Friday, April 28, 2023

5 Deities to Aid in Hedge Riding and Astral Travel

Hedge riding is the act of purposely entering an altered state of consciousness and traveling to the Otherworld to seek wisdom, work with spirits, and perform magic. It's the defining characteristic of the hedge witch, and this form of astral travel has been performed across multiple cultures for centuries. For some, it can be difficult to cross the hedge, the boundary that separates our reality from the Otherworld. Invoking the aid of a deity may help lessen the burden of travel and open the doors to new opportunities, wisdom, and magical lessons. But who can you call on for aid? Below are five deities that can aid you in your travels to the Otherworld and beyond!

Freya & Odin

Yes, these are two deities, but they are both equal masters of seiðr, a form of Nordic shamanism used to divine the future, shape fate, and traverse the Otherworld, much like modern hedge riding and hedgecraft. Seiðr was historically a highly gendered practice so Odin acted as a model for men and Freya for women, although some texts suggest it was 'unmanly' for men to practice as it was considered 'woman's work.' Odin defied these gender norms by learning seiðr from his wife, Freya/Freyja, and engaging in the practice to learn the magic of the runes, divine the future, and engage in spirit communication. Both Freya and Odin can be called upon to aid in hedge riding, by men, women, and nonbinary folks alike. I suggest including a distaff in your work, the tool most often used in seiðr to connect with the World Tree.


Hekate is the goddess of witches, magic, necromancy, and otherworldly travel. It was Hekate, along with Hermes, who led the search through the Underworld for Persephone, her torch lighting the way through the darkness. As such, she is deeply associated with traversing the Otherworld, safe travels, and crossroads, and is said to be easily found in liminal places, such as the hedge. Call upon Hekate to lend you her torchlight and guide you on your way through the Otherworld safely. 


Brigid may seem like an odd choice, but understanding her history sheds light on her liminal nature. Brigid is traditionally associated with Imbolc, the time between winter and spring. Furthermore, she walked between worlds, both fairy and mortal, and later was the bridge between Celtic paganism and Christianity. Her liminal nature, and her willingness to cross between realms, make her an excellent guide and travel partner for those engaging in hedge riding. 


Áine's history is riddled with contradictory folklore, but one thing is for certain, she was assaulted by Ailill Aulom, King of Munster, and bit off his ear during the assault, rendering him unfit to be a king. As the goddess of sovereignty, Áine holds the ability the grant and remove someone's power to rule. However, it's her association with Midsummer and lakes that are of particular interest to the modern hedge witch. Midsummer is believed to be a liminal time for the fae who actively cross between realms during this time to celebrate the Sun. Lakes, like hedges, are also liminal places, acting as portals to the Otherworld. Áine is just one of many Lady of the Lakes found throughout the United Kingdom and was said to emerge each Midsummer to bask upon her favorite spot. Her power is particularly potent on and around Midsummer, and the modern hedge witch can call upon her services to guide them safely through watery portals.

Baba Yaga

Baba Yaga is among the most infamous witches found in Slavic folklore. According to legend, Baba Yaga engages in nightly flights in her mortar, using her pestle to guide her along her way. She shares many traits with Hekate, sometimes being viewed as a triple aspect, while other times being represented by the matronly crone. No matter how you view her, Baba Yaga often extends a helping hand to those who seek her out, although she is often harsh in her tone and words. Call upon her to guide your way through the darkness and into the Otherworld, meet spirits, and even make your way to the Witch's Sabbath. If you treat her with respect and offer her a spot of alcohol or some tobacco, she'll be more apt to oblige. 


Of course, this list is not exhaustive by any means. There are multiple other deities that are associated with astral travel and the Otherworld, but remember to be culturally sensitive when choosing a deity to work with. Before invoking a deity for hedge riding, be sure you have developed a relationship with them first. If you wouldn't ask it of a friend, let alone a stranger, then don't ask it of a deity. Furthermore, just because you have built a relationship and asked for their aid, doesn't necessarily mean the deity will show up. They are not there to serve your every need and if you run into a non-responsive deity, try another time.

How you ultimately invoke one of these deities is completely up to you. Once you have an established relationship, you will know how to ask for their aid, thank them for their service, and what offerings they prefer. Go with your gut. I promise you'll know the way when the time comes.

Happy traveling!

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