Anyone who wraps their hair knows that one of the questions we hear most is "Why do you do that?" or some variation of it. And there are lots of reasons for doing so. I'd like to tell you why I wrap.
Hello, I'm Mahala, one half of the Harmony Headwraps team. I started covering my hair four years ago, although I have been drawn to it for nearly thirty years. When I was a teenager, I felt the pull to cover my long curly hair in some way. At the time, I settled for using a scarf as a wide headband and that was as far as I got until my second year at university. I was studying world religion and part of the course required us to stay in a religious community of some sort; I stayed in a house of Buddhist monks and nuns. During that time, I started folding my scarf into a triangle and covering my hair at the back, tucking the edges into the headband. It wasn't really a satisfactory experience and it didn't last long.
My wrapping attempts whilst in Egypt
I didn't cover then for another ten years. Whilst on holiday on the northern coast of Egypt, I started covering. We were staying in Borg el Arab, a long way from the usual destination of Europeans staying in Egypt, Sharm el Sheikh. Most of the holiday makers in our resort were from Saudi Arabia and Egypt and most women were wearing either a hijab or (in most cases) a burka. I felt very out of place, and quite exposed and after a couple of days, I asked one of the hotel staff if she would show me how to cover my hair. The fact that the humidity was playing havoc with my curly hair also played a part in this - it was hard to control! After trying a few different styles, we settled on what was called the "Spanish style", which was to put my hair in a low bun, placing the scarf over my head and wrapping the ends around the bun. I liked the way it looked but I had problems with it slipping (I didn't know about wrapping underwear in those days!) and despite wanting to continue covering my hair when we got back to England, it didn't last very long at all. I felt out of place again, since no-one where we live covers their hair.
Fast forward another ten years. For several years, I'd been toying with the idea of shaving my head. I had no idea why, it was just something I wanted to do. I finally did it at New Year 4 years ago and I loved it. However, it had an unexpected consequence - I felt the pull to cover again and it was the strongest it had ever been. I thought about it and realised that having shaved my head and walked around with a bald head for months with no care for what people thought, I'd really already got over my strongest "objection" to covering. If I could walk around with a bald head and not care, how could it possibly be harder to walk around with a scarf on my head? It couldn't and so I started to tentatively cover my head with some of the scarves I had hanging around. (For someone who didn't cover their head, and didn't wear fashion scarves around their neck, I already had an impressive collection of scarves suitable for wrapping!). I was still coming across the issue of slippage though.
One of my first wraps using a shaper and velvet headband
And then my aunt (unaware that I had begun to wrap) posted a link on Facebook to a blog by a woman who covered. I read it. I was entranced. I watched her videos. I thought "she should have a shop, she'd do so well", and then found a link to her very new shop. And there I found the solution to my problem - a velvet headband and a tie on shaper (the all-in-one shaper and headband not being available then). That was a game changer and I went from wrapping two or three days a week to wrapping full time in a matter of a couple of weeks. And I haven't looked back. Most of my local friends these days cannot remember me "with hair" (i.e. uncovered) and many have never seen me without a scarf.
So, I've felt the pull to cover for so many years, but it was only when I started covering full time that I realised why I was feeling so pulled. I grew up in a Christian household, but rejected that faith when I was 13 or 14. I never really felt any connection to anything and standing in church, saying the words of the prayers and creeds, the words felt empty, I didn't believe any of what I was saying. So it took me some time to realise that the pull I was feeling was Goddess asking me to take this step. I'd never felt a connection to divinity so it took a long time (over 20 years!) to realise what that feeling was.
I realised I was Pagan in my mid 20s but not feeling comfortable in any formal, organised path, I was out on my own and stumbling. Not until around my 40th birthday did it all start to seem like it was making sense and I realised that the path for me was a Goddess path of my own making. It all started to come together - my faith, realising the call I was feeling about wrapping was a call from Goddess, feeling comfortable with my beliefs. I read about other Pagan women who were called to cover. They knew who was asking and why they were asking it. I didn't have those answers. I just knew I was being asked to cover. This has been a mild source of frustration for the four years I've been covering. I suppose I just had faith that at some point, these questions would be answered.
A style I wear a lot at the moment, and my preferred style when working with clients.
At the beginning of this year, I moved my therapy business from the small treatment room at home into rented business premises. I suddenly had space for the group work I wanted to do. I hadn't intended to start a Women's Circle, but that's what happened; a group of women from different faiths and none, coming together to explore the Sacred Feminine. Starting this group also kick started my personal study and one evening I had a bit of a revelation. I was reading an article about patron goddesses and the author wrote about people's experiences of discovering their patron goddess, of the repeated signs connected to a Goddess. I started to think about signs and symbols that keep cropping up in my life and a little research suggested a particular goddess. Further research brought up more signs that pointed to the same goddess - at this point I felt like there was a big flashing sign in front of me, pointing to a Goddess and saying "She's here, stupid!".
So now I'm in the early stages of a relationship with my patron goddess, Arianrhod, having finally listened to the repeated signs she's been giving me. I know I'm covering as a sign of devotion to her, although I don't feel like we've answered "why" yet. I'm not sure I need that answer anymore. I'm comfortable wrapping and I'm happy to have a reminder of my faith and devotion to Goddess.