Thoughts, lessons, and theology from an eclectic witch from a varied background.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Veil and Modesty

From here
The veil and modest dress are hallmarks of many faiths. Perhaps the most visible today is that of Islam with their distinctive burqa. Not all who follow Dea are called to wear a veil, as I do. Indeed, there are many who follow her that do not. I am actually in the minority as of the time of this writing.

Modesty in dress and decorum, however, is considered important for those who follow Dea. Some would argue that the traditional images of Dea, including the statue of Hestia to the left, present a very clear indication that all who would follow Dea are required to wear a head covering of some sort. Upon some examination of cultures around the world, it becomes clear that head covering for women (and men, but I am focusing upon women because I am one) is an inconclusive thing.

Looking into antiquity, we find it difficult to determine precisely what rules can be applied in general for dress in all cultures. Modesty, it would seem, is a culturally dependent concept.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines modesty as:
~ the quality of not being too proud or confident about yourself or your abilities
~ the quality of behaving and especially dressing in ways that do not attract sexual attention
~ propriety in dress, speech, or conduct
Many people assume that when modesty is mentioned with respect to dress and demeanor that it is specifically with reference to sexual attention. This is inaccurate. Modest dress and behavior is such that conforms with the social standards of the culture that you are within. Many devotees of Dea are within a Western culture. As such, modest dress and behavior would reflect elements of this cultural basis. If a devotee of Dea was within a culture where nudity was the norm, their dressing in even the most casual of Western attire would be an immodest act because it draws attention to them and violates the norms of propriety of the culture they are within.

Now, this can lead to a thorny problem when considering the question of what of modest dress and veiling is appropriate when it moves against the cultural norms of where a devotee of Dea is centered. It is possible to accommodate the cultural context that one moves within and still retain their adherence to acts that are required of them, be it by way of taboo, dictates of their superiors, or something else that I can't think of at this time. Modest dress can be modified to fit the constraints of the dominant culture while allowing the devotee to adhere to their typical practices.

In the case of the dominant nudist culture, it could be that one wears the bare minimum of clothing. Thus,  
Image from here
they are making concessions to the dominant culture but retaining their own internal sense of propriety. Most situations where modest dress is adapted to fit the dominant culture are not so extreme. The culture that I am within has at times a hostile response to women who veil. As such, I would wear a headband or a kercheif which are not looked at in askance by the dominant culture.

Sometimes, however, it may be necessary to dress in an distinctive fashion. When choosing to do so, be certain that your behavior and speech continue to be modest within respect to the culture you are immersed within. When necessary to determine how modest your speech should be, always err on the side of excessive politeness. Curtness in speech and action should only happen when necessary.

Now, I am not the best example of this gracious decorum. If you follow my Facebook wall, you find that I fairly regularly will lapse and use vulgar phrases. This is something that I'm working on. (Having children who parrot everything I say has been proving an exceptionally effective goad on this point.) When circumstances are such that you feel that you can let slip some measure of formality and give way to more colloquial mannerisms, continue to adhere to the first of the definitions of modesty.

At the bare minimum, a devotee of Dea is wise to remain humble. We may have lapses and make more then our share of mistakes on the matters of behavior, dress, and speech. As long as we remember to take an honest stock of who and what we are, we will continue to be modest. Or, to put it more bluntly, "Don't get too big for your britches."

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