Hedge Riding: The Art of the Hedge Witch

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Matriarchal or Patriarchal ideal? The utopian myth...

I’ve often read that is it due to a male-dominated, patriarchal culture that the world is in such a mess, with war, power games, aggressiveness and other such “male” attributes to blame. I would posit, with respect and a little humour, that these people have never introduced two new female cats to each other…

In a female dominated world, things might be just the same. They might be different. A matriarchal culture might be the utopian ideal – it might also be pure hell.  As an egalitarian, I would hope to one day live in a world where everyone and everything was treated with the respect according to each individual’s nature.  Perhaps it is the animist inherent in me – I see all things as having their own relevant value, whatever the physical form it is that they take. The eastern tradition of Buddhism and Zen also teaches of awakening deep compassion for all things, which to me is a developing a greater understanding of the bigger picture, and living from a less ego-centric worldview. 

Wicca is often based on the polarity between male and female.  Yet for me the focus in my spirituality is in relationship, and human nature is so much more than fitting something phallic into a hole.  I find that I hold both anima or animus within my soul – simply because I have breasts and a vagina does not mean that I can only have one within me.  I also truly believe that there is no such thing as an opposite – just look at the misinterpretation of life and death as being opposites.  Death is a singular event, life is ongoing. As such, birth is the opposite of death. Life has no opposite.

I am often perplexed by the vision that there was a previous matriarchal culture that was the ideal.  This can in no way be proven to have existed as yet, however people still cling to this belief. I ask myself why – why would they think that a matriarchal culture would be better? Could it be that anything would be better than what we have now? Does that devalue a matriarchal culture? Does it simply bring the utopian dream crashing to the hard ground of reality?

What I would hope for is that one day people will treat each other with honour and respect. Not only human to human interaction, but this planet as a whole.  That dreams and visions of a utopian culture dissolve into the wondrous reality of the here and now, and the realisation of the beauty of this very moment.  In the dropping of our ego-centric way of life, and our anthropocentric ways.  No matter what our gender. x

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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.  


  • Greybeard
    Greybeard Wednesday, 12 February 2014

    Good article. Our strength has always been men and women working together, not fighting each other.

  • faedragon@verizon.net
    faedragon@verizon.net Wednesday, 12 February 2014

    Dying is the opposite of birth, as it is singular event. Death is the ongoing condition,ie: once one dies, they continue to experience death; and as such, would be the opposite to the on going condition of life.
    " I find that I hold both anima or animus within my soul – simply because I have breasts and a vagina does not mean that I can only have one within me."

    Breast are a body part of both female and male....simple because you have a vagina and not a penis does not mean that you can not have both anima and animus within your soul.

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Thursday, 13 February 2014

    Lovely expression, Joanna - and so very reasonable! Your vision is so clear, I wonder that anyone could see it any other way.

    I read of your visit to Chalice Well; have you been to the White Spring also? My wife and I yearn to make pilgrimage to Glastonbury. In the meantime, we send heartfelt vibes for you wonderful Brits to come through the terrible flooding even stronger than before.

  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven Wednesday, 19 February 2014

    Hi Ted - thank you for your kind words. Yes, I have been to the White Spring - last spring a friend and I booked some private time (I am a Companion of the White Spring) and we had a wonderful ritual - even submerging ourselves in the water - the frigid cold water lol!

    Do come to Glastonbury - it is a wonderful place, rich with the spirit of Albion. x

  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ Saturday, 15 February 2014

    You might enjoy Women at the Center by Peggy Reeves Sanday and Societies of Peace by Heidi Goettner-Abendroth. Matriarchal societies still exist, they are not "female dominated" or the opposite of patriarchy. They are societies where the values of care and generosity associated with motherhood are the ideal for all, women and men have important roles, and sex is free, as it is not connected to providing for a family and children. It can be hard to get your head around the idea that there could be a better way. These books are not based in fantasy, they show that another way is possible and exists in the present day as well as the past.

  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven Wednesday, 19 February 2014

    Thanks Carol - I shall defininitely look into it! x

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