Capite Velato

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Capite Velato

Postby Faustus Gallius Eugenius » Sat May 18, 2019 9:55 pm

Over the past few years since I switched my primary path from Hellenismos to Cultus Deorum Romanorum, I have contended with some personal difficulties in using ritual head covering in Roman ritual. To those that aren't familiar with my practice, I also practice three other ritual traditions: Anglo-Saxon Heathenry, Kemeticism, and Shinto - the latter of which is an ongoing long-term process, given the unique considerations of a living polytheistic tradition. So it goes without saying that I'm accustomed to accommodating cultural practices within specific ritual traditions.

But ritual head covering has been difficult for me, as the current solution I have used has been uncomfortable and restricting to me personally. Since I do not wear a toga like our Roman ancestors, the closest analog I have been using is a draped prayer shawl, similar to the tallit in Jewish tradition. When I've used a prayer shawl, however, it has been at risk of either falling off of my head or obscuring my vision during the active ritual operations in Roman praxis. It also tends to be a bit hot for me in Southern California weather. I could obtain a lightweight oblong scarf, which is still something I'm consideration, but I think I want to try something different.

After a lot of consideration, I am strongly leaning towards the idea of a modest ritual hat as an alternative to a ritual shawl for the purposes of capite velato. There are a lot of ritual traditions that utilize ritual hats, particularly for their priesthood, including in polytheistic traditions like Shinto, so I think there is reasonable precedent for using one in a Roman context. After researching hats, I stumbled upon the pileus, also known as the phrygian cap. It is a hat that was common in Greco-Roman and Anatolian culture that spread throughout the rest of Europe over the centuries. Although this is not in a Roman context, I have seen it used by priests in Heathen traditions as well.

I have been involved with Renaissance Faires and have been familiar with reenactment groups for some time now so I know that it is easy to commission a hat of this type, or a similar type, in linen or cotton. I think that it is very modest, and has a strong historical aspect, even if it is being used anachronistically. I fully recognize that some cultors might be uncomfortable using this kind of head covering in place of a cloth, and I would most certainly confine it to sacra privata if it were something with enough disagreement to warrant exclusion from sacra publica.

That being said, I think there are good practical reasons to consider the phrygian cap, or something similar, such as a linen skull cap, in place of a shawl. A hat is more likely to stay in place, and it doesn't interfere with vision or movement during ritual. It is also more neutral, whereas the use of veiling has become more strongly associated with femininity in Christian tradition. Whatever the case may be, there will always been various ways that people can engage in ritual head covering. A person could wear any number of things, including a knit cap, a bandana, or scarf, or shawl. I've even wondered if one could incorporate a cloak or hooded mantle instead. For me personally though, I think that something like a phrygian cap could be an respectful version of the capite velato in place of a toga for those who don't have it. A person could even wear clothing resembling the tunica along with a linen or wool hat for public ritual, if such a thing were deemed appropriate.

I'm interested to know what you all think of the idea of a modest hat in place of the capite velato.
If you use a scarf or shawl, I'm curious how you've incorporated it into your ritual practice.

For those that might be wondering, I just picked up my own Phrygian cap on Etsy
It should arrive sometime next week, which I look forward to
This is what it looks like
PhrygianCap.png
PhrygianCap.png (215.92 KiB) Viewed 485 times
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Re: Capite Velato

Postby Publius Iunius Brutus » Mon May 20, 2019 4:12 pm

Sal.

Thanks for sharing amice!

One thing that comes to mind is that historical sources say the reason for covering your head is to remove distraction while performing a ceremony. Covering your head with a toga or shawl blocks out your peripheral vision from distraction which could lead to improper performance of the ceremony in question. Music was sometimes performed for similar reasons - to block out distracting sound.

I personally use a shawl for this reason if not using a toga. It blocks your peripheral vision to keep you focused on the task at hand.

The hat looks great though! Reminds me of what Mithras is often depicted wearing. So it was known in antiquity in Rome.
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Re: Capite Velato

Postby Faustus Gallius Eugenius » Mon May 20, 2019 5:08 pm

Publius Iunius Brutus wrote:Sal.

Thanks for sharing amice!

One thing that comes to mind is that historical sources say the reason for covering your head is to remove distraction while performing a ceremony. Covering your head with a toga or shawl blocks out your peripheral vision from distraction which could lead to improper performance of the ceremony in question. Music was sometimes performed for similar reasons - to block out distracting sound.

I personally use a shawl for this reason if not using a toga. It blocks your peripheral vision to keep you focused on the task at hand.

The hat looks great though! Reminds me of what Mithras is often depicted wearing. So it was known in antiquity in Rome.

I was glad to share it!

I would like to say that removing distraction was the main reason why I decided to search for an alternative. So much of my attention was being paid to the shawl I was using, that it distracted me from performing the detailed particulars of Roman ritual.

The Cult of Mithras was definitely one of the practices I saw the Phrygian cap associated with in Ancient Rome, which is why it was my main consideration. As I suggested in the original post, I also considered a cloth bandana and a hooded mantle - the latter of which I think would have been my second choice. The hooded mantle was often used by Christian monks in Medieval Europe for a similar reason, so I think it might also be worth consideration. That being said, I prefer the use of a ritual hat, particularly if I ever perform ritual in an outdoor space, since wind would be a constant worry with a shawl for me.

I do often wonder though... Was informal head covering ever engaged in as an extension of religious modesty, outside of ritual?

What expectations were placed on lay people during public rites as far as head covering is concerned?
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