Archive for February 6th, 2009

Pagans and headcovering

LisaM over at Those Headcoverings linked to an article about an Imbolc ritual that mentioned, in passing, one participant’s “red veil” (of hair).  This started me thinking, again, about how people of different faiths may feel a desire or a conviction to cover their heads, and the reasons for it. 

Obviously, a Christian woman’s reasons for covering will be different from those of a Jewish or Muslim woman’s; and the reasons why a Pagan of whatever tradition might wish to cover will be quite different from those of a person from a monotheistic faith.  Women’s roles in Pagan faiths are strikingly unlike those of their sisters in the “big three” religions mentioned above.  We lack the Biblical injunctions that may motivate them; concepts of male headship and female submission are–well, I won’t say “unknown,” as I’m not an expert on every extant form of paganism, but I think I can safely say that they are extremely unusual.  If anything, Pagan women may be resistant to the idea of veiling or covering simply because they associate it with female subjugation.

And yet, I know that this is not always the case.  For example, Olivia Robertson, the co-founder of the Fellowship of Isis, has said that she wears her headscarves in a particular way not for style’s sake but because of a vision she had of the goddess Isis, in which She wore Her veil in a similar fashion.  Isis is only one of the deities known to appear veiled before their devotees–and woe be unto the importune worshipper who dares demand She lift Her veil!  In Wicca, veils are sometimes worn by priestesses who are emulating or aspecting particular godforms at particular times (for example, wearing a black veil at Samhain when aspecting the Lady in her crone phase).  There must surely be other examples in other traditions, as well.

As a High Priestess of British Traditional Wicca, I was taught that my hair was to be worn loose and flowing, and crowned as it were by a silver circlet with a lunar crescent upon it.  In the FOI liturgy, various types of headcovering are suggested for the participants.  When I conduct Kemetic rites, I wear a gold circlet with a winged solar disk, which is reminiscent of the sort of crowns worn by various of the goddesses.  My patroness or spiritual parent within Kemetic Orthodoxy is Hathor, who is typically portrayed wearing a horned solar disk upon Her head.  There are no hard and fast requirements in either of the traditions that I practice, so the headcovering is left up to the desire of the worshipper, based on the inspiration provided by their patron/ess deity.

I don’t know of any pagans that feel called to cover their heads in daily, secular life, but I’d imagine there are some out there.  I’ve felt an interest in trying it myself; and if I do, I will certainly discuss it here.  I know that what I have on my head impacts my ritual performance; I certainly feel more formal and focused covered than I do bare-headed.  In that respect at least, I think I may have something in common with my monotheistic sisters.  Perhaps there are other similarities as well.


Read Full Post »