Hair has had an occult significance since ancient times. It
seems to have a life of its own, since it may continue to grow
after the death of the body. It has been regarded as a source
of strength and sexuality and has played a part in religion and
magical rituals. The Hebrews developed a number of customs
relative to hair that served to separate them from their pagan
neighbors, a fact which is played out in the story of Samson and
Delilah (Judg. 164–22)
In various cultures, individuals dedicated to service of the
priesthood have undergone ritual cutting of hair, and the tonsure
of priests is said to have originated in Egypt (see the writings
of Herodotus). In Hinduism, there are hair rituals for
youths, and those who become celibates have their heads formally
shaven. The association of hair with sexuality has given
hair as a symbol remarkable force, and distinctions between
male and female hair have emphasized sexual attraction.
Since the hair is believed to be intimately related to the life
of an individual, it has magical significance in witchcraft rituals,
and people in many civilizations have been at pains to prevent
their hair from falling into the hands of an enemy, who might
use it for black magic.
There is even a school of character reading from the hair,
known as trichsomancy.
Extreme fright or ecstatic states have caused hair to literally
‘‘stand on end’’ in the goose-flesh condition of horripilation.
Berg, Charles. The Unconscious Significance of Hair. London
Allen & Unwin, 1951.
Cooper, Wendy. Hair Sex Society Symbolism. London Aldus
Book, 1971.