The Pagan Blog Project: H is for Hair
The past few weeks I’ve had a difficult time coming up with subjects for this blogging project. This week I had a few too many ideas, but the subject of hair won out because it was extremely relevant today.
Like many people, I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with my hair. Mine is a very textured dark brown, and it’s incredibly thick. Because I was obsessed with pictures of beautiful Medieval and Renaissance women when I was younger, I grew it long to mimic those styles.
As I grew older, I kept it long for a few reasons. For one, I am generally terrified of change. For another, my hair provided something to hide behind. I’m an incredibly shy person, so this actually mattered quite a bit. Along with that, going to get my haircut meant having to talk to someone for at least half an hour with no escape. And lastly, I had this weird attachment to my hair as some kind of historical documentation entity. Like, I would play with the ends of my hair and think, “This was on my head when (such and such life event) happened to me.” Cutting my hair was pretty much like cutting away pieces of my past.
I think these superstitions are what led to me to associate hair so heavily with power. Hair appears in so many folktales and mythologies, especially in regards to women. The brushing of Sedna’s hair, the cutting of Sif’s, the length of Rapunzel’s… There are dozens. For years this association was very important to me, but in the past 5-7 years or so it ceased to be. I’ve had my hair cut every few years, meaning it would still get pretty long, but it wasn’t a big source of drama for me to chop it off to about my shoulders.
Today I had my first haircut in about two to three years, mainly because I had started to get tension headaches from the weight of my hair. It’s shorter than I’ve ever had it, cut to about my ears rather than my shoulders. It’s completely off my neck. And it felt amazing to get rid of all that heaviness.
That thought made me think about my old ideas about the significance of hair. I realized that in some ways my views haven’t changed, but what I do with them has. The past can be very heavy, and the more of it you carry around with you, you inevitably start to feel the weight of it. But it can also be very hard to let go. In the past 5-7 years, I have learned how to let go of things. I have learned that change is necessary to growth, even if it seems counter-intuitive to cut things away as a part of those changes. In the case of plants, and hair too for that matter, cutting some back often means the rest is much healthier. It’s a matter of examining and finding what is necessary to get rid of.
I also realized that my hair was something I used to hold on to this weird identity of myself. While physically female, I identify as gender-neutral. But growing up, I didn’t understand that, and would often be upset when teachers or others would refer to me as male (I have a gender-neutral name, too, a pretty neutral face, and a broader build, so this misidentification happened rather often). I wouldn’t be upset at them for not seeing me as female, but at myself for not being female enough. When I realized that growing my hair out made these issues stop, I held on to my hair as some kind of lifeline to normalcy.
Today, with my hair looking pretty much as gender-neutral as I am, I feel like I’ve overcome something. I’ve both let go of my past and embraced the person I’ve become. Maybe there really is power in hair, but I don’t think it’s all stored in the length of it.