Rae Beth

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INTRODUCTION TO HEDGE MAGIC

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. At this time (January 2022) all my other books are available in both paperback and kindle. HEDGE WITCH is also an audiobook. Each can be ordered from your local bookshop or bought from Waterstones online or online from Amazon.


SEASONAL UPDATES

BELTAINE 2022

Hale to the time of blossoming – and to the festival which, more than any other, celebrates love. One of the plants linked with Beltaine is hawthorn. It is said to grow on a boundary between this everyday world and Faerie. It is also linked with heart healing and with the kind of love that serves a shared vision.
Hawthorn is very much the plant of the hedge witch and priest/ess. It can help to bring a union with a familiar spirit and to make communications with many spirits a possibility. But hawthorn brings us challenges that must be met with courage…….
At Beltaine, find a hawthorn tree or have a sprig of it in the house. Bless the tree and all its species with increased abundance, good health and good fortune. If outdoors, pour out an offering at the base of the tree – spring water (but not if bought in a plastic bottle) or unsweetened apple juice.
Say something like this.

HAWTHORN CHARM
Hawthorn, bless me with a love
That heals my heart –
May I see the truth of beauty
And the beauty of truth
And defend both.

Bless me with the courage
To achieve my heart’s desire
So long as my fulfilment serves love.
May each of the barriers across my path
Become an open door
By root and stem, leaf, fruit and flower.


 

SPRING EQUINOX 2022

In today’s world of war, disease, social injustice and environmental harm, it is easy to succumb to cynicism or to feel despair. But a hedge priest/ess or witch works on the boundary between this world and the Otherworld – between what is here and happening and what remains to be seen. With the help of the gods and goddesses of the Earth, we can hold bright visions of the future – and hold them as a magical act of the soul. And we can cast many spells to help make the World a better place.
I suggest we speak charms like the following – asserting what our hearts really want for the future’s children. And doing it in the hope that we will see at least some of it come into being while we ourselves are still alive.

CHARM FOR ONE YET TO BE BORN
Child, may you live in a World at peace where wise spells are being said
To turn what is ill into that which is well.
And where the seas are alive with fishes and great forests flourish and spread
And are held sacred.
And where what was done that harmed the land, sky or sea
Or one another is dead and gone.
A World where we do not wage war on other nations
Nor upon Nature.
And may you know yourself as a part of the Earth
And not apart from Her.
And may you love all life and always love wisely.
And may your best destiny always be fulfilled.
By root and stem, leaf. fruit and flower
And in the names of the Great Mother
And of the Lord of Winds of Change and of Spell-casting Power,
For you and for us all, So May This Be.

More Seasonal Updates in the Archive


FAMILIAR SPIRIT

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.

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