10 reasons I wear a veil

There was a post in which the author challenged a person to give 10 reasons why she wears a veil, and not just because she was called to/told to by a god/dess. Being me, I couldn’t resist rising to the challenge. Of course this doesn’t mean that I think that anyone needs to justify why they do anything that they feel is honestly right for them, regardless if its has aesthetic, practical or spiritual reasoning behind it. When it comes right down to it, it is a woman’s personal choice and no one else’s business. However, because it amuses me to do so I am going to go ahead and put up that list *grin*
Disclaimer: I do not wear a full hijab, nor do I wear a scarf all the time. When I choose to wear a scarf it is usually in a more turban style or as a square folded into a triangle and tied at the base of my neck.

1. I think it is attractive (sure it is a purely aesthetic reason but that doesn’t make it any less valid of a reason). I like the fluttery colorful fabric as much as another woman may like sparkly headbands, or another to adorn her hair with ribbons, or wear cute hats.

2. I like the femininity of it. While I do identify as a feminist, this doesn’t mean I have to chuck everything that is feminine out the window (just as I wouldn’t expect other feminists to reject bras…gods know that some of us feel more comfortable with them, or high heels). I am well aware of the history surrounding veiling, but is something I enjoy as much as long skirts and breezy blouses when I feel inclined to wear them. Considering I spend much of the work week in sturdy leather boots and pants with a uniform shirt, it is nice to indulge in things that make me feel pretty, and that I think look nice on me.

3 It serves a practical function. As many women wear hats, I will often wear a veil to protect from the sun. I don’t care for hats. I generally find them unappealing on an aesthetic level, but also more often than not far less comfortable than my scarf. They are also easier to wash if it is a particularly hot day which causes you sweat. In reverse for colder weather they can help with heat loss. I rarely have felt a scarf to be inferior to a winter hat, especially as they do come in a variety of thicknesses and materials, and often stays in place better too.

4. Also for practical functions, having very uncontrollable hair, it is very nice to use to keep my hair contained, especially in situations where it can get caught or snagged. In fact, I find it far superior to headbands in keeping my hair out of my face.

5. It moves me to a different mindset when I veil during ritual. As many folks in the general neo-pagan community speak of having certain items which put them in the frame of mind to begin work or ritual, a simple piece of cloth works for me what a black robe may do for some witches I have known. In fact there are many times where I have worn very little aside from that bit of material. I wear a scarf in a color sacred to the god or goddess I am worshiping, or default to a standard white scarf. Among Orphics that I have worshiped with when I went to Hellas it was common to wear a bit of material or ribbon dyed in the color that is sacred to the god or goddess ruling the month during which worship is taking place. I find this more comfortable and more convenient to do with a scarf.

6. Slightly related, I engage in belly dancing, some styles of which include a turban to be worn. This is especially true with American Tribal Belly Dancing which I am currently learning. Now religiously I use dance to honor my gods, especially those gods that I am devoted to; therefore, this also another reason for me to incorporate the use of a veil into my rituals. Even for more ecstatic dancing (that I usually engage in for Apollon and Artemis, though occassionally for Rhea and Dionysos) the removing of the veil during which I whip my hair about in my dance, is extremely meaningful…and without the veil present to begin with to be worn in a spiritual context, it looses some of its beautiful meaning to me.

7. I *do* feel a calling to wear it religiously….but then I also have a calling to wear bells on my ankle and on my wrist and also to do spiritual tattooing too. These are consistent symbols that keep my gods continuously in my mind throughout the day. I typically wear white, orange or blue scarfs in honor of Apollon to adorn myself with his sacred colors, just as I wear bells in honor of Apollon because I feel sound issues from his domain. It also connects me in a fashion to my spiritual ancestors in the Hellenic religion, in Hinduism (which I also practice), and to my literal ancestors (I have a photo of not too distant Italian ancestors wearing scarfs over their hair. Unless I am doing a ritual for a particular god or in a very specific reference, as I said above I usually wear those colors on my scarf which are sacred to Apollon.

8. To get back to another practical reason, it is very useful when you are having a really bad hair day. As in you didn’t have time to wash it the night before and need to go out and it looks like hell. I don’t know about some folks but I have really long hair, and naturally rather oily hair (which has its good points but also its bad). If I am having a bad hair day, neither putting it in a pony tail or twisted into a bun will save it. Yes it may be vanity, but on those days I would prefer a nice clean scarf that can be tied as simply or intricately as I like that will help me get through being out and about with my pride and ego in tact. I imagine back in the day when regular bathing wasn’t much of an option, women were perhaps a bit more glad to have something available to cover up with. As a scarf can also hold scents for a time as fabrics due, it is also nice to perfume a scarf and have that pleasant smell attached to it near your face. I enjoy it anyway 🙂

9. I wear it for purpose of tradition for praying. I have had hindu friends inform me that women often cover their head during prayer, it was also common among Roman men and women (for the men with the edge of their toga and for women with the edge of their pala) to cover their heads in prayer. In Hellenismos it is a bit different, head-coverings were typically garlands of some kinds, whether of laurel, flowers etc. Living in Alaska I don’t often have such material on hand, and so prefer to default to hindu and roman covering practices for prayer, even if I am not engaging in a full ritual. This can be as simple as having a pashmina I keep with me that I can drape over my head and shoulders to pray briefly. Now in modern Hellenic rituals in Hellas you will find some women with something of the size of a pashmina wrapped around their shoulders, and draped over their heads in some video taped rituals. So I do it to honor the traditions in which I worship.

10. Also on the spiritual bend, I have also been known to veil for no other reason than to honor goddesses who were likewise veiled. Not all goddesses wore veils, in fact few of them did. Likely it is a station thing going back to societal ideas of proper women, especially for upper class women. But this doesn’t seem quite as applicable with goddesses who were typically as powerful (or in some cases more so, such as Athena being quite apt at kicking the tail of Ares) as the gods. Therefore when you find goddesses such as Rhea, Hera, Demeter, Leto and Hestia being veiled, and even Artemis wearing a kind of turbanish hunting veil over her hair in one instance, well there are times when I feel to wear a veil in honor of one or more of these goddesses. Usually I do so for Leto, the mother of Apollon and Artemis. It is a kind of devotional activity. I choose to wear a veil, o goddess, in honor of your power, you who are obscure and powerful within it. It becomes a praise of divine femininity among these goddesses.And as I do practice bridal mysticism, it is also a respect to these goddesses who are themselves bridal and maternal goddesses. It thus also acts as a symbol, particularly when I am in public ritual that is meaningful for me on a personal level, akin to the meaning others find in their devotional jewelry they may wear.

15 thoughts on “10 reasons I wear a veil

  1. Reblogged this on Shadows of the Sun and commented:
    A lovely article addressing reasons why a woman would choose to veil or don a headscarf. Muslim women aren’t the only women who veil — veiling is a longstanding tradition within Christianity as a whole, and among Polytheists as well, as Lykeia illustrates.

    In any event, to summarize using Lykeia’s words, “[I don’t think] that anyone needs to justify why they do anything that they feel is honestly right for them, regardless if it has aesthetic, practical or spiritual reasoning behind it. When it comes right down to it, it is a woman’s personal choice and no one else’s business.”

  2. Reblogged this on Alexis Solveys Spirit- und Alltagsblog und kommentierte:
    Sometimes I have the impression that Apollon gives all His women the same tasks at the same time. Last weekend I thought intense about that issue… wearing a veil as a spiritual statement or… even as a spiritual rule in my personal practice. And today Laurel Columbine and Lykeia wrote both about that topic…
    it’s worth reading, I think.

    Manchmal hab ich das Gefühl, dass Apollon an Seine Mädels in monatlichem Abstand gewisse Themen zur Bearbeitung raus gibt, wie Hausaufgaben die ein Lehrer verteilt.
    Am Wochenende machte ich mir lange und intensiv Gedanken über das Tragen eines Kopftuches oder Schleiers als spirituelles Statement oder also Regel. Und was passiert heute? Sowohl Laurel Columbine als auch Lykeia schreiben genau über das Thema.
    Lesenswert wie ich finde.

  3. Oddly enough, I felt tempted to respond with my 10 reasons, but I’m stubborn and, sorry, ultimately it comes back to “because Poseidon asked it of me.” All the reasons I can list now come from having done so and benefited from doing as He asked of me. For the sake of fun (and getting away from tax headache, oh my god I can read GREEK more fluently than I can read this form!) let’s see if I can find 10 reasons.

    1). It’s a physical aid to remember my boundaries. I don’t owe anyone more of me than I am willing to give. An extension of that, it’s a reminder to maintain my energetic boundaries, too. Veiling does not replacing good shielding techniques at all, but it helps me remain aware of them, perhaps the way others might wear warding talismans.

    2). Donning the scarf in the morning gives me another opportunity for a devotional act for Poseidon, and helps me remember where I want my “head” focused.

    3). On the rare occasions when we see the sunlight, it helps keep away heat-induced migraines.

    4) It seems to be a signal to others that I am an adult. This was rather an awesome, unexpected perk. I’m short, I’m round, I look easily a decade or more younger than I am, and I have a somewhat high pitched voice. My experiences in life are often discounted by folks who are going on face value, and I’ve noticed a trend in folks to talk me a bit more seriously since I’ve started veiling.

    5) An outgrowth of the previous, it has helped me to take myself more seriously, as an adult and, more importantly, as a wife.

    6) It pushed me out of my comfort zone. I have often been a “blend in even past the point of sacrificing yourself” person, and sorry, but nothing calls attention to you like brightly colored pieces of fabric lined with silver on your head.

    7) It’s a conversation starter — I’ve had mixed feelings about that, because I really just want to be left alone to do my own thing, in person. I do not do well at all with unexpected things, even positive ones, so this may go along with pushing my comfort zone.

    8) It’s taken on bits of ancestor-honoring, for among my disir there are those who would have worn head coverings in worship or dressed modestly.

    9) Wearing a headscarf has allowed me to wash my hair less, by keeping it protected and clean, which uses less water, which in turn is a devotional act in honor of Poseidon and the water spirits of the world

    10) It sets me apart from the popular culture. The other poster can say what they want about how we should all be connected and not hiding ourselves away from each other, but I’ll call bullsh*t on that. The world is not my tribe, not my family, and I trust people who have earned my trust, or who I am engaged in earning the trust of currently. Random strangers? Random strangers I get to be civil toward and compassionate toward, but we cannot take care of others if we do not first take care of ourselves. Yes, I want to be looked at and have people think ‘Hrm, she’s not like these other people that have bought into the ‘normal’ way of living. I wonder what’s up with that?’ I don’t *want* to be mistaken for the popular culture that consumes without a thought for their lives, their goals, their dreams, their desires.

    But 11) ultimately, Poseidon said, “Hey, maybe you could . . . ” And, for the record, if He asked me to jump off a bridge, and he had a good reason for it? My only stipulation would be that it was over the ocean. Otherwise, uh, yeah. But then, my death belongs to Poseidon and Odin already anyway. I leave it up to Them both.

    • ultimately, if it is something that is important to your worship and relationship with the gods that is the most important reason you can have. I tried to give a variety of reasons to meet the challenge (as did you, and you came up with some great answers that I realize applied to me as well but didn’t cross my mind when I was writing lol).

    • very good point! actually in those societies in the middle east and areas with a lot of sun and big freaking deserts, both men and women had some kind of traditional head covering.

  4. You have no idea how weird this is. I have been looking at covering my hair for a while, last night it occurred to me to lurk around a subreddit about it. I was directed to this site today after realizing that the goddess Hestia has been the one calling to me! Now, here’s where it gets weird…

    I live in Alaska too. I too, have uncontrollable hair (haha). And all of your reasons resonate with mine (except belly dancing…I’m ridiculously uncoordinated).

    Maybe it’s not as weird as I think it is, but I just thought you should know…Thanks for the Article, maybe I’ll see you around town!

  5. Pingback: Veiling in Pagan Religions | Fiercely Bright One

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