Hairy Superstitions: The Symbolic Meaning of Hair Through the Ages

Throughout history and across cultures, hair has held symbolic meaning in religion, ideology, social status and our perception of the Self. To celebrate Halloween, let’s explore different beliefs, myths and curiosities surrounding hair.

Archeological research has shown that ancient civilizations have always been fascinated with hair care.  Ancient Incas, Aztecs, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Vikings and many more, all attached particular significance to grooming and embellishing their hair.

Grooming or superstition? The line was quite thin.

In Samson and Dalila’s tale in the Bible, we learn that hair is associated with strength and power. According to some Native American beliefs, hair is a sign of spiritual power. This explains why in war time, scalping the enemy had such significance. It essentially removed the enemy’s power, breaking his connection to the spiritual world.

In the Middle Ages, all traces of fallen hair in the home were burned to prevent witches from taking strands of hair and transforming them into snakes. For others, static electricity in your hair was a sign of evil possession.

Other religions also place symbolic meaning on hair. Some ancient Greek, Egyptian and Arab rituals required giving pieces of hair to the gods in exchange for blessings. As a sign of devotion, Rastafarians and Sikhs do not cut their hair. Contrary to Buddhist monks, who shave their heads as a sign of devotion.

There are superstitions related to hair in current Western society, such as the belief that removing one grey hair will cause four more to appear, or that trimming your hair will make it grow faster.

There is definitely something mystical about hair!

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