Vikings + Headcovering

[Source. Transferring a headcovering post (Dec 2018 tumblr purge), but backdating to 16 Oct 2017.]


Do any Heathens out there practice any sort of veiling/religious attire? I know veiling is somewhat common in Hellenic Polytheism, and I’m curious if those of us on the Germanic side of the world had anything similar going on. Seems like there isn’t any historical precedent, not that one is necessarily required.

Maybe I’m just watching too much Vikings, but I feel like a braid of some kind could be a possibility…


Historical Heathens actually did sometimes wear various types of headcoverings back in the day, because it’s cold there and sometimes it’s just practical to keep your hair out of your face. That said, it’s pretty uncommon for modern Heathens to do it for religious reasons.

I’m pretty sure @sigynsdottir covers for secular purposes and has a bunch of resources on covering in a culturally/religiously sensitive way, so they might be worth talking to.

As for other religious attire, wearing a mjolnir pendant is both a historical and modern thing. Some (mostly American) kindreds wear period garb to gatherings, but that’s far from universal.


This is my main resource for Viking headcoverings from a historical perspective. The main question that comes up from it is whether it’s pre or post Christian ultimately. It would make sense that it may not be, as covering your head for warmth would make sense in the region.

It’s still very common in European folk costume, so it’s not unprecedented to do it outside Muslim or Jewish contexts. Most are probably from Chrsitian-era covering norms, but if you want the pagan origins you can find PDFs of this book online about the Greek origins of it. (I have one I could email you, but I know I got it online… somewhere…)

As for sensitivity to other cultures, I’ve written about that a lot before under my headcovering tag on here. If you have other specific questions, just let me know! I enjoy answering asks about it and would be willing to talk on Tumblr messenger as well if you wish.

I mostly cover for secular reasons because none of my Gods ever showed interest in it as a devotion but it still benefits me personally. Others have had Gods show interest, so – it may depend on your relationship in question. If I can’t or don’t want to cover at the moment, braids are my most common second option.

Oddly from everything I’ve read (and I don’t have the sources for it right now) the TV show Vikings is as accurate historically as we can get to period hairstyles and they’re also very fun and not that hard to do. This lady on Youtube has good tutorials on how to copy the hairstyles from the show. Given how most Heathens I know engage with their Gods, they’d probably be just fine with it.

Head covering + Paganism

Source. ETA: In light of the Dec 2018 tumblr purge, I’m adding a transcript below the linked post in case the original gets deleted.


so in the last couple years ive seen a lot of pagans / witches participate in something called “covering” or “veiling” and it’s essentially a similar concept to wearing a hijab

and I’ve always wondered if this is acceptable or appropriative? i tend to be wary of it if only because of the danger and stigma muslim women who wear hijabs face daily


Veiling is a common practice in many cultures. I could see it being appropriative if they were referring to themselves as hijabi and wearing it just as a fashion statement, but my understanding is that many only cover during rituals, although it’s between the individual and their deities when and where they cover, if at all.


(Oh boy, my special interest arises once again. Long post with links coming.)

It IS acceptable by and large and not appropriative unless you are otherwise acting badly. Claiming to be doing it “more correctly” than the established traditions, performing hijab “tourism” that’s meant to “learn what they go through,” or taking a very specific style that’s not from your history (IE Gele or similar, which are very specifically African styles) would be the problem.

couple Muslim sources online and one Jewish one (Rivka Malka) I have on hand are all openly fine with non-Muslims doing so if that’s what feels good to them. To put it plainly, many of them feel that modesty does not belong to one culture and headcovering is an act of modesty. If you’re not Muslim, it’s not hijab because hijab is specifically their code of conduct. If you’re not Jewish, it’s not tznius because tznius is specifically their code of conduct – but it’s the same idea.

Headcovering pre-dates monotheism (even Jewish monotheism, because that didn’t actually occur until CE – Judaism existed, it was not monotheist them.) The main sources we have that confirm this are Roman.  It was, although I don’t have this source on me, a way for upperclass Roman woman to leave the house when such an act was seen as a threat to family honour and integrity.

Headcovering was also present in Norse culture at various times, including the period when Christianity wasn’t omnipresent in Europe. For the most part, as far as I’ve gleaned from doing extensive research on it, headcovering is simply practical. It’s protective from sun, sand, cold, and wet. It maintains your hair when such care was likely labour intensive. It’s a very easy way to distinguish between different people, genders, or social classes. Prostitutes in Rome were forbidden from wearing headscarves. Likely other cultures before Rome did it as well, but we have less certain sources on it. Egypt did wigs, we know, but not necessarily about scarves for daily wear.

It has likely existed for most of human history since we started wearing more elaborate clothing, and quite frankly there’s only so many ways to attach a strip of cloth to your head.

Most pagans I’ve seen talking about headcovering are either doing it as a devotional act, as a way to keep their hair or head covered to conserve power or block outside energy, or simply as a means of privacy for personal or marital reasons. For myself, at this point, headcovering is secular and always has been – it’s privacy, care for my hair, weight/pressure for anxiety. There’s as many reasons to cover as there are ways to cover.

A lot of people have internalized the idea that “only Islam covers” which is I’d say an aspect of orientalism and islamophobia. At the turn of the 20th century, most of Christian Europe was still covering too. Only after the Iranian Revolution did headscarves seem to unilaterally signify Islam, and it’s unfair and othering to persist in that, in my opinion. (”A Quiet Revolution” by Leila Ahmed discusses some of this.)

If someone wants to cover, I’d highly suggest they do this kind of research to determine what your own opinion is. You can obviously tell what mine was, and I developed it after being challenged on the point. I love covering. It’s just part of my life now, but I remain aware that challenges about appropriation are to be expected.

If you’re wearing a scarf that can be mistaken for hijab, you really might want to also be able to answer questions about Islam. (I’ve gotten into a 40 minute debate about the Qur’an being “awful to women” because of this.) I consider that to be the debt you pay for bringing covering out of being “only Islam.” You owe ALL people who cover that respect, or frankly you shouldn’t be wearing it.

Obviously if you have any other questions, feel free to ask.

Head covering + Norse

Source. ETA: In light of the Dec 2018 tumblr purge, I’m adding a transcript in case the original post is deleted.

Anonymous asked:

Can a Norse Pagan veil? If yes, how? I really LOVE the concept, but I’m not sure if I could or if it would be appropriate, since it seems like a Hellenic devotional practice. Thank you :).
heathenroundtable answered:

Veiling or covering one’s head or hair does seem to be more widespread among the Hellenics, yes – but as far as I’m aware it’s a practice that crosses cultures and religions. It’s common among many religions to cover one’s head as a sign of respect during worship, or for devotees to veil on a regular basis. We see this in Hellenic polytheism, in Islam, in Christianity, in Judaism, and those are just the ones off the top of my head. It is a practice that crosses cultures and religions, so there’s nothing to stop you adopting it as part of your spirituality.

I know that there are Norse pagans/polytheists/heathens who veil on a regular basis, for instance I believe lokisbruid is one. I myself sometimes cover my head with a scarf when it seems appropriate to me. I particularly do this during rituals that involve my Ancestors, the dead, or death in some way – these can be very solemn and serious experiences and I wear a black scarf as a show of respect. Sometimes in rituals that are intense and serious I will cover my head in the presence of the Gods, again it’s a respect thing. This also helps put myself in the ritual and spiritual headspace, it’s another marker that this is something out of the ordinary and immersing myself in the experience.

I’ve no experience with veiling on a regular basis or outside a ritual or devotional context though. But I would say that if it’s something that appeals to you, try it out. Experiment.

We seem often in the polytheist community to worry a lot about “doing it wrong”. On the one hand that’s good, because it reflects a level of concern and care about doing things right, about understanding cultural and historical contexts, about wanting to avoid appropriation, about respecting our Gods and spirits and so forth as individuals and not just vending machines to do our bidding … and yet. Sometimes I think that attitude can go too far – into being afraid to try out new things and see if they work, to follow our hearts and be idiosyncratic, to being wedded to external validation.

Ultimately your practice is yours alone. If it works for you and your Gods [or other entities], then it works. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Taking the plunge and doing it is the only way you’ll work out if it is right for you.

Good luck & I hope this helps 🙂

ETA: answered by mod grimnirs-child, I actually answered this entirely without noticing it was sent to the HRT and not my blog. whoops.


FYI, since I didn’t see this till now: I veil for specific ritual things like seidhr, cleansing rituals, not all the time. That said, if I feel like I’m having a day where I need to cover, I do that too, it’s just not a geas.

I have never worn any covering styles that are specific to Islam either; I don’t feel like i know enough about the tradition to do it in a respectful manner.


I veil a lot, because my hair was damaged and thinning, though there’s some regrowth.  I veil during seidh stuff. I’d be interested in getting a Dublin hood for festivals and rites, also.  See below for some options for Viking style headcoverings and hairstyles:

Pagans veiling =/= Cultural appropriation (automatically)

Source. I’ve a small group of drafts I wanted to also share here dealing with head covering. ETA: In light of the Dec 2018 tumblr purge, I’m adding a transcript below the linked post (just in case it’s deleted on the original blog).


Apparently, there are pagans choosing to wear headscarves and hijabs, and I’m just like “What?” I mean, really, WTF??? It smacks of cultural appropriation to me, almost, if not for the fact that there’s precedent for it in Western culture too. But beyond that, it’s just… why? Why would you do that if it’s not required of you, and it’s not a part of your religion or culture? Seriously, I do not understand this trend.


The problem is that while head coverings are historically attested in many traditions (including in Heathenry) instead of looking at types of head coverings that were used in that tradition, folks started appropriating hijab and African styles. The problem isn’t that the practice was never a thing, but that folks were appropriating styles from other traditions and not looking at the styles that were right in front of them. You can see some examples from the Viking Age here. There was also a neat article on veils in….Sweden, I think? But I can’t find it.


This is especially confusing because there are also a lot of really lovely veils/headcoverings that are part of like, Norwegian bunader and stuff (I don’t know anything about Swedish folkwear) that people could use. Covered in pretty embroidery etc., and ranging from colorful scarves to really interesting structured pieces.

Like, there are perfectly lovely in-culture modern options? (I mean if you consider folkwear modern, which it basically kind of is, even if it’s not common everyday wear.) But I guess it lacks exoticism.

Kind of a shame though. They’re really quite lovely.

(As other people have said, head coverings for women have been really common throughout history all over Europe, so that’s not actually the problematic part. The acceptability of having your hair uncovered is actually kinda recent, comparatively. It’s just that how much coverage counted as being ‘covered’ varied a lot – like go to a rev war reenactment in the US and any of the women there who are dressed accurately will be wearing some kind of white linen cap, even if it’s small, unless maybe they’re there as a really destitute beggar. And that’s the 18th century.)


Pretty sure those hoods in answersfromvanaheim’s link are super easy to sew, too. Or, for those who can’t sew, I’m fairly certain you could get some from


The main problem with the historically accurate coverings is that they stand out more in public than a more hijab-styled headscarf. The other matter is that actually a lot of historically accurate coverings are actually in every respect almost identical in coverage and style to hijab or the more Jewish tichel covering. (I believe the article mentioned but not linked above may be this one, in which one reconstruction is identical to hijab) On top of that, those styles are more easy to acquire the means to wear while being part of a helpful variety of scarves.

Similarly, if you’re going to bring up appropriating specific styles, technically speaking taking Swedish or Norwegian folkwear would be just as problematic if you are not of that descent, if not more so due to the fact that those are ethnically specific dress and not the covering of a world-wide, conversion-minded religion.

I do cover, primarily for disability related reasons actually and not religious, and I spent a long time looking up the actual Muslim opinion on the question of appropriation. While I’m sure it’s possible to do so, 9 out of 10 opinions I could find were friendly to the question in general of non-Muslim women covering for modesty or to feel good about themselves, and the main reservations were that the people doing so not exoticize it or make Muslim women look bad.

Most of the other Pagans I know who wear it do so because a higher standard of modesty makes them feel better about themselves in general, and they feel it suits what their Gods have asked of them. Many are Hellenic but just as many are not. Ultimately what it comes down to is that there are only so many ways to attach a piece of cloth to your head with the goal of covering your hair. I agree that specifically taking another culture’s style, especially if it’s distinctive like the gele from Africa or a Sikh turban is appropriative, but I fall by the group’s own opinion along with the purpose of the wearer before I’d call it appropriative or out of line.

Lady Gaga wearing a pink mesh burka is appropriation and mockery; a Pagan woman covering her hair and neck for modesty, or any woman covering up to reclaim her body as her private business, is not.