The Myths and History of Red Hair


Orangejews: The Real History of Druids, Jews and Protestantism

the hangedman

First, my apologies, this page doesn't wholly relate to red hair. It deals with a broader historic picture. However, red hair and the colour orange do figure quite heavily in it further down the page. I should also apologise for the speculative nature of this piece. It's mainly my own speculation, plus speculation I've stolen from elsewhere, so take it with a pinch of salt. I think it's possible that this interpretation of history could have some truth to it, but I'm not particularly attached to the theory. Hopefully it's interesting though :)

It all begins with the linking of two mysteries - the mysterious disappearance of the Druids following the Roman invasion of Britain, and the mysterious appearance of Jews in the medieval record.

Let's start with the Druids. We're told that the Druids were completely wiped out by the invading Roman legions. Yet at the same time we know that the Romans didn't manage to conquer both Scotland and Ireland. So what happened to the Druids in these two countries?

Concurrently, we know that Jews were resident in Britain from the beginning of the medieval period. We don't know when they arrived - some speculate they were brought over by the invading Normans, others that they came during the days of Rome. In short nobody knows. We come out of the muddiness of the Dark Ages and they're there, just like everybody else.

I would marry the two together and speculate that the Druids and the Jews were one and the same - or possibly, simply different branches of a common tree. This might sound farfetched at first, but once you start thinking along these lines a whole bunch of interesting parallels start cropping up.

Firstly let's look at the names Druid and Jew. They look quite distinct on face value, but when you go deeper they seem to be etymologically quite similar. The Welsh name for Saint David is Dewi Sant - the name Dewi suggests both Druid and Jew to my untrained ears. (The very fact the Welsh have a patron saint named David is in itself quite suggestive). Another historic variation of the name David was Dhuada (a feminine form of David, this time from the Carolingian period). The male form would've simply been Dhuad - again very similar in sound to Druid.

The French word for God, Dieu, also probably ties in with all this. In fact, its pronunciation is pretty much identical to the pronunciation of the word Jew. One wonders if the name Jew was simply a catch-all label for monotheists of any sort. Another variant is Tiw - the Norse god who lent his name to the weekday Tuesday. It's not too hard to imagine that Druid and Jew were simply two different names for the same (or similar) people.

Before I forget, another odd anomaly is this; If we look at the Roman Empire, they had one massive Jewish/Christian culture coming at them from the east, which we know a lot about and which had a massive effect on the empire. And on the other hand they also had this massive Druidic culture coming at them from the north which we know nothing about and which had no effect on the empire. How strange? Could it be that it was the same culture coming at them from both sides? (A culture already linked and forged before the rise of Rome by Phoenician traders, etc, etc.).

When Scotland Was Jewish

One book I should mention that helped throw light on all this was When Scotland Was Jewish by Elizabeth Caldwell Hirschman and Donald N. Yates. A book suggesting that even in the twelfth century Scotland was heavily influenced by a strong Jewish strand. The authors don't go as far as equating the Druids with the Jews, but still highlight a lot of concurrences.

"The Scots and "northern Irish" long clung to their custom of celebrating Easter (Latin Paschua, "Passover") on the same day as the Jews, even after the Synod of Whitby attempted to settle the controversy in 664 C.E."

"Finally, the Celtic scholar John Rhys assembled strong evidence of Hebrew colonization of Britain in ancient times. Ireland was known as Iberion, and the ancient name of the Israelites was Ibri or Iberi, derived from the proper name Eber or Heber, the eponymous ancestor of that people"

The book also points out that Scotland is the only country apart from Israel to have a king called David - and two at that.

Did Scotland appear more Jewish because the Romans couldn't get that far into Britain?

Incidentally, When Scotland Was Jewish also points out how heavily involved Scottish Jews were with trade and city guilds. This goes quite deep historically I think. Traditionally European Jews are associated with cities (sometimes walled), maybe they were the originators of city boroughs (could the name Meyer simply be a variant of Mayor??).

The association of Jews with law and governance is also quite apparent. On the Wikipedia page about the history of Jews in England it says that in the Norman era "special weight was attributed to a Jew's oath, which was valid against that of twelve Christians". It suggests to my mind the twelve members of a jury.

Medieval Europe

The overlap between Druid and Jew can be seen quite readily in the Medieval period. At one point in Medieval Europe Jewish men were apparently forced to wear pointed hats to distinguish themselves from the rest of the population. Where else in the European consciousness do see people wearing pointed hats? Wizards and witches - the Druish remnants of pre-Christian times.

The fact that Jewish men were forced to wear certain attire to differentiate themselves from non-Jews also suggests that European Jews must, even in those days, have looked similar enough to the rest of the population that people couldn't tell the difference from racial characteristics alone. Again, this to me suggests that they were native to the European continent, and that they hadn't just rocked up from the Mediterranean a few generations beforehand.

This can be seen quite blatantly when we look at images of Judas from the medieval period. Time and time again he's represented as white with red hair (finally! :D) - if anything he looks more characteristically Northern. The often mentioned Red Jews of Poland also spring to mind at this point.

In fact, I came across this article whilst searching online, it's titled Red Hair: A Mutation, A Royal Trait, and Sometimes a Curse. It's writer states;

From my research, I found out that Poland was heavily populated with the Ashkenazic Jews, who are also known for their red hair. In a 1990 article titled "Polish Jewish History," the author stated that "During the eighteenth century, at least, about half of the urban population of Poland was Jewish" (Hundert). Therefore, it seems safe to say that they were Ashkenazic Jews and not Sephardic Jews because they were from Poland. In an article titled, "On the Racial Characteristics of Modern Jews," researchers found that there were "..thrice as many red-haired individuals as either Poles, Russians, or Austrians, and half as many again as Germans."

I also found this on Wikipedia;

Red hair is also fairly common amongst the Ashkenazi Jewish populations, possibly because of the influx of European DNA over a period of centuries. In European culture, prior to the 20th century, red hair was often seen as a stereotypically Jewish trait: during the Spanish Inquisition, all those with red hair were identified as Jewish. In Italy, red hair was associated with Italian Jews, and Judas was traditionally depicted as red-haired in Italian and Spanish art.

On a side note regarding Judas I was recently made aware of the legend that states that he was the first vampire - becoming one after his Christ-betrayal inspired suicide. I found this particularly interesting as both Judas and vampires have been associated with red hair at times.

One online site pointed out this bit of information;

Summers' 1928 book The Vampire: His Kith and Kin mentions that in particular red-headed vampires are considered the most dangerous, and trace their red hair back to Judas (or even Cain). He gives some 13th-century Latin references for this myth. Notably he states that in Bulgaria, Serbia, and Romania, Vampires are called "Children of Judas".

The Reformation and the Tudor Period

Red hair takes us nicely into the Tudor (Judah?) period. I've mentioned elsewhere on this website the preponderance of red-haired kings, queens and political leaders, so I won't rehash it. What I will rehash is the link between red hair and Protestantism. Red (or rather orange) seems to have a been a totem of the Protestant movement, from Elizabeth the First to Oliver Cromwell.

We're often told that the association between the colour orange and Protestantism goes back to William of Orange, but in fact it goes much further. The 'orange tawny' was the colour of the Devereux, Earls of Essex and was adopted as the colour of the Parliamentarians during the English Civil War.

Why orange? I've often wondered this. Maybe the Protestant movement stemmed from a remnant Jewish strand in the culture of the northern European states. Maybe red hair became a symbol of this - either consciously or unconsciously so.

The Protestant movement was also heavily linked with trading and shipping interests, both in Britain and on the continent. The Protestant middle-class city and town dwellers seem in type to parallel the trading Jewish guildsmen associated with the Scottish Jews mentioned above, and the various other Jewish peoples associated with merchant cities in history - and in the popular imagination (think The Merchant of Venice).

When you look at images of Protestant merchants and priests of the period they look almost indistinguishable from their Jewish counterparts. In fact, that arch-reformer Thomas Cromwell - money-lender, dressed in black, despised by the Catholic church - could have sprang straight from that very archetype.

Was the Protestant Reformation the awakening of the sleeping Druish/Jewish culture that had been lying dormant in the collective unconscious of northern Europe?

In 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg. He did this on October 31st - Halloween.

I read this online;

According to an eighteenth-century book on the history of Connecticut, dried pumpkin shells gave the colonists a head start on haircuts. A pumpkin shell was placed on top of a colonist's shaggy noggin and used as a cutting guide. People with these hairstyles were called "pumpkin-heads."

The Parliamentarian Roundheads were so-called for their bowl-cut hairstyles. They also fought under an orange flag. Were they the original pumpkinheads? Is that why pumpkin is associated with Halloween and Thanksgiving?

Was the orange Halloween Pumpkin originally a totemic symbol for the red-haired Protestant movement? And Halloween likewise a celebration of that?

....probably not, but it would be cool if it was.

If anyone wants to leave any comments or criticism there's a sister page for this on my blog; here

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