Sunday, April 12, 2015

Hair - The story of my People (Native Americans)

I'm part Cherokee but I was never raised in tribal life.  I learned a little about our culture and beliefs through my father and his family and a little from friends I made along the way. I'm always amazed when I uncover something about Native culture that just matches how I feel so perfectly.
 I have to say that for me having long hair just feels right. I've only cut my hair short twice in my entire life.  The entire time my hair was shorter than shoulder length I felt naked, exposed, vulnerable.
Reading this post from White Wolf Pack I began to completely understand part of why I may be so attached to my hair.  I also have to say that I adore long hair on others as well.  The longer the better.
Their article "Elders talk about the significance of long hair in Native American Cultures (Videos)."
"Hair is the physical manifestation of our thoughts and an extension of ourselves."  The article talks about how when the Native people walk the sacred path our hair acts as an extension of our thoughts and allows us to take direction in the path of life. Our hair is like the tails of the birds and the fish who could not fly or swim.  Our hair is our strength and if we maintain pure thoughts our hair cannot be used for evil.
There is a sacredness to hair.  The way it's combed, braided, tied, and the color and texture are all of great significance.  Even hair styles represent different feelings. It is said that the creator decides who receives straight hair and who receives curly hair. Straight hair teaches a person that they can hold on gracefully or let go of life.  Their thoughts flow like water from a mountain and once it reaches the ocean it cycles again.  Curly hair has the potential to understand the energy of life and how it can spiral.  Their thoughts teach about the ebb and flow of life's path.
Even the color of your hair is sacred.  It is believed that you shouldn't bleach or lighten or dye your hair.  Altering your hair color represents placing your desires before those of the creators. There were some ceremonies where henna and ocher were used but it was for a sacred purpose and it was known it would come back to the natural color over time.
They believe that cutting off your hair is like cutting off the flow of thought.  Typically the hair is cut when making a major life change.  It's done to put the past behind you and to make a new life. It may also be done during the mourning process.
Hairstyles like braids even have a symbolic meaning.  Braids are linked to oneness and unity.  They believe the free flowing strands of hair on their own are weak but when joined together in a braid they demonstrate oneness.  "One mind, one heart, and one soul."
Below are some great videos that were also in the post: