What is a Hedge Witch?

What is a hedge witch? Discover the power of living on the magical edge.

What is a hedge witch?  Ride the magical edge with these wild, beautiful solitary witches.  From a deep knowledge of herbs to a natural ease with solitude, the hedge witch has a gift for hovering between worlds.

What is a Hedge Witch?  

The hedge witch is a magical practitioner who believes in the power of the border between the civilized world and the unbridled mysticism of the wilderness. 

And not just in the literal sense—although hedge witches often live alone, or at least highly value their solitude. 

But also, the hedge refers to the borderland between the conscious world and the dream world, the living and the dead, the known and the unknown.

Hedge witches are often confused with green witches.   It’s easy to see why.  Both the hedge witch and the green witch are known for their deep knowledge of herbs.  Both understand that the most powerful herbs—both healing and poisonous–tend to grow in the wastelands.  In other words, they grow on the hedge or the border of society.

Discovering the hedge witch in you.

The hedge witch is the beauty in what others only see as ugly.  She is the enduring strength of the old woman, the healing power of noxious vapors, the wrinkle in the time between wisdom and death.  She rides the edge of society—-and the edge of where the material world meets the mysticism of the unknown.  

Embracing your inner hedge witch means affirming the power and value of the things that make you different—even weird.  (Did you know that the word weird is a modern bastardization of the Anglo-Saxon word for fate?)

Hedge Riding

The term “hedge riding” summarizes the essence of this practice.

It refers both to “riding the edge” of the boundaries between civilization and wildness, as well as the edge between consensus reality and the “Otherworld.”

To “ride the hedge” is to live with one foot in both.  And the skill is to stay balanced on that perch, without falling too far on one side or the other. 

So, how do you do it?

Getting comfortable with solitude.

There is a mystical and spiritual danger in solitude.  We often fear isolation.  We fear being alone.  

Hedge witchery is about embracing this fear.  It’s about discovering how powerful you are on your own.  

It’s also a universal way to connect to the spiritual world.  

I once spent had a conversation with a former deep-sea fisherman.   It’s a dangerous job.  Perhaps one of the most dangerous in the world.  But he told me something fascinating.  He said, “The farther away from the shore you are, the closer you become to the spirit world.”  He said that it was under the most remote conditions that he sometimes saw “spirits in the water.”  And he wasn’t the only one.  For centuries, fisherman and seafaring people have reported similar experiences.

(Just ask a sea witch).

It’s the same with any edge of the natural world.  Climbers, extreme hikers, wilderness adventurers, and even reclusive living off-the-grid often say that the further from civilization they venture, the more they encounter the “unexplainable.”

A hedgewitch understands this instinctively.  Instead of fleeing solitude, she runs towards it.

Hearth, Home, and the Sacredness of Your Space

The hedge witch and the green witch, the hedge witch, and the cottage witch are also kindred spirits.

Both understand that the home is not just a place to hang your hat and lay your head—it’s a domain of magic.

Whether you maintain a home altar or you’re an urban witch with a wizard-level knack for apartment magic, the hedge witch understands that the hearth and home is a kind of “edge of civilization.”  After, it is a private place, a secret place, where what you do is between you and god or the universe or whatever you want to call it.

Ugly Beautiful

The hedge witch is also sometimes associated with the hag—the archetypal hideous woman who nonetheless contains powerful magic in her heart.

She is the ultimate expression of beauty on the inside.  But more to the point, she is a master of seeing the beauty in what others only see as discardable, useless, or displeasing.  They call them weeds.  The hedge witch calls them magical herbs. 

Just as Michelangelo saw the majestic potential of an uncarved block of marvel, this practitioner sees the magical potential in kitchen scraps, fire ashes, and odds and ends around the house.

The venture to the edge.

One powerful way to experience the way of the hag witch is to make a point of (as one adventurer recently put it to me) “going to the end of the road.”

Literally, go as far out as you feasibly can into the wilderness.  And stay there for a while.  Spend meaningful time away from it all to contemplate, slow down, and observe.  

Your willingness to both connect with nature and harness its power is the foundation of any magical practice. 

But for the hedge witch, this is the practice.

Herbalism & the Hedge Witch

Unlike the cottage witch, the hedge witch is most often associated not with a neatly trimmed magical garden, but with with the wild herbs of the forest and the wastlands.

Learning to forage for spell ingredients is a key practice for this path.

I always tell beginners to pick out 10 locally available wild plants.  Get to know them well.  What do they smell like?  What’s there best season for harvesting?  Are they edible?  Medicinal?  Is there folklore associated with them?  What are their traditional magical correspondences?  

Just start there, and watch your practice grow exponentially.

Resources & Further Reading

The following books are fantastic reads if you’re just starting on this path:

The Master Book of Herbalism by Paul V. Beyerl

This one tops the list because it includes both the medicinal and magical properties of the herbs it covers.  

Hedge Witch: A Book of Magic for Solitary Practitioners by Emme Tennant

Popular and approachable, this book is a quick crash course that anyone can pick up with no prior knowledge.

Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit Paperback by Lyanda Lynn Haupt

Not specifically written for magical practitioners.  However, is nonetheless a perfect compliment to enrich your practice and enlighten your mystical inclinations.


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