Dreadlocks Fundamentals: What They Are and Their Spiritual Meaning Explained

Like other timeless hairstyles worn by people that never seem to go out of style, dreadlocks are more than “just hair.” 

Dreadlocks, locs, dreads—whatever term floats your boat—have existed long before celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg and Chloe and Halle popularized them. In fact, Hinduism’s oldest scriptures dating back to 2500 BCE illustrate the deity Shiva wearing locs, or ‘jaTaa,’ which in the Sanskrit language means ‘twisted lock of hair.’ 

Locs, which are found in nearly every culture’s history, are individual sections of hair that form into a matted mass as a result of not being combed or detangled. Chances are, you have your own perceptions of dreadlocks or your own experience wearing them, but in order to see the entire picture, you need to know the spiritual meaning of dreadlocks. 

What do dreadlocks symbolize? 

When you think of dreadlocks, your mind may automatically conjure up images of patchouli and—let’s be honest here—weed. But, for the people who have locs, these are nothing more than stereotypes. 

Dreadlocks can symbolize people’s love for their hair, their ability to go against societal norms and wear their hair as they place, their patience, their time, and so much more. But if you look closely at the history of dreadlocks as a whole and not just in Rastafarian culture, the common denominator among dreadlocks across every race is their connection to spirituality. 

A closer look at the spiritual meaning of dreadlocks

From Christianity to African spirituality to Hinduism, history shows that dreadlocks were once widely seen as a mark of higher spirituality. You can think of them almost as a status symbol because, throughout mentions of locs in spiritual books, it’s evident that dreadlocks were the sign of someone trying to get closer to God. 

In the Bible, there’s the story of Samson, who wore his hair in dreadlocks that gave him divine strength from God. In Rastafarian belief, dreadlocks protect one’s energy and keep it from escaping. And in pre-colonial Africa, it was the healers and priests who wore their hair in dreadlocks. 

It’s hard to deny the spiritual meaning behind locs, and the truth is, there’s still much to uncover about the history of this ancient hairstyle.

Can you wear dreads without being spiritual? 

Even if you aren’t on your own spiritual journey, of course, it’s okay if you still decide to wear your hair in dreadlocks. Everyone’s dreadlocks journey is their own, and chances are, your locs will begin to symbolize much more than “just hair” to you, too. 

The bottom line: Know your locs

Hopefully, you’ve learned more about the long history of dreadlocks after reading this post, and it’s inspired you to do research and learn more. Even if you aren’t spiritual or interested in spirituality, understanding their meaning can help you find more appreciation and respect for a hairstyle that’s as old as time. 

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