The Origins of ''Dreadlocks or Rastas''

Dreadlocks - sometimes simply called dreads, locks or dreadlocks - are entangled hairs that form only if they are left alone to grow naturally without the use of brushes, combs, razors or scissors. The first known examples of dreadlocks date back to Pharaonic Itoure (Nile Valley), where members of the royal family wore dreadlocked headgear.

Today, ignorance is driving most of us to associate the holders of locks to groups of crooks. Several times I have heard friends and brothers say that because of their hair, they were approached in the street by people who wanted to sell them marijuana. The sellers approached these individuals solely because they had dreadlocks. The dreadlocks have been associated so much with Rastafarian culture, which is in turn associated with smoking, that few people know the true roots and history of dreadlocked hair. What are the origins and meanings of traditional or Dreadlock Rasta?

The new generation Rastafarians will tell you that the culture of locks originally came from Africa but any other knowledge of locks beyond the continent is unknown. While the older generations of Rastafarians have great pride for their natural hair and sees it as a symbol of their fight against Babylon supporting non-violence, non-compliance with the system of Babylon, communitarianism and solidarity and as a spiritual fact, many new generation Rastas see their locks as a passport to smoking and listening to reggae music without really understanding the Rastafarian culture and values.

While Rastafarianism historically rejected the whole System of Babylon, including soft drinks, alcohol and cigarettes, modern Rastas have often become consumers of tobacco, meat and alcohol. Wearing hair has become a lifestyle more than a spiritual belief, and people wear dreadlocks so that they are seen as conscious or Afrocentric, rather than honest and conscious spiritual people.

Dreadlocks have been part of the history of every spiritual system. From Christianity to Hinduism, the locks have always been a symbol of a spiritual person in search of enlightenment towards the Divine world. If one is looking for the meaning and history of locks, we can find reference to them in all cultures and all holy books (the Bible tells us that Samson had hair in dreadlocks, and his unmatched strength was lost after Dalilah cut his hair). The origins of dreadlocks is 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, the dreadlocks were the hallmark of the spiritual state of an individual," said Dogon Priest and spiritual master NABA Lamoussa Morodenibig, founder of Earth Center, in an interview. He explained that the priests of certain Deities (Gods) were necessarily obligated, at least for a period of time, to wear dreadlocks. For example, priests of the Deities involved in the healing of the body and procreation, as the Gods WSR, Heru, Theouris, and Sekhmet are required to have dreadlocks. A period of seven to thirteen years is required of the priests of these Deities, during which they must let their hair grow freely and devote themselves entirely to the Godhead. Meanwhile, the priest has a responsibility toward the God and the temple. After that, if they want their hair to be cut, a ceremony is done and they can remove their locks if they wish. In addition, for other Deities such as Aishat, one must shave all the hair on the body to be able to serve this category of Deities. It all depends on the God and the temple that is being served.

What about hair is so important for priests and temples? It is the notion of purity. The hairs are huge channel transmitters and receivers of energy. When you are in an area, like a temple, where the flow of energy should be tightly controlled, the hair is very useful or very disturbing according to energy needs, explained NABA. Even when a hair falls from the body, it does not lose its qualities, and it can become a great disturbance in the flow of energy. Even animals that are sacrificed are thoroughly checked for a specific type of fur. It is not all sheep or cows that can be used in a ceremony - it's only a priest who has the ability to determine if an animal is good for a sacrifice, and it is a heavy responsibility. The untrained eye will think that an animal can serve for a sacrifice, but if just one part of the coat is the wrong color, the animal will not provide the flow of energy needed for the sacrifice!

It is known that many Pharaohs wore their hair in dreadlocks, for example: the mummy of king Tutankhamun was found with locks still intact. How is it that dreadlocks have become a Rastafarian symbol, rather than that of African spirituality? Master Naba offers knowledge: dreadlocks in spirituality have a very high value. During the pre-colonial period in Africa, healers and priests in many parts of the continent had dreadlocks, and every religion that has come has adopted the idea of wearing dreadlocks or shaving the hair on any part of the body. In the Bible it says that those who do not shave the hair, and drink alcohol or eat meat are the closest to God. Jesus himself is portrayed with long hair! In Islam, shaving is considered a value of cleanliness. To associate dreadlocks with only Rastafarianism is simply untrue. But in the history of blacks, Rastafarianism became a politico-spiritual movement after the prophecy of Marcus Garvey. It gave black people a spirit of hope, and led the Rastafarians to adopt the attitude of African priests: Keeping their hair as priests, not eating red meat, not drinking alcohol and not using drugs or smoking cigarettes. They decided to put their hopes in spirituality.

The dreadlocks have a very strong spiritual significance that is virtually unknown in modern society today. Now they are worn as a style, a political message or as a rebellion. Many people, young and old, have no idea what it means spiritually to wear dreadlocks, and they do not really know the position in which wearing locks places them. The dreadlocks relate to the concept of dedication and sacrifice to the Gods or Deities and the spiritual rules. Wearing dreadlocks is a very heavy spiritual burden. Only those who have consciously decided to take a vow of purity and to follow all of the Original Seventy-Seven Commandments and apply them to all aspects of their life can wear dreadlocks. People of any race or any sex can do this, because spiritually we are the same, but anyone who wears dreadlocks must know and understand the spiritual meaning behind the wearing of dreadlocks to get away from any negative consequences.

Most people in modern societies have no idea of the consequences of wearing locks, other than their own imagination and definitions. So what are the consequences of wearing dreadlocks? According to the wisdom of Kemet, the earliest and most authentic spiritual system ever known to all mankind, the wearing of locks would be synonymous with the reverence to our ancestral roots, the quest for purity of soul and spirit and the application of the Original Seventy-Seven (77) Divine Ordinances at all times. It is a heavy responsibility!  The Seventy-Seven spiritual laws or Commandments were given to mankind by the Neteru (Gods) so that we can create the world we want to see and approach the Divine World. How many of those who have locks in modern societies do not eat meat? How many people with locks do not get angry, become impatient or cause suffering to humans? How many of them pay homage to their ancestors...?  How many of us, Rastafarians or others can honestly say they know and follow the original Seventy-Seven (77 ) Divine Commandments? Very few!

Having dreadlocks helps a person spiritually. They are a physical proof that the person has promised to follow the Seventy-Seven (77) Commandments and all the Gods will be more comfortable with this person. This helps the person in every sense; spiritual enlightenment, the development of meaning, communication with the ancestors and so on... But on the other hand, if we break a commandment, there are heavy penalties to pay. Wearing the dreadlocks literally appeals to the Gods as guarantors for the Seventy-Seven Commandments to be applied seriously to life. So when one violates a commandment, it has a great effect on his life. One falls very quickly into destruction and self-destruction and suffers much more after his death. We are not obliged to choose a quality life, or to follow the Commandments, but wearing dreadlocks is already an awareness and promise to the Gods. Reprisals of the Gods are often heavy when one of the Commandments is broken. For example: A person who does not wear dreadlocks and tells a lie is punished much less than the person wearing the dreadlocks and telling the same lie.

Most people today in modern societies have never heard of the Original Seventy-Seven Commandments, much less follow them. Even students on the path of initiation are not able to follow all the Commandments all of the time ... This puts all those who have not reached a certain level of purity and spirituality into a huge risk if they have hair in locks. Lying, cheating, stealing, killing animals, insects or other living beings, all these things are contrary to the Commandments, and it is safe to say that in the modern world, it is very rare that a person is able to follow commandments, at any time. Perhaps this is why traditionally the hair locks were reserved only for priests and guardians of the temple, rather than students, farmers and people who have not reached the level of spirituality that demand the wearing of dreadlocks.

Dreadlocks are not a fashion or style. They are not a political statement against the government or the system, and they are not a symbol of vices and pleasures, such as smoking, alcoholism, and crime! The dreadlocks are a very large and serious spiritual commitment that can not be taken lightly.

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