It occurs to me that some people may be wondering why I wear my makeup in the manner that I do. I do not usually explain these details to others, but I feel that it may actually help someone who could be wrestling with limiting ideas of veiling.
What is veiling? Why do it? And, is the head the only part of the body that can/should be veiled? While all of these questions will have to be answered by each individual for their own needs, I can give a few examples based from my own experience.
Women of color, such as myself, are often seen wearing very bright and/or metallic colors of eye-shadow in media and daily life. It could be an aesthetic choice, and as such would be perfectly acceptable, because grown persons may wear whatever they feel comfortable in, as evidenced by the many people who go about their lives doing just that.
But there are other reasons to have a strikingly made-up face. Aesthetics aside, one may choose to apply color to their eyelids as a way of veiling the eyes.
I usually wear a silver eye-shadow, because, when charged with the task, it easily reflects away those things that I am not interested in “seeing”. I wear it because it ensures that when I am interacting with the public, I do not “see” too much. This veiling of the eyes is paramount for me and my ability to stay in the present moment (and out of other people’s heads) in those cases when I have to deal with the public.
Even when dealing with the public is only done via technology, this technique is proven effective. Potentially speaking to a hundred people via the internet is no different than speaking to a hundred people face to face for me, energetically speaking. In order to protect myself from unwanted energy exchanges, and to protect my audience from being probed without consent, I veil my eyes.
The eyes are but one example of cosmetic veiling however, and there are some others which I do partake in, for other energetic and ritual reasons, and I’ll give a couple more examples.
I try to keep my nails Apollon’s preferred color for me, which is bright, glossy red. I don’t always, because the upkeep is tremendous for a woman living a country lifestyle, yet I do notice the differences in how much energy I am expending on daily activities when my nails aren’t painted, as opposed to when they are.
When they are painted, I simply have more energy to spare after a long day, and am less cranky and particular about my personal space. Also, it bears mentioning that the red gloss is the last layer, which may cover an anointing oil, or small Runic or Greek Alphabet characters drawn onto the nails before the base-coat of clear polish. Depending on what my tasks are for the week (I try to keep it looking neat and it usually lasts about a week before I have to remove it and start over), I can tailor my energetic output to maximize my efforts, or to minimize my losses. I also paint my toe-nails, for similar reasons.
Covering my face in foundation helps me to construct a mask for myself– one which may assist in the vanishing of ego during the initial stages of particular types of Work. I find that preparing before the mirror triggers the process, and as I see myself disappearing under the mask, so too do I relinquish control of those part of my body that Apollon wishes to affect.
When I no longer recognize myself in the mirror, I can more readily forget myself, and then become what is needed for the time being.
This is also a great way to add a little (or a lot, depending upon the scope of your aesthetic desires) theatrical beauty to formalized ritual. I personally wouldn’t engage in this dressing activity for everyday prayer or ritual simply because it is a tedious process, but occasionally, Apollon does desire to see me looking a certain fabulous way when addressing Him before His shrine. And I do it please Him, as well as myself.
So, to recap, aesthetics are a valid enough reason to apply a dramatic look, but they are not the only reasons why one may choose to do so. If you feel inclined to experiment with make-up for in or out of a ritual context, do so without any apology, because it is not for anyone other than yourself, or your Gods and spirits to understand. Donning the veil, in all the many ways that exist, is a beautiful expression of religious devotion, and should be respected in its many varied forms.