Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Green man..

The green man is a symbol of fertility and rebirth. He is found in many cultures around the world in various guises. Carvings of the Green Man take many forms.

The simplest depict a man's face peering out of dense foliage. Some representations have leaves for hair or a leafy beard. Leaves or shoots can be shown growing from his open mouth and sometimes from the nose and eyes as well. At its most stylised the carving at first glance appears to be foliage, with the facial element only becoming apparent on closer examination. The face is almost always male; green women are rare. The three most common styles are

1. The Foliate Head - completely covered in green leaves
2. The Disgorging Head - spews vegetation from its mouth
3. The Bloodsucker Head - sprouts vegetation from all facial orifices

Many people feel that the green man is one representation of other pagan gods, such as Cern (Cernunnos) and Pan. He can be compared to figures such as John Barleycorn and Herne the Hunter.

His roots can easily be identified in terms of early man living in close proximity to vast and mysterious ancient forests, which provided both danger and comfort. The green man can be seen to represent the rebirth of the forest in spring.

The Green man is found in one guise or another in many cultures, as Tammuz in ancient Babylon, as Erriapus in iron age Britain, as Ilyas to Muslims.

His face is found on many ancient monuments, but also in the modern stonework of modern christian churches. This is thought to be both a reflection of Victorian fashion, and a reflection of the survival of ancient beliefs.

The Green man's rites are usually carried out in sring around Beltane. The Green man represents the wild and untamed side of nature.

Hedge witch

It is claimed that hedge witches were the original wise women of village life. They were the traditional custodians of herb lore and custom. Traditionally, their knowledge was passed through a female line from mother to daughter, expanding through the generations.

Where it’s based;
Hedge witches are traditionally solitary practitioners, practising in and around their own homes, wherever that may be. Covens do not usually feature in a hedge witches practice, although informal and formal gatherings may be held between like minded individuals where information is exchanged. The hedge witches may come together for a specific spell working or sabbat but have no formal structure or leadership as in found in formal covens.

The hedge witch tradition is usually though of as originating in Europe in the Middle Ages and before but in fact similar practices can be found world wide in many cultures, even though there they are known by different names.

The heavy emphasis on hearth and home and nature leads to the alternative names used along this path, such as kitchen witch and green witch.

Specific systems:
Hedge witches follow the seasons and nature closely. They may or may not celebrate esbats and sabbats as in other traditions. Overall, however, hedge witches usually adapt and follow their own beliefs and systems.

Many modern hedge witches loosely base their beliefs on the Gardnerian system which they adapt to suit their own beliefs and needs. Others, however, design their own belief system or follow one handed down in one way or another.

Some modern hedge witches claim knowledge passed from centuries ago through a family.

Hedge witches do not tend to use tools in their practise, but when they do they are usually simple “found” tools, or ordinary kitchen tools which may or may not be consecrated for the purpose. Again hedge witchery is a loose term encompassing many individual beliefs and practices.

Goddesses and Gods
It is not necessary to believe in a particular God or Goddess to be a hedge witch, and indeed many hedge witches are also practising Christians.
Discussions have surfaced over whether in fact hedge witches can claim to be of the “old religion” as many wise women were implicated in the identifying of witches during the “burning times”. Others point out that many wise women were burnt as witches.
Hedge witchery is based around respecting nature and the seasons, but not necessarily in seeing the Wiccan God and Goddess as immanent in nature.

Degree system?
As hedge witches are solitary practitioners, usually making up and following their own traditions they do not have a formal degree system.
Hedge witches that follow a pagan path may choose to self dedicate themselves by designing their own initiation ceremony or following one from a book but this is not considered necessary to follow this path.

Publications and info:
Wicca: A Guide for the solitary practitioner by Scott Cunningham
Green witchcraft series by Anne Moure
Hedge Witch by Rea Beth