There are some who believe that hair is directly associated with sensory power and it serves as an extension of our nervous system.
Depending upon the time and place on earth in which one lives, the hair on one’s head (or the lack thereof) has had intense significance. Belief systems and folklore have long dictated how hair was to be handled and worn: tied up, covered up, grown long, cut short, shaved off, crimped, colored and curled, decorated, twisted, braided, and more. But for many societies, the longer the hair, the better.
The Native American tradition has long held that hair is an outward projection of the nervous system, acting much in the way of ‘human antennae.’ Our hair is responsible for transmitting pertinent information to the rest of the nervous system. According to this line of thinking, our hair also transmits an energy from the brain to the outer environment.
Hair as a Sixth Sense
Some feel that long hair gave Native Americans certain sensory abilities, acting as a sort of antenna, much like whiskers on a cat. One report speaks of a worker at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center in the United States during the Vietnam War. It is disclosed that, the Choctaw and Navajo Native Americans were known as ‘Code Talkers’ during both World Wars, talented scouts were sought to move stealthily through rough and dangerous terrain in conflict zones.
The enlisted recruits, who were well documented as having “outstanding, almost supernatural tracking abilities” were said to not perform as expected in the field, and when questioned about the failures in performance, “ the recruits replied consistently that when they received their required military haircuts, they could no longer ‘sense’ the enemy. They could no longer access a ‘sixth sense’, their ‘intuition’ no longer was reliable, they could not ‘read’ subtle signs as well or access subtle extrasensory information,”
A Study From Native Code Talkers in Vietnam
There is actually a declassified bit of information from the Vietnam War that relates to this phenomenon regarding Native American code talkers.
It would appear that during this conflict, special envoys of the war department were sent to Native American reservations in search of tough, young, talented scouts who were adept at moving through and sniffing out game in especially rough terrain.
Men with a reputation of having seemingly supernatural tracking abilities were held at a premium for recruitment.
Once the men were convinced to enlist, however, all prior evidence of scouting and tracking skill seemed to disappear completely.
New recruit, after new recruit consistently failed to perform as anticipated, and mass failures and casualties caused the U.S. armed forces to conduct a study to get to the bottom of the issue.
The tests on the Native men would go something like this:
The new recruit would be instructed to commence an overnight training operation. When they fell asleep, an armed ‘enemy’ would attempt to sneak up on him.
The man would be awakened by a strong ‘fight or flight’ response long before the supposed attacker was even close, even before the ‘enemy’ was close enough that his movements could be heard.
The new recruit would often follow some sort of sixth sense and pretend to sleep rather than flee. When the ‘attacker’ was close enough, the recruit would grab and overcome him.
However, after basic training, the same man would consistently fail the tests he passed before with flying colors.
When the privates were asked about why they would fail to perform as before, they would consistently answer that their required military haircuts left them unable to harness the sixth sense that was previously very natural to harness. They could no longer sense an enemy approach, and felt as if their natural intuition was no longer reliable.
After this was uncovered, further tests involving privates who were allowed to keep their hair against those who had received the required military haircut commenced.
As you might guess, those Native privates who were allowed to keep their hair performed exactly up to the standards that they had performed prior to recruitment. As a result, this leaked document recommended that Native American recruits be allowed to keep their long hair.
Over millions of years of evolution, mammals have adapted to their surroundings. Survival under the harshest of circumstances can be viewed as somewhat supernatural in the right context.
What we know is that each body part is interlinked into a beautiful whole that works as a complete system. The modification of even a seemingly small aspect of this system can interrupt the entire process.
In Native thought, the cutting of the hair is a contributing factor in environmental degradation, problems in relationships and even sexual frustrations.
Not only does hair on people, including facial hair on men, provide an information highway reaching the brain, hair also emits energy, the electromagnetic energy emitted by the brain into the outer environment. This has been seen in Kirlian photography when a person is photographed with long hair and then rephotographed after the hair is cut.
Hair is connected to tactile receptors in the skin that tell us that it’s cold or hot out, let us feel the slightest breeze, or the annoying bug that is about to bite us, serving as a protective warning device.
When our hairs stand up on the back of our necks when we’re in danger or feel threatened, known as goose bumps, or horripilation, is that a reflex of something we detect with our other senses, an unconscious perception affecting the hair? Or is it our hair affecting us, sending us a warning?
Perhaps the Native Americans trackers in the account, with their strong connection to long hair, lost confidence in their ability to track after cutting their hair. In many tribes, long hair is a symbol, an extension of the self, and the physical manifestation of thoughts.
Various tribal hair styles indicate which tribe one belonged to, and whether it was a time of war or peace. Different styles are used to demonstrate status and rank, or were worn for certain ceremonies.
Health is often gauged by the condition of the hair, and illness or stress can be detected if it changes its nature or even falls out. It was held by many societies that hair, whether styled or not, had magical qualities.
Various nations of Native Americans have similar beliefs about hair. The Cree people are said to hold hair as an extension of the soul, and the style displays personality. Bear fat and soot were sometimes mixed and applied to hair to make it appear darker.
The Mohawk, Pawnee and Algonquin hairstyles are the inspiration for the dramatic haircut known as a Mohawk today, where the hair is shorn on the sides leaving a strip like a horse’s mane.
Certainly there are many other societies that feel hair plays an important role in our lives. The tale of the Native American trackers echoes the ancient biblical myth of Samson.