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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The Nature of Blessing

What does it mean to bless something? To honour your blessings? How can we feel truly blessed?

Most of us only come across the term “blessing” after someone has sneezed, but for me as a Druid it is an integral part of my religion.  Alongside “prayer” however, the word can evoke memories of perhaps anti-pagan establishment.  If we can set aside these connotations and simply see the word for what it is, we can fill our lives with a wonder and enchantment, or perhaps re-enchantment that can otherwise escape us in today’s modern, secularised world.

So what is a blessing? A blessing is when we awaken, when we fully come to the here and now and see the wonder of life. It is to be absolutely awake and aware of who we are, where we are, and how we work in the flows, rhythms and cycles of life. It is being aware of the gods and ancestors, of how each part is played.  When we have awoken to this reality, life may flow easier, we may move through our days with more grace and compassion.

Being aware of our many blessings goes hand in hand with gratitude. If we give thanks for the blessing of lengthening sunlight, we awaken ourselves to the solar cycle of spring and the light half of the year. The sun gives freely of her gift, and this gift is a true blessing. When we give freely, when we are true to our selves and working for the greater good of the world, we too are blessing the world.  The rain that brings the flowers is a blessing. The person who helped us out of a dark place is a blessing.  A piece of music that sings to our soul is a blessing.

Being aware of these blessings takes us outside of ourselves, allowing room for a greater perspective that our narrow perception of the world can override. We have to shut off the internal monologue to be able to be aware of a blessing, to give and receive blessings with an open heart.

In ceremonial ritual, in daily practice, we can practice the art of giving and receiving blessings. By becoming aware of our many blessings, and then extending that feeling of good will combined with actual physical actions to support and sustain this in the outer world we work with blessings on a deep and intense scale.  We may ask the gods or the ancestors to bless our work, our rite, to ensure that it is for the good of all.  We bless our food before we partake, thereby honouring all that has gone into the manifestation of its existence. We bless a child with the traditional Celtic prayer of nine blessings, still being performed today at many Pagan child-naming/blessing ceremonies.

“A small wave for your form

A small wave for your voice

A small wave for your speech

A small wave for your means

A small wave for your generosity

A small wave for your appetite

A small wave for your wealth

A small wave for your life

A small wave for your health

Nine waves of Grace upon you.

Waves of the Giver of Health.”

 In this blessing, a relationship is being established between the person who is blessing and the person being blessed, as well as all who are partaking in the ritual. It is a form of prayer that is akin to a beautiful wish, the words and actions being spoken in order to bring about the desired effect into manifestation. It is magic and prayer rolled into one.

When we are blessed, or when we are blessing, our awareness extends beyond the self. This is the nature of compassion, of stepping outside of our selves in order to see the bigger picture. We can become so wrapped up in our own lives, our own dramas, in our own minds that we forget there is a whole world out there that is happening, with our without us. By working with blessings we reunite ourselves with that wider world, reweaving our thread of connection to the web of existence.

May your life be blessed.

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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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