And Her Hair is Like Snakes…

Hecate is a pre Greco-Roman goddess referred to in the Chaldean Oracles as the mother of souls or as the Cosmic World Soul.  In several references to her she is said to have “hair like snakes” or “hair of snakes”. 

“Hecate appears as a gigantic woman, bearing a torch and a sword. Her feet and hair are formed of snakes, and her passage is accompanied by voices of thunder, weird shrieks and yells, and the deep baying and howling of dogs. Her favour was propitiated by offerings and sacrifices, principally consisting of black lambs.”
From: Berens, E.M. The Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome. New York: Maynard, Merril, & Co., 1880. Text in the public domain.  (Source -

“You who wield terrible black torches in your hands, you who shake your head with hair made of fearsome snakes, you who cause the bellowing of the bulls, you whose belly is covered with reptilian scales and who carry over your shoulder a woven bag of venomous snakes" (IV, 2793-2806).

At first our thoughts might be about Gorgons.  The most famous of the Gorgon was Medusa.  Perseus removed her head and used it as a weapon to turn opponents to stone.
Romans referred to the Celts as having “hair like snakes”, however there is no actual source materials for this claim by Caesar.  There are coins that show dreadlock type hair on Celtic figures after the Roman expansion.  (Source )

Hair like snakes is not only referenced in Greek/Roman sources but also in the Christian tale of Samson and Delilah. 

“And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him.”  Judges 16:19 KJV

James the Just, brother of Jesus, was said to have worn them to his ankles. 

The Hinu god Shiva, responsible for creation and destruction is said to have jataa, or dreadlocks that fall around him.  Sadhu and sadhiv holy men and women allow their hair to dread and follow a path of spiritual enlightenment.

Egyptians mummies are said to have been found with dreadlocks but there is no evidence to support this.  However the Islamic Mouride Brotherhood in West Africa embrace their strong hair or ndiange.(Source - ).  

Mummies in Peru have been found with dreadlocks and have been referenced in a book by William H. Prescott in 1843.  Prescott wrote,
"On the summit he was received by six priests, whose long and matted locks flowed disorderly over their sable robes, covered with hieroglyphic scrolls of mystic import."

One cannot have a discussion on dreadlocks (hair like snakes) without mentioning the Rastafarian movement.  This movement was embraced by or seen as a way to liberate native Caribbean and Ethiopian slaves from their European slave owners.  In the 1930’s Marcus Garvey led the Universal Negro Improvement Association in an effort to unify blacks against their oppressors back in their home lands.  In the late twentieth century awareness was brought to the movement by the legendary Bob Marley. Dreadlocks have played a role in many parts of our culture today.  In literature and mythology.  In religion and even in human rights.  

Instead of hair, writhing snakes fell down in curls around her (Hekate) neck  and some of them coiled over her shoulders.  Source - Drakon: Dragon Myth and Serpent Cult in the Greek and Roman Worlds, By Daniel Ogden.

Many people choose to wear dreadlocks for many different reasons.  Some for combined reasons.  I started my deadlock journey because first they are really cool.  I love the way the look and the different styles.  Then as in so many other aspects of my spirituality I learned more about Hecate and how she was referred to as having “hair like snakes”.  This made my transition from straight hair to dreaded hair a bit more spiritual. 

I have found that they are work.  I have to spend time taking care of the and sometimes it hurts. I've come a very long way with my hair and I get a lot of strange looks in the small town I live in.  I have read comments that I have no right to have dreaded hair and others that say, to each their own.  To mean, being able to personify the five virtues of Hecate are something I strive every day to do.   Doing it with “her hair like snakes” makes it even better.

Dreadlocks - 9 Mons Old

I think the biggest thing is to make sure that you're doing it the right and healthy way.  Take care of your hair.  Use natural products and don't wax up your head.  That stuff is bad for you.  Be respectful of others and when someone asks you why you want dreadlocks be strong enough to say exactly what you mean.  If you think that they rock and you like them that's a great reason to have them.  If it something more personal explain that to people.  I think that if we shared a bit more of ourselves with each other we would spend less time trying to kill each other.

My dreadlocks are still babies at only 9 months old, but you can see my full dreaded journey here. I'll be uploading new photos monthly.

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