An Introduction to Hedge Witchery
Hedge witchery is a diverse, eclectic, and often solitary pagan path that fuses witchcraft with shamanic traditions. It's a celebration of the natural world which invites us to awaken our intuition and honor the interconnectedness of all things.
Although the word "hedge witchery" is relatively new, the practices involved aren't. Hedge witches draw their inspiration from the rich tapestry of witchcraft and cunning folk traditions that have existed throughout Europe since ancient times.
The Symbolism of the Hedge
In times gone by, witches usually lived on the outskirts of villages - beyond the hedgerows that separated the world of civilization from the untamed realms of nature. In Magickal terms, the hedge represents the gateway between worlds and the boundary separating mundane reality from the hidden realms of Spirit.
Hedge witches take on the role of hedge-rider. Using practices such as shamanic trance journeying, they cross the hedge into the spiritual realm, where they build relationships with spirits, ancestors, and various forces of nature.
Hedge Witchery and Shamanism
Hedge witchery has many similarities to ancient shamanic traditions found worldwide. Both have an intimate understanding of the natural order. They observe the shifting patterns of nature, listen to the whispers of the winds, and interpret the language of the clouds.
Just like shamans, hedge witches have a deep reverence for the natural world and believe in the interconnectedness of all beings. By immersing themselves in the mysteries of the natural world, hedge witches develop a heightened intuition. Often, they have the ability to make predictions about the future based on the subtle signs and omens in nature.
Core Beliefs and Principles of Hedge Witchery
Since hedge witchery is an eclectic practice, no two hedge witches are alike, and their beliefs and principles will vary. However, there are a few things that many have in common:
- The home and the hearth are seen as the center of Magickal activity, where the hedge witch weaves spells, performs rituals, and connects with the energies of their domestic space. For a hedge witch, even simple acts like brewing tea or cleaning the house become infused with Magick and intention.
- A personal connection to the natural world is a fundamental aspect of hedge witchery. Hedge witches tend to spend a lot of time outdoors communing with nature. They often use natural tools and materials such as crystals, herbs, plants, feathers, stones, shells, and wood in their rituals.
- Working with Spirit is a cornerstone of hedge witch practice. Meditation and divination help build connections with spirit guides, ancestors, and elemental beings.
Hedge Witchery and The Spirit World
Hedge witches believe in the existence of spirits that inhabit the natural world and beyond. They understand that these spirits hold wisdom, energies, and assistance that can be accessed through ritual and other spiritual practices.
A hedge witch may work with various spirits, some of which we’ve already mentioned, but a category of spirits that is especially important in this land-based practice are the spirits of land and place.
Spirits of the Land and Place
The spirits of the land hold great significance in various spiritual traditions and mythologies.
One example is the Landvættir in Norse mythology, which were considered protective wights directly linked to the land itself. Landvættir are still recognized today in certain places, such as Iceland, where the belief in these spirits has resulted in the diversion of roads to avoid disturbing them!
To honor the spirits of the land, you will need to approach them with respect and mindfulness. As a hedge witch, you might spend time in your garden or local natural spots meditating, giving offerings to these spirits, or acknowledging their presence through prayer or songs.
Over time, this relationship will evolve, leading to deeper spiritual bonds between you and the spirits of the place. A hedge witch sees themselves as a custodian of the land. If you follow this path, you may get intuitive nudges to tend to the land in certain ways (for example, by planting a specific plant to bring balance into the ecosystem.)
How to Get Started on the Journey to Becoming a Hedge Witch
As we've highlighted before, hedge witchery is a very personal and eclectic path, and it's one that you learn by experiencing and doing, not by reading. However, if you have no idea where to start, here are some tips to begin with:
- Make every mundane action Magickal: There is Magick in the simplest acts, especially the acts you perform around your home. If you're taking a bath, why not add a posset of herbs with the qualities you wish to attract? (If you only have a shower, an alternative is brewing the herbs in a container of hot water, letting it cool slightly, and pouring it over your body at the end of your shower).
- Spend time in nature: If you don't have a garden, try to go to your local park or natural spot and spend time simply listening to the sounds of nature around you. You can also leave natural offerings that will decompose, such as flowers. Mindfully picking up litter is also a fantastic offering for the spirits of land and place!
- Study the healing qualities of herbs and plants: Although you don't need to become a certified herbalist to be a hedge witch, studying healing plants can help you better understand the relationship between humans and nature.
- Practice meditation and trancework: A core component of hedge witchery is building a closer relationship with the spirit world. If you're a beginner, it's best to start by learning to meditate and quiet your mind. Once you have had more practice, you can start learning how to cross the hedge through trancework. This can be done by breathwork, mantra chanting, drumming, and many other methods. Here's a great resource for learning how to enter a trance.
Ultimately, hedge witchery is a beautiful and enchanting path for creating a deep connection with the spirit world and your intuitive wisdom. Hedge witches embody the Magick of the fringes, a profound source of power and knowledge. So, as you embark on your path, remember to listen to the whispers of nature, trust your intuition, and allow the spirit world to guide you.
References and further reading: