The Veiled Goddess
Article ID: 15007
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 2,174
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Author: Nar Leoterra
Posted: April 8th. 2012
Times Viewed: 9,951
Throughout history, women have covered their hair for a variety of reasons. Wearing a veil has been seen as a symbol of a woman’s status – marriage or otherwise. Brides have worn veils for centuries to protect them from the evil eye. Ancient Greek texts have spoken of married women covering their hair (and sometimes faces) in public. Married women and women of high socioeconomic status covered in Babylonia and Sumeria.
Today, if someone mentions head covering, most people automatically think of Muslimahs in their hijabs, Mennonite women in their caps, nuns in their wimples, or Jewish women in tichels. The images associate with these head coverings range from that of a woman devoted to her God, to a woman being violently oppressed by a phallocentric religion and patriarchal society. Head coverings are controversial! This essay is going to talk a little bit about head coverings, and you might be surprised to find out who does it, and why.
What does this have to do with Paganism? Paganism, a term that describes the unknown, the wild and free. Well, I’m Pagan, and I cover my head. Not all the time, but I do cover it for rituals and when I am working with my hearth goddess. My hearth goddess is Hestia, and Hestia wears a veil.
A few years ago, when I first started down my path as a kitchen witch, I began to cover my head. One day, I put a cover on my head and let it drape across my shoulders. I meditated and had a more meaningful experience than when I was uncovered. I began doing more meditations and devotionals with my trusty sarong wrapped around my head.
Going further back, I remember researching Hestia when I was in college. I was probably 20 or 21. I was invited to a Halloween party, and we were supposed to dress as our favorite god. I didn’t (and still don’t) have what I would call a “favorite”, but I must say that I felt a rather instant connection with Hestia. A friend of mine originally suggested Vesta, but my connection with Hestia was stronger. I was still learning the basics and hadn’t given any thought to a pantheon, but She intrigued me. What also intrigued and frustrated me was the lack of information about Her. I know of a grand two myths that involve Hestia. She avoided the drama of the rest of the gods, and I respect that.
Recently, I started covering my hair again, just on a whim, and it immediately felt right. I didn’t want to do any of my kitchen witchin’ without my scarf. Then, I remember Hestia was a veiled goddess. I made the connection. She had been calling to me, and I finally picked up on it. Now I wear a scarf over my hair as my veil. I do this when I am tending to my hearth (a.k.a. cooking) and during rituals. I have a special head covering for rituals.
I enjoy doing this. I do it for me, and I do it for Hestia. I’m not alone, either. I recently spoke with a university friend of mine who mentioned covering her hair during domestic activities, and doing it out of respect for Hestia. She introduced me to a Facebook group that is full of polytheistic and polytheistic-friendly women who cover their hair for similar reasons. Some cover all the time, and others only do it at certain times. For me, it separates magical time from other times.
Perhaps some people may not see the reasons behind this. I assure you, I am not being oppressed. I’m still a feminist and daughter of the Goddess. I am doing what feels right for me, and I believe Hestia is calling to me. I am going to heed this call and go where She takes me.
The call to cover doesn’t come to everyone, even those who worship a veiled goddess. Many of us who do cover, however, have felt the call from a veiled goddess, be it Hestia, Vesta (the Roman version) , Frigga or another. I believe that it should be a personal decision. I believe that it should be a personal decision in any religion, but I do not want to disrespect teachings with which I am not as familiar.
There are many different reasons for covering. For Hestia, the virgin, it was a symbol of purity. The Virgin Mary is seen wearing a veil, possibly for the same reason. Some Pagan women cover for modesty, while others (myself included) cover because it helps control the flow of energy. In fact, energy builds up faster when I wear my scarf. Removing it causes a virtual “whoosh” of energy. It actually makes grounding easier, believe it or not! Last night, I asked my boyfriend to remove my scarf so he could feel it, too. He was amazed at the feeling. I actually feel a little light-headed after I unveil myself.
I have set up a space for Hestia and invited her into my home, to grace my hearth. I feel she has accepted, and I will do my best to honor Her appropriately. This includes offerings of food and the lighting of a candle when I cook for a special purpose. Sometimes I burn the candle anyway, as my stove is electric and a candle is the closest thing I have to a hearth flame. Other symbols of Hestia include amethyst, keys, veils, and pigs. I have an amethyst bracelet on my altar, along with a key. My own two hands made my statue of Hestia, and I plan to work on a pig.
If you are a budding kitchen/hearth/cottage witch, it is worth it to research kitchen and hearth deities. If you feel the call of Hestia, you will be one of many. You will be welcome at my hearth any time.
I would like to end this essay by sharing a prayer to Hestia. I wrote this earlier in the week and I consider it to be a work in progress.
Keeper of the flame
Goddess of the Hearth
Bless this the hearth
Of Thy sister,
She who comes
Veiled before you
May the flame
Never be extinguished
May your blessing and spirit
Always abide here.
Copyright: copyright Brandy Griffin 2012
Location: Greenville, North Carolina
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