Dave and I, July 29, 2006
The controversy over recent months regarding veiling in the pagan community has been very interesting. I'm not sure why it has been such a "hot topic." It seems whenever a woman chooses to dress a certain way lots of people have opinions about that. Personally I support an informed choice to dress however a person chooses to. From culture to culture there are numerous examples of women veiling for religious, cultural and personal reasons. From modesty, to devotion to ones gods, and then of course we have the forced veiling of women for control under men. Pagan women like the ones quoted in this article are adopting this practice for diverse reasons, all of them stemming from informed choice. I see this choice as thoughtful and subjective and for myself at this time not one I'm making.
Thinking about this topic has left me with two comparisons in my own life to experiences with veiling or not. The most obvious one being for my marriage. When I wed Dave I made my wedding dress and we had our ceremony outside. When it came to what to wear on my head I chose not to wear a veil. The casual aspect of our day and the style of my dress just didn't fit with a veil to me. Also I wanted to feel open to the universe as I made my vow. My hair flowed down my back and I work a sparkling silver headband of blue flowers. I did now know it then but my choice was more in keeping with Anglo Saxon tradition of flowing hair and a crown of flowers since the current fashion of veils was ushered into vogue by Queen Victoria.
The first time I used a veil during trance work went very well. It was encouraged as part of a Baba Yaga meditation and I found it much easier to journey that way. Perhaps it was the covering of my crown chakra that helped. I was able to look internally easier. I felt more cut off from those around me and able to quiet ego and chatty internal dialogue.
Using a scarf or wrap in this way is very helpful in such work. I think it encourages quiet and self reflection. It can be likened to a horse with blinders on, keeping you focused on the task ahead or in this case inside.
Also I have read that head covering can help with keeping other people's energy from overwhelming you in public. Again I think it helps to keep you from being open, or too psychically exposed so to speak. In that way veils are a useful tool spiritually just like tarot cards or an altar cloth; serving a specific purpose to meet a need in practice.
The cultural impact of practicing veiling in public is more complex and can lead to one being mistaken for another type of religious follower. Since this choice is one that requires maturity and thoughtfulness I'd hope that anyone doing it in public would have the self assurance to take any misinterpretations in stride. As pagan culture continues to develop and mature we will face many more new/old practices that will challenge our preconceived ideas of what and who we are collectively and as individuals.