Monday, August 27, 2018

Hedge Riding Series: How to Hedge Ride + Flying Ointments

How to Hedge Ride + Flying Ointments

It's that time! Time to hedge ride, witches! This is a very lengthy post and content dense, so please bear with me.

Altered State of Consciousness

An altered state of consciousness (ASC) occurs when your mind and spirit separate from your body. This separation can be achieved through both natural and induced means, and it is in this state that hedge riding occurs. While you are fully awake during ASC, your mind works differently, just below the surface of full consciousness as opposed to unconsciousness where you are unaware of your surroundings and things are hidden from you. ASC is very similar to astral projection. Astral projection, however, is generally a natural occurrence and is usually not induced. ASC, however, is always deliberately induced, generally in a ritualistic setting.

Drugs are often used to reach an ASC, but I do not suggest using drugs, especially during hedge riding because of the dangers the Otherworld poses. Furthermore, many drugs, apart from marijuana, can drastically alter the chemistry of your brain and cause lasting damage. Safer means of entering into ASC include chanting, drumming, dancing, or listening to your own heartbeat. These methods require more concentration than drugs but do not pose the same health risks. To make reaching ASC easier, you must understand that you are part of an integral universe, not separated from it.

So how exactly does one enter an ASC? There are several safe ways, my personal favorite being shamanic drumming.

1. Shamanic Drumming: As mentioned, this is my favorite method for reaching ASC. First, there are TONS of shamanic drummings on YouTube. I created a YouTube channel containing some of my favorites. Feel free to use them to reach an ASC. Second, shamanic drumming has a clear start and end beat that will safely pull you back to reality. The signal usually occurs a couple of minutes before the end of the drumming session, allowing the listener to make their way back to their bodies. This is particularly great if you are a solitary practitioner like myself that doesn't have someone else around to rely on. Sometimes my cats will gently bring me back, but for the most part, I'm on my own. Listen to the drum beats prior to riding to figure out exactly what their signal to come back is. I strongly suggest your first several rides only be 15-20 minutes long. There are lots of shorter shamanic drumming sessions available, so start there. It will take time before you can work up to the longer ones.

2. Shamanic Music: This is very similar to drumming, but contains more than just drums. Usually, you will hear rattles and chanting. Again, there are several listed on YouTube if drumming alone isn't right for you. I find voices distracting and rooting, but you may find that's exactly what you need to leave your body.

3. Rattling: You can do this yourself or look up a song on YouTube. There are shamanic rattlings listed, but I've found it most effective to use the rattle yourself. Not only does the sound help you enter an ASC, but the motion and swaying to keep the beat also helps.

4. Dancing: Dancing is another way to enter an ASC, but is one of my least favorite ways because of its difficulty. This is extremely tiring, as you basically dance until you want to drop. You want to do this in a warm room or outside around a fire, where the lights are dim for a prolonged period of time. As you dance, you should begin to sweat, which helps force you into an ASC. I suggest pairing dancing with music of some sort or chanting to make the transition easier. I have very little experience with this method, so cannot comment further, but shamans from around the world have been using this method for centuries, so it obviously works.

5. Chanting: Chanting is very similar to drumming and rattling to reach an ASC. You can chant yourself, which is most effective, or listen to shamanic chanting on YouTube. I would pair chanting with another action to increase its effectiveness.

6. Your Heatbeat: Listening to your heartbeat is another effective method. Your heart beats like a drum, making it a free way to enter ASC. Sit or lay in a quiet room and use your heartbeat instead of shamanic drumming. If you need to, use earplugs to help you hear your heart better. This is a great method to use if you are in a body of water, like a bath, pool, or lake. Having your ears underwater makes it difficult to hear outside noises, but it tends to amplify your ability to hear your heartbeat.

Putting It All Together

So you've grounded yourself, set up your protections, decided on a purpose, and entered an ASC, now what? Now you fly! Go on...try it. Just kidding! It is a little more complicated than that. As I mentioned, you need to set the scene and properly protect yourself before you attempt to hedge ride. Once those are done, decide why you are going to hedge ride. Be specific. A good purpose for your first journey is to make it to the Lower Realm. You need to state this out loud and continue to repeat the statement in your mind until you reach your goal. It can be as simple as "I will travel to the Lower Realm." Once the purpose is firmly in your mind, pick an above-mentioned way to reach ASC and let go.

How to Hedge Ride + Flying Ointments

To enter into the Otherworld, you first have to cross the hedge or veil. This is done by passing through a portal of some sort. This portal takes a different form for each person, but it could be a storm drain or road tunnel, a hollow tree trunk, cave, door, or even a triad portal, like what's depicted in The Nightmare Before Christmas. I'm being serious here. I always enter into the Otherworld the same way. I begin by first imagining myself at my childhood home. We had some steps that led down the side yard and into the woods. Our backyard was completely wooded and very steep. There was a deer trail I used to follow as a child all the way down to the lake. I take this same path to hedge ride. (Over the Garden Wall anyone?) I walk it until I find a large tree with a large hole in it. Sometimes this tree is alive and well, other times it's dead and broken. Sometimes I walk for what feels like forever to find the tree, while other times I find it quickly. The times it takes me a while to find the tree are the times when I am having trouble focusing on my intent. Sometimes my mind is just too busy to find the doorway quickly, and that's okay. ADD for the win! I spent the majority of my very first hedge riding journey trying to find the entrance to the Otherworld. Don't worry if it takes you multiple journeys to make it there. It takes time and practice, and very few people get it on their first try. In fact, I have read accounts where a rider spends their entire journey walking a long dark tunnel, never to reach the light at the end. Do not be deterred if this happens to you too.

Once you have found your entrance to the Otherworld, continue through it into the tunnel. This tunnel can, again, take many forms. Mine are steps downward deep into the Earth when I travel to the Lower and Middle Realms. When I travel to the Upper Realms, I enter the tree and climb upwards. The tree and steps are always dimly lit, like twilight, as this is the veil that separates our world and the Otherworld. Continue walking until you break free of the veil and pass into the light. Again, don't worry if you don't reach the light on your first try. Take a break and come back to it another day. When I reach the bottom or top of the steps, I always travel through a damp cave and finally cross into the Otherworld when I pull the plants away that are blocking the entrance, kind of like in the movie Tangled. It is always the same path for me, although the sights may change slightly. To come home, I ALWAYS return the exact same way. I do not come back to my body until I make it back to the bottom step of the garden path of my childhood home. You should have a very similar marker or spot that leads you directly back to your body. I know where I left mine each and every time I ride. It is important you do the same. Soul separation is very real and very dangerous. Please make sure you take the proper precautions to ensure you return safely.

When you begin hedge riding, you should familiarize yourself with the Lower Realm first. This is the safest place to travel. Once you are experienced, have met your animal guides, and are familiar with the Lower Realm, then travel to the Middle and Upper Realms. Do not begin with very many expectations. Your journeys will become more complex the more experienced you become, so let it come naturally. If you are struggling to cross the veil, even after multiple rides, something may be blocking you from entering. Self-doubt is likely the cause. Get yourself together, find the blockage, and remove it before trying again.

How to Hedge Ride + Flying Ointments

Moving Between Realms

On one of my last posts, a reader asked if I could explain how to travel between the realms, especially if you are already in one of the realms. Traveling between realms is quite simple, but until you are experienced, and I mean riding for a solid 6 months to a year regularly, you shouldn't leave the Lower Realm. There are several ways to enter each of the realms, and the method that works best for you will come with time. As I mentioned, I take stairs down to the Lower and Middle Realms. For me, these two realms overlap, and sometimes I don't realize I have crossed between them until I encounter my Garden, which I will talk about in another post, or I run into spirits not commonly found in the Lower Realms. For other hedgewitches, the transition is more clear. They must travel back up to the Middle Realm from the Lower Realm to get there. Moving between realms can occur within your portal or within each realm. For some hedgewitches, they must travel back to their portal to access each realm. This is the safest and surest way to make it between realms. Getting lost while traveling in the Otherworld is extremely dangerous, so it's best to retrace your steps and use methods are known to work, especially when you are first starting out.

How to Hedge Ride + Flying Ointments

As you hedge ride and become more experienced, you may find you find portals to the other realms within each realm. As I mentioned, I have never found a portal between the Lower and Middle Realms, that I somehow flow freely between the two, but other hedgewitches recall passing through a cave, door, or another passageway to go to the Middle Realm from the Lower Realm. To go to the Upper Realm from both Lower and Middle, I suck in air and act like I am a balloon and float upward until I reach the Upper Realm. When you pass into the Upper Realm from the Lower and Middle, it feels like you are passing through a membrane, like when you pass something through a bubble without it popping. It feels the same way. The Upper Realm is also much brighter and more iridescent than the other realms, visually setting it apart from the others. To travel down, you can fly or float back down or take the stairs in your portal or stairs you find going down elsewhere in the Realm. As I said, the best method of traveling between realms is to go back to your portal and travel via those means.

Another way to travel between the realms safely is to ask your animal guides to take you there. Meka, my red fox, often takes me on her back to travel long distances. Rocar has also assisted me in flying to the Upper Realm and back down to the Middle Realm. Once you establish a working relationship with your guides, they will often help you travel between the Realms with ease, sometimes without you realizing where you are traveling at first.

Finding portals within each realm can be difficult and takes time and intuition. When in doubt, ask your guides what you have found. An experienced hedge rider is able to seek out these portals, or thin/liminal spots called caol ait. This is a skill that comes with time and experience, so don't rush it. The more your hedge ride the easier it becomes and the more vivid the experiences.

Flying Ointments

How to Hedge Ride + Flying Ointments

I have never used flying ointments before, but some hedgewitches do. Flying ointments were traditionally used by hedge riders to reach an ASC prior to hedge riding. Historically they contained toxic plants, like belladonna and henbane, and sometimes nontoxic plants like mugwort mixed with animal fat that when applied to the body, especially near a major artery, would induce a trance-like state. These herbs do this by activating your pineal gland. Many of the flying ointments on the market today are not actually flying ointments at all, but a gimmick to swindle you out of your money. I don't want to get into too much detail about flying ointments in this post as it is already incredibly lengthy, but they should be mentioned alongside other methods of reaching an ASC. I plan on writing a more detailed post in the future, but if you are looking to learn more about flying ointments right now, please read Sarah Anne Lawless's Introduction to Flying Ointments and her Flying Ointment FAQs for more information. I thankfully saved many of her articles in PDF format, so we haven't lost all of her work forever.

Interest in the rest of the series? Make sure to keep an eye out for upcoming posts!

Hedge Riding Series

Looking for more information on hedge witches? Check out my posts on the topic:


  1. What books on the market can help a beginner learn everything from traveling to divination for Hedge witches?
    I dont want a book focused on just Wicca.

    1. There is no one book currently on the market that covers all of that. In fact, I am working on trying to remedy that. However, there are several really great books of hedgecraft that cover bits and pieces here and there. Harmonia Saille wrote two books on hedgecraft and hedge riding and there is a recent book called Hedge Druidry that covers the topic from a druid point of view. Neither is Wicca in anyway. Check out my Know Thy Craft post for more books or look under Witch's Cabinet for book reviews on a variety of topics. Good luck! I hope that maybe I'll get around to finishing my book this year, but who the heck knows. There is always something coming up!

  2. Would you please link you book title or an announcement on you site when the time comes, thanks

    1. I will certainly announce it when the time comes. I am trying desperately to set aside time specifically to work on it. I've gotten one solid chapter done and have started a second. I am so behind, but I promise I am working on it.

  3. I want to thank you for your wonderful words that you share for people like me to learn, gain and be inspired from. I'm am a beginner witch and recently realized I'm in my awakening journey and with research ive been doing that I am defiantly more if a Hedge witch as that previously I was trying to learn the Wiccan traits. But I wasn't feeling it but I know/knew oh the inside that I'm a Witch but just didn't know what kind ..And honestly until not far back I did not even know Hedge Witches existed..So just like anytime I want to figure something out I research and research until my answer is clear. So here I am dont but research and studies... (Sorry about this lengthy comment I just felt like you are the right person to express this too) But what I'm trying to get to and ask you is about Shadow Work and if you have any posts on that or if youd be willing to discuss with me about it or even make a post on it. It would be greatly appreciated not only by me but I feel others would gain some much needed knowledge as welk... But Again I Want to thank you Willow....

    ¤ Blessed Be Sister ¤

    1. Hey! Thank you so much for reaching out. I apologize that its taken a bit of time to respond. I'm so glad you have found my blog helpful and that you are making this fantastic journey into hedgecraft. It always brings me such joy when others find their true calling. I have not written anything about shadow work, but Marietta over at Witchy Words is actually covering shadow work in her series this year. She is a fantastic author and I'm sure you will find her work extremely helpful. She isn't very far into the series as of yet, but there are at least 3 or 4 posts on it right now.

      Please feel free to email me and I would be happy to correspond with you and help you in any way that I can. Thank you again for your lovely comment and I wish you the absolute best on your journey!

  4. I have found this series very interesting, thank you! But I do have some questions – you say you start by “imagining” yourself at your childhood home – so is the whole experience a journey through vivid imagination or does it turn into more than that, with full, vivid scenery that you are inside of and fully immersed in and at what point does that happen if you start it off with imagining? What’s that transition look and feel like?

    When I try this myself, I guess I am just “pathwalking” as I end up lying on my bed just waiting for something more to happen – something I’m not sure what it is.
    Also, how do you know you didn’t fall asleep and are dreaming if you do it lying down? I’m just asking because I have had many wake induced lucid dreams which is the closest thing I know to what you describe. When I have read about WILDing, they seem to talk about not letting your mind fall asleep with that either but for myself I have to give myself “permission” to fall asleep and then I feel myself physically falling asleep with my mind awake and a dreamscape develops. But when I try to hedge ride, I don’t let myself fall asleep so I just end up lying around waiting for something to happen...

    I really enjoyed the series anyway, just got me thinking again as I’ve been into this stuff on and off for years but tend to leave it when I get discouraged. Thanks for reading my long comment!

    1. So I begin the visualization of my childhood home to begin entering into an altered state of consciousness. I use drumming music to help me reach an ASOC, but there are tons of options such as mugwort, flying ointments, weed, dancing, etc. I know I have reached this point when I break through to the other side of the Otherworld. I always walk through a tunnel and when I have reached the light, I no longer have control of the vision, only what I do. Sometimes it feels like walking through a spider web, otherwise it is more seamless. Sometimes I cannot reach the light. Sometimes my mind is so distracted or I am too tired to continue the journey. Other times I get to the other side quickly. It just sort of depends. However, once I am there I do lose control of the world around me, but have control over what I do and say, just like I do the rest of the time. I know I haven't fallen asleep because I continue to hear the drumming, I can move my external body, and communicate with the outside world. My cat Oscar is notorious for interrupting my journey. I think he gets nervous.

      This is not an easy thing to do, and there are witches who try for years without being able to fully hedge ride and that's okay. There are other ways to communicate with the Otherworld. You may be more gifted in those. I cannot for the life of me get into tarot or runes. They just don't click with me, but hedge riding...that's something I can do. Don't try and force it. Keep practicing and hopefully it will come. I wish you the best of luck on your journey!

  5. Thanks for the explanation! I find the topic really fascinating and will definitely keep trying :)


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