Should Men Cut Their Hair?
Theosophist, June, 1883
Article selection by Alexander Wilder | Note by H.P.B.
Whether the hair should be cut I could never quite satisfy myself. As a physiological practice [M.D.], I seriously doubt the propriety. Every cutting is a wounding, and there is some sort of bleeding in consequence, and waste vital force. I think that it will be found that long-lived persons most frequently wear their hair long. The cutting of hair stimulates to a new growth, to supply the waste. Thus the energy required to maintain the vigor of the body is drawn off to make good the wanton destruction. . . . Women and priests have generally worn long hair. I never could imagine why this distinction was made. . . . Kings wore their hair long in imitation of Samson and the golden sun-god Mithras. I suspect from this that the first men shorn were slaves and laborers; that freedmen wore their hair unmutilated, as the crown of perfect manhood and maniliness. If this be correct, the new era of freedom, when it ever shall dawn, will be characterized by men unshorn . . . No growth of part of the body is superfluous, and we ought, as candidates for health and long life, to preserve ourselves from violence or mutilation. Integrity is the true manly standard.
Editor’s Note: Fashion—which has somehow succeeded in making “respectability” its queer ally—forbids Christian civilized society wearing their hair long at this period of our century. In this the so-called Christian civilization is guilty of inconsistency, and its clergy of disrespect, since Jesus and his Apostles are shown to have worn long hair—every one of them except Paul. The Nazars of the Old Testament never allowed the razor to touch their head. The Aryan Rishis, the Yogis, the Sadhus of every kind wore and still wear their hair long. The initiates of Tibet do the same. In Europe, the Greek and Russian clergy alone, along with their monks, have preserved the wise habit, and the longevity of some of the last named is proverbial.
[Note: the following is appended here as additional substantiation from the pen of H. P. Blavatsky. It is drawn from her posthumously published Theosophical Glossary.]
Hair. Occult philosophy considers the hair (whether human or animal) as the natural receptacle and retainer of the vital essence which often escapes with other emanations from the body. It is closely connected with many of the brain functions—for instance memory. With the ancient Israelites the cutting of the hair and beard was a sign of defilement, and “the Lord said unto Moses . . . They shall not make baldness upon their head”, etc. (Lev. XX1., 1-5.) “Baldness”, whether natural or artificial, was a sign of calamity, punishment, or grief, as when Isaiah (iii., 24) enumerates, “instead of well-set hair baldness”, among the evils that are ready to befall the chosen people. And again, “On all their heads baldness and every beard cut” (Ibid. xv., 2). The Nazarite was ordered to let his hair and beard grow, and never to permit a razor to touch them. With the Egyptians and Buddhists it was only the initiated priest or ascetic to whom life is a burden, who shaved. The Egyptian priest was supposed to have become master of his body, and hence shaved his head for cleanliness; yet the Hierophants wore their hair long. The Buddhist still shaves his head to this day—as sign of scorn for life and health. Yet Buddha, after shaving his hair when he first became a mendicant, let it grow again and is always represented with the top-knot of a Yogi. The Hindu priests and Brahmins, and almost all the castes, shave the rest of the head but leave a long lock to grow from the centre of the crown. The ascetics of India wear their hair long, and so do the war-like Sikhs, and almost all the Mongolian peoples. At Byzantium and Rhodes the shaving of the beard was prohibited by law, and in Sparta the cutting of the beard was a mark of slavery and servitude. Among the Scandinavians, we are told, it was considered a disgrace, “a mark of infamy”, to cut off the hair. The whole population of the island of Ceylon (the Buddhist Singhalese) wear their hair long. So do the Russian, Greek and Armenian clergy, and monks. Jesus and the Apostles are always represented with their hair long, but fashion in Christendom proved stronger than Christianity, the old ecclesiastical rules (Constit. Apost. lib. I. c. 3) enjoining the clergy “to wear their hair and beards long” (See Riddle’s Ecclesiastical Antiquities.) The Templars were commanded to wear their beards long. Samson wore his hair long, and the biblical allegory shows that health and strength and the very life are connected with the length of the hair. If a cat is shaved it will die in nine cases out of ten. A dog whose coat is not interfered with lives longer and is more intelligent than one whose coat is shaven. Many old people as they lose their hair lose much of their memory and become weaker. While the life of the Yogis is proverbially long, the Buddhist priests (of Ceylon and elsewhere) are not generally long-lived. Mussulmen shave their heads but wear their beards; and as their head is always covered, the danger is less.