April 7th 2018
I have been digging through some of my old writing, and dusting it off. It's no use sitting on my hard drive, is it? This one was an article submitted for a publication that was looking at the idea of the Hedgewitch, a label I have identified with for nearly twenty years...
Picture this: As you walk through the forest, twilight falls around you, lengthening the shadows and making it harder to stick to the true path. Rain water drips from the leaves of the trees, giving the air a damp chilling bite that seeps through your clothes, and leaves you shivering. You frantically try to remember which direction you came from, and work out which direction you should be going in, but in this dim light, all the paths look the same. You are lost, cold, and darkness is fast approaching.
Then up ahead you see a light glistening between the trees, faint at first, but then growing stronger as you approach. A cottage sits nestled in between the trees, with a well-tended little garden wrapped around its walls, which overflows with herbs and plants, bushes and trees in flower or fruit, it looks like a little oasis of welcome amidst the fear of the unknown shadows. You walk up to the front door, hoping to ask for directions, but when you knock there is no answer, and the door creaks open with barely a push. You step inside, cautiously at first and calling out a “hello”, but there is no answer, and all in the cottage appears quiet. Surely it can’t hurt to step inside to wait for the person who lives there, safe from the cold air outside and the threat of more incoming rain. You take a deep breath and step over the threshold of the cottage. Looking around the room, you see that over to one side a black cat sleeps on a wooden rocking chair in front of a roaring fire, and over the fire hangs a cauldron that looks intriguing, so you step closer to investigate. The cauldron is filled with a bubbling liquid which seems to change colour as you look at it, and gives off a strong aroma of herbs, and the steam that rises from it has a faint greenish glow to it.
The cat wakes up, looks at you disinterestedly, stretches, yawns and leaps off the chair to go in search of food. The empty chair by the fire is so inviting, you take the cat’s place in the rocking chair, warming your cold hands in front of the flames. You sit back in the chair, and look around the room. Dried herbs hang in bunches from the oak beams that cross the old whitewashed ceiling, and the slate flagstone floor is swept clean. Along one wall sits a large wooden dresser, containing jar after jar of dried herbs and other unidentifiable objects that were possibly once living, and breathing, and maybe even hopping or flying around. The kitchen table is large and is strewn with more herbs, an overflowing basket of material and ribbons, many candles, jars of honey and lumps of beeswax. A large book is open on the table, and on it are written strange symbols that you have never seen before, and strange but colourful illustrations.
You hear a sound outside that startles you, and the door suddenly opens, and in walks… who? An old woman, muttering to herself and buried under layers of skirts and woollen shawls, looked ragged with a face that is wrinkled and worn, but with kindly eyes? Or maybe it is a young woman, beautiful and wearing long flowing skirts, with a wise face that belies her apparent young age? What would you imagine?
We all have ideas about what hedgewitches really are, and a person could be forgiven for imagining that there are hedgewitches that are like that. In fact, I will go a step further and say that many of us wish our world view looked like that, but sadly most do not. I have been a hedgewitch for many years now. You could date my progeny back to my childhood on Dartmoor, where I spent many a happy hour mixing wild flowers from our garden with spring water from the stream, and gifting bottles of what I called “perfume” to my Mum and my older sister (which actually smelt quite awful), or from the age of fourteen or so when I started working with essential oils and unwittingly did my first spell, but my first conscious steps on this path came when I started to actively learn herb lore and the solitary witches path about twelve years ago. So whether my pedigree is measured back twelve years or thirty, I have been on this path a long time now. I am a second degree Gardnerian, but my solitary practice is where I spend most of my time, and that is rooted very firmly in the realm of the hedgewitch. I am also a Master Practitioner of NLP, (sometimes referred to as Twenty First Century Magic) a writer, and a jewellery designer, and I have a day job too.
So do I fit the picture of the typical hedgewitch or hedgerider? On first glance I would have to say a resounding no. While I would love to live in a cottage buried deep in the woods, most of my adult life has been lived in the city (London) which makes me an urban hedgewitch. I live