We don’t call them dreadlocks anymore. Just dreads. In the past they called them locks, until they started to dread them. Well, actually I’m not sure. Whatever the word, you can find dreads in many cultures throughout history and in the world today. Hair matted, or it was platted, back-combed or braided, whatever your culture or hair texture.
It is impossible to tell who had them first. To further complicate things, most modern humans carry genetic code from other ethnic groups too. Most hair dreads easily, even cultures I thought would have a difficult time trying to create dreads like Native American Indian tribes, I’ve found archival pictures showing them. Maybe it started from the cave dwellers era, when the lazy ones couldn’t be bothered to style their hair and simply tied it up.
In Sanskirt, they are called ‘jaata’ (meaning locks) worn by sadhu’s and nagas (worshipers of Siva). The use of dreads in religious contexts is twofold. Some see it as a rejection of vanity as some sects of Tibetan Buddhism, acceptable alongside shaven heads. Otherwise, it is believed hair is an extension of the nervous system able to pick up perceptions beyond the normal range and senses.
Yogi’s wear their dreads on top of the crown chakra during the day, heightening the connection to the Sun, absorbing more energy. During the evening, as the mind quietens down, they are worn down. Some, like the naga’s, only wear them down for special rituals.
Dreads are broadband compared to straight hair’s dial-up.
Samsun, of Bible fame, had his locks cut off so he could be defeated. I suspect they were dreadlocks. A symbol of strength to some yogi’s, rastas and pagans, and, of course, some hippies. I identify as all of those.
Why did I decide to dread my hair?
Ever since I had long hair for the first time, I wanted to dread it. But that scared a few bosses. My hair did dread after I stopped brushing it, but I ended up creating mats instead of dreads. It has been about 25 years now, and I’ve had dreads for little over a year now. I think it is easier to manage than long hair. That’s the caveman coming out in me.
It is a great indicator to strangers that I think differently. Strange white people don’t try to be racist with me. They do the usual looking out the corner of their eyes, while muttering to their huddle. I had a black girlfriend once, I know the drill. Black people stare most of the time. As yet, no one has confronted me about cultural appropriation.
The first Bishop of Jerusalem, James the Just, had dreads down to his ankles!
And then there are all the polite questions:
Are you a rasta? No, but I don’t mind the association. I’m a yogi. My purpose in life is to discover the Nature of Reality and explore Consciousness. Yes, ganga is one of the seven sacred herbs. Yes, meditation is a safer, steadier method.
Do you wash your dreads? Yes, like I wash everything else. It is called ‘saucha’ in Sanskrit, meaning ‘cleanliness’. Are you vegetarian? Yes, the bonemeal is for the dogs we love.
So, I’m happy to chat, to have informative conversations. It leads to a lot of bridge-building. If you have a problem, that’s okay, I’m sure you will keep quiet, drowning in your own ignorance and judgment.