Saturday, July 5, 2014

What is a Hedge Witch?

One of the most common questions I am asked is "What is a Hedgewitch?" Well, it's a solitary witch who practices hedgewitchery or hedgecraft. But what is hedgecraft, you ask? That is much more complicated and depends on who you are talking to.

Like most things in the Pagan community, there are is no one definition for what hedgecraft is. Three things most people agree on, however, are the use of herbs, the metaphorical hedge which I will talk about in a moment, and that it pulls from both Witchcraft and Shamanism.

Hedgecraft is fairly new but based in very old traditions dating back centuries. Throughout history "wise woman" and "medicine man" traditions have risen and fallen, but never truly died out. In recent years, more and more people are turning to these old traditions and adapting them to modern times. Where it actually began is a mystery, but it likely finds its roots in Great Britain. Some suggest the term itself comes from the Saxon word haegtessa which translates to "hedge-rider." Wise women and medicine men tended to live on the outskirts of town, where the hedgerows separate the wild from the civilized, hence the appropriateness of haegtessa, as these individuals were able to "ride" between our civilized world (Earth) and the wild (Otherworld).

The hedge itself has found its way into the craft and is a defining factor. The hedge is believed to separate our world from the next as well as provide a physical barrier of protection from the stresses of the outside world. Hedgewitches are often said to be "Walking the Hedge," "Riding the Hedge, "Jumping the Hedge," or, in my case, "Flying the Hedge," meaning they have a tendency to spend much of their life with one foot on either side of the veil. They are able to walk freely into caol ait, Gaelic for the "thin places." Experienced hedgewitchs are able to seek out these caol ait, even when the hedge is thick, and use them effectively. This essentially means hedgewitches spend their time hedge riding or traveling to the Otherworld to interact with spirits to heal, perform magic, divine the future, seek guidance, or just relax.

Spiritually, hedgewitches vary greatly and it largely depends on the individual. Many use their heritage or pull from more formal practices. However, many hedgewitches, like myself, have little interest in the religious and ceremonial aspects commonly found in covens and traditional witchcraft. They are less likely to perform scripted magical workings, preferring to follow their instincts. For the Hedgewitch, their normal life is also their magical one.

In summary, a hedgewitch is someone who walks their own path in this world and the next. I hope this has been enlightening. If you have any questions feel free to ask. If you are interested in learning more about hedge riding, please refer to my Hedge Riding Series. This complete series will get you well on your way to learning how to cross the hedge and interact with spirits.

NOTE: This is not to be confused with other domestic forms of witchcraft, especially Green Witchcraft. While hedgewitches work in and around their homes and even with herbs, the home and herbs are not the focus of the practice. Spirit work is. We work with spirits for a variety of reasons, including to heal ourselves, our families, and our communities, while simultaneously seeking guidance, divining our futures, and working magic. Remember, the tradition is based on the wise woman and man who lived on the edge of town. They were healers and fortune-tellers. They were able to walk between worlds, making their entire lives magical.


  1. This is by far my favorite explanation of the general concept of our practice.

  2. Hi there, are there some books you would recommend to for better understanding? Or, if you are willing enough, we can discuss through emails, etc.
    Thank you for your Time.

    1. I actually have a list of books under the Witch's Cabinet tab. And I would love to correspond via email! Don't hesitate to reach out.

  3. thank you for this true description of Hedge Witchcraft. I am a Hedge Witch as well, and I mostly work with Guides, dreams, and Ancestors, as well as automatic or guided writing, and things like that. Your post very much resonated with me. There are so many people confusing Hedge Witchcraft with Kitchen Witchcraft or Cottage Witch practices. So this post was refreshing. Blessings!

    1. So so so much misinformation out there about hedgecraft. I am working hard to correct those misconceptions! Thank you for reading and commenting! :)

  4. Great explanation. Describing my journey as just that "my regular life is my magical life". Thank you so much for this.


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