Dreadlocks are something that I have found most people either know a lot about, or absolutely nothing.
There are a plethora of random questions that I have gotten about mine, including but not limited to;
“How long have you grown them?”
“Who did them?”
“How do you wash them?”
“Do they smell bad?”
“How bad do they smell?”
“Do they smell bad like every other person with dreads?”
There are many ridiculous ones…
Some people even believe that to form dreadlocks, we must have used cow manure and rubbed it in our hair to hold it…
It is amazing how ludicrous of beliefs people can hold while having no objective evidence behind them.
I know that from my personal experience I loved the look of dreadlocks from a young age, but I always heard nothing but negative things about them growing up.
You know, the typical stuff, people with dreads are not able to wash them, they are gross, they smell, and the people that have them are lazy hippies
While the hippie part may be true, I assure you we do regularly wash our hair so that it does not smell!
Due to the amount of misinformation that we have seen, and
History of Dreadlocks
Dreadlocks have a surprisingly far-reaching history, thought to be started in either early Indian or Egyptian (most likely the latter) culture.
There are countless depictions of our ancient ancestors wearing long glorious locks, and in many cases, it is a depiction of a symbol of some type of power as in shamans or holy men.
In the case of African Culture, dreadlocks were worn by Maasai warriors, shamans, and spiritual men and women. They often used Red Ochre or root extracts to give them the identifiable red color.
Tribal holy men in these cultures (as well as several other cultures) believe that there is an energy flowing through the human body and radiates out through the head. This energy manifests in many ways, one of which is the hair.
When we knot and lock the hair, it is holding that manifested energy and creating a more clear and energetic consciousness. Some even believe that locks give the person supernatural mental abilities.
In Hindu Culture, it is commonplaces for Shivites, or followers of Shiva to wear locks as Shiva himself supposedly wore.
I read quite a bit of Hindu philosophy and history, and this is a culture I can say I feel closely related to. Hinduism has a unique and beautiful concept of epistemology, ecology, and spirituality that can assist us through life regardless of our devotion to the ceremonial and ritual aspects of this religion.
Hindu holy men wore dreadlocks commonly as a symbol of the loss of the ego, or of the unimportant of vanity and physical appearance.
This is a respectable task, the ego is a faculty of ourselves that is created by the illusion of separation between us the universe.
Holy men and women in this tradition undergo a life-long dedication to creating peace for themselves through the release of the abstraction or conceptualization that the ego is the
Staying on the topic of the loss of the ego, Buddhists generally have completely shaved heads as a sign of the loss of their individual self, or soul, or atman.
However, despite this norm, there are depictions in Buddhism about high-class priests and monks who wear dreadlocks as a symbol of power.
Buddhists wear dreadlocks as a symbol of the detachment from the ego, and to sport a natural style by allowing your hair to lock up.
Christianity was a culture that I had never heard of having dreadlocks involved but it turns out they had mentioned it several times.
One is the story of Samson, who as a Nazarite took a vow described in
Numbers 6:1–21, which instructed them to not cut their hair and wear it in matted locks.
Rastafarianism actually took inspiration from this section of the bible. This appearance gained attention through the 1930s.
Of course, nothing about the topic of dreads is complete without discussing the primary reason that people have ever heard of dreadlocks.
Rastafarianism takes root from three main cultural influences; African Culture, Hindu Culture, and as I previously said, Christianity.
In the 1930s, Emperor Haile Selassie took power in Ethiopia as emperor.
His pre-imperial name was Ras – meaning “Head” – and the Rastafarians viewed him as the incarnation of their lord, as he vowed that Africa shall be a safe space for all Black Peoples, far and wide.
Some Rastas also believe that wearing your hair matted is natural, and a representation of your “self” which is not held by the chains of Babylon.
Or as a Rastafarian man who I listened to discuss this topic; “I consider my locks nothing but hair. It is that simple, it is my hair, that is the name of that which grows out of my head.
Why We Wear our Hair in Dreadlocks
For myself, I would say that my dreads symbolize the journey I have worked through to accept my ego as something that does not control me
I have learned that I do not exist in the concept of myself, but rather I just exist.
I am the thing-in-itself, not the conceptualization of myself which I had held before. My “self” is not my ego, but rather the pervading stream of consciousness currently residing in the physical manifestation that I identify as my body.
Nothing more, nothing less
We no longer have to worry about combing our hair or worrying about whether it looks clean and neat or not.
We no longer care, our hair is hair and it is how it is.
We don’t have to brush it anymore or worry about it getting
There is something so freeing about that. As a male who has had long hair most of his life, I can say that I’ve never cared too much how I look anyway, but the upkeep of having long flowing hair becomes frustrating and dreadlocks have been a great
Besides, I’ve always thought dreads looked really awesome since I was a child, people just always spread misinformation about them.
We plan on writing more on this topic, including an in-depth article on how we did our dreadlocks ourselves, instructions on how you can do yours as well, and discuss “proper” maintenance.
So, onto my dreadlocks…
These are the last few pictures of my loose hair, we took them moments before we actually started picking.
Tj did one dreadlock for me almost a year before I finished my head.
Dreadlocks take quite some time to do, and keep in mind that you will have to be sitting still for hours and hours (depending on how much hair you have, your hair texture, etc.
You also must take into consideration your hair will “shrink up”, or the knots of the dreadlocks will continue to compact into themselves until the overall length of your hair will be about 1/3 – 1/4 of what it was prior.
This can be hard for those who have had long hair and want to dread them. As you can see, my hair was nearly to my belt-line and ended up just below my collar bone.
This is where my hair was after about 3 years of growing, I’ve always had longer hair but this was by far the longest I had grown it.
This is a picture that we took for comparison purposes. It was 10-months old for this picture.
For those of you who are interested in locking your hair, consider how much it shrinks. It will end up being about 1/3 – 1/4 of the length that your loose hair was.
This a picture of I believe my first lock after a few months in. My hair is extremely straight and silky, so we were noting how fuzzy it was and how long it took for it to shrink up.
Dreadlocks are a freeing and stress-free hair style. No struggling with your hair laying weird or being annoying, and most importantly for me, no more terrible mornings of ripping your scalp out with a brush.
Thank you for reading our articles, we are truly grateful for every mind we are able to reach.