What Is a Hedge Witch? Practices and Beliefs

Mother Nature in the Forest
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There are a lot of different belief systems in modern Paganism, and one that's seeing a resurgence in popularity is the path of the hedge witch. Although there are a lot of different definitions of what a hedge witch is and does, you'll find that for the most part, there's a lot of work with herbal magic, as well as an emphasis on nature. A hedge witch might work with gods or goddesses, perform healing and shamanic actions, or perhaps work with the changing seasons. In other words, the path of the hedge witch is as eclectic as those who practice it.

Key Takeaways: Hedge Witchcraft

  • Hedge witchcraft is usually practiced by solitaries, and involves deep study of plants and the natural world.
  • The term hedge witch is an homage to the wise women of old who often lived on the outskirts of villages, beyond the hedge.
  • Hedge witches typically find magical intent in routine, day to day activities.

History of the Hedge Witch

Ask any modern hedge witch, and they'll probably tell you that the reason they call themselves a hedge witch is an homage to the past. In days gone by, witches—often women, but not always—lived along the fringes of a village, behind the hedgerows. One side of the hedge was the village and civilization, but on the other lay the unknown and wild. Typically, these hedge witches served a dual purpose and acted as healers or cunning women, and that involved a lot of time gathering herbs and plants in the woods, the fields, and—you guessed it—the hedges.

The hedge witch of old usually practiced alone, and lived magically day to day—simple acts like brewing a pot of tea or sweeping the floor were infused with magical ideas and intentions. Perhaps most importantly, the hedge witch learned her practices from older family members or mentors, and honed her skills through years of practice, trial, and error. These practices are sometimes referred to as green craft, and are highly influenced by folk customs.

Magical Practice and Belief

Alternative medicine or homeopathic theme filtered and desaturated
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Similar to the practice of kitchen witchcraft, hedge witchery often focuses on the hearth and home as the center of magical activity. The home is the place of stability and grounding, and the kitchen itself is a magical place, and it's defined by the energies of the people who live in the house. For the hedge witch, the home is typically seen as sacred space.

If the home is the core of the practice, the natural world forms the root of it. A hedge witch typically spends lots of time working on herbal magic, and often learns associated skills like herbal medicine or aromatherapy. This practice is deeply personal and spiritual; a hedge witch doesn't just have jars of plants. Chances are good that she grew or gathered them herself, harvested them, dried them, and has experimented with them to see what they can and cannot do—all the while, she's been writing down her notes for future reference.

Hedge Witchery for Modern Practitioners

There are plenty of ways to incorporate hedge witchcraft into your daily life, and most of them involve simple actions of living mindfully and magically.

Look at small domestic tasks from a spiritual perspective. Whether you're cooking dinner or cleaning the bathroom, focus on the sacredness of the actions. Baking bread for your family? Fill that bread with love! Also, speak to your house—yes, that's right, talk to it. Your home is a place of magical energy, so when you walk in after a day at work, greet the house. When you leave for the day, tell it goodbye, and promise to return soon.

Get to know the spirits of land and place around you. Work with them, and invite them into your life with songs, poems, and offerings. The more you open yourself up to them, the more likely they will be to offer you gifts and protection when you need it. In addition, study the plants that grow around your immediate area. If you don't have a garden or a yard, that's okay—plants grow everywhere. What is native to your planting zone? Are there public woods or gardens you can explore, study and wildcraft in?

The practice of hedge witchcraft might be something for you to explore if you're drawn to certain aspects of the natural world. Are you someone who feels more at home in the outdoors and is drawn to nature, with a strong connection to herbs and trees and plants? Do you prefer to work your magic alone, rather than in a group setting? Do you have an interest in folklore and on expanding your own knowledge through research and experimentation? If so, the path of the hedge witch might be right up your alley!

Sources

  • Beth, Rae. Hedge Witch: A Guide to Solitary Witchcraft. Robert Hale, 2018.
  • Mitchell, Mandy. Hedgewitch Book of Days: Spells, Rituals, and Recipes for the Magical Year. Weiser Books, 2014.
  • Moura, Ann. Green Witchcraft: Folk Magic, Fairy Lore & Herb Craft. Llewellyn Publications, 2004.
  • Murphy-Hiscock, Arin. The Way of the Hedge Witch: Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home. Provenance Press, 2009.