I was visiting Varanasi in India a few years ago, a deeply spiritual place charged with positive energies and healing waters. While taking a stroll along the holy Ganges, I observed hundreds of saints or ‘sadhus’ with matted unkempt hair.
I realized later that their fuzzy hairstyles were nothing but the modern-day dreadlocks with an underlying spiritual meaning.
But what are dreadlocks?
Also called dreads, locks or locs, these ropelike strands are formed by matting or braiding hair.
While most people nowadays carefully style and maintain their hair into dreadlocks, the natural and the best way to dreadlocking hair is to completely ignore it. If you keep washing but stop brushing, combing or cutting your hair, it naturally forms dreadlocks, but these dreadlocks can take years to mature.
Dreadlocks have been a source of controversy lately. There are two camps in this controversy. Those who think anyone who wants should be able to have dreadlocks. The other camp thinks that you should only have dreadlocks if it is part of your cultural heritage (i.e Jamaican etc). This “cultural appropriation” controversy may even be the reason you came to this article in the first place. If so, mention that in the comments below.
History of Dreadlocks
The origin of Dreadlocks is quite debated, however, it’s important to understand that dreadlocks do not belong to any specific culture.
Dreads have been found in ancient Greece, Egypt, Africa, and India, among other countries/civilizations.
While dreadlocks have been a part of many cultures since ancient times, they have only become popular worldwide in the last few decades.
The Rastafarian artist Bob Marley introduced it into mainstream culture in the 70s, after which it became a fashion statement worldwide. For Rastafarians dreadlocks are a symbol of pride and identity.
The Rastas derive inspiration and meaning from the following passage in the Old Testament (in Numbers 6:5): “All the days of the vow of separation, no razor shall pass over his head. Until the day be fulfiled of his consecration to the Lord, he shall be holy, and shall let the hair of his head grow.”
Do dreadlocks have a spiritual meaning?
While most people see dreadlocks as shabby, ungroomed and even rebellious, only a few know the hidden spirituality and meaning behind it:
Prana, chi and ki all refer to the precious life force energy that keeps us alive. This energy flows through our body and influences our physical health and the emotions we experience.
It is believed that prana exits the human body through the top of the head. So the presence of matted or knotted hair keeps the energy from escaping the body. Making you stronger and maybe even giving some supernatural power.
Many spiritual people do not let others touch their hair, fearing the transfer of negative energy from others onto them.
Women looking for a change in their life often get their hair cut, this is because people begin to carry negative energy in their hair after low or rough phases in life.
- Connection to God
The Crown Chakra (Chakra is an energy centre that regulates the flow of energy in the body) is located at the top of the head and it grows hair as a means to attract cosmic energy. It is said that hair acts as an antenna and connects one to the higher power.
So when hair is dreadlocked, we experience heightened subconsciousness, deeper spirituality and a stronger connection to the higher energy, which some may refer to as God.
Dreadlocks have also been associated with Shiva, the Hindu deity. Shiva is said to have been the first being ever to have had dreadlocks (also referred to as ‘Shiva Jata’). Shiva’s followers believe that they belong to Shiva and as Shiva once said that “ All all that is Shiva’s is Shiva” . It is believed that to have Shiva Jatas enables one to embody the divine.
Early Christianity also acknowledges the power held in locs. According to The Book of Judges, Samson had seven locks which held immense power and the spirit of God.
Samson was a Nazarites and according to the Hebreq Bible (Numbers 6:1–21) all Nazarites took a vow to allow their locs to grow.
- Deeper Meditation
When your hair is wrapped around the head, it acts as an energy magnet. While meditating, the dreads attract the Kundalini energy and enable the energy to rise up the spine.
Having dreadlocks also teaches you to just be, accept things as they are. This learning is important for building a regular and deep meditation practice.
- One with nature
Groups like that of the Rastas’ believe in living life as it is and being as one with nature as much as possible. Hence, they do not cut, comb or style their hair (sometimes their beard as well) and develop dreadlocks.
The Rastas’ philosophy empowers them to build a powerful connection with nature and deepen their spiritual practice.
Some cultures also have a belief that hair is an extension to your soul. Cutting someone’s hair used to be a punishment for the enslaved or conquered.
So when you let your hair to just be and grow into locs naturally, it starts to personify your soul.
So, should I get dreadlocks?
Dreadlocking your hair has many spiritual benefits and would help you progress on your spiritual path.
However, before making a decision, bear in mind all aspects and understand that it can be a long and sometimes difficult process. Maintaining dreadlocks can prove to be difficult.
Letting your hair dreadlock does not mean neglecting it, you will still need to maintain your hair. You may also have to cleanse and detox them of negative energy every once in a while.
I would always suggest that you should let your dreadlocks form naturally instead of starting your journey from a salon. Let your locs form according to your energetic vibrations.
Whether you choose if dreads are for you or not, hopefully, this information has shown you that dreads are much more than what they seem at the outset. They have a profound spiritual meaning.
The world perceives individuals with dreadlocks as rebels and may dreadfully look down upon them too. However, more often than not, these locs enable them to progress on their spiritual journey and in turn make the world a better place.