On veiling and fears

This post of Columbine’s over at the Treasurey of Apollon, has my thoughts a-turning. You should definitely read that post, as well.

So, I veil. I veil for a number of reasons that all come back to “Poseidon asked me to.” My default style these days is a tichel tied like kerchief, with the middle tail tucked under to make a mock-snood, and the two end tails twisted and wrapped across the top of my head. Something like:

photo from coveryourhair.com


I’ve been veiling now for eight years, and over time, I’ve taken to  covering more and more of my hair. Poseidon’s request was never “hide it all”, though there are times when I want to be as covered as possible. There was an idea put forth by the writer of Aphrodite’s Tortoise, that veiling in ancient Hellenic culture — and indeed, in some modern veiling cultures — served as a sort of extension of the private world for women, that the fabric became in essence an extension of the walls of the home. I find this idea appealing, and on my more off days, the idea of essentially wearing a tent from head to toe is a great idea, if I must go out at all. While I find the idea of hijab-style veils incredibly appealing, I default to more basic tichel-style wraps, more for ease of movement and for less fuss than anything else. (The tichels I use stay without even needing to pin or tie much at all. Considering all the migraine trigger spots on my poor sensitive skull, this is a good thing.)

The most negative reactions I’ve received from people regarding veiling have been from fellow pagans. Mostly, though, any reactions I receive tend to be curious, supportive, or honestly ignorant, all of which I’ve gotten better at dealing with over time. (Once, while walking outside of my workplace, we overheard people referring to me “look, look at her with her scarf on her head. I wonder where she’s from! I think Belgium!” which was much, much source of amusement.)

It need be mentioned that I do live in a college town in Oregon known for our hippy population, and that I’m white, and that work with the public.  I don’t, in general, fear when I leave my house in a veil, because people here wear all sorts of things — including almost nothing — and for the other reasons stated above. I have been apprehensive traveling while veiled, and I have been thoroughly patted down (though not moreso than the unveiled woman who went after me) but nothing more has happened and, again, I think how I veil and also that I’m white plays a huge role in that. Which sucks.

I consider, after the attacks in Paris, that covering could make me a target for those with anti-Islamic sentiments, and  I did consider that maybe I might switch to something less scarf-y. This is a decision only we can make for ourselves, and I don’t know that there’s a wrong decision . . . but I do know that I won’t be ruled by fear.

It’s not okay that I can wear fabric on my head and be fine, but others are harassed — or worse — because of it.

It’s not okay that fear of people who are different can be allowed to turn us into ugly, uncharitable people.

It’s not okay to revile what we don’t understand.

It’s not okay to hate  an entire religion  because some people take that and twist it and make it ugly.

It’s not okay, as a religious minority, to pretend that there isn’t common ground to be found with others of different religious (or other) minorities.

Fucking hell — I’m a polytheist. I’m a modern day polytheist, and so objectively I know that the temples that were destroyed or converted into monotheist temples, and the pagans that were forcibly converted or killed are not my immediate predecessors. At the same time, I can say that people who believed as I believe were killed for believing it. I can say that devotees of Poseidon were likely killed for it, and certainly, certainly His holy places were desecrated, and I won’t pretend that that doesn’t touch me. There are topics in monotheist scripture about how wrong, wretched, and horrible polytheists are. I’m not unread, I know about shirk.

This isn’t going to stop me from saying that Islamophobia is wrong. It’s not going to stop me from saying that hated people because of their religion is wrong. This isn’t going to stop me from giving support to minority monotheist religionists, because freedom of religion (which is as much a UN thing as it is an American thing, and really needs to be a global world thing) is important, including freedom from religion (that is, not being forced or punished for not having one) and including religions that are not mine.

I find interfaith dialogue and study to be as important to my practice as devotional acts to my god, because Poseidon is all about compassion with me, and being able to empathize with others keeps me compassionate.

The world could do with more empathy.


6 Comments Add yours

  1. Varian Rose says:

    I’ve been debating over taking up veiling again–I miss it, but I also have anxiety over it. I remind myself that I covered my hair for nearly a year and no one ever said anything negative to me, but I still worry.

    Anubis has been totally quiet about it, other than to say that it’s up to me if/when I begin veiling again.

    1. Jolene Poseidonae says:

      It’s so very much a decision we can only make for ourselves. People will find a way to be assholes if that’s what they want to be.

      For me, having anxiety over something that I can control (to veil or not to veil) is generally a reason to do the thing. It’s one of the small ways I fight my anxiety. But that’s me, and my anxiety is not yours. Either way, I support whatever choice you make. Maybe veil sometimes, in some places? It need not be an all or nothing sort of practice.

  2. TPWard says:

    I’ve experimented with it this year myself, spending several months having my head covered for all but washing and sleep. I found it comforting, without knowing why. This is helpful.

  3. Sage says:

    Hi! I love all of your posts about veiling! I’m an eclectic pagan (meaning that I have a mix of the Norse pantheon and a bit of pop culture paganism) non-binary person and I have recently considered covering, though I’m not entirely sure how to go about beginning to cover. I usually wear hoodies a lot, but I’m not sure if covering with the hood part of my hoodie would count as covering (I’m Autistic, I have anxiety, and I’m mostly having to keep my faith hidden from my family).

    1. Jolene Poseidonae says:

      Thank you for your comment! I’m sorry that I’m just seeing this now. I want to be supportive about covering without being pushy, so allow me a YAY exploring covering! The joy of veiling as a pagan is that you really get to decide what goes, what counts as covering. Some people wear hats, some wear kerchiefs, while others favor a hijab-inspired type of covering, or tichels like I prefer. Some just wear headbands. It’s between you and whichever Powers you include in the decision making process, and the ‘rules’ or guidelines are also all yours to figure out.

      There are a couple of Facebook groups that deal with covering, though it’s been a while since I was a member, and I can’t recall their names (anyone want to help me out here?) There’s also the Wrapunzel fangroup page, which while seems more heavily slanted toward monotheists, is still populated by some pagans. (I lurk in most of the groups I’m in. Time. I used to have more of it, it seems.)

      Cover as you want to, if you want to. I don’t see why a hoodie wouldn’t count.

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