Research Project One.
What is Hedge craft and where did it come from? There is a vast array of information on the internet about this particular craft, often it is vague, or the meaning of Hedge will be different for each witch that encounters or practises it. I looked high and low for in depth explanations until I found one brief citation from author Rae Beth that struck a chord with me. “Ancient followers of earth-based spirituality who were precursors to our modern day herbalists.” And this, “a Hedge witch is a free spirit.” After the various researches I have done both of these quotes echo much of what I have read, while practise or deity might change with each new text, Hedge remains a craft that marvels at, and respects nature.
It is a common belief that the term Hedge witch came from old Europe signifying the boundary of ancient villages. (In this era a Hedge witch was a wise man or woman also known as cunning folk). In spiritual terms the meaning of hedge was more metaphorical representing a border between worlds, between those of this world, and those of the spiritual world. The Hedge Witch was a medium able to cross the hedge to speak with the spirits. Hedge witches while pronounced by this title and their slightly shamanic practises, were also experts in the use of natural magic and tools, the use of gemstones, and herbalism. Often a village in old Europe had a hedge witch, charged with job of helping those around her or him with natural medicines, they have even been known to take on the role of midwife. From what I understand in this era Hedge witches were not solitary practitioners of the craft and the solitary nature of Hedge developed with Rae Beth’s books
These days a Hedge witch is often not part of a coven, and practises alone (though some sources and witches suggest they at times they still have assistants, or break away from the solitary tradition.) That being said Hedge craft and Wicca are seen as two very different types of witchcraft, while Hedge is often without structure (there is no solid rule on how one should practise), a witch of this craft still follows and celebrates the turn of seasons, she, or he still recognises the eight sacred sabbats. Rather than a complicated set of tools to practise with, the Hedge witch uses a small set of tools often natural, or made of natural materials.
The belief of what deities are worshipped by Hedge Witches is vague at best, some say those of the Hedge worship The Triple Goddess and The Horned God, some suggest that some Hedge witches are Christian, others believe there is no specific god or that witches of Hedge craft take certain gods and goddesses into their own personal beliefs, others even have no god at all.
While I haven’t found a solid founder for Hedge craft I understand that Rae Beth, author of Hedge Witch, The Hedge Witch Way, and several other titles, has been influential in this form of craft. Other authors of Hedge craft include Marion green, Doreen Valiente, Patricia Telesco and Anne Moure.
A note upon finishing assignment one, there are a few other things I have learnt from the assignment the first being that many hedge witches say their craft is a lonely one that requires a lot of inner strength and discipline. This craft is also one that encourages people to be in tune with nature. Though I have learnt a lot I realise there is always more that I could learn. So if there is anything here that doesn’t quite ring true or if there is something that I have missed I’d love to learn about it and I encourage any comments that might help nurture my knowledge of Hedge.