If you are a visitor to the realm of hedge magic, you may be wondering what hedges have to do with spell-casting (or indeed with anything other than bordering fields and gardens!) Here is some kind of explanation. First, the hedge witch or hedge priestess/priest is a solitary worker. Like the Victorian ‘hedge teacher’ they work on their own initiative – unofficially, as in a field corner by a hedgerow rather than with a coven or group. That is the short answer.
But there is a much earlier definition contained in an old German word ‘hagazissa’ meaning ‘hedge sitter’. And another term found in Northern European traditions – ‘haegtessa’ meaning ‘hedge rider’. Each of these refers to a symbolic hedgerow, one which could be seen to divide the everyday world of the human community from what was perceived as being beyond it – the Otherworld of wild nature spirits and ancestral spirits and elves or faeriekind. This and similar symbolism seems to have come to Britain mainly with Saxon and other Germanic tribes. However, it has parallels within the Celtic tradition, such as the Green and Burning Tree which stands at the outer edge of Faerie. And there are now hedge witches all over the World, along with hedge priestesses, hedge priests and hedge Druids.
The job of a hedge witch (or any worker of hedge magic) was and is to ‘part the hedge’ or even ‘fly over it’ or in other words attain altered consciousness by means of rites or spirit journeys undertaken in light trance. This is in order to connect with those on the far side and so to give and to gain blessings from and for human communities and the living lands we inhabit. It could also lead to alliances with nature spirits and to the gaining of a familiar and so to increased power for any spell-casting work. (Familiars do not require an offering of blood, our own or anyone elses’. Instead, they give help on the basis of friendship or common interests. And indeed the personal familiar, the fylgia, is very much an aspect of the witch her or himself, a part of the soul, so help is mutual.)
Today’s hedge magicians wisely begin by learning to ground themselves within the seasonal celebrations of the land’s yearly cycle and by coming into step with the Moon’s cycle as well. In this way, awareness of those on the far side of the hedge can open gradually and also be fully aligned with the natural world on our side of the hedge. A meeting with nature spirits or familiars then has a context, a setting which extends beyond our personal circumstances and facilitates an awareness of the bigger picture, allowing us to develop a sense of interconnectedness with all creatures - all beings of any kind.
There are many, many ways to practice hedge magic and hedgerow spirituality now in the present day and to reinterpret the themes and ideas. In my own work, they can be blended with such things as natural magic, Wicca, Green/environmental spirituality and faerie lore. (We may work alone but that does not mean that we are uninfluenced by other approaches and styles.) For me, hedge witchery and hedge priest/esscraft must be creative, aligned with the times that we live in, exploratory, healing and, as far as possible, original. Therefore, dear visitor, if you proceed, your hedge magic and spirituality will not be like exactly like mine because your own individual style will emerge with experience. After all, you are a free spirit.
I have been practicing hedge magic and hedgerow spirituality for almost forty five years. So I can tell you this. If followed with commitment, this Path can bring you to see the magical, shape-shifting nature of all reality and also to see a role for yourself within that as a healing spell-caster with spirit allies.
Each of my books describes a different aspect of the work of a hedge witch or hedge priest/ess or covers a subject relevant to that.
The first book, HEDGE WITCH, blends hedge witchcraft with solitary Wicca and roots the hedge witch firmly in the Wheel of the Year, giving rites and spells for each festival and for the Full Moon as well.
THE HEDGE WTCH’S WAY concentrates on the hedge witch and priest/ess’s Deities, the Lady and Lord, whom we know by many names and in many aspects. Prayer is described as a magical act and devotional hedge witchcraft is blended with natural magic.
SPELLCRAFT FOR HEDGE WITCHES teaches the magic that can help a wise hedge witch to survive in a harsh time or to come through a personal crisis. It contains spells to banish bad spirits, to counter an ill wish, to bring psychic protection, to transform destructive feelings, to heal a trauma, to bring justice and to consecrate your life to a creative purpose. (These are some of the many ways in which we can help to heal wounded lives.)
THE GREEN HEDGE WITCH goes into detail about the symbolic hedge between the Worlds and how we may start to work with nature spirits, principally trees. The technique of exchanging blessings with the trees and other land spirits is described fully. The main focus of the book is the healing of damaged places and species and the renewal of harmony between human beings and other life forms. (In my opinion, this is the most important work we can do and is a present day version of the hedge witch’s traditional role.)
THE WAY INTO FAERIE looks at what is on the far side of the hedge – the Otherworldly dimension – and at who lives there. It explains how we may relate to ancestral spirits and non-carnate species (known as faeries) as well as to nature spirits. This book is written from the point of view of a natural psychic – a fey person – rather than specifically a hedge witch. It is about our Pagan ancestors’ beliefs concerning the Dead and the faerie races and is based on a great deal of research. However, it is not scholarly but experiential and, I hope, also inspirational. In this book there are fictional sections interspersed with non-fiction and memoir. The fictional bits contain characters, an older woman and her apprentice, who are hedge witches. (Their male equivalents are described as well.)
THE LAMP OF THE GODDESS appears to be different. There are no instructions for hedge witchcraft in it at all. It is about reincarnation, the cycles of life, death and rebirth and the fate of Atlantis. And yet. And yet the book focuses upon the Dark Goddess (not an evil Deity but ‘Dark’ in the sense of hidden – like the scientific concept of ‘dark matter’ – and concerned with the realm of the dead as a place of healing and renewal. She has been known by many names, worldwide, and to the traditional hedge witch or priest/ess She is Huldra, Lady of Wisdom or Freya (the Lady) who is Mistress of Elves and leader of the Valkyries. (So for me, it is not so far after all, from the temples of Atlantis to the nearest hedgerow.)
THE NINE MAGICAL WAYS is a look at some of the principles of Enchantment. It is a short e-book and is the only one available as an eBook.
Otherwise, at this time (Spring 2021) all my books can be bought by ordering them through your local bookshop or from Waterstones online or online from Amazon.
Oak tree spirit, please bless me
With a store of goodwill that is inexhaustible.
And give me strength of heart and the deepest of roots.
So let the door within me open
Upon a land within the land
Where I am made free
Of an immense power
That comes from community of spirit.
So give me constant victory over despair.
And let me share abundance, good fellowship,
Good times and healing and safety –
The fruits of connection and all that is fair –
By root and stem, leaf, fruit and flower.
Traditionally, we did not have a decorated tree in our homes in Britain – or not before the nineteenth century – lovely though such trees can be. Instead, there was a Yule log which was of oak. Nowadays, when oak trees are so threatened environmentally, this log could be simply represented by an oak twig. Failing that, a picture of an oak could be used as some kind of focus through which to bless the oak species with abundance and good health -. before saying the above charm. (A first principle of hedge magic is that we negotiate for help from the spirits by being seen to give as well as to take, to offer as well as ask. It is reciprocal.)
This is the time of year when the Veil – or the Hedge – between this World and the Otherworld can more easily be parted from either side. The Dead can draw near to us – those we remember, such as beloved parents, grandparents or friends and those who may have lived long ago. Also, there are those who are present within the area where we live but who may be no relation.
These, the ancestral spirits, are not ‘ghosts’. They dwell in the Otherworld/in the past (eternally present in their own dimension)/within the Soul of Nature. And within our hearts. The forms such spirits take, the shapes they assume, the places they visit are, to us, varied and mysterious. They are spirits merged with Spirit. And yet the links remain.
A hedge witch or hedge priest/ess takes the time at Samhain to speak with the spirits. And to ask them or ask the Faerie Queen of the Dead (who knows the future) to guide and bless us.
Burn some incense or vapourise some essential oils for psychic protection. Or call upon those who watch over you, your guides and familiars, to keep you safe from disturbed spirits and any who may be malicious or abusive.
Light a candle to the Beloved Dead and ask them to gather around it. Bless them in the names of the Queen of the Dead who gives Rebirth and of the Lord of the Thresholds Between the Worlds. Then say something like this.
‘In the name of the Faerie Queen and under the Faerie King’s protection,
At this time of Winter’s Eve, I call to you, Beloved Dead.
I bid you draw near.
I give you blessing, food and drink – and water trickled onto the crossed paths.
Come freely – be swift and sure.
And guide me now or later when I am sleeping.
Give answers into my heart and mind.
How may I help……? (Name someone living who is in some way connected with the ancestors of
Either your family or your locality.)
And should I…. (e.g. move house? apply for a new job?)
And for the people of this region, what is the future that we shall find?’
Sit quietly with your eyes closed and see what pictures form in your mind’s eye. Or what words you hear with your ‘mind’s ear’. Do not have any doubt or fear. (If it is your own mind making things up it will cease to do so once you have relaxed about that possibility. Take up the attitude that you simply don’t care as what you see may be useful either way. This nonchalance makes it far easier to let go enough to have an actual psychic experience of hearing from the actual Dead!) Afterwards, whether you feel answered or not, thank the Dead for their help. Answers may come to you in a dream or as a sense of ‘just knowing’.
(For this rite, you should have on your altar or a table some offerings of food and drink for the Dead. Leave them there overnight and then bury them in the ground the next morning.
Have also an equal-armed cross made out of twigs or yarn which you have placed on a dark-coloured cloth representing the floor of a cave or the night time earth. Trickle water along each arm of the cross so that the four ‘roads’ – which represent spirit paths – meet in the middle. You don’t need much water – just droplets will do. This is a variation on a traditional practice to help bring the spirit dimension closer. You should sit or stand at the south side of your ‘crossroads’ and place your offerings on the north side.
Offer the food and drink and make the spirit paths after you have lit your candle to the Dead and given them a blessing.)
Myself, I love to have visits from my Beloved Dead. I love this time of year.
Wise, Happy and Blessed Be.
My familiar spirit really loves speaking in rhyme. He did so when I asked him to comment on some of the things that could be done to be in right balance with life at this time of year. His words could be used as the inspiration for an Autumn Equinox rite.
AT HARVEST HOME
It is time to reckon up the harvest,
All of the year’s losses and gains, all of the year’s joys and pains.
When, where and how did we lose or win?
Then reckon up what is owed to the Earth,
To the local land area and the land powers within,
To the elves and to all familiar spirits, to otherworldly kith and kin
And to the living. And see what remains.
Next, make offerings to the local land spirits, to elves and familiars –
To all those who have helped bring the harvest in,
Giving them such as honey and hazelnuts, eggs or cream,
Water or beer – and giving them your heart’s blessing.
For Great Nature Herself, the Lady, and for Her Lord, the antlered King,
Light candles in celebration and dance or sing.
As for the seeds that have been harvested,
These can be eaten throughout the winter
And some of them planted so they grow in spring.
These words I received suggest ideas for a rite any modern Pagan might do. A hedge witch, more specifically, might part the symbolic Hedge between This and the Otherworld by going into a light trance and then spending time in psychic communication or divination, to try and discover what it is that the land spirits or healing Fae might really want us to share or to do or to give at this harvest time. (For example, they might want someone to offer some of their time and magical strength by doing magic to bring protection from developers for a local spring or woodland. Or they might want a person to give some time at each new or full Moon to the making of a particular sigil or symbol – perhaps for harmony or good health – upon the land, with sticks or stones, for the good of all in the locality.) The Equinox rite could include spoken pledges to do such magical work as the spirits have indicated. (Whatever it is that they ask for, so long as it can do no harm to anyone of any species or any place, you should do it as far as you are able. )
Wise and Blessed Be.
May we all share abundance and be able to give abundantly without harm and in harmony.
This is a time of year to begin to celebrate the harvest. Our own personal gains as well as the first fruits of what has been growing in fields and orchards. It is also the last chance (this year) to do spells to enhance or increase what remains to be gathered in. Spells for our own prosperity. The success of such spells may be partly linked with what we think we deserve, though. Lughnasadh is a good time to reflect upon what we think we are worth before doing such magic. ( Clearly, there are people whose sense of what they deserve of the World’s abundance has become vastly inflated! While many other people struggle to think they are worth very much.)
Pick an object to symbolise your occupation. This does not have to represent gainful employment. For you may be ill or retired or unemployed. You may be an unwaged homemaker or unpaid carer or someone who doesn’t charge for their magical healing work. Or you may have just started a business which has yet to make a profit. Whatever it is, if you are doing your best to serve life, you deserve to thrive.
Go into your garden or out in the countryside – or, if you are housebound, to a window box or even to stand in front of a vase of flowers. Say the following or something like it.
PRAYER FOR FAIR PROSPERITY
‘Hale, Lady of Earth as Great Queen of Faerie, the Soul of the Earth. I thank you for all that I have of resources and pleasures. Please bless me always with fair prosperity, sufficiency for the things I need and enough left over for me to be generous.
I am a ……’.(here name your occupation ).’ I dedicate my work to you. Please bless me with good fortune and success. ‘ (Touch your symbol of what you do to the ground. For example a paintbrush if you are an artist, a broom if you are a homemaker, a laptop if you work from home for an organisation or business.)
May my life serve the living Earth and your creative purposes. Blessed Be.’
Blessed Be, all our fair prosperity! In a just world, a fair world, we would all thrive but without harm to anyone or to the land. We would all be entitled but none too much. And since faerie lore has often linked faeries with natural justice, a call to the Queen of Faerie makes good sense to a hedge witch like me.
Magical prayers like the one above are a simple way to mark the moment at Lughnasadh. But complex rites and spells can be used and often are. If you decide to cast a spell for your success and prosperity, it helps to bless your occupation with good fortune as well as with fair financial reward. Some useful herbs for such a spell are elder, flax, honeysuckle, mint, strawberries or their leaves and white heather.
For some of us, the year’s harvest has included illness and suffering to an extent that serving life or the community is beyond us. For such as these, the healing Fae have the following advice.
GUIDANCE FROM FAERIE ABOUT SUFFERING
You, who are ill or are in any way suffering pain or abuse, have taken within yourselves some of the World’s cruelty. But by a quest for healing and by moving beyond bitterness, you are transforming disharmony on behalf of many others as well as yourself.
By not passing on the pain or abuse but looking for healing or for release you are engaged in a necessary work, a kind of alchemy.
Ask for guidance from the Great Mother of All about what you must do or cease to do to gain relief. And ask that the healing powers of Faerie bring you from suffering to ease and from ill health to well-being within the living World. Meanwhile, you must wait and contain the harm. And you are worth your wait in gold.
What follows is taken from a conversation I had with a male elf recently – by what I would describe as ‘channelling’ if it were not that the term is sometimes used dismissively. Whatever we call it, the exchange was held on a psychic basis. It is a form of ‘spirit work’ which, as a hedge priestess and witch I have always experienced as the root of my work. The ideas conveyed by the elf came to me in a non-verbal form. They are somehow beyond all languages .(It is my own mind that supplied the words.) He lives in the Otherworld and his work is to dream a positive future. He has a golden-red robe, a red cloak and bare feet. Around his ankles are shells and bones carved into the shape of stars. He has long hair the colour of sunset or dawn and skin colour tinged with gold. He holds a staff.
Rae; What would you like to say to human beings if you could? At this Summer Solstice is there anything?
Elf; I’ve got a great deal to say! Living humans are weighed down by rigid ideas and bad philosophies but most of all by their so-called dreaming which in reality is nightmares. Instead of thinking as you do, you should all take strength from your joys and loves and cultivate belief in the future of life and in Mother Earth. I know you are all plagued by the ruthlessness of the worst of your kind and at risk from disease and often personally unhappy and overwhelmed. I know that there is what you call climate change. But you can still choose to dream of the best outcome for yourselves and others and for the entire natural world. Let your dreams have healing power. See the strength and resourcefulness of Mother Earth and dream of a future of abundant life. Bird-filled forests. Seas, lakes and rivers that are heaving with fish. Contented people whose food is grown wisely and whose homes are warmed in ways that cause no kind of harm to anything. See all this, the renewed harmony of the land, sea and sky, brought about by Mother Earth’s own self-regulating systems and by human changes of attitudes and behaviour. Such a dream may not come true in your lifetime! Sometimes, it can take an Ice Age first! (Though other kinds of healing are possible and you could all be very surprised.) In the end, there is always new harmony, one way or another. In the end, Mother Earth may re-interpret your dreams to bring abundant life in other forms than you know. Nevertheless, a dream of genuine harmony and beauty will always help to bring about healing.
Apply the same principle to your own life and the lives of others. Dream only of the best outcomes. Then, as we do in Faerie, fill the good dreams with light and water. Sing them over some water that holds the herbs that are best suited to your spell, such as rose petals for love or blackthorn blossom for purification. Then let the bowl or cauldron stand where the light of sun, moon or stars or of candleflame can shine upon it. Finally, pour this potion holding your good dreams onto the land so that they may come into being, physically, through the course of events.
Many living humans dwell too much on harsh, ugly things. They imagine the worst outcomes too often and then feel despair and so fail to act to make the world a better place. They call their nightmares realism instead of calling them what they are – pessimism and bad magic.
You are feeding your souls with the wrong stories. Look for the tales, the songs, pictures and visions that hold belief in the powers of love, truth and beauty and healing magic to bring good changes and the best outcome. Rebel against being called naïve. Rebel against cynicism dressed up as maturity. And join with those who not only dream that healing changes are possible but also act to help bring them about.
I know your world well enough though I live in Faerie. And I know your beliefs and how your minds work. For I learn much from the newly dead who come here. They are very often mazed in dread and great negativity and in unvoiced despair.
Rae; But do you mean that people should dream that nothing like ill health or injustice or climate change really happens? That would be denial.
Elf; Of course not! No one is saying that living people should dip rotten meat in honey and then pretend it’s entirely sweet! And no one in Faerie is saying that there are no living reasons for pain or sorrow or justifiable anger. We know that there are. All the same you should have dreams in which every ending is followed by a new beginning. Dreams in which the work of the Lady of Evolution always prevails – She who turns harm into new harmony. Dreams in which love and truth really do bring healing. Good dreams that you can live by sanely and so make your world a happier place.
These are the things I would like to say to many living human beings – though not to all of you. There are many people in human form who already know! But I am glad to have been asked!
A ragged hedge of hawthorns
With a wooden stile or gate.
Enter here the fields of summer.
Leave behind the long wait.
Here are fellowship and joy,
Love – may love be fulfilled.
May the lonely meet with friendship.
May the grieving now be healed.
Summer stars above us shining.
Under our feet, summer fields.
A way forward now revealed.
By root and stem, leaf, fruit and flower,
By primrose and by hawthorn bower,
In the names of Lord and Lady,
So may these things come to be.
In Britain, May is a month of blossoming trees, bluebells, wild garlic, wood anemones, long, light-filled early summer days, comparative freedom. And the Pagan festival of Beltane (April 30th-May 1st) marks the start of summertime. It is also a blatant celebration of love, with rites often enacted sexually. Therefore, some of our ancestors went out to the woods and fields on the eve of May Day, to make love.
In the above charm, I have tried to interpret these things broadly and in the light of some of our present-day preoccupations. It could form part of a rite in which primroses are then used to cast a spell for fulfilled love, renewed joy, playfulness, a much lighter approach to life. Some fun, maybe? (We could all do with that!)
After a long winter and a whole year of restrictions brought about by the need to control the covid pandemic, many of us are feeling the loss of many things that we need. Some have been made unemployed. Some, who are self-employed, have seen their business suffer. We all face a future of possible cuts to public services and of austerity. Survival in such times requires lateral thinking and also good fortune. Magic for fertile creativity, increased abundance, innovation.
Spring Equinox is the perfect time for it. Normally though, our magic would involve the usual Spring Equinox materials – eggs and spring flowers and seeds…..But for these unusual times, here is a new approach. (And if you are too late for the Spring Equinox, it can as easily be done at any waxing moon in the springtime or summer.)
Visit a hazel tree and place your hand on it. Say something like this.
‘Hazel tree, may you be blessed, you and all your species throughout the land,
With abundant increase and good fortune.
By root and stem, leaf, fruit and flower,
In the names of the Great Mother and the Green God of Trees,
So May These Blessings Be.’
Out loud or silently inside your mind, ask the hazel tree spirit (which is both of this tree and of all hazel trees) to bless you, in return, with increased abundance of good opportunities, good fortune, inspired creativity. Ask in the names of the Great Mother and the Green God of the Trees or of the witches’ ‘Lord and Lady’.
If it is not possible for you to visit a tree physically, journey in your imagination instead and speak the same blessing and make your request.
Later, sitting by a lit candle indoors, hold nine hazel nuts and say this.
‘May a wild wisdom be within me.
May my ideas be inspired and free on the subject of… (e.g. my work, my prosperity, my life
‘May I find an answer that brings me no harm
And no harm to anyone.
In the names of the Great Mother and the Green God of the Forests.
And by the blessing of the hazel tree,
So May This Be.’
Wrap the nuts in a clean cloth and sleep with them under your pillow for nine nights. Then put them into a pool of fresh water if you can. (Otherwise, a bowl of clean water for three days and then bury them).
The magic of the hazel can incline us to do something that seems a bit crazy, against the tide of conventionality or, anyway, unlike the way we’ve approached life before. This can hold the answer to finding a way forward.
To help the progress of ‘nuttiness’, try brainstorming with a pen and paper in response to your own questions. Do not censor the answers you come up with. Go mad! Most of what you write will be no help at all, but amongst the fertile chaos, you may find your own intuitive wisdom and (aided by the hazel spirit) a breakthrough.
The Spring Equinox is not usually associated with nuts but with blossoms. However, hazel magic can be like that – upside down or back to front and it goes its own way. So away we go – hopefully in a way that is pleasantly mad and free and ‘outside the box’, creatively.
Hedge magic of this kind can be deceptively simple. It does not rely on lengthy rites or a strong use of your own will but on an alliance with nature spirits. For a successful outcome, that link must be taken seriously. This means that any help you can give to the hedgerows or woods where hazel trees grow can strengthen your magic. (Plant one in your garden? Donate to the Woodland Trust? Join your local nature conservancy group? Spend some of your magical time casting spells for the hazel species or for the natural world in general?) Wise and Blessed Be.
Hymn to the Springtime Goddess
Rowan and Willow, Fire and Water,
Serpent and Swan for the Lady’s daughter,
Lady reborn as Enchantress, the Maid.
In growing light,
In flooding stream,
In calling bird,
In waking dream,
In newborn lamb,
In step that springs,
In the tilt of the stark Earth towards the Sun,
See Her arise. With snowdrop hand
She blesses with new life
All the cleansed and cold land.
At this time of the Festival of Imbolg, we in Britain are in lockdown again because of covid. So most of us are in our houses a great deal of the time. This is necessary to save lives. But it means that everything is more static and there is much we can no longer do. It is as though we are snowbound or icebound – which makes me think of the Norse rune Isa (a word which means ‘ice’) and which denotes a time when everything is frozen and called to a halt. However, some seeds can only germinate when it is very cold. That is, when temperatures go well below freezing and there is ice.
So what might be germinating now, under the ice of our frozen lives? And what seeds would we choose to germinate, either to help environmentally or to enhance our lives in more personal ways?
Spell for the Seeds of Change
‘By frozen water, by what I place
Within the cauldron, underneath ice,
Let……… ‘ (here name your desire)
‘germinate, put forth shoots and grow
And thrive and increase and survive.
By root and stem, leaf, fruit and flower,
In the names of the Goddess as Maiden
And of the youthful God of Earth,
For the seeds of’ (e.g. a new green economy)
let there be germination, growth in good fortune, birth.’
If there is no ice outside, use some from your refrigerator. If you have no cauldron, use a bowl. To represent your seeds of change, use whatever you think might best symbolise what you want – but use only biodegradable things. For example, for the seeds of a new green economy, tear off a small piece of your power bill (or a printout of one) providing the company uses only green sustainable means of generation. Alternatively, use a tiny piece of a compostable bag such as used for the bin where you put food waste. If you have nothing else, write on clean paper something like ‘The seeds of a new green economy’, using either water-based ink or a pencil. Afterwards, ‘plant’ your symbolic seeds or paper in the garden or a window box or wherever seems suitable.
If you live in a country without lockdown or with warm weather you can still do this spell for a germination of seeds of change, for the environment and/or for any part of your own life that is frozen up and/or for someone else. But if you do it for the environment and for yourself and for someone else, you will need to say the spell three times and to use three different things or pieces of paper as symbolic seeds.
Blessed be the germination of all good seeds under ice, in all our lives.
Hedge Witch by Rae Beth is to be published in March 2021 as an audio book! (But will continue to be available – like all Rae’s books – in paperback or kindle.) The audio book publisher is Tantor Media, an imprint of Recorded Books.
This time of year is a good time for the magic of ivy, according to folklore and magical tradition. The plant is said to help by bringing support in a time of crisis. And actually, our Pagan ancestors saw the time just before the Winter Solstice, the darkest day in the whole year, as critical and dangerous, a kind of dark chasm we need to cross, both physically and psychically, in order that light and life, hope and joyfulness should be reborn. The magic of ivy was one of their resources at this time, which is one reason why we still use it in Yuletide decorations.
Being green all the year round, ivy keeps the green thread of life unbroken. It therefore symbolises continuity and survival. But it also brings and facilitates change – ensuring continuity of life and creativity through transformation, especially in times of loss or hardship. In personal terms, its magic can bring us a rebirth of purpose and a new start through a changing of our ideas and aspirations.
On grey days of winter’s bite, the ivy is green.
When blood runs cold in the veins of creatures, the ivy is green.
When no other plant gives berries and very few
Bright-plumaged birds can be seen, the ivy is green.
When the place that was once a home is beginning to fall, the ivy is green.
Where mortar is loosening, crumbling in the stone wall, the ivy is green.
When a child asks, ‘Did people live here once?’ But the knowledge
Of who they were does not remain, still the ivy is green.
What is this green thread in the dark?
There isn’t a road anymore
And the moss-shrouded ruin’s a memory store.
But the ivy that hastens decay,
Undoing old structures, prepares the way
for new life, though yet unseen. And the ivy is green.
For your magic, go to where ivy is growing or have some in the house. Put your hand on the plant and say this.
‘Ivy, may you be blessed, you and all your species,
With good health, abundant increase and good fortune.
By root and stem, leaf, fruit and flower, in the names
Of the Great Mother and of the Green God of Trees, So May This Be.’
Pause. And then say,
‘I ask to be blessed by your evergreen spirit with healing change. And to be given support to find my way through from darkness to light, from pain and loss to a joyful new life. And may your magic be with me so long as my rebirth serves harmony.’ (Visualise the new way of life to which you now aspire or the new kind of relationship, job, home, emotional healing or whatever you need.)
Pick one leaf and keep it with you by day and night for the next nine days. Then bury it.
You can make such magic as this be part of a full formal rite. Or you can use it informally, for example, on a walk in the woods. I am fey, myself, as well as a hedge witch and priestess, so my magic is often unplanned, ‘unofficial’ and spontaneous but very much aided by those in the Otherworld, as well as by spirits of plant or place. For more about the fey magic of connecting from the heart to ancestral spirits and faerie familiars, my latest book THE WAY INTO FAERIE might (hopefully) inspire you. It is a book about the Otherworld (which is the dimension of spirit and of renewal) and of how and when we go there and how to connect with it in the here and now in ways that enhance life. A true hedge witch or hedge priestess or priest experiences this World and the Otherworld as co-existent dimensions of just one World and works natural magic like e.g. the ivy spell, knowing it resonates both here and in Faerie and that is why it is effective. This can be fey magic of heart and soul - heartfelt. And if done sincerely, it is very powerful, in spite of being simple in ways and means. All you really need are things like respect or even love towards beings such as plant spirits, the kindly dead and the non-carnate races whom we call Faerie. Of course all this is anathema to those who see spells as a kind of magical technology and who like their magic rigidly formal. As a fey, I REBEL against this and have written THE WAY INTO FAERIE to encourage other fey people (many of whom are so private and solitary about their work and beliefs that they do not consider themselves to be part of the magical community.)
‘…..the ragged October winds are bringing down leaves; translucent grey skies are shaded with darker grey; and the rushing winds and dying autumnal flowers all tell of the thinning of veils between this and the Otherworld……..I can sense Faerie gates beginning to open….. beautiful and awe-inspiring, the winter gates – storm-grey and silver and pearl and dark shades of purple…..
The powers that open the gates between this World and the Other are as strong as those that bring the waves of the Atlantic pounding onto the west coast of Britain, or set the stars to rise in the evening sky…..As the year dies, the Beloved Dead and the hosts of Faerie come closer whether we acknowledge them or not.
I go back indoors and light a candle on my writing desk, saying, “ I light this to my ancestors, all my dead forebears, those men and women of my whole family tree. Wherever they are now, whether within the Otherworld or reborn within this one, may they all be blessed with good health of spirit, soul and body.”
(But) ‘Truly, I am descended from that which is Ancestress-Ancestor of All. I am kin to the plants and creatures and one with each life that has ever been lived. As are we all.…………’
“Great Queen of Faerie, Queen of us all, Lady to whom all return in the Hill when this life is done, we call to you now to send help and comfort to all who are mourning. By twilight and dawn and also at noon, by each of the liminal times and places, let the dead speak to us, now and always, and we to them, re-making links of love in strong connection.”
Excerpts from THE WAY INTO FAERIE by Rae Beth (Robert Hale – 2017)
At each equinox, light and dark are equally balanced but, since this is the Autumn equinox, from now on the sunlight will fade as the days shorten and nights grow longer. That is, until the Winter Solstice when, after the longest night, the light will start to return. This festival is often symbolised by a double spiral.
Have bowl filled with autumn leaves. Those that are just beginning to turn brown or yellow will do. ( Blackthorn or elder are good choices. You may also use nettles, thistles or, indeed, any herb connected with exorcism or banishing).
Circle the herbs with your wand, going nine times widdershins (anti-clockwise), followed by nine times deosil (clockwise.) If you have no wand use your index finger. Now point your wand at the herbs and say,
‘I bless and dedicate these herbs for magical uses. May they be a medium for my spell.’
Then speak the spell three times.
SPELL TO BANISH HARM
As we spiral down within
In the dark days of cold winter,
Let new harmony begin.
Stripped be the land of all that harms it!
Rid be the folk of all that harms us!
Begone every kind of ill!
In deepest dark, where all is still,
Let the healing change be made.
The land renewed in harmony,
The folk remade in harmony,
The land and people now at one,
Always, in all healing ways,
All nights and days.
Pick up the bowl and say,
‘As these herbs rot down within earth, so shall the ills be banished from land and people.
So shall the harmony be regained. By root and stem, leaf, fruit and flower,
In the names of the Great Mother of Fate and the Lord of the Thresholds Between the Worlds’ (or name your own Deities) ‘and without harm to anyone, So May This Be.’
Bury the herbs in the ground.
If you like you can use such a spell to target some particular ill, such as covid in your town or an environmental threat. (Just alter the words as you see fit.)
At this time of year, we see the first fruits of our own personal and our collective harvests. Either good health or illness may be reaped in this year, as we know. So the simplest rite we could do would be to stand in front of a lit candle and give thanks for good health if we have it and for the good health of our kith and kin – following this with prayers for the healing of all who are sick and comfort for the bereaved.
It is our collective fate to face the threat posed by COVID-19 and to live with its impact upon all our lives. So what can we do? Here is a healing spell from the faerie wisewoman who guides me. (And I suggest that healing magic of any kind will be necessary to address the many issues raised by this current crisis.)
(To Be Sung or Chanted over a Glass Bowl of Fresh Water)
I call to the powers of the trees. I call to all the living creatures, even to humankind.
I call to all ancestral spirits, call to all elves of goodwill, call on the magic of the land.
Let new healing ways arise that serve all, by the will of the many to whom I now call.
Let respect and care and deep love be. And let there be union and let there be harmony.
Between each and every being and race, love, care and respect for the Spirit of each place.
For the Spirit is made of the spirits of all who there dwell.
Let each show honour to each that all may be made well.
I sing as I dream on the waters and so the dreaming realm is bespelled.
(When the spell has been sung three times the water is poured out upon the land – for its magic to become one with that which links us all – the Earth, Herself.)
Faerie magic can be subtle. There is no direct focus here upon banishing COVID-19. Instead, the spell addresses the disharmonies that bring illness about. And evokes a greater awareness of the need to care for all beings if any are to thrive more than superficially.
As a hedge witch, I stand with one foot in Faerie when working magic. Those of the Otherworld guide and instruct me. (Their point of view can be refreshingly different from everyday human attitudes and it does shift perspective.) I stand on the boundary between the Worlds and I try to listen. Some of the voices I hear are mischievous. Some are simply ancestral voices of those going about their own business. Some are of well-wishers. And some are wise. Wise and Blessed Be.
A Solstice rite is often linked with a peak of love and fulfilment, a sheer celebration of life and happiness. But in these particular times, for many people, it can feel hard to relate to all that. Anxiety fights with confidence, fear with happiness. So I asked for guidance about it all (for everybody, not just for myself) and received this in reply. It is from the Horned God, He whose remit includes facing us with our deepest fears and challenging us to respond with honesty.
The Horned God speaks:
“I am in your passions and instincts for I am Father Nature, the Wild God. Listen to my voice. I will always warn you when danger threatens. To do so is a part of my purposes. What you do in response to that is up to you. Perhaps you practice denial or panic because you feel overwhelmed or lack sufficient wisdom. But if you call upon me for help, your panic will cease. A deeper instinct than fear will arise and I will take over and protect you. Or, if all is already lost, I will guide you through clear surrender to meet the Mother as Queen of the Dead, She who is Lady of All Rebirth. There is no need to fear for all shall be well in the Living World – where all is continually being transformed in response to damage. My voice may challenge you or terrify or guide you. It is up to you.”
Oracles such as these can be a part of the work of a hedge witch or hedge priestess or priest. They have a way of changing the perspective and enhancing strength. Or at least, that is my experience.
May we all feel able to drink deeply of the wine of life at the Summer Solstice. And to celebrate love and the heart’s values and to give thanks for visions of beauty.
Within the everyday World, the pandemic covid 19 takes a lot of attention. Media focus is, of necessity, mostly upon that. But how do we want things to be when it’s all over? Historically, great crisis has always brought change. Things don’t go back to just how they were after a pandemic or a war). So this, despite all the pain and fear, grief and limitation, does hold the promise of an opportunity. Many of the world’s political leaders will be meeting behind closed doors with quite a different agenda. Many of them will try to want to return us to ‘business as usual’, bailing out industries with a high carbon footprint and so on. And yet a recent item on the News told me that only 9% of all British people would like life to be as it was before covid 19. The rest of us (91%) would like to go forward to a new way that supports wildlife, gives us clean air and helps us all to continue to thrive within caring local communities.
The natural world is sacred to Pagans. And the survival of everything depends upon it, absolutely. To continue to destroy it is to risk the destruction of future generations and the cutting short of the lives of today’s young people, according to a panel of scientists employed by the United Nations. But what can we, as hedge witches, hedge priest/esses, fey people, Pagans, do about this? Well, we can each do our own individual magical work to help heal the natural world and bring a permanent switch to a kindlier way of life. Each prayer and every spell can help – even the smallest of our efforts – because it is all cumulative. Besides, we don’t work alone. Even as solitary practitioners, we can call upon Goddess and God and ancestral spirits, faeriekind, elemental spirits and spirits of creature, tree, herb, pool, river, sea, flame, wind and land, in a massive alliance. We can do this for love of the magic of all the natural world and for love of life. At this, the festival of love, Betane, we can cast spells to heal the human relationship with the natural world and with one another.
Betane Blessings! Safe, Healthy and Blessed be!
The following is an adaption of ideas from “THE HEDGE WITCH’S WAY"
PRAYER TO THE EARTH GODDESS AND GOD
‘Lady and Lord of the Earth’s powers and of the land’s natural magic, I call upon you to guide humankind in the search for true healing. Banish all deep causes of our sickness. Let resistance to healing change be transformed to willingness. Guide us to wise discovery of the best healing remedies. And let us emerge into health that is based in a greater harmony with all the natural world.’
Pick up a stone and say this. ‘Mother Earth, I bless this stone in your name and I dedicate it to healing purposes. It holds your wise magic, as do all stones, for they are of your body. Blessed Be.’
Then take also a leaf or some grass and say this. ‘Lord of the land’s magic, your law is on all beings, that we both abide by Mother Earth’s ways, in the end, and explore freely, finding our harmony. By this sign, may humankind receive guidance and healing. So may it be.’
Stain the stone green with the leaf. Bury the stone.
Early Spring, longer days, first signs of Spring flowers. This is the time of renewal of life. Mother Earth now brings forth new growth. Within the Otherworld of Faerie, Goddessmothers and faerie cunning men bless the new young plants and creatures being born in the living World. May they also bless all lands with renewal of harmony between humanity and other species.
In the names of the Goddess and of the God,
May there be passion, wholeheartedly,
In every human for harmony
Between humankind and the Natural World.
And in all places, let be restored
A healthy environment, green and at peace.
Let the land be blessed with good health
And a rightful balance between all species.
Bless the land’s harmony with renewal,
Goddessmothers and Cunning Men all,
As I do bless it. In offering,
I light this candle. So May It Be.
(Light a candle. If working outdoors, upon the land, also make a traditional gift to
The faerie spirits who live in that area. This might be fresh spring water or milk or
Honey – or a cake you have made. It must always be something biodegradable.)
Rae will be giving a talk on ‘Hedge Priestess and Priestcraft’ on Saturday 14th March 2020 at the QUEST ANNUAL CONFERENCE. Adrian Rooke is also speaking. The Conference will be held between 10.30a.m. and 5.00p.m. at the following address.
The Southville Centre, Beauley Road, Bristol BS3 1QG
Tickets are £30 – including a buffet lunch – and must be booked by 15th Feb.
Send a cheque payable to QUEST for £30.00 to 80, Bishopsworth Road, Bristol BS13 7JS or call 0117 963 4247
I help you to be still yet to cast your spells
To have power of your own to do your work with.
Between us, there is love and need.
My spirit is composed of the language of mist in the woodland.
It is the foresight of rivers.
But I can speak as an animal
or bird or fish.
I change my shape, to meet in secret
Without you, I have no host in houses of the mortal.
Without me, you've no power to bring healing to the ill.
Your being beyond words has obtained my conversation.
I am of Earth's unearthliness.
Copyright © Rae Beth.
Spell For World Healing© the contributors.
Website design © Hexen Press.
All rights reserved in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.