Sep 1, 2008

Beginning of a Hedgewitch FAQ

1) What is Hedgewitchery?

Hedgewitchery is a practice of magic with no or very little religious affiliation. It utilizes older forms of magic from various cultures, but especially Wortcunning, Sabbatic Witchcraft, Cornish Witchcraft and Shamanism. A Hedgewitch is often viewed as the old wisewoman or wiseman in European cultures.

2) Where does the term "Hedgewitch" come from?

There are many roots to the term "Hedgewitch". Firstly comes the word "Haegtessa", which is Saxon in origin. This word literally translates to "hedge-rider" meaning "one who moves between the worlds". The Old Norse word Havamal refers to "hedge-riders". Other names for hedgeriders or Hedgewitches are myrk-rider, Wyrd-rider, and Gandreidh (wand-rider). The word "Hedgewitch" is a modern term, created within the last 50 years with British origins.

In the 1990s the author Rae Beth wrote the book "Hedgewitch: A Guide To Solitary Witchcraft". Despite the fact that Rae Beth describes the path as "Wildwood Crafting", it is strongly influenced by the watered down version of Wicca found in modern books.

3) What is the "Hedge"?

"The Saxon word for witch is haegtessa, which means "hedge-rider"; the hedge being the boundary between this world and the mysterious Otherworld which lies beyond the parameters of 'ordinary' reality and consciousness."
- Nigel Jackson, Call of the Horned Piper

Historically the hedge physically separated the town from the forests and wilderness. Crossing the hedge was considered dangerous, not only because of wild animals, but because of superstitions about what lurked within it--from faery folk, to demons. To the hedgewitch the hedge was not a literal physical boundary but a mental barrier to be crossed in trance work. It is the line drawn reality and dreams, this world and the next, the Otherworld and the mundane world. Hedgewitches walk with a foot on "either side of the hedge".

4) What do Hedgewitches do?

Hedgewitches practice wortcunning, herbalism, wildcrafting, kitchen witchery, folk magic, healing, cursing, trance states, poppet magic, and much more. Each Hedgewitch is unique in their methods of practice, often inspired by other Shamanic-like traditions, from the Norse Haegtessa, to the Cornish Pellorys. Most Hedgewitches work with Otherking (viewed as Shadow People, Totem or Spirit Guides, or various forms of Faery Folk). Many also work with spirits and ancestors, and perform divination.

5) What do Hedgewitches believe?

Hedgewitches generally practice some form of neo-paganism. Each Hedgewitch is unique, and may be polytheistic (hard and soft), monistic, or even monotheistic. Generally Hedgewitches are not Wiccan, as Hedgewitchery has no credo as "An' ye harm none do as ye will." Creeds often come from various folk magic traditions, and many Hedgewitches believe in the phrase "A witch who cannot curse cannot cure."

I will continue working on this during the week, and hopefully will have the final version up before Saturday. :)


Jeni said...

Great start! Lovely blog. Mines full of bugs I have no time to fix lol

~ Juniper from Walking the Hedge

Tori said...

This was a great FAQ, Aelwyn. Would you suggest reading the Rae Beth books? I've heard good and bad things, so I've been hesitant on buying them.

Night Crawler said...

I like this, but I have to disagree with "Hedgewitches generally practice some form of neo-paganism. I practice Traditional Witchcraft and I am a hedge-rider. I'm a Traditional Pagan and do not practice any form of neo-paganism whatsoever.

Aelwyn said...

Night Crawler: That's why I said "generally". May I ask what your religious path is? I use "neo-Pagan" to describe the modern versions of ancient religions.

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