Hedge Riding: The Art of the Hedge Witch

Bringing the Hedge back into Hedge Witchcraft, working with liminal spaces and the Otherworld

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Hedgewitch? Priestess or Priest? You decide.

You will often hear the terms Priest and Priestess used within Wiccan traditions. In Wicca it is often noted that each practitioner is a priest or priestess of their tradition, after studying and learning its ways. This is a way of saying that within the tradition, we have no need of an intermediary between ourselves and the divine, and so we can all become a priest or priestess of our path.

In some initiatory traditions, one can only call themselves a priest or priestess after having obtained certain levels of training with the Craft. Hedgewitches or Solitary Wiccans, alongside many other solitary forms of Witchcraft, train themselves, sometimes with the guidance of a teacher or a group and then working on their own, with all due diligence in research and practice. Initiation comes directly from the gods and goddesses themselves, not through another person. Should you wish to refer yourself as a priest or priestess, I would highly recommend that you study and practice for quite some time before taking on that title, as it is not something to be taken lightly. Modern Wicca and Witchcraft often uses the length of time as a year and a day of study before certain levels (degrees in coven training) can be obtained, and this can be a good rule of thumb to go by. You have to truly live your religion or spiritual path, each and every day, in order to really understand and come to know it inside and out. Otherwise, you are just paying it lip service, and any titles or roles that you decide to take on can be hollow and meaningless if the work is not put in wholeheartedly.

To be a priest or priestess, you have to really consider the word itself. It is not only a noun, but it is also a verb. It is what you do in the world, and how you work with your own trials and tribulations, your triumphs and joys. It requires a deep knowledge of the self, and in knowing what your triggers are, or, as Jung described it, your Shadow Self. It is being willing to see the darker aspects of the soul, and working with them in order to live with integrity in the present moment. The Oracle at Delphi has, written across the threshold, two very important words: “Know Thyself”. If you want to wear the mantle of priest of priestess, you must do this wholeheartedly. It is a never-ending process of self-discovery, and the more we learn about ourselves, the more we also learn about others. We can interact with others better, in a kinder and more compassionate way. We can do the work of our Craft when we are coming from a place of clear intention. We all don’t have to be priests and priestesses. For some, just being a Wiccan or a Witch is enough, working with the tides of nature to create the best life that they can for themselves, to be the best people that they can be in their own locality. If you decide that a life of service to others and the natural world calls to you, then perhaps the role of priest of priestess within the tradition may suit you better. However, there are many Wiccans these days who do not use the terms priest and priestess and who are doing just that in their own practice.

As a hedgewitch, the choice is  yours.



Joanna van der Hoeven is an author, dancer, singer and teacher. She is currently working on a book for Hedgewitches. She has her own YouTube channel and author page at Amazon. To find out more, please visit 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 20 years. She is the Director of Druid College UK, helping to re-weave the connection to the land and teaching a modern interpretation of the ancient Celtic religion.  


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