

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Pookes

 

 

 

Stunning photography

I’ll not make this one of the ‘Postcards from Spain’ type postings as (a) Sylvia and I haven’t done anything today (so far, it’s 830am) to report and (b) it doesn’t particularly fit into the Spanish theme. I could stretch it into a Spanish-themed post, I suppose, but I’d rather not, and just focus on the talent I’m about to show to you.

Sylvia went to bed about midnight last night and I hopped onto SL to go dancing at Commune Utopia’s usual clothing optional Friday night dance.

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It was my absolute pleasure to run into, and talk to, SL avatar Fabio Lazuli, who is an extremely talented photographer and he snapped me at the Commune (above). This is just….wow!

I’m always in awe of those who can photograph in SL properly, as opposed to those of us at SLN who are merely enthusiastic amateur snappers (with the caveat that the blog doesn’t always need stunning photography, just a sense of a naturist place)

Fabio has his own Flickr presence, which I’d encourage you to visit because his photography is majestic, moody, SL-related and involves ‘the nude’. His page is well worth visiting, and I hope he’ll be adding more photos to it soon.

 

Ella

 

ArtisAnna tattoos

While I’m waxing lyrical about the Second Life Freebies and More blog, something that is the staff’s ‘new best friend’ in terms of blogged freebies, I should also point out that ArtisAnna Tattoos have a free group join gift running at the moment.

One of my work colleagues has spent most of this week thinking about getting ‘his and hers’ tattoos with his girlfriend. Nothing as tacky as each other’s names, or both names inked on. Something subtle, he thought.

If he was an SL avi, he couldn’t get much more subtle than this.

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Panther tattoo, hip version, female

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Panther tattoo, hip version, male

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Panther tattoo, hip version, male (2)

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Panther tattoo, shoulder version, male

All tattoos worn in the ’30’ shading (faded), giving an understated sense of tattoos.

Pookes.

Essentials: A naturist wardrobe accessory post

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I’m just in from work (don’t even ask! the traffic was gridlocked this evening!). I need….a ready meal, a bottle of wine, and SL. Time to de-stress, at last. (My other half is working tonight and I’ve got the sofa to myself).

 

I read Ella’s post from Spain -so jealous!- and thought the ‘I need a mini-wardrobe quick’ idea was great, particularly as I do post quite a bit on cheap but top quality bits and bobs that I’d consider ‘naturist wardrobe’.

If I pursue Ella’s idea, then I think the thing most of us, male or female, would go for as an ‘essential buy’ in the event of a lost suitcase would be panties. We’ll have travelled in a pair of pants or jeans, maybe a dress. In the event of a lost suitcase we’d be looking at undergarments as maybe the top essential purchase (after a toothbrush and, perhaps, a comb). Fortunately, the Second Life Freebies & More blog rides to the rescue, again, in the form of L$1 black lace panties which are on sale at Klepsydra. So that, at least, is us left feeling clean and fresh in the undies department.

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I’d be livid at the loss of my pareos and sarongs. They’re light, serve a multitude or purpose, including a bit of a cover up if necessary. With Garishlypaintedplanes budget airlines having lost my suitcase, then, another L$1 item from Klepsydra, this delightful pink Zenaida short skirt would provide a bit of cover-up modesty while my suitcase flies back from Prague, Zanthe or wherever else they’ve mislaid it.

Lovely items, both. You’d be a fool not to avail of this incredible offer.

Pookes

Postcards from Spain: 2015/1, Day 1, A bit of a shock

Well!!!!!!

I landed in Alicante earlier today, and then had to hang around for 90 minutes in the airport until Sylvia’s flight arrived. Next week it will be her who plays the waiting game, as I’ll be flying home while she hangs around waiting for her flight.

90 minutes wait was fine. I texted home to let them know I’d arrived safely, then killed time with a couple of cups of coffee. I don’t like coffee much, being much more of a tea person, and getting proper tea -English breakfast tea- is a tough ask in an airport. Much easier in resort, where there’s enough of an ex-pat community to understand what you mean by ‘a pot of tea’. 🙂

So it was a couple of cups of over-priced decaffeinated coffee and a ‘read’ of a Spanish newspaper. After several years holidaying in the country, I can usually flick through El Pais and pick up the gist of the stories, even though my Spanish is rudimentary.

I’d pre-arranged to meet Sylvia at the baggage carousels when her flight arrived. She recognised me although she was…almost unrecognisable when she came running up and gave me a hug! The person I remembered, and re-imagined for SL purposes a couple of weeks ago has changed quite a bit.

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My SL re-imagining of Sylvia as I recall her the last time we met in RL.

 

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Once we’d driven up to the resort and were getting settled in, I had to hop onto SL in order to revise my re-imagining of her for this week’s ‘Postcards from Spain’ series.

Her hair is almost shaved at the side now, a more masculine (to my eyes) kind of look. We unpacked and undressed…well, we undressed in our respective bedrooms first and then started the process of unpacking. And I put the kettle on. Yes, more tea.

Tea made, bags unpacked and clothes removed, we sat in the shade, on the terrace, for a further catch up; the two hour drive from Alicante was a constant buzz of us talking that still isn’t exhausted. We shared photographs, memories, and laughter before Sylvia opted for a bit of a lie down, leaving me here on my own, and not feeling exhausted for once. Often, I find travelling exhausting but I feel absolutely alive right now.

I had a quick rummage around the SL blogosphere and, courtesy of Julianna Seriman at the Fab Free blog, I spotted this long tank, which is on sale (L$49) at Mrs. B’s Designs. Intended to be worn with a matching denim skirt, according to Julianna’s review, I opted not to purchase the skirt 😉 because this is very much something that can be worn as nightwear and, in my current circumstances, early morning day-wear for that early morning trip to the beach, and maybe an early morning skinny dip (depending on the waves). I have, indeed, packed something similar for nightwear purposes this holiday, and so I’ve opted to model it as I may do tomorrow morning on the playa.

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Photo taken at Su Casa Naturist

In a departure from the usual ‘what I saw today’ postings that form the basis of the ‘Postcards’ series, I’ve decided that what I’ll try to add into them when I post is a secondary theme, ‘How I stocked my holiday wardrobe after the airline lost my suitcase’. It has happened to me before. Fortunately, it happened when returning home. My plane landed at Manchester, my suitcase in L.A!

There’s such a lot of great summery things around at the moment that I would like to imagine the need to head out with a credit card in order to be able to quickly build a wardrobe. Even naturists need clothes!

I’ve no idea what we’re doing for the rest of the evening. I may get on to SL a little later. Oddly enough, I find that my in world time increases when on holiday. The blog has one focus, the ‘Postcards’ series, and I can concentrate on merely replicating what I’ve seen in a RL naturist context during the day.

 

 

Ella

 

 

Naked in Malaysia, a follow up post.

The young British woman who ‘offended’ a sacred mountain by going topless with others last week, and then received a short jail sentence and fine, arrived home at the weekend and made a statement to the media about her actions and ordeal.

You may wish to note that the video (and the Daily Mail, and possibly some other news sources) erroneously identifies the young woman as a ‘nudist’. She’s not.

I would have imagined that our previous postings on the matter would have been the end of it, were it not for a conversation with one of my former, recently retired, colleagues earlier today. As a young man, in the mid-1960s, he lived in what was then known as British North Borneo, and actually lived in the Sabah region where these tourists had stripped off on the mountain.

One of Sabah’s political leaders, Joseph Pairin Kitingan, went as far as claiming this act had brought on the sacred mountain’s wrath which had resulted in an earthquake, resulting in numerous deaths.

My former colleague told me that, prior to the country becoming Malaysia, and turned into a largely Muslim country, local tribeswomen ‘conducted their lives naked from the waist up’.

‘I can see how the western press might like to jump onto an anti-Islamic bandwagon regarding this’, he told me, ‘but what’s important to remember is that Mr. Kitingan isn’t a Muslim, but Catholic, yet seems attuned to the pre-Christian ideas, strong locally, that the mountain is sacred because it contains the spirits of their ancestors. In which event, one might reasonably conclude that their female ancestors’ spirits were all routinely naked from the waist up anyway!’ (my paraphrasing of our conversation earlier)

Despite Sabah being 65% Muslim, another 25% are Christian, with the remainder being a mix of Hindu, Buddhist, other religions and none, but -as often occurs- it’s ancient, sometimes tribal religions that marbles their way through a current ‘spirituality’ (cf: many Pagan feasts and their traditions being mixed up in Christian festivals like Easter and Christmas).

One thing’s for sure: when Mr. Kitingan speaks of a ‘sacred mountain’, he isn’t speaking of spirits of the mountain in an Islamic, ‘there is one God but Allah’ sense, nor in a Christian ‘thou shalt put no other gods before me’ sense.

 

 

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Strange, or perhaps it isn’t, how history, news events and a salacious, self-loathing media manage to jumble a lot of things up until they make no sense at all.

 

Ella