By Patti Wigington
A reader asks, “I recently explored the option of joining a local Wiccan coven, and was floored when the High Priestess told me that if I became part of her group, I’d have to let my hair grow long. Because of my job, I have to keep my hair fairly short – it’s a safety issue – but she said that it was a tenet of “our religion” to let our hair grow long. She went on to tell me it was a way that Wiccans pay tribute to the goddess and embrace the sacred feminine. Is this true? Will I never be able to join a coven unless I grow my hair long? Help!”
If I had a dollar for every time I heard about a High Priestess saying “You have to do X, Y, and Z because it’s part of our religion,” I’d be pretty rich by now. First, let’s address the issue of the phrase “our religion.” Paganism is an umbrella term covering a wide variety of religious paths and beliefs, so there’s no one set of rules, and no all-encompassing “our religion.” Even within specific sets of practices, such as Wicca or Druidry, there is a significant amount of variation from one group to the next, so if this High Priestess said you had to have long hair to be part of “our religion,” what she really was saying was “her specific group.” Perhaps the goddess of her group’s tradition prefers followers who do not cut their hair, but that doesn’t mean that every Pagan goddess makes the same demands.