Dreadlocks means different things to different people. To some it’s simply a cool hairstyle but to others dreadlocks hold a deeper spiritual meaning.
Therefore, in this article we want to explore the spiritual meaning of dreads according to different groups of people.
The Rastafarian dreadlocks have a biblical symbolism. Their dreadlocks were inspired by the Nazarites of the Bible.
Rastafarians preached about the return of Jesus as the Lion of Judah and hence they grew dreadlocks to serve as manes like that of a lion and resemble the return of Jesus.
They also grow locs as a sign of letting go of material possession and worldly pleasures.
Yet, there are those who believe that the longer one’s locs are, the closer they are to God.
Another belief by Rastafarians is derived from the story of Samson. They believe that dreadlocks prevent energy from escaping through their head.
This energy is used help the brain, body and spirit stay stronger, a sign of inner strength and power just like Samson.
Pharaohs were the ruling kings and queens in the Ancient Egyptian Era.
From the Ancient Egyptian statues, mummies and drawing, dreadlocks were a significant part of Egypt. Anyone with dreadlocks was part of the elite families in Egypt.
The Pharaohs were also considered to be gods and deities. Therefore, in theory, it is believed that dreadlocks were a sign of great power and confidence in Egypt.
The other name of dreadlocks among the Hindu is Jaṭā. The locs are inspired by Shiva who is said to have worn his hair in dreadlocks tied up.
Every strand of loc was believed to represent the desires Shiva had and having them tied up was him keeping his desires in control.
Additionally, there are Sadhus (like monks or priests) who have dreadlocks too. They wear dreadlocks to show their spiritual enlightenment and great knowledge.
How long their dreadlocks are is a symbol of their devotion to their gods. The longer they are, the more they are devoted to their gods and the longer they have been devoted to them.
Vikings wore dreadlocks during ancient times.
They had cultural and practical reasons of having them on, and it is unclear whether they had spiritual reasons to wear dreadlocks.
The Vikings wore dreadlocks whenever they went to fight and loot what they won. They believed that this intimidated their opponents giving them the upper hand.
The Maasai are a group of people found in Kenya and Tanzania. They wore dreads in ancients times and still wear dreadlocks in modern times.
The Maasai people wear dreadlocks to symbolize their power and strength. 
During war, just like the Vikings, they wore dreadlocks as a sign of intimidation against their enemies.
This was especially done during their fight against colonialism from the British in their native country. Dreadlocks were common among warriors, priests or medicine men or women.
Among the Buddhists, dreadlocks can be narrowed down to the Tibetan Buddhist Yogis, also known as the Ngakpas and Naljorpas of Tibet.
These group of people let their hair grow out naturally. This means they don’t cut, style or alter it’s appearance.
Buddhists believe locs keep their whole being natural.
Additionally, dreadlocks are a way of releasing attachments to material things of the world. Material things of this world are considered vain and dreadlocks keep them from conforming.
Just like most cultures mentioned, dreadlocks for the Himba tribe meant power, especially if the locs were long.
Additionally, for the Himba woman, thick and lustrous locs were a sign of her fertility; ability to give birth. This meant a lot for the Himba woman.
According to the Bible, growing locs was a sign of commitment to God. This was specifically for the Nazarites.
They were to let the locs grow long. This was during the Judges’ reign among the Israelites.
As recorded in the bible (Leviticus 21:5), the Nazarites were prohibited from cutting their hair among many things by God so as to remain pure.
Samson, a Nazarite, showed his commitment to God by not cutting his hair and letting it grow out as the Lord required him to.
John the Baptist is also another example of a Nazarite who grew his hair in commitment to God.
To date many religious groups such as the Akorino grow dreadlocks as a sign of commitment to God.
The Jewish people also have the same meaning of dreadlocks.
Other meanings of dreadlocks
There are other communities and cultures in the world that also have their meaning in dreadlocks as summarized below:
- Among the Nigerians. Their dreadlocks are associated with wealth and good health. The Dada children are born with naturally locked hair. These children are believed to be sons of their gods.
- In China dreadlocks are associated with good health. Dreadlocks were common among the elite, just like in Ancient Egypt, and also among those who lived in religious seclusion.
- Among the Jamaicans, dreadlocks are a sign of freedom from slavery. Dreadlocks became popular in Jamaica after they got freedom from slavery.
Dreadlocks do not have to be tied to religious or cultural reasons. Some people have them for the following reasons;
- The beginning or end of a chapter in their lives
- As an affordable, low maintenance hairstyle
- A sense of individuality, ethnic pride and identity
- For comfort
Different cultures hold different spiritual meanings to dreadlocks. Here is a summary of what we’ve covered in this article:
- Rastafarians grow dreadlocks to serve as manes like that of a lion and signify the return of Jesus
- Other Rastafarians grow locs as a sign of letting go of material possession
- To Pharaohs dreadlocks were a sign of great power and confidence in Egypt
- The Shiva wore dreadlocks to show their spiritual enlightenment and great knowledge and a symbol of devotion to their gods
- Buddhists believe locs keep their whole being natural.
- The Maasai people wear dreadlocks to symbolize their power and strength.
- Himba women wore locs as a sign of fertility
- According to the Bible, growing locs was a sign of commitment to God.