When I was 17 years old, I joined the Army Reserve. Taking the whole process very seriously, I made sure my hair was clipped short as per regulations before I arrived at my unit for transport to recruit training. Some of the others had not taken this step, a problem which had been anticipated by the unit, and so were given regulation haircuts that night. Fortunately, one of the Corporals was dating a hairdresser who was able to provide this service at five dollars a pop. The next day we flew down to Puckapunyal where we all got our heads shaved anyway. Everyone, regulation haircut or not, got an all over, number two clipping.
As pointless as the above may sound, psychologically it did actually serve its purpose. Recruit training is intended to be a life-changing experience. The uniforms and haircuts helped get us all in the right frame of mind.
Since then, shaving my head has become a valuable personal ritual for whenever I want to get serious about something. A shaved head represents a turning point, a declaration of intent, a commitment to do whatever it takes. For me, the experience is powerful and moving. I can achieve a fraction of the same experience by tying on a pair of boots, but nothing tops a shaved head as a reminder that I’ve got a job to do.
Now, in the Eddas and Sagas the magical use of a haircut seems to actually work the other way around. A man taking an oath might commit not to cut or comb his hair until his mission is completed. In a well groomed society like that of the Norsemen, I’m sure that could be very effective magic, too. I’m going to stick with my head-shaving because that’s what works for me and, at this point, the associations are too deeply ingrained. You’ll need to find out for yourself, what works for you. But believe me in this, a haircut can be a life-changing experience and a bold New Year is just a few weeks away.