Growing and Flowing

Update: As I am finding comments to this posting rather sympathetic, I give the link to my men’s long hair forum. Men’s Long Hair Hyperboard. Please see the forum rules and FAQ before posting, and be advised that new contributors are moderated. See especially the Repetitively Asked Questions and the forum’s policy on off-topic posting. There are some very good men on this forum, and there is nothing indecent or explicitly sexual. For those who are genuine, I recommend it.

* * *

I seem to have missed a vital article when I wrote Vestri Capilli Capitis a couple of months ago. This article is one written on Modern Medievalism in 2012, “Scissors or Sword?” Why medieval men might choose death over a haircut. This is truly about the philosophy of long hair on a man’s head, and not merely a question of fashion or personal taste. The young man running this blog is himself a longhair.

In the case of medieval kings, long hair was a sign of privilege and power, and if they lost their hair to an enemy, they suffered great humiliation and even the loss of their throne.

Short hair on men has always been a sign of servitude. In the armed forces, a man must surrender his personality to become part of the fighting unit entirely under the command of an officer. In the middle ages, short hair was a sign of low standing. Clerics received a tonsure, but often, the hair on the outside of the shaved part was left long. Christ has always been portrayed with long hair. He would be unimaginable with a crew cut as many conservative priests wear.

Long hair on men went in and out of fashion from the middle ages to the Renaissance times.  In the English Civil War, the Cavaliers wore long hair to show that they were high Anglicans or Roman Catholics. The Roundheads were precisely that – with closely cropped hair. They were Puritans and hated beauty or any kind of image. At the Restoration, long hair returned to the royal court.

The French Revolution cut hair as well as heads!  Long hair returned among romantics and medievalists. Short hair was the result of two world wars and a modern version of conservatism and humiliation. Like all my colleagues at seminary, I had short hair, even though medium length hair was tolerated at my school in the 1970’s. Nowadays, in the 2010’s, modern fashionable hairstyles resemble the 1920’s and 30’s.

Myself, I have now been five full months without a haircut and will soon complete my sixth. It is a choice I have made in this stage of my life, and I am confident I will pull it off, since I have no pattern baldness and my grey shag is thick and only slightly wavy. It is now in the “awkward stage”, and has to be lived with patiently. In a little less than one year, it will be possible to tie it back and keep it perfectly neat and tidy for all social settings. Throughout the growth process, it has to be kept perfectly clean, conditioned and groomed. That’s the way it works.

It certainly marks me apart from traditionalist Roman Catholicism, and as a priest with another message to bear. It is important here in France where a mere cassock is synonymous with extreme right-wing politics and ideology. The philosophy and message of long hair depend on many things these days, especially one’s dress and cultural references. There are so many reasons for this option of about 5% of the male population in Europe. I don’t agree with them all but I respect them.

I participate in a men’s long hair forum, and I have been most edified by many who post there. I feel I should not link to it from this blog, at least at this stage. Most of those men are masculine, married with families and sometimes former servicemen. It is not something “camp” or effeminate, but rather a way that a man affirms his own personality and self confidence. Whether they are former hippies, men of science, teachers, working men or in the fine arts – there is even a Rabbi, I find the same aspiration to freedom and a philosophy of life that differs radically from this world of power, money, possession and violence. The ancient symbolism is known to all, however subconsciously.

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24 Responses to Growing and Flowing

  1. I have had hair of various length throughout my life. A couple of years ago, I grew ponytail length hair just to prove to myself that I could. However, it eventually became too much of a hassle, and I am happily back to wearing a shorter and more conventional length.

    The same with a beard. I have mostly worn a moustache and goatee and I find that I am most comfortable with this. It improves my appearance over both being clean-shaven and wearing a full beard.

    • A lot of it is personal taste and the way we are made. No one should ever be judged on his choice of long or short head hair, facial hair or clean shaven. I do get concerned when either fashion or “conservatism” tries to impose how everybody should be.

      • ed pacht says:

        I get a haircut 3 or 4 times a year. When it’s cut it’s not much more than a crewcut, but it gets almost long enough to tie back by the end. I’d like to do that, but I don’t like the way it feels at that point, so I go to the barber. I’ve had a beard since the sixties (my late wife never saw my chin) which gets cut pretty short about every other haircut & gets pretty bushy by the next time.

      • You sound like what I felt trying to grow a beard about 10 years ago. It felt like having my face covered with spiders’ webs, most unpleasant. Also, my facial hair is very light and uneven, perhaps in proportion to my exceptional hair for someone of my age (55), thick and no balding except for very slightly receding temples. Any change takes getting used to. I hadn’t had my ears covered with hair for more than 30 years.

        It all depends what we want, and we are entirely free in our choices.

  2. Francis says:

    If that counts, I’m experimenting with a moustache at the moment, and nowhere near the Emiliano Zapata look yet. I’ve always admired my own Father’s thick moustache, now discoloured due to a lifelong attachment to tobacco.

    My hair grows too quickly and I need regular – at least monthly, visits to the barber. As a small boy I was alternately known as Blacklocks or Maradona to my friends (needless to say I personally prefered the latter epithet) – there is a custom of letting the hair of boys who’ve been dedicated to Our Lady grow long until their confirmation or something like that.

  3. Roberto says:

    Hair is something that has always inspired and intrigued mankind. It is an essential part of our being. It protects and beautifies. There are so many varieties of hair, each with its special characteristics, helping to differentiate us as individuals.

    With hair we convey our personality to the world. As a form of expression and protection, it has been used for thousands of years.

    However, in recent times, long hair on men has become frowned upon, and those who are long-haired have been constantly vilified by society.

    Why long hair in man, symbol of strength, power, courage, wisdom, and even divinity in ancient times, is now seen as a complete aberration in society? It is very unfortunate that long hair is seen as a total taboo these days.

    Many people do not understand that cutting our hair cuts the “crown” nature gave us. It is our symbol of honour and beauty.

    Just imagine how the lion would feel if he were without his majestic mane. Of course this act would mean a total humiliation of the poor animal.

    Are not we in an age that preaches and defends gender equality? Why can women wear their hair long or short at will, but not men?

    How long will employers continue to ask employees cut their hair to keep their jobs?

    Men with long hair have been the subject of prejudice from mainly the mid-twentieth century, often totally ridiculous and baseless. It’s time to realize that the physical appearance of a person does not determine who is less or more qualified for a job. We need to change stereotypes.

    Was the intelligence of great philosophers and scholars like Confucius, Sir Isaac Newton, Voltaire somehow diminished by the use of long hair? Does long hair decrease the genius of Ludwig van Beethoven or Leonardo Da Vinci? Do we have to discount the wider contribution made to human culture from Albert Einstein, Karl Marx, Oscar Wilde or John Lennon simply because they did not cut their hair?

    “Do not judge anyone, so no one may judge you” Matthew 7:1.

    • Thank you for this contribution. I assume you are from MLHH, and you are most welcome here. My posting has been received with an amazing openness of mind, even among people who are often conservative in religious and political opinions. We must be careful to respect those who freely prefer to have their hair short, or who are simply naturally bald. We can’t build up an ideology! But, those of us who have the right kind of hair to grow long are also free to do so. It is a good idea to respect the social situations in which we find ourselves and dress appropriately and tie up and groom our hair so as not to be provocative. Being a gentleman is part of our education.

      I can understand the anger caused by intolerance of long hair on men on account of irrational conservatism. When this extends to discrimination at work, a lot of progress remains to be made.

  4. ivaylo333 says:

    Hello,

    Hair us something important for me. It’s a part of me and my style. I’ve been a longhair since I was 13 and now I’m 29.

    Roberto, congratulations for your post, I appreciate it. And if an employer asks me to cut it, I would not do it! We should not work for such narrow minded people who do not accept differencies. There are other employers, other institutions and here in EU even other countries!

    My hair has not been an issue (my job is in the field of science), but I have some friends who changed their jobs because of this ot something else – for example tattoos or piercings – discrimination everywhere.

    Yes, I look a little effeminate but this is not because of my hair, because I am slim and tall. Hair does NOT make you more effeminate! And this is OUR problem, not a problem of others. There are a lot of jobless people walking along the street and don’t have any work. Just they look strange and stare at people who look different, but it’s THEIR problem!

    • Thank you also for your view. At 29, we can feel rather passionate about things. A little older and we just get on with life and not bother about people who think we should be different or like them. As long hair is part of your lifestyle, I hardly imagine you working in the armed forces or big business corporations. You say you are in science. The “mad scientist” always has his hair like Einstein, like the little boy who blew up the nursery with his first chemistry set!

      I have no tattoos or piercing, and those things are not part of my cultural references, but I would not discriminate against people who do.

      You do well not to worry what others think. Just get on with life and don’t worry. If it wasn’t our hair, it would be something else. Just get on with life and be free to be yourself.

  5. William Tighe says:

    I wish, at times, when I had more hair than I have had since my early 30s, that I had grown it long. I did, however, let my beard grow very long indeed between 1982 and 1984, such that when I had my photograph taken in my doctoral robes and bonnet on the day of my “doctoring” in June 1984, the wife (herself a historian in her own right) of my research director, the late Sir Geoffrey Elton, commented that I resembled nothing so much as those long-bearded Elizabethan Calvinist doctors of divinity whose tombs and effigies adorn so many Cambridge churches.

    I had the beard trimmed a few weeks later.

    • Patricius says:

      I was going to suggest growing a beard. The Romans were clean-shaven whereas the Greeks wore their beards, a curiosity that has come down to our own times in priests of Roman or Byzantine traditions. During the 16th century, many popes grew out their beards too. I myself haven’t shaved in three weeks. As such, I was giving serious thought last night to changing my blogger name to Ahenobarbus…except, of course, that I just look untidy.

    • Dale says:

      I remember my own doctoring and when I was trying on my cap a colleague simply laughed and said, “You look like a poodle with a bag on his head.” I got a haircut. But much like Fr Anthony, time has been kind to me, and I still have a full head of quickly turning grey hair.

      • Rule number one: don’t care what other people think and say. If you want it short or long or somewhere between the two, it’s your hair and your life. It is a great test of character!

      • Dale says:

        Yes, but unfortunately, he was correct! I did look rather like a poodle with a sack on his head! Sometimes outside, honest, appraisals should be heeded.

      • ed pacht says:

        Being that my kid sister is a breeder of poodles (she’d want me to specify Apricot Minature Poodles), and that I greatly admire the disposition of her dogs, I would take that as a high compliment, and thus persist.

      • Dalene Gill says:

        Anyone who likes Apricot Miniature /Toy Poodles, or looks like one, has my vote!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
        If only more humans could emulate poodles, and interact the way they do, the world would be a better place.

      • It’s good to hear from you again. It’s just the same with our two Chartreux cats Doucelin and Celestine, so gentle and so cuddly! Humans with a lot of hair are not always the nicest creatures, but I’m discovering that hair does help when it can grow to its natural potential! Indeed, we humans have a lot to learn from the gentler animals.

    • I wish, at times, when I had more hair than I have had since my early 30s, that I had grown it long.

      It’s never too late. On my long-hair forum, there are men in their 50’s and 60’s growing it out for the first time in their lives or since their “hippie” days. I don’t know what you look like, or what kind of hair you have, so can’t advise (!)… Your call.

  6. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    At some point I tended to wear my hair and beard with the seasons: longer as it grew colder, giving way to short and clean-shaven in the summer. At a later point, I tended to leave it long all year round.

    What might be called ‘congruous headgear’ does invite consideration. When my hair is long, something like a Scotch bonnet or a fairly broad-brimmed hat seems more congruous than, say, a deerstalker or a flat cap. I wonder how much of this is affected by fashion, though – the graybeards at play in comedy films of the 1920’s and 30’s, with pileus quadratus and academic gowns, presumably looked less ‘unusual’ a generation or so earlier.

    Sherlock Holmes’s English and Italian clerical disguises in ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’ and the ‘Final Problem’ respectively, as depicted by Sidney Paget, both include fairly long hair. And it is fascinating to follow Liszt’s hair length throughout his life (the Wikipedia ‘Franz Lizst’ and ‘Life of Franz Liszt’ articles are handy for this), with his hair at perhaps its very longest when he was in his seventies.

    • All that sounds interesting. Indeed, Lizst was both a cleric in minor orders and a “mephisto in a cassock” as Pius IX allegedly called him. He could have grown his hair beyond shoulder length to be able to tie it back when necessary.

      I’m not one for hats myself, but I will probably have to wear a headband this summer for sailing, cycling, etc. as I will be in the “awkward stage” (see Staying away from the Barber Shop) until about next Christmas. We all have to find ways of keeping it neat and tidy for social occasions and work. Some do it with hats, bandannas and all sorts of things.

      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        I was delighted when it got long enough for an Eighteenth-century style queue (though lacking a three-cornered hat, only the Scotch bonnet really seemed congruous), but until then a headband was certainly needed for sport – or a breezy day, or almost anything really, to keep it out of my face (until it was long enough to tie back).

        I am grateful to be singing Abbe Lizst’s ‘Via Crucis’ with one of the choirs to which I belong, again, but there have been times when I was the only literally ‘long-haired musician’ among the men.

  7. chamane says:

    father, i post you my interpretation about long hair as christian; but i am uneable to translate it in english (i’m belgian)
    On nous sort à toutes les sauces Paul corinthiens 1 11-16, prescrivant les cheveux longs aux femmes et courts aux hommes

    mon interprétation est que Paul séparait du judaisme le christianisme en l’ouvrant à tous ceux qui voulaient croire, sans distinction raciale et qu’il répondait à des fidèles se demandant s’ils devaient suivre les préceptes du lévitique en abolissant cette pratique

    le role d’une église étant de combattre les mauvaises pensées dans les têtes des hommes, plutôt que de s’occuper de ce qu’ils ont dessus… et comme plus personne ne confond un chrétien avec un juif…

    je rappelle à tous que la liberté d’interprétation fait partie des 95 thèses clouées sur la porte de l’église de Wittemberg par Martin Luther

    • Here’s your translation (normally 0.06 € per word but free of charge for you!): 😉

      They tell us in all sorts of ways that Paul’s Corinthians 1,11-16 orders long hair for women and short hair for men.

      My interpretation is that Paul separated Christianity from Judaism by opening it to all those who wanted to believe, without racial distinction, and that he answered faithful who were asking whether they had to follow the precepts of Leviticus by abolishing this practice.

      The role of a church is to combat against bad thoughts in the heads of men rather than worrying about what is on top. Nobody now confuses a Christian with a Jew…

      I remind everyone that the freedom of interpretation is a part of the 95 Theses nailed to the door of Wittemberg by Martin Luther.

      St Paul said many things that are politely ignored these days or simply interpreted as being of historical value. Christ had long hair according to the iconography over the centuries, and the clergy of the eastern churches traditionally have long hair. A few western priests do too, but it is rarer in the “Roman” tradition where short hair was nearly always the norm (though beards were / are more common).

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