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Some Key Biblical Concepts in Rasta Reggae Lyrics...
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Dreadlocks



Dreadlocks are perhaps one of the most distinctive outward characteristics of many Rastafarians. However, it is vital to realise that
not all Rastas wear their hair in dreads, and equally, not all people who do wear dreadlocks are Rastafarians.

Dreadlocks usually have a rough, woollen appearance, where the hair is allowed to grow into long and matted 'ropes'. This comes more naturally to Black African hair, though the style has been increasingly adopted by White Caucasians, often very successfully.

Rastafarians will typically give many and varied explanations of the reasoning behind the practice of locking their hair. Often it is at least partly a statement of rebellion against any society that is seen as oppressive. This became poignantly clear in the early years of the movement, when Rastas would sometimes be taken captive by the suspicious authorities and their locks shaved. See for example the song
'Dreadlocks In Moonlight' by Lee 'Scatch' Perry.

In more subtle and spiritual terms, dreadlocks can be a strikingly dramatic representation of the mane of the
Conquering Lion of Judah, or the wool of the Lamb that was slain or of the Sheep of the Pasture, or they may be a sign of respect and reverence for one's African ancestors, who may have worn their hair in similar fashion. Often, dreadlocks are also worn in obedience to the Nazirite Vow.

Today, dreadlocks have become a popular fashion statement, especially among rebellious youths who tend to have little interest in spirituality and may cause trouble and strife in society; regretably, this often gives Rastafari a bad image, since the general public may mistakenly assume that all who wear dreads are Rastas.

Not all Rastafarians feel the need to grow their hair in locks. The
Twelve Tribes in particular emphasise that dreadlocks are merely an outward sign of an inner commitment to the Rastafari livity, and are therefore not essential. The reggae group Morgan Heritage famously sang,
"You don't haffi dread to be Rasta;
This is not a dreadlocks thing."

Even within the cultural and spiritual spheres, dreadlocks are by no means an exclusively Rastafarian phenomenon. Since time immemorial, Hindu sannyasis (ascetics who renounce the world in order to strive for spiritual perfection) have often worn their hair in matted locks. However, in this case, the significance of the locks is to distinguish, rather than rebel against, accepted norms. In pre-Islamic Arabia, the nomadic poet al-Shanfara wrote:

"I have set my face towards the heat of the day, with no protection, and no covering, except my tattered cloak, and a shock of hair. When the wind blows on it, tufts are sent flying from its uncombed edges. It has long since forgotten the touch of oil and delousing. It is a matted tangle, unwashed for a whole year."

According to various spiritual masters, the hair itself represents a kind of spiritual radar, or a raying into us of solar energy. Although today this 'radar' effect of the human hair is minimal, some spiritual seekers deliberately grow their hair long to be able to pick up subtle energies.



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