Hedge Riding: The Art of the Hedge Witch

Bringing the Hedge back into Hedge Witchcraft, working with liminal spaces and the Otherworld

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Hedge Riding: An Introduction to The Art of the Hedge Witch

Many know of the Hedge Witch as a solitary witch. The term Hedge Witch was crafted by the author Rae Beth, in her first work, Hedgewitch: A Guide to Solitary Witchcraft. A previous term, hedge priest, has been around for a couple hundred years. This was a priest who belonged to no specific church, and who had no established congregation. Indeed, it was a priest who often preached "from the hedgerow", hence the term hedge priest. Rae Beth took this term and applied it to her work in witchcraft, and now the term Hedge Witch has become extremely popular with many on the Pagan Path.

But the Hedge Witch is much more than a solitary creature working magic under the stars. The Hedge Witch has roots (if you'll pardon the pun) in a much older term, the German word hagazissa, which means "hedge sitter". This was a person who could go between the worlds, travel beyond the human settlements into the places of the wild spirits and the Otherworld, bringing back information, healing and magical aid to the community. They were able to ride that delineating line between the human world and the Otherworld, the civilized and the wild, to "ride the hedge". They were workers in liminal places, and were able to cross boundaries with ease. There is an older Saxon term as well, haegtessa, and both terms are where we get our word "hag" from.

In this blog, I aim to put the "hedge" back into the term, "hedgewitch". We will look closely at aspects of the skill of hedge riding, and working with the World Tree. We will look deeply at how to work with liminal places, and liminal times. We will work with the Three Worlds: The Lowerworld, the Middleworld and the Upperworld, and go on journeys to each. We will work with the eight seasonal festivals that are familiar to many Pagans. We will also work very closely with the Otherworld, and its inhabitants, often known as faeries, the Fair Folk or the Shining Ones. Spells, rituals, herbcraft, animal lore and more will be discussed.

And so, on the beginning of this new venture and blog which I am very excited to share with you, I wish you many blessings!

The Hedge Witch sits under the beech tree in her backyard. Not far away, the hole in the hedge where the badgers and other creatures come through shines in the dim twilight, with an otherworldly light. She has performed the opening ritual, with the words and gestures to enable her to walk between the worlds. The full moon scatters light down through the bare branches swaying overhead, and spills cold light upon the mossy ground. The Hedge Witch says a quiet prayer to her Otherworldly guides and familiars, and as soon as the words have left her lips there is a soft breeze that blows across the sheltered garden, which doesn't stir the trees or their upper branches. A rustle on the other side of the hedge is heard, and an owl hoots from beyond in the great ash trees that stand on the other side of the little valley. Someone is coming, someone is close. Who will visit the Hedge Witch this night? What wisdom, experience or insight will she gain from this encounter? Only those with the talent, skill and daring will know…

 

 

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  Joanna van der Hoeven is a Hedge Witch, Druid, and a best-selling author. She has been working in Pagan traditions for over 20 years. She is the Director of Druid College UK, helping to re-weave the connection to the land and teaching a modern interpretation of the ancient Celtic religion.  

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