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The History of "Dreadlocks"

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Time Zone: EST (New York, Toronto)
Messenger: RastaGoddess Sent: 7/10/2015 8:29:26 PM

by Bouneith Inejnema Naba

Many times I have heard friends admit to me that, because they have dreadlocks, they have been approached in the street by someone who wanted to sell them marijuana. The sellers approached these individuals solely because they had dreadlocked hair; none of the individuals used drugs or associated with those who do use. Dreadlocks have become so much associated with Rastafarian culture, which is, in turn, associated with smoking ganga, that few people know the real roots and history of dreadlocked hair. What are the traditional origins and meanings of dreadlocks?

New-generation Rastafarians will tell you that the culture of locked hair came, originally, from Africa , but any knowledge beyond the continent that locks came from is unknown. Where old-generation Rastafarians hold great pride in their natural hair and see it as a symbol of their fight against Babylon, non-violence, non-conformity, communalism and solidarity, and as a heavy spiritual statement, many new-generation Rastas see their dreads as a passport to smoking ganga and listening to Reggae music, not understanding the real Rastafarian culture and values. Where Rastafarians once shunned everything from Babylon , such as soda, alcohol and cigarettes, modern Rastas are often seen smoking, wearing designer clothing, eating meat and drinking beer. Wearing your hair naturally has become more of a status symbol than a spiritual decision, and people begin locking their hair so that they are seen as conscious, afrocentric, or different, rather than for honest spiritual and conscious reasons.

Dreadlocks have been a part of the history of every spiritual system. From Christianity to Hinduism, locked hair has been a symbol of a highly spiritual person who is trying to come closer to God(s). If one is to research the spiritual history and meaning of locks, they will be mentioned in all holy books (the biblical Sampson wore his hair in dreadlocks, and his unsurpassed strength was lost when Delilah cut off his seven locks of hair) and cultures. Dreadlocks roots are commonly traced back to Hinduism and the God Shiva, but stops there. Meanwhile, most people recognize that dreadlocks have their origin in Africa , but nobody seems to know where, how or why! As with everything else, the true origins of dreadlocks can be found in Kemet ( Africa ).

Originally, dreadlocks were the mark of spiritual status, Dogon Priest and Kemetic Spiritual Master Naba Lamoussa Morodenibig of The Earth Center explained in an interview. Priests of diverse Deities were required, at least for a specific period of time, to have dreadlocks. For example, priests of Deities that are involved in the healing of the body and with procreation, such as Wsr, Heru, Theouris and Sekhmet, are required to have dreadlocks. There is a period of seven to thirteen years that a priest of these Deities must let their hair grow freely and devote themselves completely to the Deity. During this time, the priest has a role of responsibility towards the God and the temple. After that time period, if they want to cut their hair, a ceremony is done and they can remove their locks if they choose. Interestingly, for other Deities, like Aishat, one must shave every hair on their body when serving that God or Goddess. It depends on which God and temple is being served.

What is it about hair that is so important for priests and temples? It is a notion of purity. Hairs are huge emitters and receptors. When one is in an area, such as a temple, where the flow of energy must be tightly controlled, hair becomes either very helpful or very disturbant, depending on the energetic needs, Master Naba explained. Even when a hair falls off of the body, it does not lose its qualities, and it can become a big disturbance to the flow of energy. Even animals that are sacrificed are checked thoroughly for a specific type of fur. It is not every ram or cow that can be used in a ceremony – it is only a priest who can safely determine whether an animal is fit for sacrifice, and it is a heavy responsibility to do so. The untrained eye will think that any animal will do, but if there is one piece of the wrong kind of fur on an animal, it cannot be used!

It is known that many Pharaohs had locked hair, and on TutankhamenÕs mummy, dreadlocks can still be found intact. How did dreadlocks become such a symbol of Rastafarian belief and culture rather than of African spirituality? Master Naba offered his knowledge: Dreadlocks in spirituality has a very high value. During pre-colonial Africa, healers and priests in many parts of the continent carried dreadlocks, and every religion that has come has adopted the idea of either having dreadlocks or shaving all hair on the body. In the Bible, it states that those who don't shave, drink alcohol or eat meat are the closest to God; Jesus himself is shown with long hair! In Islam, shaving is seen as a value of cleanliness. To associate dreadlocks with only Rastafarianism is unfair. But, in the history of Black people, Rastafarianism became a politico-spiritual movement after the prophesy of Marcus Garvey surfaced. It gave Black people a spirit of hope, and the Rastafarian then adopted the attitudes of African priests: they kept their hair like a priest, did not eat red meat, drink alcohol, use drugs or smoke cigarettes. They decided to stay spiritually hopeful, and the dreadlocks represented, instead of a priest serving a temple for seven years, a period of time spent waiting for something to happen.

Dreadlocks carry a very heavy spiritual meaning that is virtually unknown in today's modern society. Now worn as a fashion statement, a political message, or as a rebellion, many people, young and old alike, have no idea what dreadlocks mean spiritually, and they do not know the position they are putting themselves in by having locked hair. Dreadlocks carry the notion of devotion and sacrifice to the Deities, according to the spiritual rules, says Master Naba, the only Dogon/Kemetic priest who has been commissioned by the committee of elders in Africa to bring initiatic knowledge outside of traditional initiation camps. Dread-locks carry a very heavy spiritual bur-den. It is only people that have consciously decided to take a vow of purity and to follow all of the seventy-seven commandments and apply them to all aspects of their lives that should wear dreadlocks. People of any race or gender can wear them, because spiritually we are the same, but the one who has dreadlocks must understand the spiritual meaning behind them if they do not want to face negative consequences.

The History of Dreadlocks Part 2

by Bouneith Inejnema Naba

Consequences for wearing dreadlocks? But most people in the modern societies have no clue, other than their own personal imaginations and definitions, what having dreadlocks means! According to the Kemetic initiation, the oldest and most authentic spiritual system mankind has ever known, one must devote themselves to purity and follow the seventy-seven commandments at all times. This is a heavy responsibility! The seventy-seven commandments are spiritual laws given to humanity from the Gods so that we can create the world that we want to see and come close to their world. They include not getting angry, not gossiping, and not hurting another being, human or non-human. How many of those in the modern societies who have locked hair do not eat meat? How many people with locks do not talk about people behind their backs, gossip, and have hot tempers? How many dreads out there can honestly say that they follow the seventy-seven commandments? Very few!

Having dreadlocks helps a person spiritually, continues Master Naba, because it causes the Gods to notice them. They are a physical proof that the person has vowed to follow the seventy-seven commandments (regard-less whether the person knows of or follows the commandments, merely having dreads means they have vowed to follow them at all costs!), and all of the Gods will be more comfortable with that person because they have taken this vow. This helps the person in every way: with their spiritual growth, the development of their senses, their communication with the ancestors…but on the other side, if one breaks a commandment, there are heavier penalties to be paid. Having dreadlocks literally calls on every God that guarantees the seventy-seven commandments to take a serious look into their life. So, when they break a commandment, it has a huge consequence on their life. They will quickly fall into destruction and self-destruction, and they will suffer much more after death. One does not have to take this vow of purity and of following the commandments, but when one has dreadlocks, he or she takes that vow, and the retaliation of the Gods is very heavy when a commandment is broken. A person who does not have dreadlocks and tells a lie will be punished much, much less than a person who has dreadlocks and tells the same lie.

Most people in today's modern societies have not even heard of the seventy-seven commandments, much less follow them. Even students on the journey of initiation are not able to follow all of the commandments all of the time… this puts everyone who has not reached a certain level of purity and spirituality at a huge risk if they have locked hair. Lying, gossiping, talking too much, cheating, stealing, killing animals, insects, or other living beings… all of these things are against the commandments, and it is generally safe to say that, in the modern world, it is a very rare person who is able to follow the commandments at all times. Perhaps this is why, traditionally, dreadlocked hair was reserved for priests and keepers of the temple, rather than for students, farmers and common people who have not reached the level of spirituality that locks demand.

Dreadlocks are not a fashion statement. They are not a political statement against the government or system, and they are not a symbol of vices and pleasures, such as smoking ganga! Dreadlocks are a very serious spiritual commitment that cannot be taken lightly. Perhaps the consequences of breaking even just a few commandments will not be seen in this life, but the sins will be severely punished in the afterlife. One who wears dreadlocks must understand their vow and live up to it, for their own protection.


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Messenger: Hemphill Sent: 7/10/2015 9:02:11 PM

Very nice post RastaGoddess..

I have noticed here in America that most people with 'locks' have had theirs made in a salon or by twisting them themselves.. I have always found this interesting as my inspiration for growing dreadlocks came as a natural commitment to growing closer to divinity rather than a fashion or political statement.. The locks that grow from my head are completely natural, thick, and growing longer.. I have noticed truth in what you posted in that I at least hold myself to a higher standard of spiritual discipline than any other period of my life. I am still growing and working towards perfecting my life and dreadlocks are a constant influence of purity.. I have native American, Scottish, and germanic roots.. All of which have traditions of wearing natural dreadlocks.. To me, they are a positive connection to ancestors and a vow of purification..

This is the first time I have heard of the 77 commandments.. Is this an Africa tradition or something that applies universally? Could the I be kind enough to reason this with me?

One Love

Messenger: GARVEYS AFRICA Sent: 7/10/2015 9:14:20 PM

Good works, I too have that picture of Amenemhet III.

Still, Do not underestimate the significance of the Mau Mau uprising on the Rastafari foundation

Messenger: RastaGoddess Sent: 7/10/2015 10:42:13 PM

Yes, the 77 commandments are from Kush/Kemet

The Great Book of Divine Ordinances: The Code of Human Behavior

1. Thou shall not cause suffering to humans
2. Thou shall not intrigue by ambition
3. Thou shall not deprive a poor person of their subsistence
4. Thou shall not commit acts that are loathed by Gods
5. Thou shall not cause suffering to others
6. Thou shall not steal offerings from temples
7. Thou shall not steal bread meant for Gods
8. Thou shall not steal offerings destined to sanctify spirits
9. Thou shall not commit shameful acts inside the sacro-saints of temples
10. Thou shall not sin against nature with one’s own kind
11. Thou shall not take milk from the mouth of a child
12. Thou shall not fish using other fish as bait
13. Thou shall not extinguish fire when it should burn
14. Thou shall not violate the rules of meat offerings
15. Thou shall not take possession of properties belonging to temples and Gods
16. Thou shall not prevent a God from manifesting itself
17. Thou shall not cause crying
18. Thou shall not make scornful signs
19. Thou shall not get angry or enter a dispute without just cause
20. Thou shall not be impure
21. Thou shall not refuse to listen to words of justice and truth
22. Thou shall not blaspheme
23. Thou shall not sin by excess of speech
24. Thou shall not speak scornfully
25. Thou shall not curse a Divinity
26. Thou shall not cheat on the offerings to Gods
27. Thou shall not waste the offerings to the dead
28. Thou shall not snatch food from children and thou shall not sin against the Gods of one’s city
29. Thou shall not kill divine animals with bad intentions
30. Thou shall not cheat
31. Thou shall not rob or loot
32. Thou shall not steal
33. Thou shall not kill
34. Thou shall not destroy offerings
35. Thou shall not reduce measurements
36. Thou shall not steal properties belonging to Gods
37. Thou shall not lie
38. Thou shall not snatch away food or wealth
39. Thou shall not cause pain
40. Thou shall not fornicate with the fornicator
41. Thou shall not act dishonestly
42. Thou shall not transgress
43. Thou shall not act maliciously
44. Thou shall not steal farmlands
45. Thou shall not reveal secrets
46. Thou shall not court a man’s wife
47. Thou shall not sleep with another’s wife
48. Thou shall not cause terror
49. Thou shall not rebel
50. Thou shall not be the cause of anger or hot tempers
51. Thou shall not act with insolence
52. Thou shall not cause misunderstandings
53. Thou shall not misjudge or judge hastily
54. Thou shall not be impatient
55. Thou shall not cause illness or wounds
56. Thou shall not curse a king
57. Thou shall not cloud drinking water
58. Thou shall not dispossess
59. Thou shall not use violence against family
60. Thou shall not frequent wickeds
61. Thou shall not substitute injustice for justice
62. Thou shall not commit crimes
63. Thou shall not overwork others for one’s gain
64. Thou shall not mistreat their servants
65. Thou shall not menace
66. Thou shall not allow a servant to be mistreated by his master
67. Thou shall not induce famine
68. Thou shall not get angry
69. Thou shall not kill or order a murder
70. Thou shall not commit abominable acts
71. Thou shall not commit treason
72. Thou shall not try to increase one’s domain by using illegal means
73. Thou shall not usurp funds and property of others
74. Thou shall not seize cattle on prairies
75. Thou shall not trap poultry that are destined to Gods
76. Thou shall not obstruct water in the moment it is supposed to run
77. Thou shall not break dams that are established on current waters

Messenger: Hemphill Sent: 7/11/2015 8:28:53 PM

Thank you for sharing.. These 77 commandments seem like a good rule to follow.. There a couple that I see that seem to have a direct conflict with Ras Tafari and people acknowledging H.I.M..

45. Thou shall not reveal secrets
49. Thou shall not rebel
56. Thou shall not curse a king
71. Thou shall not commit treason

So my thinking here is that if we live in a perverted society such as babylon and we have a wicked ruler/King that keeps secrets and moves with deception.. Are we not to reveal the truth by exposing secrets? Are we not to go against this wicked King, cursing him and rebelling against the regime? Are we not to commit 'treason' by working with others to uproot this evil empire??
I realize that these commandments were made long ago in Kush/Kemet and they may not have been intended to be applied to a fundamentally perverted and demonic society such as we have today with babylon. It seems that if everyone lived in a positive society and culture, these 77 commandments would be a very good rule to follow.. But since most major societal structures/values are corrupted in today's world, I think that rebelling and working to expose the perversion should be advocated.. Just how this initially hits me.. What are your thoughts on the idea?

One Love

Messenger: ShivaJiva Sent: 7/11/2015 8:51:54 PM

Thanks RastaGoddess, lots of good info here that I wasnt aware of.

Locks have definitely made I much more sensitive to everything. My emotions feel much more intense and I pick up on the feelings of others more...which can be good and bad. Much more sensitive to food, etc...

Locks are no joke!

Bless Up Sistren

Messenger: JAH Child Sent: 7/11/2015 11:28:30 PM

Great reasoning and article to share. Give Ises Impress.
About the "77 commandments": they seem very similar to the utterances of Maat. Are they these from "The Great Book of Divine Ordinances" adapted from the statements of innocence and balance, of a pure heart, Maat? Sometimes said to be 42, sometimes cited as being many more. The difference is in the phrasing: instead of "you must not", the phrasing is more like "I have not". Personally I prefer the more self empowered version rather than the commandments.
I knew that some orders of priesthood would grow locks, and others would shave, but I had not made that Innection that the practices differed depending on the purpose of the priestly duty. Very interesting! I would love to search and know more about that science.
Yes I HempItes, I think the I already touch on the point. The ideas were not meant to be carried out in ignorance or in idiocy. Following these corrupt systems would be exactly that, and I think the Ancient Ones would be appalled to see the real situation of society today, not suggest people just blindly follow whatever propaganda is shoved at them. Whereas the Suten was a priest-king, our current world "leaders" are the complete opposite. So the I have to measure the weight of the heart in its purity, not necessarily follow all of these 77 ordinances to the letter.
Give thankhs again for the reasonings. Love and Righteousness be in the hearts of all.

Messenger: RastaGoddess Sent: 7/13/2015 6:44:45 PM

I Am Not My Hair…Actually, I AM

Almost four years ago, I made the conscious decision to lock my hair. I was tired of the “weave struggle”. You know, wearing different styles of weave and looking like a new chick every week. It was getting old to me. When I locked my hair up, I didn’t know exactly what it meant to wear dreads. I just wanted to be natural.T hings like thugs or uneducated people are common images when some think of a “dread head”. Few people know the real roots and history of dreadlocked hair. At one point, I was one of those people. So I looked up the traditional origins and meanings of dreadlocks.

To me, wearing locs is a way of life. Everyone can not and should not wear locs. Wearing your hair locked is more then a fashion statement or a way to look “different”. Most people associate dreadlocks with the Rastafarian culture. After the prophecy of Marcus Garvey, Rastafarianism became a Politico-spiritual movement. Rastafarian culture has played a big role in many African Americans adopting the dreadlocks look however, it is unfair to only associate dreadlocks with Rastafarian culture.

Dreadlocks have been a part of the history of every spiritual system. Locked hair has been a symbol of a highly spiritual person who is trying to come closer to God(s). Dreadlocks roots are commonly traced back to Hinduism and the God Shiva. In the beginning, dreadlocks were the mark of spiritual status. Priests of diverse Deities were required, at least for a specific period of time, to have dreadlocks. The biblical Sampson wore his hair in dreadlocks, and his unsurpassed strength was lost when Delilah cut off his locks of hair. Speaking of the bible, Jesus is also depicted as having long hair.

According to the spiritual rules, dreadlocks carry the notion of devotion and sacrifice. The Kemetic initiation, says that one must devote themselves to purity and follow the seventy-seven commandments at all times which include, not gossiping, and not hurting another being, human or non-human. The seventy-seven commandments are also known as the Great Book of Divine Ordinances. These commandments were given to humanity from the Gods. Many of us break the seventy-seven commandments daily, some unknowingly. However, I believe that God forgives and no one is perfect. Learned that from experience. With that being said, maybe this is why, traditionally, dreadlocked hair was reserved for priests and keepers of the temple, rather than for common people who have not reached that level of spirituality.

The path to spiritual awareness is not easy and as stated earlier, it takes devotion and sacrifice. As my locs get longer, I believe I become closer to God. I also become closer to completely obeying the seventy-seven commandments. I embrace the spiritual meaning behind wearing dreadlocks. I love my locs even more now that I realize the powerful meaning behind them.

Messenger: RastaGoddess Sent: 7/13/2015 6:45:27 PM

Greetinz JAH CHILD,

The Seventy-Seven Commandments poster, also known as the Great Book of Divine Ordinances: The Code of Human Behavior, contains all seventy-seven commandments given to humanity by the Gods. These commandments have been translated from three papyri: Nb, Nbsni, and Insu, by Master Naba Lamoussa Morodenibig, a Dogon Spiritual Master from West Africa.

Messenger: RastaGoddess Sent: 7/13/2015 6:49:16 PM

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