This definition no longer works for me, i do not work in this manner any longer. however it has helped many people so here it remains.
In the past three years or so there has been a huge surge of interest in in Hedge Witchery. A lot of this I accredit to Ann Moure's Green Witchcraft series. I will say her books are good,however they do not reflect the path of a hedge witch, in my opinion.
However, it can be said that if you ask five different hedge witches what a hedge witch is, you may get a dozen different answers (maybe even a dozen per witch!)So what fallows is this little witches humble opinion of a hedge witch.
What follows is a "working" definition, meaning it is not static. Each turn of the Wheel I learn and change and as I do so my definition changes. So what follows is the definition I am currently working with.
A hedge witch is very much a free spirit. Hedge witches are also related to the village witches of old. The term, hedge witch, comes from the fact that your average European village, in time gone by, was surrounded by a hedge or woods. Beyond that hedge was unknown land, beyond their known perception... i.e. the Other World. The village witches of this era usually lived just beyond or just before this hedge. The hedge was a metaphor for some one who practiced shamanic arts, a walker between the worlds.
This term didn't mean just that though. It also denoted that said witch was an herb worker, a healer,because they spent much time in the hedge looking for the herbs necessary to heal or enchant. So now you know where the term came from, but what dose a hedge witch do?
A hedge witch would have learned their trade or craft by word of mouth. More than likely they would have learned it from a family member or the former village witch. Once the person left, they would be on their own. So they would have been taught ways to learn from nature such as listening to the winds or watching cloud formations. They would have celebrated the Sabbaths by the change of the seasons and not by a date on a calendar. More than likely they would have other Holy days besides the Sabbaths.
They may or may not have worshiped gods.But I digress, this is a definition not a history lesson. Hedge witches all view the divine differently. Personally I worship a God and a Goddess. I feel they are the parents of all life.
Hedge witches are shamans, charmers, healers, and, priest/esses, Rea Beth coined a great term Hedge Mystic. A person who studies and practices the Great Mysteries of Nature.
Hedge craft is a very eclectic path. Mostly because it depends on each witch how it is practiced. Most hedge witches, my self included, are very ethical people. Most do not follow any one Rede as Wiccans do. They usually have basic lines they, individually, will not cross. For most, such things are very privet, I am no exception.
Hedge witchery also has another common thread; that magic isn't just about spells and potions, it is in your morning coffee, a gentle touch from your lover, the complex beauty of a leaf, and in hundreds of thousands of other seemingly "mundane" things.
Ti represented this concept i use they phrase "Life is magic, and magic is life"
Another commonly accepted theme is practicality and simplicity. Hedge witches are a very practical group of people, and from that practicality comes simplicity. I think in that simplicity, away from the athames, the penticals, and silver plated chalices; we are able to connect more fully to the natural forces. All to often people get lost in the symbols and forget their meanings.
I know a lot of pagans, when investigating a new path, want to know what toys..errr.. tools a tradition uses. In keeping with the hedge witch way, hedge witches use a variety of tools, most of them bases in practicality and usefulness.
My personal tool set consists of: a humble clay chalice,a sharp knife,a walking stick, and a stone. These tools i consecrated by earth(I buried each tool for a day), air(I left them out above ground, hung in a tree),fire (I held each in a flame....for as long as the materials aloud), water(I submerged each in a creek) and for spirit i asked the blessings of the Gods and Faeries upon them.
Some of you may not know what a Stang is. A stang is a staff with a fork at the top. It usually is planted in the ground and is used as a vertical alter. It is commonly used in traditional witchcraft, it represents the Horned God and is used at the northern gate.
Personally I didn't like the vertical format of the stang (yes,I did try it before making this decision) so I don't use one.
I didn't actually chose Hedgewitch as my Craft name, it's just what I am. I was first called by this name many years ago by an old country boy who referred to me as nothing more than a Wrekyn Hedgewitch because each time he saw me I was collecting some of the 'fruits' of the hedgerows or of the forest. I often wonder if he knew just how right he was when he called me that.
We lived in a small village and my new name soon caught on. Even now when I go home to visit I still get called Hedgewitch.
I was brought up a Christian, but as I grew older I started to feel uncomfortable with the restrictions that the clergy put on the faith. Everything was black and white to them. Good and evil, God and the Devil, an item and it's opposite with no middle ground and no room for discussion. Pray for your salvation or you will face an eternity of torment in Hell. When will they learn that Hell is not a place. The real Hell is to be removed from the sight of your God.
I have never understood why people should want to shut themselves away in a church to pray and give thanks. When they look upwards they see only the roof that man has created but if they were to stand outside and look upwards then they would see what the Goddess has created. Still, it is their choice and if that is how they choose to worship then so be it.
I remember asking as a child if animals go to heaven and being told that they have no spirits and only people go to heaven. Even at that young age I knew that all living things had a spirit.
Many of the 'Tree Spirits' that I have met on my journey have become old friends and visit me often and have been of comfort to me in my times of trouble.
I also seem to get feelings about places as well. They come to me as emotions such as happiness, sorrow and loneliness etc. I know that some past event has caused the emotion that I am feeling, but as yet, I have not been able to visualise the past event in my minds eye. I know that one day I will see it because it is there waiting for me. I only have to open my mind a little more for it to enter.
I follow an Old English tradition which is not derived from Gardener or any other 20th century personality. My beliefs are drawn from history, ancient and medieval historical writers, archaeology, traditions passed down from generations of English traditional guardians, and on the sacred myths and lore.
The path that I follow is a family tradition which was passed on to me by my Grandmother just as she had learned it from her Grandfather. My own parents and my sister follow a Christian path as does my wife and my children, so perhaps it will be left to me to pass this knowledge on to my future grandchildren. If not, then like so many other traditions it will die with me.
Do I worship? No, not really. My teaching was that being alive and part of the body of the mother was worship for us. By staying true to the tradition, marking the special times and being open to the natural powers was enough.
I have reached this stage of my journey without the teachings of others from outside of my tradition. All I know is of my own learning except for the knowledge given to me by my Grandmother and other old country folk in my youth. They told me of the myths and legends of long ago times and of the old religion. It seems that nearly everyone who lived in the fenlands of East Anglia, England, knew a story of a witch who had the ability to cure a malady or lift a curse.
My Grandmother made wine and brews, used hedgerow plants and herbs in her cooking and made potions and poultices both for healing us and the farm beasts. We had no local veterinary so Grandmother was the first person called when an animal was sick and more often than not when a human was sick as well. She would help with a birth of a child and was called upon to lay-out the dead. I think that had Grandmother lived in the burning times she would not have fared well.
Was she a Witch? I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions.
I believe that all living things have a spirit. I believe that all Gods and Goddesses are one. I honour my Goddess and God and I celebrate the Sabbaths of the year. I do not believe in Satan but I know that there is a dark presence on the earth waiting to steal unprepared souls. I believe that when we die our soul or spirit is carried to the Goddess where we are healed and made strong ready to be reborn in another life.
I felt the need to learn more of the craft and I have spent many hours reading books and searching the Pagan and Wiccan sites on the internet. I am surprised by the difference in the 'so called' traditional paths that I have encountered and how they differ from my own tradition. I am amazed how closely my own beliefs mirror the beliefs of some experienced followers of the craft and yet differ vastly from others.
I shall always be a solitary practitioner of the craft for that is my way and how I was taught to be but I do feel the need to communicate with other of a similar faith.
So now you know my definition of a hedge witch. Fo further reading pick up the fallowing books or go to the other hedge witch sites I used for research:A witch Alone by Marion Green