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#1 of 250 Old 11-03-2008, 03:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok... this has been bouncing around in the back of my head for a while now, and I'm finally remembering to ask (it's one of those 3am nursing session "oh yeah I was going to ask..." things ).

I often see threads discussing head covering (why, how, what, when, who, etc) in different faiths. Generally it's from a Jewish, Moslem, or Christian perspective. Now, I'm not a member of any of those faiths. However, I know from my studies (history, anthropology) that over the ages women in many cultures have covered their hair in one way or another for one reason or another, and certainly many of these cultures did not practice one of the previously mentioned religions.

Although the modern pagan movement often seems to thrive on creating a patchwork of different historic (and modern) traditions, there are pagan groups that strive to recreate a historic religion as closely as possible ("recon" faiths, many of which advocate learning the language and crafts of the people with whom the religion started). But I don't know that I've ever heard of a pagan group, recon or not, that had adopted or maintained the tradition of head covering.

But it seems like such an obvious and, well, simple tradition to encorporate (simple in that you don't need expensive tools, lots of time, huge personal artistic talent or flare with languages, etc and obvious since on the one hand there's clear cultural precedent and on the other it has the potential to be much more visible than a pentacle or ankh necklace). So I'm curious... anyone out there practice a pagan path in which you've included covering? Or belong to a recon faith where covering is encouraged? Thanks!

Just to be clear, I'm using "pagan" here to indicate religions and faiths that some people would categorize as "neo-pagan"... not "pagan" in the sense of "non-christian". For example, one of my Indian Hindu friends covers her hair (she also wears only saris... and she is an IT computer guru so she crawls around under desks a lot... I have no idea how she does it!) but I'm not really thinking along those lines.

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#2 of 250 Old 11-03-2008, 03:58 PM
 
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Hey, did you see my post in the covering section? I'm just starting to experiment with covering, although DH isn't too thrilled with the idea. I have been coming back to the idea for quite some time now.

I'm not doing it as a reconstruction of any particular faith, but I feel called to cover anyway, for somewhat esoteric reasons - honoring the feminine and all that.
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#3 of 250 Old 11-03-2008, 04:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I missed it but will go a hunting now.

When I google pagan headcovering I mostly find Christian sites talking about how pagans don't cover (in NT Rome/Corinth), though there is evidence that even in Corinth there wasn't a real clear cut "pagans do X so you do Y" split. I've found a few references to Hellenistic and Druidic recon covering during ritual, but this covering applies to both men and women (depending on the ritual being done).

But yeah... I'm feeling a bit antsy about covering my hair (I've been casually covering a la bandana for about 5 months now and dh hasn't commented, though I haven't made an issue of it either and bandana in a hippie-intensive college town isn't exactly "out there" ) but I never seem to find pagan mamas covering.

But I figure they must be out there, right? I used to follow an Irish recon faith, and there is historical evidence for hair covering (not required as much as "appropriate/polite") for married women but the recon group never touched on it. The covering sound like it could have been really pretty (sort of an open weave scarf drapped/wrapped over the head a few times, but light enough that it could be carried in a pouch on the waist... and it didn't seem to be designed to hide the hair or female form?

I'm no longer recon but as I said... I'm feeling pulled a bit and I'm curious about pagan options.

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#4 of 250 Old 11-03-2008, 09:48 PM
 
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yeah, i've read that in some cultures, not taking religion into account, hair covering was a sign of age and status.

also from what i know it was way more common in the past for EVERY one to wear hats and headcoverings more often -- you still see it in europe and other places i magine.
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#5 of 250 Old 11-04-2008, 02:00 PM
 
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Subbing ... I covered for a while when I was Christian, at the end of my time in that religion. I continued covering when we were studying for conversion to Judaism, but only when at the synagogue. Then, I stopped even that, and then we stopped studying for conversion. Now I am an Earth-based Pagan who does not cover, but I am still fascinated with the topic.

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#6 of 250 Old 11-04-2008, 02:37 PM
 
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Wombat- Its stuff like this that makes me your MDC stalker. You are fascinating. I am not pagan and have never considered covering, but I think your concept is very interesting.

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#7 of 250 Old 11-04-2008, 03:08 PM
 
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I've been drawn to covering, though I don't know why. I have read information from mdc members but not much outside those sources. In some ways I am more conservative in my dress since my 3rd daughter was born.

I would be interested in finding more about head covering based on age.

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#8 of 250 Old 11-04-2008, 09:19 PM
 
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I was just thinking about this topic the other day

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#9 of 250 Old 11-04-2008, 10:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It's interesting... I'm really not thinking about covering as a "modesty" issue, but more of a... well... a status issue. Though "status" isn't exactly the word I'm looking for since I don't mean to imply rank or standing, but more "group membership".

I'm sort of bumbling around with this in my head (again with the 3am-ness ) and I keep coming back to the way in which head covering has been used in ancient cultures as a mark of social standing unrelated (in many cases) to religion or codes of modesty. So married versus single, common versus noble, mundane versus, well, spiritual.

From what I've been reading, many many cultures have had traditions of covering that were integral to their social structure. And the religions of these cultures were equally integral. Just about every aspect of life tied into the religion, and vice versa. Men and women covered in different ways at different times... sort of a way of setting a person apart, or placing them within a group. So how to encorporate this into my life as a practicing pagan? An adult, married, lactating mother, who is gradually getting older and who has been openly on a pagan path for 16+ years now?

Anyway, all these thoughts are bouncing around my head... it's good to get them out and try to figure them out in a coherent manner!

(Vanessa- I have stalkers? Ack! I'll have to watch my grammar and punctuation!)

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#10 of 250 Old 11-05-2008, 12:03 AM
 
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nak

For me a covering represents both humility and pride.

Humility in the sense of being "covered" from God. Like a bit how a Jewish woman covers her eyes while lighting Shabbos candles. Or kind of like how I normally pray kneeling down with my face resting on my arms on the floor. Basically a sign of respect, and sort of "setting apart". There is nothing inherently "disrespectful" about any part of the body, of course, just that, well... Basically I view it as a nonverbal statement, or gesture, of my submission to God.

Also, I view it as a sign of pride at the same time. I'm proud to declare (even if just in front of God) my status as a believer. I don't think covering women are inherently better than non-covering women, don't misunderstand me! It's similar to my being "proud" to wear a wedding band. I don't think I'm better than women who do not wear one, whether married or single. But when I wear a wedding band I'm declaring my status as a married woman. And covering to me implies a similar commitment to God. I can be faithful without either material article (ring or cover) but I am "proud" to wear both. (Well, more or less, I'm still in the beginning stages if covering, so I'm mostly speaking from a theoretical point of view. )
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#11 of 250 Old 11-05-2008, 10:19 AM
 
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This is really interesting. I've been thinking about this as well. There was a thread started awhile ago about how a Christian woman was covering as a way of remembering to incorperate God into her daily life. That's why I've been thinking about covering. It would be a reminder daily to think about/praise/talk to/turn to the Goddess as I am living my life.

However, I know DH wouldn't like it at all, and I'm not sure where to start.

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#12 of 250 Old 11-05-2008, 10:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I should add... I'm fighting off a virus right now, so these musings reflect a fever of 101+ and zero sleep (since both girls are also sick). So beware!

Quote:
It would be a reminder daily to think about/praise/talk to/turn to the Goddess as I am living my life.
I've been making and wearing strands of prayer beads for each holy day... I wear them sort of like a bracelet and they act as "reminders" to be mindful/meditate/focus on goddess. Maybe start with something like that?

Last night I remembered a co-worker of mine from many years ago... she was training to become a priestess in an African diaspora religion (not certain which one now). Anyway, at one point she wore a head covering for about 6 months. Each "type" of priestess had a different style of covering worn during ritual. If you were familiar with the group you could identify which priestess attended which diety just by looking. As a priestess in training she wore the head covering all the time for that period of training as a reminder/focus but after reaching her full status she no longer wore the covering all the time. It became a "just for ritual" thing. I'd completely forgot about this... I guess fevers are good for something!

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#13 of 250 Old 11-05-2008, 10:56 AM
 
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That's pretty interesting!
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#14 of 250 Old 11-07-2008, 04:41 AM
 
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i am a pagan and i cover too, i posted in the covering thread about my reasons, will come back here later to discuss it more. There is so little info out there about pagan covering, i would love to discuss more to develop my feelings and thoughts about it more.
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#15 of 250 Old 11-07-2008, 10:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Batty- heyla!

I know I found a couple sites while really out of it the other day... lets see how my google skillz are when my temp is normal!

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#16 of 250 Old 11-09-2008, 11:51 PM
 
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I (and everyone else present) covered my hair at the last ritual I attended. In this case, we covered in white as a protective measure. I've met Pagans who cover all the time, and some who do just for ritual, and some who seem to go back and forth on it. I'd probably cover my hair more often if I had different colored hair coverings, but I don't so I don't. Then again, I can't say I follow a particular tradition.

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#17 of 250 Old 11-10-2008, 10:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Fever came back, I forgot to post!


ancient Irish covering-
Quote:
Married women usually had the head covered either with a hood (caille, pron. cal-le) or with a long web of linen wreathed round the head in several folds.
modern pagan head covering-
ADF "Roman":
Quote:
Romans also performed rituals capite velato (with head covered). These are customs easily adapted, even for solitary practitioners, by wearing a veil or head covering for solemn rituals
ADF "general druidic":
Quote:
The white berets and any other head coverings should be removed at the entrance to the ritual site. Both these customs are to symbolize our connections with the Earth and the Sky.

Scholarly-
lots of images of ancient greek or roman headscarves


blog about combining "plain living" and "pagan living"

blog about neo-pagan (Greek) headcovering

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#18 of 250 Old 11-10-2008, 11:43 AM
 
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Note to anyone lurking...DH LOVED me covered, and says it wouldn't bother him if I did it all the time. ( I know that what your DP thinks is not meant to be a major consideration, but it was for me.) Never decided what your partner will think until you've talked to them!

I've only covered one day so far, and liked it. I used a scarf I had and tied it tichel style. I liked that I was supposed to be covering my hair, as I have a really hard forehead, and find it really tricky to put ona bandana!

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#19 of 250 Old 11-11-2008, 10:30 PM
 
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How interesting is it that SO many pagan ladies have thought about this?? Add my name to the list, and I have NO idea why! Several months ago I toyed with wearing scarves but was horrible at tying them. I'm also guessing dh would think I'd gone round the bend, and surely family would

I may have to ask for a pretty feminine bandana style scarf for xmas.. or even put one in my own stocking lol.

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#20 of 250 Old 11-11-2008, 11:18 PM
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I would like to cover more often, but we are still BW'ing and she finds head coverings irresistable right now.

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#21 of 250 Old 11-11-2008, 11:26 PM
 
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it is a bit hard with bw, i wear mine too. On days when i bw i find wearing a wide hard headband instead is much better.
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#22 of 250 Old 11-11-2008, 11:29 PM
 
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I would like to cover more often, but we are still BW'ing and she finds head coverings irresistable right now.
I've been wearing a scarf tied "tichel" style, and it's firm enough for DS to touch without falling off. I tell him I'm wearing a hat, and he seems to let it go. (Of course my glasses are far more interesting than anything on my head, so...)

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#23 of 250 Old 11-12-2008, 09:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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With Ro (who lived in the ergo till a bit after a year and still prefers being carried to walking on her own) the shiny wore off the bandana after a few weeks. Kind of like my glasses... she noticed that they came off, got really interested, grabbed for them non-stop, but I just kept taking them back/moving out of the way/redirecting her hand and offering a really low key "those are mama's glasses". And now she usually leaves them alone.

I tie the bandana pretty tightly so it doesn't slide right off and when she was interested in it I'd keep the whole thing really boring and matter-of-fact... "that is mama's scarf, it goes on mama's head. Where is Ro's head?" sort of thing. It wasn't overnight or anything, but probably within a month of starting to wear the scarf she sort of lost interest? Like the scarf had become just another boring old part of mama.

And an added bonus is that she now associate my taking off the scarf (and my glasses ) as a sleep-cue! Sort of a sign that we're home for the night, time to sleep.

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#24 of 250 Old 11-12-2008, 10:34 AM
 
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What's BW?

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#25 of 250 Old 11-12-2008, 10:37 AM
 
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Baby wearing

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#26 of 250 Old 11-12-2008, 11:01 AM
 
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The modern neo-pagan movement hasn't embraced covering as far as I know. But it would seem resonable for Greek or Roman recons, among others. I know Nova Roma folks cover during some ceromonies as a sign of respect. Most pagans I know reject Abrahamic ideas of modesty on principal...but I think it's something that should be reconsidered.

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#27 of 250 Old 11-12-2008, 12:20 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mntnmom View Post
Most pagans I know reject Abrahamic ideas of modesty on principal...
Not to veer too far off topic, so I'm not going to get started on my usual rant about the topic, but I just wanted to second that idea. I really wish that more neo-pagans would at least draw inspiration from the rich Abrahamic trads, just as they do with other pantheons and mythological systems, etc. After all, how many neo-pagans embrace ALL Celtic myths/practices? (Again, not talking about recons.) I'm not sure why people are so jaded about the Abrahamic traditions that it's almost dirty to speak of them in neo-pagan circles.

Wait, I said I wasn't going to rant, right? I better cut myself off before I really start going.
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#28 of 250 Old 11-12-2008, 12:33 PM
 
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Originally Posted by AlpineMama View Post
Wait, I said I wasn't going to rant, right? I better cut myself off before I really start going.
Don't stop on my account I was enjoying (and agreeing with) you.

I think some of it is that when you are a younger pagan, as most of the more outspoken people I know are, you are very much about rejecting what you grew up with. Well, in my area, 75% of the pagan community was raised Catholic.

I would have rejected head covering when I was 19. I have grown into it as I got more mature!

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#29 of 250 Old 11-12-2008, 01:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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See, that's what I'm wondering... I'm not looking at covering as a sign of modesty as such. And I wonder if all covering really comes down to modesty? There are non-Abrahamic traditions that also cover (not just female covering either) or display in certain ways that are socially or spiritually significant, but not necessarily tied to physical modesty or sexual exclusivity. Coverings or items of clothing that act as a reminder to the wearer as well as a clue to the observer about the status/focus/state of the wearer. Similar to a uniform or physical badge of office/membership I suppose... a priest, a soldier, a custodian, a waitperson, a union member, a scout, a cab driver, etc. Or perhaps more stereotypical but the "look" of a librarian, an artist, a biker, etc. A biker's sterotypical outfit isn't designed with modesty in mind, but with the realities of road burn and the temperature variations of riding a motorcycle (and sometimes the legal realities of helmet laws). A scout wears a uniform and sash with badges not as a symbol of submission (or empowerment for that matter) but as a mark of group membership and a display of ability/skills attained.

I guess at it's core I cover my head as a tangible reminder to myself that I am sacred/engaged in sacred activities (as a priestess), as a sort of spiritual "protection" (I am interacting with all sorts of people, energies, places, numen which may or may not mean me well & may or may not be healthy for me physically/energetically), and as a visible sign similar to the uniform mentioned above. For me personally there is no "modesty" element... but there are social and spiritual elements to covering that I'm trying to figure out. Covering feels "powerful" and also "restful" to me, but I'm not positive why this is.

There's a chant used in some Reclaiming communities that has the line

Quote:
Though my veil be drawn, you’re glowing in my mind and soul and body
(complete chant listing/lyrics free on their website here)

I've always seen the "veil" here as mortality/physicality... while caught up in the "veil" of the physical world the spiritual world is an unfocused glow that can't be completely made out. But now I'm also looking at it from the other direction I guess... hmmm... like smooring the fire? You bank and bury the fire to intensify and maintain it's heat/light during the hours when it's not actively being tended. To protect the embers and maintain their energy. So maybe the veil in the chant also refers to protecting and strengthening the internal glow in the same way the heart of the fire is smoored? I guess I'm coming to feel (in some ways) that covering offers me a similar means of maintaining a spiritual energy level that I can't otherwise.

Ok... that drifted a bit towards the woo woo. But I think that's the angle I'm coming from (as I think and write more about this).

(and kind of off topic but my spiritual journey took me first through the "celtic" christian practices and then into the straight "celtic" recon practice and in both the ritual of smooring the fire each night is a big deal. There are christian-dominated and pagan-dominated prayers and a very specific order in which things must be done. But until now I'd never drawn a connection between covering the fire and covering the body.... hmmmm....)

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#30 of 250 Old 11-12-2008, 01:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Another post cause posts crossed in the ether... (and not to veer too much myself).

I think more pagans can and do draw from Abrahamic traditions as they become more comfortable and confident in their choosen faith. And a lot depends on their personal background. Some pagans I know IRL who were raised within a Hindu household have no problem "borrowing" from christian traditions and others who were raised in christian families have no trouble borrowing from Hindu tradition. But both avoid borrowing from "their own" past practices/terminology. In part because personal experience has tied a negative emotional response/memory of a hurtful experience to those traditions.

I have attended rituals where the guardians were invoked using the names of archangels and the general theme of the ritual was angelic. People attending the ritual had very mixed responses depending on their personal religious history... those who had left a christian church, who had as a result been alientated from family, who had memories of painful religious struggle tended to feel that they wanted no part in a ritual that invoked Michael or the other angels (yes, I know these beings are not exclusively christian, but that isn't necessarily the word on the street, you know?). While people who came from a non-christian background or who had moved more easily into a pagan lifestyle without losing family/friends thought the imagery was beautiful and powerful.

Same ritual, same images, same energy... but personal experience and pain changed the meaning.

There's also the element of convert zeal (which I saw a lot during my field work). You join a new group and suddenly want to be 110% that group and have nothing to do with the old group. Over time many people mellow out... as they become more comfortable in their new identity and confident in their choices. But at first there is a real emotional backlash against the "old way". And many pagans are first generation pagan... many are in that initial over-adopter phase. As they gain familiarity, confidence, and comfort they'll start to realize that bringing the positive elements of their past into their present isn't going to destroy who or what they are today. But it takes time.

I pray the rosary (edited to fit my faith), I have my first communion candle on my altar, I have orthodox icons above my altar, and a brigid's cross by my door. We attend a UU church and tell the girls stories from many faith traditions (including the abrahamic faiths). But even after 15+ years as an open and out pagan the personal pain associated with some rituals/traditions/practices prevents me from accepting certain elements of my childhood faith, even transformed and presented in a new way.

(to be honest, I thought the ritual I mentioned above was wonderful, but I didn't resonate with the angelic overtones and did not participate in future rituals with that group as a result)

It's interesting though that in modern north american society covering is so tightly bound to the abrahamic traditions of modesty and right living.

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