Adventures in headcovering, or: more navel-gazing.


Here’s the thing about head covering for religious reasons when you’re pagan: it’s weird. I can’t deny that I cover for religious reasons. Once upon a time, a long time ago in a land far away, Poseidon said, “So, hey, fabric on your head? Yes.” I don’t have a continuous tradition to draw on, I don’t have examples to point to and say, “that!” I live a spiritual life that is living and growing and changing, and I interact with my gods and spirits on a personal level, and at the end of the day, the fact that Poseidon said, “About this thing . . . ” is enough of a reason for me to cover.

I can’t, and won’t, deny that there are issues that come with covering. The most obvious one is, since I wear a scarf on my head and not a hat, it looks like I’m covering for religious reasons and, assumptions are often made about what those reasons are. I live in a fairly religiously diverse city, which makes it somewhat easy — more to the point, I live in a lifestyle-choices-diverse city, which really makes it easy. When this taboo first came up, we were still in Philly, and I hesitated a lot, and toyed with covering a lot, and opted for non-hijab styled covers mostly because there was a strong Islamic presence, and I did not want to offend people.

I don’t get the religious question a lot anymore, but when I first moved here it happened a fair amount. I suck at stock answers, so sometimes I answered decently enough and sometimes I’m human and I’m having a bad day and it’s not my fault if you don’t like my “it’s personal,” response when you ask me in the middle of my shift at my day job. More often, though, I try to be more gracious about it, because I do believe that we represent our gods, whether we want to or not.

But I think about the veiling a lot, because, well, I do it every day, and I am pagan, and it *is* a bit not-normal for pagan peeps to cover for religious reasons. They do it, as I had fun learning last year, and more of them do it than you might otherwise think. But it’s still not common. And that’s fine.

Last week at work, I was approached by a cautious-about-offending-me woman who wanted to know if we sold head coverings (we do, indeed, or at least, things that can be used as such) and then proceeded to explain that she and her church were attending a local mosque and she was very nervous about doing the whole head wrapping thing. I was able to share a bit with her, and because I’m a nerd who has studied headcoverings of various faiths (in part because, hey, I like to know what I’m talking about, where assumptions come from, but mostly because I’m a nerd and I like to know things period) I was able to tell her a little bit about Islamic headcovering, though I couldn’t tell her what the rules at this particular mosque would be. I did point her to some tutorial websites, and she left less nervous and more confident, and it was very cool.

It likely goes without saying, though I’ll say it anyway because lately it seems like things that should go without saying need to be said, I support anyone’s choice to cover, for whatever reasons. I support pagans who want to run around nekkid, and I support pagans who feel called toward modest dress, for however they define modest dress. I wish that I didn’t feel awkward going out with my scarves wrapped hijab style, because there are days when I want those layers between me and other people — it has nothing to do with shielding or not shielding and everything to do with I feel comfortable covered up. Some days I do, and I leave my bangs out in a token effort to say, look, I’m not trying to be something I’m not. I am disgusted by the idea that anyone thinks they get to have a say in how much of myself I show or cover. You don’t. Get over it.

I do poke at the cultural appropriation issue when it comes to covering, a lot, but I keep coming back to: there are only so many ways to tie a piece of fabric to your head. I still favor the tichel a lot, because it stays and I don’t need to pin it. But there are days when I want to get fancier, and I wish I would without worrying too much about other people. I don’t care about the people who think covering is wrong/bad/oppressive/stupid. I care about not offending people who also cover, because we should be supporting one another’s rights to cover, not making it more difficult to do so.


10 Comments Add yours

  1. fieldstones says:

    I honestly don’t wee why anyone would ask–it would never occur to me to ask why someone was wearing a headscarf! (Granted that I am old enough to remember when it wasn’t all that unusual.) Why would I care?

    1. naiadis says:

      It’s something I think about, but then, it’s something that I do, so I think that makes a certain amount of sense. But I don’t understand the ” . . . and you are WRONG for doing it!!” mentality. I think about people knitting, when I see them knitting, because I also knit. I wonder what they’re making, who they’re making it for, what fiber they’re using, where they got the pattern, what needle material they prefer . . . but, non-knitters might not care. So, I don’t mind people *asking*. It’s the “I know better how you ought to live your life,” that gets my back up.

      1. fieldstones says:

        Yeah, that’s a good point. But you know, my grandma wore a head scarf when she wanted to go out after she had set her pin curls for the night. My mom wore and wears a head scarf when it’s windy and she doesn’t want to have to fix her hair when she gets to where she’s going. I have a friend who wears a bandana when she’s having a bad hair day. People wear them when they have lost their hair due to medical treatments. None of these are things I think it would be appropriate to inquire about!

        1. naiadis says:

          Also some good points.

  2. Jove says:

    I do scarves too, and sometimes my coverings looks like tichels, and sometimes they look like hijabs. Sometimes I go crazy and layer 5 fabrics and even pin strands of beads on top. I’ve decided that no culture can claim to own a particular way that I wrap fabric around my head. I’m not intentionally copying anyone, I make up my own styles, and so I feel okay about it. There’s more important things to care about than what anybody else thinks of the fabric on my head. I get a lot of odd looks and people definitely treat me differently depending on the covering of the day — but again, I have a lot of bigger things to worry about. I like covering, it works for me, it’s meaningful and that’s all that matters.

    But anyway, I always love hearing your musings about covering! ❤

    1. naiadis says:

      I like covering, it works for me, it’s meaningful and that’s all that matters.


    2. naiadis says:

      ” I like covering, it works for me, it’s meaningful and that’s all that matters.”


  3. Cora Post says:

    I am disgusted by the idea that anyone thinks they get to have a say in how much of myself I show or cover. You don’t. Get over it.

    THIS! By all that is Holy, Right, and Good: THIS!

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