Hedge witchcraft


Hedge witchcraft

A "Hedgewitch" is someone who practices "Hedgewitchery" or "Hedgecraft". Hedgecraft is a spiritual path and is considered a form of European witchcraft. It is most commonly practiced by modern Neo-Pagans and some people consider it an offshoot of the Neo-Pagan religion of Wicca. Hedgecraft is loosely based on the old wise women (and men), cunning folk, herbalists, healers and witches throughout history. Some Adherents have claimed that it is the religion of the traditional cunning folk of England. The older and more traditional practices of hedgewitchery or hedge riding are shamanic in nature and often (but not always) include entheogenic wortcunning involving flying ointments and unguents to achieve the ecstatic trance state traditionally know as "oot 'n aboot".

Hedgewitches often practice herbalism, magic, wildcrafting, and many different forms of healing. Hedgewitches are generally unconcerned with overly formal magical workings, preferring more simple folk magic. It is an eclectic tradition, but just how much so depends on each individual practitioner.

Most Hedgewitches practice is solitary and private, based out of the home. Hedgewitches can, however, still be active in their local Pagan community.

In physical terms, the hedge separated the town from the wilderness. Crossing the hedge was considered dangerous, because the forest was regarded as a locus of uncanny happenings, including witchcraft. To the hedgewitch and witches alike, the hedge was not thought to be a physical boundary, but a mental barrier to be crossed in trance work. It is the line drawn between this world and the next; between reality and dream.
Shamanic practice is common, and is considered a hallmark of a Hedgewitch. From this perspective, if the hedge is the border between a village and the wilderness, the Hedgewitch walks the border with a foot in both worlds. The act of Shamanic Journey, Astral Travel, Soul Flight (and such) is often referred to as "Walking the Hedge, "Crossing the Hedge" or "Riding the Hedge" by Hedgewitches.

Outside of the academic world this specific sense of the term with its medieval connotation of magical liminality and boundaries between the worlds was primarily promoted via Nigel Jackson's 1994 book 'Call of the Horned Piper' and has since exercised a pervasive influence in the contemporary witchcraft milieu, investing the term 'hedge-witch' with a more archaic resonance and meaning in magical practice.

Spirituality in Hedgewitches varies and depends on the individual; usually they look to their own heritage and ancestry. Most commonly Hedgewitches practice some form of neopaganism. The daily spiritual practice of a Hedgewitch will be adapted to his or her individual abilities, interests and life style.

Etymology

The term Hedgewitch is a source of controversy due to its idiosyncratic nature. By looking at the word "hedgewitch," we can learn that it comes from the Saxon word for witch, "haegtessa", which translates to "hedge-rider". The Old Norse lay Havamal refers to "hedge-riders, witching aloft" . Other names for hedge-riders are "myrk-rider", "Wyrd-rider", and "Gandreidh" (wand-rider). The word "hedgewitch" is, as far as we can tell, a fairly modern term. Though its true origin may never be known, it likely comes from Great Britain and may have started to be used only in the last 50 years.

Rae Beth's "Hedgewitch"

In 1992, the modern pagan author Rae Beth released a book entitled "Hedge Witch: A Guide to Solitary Witchcraft", an attempt at redefining the term for the modern era. Rae Beth proposes that "The work of the hedge witch is to take the insights of the wildwood mystic and apply them in the service of life, through spells that help and heal the land, other people or creatures, or our own selves," and that the Hedgewitch is a solitary individual. The inspiration for the term as employed by Rae Beth seems to have been the idea of a solitary and individualistic practitioner, paralleling the old term 'hedge-preacher' for an itinerant preacher with no fixed living. However, the definition and practice of Hedgecraft as outlined by Rae Beth is controversial as it is very obviously Wicca based.

ee also

* Cunning folk
* Contemporary Witchcraft
* Witchcraft

External links

* [http://www.knibb.org/rae/index.htm Rae Beth's Hedge Witch Home Page]
* [http://www.poppypalin.org/ Poppy Palin's Website]
* [http://www.annmourasgarden.com/ Ann Moura's Website]
* [http://www.hedgewitchescottage.co.uk Hedgewitches Cottage]
* [http://www.walkingthehedge.net Walking the Hedge]
* [http://www.angelfire.com/folk/greenwitch/enter.html GreenWood Manor]
* [http://www.hedgewytchery.com/ Hedge Wytchery]

References

* Beth, Rae. "Hedge Witch: A Guide to Solitary Witchcraft", Robert Hale, 1992.

Sources

*Beth, Rae. "Hedge Witch: A Guide to Solitary Witchcraft", Robert Hale, 1992.
*Duerr, Hans Peter. "Dreamtime: Concerning the Boundary between Wilderness and Civilization", pp. 46, 47, 65, 97, 132. Translated by Felicitas Goodman. Blackwell, 1985.
*Jackson, Nigel A. "Call of the Horned Piper", pp. 4-5, 13, 14-15, 19-21. Capall Bann, 1994.----


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