Friday 19 October 2012

Origins of the Headwrapping Culture for a RasTa Empress

Greetings Royal Queens of Afrika!

For RasTafari, the growing and also the wrapping or covering of the dreadlocked crown is founded in the knowledge that the entire head region of the body is sacred – it is the home of the crown chakra which is responsible for our connection with our Higher Self and advanced spiritual truths. This is the violet colour of the light spectrum. Furthermore, the brain controls the entire body, it is where the thinking mind is, where the Wise Mind or Wisdom of JAH or The Word, lives and reigns in the flesh. It is representative of the Heavens, the sacred seat of the body which is the Tabernacle of JAH, the Most High. The crown is where salvation truly abides, where logic and self-esteem manifest – all things we value most in our Kristos Consciousness. The crown, as an extension of the third-eye, heart and throat chakras, is therefore the most important part of the body we have to care for in order to have a sense of identity and purpose, and to live a fruitful and long life. The body will not survive if the mind has been corrupted or addled.

The mane of Dreadlocks are a physical manifestation of this intellectual consciousness of the Higher Self. The Livity of RasTafari honours this sacred crown with chanting Ises to raise our spiritual vibrations and with Ital foods and beverages to keep it vitalized. RasTafari value reasoning and using cannabis to increase our use of this intellectual mind-space. The dreadlocks show commitment to righteous mind and separation from negativity or Babylon/mainstream society. It is an outward projection of the Inner man and wombman, of the spiritual journey of Rastafari. We engage in head-covering to protect the Irits and Vibrations sacred to the crown chakra, and to keep this symbol of a personal covenant, hidden and set-apart unto JAH like the Holy of Holies in the Temple of Jerusalem. The turban covering has, for centuries, been a mark of a personal devotion to the holy life, or Mysteries.

Elder Rastafari such as Rita Marley, have shared that in the early days, non-Rastafarians would throw garbage and insults at Rasta people on the street. They would degrade them and criticize their appearance by calling them “dutty.” Rastafari started covering their dreadlocks more often when walking the streets as a way of protecting themselves from such hateful, ignorant and negative comments. Beautiful crochet hats called tams became a common item for Rastafari, and allowed them to proudly display their Ethiopian or Afrikan heritage and mindset, with the use of black, red, yellow and green colours.

The knowledge of colours and what vibrations they send and receive, plays an important role in how many RasTafari dress and cover their head as well. For example, the Bobo Shanti have a turban and fall (head scarf) in the colour of each Tribe month. The Kemetic Teachings show that colour was a sacred part of life and worship in Kemet as well – white for purity, black for the soil of the Nile and underworld, and yellow symbolizes the Word Sound Power, etc.

. . .

Head-wrapping is a common act performed by religious people cross the world for thousands of years. It is an ancient tradition brought to the Diaspora by Afrikan women. Jewish women also cover their heads with scarves or bonnets called snoods, while the men, during times of study, prayer or when in temple, also wear kippahs. Christian women also engage in head-wrapping, such as the Shouter Baptists, as do Muslim men and women, as well as Afrikan spiritualists like Orisha. Different forms of spirituality therefore establish head-covering to be an important part of both the women’s and men’s daily life.

Within the dreadlocked culture of RasTafari, it is tradition that both bredren and sistren cover their mane or crown consistently from the very beginning, especially during times of worship and while in public. This tradition has a religious foundation in the New Testament as well as The Fetha Nagast. These sources in the Bible speak about the covering of a virtuous woman as part of the church and as part of her sacred marriage order (according to Pauline doctrine which is quite restrictive to say the least).

Like circumcision, not marking or cutting one’s hair with a razor is a sign of being put-apart unto the Living God rather than idols. As part of the Nazirite Vow it shows that one is not caught up in death or with pleasures and ego, but has livicated/devoted oneself as a sacred temple that is pure in its Creation. Long hair, like fine linen, was therefore once a show of virtue, humility and holy separation for both man and woman.

In the New Testament however, Paul mentions that long hair was not customary for the common man but for the woman, as a “covering” for her. Long hair, along with the cloth that covered it, together symbolized woman’s submission to her man and her god which is “sacred marriage.” It is assumed that the covering of a woman is a sign of submission so that she does not disgrace her husband or the authority in her life, thereby implying that she has no teaching or faith.

“But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head.

But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved.

For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered.

For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man.

For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord.

For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God.”

“Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?

Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her;

for her hair is given to her for a covering.”

(1 Corinthians 11:2-16 NKJV).

In the above verses of First Corinthians Chapter 11, Paul notes that for the good Christian woman, covering her long hair is a sign of belonging to the Heavenly Father – but also her submission to her husband. A woman should not only have long hair to cover her body, but that long hair should be covered in prayer and prophesying, marking that she is headed by her husband and JAH. To have her hair uncovered in prayer is as big a sin as not having hair at all. She covers her head as a worshipping wife, handmaid, patroness or prophetess. The covering represents her acceptance and reception of the law and Holy Spirit in her heart and soul.

And by interpretation therefore, the woman who covers is of constant reverence, prayer and Iditation on the Word and Irit of JAH, of that Authority that guides her decisions and works every day. She covers her head to signify her reception of Jah Consciously. Her head-covering is also viewed as a mark of perpetual service to the Kingdom of JAH.

Her head covering in prayer is in submission to the Lord who is Authority over her and her husband. It is a Virtuous Wombman who prays often, who speaks wisdom always, and knows that her righteous deeds in the law are in themselves offerings to her God. She knows that she is always in submission to JAH through her submission to her husband and the law in righteousness. She will seek to always cover or crown herself consistently and appropriately as a womanifestation of righteousness.

The impression given by Paul is that the covering of the wombman shows that she is also headed by a righteous man – her father and/or husband, even her priest and king. Covering herself in worship shows that the man is head of the gathering in Church or for prayer as he is in the home and marriage. A covered woman therefore boosts the standing of her man in public, amongst his bredren.

Chapter Eleven reminds the church that the veil is a symbol that she is not independent of her husband, and he is not independent of her, and that they are not independent of JAH. So he must crown, cover, cherish and protect her; keeping them both in union with their God. The veil, the covering and crowning, once again represent this perfect union or sacred marriage, and the Authority of JAH over them both through the husband.

The veil or covering also shields the husband’s “property” from the lustful curious stares of his family, friends and strangers in public. A woman’s body was coveted by her man in a way that shielded her from the eyes of others – long hair was the first covering given to her by JAH, then came the long dresses/robes and the head scarves, hats, veils and so on given to her by her father, brother and then her husband. Hence, the covering of a woman stems from both religious and social ideologies.

The Ethiopian doctrine used apart from the Bible is the Fetha Nagast, which outlined the laws that kings and queens lived by. Many do not realize that the traditions given to Rasta women were traditions followed by Empress Menen Asfaw as an Orthodox Christian. This book states:

When she walks through the street, she veils her head with her cope [probably cape]; she veils herself with purity to defend herself from the looks of wicked men. She adorns neither her head nor her face, for there is nothing which renders her ugly and makes adornment necessary. Let her drop her head and look to the ground and let her always remain veiled.
A free woman [“not enslaved by the devil”] shall not leave her hair unveiled in the house of the Lord she shall not give her children to wet nurses, nor shall she be slothful in administering her household nor disobedient to her husband (Feta Nagast, Strauss, 2002, pg. 80).

It was expected that the Ethiopian Christian Wombman in covering herself with a veil and cape, would not even make eye contact with other men. As the virtuous wife moved about her society, her veiling or head covering kept her somewhat hidden away from the same negativity or temptations her sacred marriage took her away from. She, by her modesty in donning this Cloak of Righteousness, became Iritually untouchable by the stares of strange lustful men.

Drunk and lustful men are known to “undress women with their eyes,” it is therefore not impractical to think that covering up herself is a barrier against such unwanted negative attention. And furthermore, her choice to cover is a womb-manifestation of her principles to distinguish herself from someone they could toy with, a godless woemen; or one who is wayward, or lacks responsibility, tradition, honour, love and raspect in her own dwelling.

By these religious terms therefore, any woman who dresses confidently in modesty and covers her head is basically labelled “spoken for,” or at least God-fearing; and is therefore not open to being appraised or approached by ill-intending strangers. The only ones allowed to behold the beauty of her body and nature are her family members; and theirs is the only praise she needs or wants to receive and bask in.

To recall Biblical history, which is the precedent for the push for Christian wives to be so submissive in their appearance and in public; being wary of beautiful or beguiling women who could somehow compromise their morality, was very important for the officials of Isra’el. Women were considered the “weaker” sex and vessel, being prey to carnal sins probably because of their beauty and tender feminine attributes. Beauty somehow was linked to weakness, because adornment sometimes expresses or aims to cover a woman’s insecurities about her body. On the other hand, her beauty could also be used by her or others as a weapon or vice to commit evil intentions.

It was therefore necessary for the sons of the Covenant to find wives who were clean spirited and able to abide in humility and goodness despite their physical beauty – so that they themselves could remain ritually pure. It was best to find a virgin bride, untouched by another man and totally in submission to them and the law; and therefore not someone who would lead them astray, or someone who could tempt them into doing the wrong thing. “They shall not take a wife who is a harlot or a defiled woman, nor shall they take a woman divorced from her husband; for the priest is holy to his God.” (Leviticus 21:7 NKJV)

Therefore, the righteousness of a wombman and a true humble virtuous wife, in the tradition of the Ethiopians and Hebrews is culturally identified and womanifested (apart from her works or reputation) by her covering. Her veil, her gown, her cloak, her cape, her snood, her turban, her scarf, her wrap, her shamma – they all speak volumes about her principles and how much she is in communication with the Law, the church, her JAH. It is a good work on her part, literally for the sake of mankind. And more importantly, her covering lets it be known on the street that she is of high morale, and likely to be a good or obedient wife and daughter. (Biblically a virgin or daughter also covered in raspect for her father.)

To summarize, traditionally, by religious and social tradition, the reasons for the head-covering of the Judeo-Christian Wombman are as follows:

1. to protect herself from others in public

2. to show her submission to JAH and the rules of worship in church or at home, 

3. to shun vanity in humility and livication to a holy life (think of Nuns, Muslims, Amish and so on)

4. to signify the submission in sacred marriage between Man, Wombman and JAH.

. . .

Indeed, it is clear that in First Corinthians Chapter 11 the veil is a glory between JAH, man and wife - and so are the dreadlocks, for RasTafari. The covering of the RasTafari Daughter’s dreadlocks and body is a reflection of her sacred marriage to her King-Man and the Highest Dread JAH RasTafari. The dreadlocks are a defining factor in her overall natural beauty, being the physical beauty and reflection of her Lioness Irit, and personal covenant and humility to King-Man and JAH. Dreadlocks are a reflection of her personal journey and covenant; but they are also a covenant shared with her husband as part of their Iritual beliefs, bond, identity and livity. Her Alpha is reflected in him, and his Omega in her.

The RasTafari Queen of today has risen to her own throne and crowning freedoms even in her sacred marriage to JAH and her King-Man. She is much more sociable, and has her work, friends and affiliations. She may be physically found “out there” but she is not “out there” mentally or Iritually and her appearance reflects that balance. Her dreadlocks are outward manifestations of her inner crown opened through RasTafari Livity. Such must be guarded if she is to remain powerful and in touch with the Word of JAH as His/Her Anointed. Be that as it may however, the covering of the crown or even growing locks, are not considered to be the only important markers of a Dawta’s virtuosity or livication to Rastafari. Her character and good works are even more important in projecting to the world who she is and what she is about.

Some Dawtas wrap their crowns all the time, some only on special occasions, when they feel like, or when it is required. There is no steadfast order in the culture anymore because the Rastafari Woman is free to choose for herself in most cases. While these freedoms are taken, however, it can be assured that when it comes to worshipping and entering the Taba or any place of worship, Dawtas are required to cover their crowns. What freedoms we take in our personal life, are not to disrespect the public gathering of Rastafari to worship as a community.

Queen Omega Love!
Sis. Ila

(This post was updated 27/9/2021)

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