What are you curious about, in terms of primitive grooming/art/general luxury that you’d like to see made into an article on Fabulous Forager?
Keeping fingernails clean. I have a hard enough time doing that in civ…
Also, how to take care of dreadlocks?
How would someone best conserve water while washing their whole body?
Actually, Chase, I think things like getting a shower, or washing dishes, neatly illustrate the advantages of a river or stream. In both cases, you need flow more than you need water, and while trying to create that through your pipes involves an awful lot of wasted water, your nearest stream does not.
BlueHeron, I think Giuli addressed that in “Hairy Cavemen”: step one, why do you wear dreadlocks in the first place? (Yes, we have admitted anti-dreadlock biases!)
A sauna is a very good way to get clean with a minimum of water.
We also used to share our bath water. Family of five, cleanest person first then each person gets a turn in order of how dirty they are. I usually had to go last.
If you want pretty dreads I don’t know. When I was dread I just washed my head and hair and let it dry. I didn’t give a shit how it looked though.
When I had dreadlocks I found that much easier to take care of than the long hair i have now.I would just wash it and try to keep it dry through the winter wet months.I never had any problems with my dreads .I may have them again someday.So why the prejudice against dreads?
So why the prejudice against dreads?
It’s primarily a racist myth that our society likes to continue. The supposed dirtiness of the hairstyle (which I also once sported, and had no problems keeping clean) is really a way to continue racist accusations of African people being dirty.
Plus, there’s that strong reaction against non-European things.
What if you’re comfortable being dirty? (within reason, of course) For me it has always been ‘‘i must smell of stinking chemicals so that people will not notice me’’ rather than ‘‘i must smell good so that i can feel good about myself’’ ;D
on that note… primitive deodorants?
Wow, Dan, helluva conclusion to jump to–I don’t like dreadlocks, so I must have some deep-seated, racist hatred of all things non-European? I’ve suffered accusations of a deep-seated racism against Europeans, but this brings me something new.
I would guess that one could keep dreadlocks clean, but unfortunately, I’ve never known anyone with dreadlocks who did. Then again, almost everyone I’ve known who’s had dreadlocks also had skin the color of unbaked cookie dough, so mixed in with the stink of unwashed hair I also picked up the peculiar stink of cultural appropriation and pretending to some kind of false claim of racial authenticity.
I don’t think of Africans as dirty. Then again, I haven’t seen too many Africans with dreadlocks, either. Actually, most Africans and African-Americans I’ve known (and I’ve known both) have had in common a meticulous cleanliness, and placed a great amount of pride and importance on keeping themselves well groomed, even sometimes to the point of elevating it to a moral virtue.
When I had long hair, I had a hard time keeping it clean, too. I never wore dreadlocks, though, but long hair always presents some intractable problems for cleanliness. But we have a myth that to live primitively, you must have long hair. Plenty of ways to keep your hair nicely cut by primitive means. One does not need dreadlocks to prove their primitive credentials.
In total, Americans bathe far too much–to the point that it becomes unhealthy. Washing the oils off your skin constantly compromises your immune system. By the same token, far too many people rebelling against American society go to the opposite extreme. The “dirty hippie” didn’t become such a popular stereotype because it lacked concrete examples, y’know. Like you said, Odineeus, “within reason.” You should feel comfortable with a certain amount of dirt; our dirt-phobia doesn’t serve us well. And “clean” should not mean “I must smell of stinking chemicals so that people will not notice me.” It should mean smelling and looking like a human being, not a chemical factory, and not a pig pen. There exists a happy medium between those two extremes. One of my personal biggest pet peeves with primitivism as we see it practiced too often today lies in the outright rejection of indigenous examples, in pursuit of fairly childish overreactions to civilized culture, and this gets to one of those prime examples: Americans wash too much, ergo we should always walk around caked in mud and dirt and stinking to high heaven. Now, I have nothing against getting dirty; you can’t track, much less do any kind of scouting, without a pretty good comfort level with dirt. But when you get home, you wash. You clean. You don’t go around like that all the time. Look at indigenous examples: look how much time Haudenosaunee men spent preening about their appearance. Or, to get back to Dan’s accusation that I act like a racist because I don’t like dreadlocks, look at actual African tribes, and how much value they place on good grooming and cleanliness! These do not exist in mutually exclusive isolation from one another, and it irks me to no end when people buy into the notion that they do.
(I’m just teasing you a bit, though, Dan; I know what you mean, and I agree that most people who don’t like dreadlocks probably fit into that category, but when you make a blanket statement like that not half a page down from where I said I don’t care for dreadlocks, it really comes off as “Anyone who doesn’t share my aesthetics is a racist!” and I know you don’t want to really stand by something like that.)
Hmmm… all this talk about cleaning your hair, what would be recommended for a primitive shampoo, or soap for that matter?
I totally agree with the balance with regards to washing - how much how wash also depends on how much you smell or how much you sweat. On some levels, its a personal thing, like so much of rewilding - there is no one size fits all answer.
Personally, I too would like to sense more covering how to make aboriginal-human deodorants and, plus, their warming skills that they use prior to and after the morning skinny-dip in the cold and sometimes frozen creek or wash basket that washes away their epidermis scent and germs.
And, I would like to feel more aboriginal-human hair combs/brushes/picks and their tribal grooming day practices.
Thanks for questioning.
Ha! Rereading what I wrote, it sounds a lot harsher than I meant. Ah well. In part, I’m repeating (or regurgitating) some stuff from a semester of anti-racist anthropology, though I do happen to agree with it. Still, much of the roots of the idea do come from racism, even if the motivation of people who keep it going aren’t intending (and for course, after hundreds of hours of anti-racist reading I can’t pretend that anyone is free of racism).
And yea, we wash too much. Or rather, we wash too much with harsh washing products and water that is too hot. Too much soap hurts by drying out the skin and, like Jason said, removes stuff that would otherwise help our immune system. The Narragansett were reported to was every day and keep their hair immaculate, but did so without damaging their skin and hair.
Personally, I don’t wash as much as I probably should, but I’m not going to pretend it has anything to do with philosophy. I just forget a lot. I do keep my long hair perfectly combed, and keep it long because 1) it looks good, and 2) I like the old Mohawk tradition of keeping it long except when raiding (as a connection to a creator god). Not necessary, but I like it.
Wow, didn’t know I would start such an involved discussion.
For dreadlocks, basically I don’t want them to become unsanitary, but any tips on keeping them tightened and well-proportioned are also welcome.
I have read that a good way to “deep clean” dreads is to wash them in a solution of cider vinegar and water. Supposedly it gets out residue and dirt.
Has anyone else heard about or tried this method? Does it dry out your hair? And lastly, how can one make vinegar outside of civilization? (I believe that last question is for another message board.)
Also, Giuli if you are not a proponent of dreadlocks I certainly don’t expect you to write an article about them! My main reason for dreads (which I finally put in this week after months of putting it off/researching/wondering if my hair was right) is the metaphor that I attach to them (I don’t feel like elaborating). Maybe when I get out of the city and back into more natural surroundings, I won’t need that metaphor.
Actually, making vinegar in a primitive situation sounds like a great article idea!
On the metaphor, did you see Giuli’s latest article? Sounds like you mean to flag down your “tribe,” no?
Well, I don’t know about that. I don’t have to be surrounded by other people with dreads, but they certainly have a personal meaning to me. The Seattle subculture that I seem to have “found” (queer DIY eco punk?) is not generally dreaded although there are 1 or 2 people I can think of.
Maybe dreads are one way of many to fit into that subculture. I like the way I dress and I’m probably not going to change it much as long as I’m in civ, but it is much more cleancut than anybody I hang around, and I just don’t want to wear a lot of dark colored, punky clothing. (I’ll take my blues and greens and oranges, please!) The dreads help me blend in a little better.
Haven’t thought much about whether I dreaded my hair to show belonging to a group. If I did, it certainly wasn’t conscious. I was really going with my personal metaphor. When I had long, long hair in high school it had a deep emotional and even spiritual component. Dreads work the same way for me. Ever since I got them I can sleep better.
OK, enough rambling…
As spring blooms and summer approaches, I’d really like to know what I can do for sun protection/replacement for sunscreen. My skin burns easily, what can I do?
Interesting conversation about dreads. I’ve got really long hair (for a guy) and my friends keep telling me to cut it off, and it is kind of hard to keep clean, but it is kind of statement, a way to stand out, a shorthand for Ã¢â‚¬Å“I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t share your values.Ã¢â‚¬Â to borrow giulianna’s words. It’s not so much to fit in as to stand out. It also kind of works in a cold climate like calgary, long hair has very good insulative value. However, keeping it clean is a problem, it gets dirty really fast, that’s why I was wondering about shampoo.
The suscreen is also a good request. I’ve heard that the powder from birch bark works pretty well.
I’ve recently adopted Hobo stripper’s hair care routine and it works really well, although it took a little while to figure out how to adjust it to my own hair. My hair feels a lot softer and doesn’t frizz out anymore. When I used shampoo, it would get too squeaky clean.
^ Thanks Starfish. ;D I don’t think vinegar and water is very wild, tho, so I’m very interested in what Giuli has to say about hair care.
I’d also be interested in hearing about good smelling things to put on the body, tooth care, containers, what to carry in a medicine bag (a cute one!), and a wild woman’s weapons. Oh, and clothes? I second the hair pin thing too (I make a thing by folding a peice of rawhide and sticking a stick through it, but it falls out). I don’t know if scarification would be out of your realm, but I’d be interested in an article about that, too.