Hello and how are you? How was your full moon in Gemini? I always feel like Gemini has such a playfulness, it’s very roguish, it’s light, it’s flirty. And I appreciate it, I welcome it; that’s the vibe I need right now. There’s always a lot of heaviness around the full moon, energetically it can be really overwhelming, very somber, but Gemini provides a really good balance to all that seriousness.
And it was the last full moon of the year 2022. The next time we see the full moon, it’ll be 2023. My gods, I get so existential at this time of year. And I have also been fighting a nasty flu. I’m feeling a lot better today, but I am a bit behind on answering messages right now. I do apologize and I will get back on track over the weekend, but I just wanted to thank you for your patience. I don’t always answer everyone right away anyway. I try to, and sometimes I do, but sometimes I need to think about a situation for a day or two before I respond. I can’t always work off the cuff. But this last week I’ve fallen behind, and I do acknowledge that.
Now before we get into the topic of the day, I wanted to address two things that I totally neglected to include in last week’s episode about casting magickal circles. I had these two bullet points in my notes, got myself out of order, and then never did get back around to addressing them and I thank the folks who wrote to me about it.
So one of the points I neglected to get to was what to do if you absolutely must leave your circle for a moment once you’ve cast it. First of all, please just try to avoid that. Not just for the sake of the integrity of your circle, but because it does break up the flow of the work a little bit. When we are raising energy and we’re working in that space, we just prefer not to interrupt it if we can. But we don’t need to be super rigid and inflexible about it.
But if we are interrupted, if we absolutely must step out of the circle, as a witch called Raven wrote, we can cut a door in the circle with your finger or your wand or athame, if you use them, and close the door behind you. This is fine, this can work in a pinch. But again, you know, just try to remember to bring everything with you and try to do your work at a time that you’re least likely to be disturbed.
The other question I got was what to do with the items that you used to create your circle. If you use only your own energy, obviously this does not apply, just dismiss that energy when you’re done. But if we’ve used crystals or stones or salt or leaves, or herbs or whatever, then you’ll need to clean up the physical remnants and the question was, what to do with them.
So if you used leaves, herbs, flowers, etc, you can sweep them up and throw them out in your garden. Return them to nature. They’re still going to be charged with protective energy, so that’s nice. If you used stones or seashells, or any natural, more permanent items like that, pine cones, you could hold onto them and reuse them. Crystals are obviously something you’re going to keep and use again, I should hope.
If you’ve used salt, don’t throw it out in the garden because it’s going to kill whatever it touches. But you can sweep it up and hold onto it to reuse in other work. I don’t usually hold onto it, because whatever I sweep up is going to be about 50% dog hair, but your results may differ. Whatever you used is still going to be charged with energy, and I think that was the main point of the folks asking the question. We don’t like to waste that energy if we can avoid it. So thank you again for writing to me, this is a collaborative effort.
Today we are talking about Hedgewitchery, and this topic was a suggestion from a witch named Dawn, who is a hedgewitch. Dawn thought it would be helpful to expand on the concept and I wholeheartedly agree. I suspect a lot of us could fall under the hedgewitch banner. Obviously, these labels aren’t hard and fast, these aren’t scientific classifications, and there’s a lot of overlap. Especially hedgewitchery, which is a very large umbrella, under which we might find a lot of aspects of green witchcraft and kitchen witchcraft and especially folk magick.
But there are a lot of significant differences, too. Now, I am not a huge fan of labeling myself or putting myself in any kind of box and I think most of us probably aren’t, but it does help, when we’re trying to learn more about our own practices and to expand our knowledge base and our understanding of modern witchcraft and its historical roots, to know what those descriptors mean and how they relate to what we do.
So while there are not clear, absolute distinctions between all of these and there is so much crossover, we are going to look into what hedgewitchery is, what it means to be a hedgewitch, and how we can fold some of these practices into our own. We need to know what all of these things mean so that we can decide whether we want to pursue them or even just pick and choose what we want to keep and leave the rest.
So to begin with, let’s start by trying to define the term hedgewitch, and looking into the history of this terminology. Traditionally, the hedgewitch was a solitary practitioner who lived on the fringes of his or her community, this person would have lived beyond the hedgerow. On the outskirts both literally and figuratively. For those old, traditional communities, the hedgerow marked the end of civilized life. Whatever lay beyond the hedgerow was other, it was wild, it was unknown.
The hedgerow was a portal of sorts. Those who lived on the other side of it were the cunning folk, this was the person the villagers would seek for help if their horse was lame, or if the baby had a fever, or the crops were struggling, or if they thought they’d been hexed. This was a person who would be consulted for all kinds of everyday practical issues, from drought to an unwanted pregnancy. When the need arose, they would also function as midwives. Regardless of the need, the hedgewitch would use either magickal or practical solutions to solve people’s problems. Sometimes they would use both.
A traditional hedgewitch may have received their education from an ancestor or they may have been an apprentice. The point is, this knowledge had been passed down. This is no longer the case for most of us, and this is where today’s modern hedgewitch begins to diverge from tradition. My mother was not a hedgewitch and nor was my grandmother. In fact, my gran would die from the shame of it if anyone ever accused her of witchcraft.
Although it must be said, for the truly devout Christian woman she is, if you ever find yourself playing Midnight Canasta with her and you start winning, you may see her discreetly draw a little X on the table with her finger to break your streak. So, yes, even this saintly Christian woman will still lay a little jinx on you. But I digress.
So that’s what it used to mean to be a hedgewitch. A hedgewitch today is still usually a solitary practitioner whose main area of focus and expertise is still usually divination, herbalism and shamanism. By and large, these witches are healers, both physically and spiritually. There are a lot of variations and exceptions, but a hedgewitch usually isn’t overly concerned with any religious aspect of their craft and they’re not typically found engaging in very elaborate rituals. At least, not with any kind of frequency beyond the major witches’ sabbats.
This is generally speaking, a very straightforward kind of practice. These practitioners may spend time foraging for what they need to work their magick. These folks are also likely to have spent a lot of time and effort learning about the local plant life in their area. Learning how to use it, what its magical and medicinal applications are.
Wildcrafting is a large part of what a hedgewitch does. Foraging and harvesting plants that are native to a given area, or even non-native plants that have been introduced to an area but which now thrive and grow wild there. Back when we did the foraging episode which was, damn, last winter I want to say. Yeah, that was in January. We talked about a lot of ways to use the things that we can easily find and harvest in our craft.
And while that episode wasn’t necessarily about hedgewitchery, a lot of the information does apply here. Incidentally, you can either listen to that episode or you can get a written transcript of it on the website, middleagedwitch.com. But anyway, the information as I said is easily applicable here. Including, and perhaps especially, what I had to say about writing things down. Taking notes, keeping detailed records as a witch, especially as a hedgewitch is going to be really important.
Because as we said, a hedgewitch’s education is meant to come from the witches who came before us. But if we are the ones blazing this trail, it’s our responsibility to pass that knowledge forward to the witches who will come after us. So we gotta take notes.
Hedgewitchery is also about finding ways to impart magick into our everyday lives. When we talked about broom magick a couple weeks back, that was hedgewitchcraft. When we talk about using tea ritually and medicinally, we are using hedgewitchcraft. When we incorporate intentional herbs into our cooking, we are definitely using hedgewitchery.
It also means spending time learning how the natural cycles of nature and the seasons and the moon can help or hinder the work we do. It means understanding the best time to work a certain spell. It means recognizing signs and omens. It means using divination to understand the nuances of a situation. Maybe for you this means reading tea leaves. Maybe it means tarot. Maybe these intuitive messages come to you in dreams. However you find these messages, the point is that you do receive them.
And all of that is what it means to be a hedgewitch. It means you’re a cool loner, you see things, and you know things, people seek you out when they need your help. It’s an honor and it’s a responsibility. So, if this is a path that you feel you’re being drawn to, I do have some suggestions as to where to begin. First and foremost, start learning what you can about herbalism. There are some great books to get you on your way, one of my favorites is called Healing Herbs by Tina Sams. I also really love Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health.
Either of these is a great foundation for learning the basics and what’s cool about them is that they have methods and recipes to create your own tinctures, infusions, balms, salves, teas and more. There is one other book that I personally think is absolutely crucial for every hedgewitch to have in their library and that is a journal. I’m sorry to beat this drum again, but it’s so important to write things down and to keep a record. It doesn’t have to be fancy or even all that well-organized. You just have to use it. Someone has to keep a record of the work that you do and I’m sorry, witches, but that someone is you.
It’s an excellent new year’s resolution, by the way, to keep a journal of all the work you do. It’s a lot more than we realize. And it encourages us to perform more magick. At least it encourages me. And I have a really easy first entry for a journal. It’s hedgewitchery, it’s magickal and it’s also practical. It’s a chamomile balm and its medicinal use is to treat dry, irritated skin. But it’s also used magically to attract money. Now that the harsh winter weather is chapping our skin and the Christmas shopping is draining our wallets, I thought this would be a simple and practical hedgewitch solution for very common problems.
So first of all we need to make an infusion of chamomile with coconut oil or almond oil. Get some chamomile tea bags and cut three or four of them open. Empty them into a small saucepan and add three ounces of coconut oil or almond oil. Let it heat through for 20 or 30 minutes on low heat, then strain out the herbs. Add about a half ounce of beeswax and stir it all together until it’s completely blended, then pour it in a little jar and allow it to cool. You can adjust the amount of wax and add a little more if you want your balm a little stiffer, or you can adjust the wax down if you prefer a softer balm. If you want to scale the recipe up and make more, that’s perfectly fine. It makes an excellent gift.
And consider what other kinds of herbs you could use in this kind of balm. An enterprising witch might make a healing balm with mint and eucalyptus to help soothe those headcolds and also to offer some protection. A balm made with rose and lavender is going to help a little one to sleep better, and it’s going to impart peace and feelings of love and comfort.
If you’re a crafty kind of a person, if you’re a maker, then you’re at least a little bit of a hedgewitch. We’ve already talked about how easy it is to impart magick into the foods we make, but there are so many other considerations. If you’re a soapmaker, you can consider how the oils and botanicals that you use can combine in magickal intent. If you’re a knitter, you can consider color correspondences in the items you knit. If you’re into mixology, you can create all kinds of magickal spirits for all kinds of magickal needs.
This is the essence of hedge witchcraft. It is the place where practical needs meet magickal solutions. And it is immensely powerful work. So I hope your wheels are turning, I hope you’re thinking of all those practical and magickal intersections and how we can create magick in the mundane. This is our power. And it’s a hell of a thing. Thank you for joining me today, you can find me at middleagedwitch.com or on social media at @middleagedwitch, or you can write to me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My name is Eli Ro, and this has been the Middle Aged Witch podcast.