Thursday, March 21, 2013

Red Hair, Thomas Jefferson and the Lunacy of Racism

I've also just finished reading Sex and Punishment: Four Thousand Years of Judging Desire by Eric Berkowitz, another fascinating book. This time red hair popped up in relation to Thomas Jefferson and the status of mixed race people in the days of slavery.
"Thomas Jefferson fathered a son, Eston, with his one-quarter-black slave, Sally Hemmings. Eston had fair skin, freckles, and red hair, but his background was evidently not black enough to qualify him as "black"; in the early nineteenth century, Virginia law declared people white if they were less than one-quarter black. Nevertheless, the son of a slave was the son of a slave-Eston was only freed on the instruction of Jefferson's will, and lived his life out as a white man in the North. His full brother, Madison Hemmings (born James Madison Hemmings), had no such luck. Though he shared an identical lineage with Eston, and had also been freed in Jefferson's will, Madison had "bronze" skin, which seems to have been enough to condemn him to life as a black man. By law, Madison should have been treated the same as his brother, but no one could accept that someone with Madison's appearance could be considered white, even if his father had been president of the United States."

Red Hair and Witchery

I've just finished reading The Secret of History of Lucifer by Lynn Picknett, one of my favourite esoteric authors. Perhaps unsurprisingly red hair crops up.
"The Egyptians hated anything red, as can be seen from an invocation to Isis: 'Free me from all red things'. In his alter ego as Typhon, Set was called 'the red-skinned one'."
"Women with dissimilar eyes or red hair were instantly recognised as devil worshippers: apart from the symbolism discussed previously, perhaps this was because redheads usually have freckles, and these were often taken as 'witch marks'."
There was also this interesting little nugget about hair in general;
"Saint Paul ruled that women's heads should be covered in church 'because of the angels', for there was a real fear that female hair attracted daemones[.]"