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This is the main blog for the fellowship Comhaltacht na nGaedheal: Cairdreabh nan GĂ idheal. Edited and managed by Rob Barton


Gaelic culture and religion.Posted by Rob Barton Sun, November 27, 2016 04:31PM
Many of us - not all - wear our hair long and many of the men wear facial hair also....... it feels like a connection to our ancestors..... and it is.

But it is more..... it is a net that reaches out and entangles us into the world..... because it is a sensory organ..... we feel with it... we touch with it - or more so, it feels what touches us.... wind....sunlight..... other people. How many of us will smell a baby's hair ..... or snuggle into the hair of a lover and tremble when we feel it brush across us?

When we do cut our hair there are numerous customs.... some burn the cuttings..... some bury them.... some just throw them away .....

One custom - in our home and a few other homes - is different. Cuttings and hair collected from brushes are offered out to the wild so that the birds can weave them into their homes.... and the little field mice can take them into their burrows and nests........ the creatures weave the strands into the world.... and we become more connected to our land as these pieces of ourselves are woven into the trees and the tunnels..... among branches and roots.

Imagine it..... the chieftains are entangled this way into the trees around them...... a ban-draoi is woven among the roots and leaves of the land where she prays and makes offerings ..... healers and fairy doctors who have given this part of themselves to be spread out and joined into the world around us..... warriors and hunters who move through a forest that they are braided into - like the braids hanging from their heads.

There are reasons why we feel this way and why we experience the world this way.

Sources tell us that most ancient Gaels wore their hair long and that most hair styles were long in nature. It was common for men to have moustaches and beards, and in some areas facial hair style was dictated by societal ranks. There were likely styles designed for specific roles in some Gaelic areas. Braids for the warrior, or special hair cuts..... there may have been a special tonsure for the draoi ..... there is a term in Old Irish which translates roughly as 'hair like a cowl' and which speaks of hair that is matted into what some have called 'fairy locks' ..... now known as 'dread-locks' .... tangles and matts placed by the Good Folk into the hair of the sleeping and the manes of horses should not be removed according to some traditions.....So yes, it does connect us to our ancestors even if only as a celebration of their ways.

During the Vietnam war , the US military wanted to create a small corps of highly skilled scouts, and so they recruited young men from various Native American Reservations - young men who were known as skilled hunters and outdoors-men. They sent these young men through basic training and scout school and the young native men performed in their graduation tests at a normal, average level.... the same as everyone else. The Army was disappointed and they did interviews of the young men to find out why they performed below hopes and expectations. The consistent answer was that the young men complained that their heads had been shaved and they had been 'blinded' by this.

Second round of tests... another group of young native men.... divided into teams of two.... one in each team kept his hair and one had his head shaved. The men trained side by side... same exact training... stayed together... went everywhere together.... basic training plus scout school. Graduation tests... men with shaved heads - average ..... men with long hair - incredible scores.... especially harder to sneak up on - even in their sleep.

Army decided that having long haired hippie looking scouts would compromise image and discipline so they shelved the study.... shaved all the heads... sent them to Vietnam. ...... Dumbasses ran the Army then.... maybe they still do.

Precious little study has been done about the issue since then but consider that every hair is attached to a nerve only inches from our brains. Imagine how complex a neural net that can form.... imagine how those thousands of hairs respond to every breath of air -every movement - how much information is being gathered?