The Ethical Naturism Triad

Ethical Naturism integrates three foundational principles into a holistic life philosophy:

Acceptance of self – No body is perfect; no self is without flaw.  However, the way we acknowledge our imperfections and live as our true selves can be a source of great beauty and a pathway to self-actualization.

Respect for others – No body is perfect; no self is without flaw.  However, the way we treat others and respect them as they are can be a source of great goodness and fellowship.

Harmony with Nature – We are all creatures of the earth and interconnected with the whole of creation.  Opening ourselves to Nature can awaken us to the miracle that is our life and all life.

Stéphane Deschênes, proprietor of Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park, produced a nice illustration of these principles in a “Triad,” which is shown below1:

 

 

The Triad is also embodied in the International Naturist Federation’s definition of Naturism:

Naturism is a way of life in harmony with nature characterized by the practice of communal nudity with the intention of encouraging self‐respect, respect for others and for the environment.

Comment –

The Ethical Naturism Triad is about relationships: to oneself, to others and to Nature.  It is essentially an expanded version of the Golden Rule… to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.   However, it expands this rule by applying it not just to others but also to yourself and to Nature.  This seems like an obvious thing to do, but people have a way of neglecting or mistreating themselves, others, or Nature in some form or another.  So, the Triad guides one to build healthy, balanced relationships with all three (yourself, others and Nature) and by doing so improve your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.

Obviously, these principles can be instructive regardless of whether one’s clothes are on or off.  So, what does the Triad have to do with Naturism?  Well, Naturism is a tool, a way to inculcate these values into one’s life.  There is something about being socially nude with others in a well-managed Naturist setting that causes people to instinctively adopt respectful behaviors and manners.  These are innate, but the authentic and pure experience of others and the natural world has a way of releasing one from the drives, insecurities and artificially imposed conditioning of textile society.  The Naturist experience thus evokes a sense of connection and belonging that is distinctly convivial and that nurtures a beneficent culture that is not easily achieved in everyday society.  In this way, the practice of Ethical Naturism helps people to internalize the attitudes, manners and habits that promote a healthy mind in a healthy body, and this guides their conduct regardless of how they are dressed.

People engage in nudism for a variety of reasons, and no one approach is necessarily superior or righter than another.  However, the Ethical Naturist approach is attractive because, besides being just plain fun, it can inform the set of ethics one chooses to live by.  More than a century of experience has shown that, when properly practiced, Naturism is effective at helping people lead healthier and happier lives.  Who doesn’t want that?  Moreover, it is fair to imagine, that if enough people embraced Ethical Naturism, our society might perhaps become just a little bit nicer.

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethical_Naturism#/media/File:Ethical_Naturism_Conceptual_Model.jpg

 

Dale Sneaks Into A Nudist Camp

Every nudist/naturist has a story.  The process of taking that first leap or of being a practitioner navigating cultural taboo is a journey.  Everyone who has taken this path has had challenges that brought personal growth, and the narrative of their life has been shaped by the experience. 

Today, we share one such tale found on YouTube titled Dale Sneaks into a Nudist Camp.  It concerns a young man who innately senses the essentiality and rightness of nudism to who he is.  A good-natured pastor’s son, Dale is curious and irrepressibly drawn to what he has been told is prohibited.  Forbidden knowledge is a classic temptation, and he decides to perpetrate a deception of his parents to travel secretively to a nudist camp.  His adventure is filled with trials and tribulations, but he is rewarded by the discovery of the uniquely human and convivial qualities of nudist culture.  Many readers will nod or smile when they hear aspects of his story that are common to their own experience.

Dale’s journey is not easy.  He has a series of hardships as well as nervy and awkward moments.  His initial trespassing into the camp is particularly challenging (and comical), but after 20 minutes, his eyes are opened to the normalcy of it all.  He observes that there are all kinds of bodies, and that no one is embarrassed; all are accepted.  He feels released; curiosity turns to appreciation, and he feels free and relaxed about the body.  He notices that people seem real, open, relaxed and happy, and he feels encouraged by a joyful presence of humanity that he had not experienced before.  It is an epiphany.  He committed some wrongs to get to there, but they turn out to be those painfully awkward, fully human stumbles to a moment of grace.  The taboo he broached is rendered faulty.  What he experienced is, in fact, good!  But for a sunburn, his adventure finishes all’s well that ends well… especially because his mother did not pry.  He crossed the Rubicon, and his life changed for the better.

Enjoy listening to this and reflect on your own naturist journey.  A link is provided below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kioLzxhL5A8&t=4s

Note: If you are under-age, don’t use this video as inspiration to do something foolish.  Times have changed, and Dale took a risk.  Such a trip today could present considerable danger, and you are likely to cause problems for everybody involved.  There are safer ways to bring Naturism into your life.

Halcyon Memories

August has arrived, and that means it is time for the Ethical Naturist to turn off the computer, close up the shop and get outside for some recuperative holidays of recreation.  Life is challenging, and the better we care for ourselves, the better we can care for others.  So, today’s piece conveys what we are seeking for the weeks ahead.  It comes from a book titled Rhapsody in Nude published in 1949 by the Halcyon Outdoor Club, an association unfortunately lost to history. 

This should be our last post until sometime after Labor Day.  Stay tuned though because lots of good ideas are percolating for the fall and beyond.  Until then, we wish blessings of sunshine, laughter, good health and friendship to everybody.  Enjoy.

 “Outside my trailer it is one of those star-drenched, radiant nights intended for dreams and the makers of dreams.  The moonlight has laid a quivering path of light across the pool, and the white rocks are gleaming on the distant mountains.

From the hills a soft breeze is blowing gently swaying the shrubs along the trails.  Clouds move lazily between the moon and the stars.  The air is mild, sweet scented with the flowers of the valley.

My house trailer stands under a giant oak tree in Camp Halcyon.  The camp lies in an idyllic location in a little mountain valley thirty miles from Pittsburgh.  It is a place of peace, ideal in which to read, write, meditate or dream.  It is a tiny haven of stillness between green mountains.

The magic memory of the days I have already lived here comes to me, every now and again, like the echo of some youthful love – mellow and sweet creeping across the barrier of weeks, months and years, to rest for a moment, like a sigh, like a kiss… and it is gone.

It is a free, healthy and simple existence I am living here, bathing in the open and running wet and naked knee-deep through the grass in the early morning sunshine, after waking to watch the dawn.

And out in the busy world live people, millions of them, with too many walls around them, too much roof above them, too many clothes upon them and too much food inside them – many of them sick and unhappy, tired of life and living.

Here in this hidden little valley, we live a wholesome and nudist life in the golden sunshine of Western Pennsylvania.  It is a real life, a happy life, a life worth living.

My trailer is compact and comfortable, my food is healthful and simple, and I am happy and contented here.  Nudist camp life with its friendliness, its spirit of cooperation and simplicity will always be my ideal way of living – a happy haven away from a world which bids fair to wreck us in a maelstrom of worries and frayed nerves.

Here in Halcyon, a mountain paradise which beckons him who is weary of a harsh world, life is easy, serene.  There are no yesterdays or tomorrows.  Time is without beginning or end, for here is a place which truly is a bit of heaven come to earth, a testimony of what our world of strife and turmoil might be like if all people chose to make it so…” 1

1 “Halcyon Memories,” Rhapsody in Nude, (Harrisburg, PA: Harrisburg Book Club, 1949), P. 105.

What Trees Can Teach Us About Our Bodies and Ourselves

The following passage titled “Trees” by German author and poet Hermann Hesse is not about Nudism, but it is very much about Naturism.  It may be bold to submit such a beautiful meditation as support to the Naturist idea; we do so humbly, but we believe the “Nature” part of Naturism is just as essential as the “Nude” part of Naturism. 

The human body, as the physical manifestation of the self, is as the body of a tree.  Though our life experience may be different than that of trees, Hesse reveals the wisdom and spiritual power that can be gained from them.  If you have ever marveled at a magnificent tree or felt the mood of a verdant forest, you have sensed some of what he expresses here so eloquently. 

There is much in Naturist/Nudist literature describing the evocative experience of being naked in Nature.  The growing interest in “Free-hiking” also suggests that something inside us is responsive and awakes to interacting with Nature unclothed.  Perhaps nakedness makes it easier, if we “have learned how to listen,” to hear what trees and the rest of creation have to say.  Enjoy.

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farm boy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. . . . Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.” 1

1 Hermann Hesse, “Trees,” in Wandering: Notes and Sketches, Translated by James Wright (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1972)

Seeing and Being Seen

“We come here because we like to see and be seen.  Really… if someone isn’t comfortable seeing or being seen… well, they shouldn’t come.”  So declared a nudist couple in a recent poolside conversation.  The comment initially struck us as odd and perhaps supporting the textile view that nudists are just voyeurs and exhibitionists.  However, these folks went on to explain with earnestness and sincerity why they held this view.  It was an interesting conversation that is worth sharing, so we have tried, as faithfully as memory allows, to capture the substance of it below.

First, they pointed out that in a nudist setting everybody looks, but nobody stares.  This in fact occurs in all communal groups whether people are wearing clothes or not.  It is human nature to be aware of those about you and to form impressions of who you are with.  Being nude adds a dimension and is better because people are presented and observed as they truly are not as an adorned or masqueraded version of themselves.  It is naked truth.  This couple basically said, “We like to be honest and authentic with others who are being honest and authentic with us.”

Second, they said that to see and be seen nude is like a relational bargain.  To be naked is to be vulnerable, and to present yourself in a vulnerable state to others is to make a declaration of trust.  They said it is like when a dog rolls over and invites you to rub its belly.  It is a gesture of trust that establishes a friendly bond and is graceful to the parties involved.  This couple was saying “We enjoy giving and receiving trust to make friends and experience being in community with others in this peaceful, friendly and cooperative way.”

Third, they pointed out that to be a nudist is to be in the minority.  Society at large does not embrace this practice.  Those that do know that it is good and like to mingle with others that see things the same way.  It is affirming.  Thus, the couple explained, “We like to recognize and be recognized by others as being part of this lifestyle that is right and good.”  It is an act of solidarity.

Not every nudist/naturist feels as motivated or ideological as these people do, but the points they made seem fair and reasonable.  They were thoughtful and were clearly engaging in Nudism for right reasons.  Even if you skinny dip just for fun, without any motivating philosophy, you will still, in all likelihood, experience or feel some sense of honesty, authenticity, trust and common bond when doing it with others.  This is what these folks were talking about.

Like One Reborn

This past weekend was blessed with warmth and sunshine on the little corner of earth we occupy.  Everything popped.  The trees are green again.  Flowers are in blossom.  Birds have returned from their migration, and all is alive and awakened from winter slumber.  The beauty is stunning.  For those of us who live with long, dark and cold winters, this is a time of rebirth.  In this spirit, it seemed fitting to share the following piece of romantic writing.  Titled “Like One Reborn,” it was written by Alline George and published in the April 1934 edition of The Nudist magazine.

While not explicitly about springtime, her work captures beautifully the transformative power of Nature.  Her experience stripping away the artifices of manufactured society and opening herself to the evocative beauty of the natural world illustrate how Naturism can enable one to experience the rapture of being alive and feeling free.  It is clear Alline George got the magic and was inspired. 

You may note that she uses the word “man” a few times in the piece.  To be clear for gender sensitive readers, these are references to humankind not to the male gender.  Enjoy.

“Maybe I am a trifle mad, born as I was twenty-five percent human, seventy-five percent elemental, being forced to exist in a most complex man-arranged world, surrounded by man-opinionated people for eons and ages, then suddenly, with no mental preparation, to be allowed to GO HOME, home to an island filled with dim thickets, dew laden grass, and filtered moonlight that was ever trying to catch the shadows that stole out as dusk deepened; an island where soft singing pines nodded to white bodied birch trees that stood barefoot on a carpet of soft moss and fragrant needles.  Around this Father Neptune had poured his choicest vintage of cold intoxicating lake water, and so silently had it come that not a stone or leaf had rippled enough to disturb the fair landscape at the bottom of the lake.

To this enchanted spot, overarched with a sky emblazoned with stars, I came like a homesick child.  My half mad mate in his sensitivities to my starved soul had called forth the mystic elements, fire and a huge light and the warmth reached out across the water and drew me in.

In the clear, keen night air that called for coats in that far-away man country, I suddenly flung all clothing aside and all white and nude and joyous, I rushed over the dewy carpet of needles into the dim forest and there for a moment I stood tiptoe, stretching out my arms to the white bodied birch trees, with whom I felt a sisterhood, and then slipped into the silken folds of the water, and so quietly that there was no sound save the murmuring lullaby of the waves as they received me into their arms.  While I lay there in the cool embrace of the lake gazing up into the midst of whatever gods there be – I recognized my oneness with it all.

Suddenly back onto the shore, wrapped about with the soft breezes, drops of clear crystal dripping from my body, silhouetted in the glowing flame, I, standing on the cool earth with Nature’s three mystics, air, fire and water, in attendance, let all conscious thought leave me and went wholly mad, or all earthly madness left me and there stripped to life, I was for once, sane.  Throwing open my arms to the all of everything, and crying out in a wild pagan call, sinking on to the magnetic earth and looking up with a cleared vision, I knew I had come to my heritage.  Never again could I be a cringing slave, for I had felt the majesty of life.” 1

1 Alline George, “Like One Reborn,” The Nudist, April 1934, Vol. III #4, p. 23.

Mark Twain on Modesty

Late in his life, the great American author Mark Twain wrote a collection of satirical essays examining the disconnect between conventionally held religious beliefs and the actuality of human morality.  He used an imaginative take on bible stories to reveal the contradictions and hypocrisy that occur in a world made by God and under the care of flawed humankind.  While taking humanity to task, he also holds God responsible for creating human nature the way it is.

Because of their controversial nature, these essays were not published until 1962 when they were presented in a book titled Letters From The Earth. The tone of the essays is edgy, as you will see below.  This perhaps occurred because they were written during a difficult time in Twain’s life, after the death of his wife and one of his daughters.

The excerpt below explores the value of modesty through the lens of the Adam and Eve story.  Twain rightly hits the mark that modesty is an artificiality of the mind.  He also points out something Naturists know well, that it does not take long for people to let go of body shame to the point where they don’t even think of their nakedness.

“They heard God walking among the bushes, which was an afternoon custom of his, and they were smitten with fright. Why? Because they were naked. They had not known it before. They had not minded it before; neither had God.

In that memorable moment immodesty was born; and some people have valued it ever since, though it would certainly puzzle them to explain why.

Adam and Eve entered the world naked and unashamed — naked and pure-minded; and no descendant of theirs has ever entered it otherwise. All have entered it naked, unashamed, and clean in mind. They have entered it modest. They had to acquire immodesty and the soiled mind; there was no other way to get it.

The convention miscalled modesty has no standard, and cannot have one, because it is opposed to nature and reason, and is therefore an artificiality and subject to anybody’s whim, anybody’s diseased caprice. And so… in lands inhabited by the innocent savage, the refined European lady soon gets used to full-grown native stark-nakedness and ceases to be offended by it.  A highly cultivated French count and countess — unrelated to each other — who were marooned in their nightclothes, by shipwreck, upon an uninhabited island in the eighteenth century, were soon naked. Also ashamed — for a week. After that their nakedness did not trouble them, and they soon ceased to think about it.”1

1 Mark Twain, Letters From The Earth, compiled by Bernard DeVoto, (New York: Harper & Row 1962), Letter III

Two Elder Ladies

Some time ago while visiting a Florida resort, I observed an elder lady stepping into the pool.  She had long, straight, pepper-grey hair that was bright against her full but not overly-done tan.   Her skin was loose and bore the wrinkles of age, but her musculature still had some fullness and tone.  Hers was a body that had been lived in and worked but also had been cared for.  She was a picture of purity as she stepped into the pool, which she did with grace and poise.  She was naked and without care, just going for a morning swim.  I felt admiration and thought her worthy of emulation.

A few days later, I found myself a guest at an elegant, private country club elsewhere in the state.  I saw an elder lady walk into the room.  She was dressed in a shiny blouse and white slacks.  Her sandals looked like the best money could buy.  She carried an expensive handbag and sported fine jewelry.  Her hair was coiffed and unnaturally blonde.  Her face did not show wrinkles but the stretch of a cosmetic surgeon’s handiwork and a generous helping of make-up.  Her appearance befitted one who occupies a perch at the top of high society, and this was so by design.  I thought her a cartoon and without beauty.

It is wrong to judge these people by their appearance.  They are probably both fine individuals each pursuing their own vision of happiness.  However, this portrait in contrast crystalized for me a virtue of Naturism.  To be comfortable in one’s own skin, bodily imperfections and all and to limit the contrivance of one’s personal image seems good for the soul.  I have nothing against clothes (well I kind of do actually…) or dressing for an occasion, but I choose the Naturist lady at the pool as a preferred model for how to age gracefully.

Tribute to Thomas H. Pine

Thomas H. Pine, an exemplar of Ethical Naturism, passed away on April 9, 2019. He was, among other things, a vocal member of the Christian Naturist Community and author of The Naked Truth Newdsletter. Over the years, his work helped many people to reconcile what they knew in their hearts to be true (that mere nakedness is not inherently sinful or immodest) with what society and institutional church dogma had taught them (that it is the opposite). It was a noble thing to do.

Naturist practice can enable people to better realize and accept their authentic selves, in body, mind and spirit, and to develop more considerate and harmonious attitudes to those around them and to Nature. For Christian Naturists, and Naturists of other faiths, this tuning to a truer self that is in relation with others and all creation has a divine quality. They can see their faith manifest in Naturism like a form of prayer. It is thus fitting for them to interweave aspects of their religion into their Naturism. An excerpt from one of Pine’s last newdsletters (Volume 20, #1, January 2019) captures this interweaving well and is presented below. One need not be a Christian to appreciate it.

“At no time, did my explorations remotely cause me to fall into sin, or to throw over my faith. In many ways, naturism has deepened my faith and enhanced my philosophical view of the world around me. Being naked in nature, swimming naked in the sea or a lake is often a spiritual experience for me and I often find myself thanking God for leading me into naturism.

So… if you’re a Christian on the cusp of exploring naturism, or a long-time Christian naturist who is experiencing push-back from family or church, take heart. There is nothing inherent in naturism that goes counter to your deeply held faith. Yes, people in naturism do wrong things, but so do people wearing clothing all around you. Your state of dress is not an issue. You are not being immodest when you are naked with others. I’ve often said, “Modesty is more a state of mind than a state of dress,” for I’ve seen naked people behaving modestly and clothed people behaving immodestly. Our bodies are what they are… our bodies, clothed or otherwise. It’s how we behave that’s of paramount importance.

Let me end with some of the best God-inspired advice in Scripture, Romans 12:1-2: 1 Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”

Amen.

With Pistols Drawn

Oh yes! We will never forget that! Five deputies came with pistols drawn!  They must have thought we had horns.  They were afraid of us!… and they were the ones who had the guns!” 1

Can you imagine armed policemen storming onto private property with guns drawn to arrest you and your friends for being harmlessly naked?  Can you imagine being a body conscious cop having to go bust a bunch of nudies?  It is absurd, and yet one can tremble at the thought… LOL.

The quote above (from someone who was there) recalls a raid on the American League for Physical Culture during the summer of 1930.  In the early days of American nudism, raids such as this were not uncommon, and the American League was raided more than once, most notably on the night of December 7, 1931.  They were having a meeting at their gym in Manhattan, a private setting away from public view and with doors locked.  Police arrived without a search warrant and, when refused entry, broke in (prohibition style) with sledgehammers and crowbars.  Everybody was arrested and quite a fright was inflicted on all involved, particularly the women and children.  Once in court, the American League members pleaded “Not Guilty!”  Their attorney established that they were acting privately and without lewd behavior, and the judge found them innocent of all charges.  It was a key early victory that was later replicated (most of the time) in other jurisdictions around the country.

It is totally appropriate for a free society to establish legal code concerning nudity in public versus private spaces.  It is also totally natural for successive generations to test boundaries and clarify that code to suit the culture of their time.  The intrepid pioneers of the nascent nudist movement faced legal conditions that were both hostile and unclear.  By their efforts, important legal concepts were established that continue to be relevant today.  Importantly, they clarified in law that nudity is not inherently lewd or indecent but that improper behaviors for a public setting are what can render it so.  Consequently, on the one hand, we have World Naked Bike Rides that occur today without mass arrest, but on the other, we have long established nude beaches that have been shut down for becoming places of excessive promiscuity.

Anyone who has engaged with the Top-Free Movement or the Free Beaches Movement is aware that law concerning body exposure continues to evolve.  Distinctions between what is acceptable and what is not continue to be litigated and legislated.  This is important work, and it is important to get right.  Naturism/Nudism offers real benefits when rules and culture are right to bring out the best in people and inhibit the worst.  It has taken generations for this social movement to get to where it is now.  It will likely take generations more to achieve the best of what’s possible.  We should therefore be grateful for the trail blazed by those who went before us and conduct ourselves in ways that uphold what they established and advance the cause.

1  From “Sky Farm at 61,” N Magazine, Vol. 12.4 summer 1993, p. 75.