The idea of the elements has been a part of our psyche, our hopes and dreams over the centuries. Through our experience with the natural world and the imaginal world where we see beyond the veil of our 3-dimensional reality, we have created myths, archetypes, philosophies, religions, and lore replete with fairies, witches, gods, and demons of earth, water, fire, air, and space who whisper to us and whom we even call upon for strength and inspiration. And when things go wrong, even in these more ―sophisticated‖ days we ponder whether the affliction or obstacle we are experiencing is because we have either ignored, offended, or abused these elemental deities and forces. This kind of thinking is not some mental illness or throwback to a more primitive, superstitious way of seeing our universe. Rather, it is our connection to the unseen, the realm of subtle energies where form meets emptiness, where our hearts connect with a rich, magical world of possibility that is always available to us – so long as we heed and learn how to listen, understand, and interact and bring this magic and mystery into our lives. In the description of fairies, pixies, gods and goddesses of the elemental realms, one of the most pronounced features mentioned is their hair; the wind swept hair of the air fairies, the silky smooth hair of the water goddesses, the white or fiery manes of the fire deities, the rich full head had of hair of the earth spirits. And, in both the east and west, when tales are told that personify creativity and the unknown, one often reads of three types of ladies, each who have their connection to the elements; hags, witches, and princesses.
In the case of hags and witches, we in the west tend to have a more negative take on them. For example in the fairy tale of ―The Tinder Box‖ the hag who tells the soldier where he can find three chests of money and her special little box, is beaten to death by the soldier. He keeps the money and the hag‘s little box which ends up being a box of elemental magic where the soldier can create anything he desires. In the east, hags are often portends of information unseen as well as knowledge. They appear to the person they need to pass on their message to and then vanish back into the ethers. And so, they are related to the element Ether. And their hair is out of control, long and frizzy and shooting out in all directions.
As for witches, they are master alchemists, mixing and blending botanicals and all sorts of things, for good or evil – depending on their inclinations. In the west, they are decried and maligned not so much because what they do is good or bad, but that they can do what they do in the first place! In the east, however, it all comes down to intention, and so witches and those most like them in these days, shamans, are called upon for their wisdom and mastery of the elements. Being a hair shaman myself, I am honored to be in their company! And the hair of witches? Sometimes it is like that of the hag, but other times it is thick, bushy, exotic, sometimes long and flowing. In the east, there are many different colored semi-wrathful female deities with amazingly exotic heads of hair who are called upon for any number of activities; for wisdom, for protection, for inspiration.
Lastly, we have the princesses. In both the west and the east, they are dressed beautifully and well quaffed. But, what I see in the west is more of the subduing of their elements. The princess is reigned in, her elements controlled. She is made powerless and reduced to eye candy – and ultimately fulfilled by marriage and being subservient to the whim and power of modern society (do not wish to say man here) . (And today, the myth goes on where our Hollywood and well-financed princesses are also put in a chemical prison of pharmaceuticals ingested and poisons donned and chemicals sprayed upon their hair!) In the east, the imagery of princess is one who is embellished. More is added to her continence to magnify and demonstrate the balance of the elements that she embodies. She is truly a monarch; truly divine. In my days at Kenneth‘s, I saw both kinds of princesses. It was a lot more interesting to be around the latter kind! And, I have equally been graced by having hags and witches as dear friends and acquaintances. Although, we may imagine that fairy stories, tales of elementals, of hags, witches, and princesses are just a thing of the past, that we just nostalgically hold onto, they are strong archetypes that persist. There are to this day entire systems of healing that recognize the magical power and usefulness in honoring and working with elemental energies. The ones I was exposed to in the years that helped me to formulate HairRevolution are Chinese medicine and Ayurveda