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A Reader Question on a Lovely October Day

I woke this morning to find an email from Bethany H. asking “Why do you shave your head?” There were other implications in the email that I won’t go into, but I seriously want to thank Bethany for actually asking me outright instead of making stupid assumptions. This has come up occasionally since 2016, including once in a restaurant where my husband nearly had to intervene (I was largely oblivious as to why the person sitting next to us was so agitated.) and Gods know wearing a hammer and runic tattoos these days can lead to rather unpleasant encounters. So, to answer Bethany’s question: 

I shave my head as an act of religious piety to honor the military dead. As part of my practice of ancestor veneration, particularly my work as a spirit worker/ancestor worker, in addition to honoring my own personal dead, there are a couple of special groups that I feel vocationally called to tend. One of those is collectively, the military dead and I maintain a separate part of my ancestor shrine for them. About eight or nine years ago, I felt pushed to start shaving my head as part of this work. I consulted divination and was told the choice was mine, but yes, they would like that visible marker of piety. 

There was a time years and years ago, where I was bound to keep my hair long, but I suspect – in retrospect – that this was a gentle way of easing me into the idea of physically marking oneself for devotional purposes. That particular requirement was lifted easily more than twenty years ago though, right around the time I was pushed to mark myself with the valknot for Odin. I suppose such bodily choices are a form of conscious “othering,” or at the very least of marking out one’s religious identity visually, and the Northern Tradition is hardly unique in wearing their faith and praxis. I may have to do a separate post on that at some point. I do find that Heathens are more likely than many polytheistic religions to consciously give our body’s real estate to our Gods by way of devotional tattoos and the like. (All of my tattoos are religious, marking initiations, contracts, vows, commitments, and devotion). Some polytheists, some Heathen, some other polytheistic religions, are pushed to cover their heads for their Gods (something I only do when I pray, or occasionally for a brief span of days for purification purposes), some are actually forbidden this. It depends on the Gods, the devotee, the tradition. 

The most important thing here is this: don’t assume. You make an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’. ASK. I will never find an honest question, asked in good faith, offensive. Some may be a bit too personal to answer, but I will always come out and just say that.