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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The Path of the Hedge Witch

The winds of spring are here, carrying with them change. The earth is warming up and scenting the air. The blackbirds are singing me awake at 5am, and their songs of hope fill my heart. It’s another new day for this hedge witch.

What makes the path of the hedge witch so different from others? What does it share with other witchcraft traditions?  In this blog post, we will look at some of the differences and similarities, to hopefully provide an explanation for those who are seeking a way into this enchanted and enchanting world.

Hedge witchcraft has been around for a long, long time. We get the label, hedge witch, from an old Germanic word, haegtessa. This stems from the Proto-West Germanic hagatussjā. These terms mean “hedge rider”, and are also where we get the word “hag” from, which almost everyone knows is associated with the witch. We know that the practice dates from before the 13th century, when monks transcribed the “words of Odin” into a text called the Hávamál which is presented as a single poem in the Codex Regius, a collection of Old Norse poems from the Viking age. These poems date from an earlier oral tradition, and so the tradition of hedge riding may be even older than we can imagine.

Hedge Witchcraft shares many similarities with other witchcraft traditions. It follows the cycles of the seasons, works with the deities, ancestors, spirits of place, the elements and more. It is a solitary tradition, preferring to learn from experience in nature and through self-directed study. It is probably most akin to the eclectic path of Witchcraft, with one major exception: hedge witches perform hedge riding.

So what is hedge riding?

Hedge riding is a trance-based practice that takes the witch betwixt and between. We travel to the Otherworld, where we meet with familiars, spirit guides, the deities, the ancestors. We use the symbol of the hedge to cross the boundary between this world and the Otherworld. It is very similar to astral travel, but can also be done on the physical plane. But that is a topic for another time!

Through trance we open ourselves up to the liminal spaces that are at the heart of this tradition. The hedge, that boundary space which belongs to neither civilization nor the wilderness, that is neither the cultivated back garden nor the vast endless wood beyond it, is where we find the power to travel between the worlds. It is a symbol, one that has been used for millennia all over the world: that unifying symbol of The World Tree.

And so, like other Witches we work with herbs, cast spells, chant under the stars and moon and celebrate the sabbats. But we also ride the hedge, spending time with the beings from the Otherworld that help us to gain a new perspective, obtain information, increase our own personal power and enchant our lives. We operate from a quiet place of self-study and practice, but also fly through the night air on the winds of change.

Why else is the most popular image of the witch the one riding her broom?

Because she is also a rider between the worlds.


Buy The Path of the Hedge Witch and The Book of Hedge Druidry now!


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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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