Wednesday, April 18, 2012

To veil or not to veil?

So. Covering the head. What does that make you think? Of burkhas? Nuns? Fair enough.

But what if I told you that pagan women are starting to cover their heads? Tying scarves around their heads and keeping their hair out of sight, at certain times (usually outside of the home)?

Does it sound a little too Abrahamic? A little too much like strict Judaism/fundy Christianity/Islam? Yeah, I thought so too, and that the urge to cover my hair was some misplaced feeling of "christian modesty" hanging on - though I was never part of a church that actually had women cover their hair.

What to make of the sudden urge, about a year ago, to cover my head?

I didn't do it. My then-boyfriend thought it looked silly, and I stopped. Though the covering made me feel centered, even grown-up.

Now I learn that other women are doing this, even Zat is, and writing about it. It's made it to the Pantheon blog. Still a minority, but one that is seemingly strong, and includes a spiritual sister. I like the idea in the blog on Pantheos, that hair is power, and it doesn't get to be shared with everyone. I'm complimented on my hair at times, and while I like that, it makes me fiddle with my hair. Makes me very self-conscious. Also, there are just some gorgeous scarves out there that I would love to wear like a tichel. I had a little experience with covering in a religious service though, as that is done by both men and women in Vodou. I always thought veiled and scarved women were beautiful, in a way - not the potato-sack burkha deal, that's too much.

Anyway, I tried an experiment while I was out today. I bought two lovely scarves on sale, because I was on this train of thought, then decided I'd get some cute bandanas for work - nothing too obvious, I'm still in Floribama. But that meant going to the dreaded WalHell. I remembered how centered I felt with my head covered, which is something Zat touched on...and I wanted to gauge the reaction of people. So in the car, I tied my hair up in a lovely gray scarf I bought.

I was so excited, I locked my stupid keys in the car, along with my phone! I felt like a doofus, and figure, well, now is the time to see how interactions with people go!

I lucked out, and found a pop-a-lock van right in the parking lot! I run up, ask him to help me, and gives me a discount - though I didn't have enough cash...AGH! He says "well, you seem like such a nice lady" and fills out a form, saying it was an emergency. Didn't ask for a cent.

So, it works? I guess? He was so kind, but that could have just been who he is. In any case, my scarf didn't seem to get in the way of doing business, talking to people - in fact, I was rather chatty with the cashier inside the store. I felt that feeling of safety and calm, and was able to extend myself socially, as a result. Seems contradictory, that wearing something most women wear for modesty makes me more outgoing.

I don't know how much I will cover my head yet, honestly. I only know that I like it, and I think more will happen in the future. Certainly more when I move from here. (I still worry about Islamophobia in this area) In any case, this is something I'm excited to learn from.


  1. I find myself both amused and curious as to your phrasing of "even Zat." :)

    1. Just never thought I'd see any pagan doing this, much less one I know! Maybe it was worded poorly, but I'm still gathering thoughts. The intersections in my life are a source of curiosity, for me.

  2. I found this post interesting. Paradoxically, I am a male, bald, headscarf (banadana) wearing person and usually do so MOST of the time. Just doesn't feel right to expose my noggin 24/7. There are exceptions of course, but that is how I roll.

  3. There is another aspect of it I didn't think of the other day. I have a piece of fabric left over from when I sewed my kesa. On special occasions, such as holidays when I have to work, I tie it around my head. The robe itself is often uncomfortable and cumbersome since I am left handed(not to mention people look at you funny). Wearing the left over fabric connects me to the process of sewing the robe and what it stands for. Less unusual but maintains the meaning.