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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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.

 The Hedge Witch or Hedge Druid works their Craft alone, for the most part. They may gather together with friends or like-minded souls for some public celebrations, but on the whole their tradition is one of solitude. Why? Well, for many it is in the silence, peace and stillness of the natural world without human interaction or interruption where we can find peace, as well as finding our place in the local environment. When we narrow our focus away from the human activity, the constant newsfeed of stories and chatter, the busyness and the drama, the commercialism and the noise of humanity, we are better able to hear not only ourselves, but the stories of the natural world. In this silence, the stories of the Otherworld are also able to come through.

There are other reasons why Hedge Witches and Druids like to work alone. We don’t have to be beholden to anyone’s schedule. We learn at our own pace, delving into our interests and passions with self-directed study. We are always questing, for knowledge and experience both, for only when the two combine can we achieve true wisdom. We are not hermits: we are simply comfortable in being with ourselves for extended periods of time.

We tend to be sensitive souls, with noise, pollution and other by-products of modern living affecting us on a deeper level than most. We often need to retreat in order to recharge, to find the stillness and  focus of our Craft. We are not hiding from the world, but removing ourselves from the excesses that abound for the sake of our own sanity and that of our Craft.

We are happy alone under the moonlight, dancing under the stars. We are comfortable studying from books in our ever-expanding libraries. We try out for ourselves things that we have learned, and we learn as much from what didn’t work as from what did work. We don’t like being put into boxes and dislike labels of any kind. Most of the things in our lives are neither black nor white, neither one thing nor another.  Most situations offer up not an either/or frame of mind but rather a both/and perspective.

The second part of the trifecta of the Hedge Witch or Hedge Druid is an affinity for trance practices. For this is what enables us to cross over, to ride the hedge, to venture into the Otherworld. It’s a shift in consciousness that give us access to the Otherworld. We seek out liminal places where the veils between the worlds are already thinner, places that are neither one nor the other, but both, such as where the shore meets sea, where the sky meets the earth on a mountaintop. There are liminal times as well which help, such as dusk or dawn, or midnight where one day changes over to the next. Uses these places in a trance state allows us to freely walk between the worlds and have our own adventures, gathering information an experiences that we can take back with us to our own lives and make the world a better place for all.

Trance practices don’t have to be complicated. Simply rocking back and forth in a seated position can bring on a trance-like state; parents know this trick instinctively, to help an upset child cross over from the realms of waking to that of sleep. Chanting, drumming, singing, dancing, are all good techniques for entering into a trance. Even gazing at a fire or running water can induce us into that liminal space where we can leave our everyday world and find the enchantment that we seek to inspire us each and every day. It helps to have a natural affinity for trance, but if it isn’t something that comes naturally, it is a skill that can be learned through practice.

Finally, we have the third part of the trifecta: the desire to walk between the worlds. This is really the main goal of anyone in a hedge tradition. Some see it as a form of astral travel, reached through the trance state. It can also be performed on the physical level as well. What matter most, however, is that if you are not hedge riding, then you are walking a different path. That’s not to say that you have to perform a hedge riding every day, or at every ritual, but if you haven’t mastered the skill or have the desire to walk between the worlds, then you are not hedge riding. Instead, you may be a Green Witch, or simply a Solitary Witch, or an Eclectic Druid.

I know, I hate labels too. But I feel that this is important, that the main part of our practice as Hedge Witches has for so long been forgotten. In ancient times we were known as the Hedge Riders, the witches who flew across the night skies. In the “Hávamál” , which is a single poem in the Codex Regius, a collection of Old Norse poems from the Viking age, we hear Odin himself speaking of the hedge riders. In it, Odin says:

If I see the hedge-riders magically flying high,

I can make it so they go astray

Of their own skins, and of their own souls.

 Here Odin is bragging a bit about how he can manipulate and even kill hedge riders if he so chooses. This is a clear example from the year 1270AD that hedge riding and hedge riders were known, and yet somehow this knowledge has been forgotten to put to one side in today’s day and age. The image of the witch that is so popular today is, in fact, one of a hedge rider, flying through the sky. But do we know her as such? No, no indeed.

It’s time to reclaim the hedge back in Hedge Witchcraft, Hedge Druidry and any other hedge traditions. It’s a part of our history, of our lineage, so to speak. Let’s not forget it. Bring the hedge back into hedge traditions. 

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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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 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.


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