Hedge Riding: The Art of the Hedge Witch

Walking the Path of the Hedge Witch and the Hedge Druid, Learning the Craft and the Art of Hedge Riding

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Joanna van der Hoeven

Joanna van der Hoeven

 Joanna van der Hoeven is a Hedge Witch, Druid, and a best-selling author. She has been working in Pagan traditions for over 30 years. She has written many books, including The Path of the Hedge Witch: Simple, Natural Magic and the Art of Hedge Riding, as well as The Book of Hedge Druidry: A Complete Guide for the Solitary Seeker. Find her channels on social media at YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.
New book now available for pre-order!

I have a new book coming out in March 2025! The Old Ways: A Hedge Witch's Guide to Living A Magical Life.

This is the perfect companion piece to The Path of the Hedge Witch: Simple, Natural Magic and the Art of Hedge Riding. It is more of an intermediate level book, but can be useful for anyone interested in Hedge Witchcraft. 

It is now available for pre-order on Amazon. Here are the links:

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Old-Ways-Witchs-Living-Magical/dp/0738775517/ 

Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Old-Ways-Witchs-Living-Magical/dp/0738775517/ (may take a few more days to get the pre-order link on there)

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Old-Ways-Witchs-Living-Magical/dp/0738775517/

It is coming out 10 March 2025 in the US, and 31 March in the UK (kindle versions may arrive sooner). So, here's looking forward to March, 2025!

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Joanna van der Hoeven is the author many books, including the upcoming The Old Ways: A Hedge Witch's Guide to Living A Magical Life (out in March 2025), The Path of the Hedge Witch: Simple, Natural Magic and the Art of Hedge Riding, as well as The Book of Hedge Druidry: A Complete Guide for the Solitary Seeker. Find out more through her website at www.joannavanderhoeven.com

 

 

 

 

 

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What Makes A Good Ritual?

Sometimes it can be helpful to question the very basics of our tradition. Today, I want to take a look at ritual. What is the point of ritual, and what does good ritual require?

Ritual helps us to mark time, celebrate moments in time and connect us to the greater cycles of life around us. They can also serve to help us change our consciousness, so that we can better see and feel these moments and cycles.  Ritual consists of words and actions that are designed to create an emotional/spiritual response, such as connection to the seasons, to nature, to the earth, to the gods, etc.

Ritual is rather pointless unless it moves us. True, sometimes we are just not our very best witchy/druid/pagan selves, and we sometimes go through the motions in order to keep up our practice. But for ritual that requires connection, the most important part of it is the feeling, the emotion. We must feel the actions that we perform, and the words that we say. A little drama in ritual – the good kind – performed without overdoing it can lead to a change in consciousness and a change in the self. Because isn’t that what you came to do in ritual in the first place?

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Heksennacht: The Witches' Night

This Night of the Witches (heks, meaning “witch” in Dutch and nacht meaning “night”) was created originally out of the need to overlay a Christian rite onto a Pagan festival that was hard to abolish. In Germany it was called Hexennacht, in Scandinavia Walpurgis Night. At the end of winter, people wanted to celebrate and hurry on the coming of spring, and bonfires would be lit to drive out the spirits of winter and also reflect the return of the light and warmth of summer. However, this became the fires that would burn the witches, or at the very least keep them at bay while they travelled on to a night of revelry on The Brocken in Germany.

For on this night, the Christians said that the witches gathered on the Hexentanzplatz (the Witch’s Dance Floor) which is a high plateau in the Harz mountains of Germany. Some believe this place to be an old Saxon gathering place/cultic site, which was later banned by the Franks and given its current name. According to the Christians, after the witches gathered at Hexentanzplatz they then travelled to The Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz to dance away the night with the Devil. This is thought to reflect an old Saxon custom of leaving animal and possibly even human sacrifices on the mountain to the god Odin (or Wotan, as he was probably known then).[1]

Known as Walpurgis Night (Walpurgisnacht) in the Christian calendar, this festival was created to commemorate the English nun, Walpurga and her mission to Christianise the heathens. She is said to have been canonised on 1 May 870AD. Thus Walpurgis Night fell around the same time as the pre-Christian festivals, and thus transformed them, at least for a time.

In the period of Romanticism, after the hysteria of the witch burnings died down, there was a revival across Europe of the old folk customs and lore. This brought Heksennacht, the Witch’s Night back to many countries in various forms, falling on the 30th April.

Today, across Germany and other European countries,as well as throughout Scandinavia, this festival is still celebrated.

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Joanna van der Hoeven is the author many books, including The Path of the Hedge Witch: Simple, Natural Magic and the Art of Hedge Riding, as well as The Book of Hedge Druidry: A Complete Guide for the Solitary Seeker. She has another book coming out in March 2025, entitled The Old Ways: A Hedge Witch's Guide to Living A Magical Life. Find out more through her website at www.joannavanderhoeven.com

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Bring the Hedge Back Into Hedge Witchcraft and Other Hedge Traditions

What makes Hedge Witchcraft or Hedge Druidry different from other traditions? Is it just a solitary path, or is there more to it? In this blog we will explore the importance of the hedge in hedge traditions.

Many when they think of Hedge Witchcraft or Hedge Druidry see a solitary tradition. This is true: the path of the Hedge Witch or the Hedge Druid is most definitely a solitary one. But there is more to it than simply being a solitary practitioner. There is a trifecta involved, which includes an ability to work alone, but also an affinity for trance practices and a desire to walk between the worlds. Let’s look at each one in turn.

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Beltane, Midsummer, Samhain, Why Is The Veil Thinner?

There are special times when it is said that the veil between the worlds is thinner than usual. These three “spirit nights” are Beltane, Midsummer and Samhain. Beltane and Samhain are Celtic festivals that celebrate the start of the summer and winter seasons, as the ancient Celts only had two seasons instead of four. The whole shift occurring in nature at these times was reflected in the lives of those who lived by the seasons. At Beltane, the cattle would be taken to their summer pastures, and driven between two large bonfires, we assume for purification, blessings, and possibly to make any nasty ticks and other bugs drop off either by the smoke or the heat. At Samhain, the cattle returned to their winter fold, and those that couldn’t be kept over winter were slaughtered. Huge feasts celebrated the ancestors and the mighty dead, and care was taken to avert the restless dead or the Sluagh na marbh. At any rate, the lives of those who lived with their cattle were very much changed and shifted during these times of the year.

The summer solstice marks the time of the greatest light, when all nature seems to be reaching its peak. As such, this too was seen as a liminal time, and very much connected to the Fair Folk, or faeries. Not just in Celtic lands, but especially in Germanic and Scandinavian countries Midsummer was a huge festival and celebration. As summer arrives later in these countries, it has a similar feel to the Celtic Beltane. Like at Beltane, here a large pole similar to the Maypole was erected and danced around. Plants were at their highest powers, and so collecting the herbs that you needed was especially important at this time. Midsummer is still one of the biggest celebrations in countries like Sweden, where there is lots of food, singing and games. Though it has been overlaid with Christian mythology the nativity of St John the Baptist, it is still more a giant party than anything else. And why not?

By why are these especially liminal times? Well, when one season switches over to the next, we can often feel like we are in an in-between time.

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The Path of the Hedge Witch

The winds of spring are here, carrying with them change. The earth is warming up and scenting the air. The blackbirds are singing me awake at 5am, and their songs of hope fill my heart. It’s another new day for this hedge witch.

What makes the path of the hedge witch so different from others? What does it share with other witchcraft traditions?  In this blog post, we will look at some of the differences and similarities, to hopefully provide an explanation for those who are seeking a way into this enchanted and enchanting world.

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