The world of magic and the magical is filled with terminology and mythology. A lot of it is, in all honestly, complete nonsense. But much of it has genuine historical significance. Such is the case with the term hedge witch. The witch part is self-explanatory — sort of — though as we’ll see, perhaps not entirely. What about hedge?
To understand that, it’s necessary to understand that in times gone by (and we are talking hundreds of years ago), in early European settlements, villages were the central unit of organisation of society. Centered around a fortified castle, the village provided security and shelter.
Beyond the confines of the village was a sort of no-man’s land. Anyone who chose to live there was considered an outsider — literally. Anywhere outside the boundary of the village was said to be beyond the hedge — the hedge being an almost literal boundary, as it signified the end of the ‘urban’ village and the rural forest that covered most of the rest of the land.
A hedge witch then, was someone who lived beyond the hedge. By definition they were outsiders, shunning the community for a solitary life in more natural surroundings.
Not everyone who lived beyond the hedge was a witch, and not every hedge witch was a warty old woman stooped over a cauldron! That image is largely an invention of Hollywood and has nothing to do with the witches of old. As many hedge witches were men as women, and there were witches of all ages.
Hedge Witch ‘Magic’
These forest-dwelling outsiders might have been seen as different and unusual, but they were not outcasts. Far from it. The hedge witches of old used their unique and deep knowledge of nature to practice healing. Today we might call them shamans or faith healers or herbal practitioners. The names all mean the same thing — someone who calls upon the magic (or power) inherent in nature and uses it to dispense healing.
Back before you could nip out to see your local GP, or get a video consultation, the sick would venture out beyond the hedge to see the solitary wise man or woman in search of a remedy for their ailments. The ‘magic’ more often than not involved herbal medicine, much of which is still in use today in the East. Indeed some of the most common drugs in use in the Western world have their roots in natural remedies. Aspirin for example, one of the most commonly used drugs in the world, is a synthesized version of a naturally occurring substance that previously was harvested from willow trees.
So as you can see, these remedies, though not always strictly magical, were very effective. Hence hedge witches, far from being regarded with suspicion or fear, were revered for their incredible powers and wisdom.
Over time the term evolved, as all words do. It began to encompass those with gifts for predicting the future, or bringing good fortune, or any other seemingly magical ability. Some of these abilities were real, some imagined, and some were an outright confidence trick. Nothing has changed there!
Nature — The Source of The Hedge Witche’s Power
A hedge witch lives in deep harmony with nature. Not just the physical world but the metaphysical too. They infuse every activity, even the most mundane, with magical intention.
Today we might call this mindfulness or directed meditation. It’s about being in tune with nature. It’s about being awake to the world around us, learning to take the time to truly see, hear, feel, smell and touch our surroundings. When we combine all of our senses, including what you might call the sixth sense, we gain a holistic understanding of our world. Only then can we truly understand our place within it.
Furthermore, with practice, and perhaps a little underlying skill, we can learn to use the power of nature in combination with our desires and intentions to shape our future. We can harness the energy present in every living cell and use it to propel our desires into reality.
I’ve talked before about morphic fields (the basis for my own spell casting), and how they are present in every atom in the universe. Hedge witches work on a more macro scale, using the energy that is present at a cellular level. All living cells carry energy, and practitioners can tune themselves like a radio to interface with it.
It is because of the living nature of this energy that the hedge witch’s work focusses on the living world. Thus their magic is ideally suited to healing, where energy can be collected, focussed and poured into damaged cells, renewing them.
Hedge witch magic is also naturally adapted to the field of human relations. Some of the very earliest love spells originated in this kind of magic.
The Hedge Witche’s Home
The home is the core of the craft of a hedge witch. They make their home in nature, and they bring nature into their home. Every activity is performed in harmony with the living world. They blur the boundaries between outdoors and in. Because they draw their power from the natural world, they fill their abode with living things — with flora and fauna. Their home is a beautiful, restful place, and anyone entering it will immediately feel relaxed, rested, and rejuvenated.
No hedge witch would ever conceive of living without animal companions. Not pets, because that word conveys an unnatural hierarchy. Their bestial friends are companions in the true sense of the word. They accompany them through life, sharing friendship and love and energy. It is a virtuous relationship in which the energy of each party enhances the energy of the other.
Contemporary hedge witches do not shun the modern world, but they certainly have not come to rely on it the way most people have. They will look to the abundance of mother nature to meet any need, to solve any problem. Unlike, for example, the Amish, a modern hedge witch will be quite happy to enjoy the benefits of electricity, central heating, and smartphones. But they see these tools for what they are — tools. They are not dependent on them in the way they are dependent on mother nature.
Becoming a Hedge Witch
Can anyone become a hedge witch? Well, yes and no. This form of the craft of magic is more firmly rooted in reality than most so-called witchcraft. It has a rich and profound history, a solid tradition that has survived generations.
That said, there is, like any form of magic, an underlying element of skill, or of having a gift if you prefer. Many of the rituals can be learned. They can be studied, they can be committed to memory, but without that grain of a gift, they will never realize their true potential.
It’s like learning to play a musical instrument. Anyone can attend lessons, or read a book, or these days download an app or watch a YouTube video series. They can learn the theory of music, they can be taught how to play notes in the right order, and with sufficient determination and practice, anyone can learn to play a recognizable tune — even quite well. But to be a true musician, to be great, to be able to create something unique, or to interpret an existing piece in a new and exciting way, that takes some underlying skill or talent.
So it is with hedge witchery, and indeed any form of magical practice. There are some aspects that can be learnt, though not through any app, YouTube video, or even book that I’ve seen. This is a practice that is handed down in person. If the time is right, and if the student is right, a hedge witch will share their knowledge in their own way.
This usually happens as a form of informal apprenticeship. But however gifted a teacher the witch is, if the student has no underlying gift, they will be limited in how far they can travel on this particular journey.
Fortunately (from the point of view of the ‘veteran’ witch), spotting raw talent in a student is something gifted witches are adept at. They will rarely agree to take on an apprentice who does not have some inherent power, some latent ability that is waiting to be awakened.
Finding a Hedge Witch
Now you know what a hedge witch is and what they are capable of, perhaps you want to find one to ask for their help in a personal situation.
Unfortunately finding a genuine witch is easier said than done. They may not shun the modern world, but neither do they embrace it the way many do. You won’t find any genuine hedge witches on YouTube or Udemy. You certainly won’t find any on Fiverr or other such sites, because genuine witches do not sell their services for money.
Remember, these people are solitary by nature. They embrace the natural world and the natural order of things. They are not capitalists seeking fame or fortune. They are happy with their life and do not want to be interfered with, or to interfere in the lives of others.
That said, hedge witches have a long tradition of offering help where help is desperately needed. They understand that the universe wants us to work together to make the world a better, happier place. So if you have an urgent and real need of one, you may well find a hedge witch who is willing to offer their services.
How? By word of mouth. It’s not easy, but most things worthwhile in life are not easy. Think of it as a rite of passage. If you succeed in finding a real hedge witch, you will be more likely to obtain their services as they will appreciate the effort you have put in to locate them and they will know that such effort means your quest is for good reason.