"The artist must create a spark before she can make a fire, and before art is born, the artist must be ready to be consumed by the fire of her own creation." ~Auguste Rodin~
You call yourself a rebel”, one of the women in my Ageless Rebel group commented, “ why are you not going natural and gray your hair?”
“I tried,” I answered. “What grew out was this dirty mush of dark blonde and gray; I looked terrible.”
Who wants to look dirty and gray, duh. But curiosity stayed with me. Months later I found a gorgeous, white long-haired style wig in my mail box from wig maker Lucy at LA Beauty Wigs. It sat on a mannequin for three weeks. I was scared and drawn to it at the same time.
I get these spurts of bravery. Go for it. NOW. So I did. “Let’s see how I look with white hair” was my spark.
On a peaceful Sunday with church bells ringing in my mind I tried the wig. I threw on an outfit that felt right, intuitively and without much planning as often, and we did a set of photos.
After I pushed away a slew of critical voices, my inner bullies, who bitched that this was bizarre, too theatrical, too silly and that it’s not Halloween I felt a weird shiver that elated me. This is goddess-y….
I had chosen a transparent black dress over a black bikini and looking at the photos I realized I did not portray an esoteric goddess a la Chris Griscom but a sensual Aphrodite with a heavy dose of courtesan. The courtesan is my deeper story, which has guided and haunted my life for decades and she’s frequently showing up to remind me that I have to see, feel, understand and“resolve” her.
“It’s pretty witchy,” commented my son.
Witchy? I didn’t want to look like a witch….
The fire of my story began to burn.
When my mom brushed my tousled hair when I was a tomboy kid I cried that it hurts too much. “Who wants to be pretty has to suffer,” she answered. “You don’t want to look messy like a witch.” I kept my long shiny hair curled and strawberry blonde for decades; disrupted by a few unfortunate perms, styles and horrible yellows and a few daring attempts of letting my hair down messy and wild.
Hair can be as much drama as power.
“It's just hair!” said my ex when I was complaining and swearing at my super short, spiky hair do, which I had chosen in the 90’s after my son was born. My ex had annoyed me asking not to wear high heels (I always wore heels) and bright red lipstick ( I always wore lipstick) as I “was a mother now.” I refused to be a traditional mom; to give my son the chance to grow up being who he really was I needed to be free of old beliefs. I wanted a dare; a new kind of power; become a straight forward, focused warrior protecting my child no matter what. No more nice girl; my long hair was symbolic for the “sexy girl” and what I really detested was the touch of “bimbo blonde” - it had to go. Cutting it off was giving my ex and society’s expectations the finger. I was in great company; for the rebellious flappers in the beginning of the 20th century cutting their hair was liberating them from having to be demure women; bobs emboldened.
But now my short practical cut with its punk-ish vibe felt too boyish; I had pampered my male attributes for far too long. I had been a fierce rebel in a prettied-up woman body as I had hated belonging to the “weaker sex.” The short hair was a physical expression of my past story, a symbol for flexing my muscle and being my power. The disappointment of it feeling so wrong became an awakening, my first step into longing to understand what female power was. Maybe I was the bow not the arrow and being a woman was the power I had been looking for.
Just hair? Why is hair such an emotional thing? My ex was right in it’s being just a material entity, and yet it a bad hair day can change moods, attitudes and even evoke feelings of grumpy despair and not wanting to face the world.
There’s so much more to it than vanity.
Hair is an expression of our health and mood, our mindset and soul; it’s our trademark. Our hair do is right there in other people’s faces; what they see first when they meet us. Hair is what people identify us with.
When our hair style aligns with our truth, confidence is born even when in a dress that’s so not you.
What does our hair mean to us? To our souls? Our stories?
The effect hair has on our psyche is born in ancient stories, which are with us in our genes or collective memory.
Hair is part of magical, mystical storytelling.
Rapunzel’s lover came to her because of her hair, Medusa with her snake head froze people into stone and the Egyptian goddess Isis gently aroused her dead lover, Osiris, back to life by caressing his body with with her silky, long hair. Fairies and aliens with otherwordly power are depicted with mystical long white hair and, staying in Hollywood; I loved the witches of Eastwick.
Hair has a dramatic history.
Women were regarded dangerous for centuries and many attributed their sexual, seductive power to their hair. From the fourteenth to eighteenth centuries, long-haired “witches”, often women brave enough to stand up for their knowing of herbal and other healing powers, were burnt at the stake as conspirators with the devil. They were stripped naked, put in a white gown of purity and their long manes were cut off.
Women’s long hair was hidden, wrapped or cut to diminish or eliminate female power in every century. Women’s head were shaved to humiliate them publicly.
Hair can be a personal revolution.
When we drastically change our hair it can cause personal revolutions. Short hair can make us feel “fucking fantastically free” and a white (purple, blue, pink…) mane can pull us into our feminine magic and stories we might have rejected or dismissed before.
“Angelica, your hair!!!!”
Working as a wedding planner for a restaurant in California I was told to wear frumpy, non-sexual dresses and put my hair up. I called this decade of my life my “purgatory.” I figured this punishment was my karma for having been a seductress in another life time or at least having her memories torment me with guilt. I accepted humiliation because something in me said that I was “bad.” I cried and sweat, cursed and lamented my way through it ending in a car crash - my fault - that nearly killed me. I had accepted deprivation of my self and my fury had to unload itself somewhere.
My purgatory ended in an explosion and it took me five years to rise from its ashes.
I am embodying my female power every day a little more and my outfits are an amazing sidekick. I am still surprised sometimes about the revelations and stories they guide me to.
When my son said that I looked witchy I jumped backwards. I can play with archetypes of demanding goddesses and accept the sinful courtesan as one of my foremothers but witches? It wasn’t so much the evil witch who scared me or the “silly” fairy tale of magic, it was their real history; they were living, breathing, healing and empowering sexual beings who were murdered for the audacity of wanting to be free.
Many of us are simultaneously scared of and fascinated by witches, by magic and mystery because we are simultaneously scared and drawn toward our own personal sexual and spiritual power.
Healing is about expression, so if I have the witch in me I shall let her free and see how she feels - like an outfit.
My hair looked flat this last month, waves did not want to hold, the color seemed lifeless and it’s structure was tired. I am drawn into the developer scandal in Los Angeles, personally attacked by the relentless greed of men who ruin entire neighborhoods and thousands of people’s lives. My powerlessness and tiredness showed in my hair.
Witches were said to unleash hurricanes when letting their hair loose.
So I might just do that.
For you who like quotes and women who run with wolves, I love these three by Clarissa Pinkola Estés
"Fairy tales, myths, and stories provide understandings which sharpen our sight so we can pick out and pick up the path left by the wildish nature. The instruction found in stories reassures us that the path has not run out, but still leads women deeper, and more deeply still, into their own knowing. The tracks which we are following are those of the Wild Woman archetype, the innate instinctual self....”
"To adjoin the instinctual nature does not mean to come undone, change everything from right to left, from black to white, to move from east to west, to act crazy or out of control. It does not mean to lose one's primary socializations, or to become less human. It means quite the opposite. The wildish nature has vast integrity to it. It means to establish territory, to find one's pack, to be in one's body with certainty and pride regardless of the body's gifts and limitations, to speak and act in one's behalf, to be aware, alert, to draw on the powers of intuition and sensing, to come into one's cycles, to find out what one belongs to, to rise with dignity, to retain as much consciousness as we can."
"It's not by accident that the pristine wilderness of our planet disappears as the understanding of our own inner wild nature fades," Estés adds. "It is not so difficult to comprehend why old forests and old women are viewed as not very important resources. It is not such a mystery. It is not so coincidental that wolves and coyotes, bears and wildish women have similar reputations. They all share related instinctual archetypes, and as such, both are erroneously reputed to be ingracious, wholly and innately dangerous, and ravenous."