What is the spiritual meaning of dreadlocks?
The topic of hair in many religions and cultures is a powerful and very important one that can represent a great deal spiritually, much more so than simply the physical appearance, but also representing signs of respect, modesty, independence, anarchy, obedience, and personality.
The showing or not showing off the hair can be imbued with many different interpretations across religions and cultures, and the hairstyle of dreadlocks is one that has meanings beyond what is superficially a protective one.
The dreadlock, or certainly allusions to this style of twisted hair, can be traced back thousands of years, with Egyptian royalty having been unearthed with this hairstyle still intact and visible.
Twisted locks of one form or another, though, have been recorded going back into the Bronze and Iron Ages, so it is difficult to pinpoint exactly where they initially came from.
Spiritual Meaning of Dreadlocks:
In essence, the dreadlock is formed and worn without much need for interference – it is a low-maintenance style of hair created in its most basic way as a result of not washing or styling the hair for a length of time.
Important to note here, though, is that neat and well-maintained dreadlocks do require some amount of effort, so it is not to incite here that those who wear them give no thought to them.
On the contrary, they can represent a very strong personal message and are commonly symbolic of a wearer’s disregard for societal expectations or focus on vanity.
They are often worn by those in segments of societies who want to break free from the norms and create new ways of life, going against the grain of expectation.
They are a symbol of freedom, of choice, and of rejecting the societal standards of both beauty and lifestyle presumptions.
They represent non-conformity as a strong and clear symbol.
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Of course, we cannot talk about dreadlocks without talking about the association with the Rastafarians.
Probably one of the most recognizable religions and groups of people to wear their hair in this style, the Rastas follow the religious direction that shaving their heads is not desirable as their hair is where their strength lies.
This belief actually stems from the time when Ras Tafari, the Emperor of Ethiopia, was exiled, and his followers decided never to cut their hair until he was reinstated – a truly powerful story that acts as a reminder of the dedication and lengths some people will go to uphold their beliefs.
Speaking of beliefs, Rastafarian’s main underlying beliefs are very closely linked with Christianity – they value humanity, peace, and justice – and their dreadlocks are a way of visually representing those beliefs.
They’re a symbol of this and a way of life that values things other than outer appearance and vanity, instead of focusing more on the inner world, honoring spirituality, independence, and non-conformity.
More than this, though, it is believed that dreadlocks are actually a good way of keeping hold of energy within the body by stopping the flow out of the crown of the head.
In Eastern and Western cultures, it is widely believed that the head and hair are where much of the energy in the human body is given and received, and the dreadlock is thought to be a way of keeping this energy within and maintaining your spiritual beliefs.
To wear dreadlocks, a belief held within the Rastafarian religion, is to make a clear and bold statement that you are not going to be swayed in your journey towards greater wisdom and enlightenment.
They serve as a great reminder to societies as a whole that what matters most is not the appearance, although dreadlocks are beautiful in their own right, but what is held within the physical body that matters instead – the heart, the mind, and the soul.
Rastafarians aren’t the only ones who choose to wear dreadlocks, though Hindus can also be seen wearing this style of hair – namely, those who are very spiritually and religiously ascended.
These are worn as an ode to Shiva, the principal deity of Hinduism, who is often referred to as the ultimate masculine deity representing death and time – who also happens to be depicted wearing dreadlocks.
As a symbol of non-conformity, dreadlocks have been worn by minority groups for years, also as a way of projecting out their values and beliefs to the world. Groups such as hippies, who also value freedom and choice, are often seen with dreadlocks.
Hippies are well known for living outside of the norms of society and portray an ideal of making love, not war, living with ease and flow, and are also generally thought of as being highly spiritually connected.
So, while the dreadlock is, in its most basic definition, a protective hairstyle worn commonly by black people as a way of maintaining and managing their hair, it is so much more than this.
It’s a statement, a demonstration of a different way of approaching life, a desire to create something new and live in a way that more closely aligns with something greater than the capitalist structures that dominate many Western countries.
They are a choice to defy expectations and align with your inner guidance, rather than the outer information that is given copiously to us each and every day.
The Spiritual Meaning of Dreadlocks in Africa
In many African cultures, hair is more than a mere fashion statement. It’s an expression of identity, status, and spiritual beliefs. Dreadlocks, in particular, have been viewed as a symbol of wisdom and strength, reflecting the wearer’s deep connection with their spiritual self.
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While some people still to this day view dreadlocks as a sign of uncleanliness and disobedience, as a spiritual symbol, they represent freedom, choice, protection, enlightenment, and difference.
While they’re not the hairstyle for everyone, and to go into the topic of cultural appropriation would be too much within the bounds of this article, they are something to be appreciated, reminding us of the beauty of differentiation and independence across the human race.
Image source – https://pixabay.com/illustrations/bob-marley-singer-famous-dreadlocks-1888509/