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What is holy magic hair?

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The holy magic hair (HMH) doctrine is the rather sarcastic name given to the teaching that long, uncut hair on a woman provides her with supernatural power, protection, and authority. This aberrant teaching has gained momentum in the Apostolic, Holiness, and Oneness groups within Pentecostalism. The holy magic hair doctrine is based largely on 1 Corinthians 11, which discusses head coverings for women, and especially verse 10, which says, “It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels.”

It is best that 1 Corinthians 11 be interpreted within the context of the culture at that time. However, some Pentecostals firmly believe that Christian women should not cut their hair. Usually, the hair is kept up in a bun or braided. Of course, there is nothing wrong with a woman not cutting her hair, and we would never advocate a teaching that a woman must cut her hair; however, Paul’s words to the Corinthians should not be used as a mandate for all women. In fact, the word hair is not even found in 1 Corinthians 11:10.

According to the holy magic hair doctrine, a woman with long hair is being “watched by angels” because of the “glory” of her long hair (see 1 Corinthians 11:15). And, when she lets down her hair, her glory increases, as does her supposed spiritual power. Believers in holy magic hair say that a woman can unravel her hair for greater miracles. If she lays it over an altar or over written prayer requests as she prays, her prayers are more likely to be answered. If she spreads her hair over a person, that person can receive the Holy Spirit more readily—the “laying on of hair,” as it’s called. A woman “shaking her hair in the wind” can guarantee all kinds of miraculous results, from the salvation of lost loved ones to the healing of diseases to the winning back of lost romantic affections. Holy magic hair even has power over evil spirits, and the devil fears the power of uncut hair.

According to the holy magic hair doctrine, if a woman cuts her hair, she loses her identity as an “apostolic woman,” loses authority in the spiritual realm, and puts herself and her family at risk. Women are warned that to cut their hair is to bring themselves to misery and regret. After the hair is cut, there is no way to get the original “anointing” back.

It should go without saying that the holy magic hair doctrine is unbiblical. The problem is there are sincere and well-meaning people who believe it. The practice of letting down one’s hair in order to receive more spiritual power has absolutely no scriptural authority and has more in common with Wicca and occultism than Christianity. External conditions do not automatically correspond with the internal. A woman with long hair can be eaten up with lust, hate, or envy on the inside. A woman with short hair can be filled with the fruit of the Spirit.

Power belongs to God (Psalm 62:11). Any power that we possess comes through the agency of the Holy Spirit in our lives. To trust in hair length, circumcision, or any other physical characteristic is to take away from our reliance upon God and our faith in Jesus Christ. Even in Samson’s case, the power was not from his hair but from the fact that “the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon him” (Judges 15:14). There is always a tendency to lean on our own understanding and rely on ourselves. No matter how much anecdotal evidence is presented in its favor, holy magic hair is a deviant teaching that has no basis in Scripture. Let us be careful not to be “blown here and there by every wind of teaching” (Ephesians 4:14).

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This page last updated: January 4, 2022