Piety, Modesty, and Covering My Hair – A Perspective
This is a good piece from someone whose Goddess told her to start covering her hair. The article brings up questions of piety, modesty, and sexuality. It’s a good piece and worth the read.
I know quite a few polytheists and pagans who cover their hair for religious reasons. I do sometimes as well, though not permanently (and deep respect to people who have migraine conditions who cover all the time. damn). Usually I cover for rituals, and anything having to do with my ancestors or the dead, always when approaching Apollon’s shrine, not so much with the Norse Gods (They don’t seem to care if i cover or not, except with the dead. Loki sometimes requires it for certain types of divination but that’s hardly burdensome) but I have never been tapped to cover on a regular, daily basis.
One of the issues that comes up almost always when people begin to cover or hear about other polytheists covering is the issue of perceived (usually incorrectly) repression of sexuality. I have never thought about head covering as repressive. It’s one choice out of many that a person can make out of piety and love for their Gods. It crosses all religious boundaries. I find it also helps tremendously with miasma. But I’ve never considered it repressive. I think instead, it’s an opportunity to define ourselves by those things which are not transient (as our beauty is, as our sexuality may be — anything corporeal is in the end transient), aspects of self which are not shallow, which are not tied in some way to the gaze of others (which in our culture sexuality for good or ill so often is). It’s a chance to focus on our personalities and character, our devotional life, our relationships, our integrity. When i do readings for people, I often won’t look at them. I see them better when I’m not distracted by the visual cues of expression, appearance, color (as in colors they’re wearing, light flickering around them, shadows, highlights, background, chiaroscuro), and all the visual stimuli that can bombard us. I read better when I’m looking at what’s inside. Maybe this is something similar (And while i don’t cover, I do keep my head shaved for my military dead — something they asked long ago and gave me the choice of whether or not to do).
I also think that it can curb vanity. I think that vanity is one of the things that can be extremely corrosive to character and to one’s spiritual life. This is for me a matter of personal discipline. it affects me and my relationship with the Gods. If I want to be in relationship with my Gods and ancestors from a place of integrity and authenticity then I need to develop in myself the attitude and character that leads to doing just that and that sometimes involves rooting out and curbing unhelpful character traits. I think our culture over sexualizes and diminishes women, reduces them to the sum total of appearance and sex appeal and if that is internalized it can be very unhealthy to the development of personal character. I think vanity is encouraged over authenticity, over humility and modesty and respect and devotion and insight and discernment and a thousand other things that make the spiritual life fruitful. Maybe that’s not an issue for the majority of women who cover, but allowing one’s character to speak first, learning to adorn for oneself rather than the gaze of unknown others (as opposed to love ones), learning to be comfortable with oneself, in one’s skin are good things. If head covering helps that, and helps serve as an ongoing reminder that we are, first and foremost devotional beings in relationship with the Holy Powers, than that’s a good thing.
At any rate, it is nice to read a post (you can see the link below to the article about which I’m writing) where someone is brave enough to wrestle with some of these questions in their own practice. It always makes me think about ways to deepen mine and it’s good to know when questions come up, that one is not the only person in the world struggling thusly.
here is the link: Piety, Modesty, and Covering My Hair – A Perspective