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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Beating the January Blues. Druid Style.

The period just after the midwinter holidays can be difficult. For our ancestors this time of the year, before the chickens, ducks and geese began laying again and before the sheep and cattle began lactating, was a hungry time. Nowadays, when we don't appear to be so dependent upon the cycles of nature and farming for our very sustenance, the difficulty of the time of year settles into our souls in a different manner.

For those living in cold, northerly climates, this is when the deep freeze settles in (though with climate change, as we can see from Canada throughout the end of December, it can come earlier and stay longer). For those in more temperate areas such as here in the UK, it's the darkness of the grey, cloudy days and long nights that become hard to bear. It's also a time when money can be scarce, and we are paying our bills not only for the holiday time, but also higher bills for heating and electricity. We can feel overwhelmed, depressed, apathetic and more. This is the time when we just can't shake off that cold, and the colds and flus that have been going around since the holidays are getting stronger and stronger.

We need personal reserves of strength to help see us through these times. Yet how can we access them? Socialising is a great way to boost your spirits, and your immune system. I don't mean going out to the bars and drinking, but getting together with friends and family, eating potluck food and having lots of cups of tea. Laughing, sharing stories, and simply enjoying each other's company. We can tend towards becoming hermits at this time of year, but we need not isolate ourselves in our misery. Call someone if you can't visit them in person, or video chat. We can all actively seek out and strengthen the bonds of friendship, to help us all get through.

Getting out of doors is a real boost, despite the weather. Dress appropriately, and head out to where you can get some fresh air and enjoy the wonders of nature around you. Even in the heart of a city, there's a park hopefully somewhere fairly nearby where you can look at what is starting to bud, or what is held still within the frozen grip of ice and snow. A dry leaf scudding along a snowbank has a beautiful dance, if only we pay attention to it. The smell of newly fallen snow. Wet leaves on a dank forest floor. The light in the grey sky, shifting patterns as the sun sets. The call of a crow in the bleakness of a heathland. Let these into your life, remembering that nature is all around you, that you are not alone. The fresh air will do you good, body and soul.

If you are housebound, take some time if you are able to clean the house thoroughly. Mop those floors, clean out those closets and organise the cupboard under the stairs. Having a clean home can make you feel lighter, and you've also gotten some exercise in the process.

Plan your garden for the coming spring. Whether you've only got window boxes on a balcony, or acres of land, now is the time when you can take a moment to really think about what you would like to achieve in the garden this year. Look at Farmer's Almanacs, and try to prepare for what the weather will bring. (Again, with climate change, these are getting more and more difficult to predict). Take a look at your gardening tools, buy or get out your seeds that have dried over the autumn and winter, and bless them. Send them your love and energy, to carry and ripen your desire and delight in the summer months to come.

Read a good book. Get lost in the pages of your favourite genre. Let your mind take a break and do something that you truly enjoy, whether that is reading, painting, drawing, cooking. Forego the television in the evenings to do something creative, if possible. This is even better with friends.

Look to nature to help you get through these dark months. February and Imbolc is just around the corner, and here in the UK the first signs of Spring will arrive, to alleviate the darkness of living so far north. For those in more snowy climes, note the lengthening days, and enjoy every single day that the sun shines, for we in Britain are envious of any place with sunshine at this time of year. Watch the birds feeding in your garden or window sill. Pay attention to the sounds that are slowly changing in the great outdoors. Watch the sun rise and the sun set, as well as the moon. Meditate, pray, do ritual, do whatever you need to in order to connect with that which is all around you. Allow the strength of the ancestors to flow through your soul, the songs of the gods to fill your being, and the wonder of nature to imbue your spirit with hope.

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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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