Nude Huaorani Tribe of Ecuador

Target practice with a spear in a Huaorani Tribal village along the Napo River in Ecuador.

Obviously I didn’t take this photo. I found it doing research on the Huaorani Tribe which still lives in the region I visited a few days ago. If one goes further down river into Yasuni National Park, the men in a few isolated villages still have this dress code. The penis is held against their body in the upright position with a string, a practice begun when a boy becomes a man in their society. To be seen without the penis string is akin to being seen naked for most North and South Americans. What is seen over the string is the foreskin which stretches over time.

Blowguns as the hunting weapon of choice.

The two women in this image, on the left hand side with the children, have the same string which likely signifies that they are dressed as well. The best guess would be to say that if one is without their string, there must be an intention for some private activity between a man and a woman.

Huaorani young woman in a village.

In the last image, a young woman has a stylised version of the belly string. Other similar photos show her with other young women all dressed the same obviously taking part in a tribal dance. While I was in Misahualli, along the same River not too distant from the isolated villages where the people still live, hunt and work nude, a similar dance was given by some women from a different village. Of course, being near civilisation, they wore grass skirts and a coconut half-shell bra for the performance to welcome the Gringo visitors to their village. I didn’t make it to the distant villages as it would have required an additional few days. Since I was part of a small group of eight with a larger agenda, I deferred to the group. Perhaps someday I will make another Amazon journey to see the more isolated villages of the Huaorani Tribe.

Naturist Life Along the Amazon

I found this carving on an abandoned building along the Napo River which becomes the Amazon River further downstream. This is Amazon country.

As promised, I am bringing forth some of my Amazonian experiences here for you. Today, there is no nudity to speak of among the Amazon River system native tribes. Further down the Napo River, in the National Park of Yasuni, there are a few tribes that still spend a lot of time nude though the modern world is making incursions into this ancient culture because of contact due to tourism.

North Americans are well aware of the nude tribes through various videos, photos, and National Geographic articles. What people don’t necessarily realise is that prior to contact with “White” people [the Spanish to begin with] and their religion of Christianity, nudity was the only way life was experienced along the rivers that feed the Amazon, as well as the Amazon River itself which is formed at the junction of the Napo River and the Maranon River, just after Iquitos in Peru. These were the last tribes to be impacted by exposure to the western world.

Painting found on the high mesa before Banos

The image to the right which I found on the highland mesa between the Andes and the Cordillera de Los Lyanganantes, as we were making our final stage to Banos, paints an Ecuadorian version of the Garden of Eden. It reminded me of Will Forest‘s novel called Aglow which deals with the prehistoric native world of Central and South America, a good book to read in my opinion. Of course, the image is modern showing modern people in the “Agua Santos,” the hot springs at Banos, Ecuador. Still, the truth is there to be seen in the image, the truth that it wasn’t that long ago that life was lived nude when conditions were favourable, weather conditions, not necessarily societal conditions.

Our guide was visiting the site we found ourselves in along the river, for only the second time. He had been there as a youth more than twenty years earlier and remembered the people in the native village being nude. Today they wore costumes that showed a different heritage – grass skirts, robes, coconut shell bras, wild animal pelts, and feathers. In spite of the disconnect with their own history, the journey was well worth taking for me. There were enough little things that pointed to the reality of times gone by where life was lived naturally along the Amazon.

The Comforts of Being Natural When at Home in Olon

Back at our casa in Olon after a four-day adventure to the Amazon and back.

It’s always good to get home, and that is what we call our rented casa here in Ecuador, after a time spent away on one adventure or another. One of the first things I did was to steal a bit of naked time on the upper balcony after covering up the railings with blankets so that I could have some privacy. Over the next few days I hope to use my experiences for posts here. There is a lot to explore from a naturist’s perspective about the Amazon and the land between the coast and the Amazon.

Today was spent going over more than six hundred photos with the objective of somehow reducing the number to a more manageable two hundred which is still too many. I also had to send photos to three others, photos which featured them. Of course, with those photos now delivered, I can delete most of them, keeping just the best. Then, once lunch was finished, it was time for our ten kilometre walk along the beach before heading back to the casa. It has been a good day, and now I’m going to sit back with my wife and enjoy some wine on the upper balcony.

Discovering the World of Social Naturism – Green Haven Sun Club

At the entrance to the Green Haven Sun Club grounds in Saskatchewan.

I have been going to Green Haven Sun Club not far out of Regina, Saskatchewan for a number of years as the photo to the right serves as witness. I have often gone several times a year using various other reasons for going other than simply for a naturist time-out. For the first three years, I used it as a base from which I would travel on the Estevan for accutherapy appointments in order to deal with seasonal allergy issues (By the way, they worked and I basically have no allergies to speak of). As well, I would use it as a base from which I would travel to the city of Regina for book signing events, something that will happen again in two and a half weeks’ time. A few times, it simply became a change of scenery while I wrote poetry or worked on research.

In the recent past, changes have been occurring at Green Haven. Besides the usual monthly potluck gathering, and Rough Rider football on the big screen in the community hall, there has been an attempt to offer more activities such as painting sessions. In the winter months, monthly naturist swims in a Regina city pool are a highlight for both those living at Green Haven and those living either in or close to the city.

The group at Green Haven has accepted my wife and myself as occasional visitors to the grounds. It’s not always sunny and warm when I go to the site as my scheduled appointments in Estevan sometimes happen during cool and damp times. During those uninviting weeks where enjoyment of camping and sunshine and warmth are unlikely, I usually find myself camping alone. But, I’m never really alone at Green Haven as a number of the people there are year-round residents. I know that if I had to find myself needing to relocate, away from my home in rural Saskatchewan, it would be very tempting to make Green Haven my home community.

Discovering Green Haven through the Federation of Canadian Naturists, opened a new world to me. I no longer was isolated every time that my clothing fell off. There was a place where there were others like me, simply wanting a safe place to be clothing free. The effect upon one’s psyche in discovering and taking part in social nudity is powerful. Suddenly one’s body stops being offensive, and in concert with that, a person feels validated. Finally one can accept that it was okay to be a naturist, nude in the presence of others.

Being Cocksure -and the Problem of Being Naked as a Man

Priapus – Man ruled by his penis

Being a man in the modern western world is not something easy to live with, especially if you are a man who is not cut in the classic mode of a “man’s man”. Being a man who embraces naturism and the opportunities to experience the world while nakeis even more problematical. Men instil fear in children and women, and often in other adult males as well.

Since the rise of the desert religions of the Islamic, Hebrew and Christian peoples, the delicate balance of power between men and woman has been shattered with a dogmatic oppression of the feminine. Though either loathe to admit it, or consciously unaware of it, men fear the power of the feminine. And they react to that activated fear, and not in good ways. Naked men instil even greater fear.

For a long time, I thought that patriarchy was rule by men who oppressed women, that if women had enough power they would bring an end to patriarchy. But, life is teaching me differently. Many women have joined men in maintaining the status quo. In making these statements, I am not casting blame on either the men or women who believe that a woman is somehow less than a man. Rather, I am simply noting what I see happening in the world around me.

Men and women and their children are in trouble with each other and the world in which they live. Collectively they find scapegoats to blame for the mess. Individually they blame someone else,or something else for their situation in life and their unhappiness. Rather than take ownership of their own problems, they want the others carry the burden, to be scapegoats. They religiously avoid looking within themselves and taking responsibility for what they would discover there. And if they do look within, it is not themselves, but the devil that is discovered. They see themselves as victims.

This is the context of our modern world, a patriarchal world where owning a penis is power. And, all of this is based on the illusions we maintain through lying and denying to ourselves. We don’t sit still with ourselves long enough to appreciate the gifts of our bodies, minds and souls. We don’t sit still long enough to appreciate the gifts that others bring to us through relationship and association. And because of that, men of power abuse their power, be they a Trump, or movie director, or actor, or church leader, or the local coach and teacher. Not all men are abusive, but enough of them to confirm the collective belief. A man with a penis, a cocksure man, is to be feared.

Negative Reactions to Nudity Are Based on Pain

When Things Fall Apart

So much anger, fear and pain is doing a number on all of us, regardless of which side of anger and fear we find ourselves at any given time. It doesn’t matter which side of an idea or conflict we find ourselves. All we know is what we feel, that we are under siege and that the world is falling apart, going to hell in a hand basket. There is no doubt that when it comes to the world of naturism and nudity, there almost feels to be an accentuated degree of believing that the world is falling apart.

Naturists have worked hard as a collective in North America, over the last seventy-some years to carve out a semblance of naturist community with naturist spaces. It was a long process that did result in having spaces and places to claim for the naturist world and cause. Those opposed to the idea of nudity because of religious beliefs, fear of paedophiles, personal experiences of sexual abuse, or simply out of personal shame for their own bodies are tortured by the same sense of loss of control and sanity in the world surrounding them. For both sides of the naturist equation, the world is falling apart, and the people and groups on the other side of the equation is the enemy.

“All over the world, everybody always strikes out a the enemy, and the pain escalates.” (Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart, p. 11)

These words by Pema Chödrön aptly express what is happening all around us, and even within us. The world is in pain, our neighbours are in pain, our children are in pain; and when we dare to closely enough and are honest, we are in pain. In our pain, we look outside of ourselves for someone to blame. It’s a normal response.

Femen protests

We blame those who carried the guns that shot the children. We blame organisations that lobby for a gun in every home, as well as those who lobby to have all the guns removed. We blame broken families and far away enemies. We blame our caretakers for failing us. We blame those who are actively pursuing the removal of rights to be nude, to swim in the nude. We blame those who want to force nudity down our throats. We blame others, nameless others for the most part.

Nude is lewd – be modest because the Bible tells says so.

But we rarely look within ourselves to see that we, too, are part of the problem. That darkness that terrorises us from somewhere out there is the same darkness that we deny within ourselves. The darkness seen in our societies mirror our own darkness. We look for scapegoats, and we hide behind our own guns, our churches, our medications, our addictions. But at some point it all falls apart and we come face to face with ourselves.

Evil does happen out there; but we have the echoes and the roots of that same evil within each and every one of us. We are left hurt, fearful, sad, angry, and often paralysed. So what can we do? We can approach all of this following Chödrön’s suggestion:

“Each day, we’re given many opportunities to open up or shut down. The most precious opportunity presents itself when we come to the place where we think we can’t handle whatever is happening. It’s too much. It’s gone too far. We feel too bad about ourselves. . . . Meditation is an invitation to notice when we reach our limit and to not get carried away by hope and fear.” (Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart, pp. 12-13)

Yes, meditation is a valid response. But, it is not our only response. We do live in communities and we have a responsibility to act in the best interests of our communities. But how do we act? Do we act blindly with revenge and blaming and fear and anger? Or, do we first look for an inner balance and respond in ways that keep us somewhere in the middle, a way that respects the heart and the head for ourselves and the others whom we are so quick to blame for the problems that tell us our world is falling apart? I can’t tell you the answer, you have to sit still long enough to know your answer, to know the questions that need to be asked. Yes, sit still.

The Nude World of Rodin

The Thinker by Rodin in the Sculpture Garden of the Rodin Museum in Paris.

Following our pilgrimage from Saint Jean Pied de Port, France to Santiago, Spain (the famous 800 kilometre long Camino) in the fall of 2915, my wife and I returned to Paris where we decided to spend time visiting the “Jardin de Sculptures” and the “Musée Rodin”. I am a thinker for the most part, but I don’t sit in the classic Rodin pose for thinking though I do much of my thinking while in the nude. There is something about thinking in depth that I find is enhanced when I am skyclad. The body ceases to be a distraction which occurs when clothing constricts with unpleasant pressures.

Adam – Man arising from nature – Rodin

Rodin’s “The Thinker” drew its inspiriation from Danté and was originally entitled the poet. It makes sense as a poet lays bare the soul of man. Danté laid bare the fears and hopes of the Christian world of his time, a time when there was still belief in magic and the old stories.

The Thinker wasn’t Rodin’s first work depicting a nude. His first nude  was male statue that he had cast two years earlier, the “Bronze Age” statue, which had the intention of showing “man arising from nature.” Rodin soon followed this with yet another nude male statue, that of Saint John the Baptist.

Saint John the Baptist by Rodin.

St. John the Baptist as a nude makes sense when one considers that all baptisms from early Christian history were done with both the person being baptised, as well as the person doing the baptism being nude. But what was almost disquieting about the statue was that the penis was hidden, something that Rodin hadn’t been shy of including in his other works.

The Kiss by Rodin

There were two particular statues that caught my attention that honoured women, “The Kiss”and the “Eternal Idol“. Rodin’s “approach to sculpting women was of homage to them and their bodies, not just submitting to men but as full partners in ardor.” (Wikipedia)

Rodin celebrated the natural human body, and his works are celebrated as art. It is a sad commentary that today, nude human bodies can only be exposed in art, porn flicks and in advertising. As long as we can make money from human nudity, all is well. Showing real human skin in non-commercial, non-organisational situations such as in one’s own home or back yard is seen and judged as a perverted act, sinful and even illegal in most parts of the world, a world in which we are all born naked.

Nude Meditation and Bindu

I have brought this post forward from December 2012. Only four weeks later, I found myself on the shores of the Caribbean Sea meditating nude at sunrise. It seemed vital to me, today to do this for I have been struggling to fit meditation into my daily regime here in Ecuador in 2018. This has resulted in a loss of vital energy for me that I need to recover. Of course, I know what needs to happen. Now, it is up to me to take my own words to heart and find the will to match the need.

Naturist Meditation by the Sea at Sunrise

The gift of learning to meditate is the greatest gift you can give yourself in this life. For it is only through meditation that you can undertake the journey to discover your true nature, and so find the stability  and confidence you will need to live, and die, well.” (Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying)

It has been an interesting day for me, one that resulted in delaying the writing of this post amongst other things. I took today’s image from the Smithsonian Magazine site as it resonated with what I was feeling, where I have been and to where I am once again heading. Though it is -20 C outside the walls of my home, I sense the upwelling of vital energy within me, an energy that is both body and spirit. There is a term for this – bindu.

Bindu is held to be the point at which begins creation and the point at which the many becomes the unity. It is also described as “the sacred symbol of the cosmos in its unmanifested state.”

This idea of becoming one is both a Buddhist and a Jungian concept. I now had a term for the energy field that was wakened, so I went in search of more, first turning to one of my books by Chogyam Trungpa:

“The physical act of sex has often been described . . . as an act of noncompletion. Sex is seen as a clumsy way of releasing your bindu. Bindu in this case is the essence of the body; often it is equated with semen, but that is not necessarily a good definition. Both men and women possess bindu. Bindu is the essence of the mind and essence of the body.” (Trungpa, Work, Sex, Money, p. 102)

As I meditate nude, there is a blossoming of energy that touches the roots of my body as well as my mind which embraces so much more that what I should know. And as I am awakened to this bindu, I experience a freedom that far surpasses that of simply being clothes free. I feel the fullness of being a man, the fullness of being a child of the god and goddess.of all creation.

Confronting the Truth of Our Naked Selves

The Yin and the Yang of relationship.

In real life relationships, the masculine and feminine are two separate things, polar opposites, just as black is opposite to white and day is opposite to night. Though they are separate and opposite, they are locked together to make a whole; a complete day, a cohabiting couple. The opposites circle each other and penetrate each other in an attempt to fuse into a singleness. In a complete day, this attempt of one trying to fuse into the other, is seen at both the dawn and sunset. In a human relationship, this is seen in the act of intercourse which leads to a momentary “petit mort” where the sense of separateness disappears. In meditation, where the dance becomes that of consciousness circling the unconscious, it is the tiny space, an empty space following an out-breath, just before a new in-breath has begun.

Day fusing into night, man fusing into woman.

When we live unconsciously, there are no deep, probing questions about who we are or who is this other person; there are no questions about the nature of the day or the seasons or the year. When, for some reason, a light goes on somewhere within us, we begin to notice our separateness from the world and from others. It is this dawning of awareness that causes us to experience both suffering and joy. This is the curse given to humanity in the Garden of Eden. Humans haven’t really been sent from the garden. Humanity has simply emerged from a participation mystique as an unconscious collective.

We now see that the Garden of Eden where we lived in natural harmony, lived without the need of clothing, artifice, or fear is separate from us. It seems that the more aware we become of who we are and who the other is, the more isolated and alone we feel, separated from each other and our Garden of Eden that is the Earth. And in response to our suffering of isolation and estrangement, we behave badly and at rare “sometimes”, surprisingly godly. But that can only happen when we finally accept the beauty and godliness of our own naked selves.

What is not noted for the most part is the joy that emerges. When man confronts his separateness from woman, and woman confronts her separateness from man, both become more self aware. Both see themselves through lenses that are constantly changing and enlarging. Rather than only seeing the self through the eyes of the other, and the collective, we begin to discover truths about ourselves that can only be dredged from our personal depths. In the end, we return to the truth that we are not really alone, but we are individuals in relationships with a significant other, a community, and the Earth.

The Fallacy of the Right to be Nude

In a world that is structured around community, there are no real individual rights. Relationships are about negotiation. I will give you this freedom, if you give up that freedom. We don’t have the right to anything, even life. Once one realises that one isn’t owed anything, one can begin to navigate the world with more safety and sanity.

A naturist community

Though I was born naked, I don’t have the expectation that I will be able to live naked in a community that is shared by others. Of course one could say that this isn’t true if one decides to live in a nudist community. But, one would be mistaken. Again, living in a nudist community is a negotiated agreement. One can’t simply move in and leave it at that, especially if one is a single male. In quite a number of nudist communities only single women and couples have the “right” to join. Single men must wait until gender numbers allow for another single male to enter into the community if there is that possibility in the club’s rules. No one is “owed” the right to membership in a nudist community. Membership in the community is at the pleasure of the community.

Protesting the right to be bare.

We seem to be blinded to this fact and join in all kinds of protests to force community to honour our rights to live, work and play without the requirement of wearing clothing. We somehow feel society owes us this. One must pay the price in order to belong in a community in order to have the services and privileges of that community. Yet even when one is within the community, rights and privileges are not really coded as black and white. There are fine lines of compromise that are constantly shifting. What is a privilege today may become banned behaviour, should the community will it.

Nude at home, alone, at least until the doorbell rings.

Of course, most nudists and naturists are aware of this fact of life within community as they take their desire for freedom from clothing to the privacy behind their own closed doors. There, if one is truly alone and the draperies are kept closed, one has full freedom. However, should another person live in the dwelling or enter the space that you call home, again it comes down to negotiation. Negotiation leads to accommodation for the present but has no guarantees for the future. Because each one of us changes over time, we can never predict the nature of that change and how that change will effect our relationships and our rights in those relationships. In truth, we cannot even predict the survival of the relationships.

The right to be bare only exists at the moment of birth; from that point onward, unless we are in total isolation, we are subject to our communities and our relationships which require that we learn how to negotiate to get some small part of our unique, individual needs.