Sunday, February 28, 2010
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.
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.
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