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Hair in Magick and Occultism By Leigh Blackmore 2009

Potion of witches with beautiful hair, Adorn my head beyond compare. Rich and thick the potion goes, Absorb the sunshine and the glow. Maidens weave the gorgeous threads, That creates the hair upon my head. Combine the egg, magick, and grain, And rise me beautiful with iris rain. So mote it be. So runs a modern magick spell for beautiful hair written by witch Dawn Gribble. To utilise this spell, the practitioner or witch must employ certain ingredients and methodologies. The ingredients needed include maidenhair, a brown egg and goddess oil, which all represent Venusian principles (on the grounds of magical correspondences, which much traditional magick uses). Venus, as the goddess and the planet of beauty, represents all things connected with a healthy and sensual body, therefore things symbolically associated with this goddess are used in the spell. To use the spell, the practitioner bends over at the waist and brushes the hair upside down for one hundred strokes, making sure the scalp is stimulated and all residues of styling aids are gone. A candle is then anointed with the oil. The candle and the incense are lighted. The practitioner must then place lemon juice, flaxseed oil, egg, maidenhair and ginseng in a mortar, and grind with a pestle until the potion is gooey. In the Venus hour, or, if it's easier, on a Friday, which is the day dedicated to Venus), the witch must recite the incantation over the potion, which is worked into the hair until it is saturated. Plastic wrap is placed over the hair. The practitioner must then go outside to soak up the sun as the potion tingles and revitalizes the hair. After an hour in the sun, the hair can be shampooed and conditioned, but before the final rinse of the conditioner the witch must thoroughly rinse her head in the rain water and allow the hair to air dry naturally. The occult significance of hair can be manifold. There are stories of witches who "tied the winds" in a knot, usually made of their hair, as a form of weatherworking magick. Then when they released their hair, the wind they tied would be free to blow. In previous eras, in times when it was thought bad luck to have a woman on board a

ship, sailors would buy cords of human hair with knots in them to release on their ships, in the belief that this would bring fair winds. Magician Aleister Crowley drew on ancient religio-occult legendry in claiming in his autobiography The Confessions that at birth he had four curling hairs which formed the shape of a Swastika on his breast supposedly a sign that he was of divine significance. The Swastika was said to have originated as a representation of the chest hair of the Hindu god Vishnu a symbol of Sri, or good luck. The Buddha is also often depicted with a swastika on his chest in the area where hair grows. The Swastika (or fylfot), a symbol of the whirling motion of the universe, also derived from ancient tools used for braiding, spinning and twisting hair and cloth. Crowley also often wore his hair in later life with a phallic forelock, concreting in his own person his own solar-phallic magical philosophy of Do what thou wilt. This was perhaps a variation on the ancient Egyptian practice of wearing a sidelock of hair on a skull otherwise shaven all over. Crowley also had his early three volume set of poetry The Collected Works (1905-07) bound in camel-hair wrappers. The absence of hair can also be significant in a magical context, a bald skull suggesting both formidable intelligence and menacing evil. The famous shaven-headed portrait of Crowley beloved of hack authors who like to portray him as the wickedest man in the world uses his lack of hair to subtly suggest that he has divested himself, along with the hair, of decency and respectability. Ironically, most other photos of Crowley show him with flowing locks. In ancient times, early tribes believed that both good and bad spirits, which entered the body through the hairs on the head, inhabited every individual. Bad spirits could only be driven out of the individual by cutting the hair, thus different fashions of hair cutting were practiced by various tribes. The barber was seen as the most important person in the community. Barbers in these tribal days arranged all marriages and baptized all children, and were the chief figures in the religious ceremonies. During these ceremonies, the hair was allowed to hang loosely on the shoulders so that the evil spirits could emerge. After the dancing, the long hair was cut by the barbers and tightly combed back tightly so that the evil spirits would be locked out, and the good ones held in. The Greek Goddess Medusa, one of the gorgons, famously had hair of snakes. These serpentine locks formed part of her magical means of subduing her victims. The image of her malevolent writhing snake-like hair epitomises for all time the notion of female

rage, and has been utilised extensively by modern feminist for this reason. [ Hair in general links with our sexuality, and with our primal sense of self. The flow of long hair may be said to be connected to the collective unconscious, symbolised in psycho-magical terms by the element Water, which itself is linked to the creational source, the matrix, the Womb of all life. Many goddesses such as Aquarius are depicted with long flowing hair which symbolises the flow of creativity and life-force. Long hair is subconsciously held to be part of our natural state of being. Certain astrological signs are partly symbolised by hair, particularly Leo. Leos typically have manes of long, wavy hair. The figure of the Star, one of the Tarot trumps, is characteristically shown with long flowing or spiralling hair, again making the correspondence to the universes flowing and spiralling energy and emphasising the Hermetic maxim of as above, so below. Hair that is styled into swirls or snail shell patterns moving to the right is linked magically, through theories of the subtle body, to energy moving upward through the crown chakra, and with the spiralling movement of consciousness symbolised by the Golden Ratio or Fibonacci Sequence. We find the use of hair in magick often coupled with the use of nails both growing parts of the human body which are held to contain the soul essence of a person. In ancient Persia originated the magical custom of using small figures of wax fashioned with incantations in the likeness of ones enemy and then pierced with nails or pins, or melted in the fire, in order to wreak revenge via sympathetic magick on the enemy. Most effective as part of this practice was to obtain some portion of the victim's nails or hair, to bring the wax effigy into closer connection with the living victim. Enemies of the Persian Prophet Zarathustra accused him of sorcery by secretly placing hair, nails and such other impurities in his room, which led to his imprisonment through these magical means. Hair is often thought to contain mana or magical power. In Polynesia, the first time a boys hair was cut marked his coming of age but the ceremony was considered to be risky. It is not only human, but sometimes animal hair that is used in magick. In Voodoo, the hair of a black cat is said to be lucky for gamblers, and is used in a bottle spell to make lovers break up. The hair reflects the health of the body in general. In Chinese medicine it is considered that the hair grows along the same energy

lines or meridians which occupy the rest of the body. By combing or brushing long hair, it is thought possible to stimulate subtle energies inaccessible to the grosser sense organs, especially due to the static electricity generated by continuous brushing. Womens hair has often been perceived as particularly powerful in this regard. In various cultural traditions hair has been held to contain the soul, to protect children from evil, or that hair can heal illnesses and deflect curses. The fairy tale of Rapunzel is a classic example of the belief that long hair held magical power, and a study of the tale as to where and why Rapunzels hair is grown long or cut short repays attention from a magical point of view. In modern pop culture this motif is perpetuated, for instance in Naoko Takeuchis Sailor Moon stories where the young princess has unusually long hair which only keeps growing once her hidden powers of the Moon and lineage are reawakened. The magical and energetic power of long hair was long regarded as anti-Christian. Hence, witches in medieval times were often depicted with their hair flying, and Satan was considered to be able to take hold of such women easily, whereas modest Christian women were told to keep their hair cut short by the patriarchal powers that were. Long hair was seen as a sign of evil, disorder and demonic power, primarily because sexuality and the freedom represented by the sensuality of free-flowing tresses threatened the patriarchal status quo. Hence the first thing done to witches when captured and tortured was to shave their heads a cultural humiliation but also a magical one. The Nazis, who shaved the heads of women prisoners in the concentration camps, performed a similar psycho-magical act in which women were deprived of the symbolic life-affirming power of their hair. An old magick spell calls for a woman to brush her hair one hundred times at sunset before a mirror. At the one hundredth stroke she would peer through her veil of hair and see her future husbands image in the mirror. Another magical technique involves braiding the hair, which is said to bind power" to the practitioner. Creating a slow tight braid while visualizing a lover is supposed to ensure that he will be faithful. The braid is then bound with a coloured ribbon. Red usually represents passion while blue stands for fidelity. Ceremonial magicians often use cut off hair (their own or others) as talismans or protective amulets. Hair is often also burnt in magick rituals in order that the stored energy in it might be released for a particular purpose desired by the magical practitioner.

Jack Parsons, a disciple of Aleister Crowleys who performed a famous magical operation known as The Babalon Working in the 1940s believed he would meet his Holy Guardian Angel, or magical partner, as a beautiful woman with flaming red hair. It wasnt long before Marjorie Cameron, a flaming redhead, came into his life. (She and her red hair later starred in the magical movie made by underground auteur Kenneth Anger, Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome). Long hair may be seen as a sign of age and therefore of the wisdom which may accompany magical powers or insight. Hair contains our genetic code, the essence of our being, and it is natural that magicians throughout the ages have seen it as crucially linked to our spiritual as well as our bodily being.