I tried to explain this question when I first started my blog (Here) and I don’t think I did a very adequate job of it so I’m trying again.
I recently read a description in a book and in an article, not necessarily for a HedgeWife but for herbalists, green witches, kitchen witches, herb witches, and hedge riders that I felt more than explained my stance on this term.
The first is from Goth Craft by Raven Digitalis. I just received my copy of this book for Christmas and have been loving the photos and descriptions thus far. However, the description I most wanted to share with you all was that of a Green Witch:
Green Witchcraft, which is also called Wild Witchcraft or Seidhr in Teutonic, may be the form of the Craft truest to the sense of the word Witch. The words cunning man/woman, hedge Witch, and even kitchen Witch are associated with these earth-based practices. Countryside practitioners in days of old made use of the magickal and medicinal qualities of plants, herbs, stones, and other natural substances. Green Witches work to attune themselves to the cycles of nature, including astrological cycles, especially for purposes of gardening. They create potions, brews, and natural elixirs that heal and transform a person on many levels. The Green Witch crafts charms, amulets, and spells for a variety of purposes. The patterns of the earth are carefully mapped, and the influence of earth changes is recognized as affecting human consciousness both on a global and a personal level. Green Witches pay particular attention to the Sabbats and lunar cycles, and are aware of the environment and its effects on the spirit.
The biggest difference between Green Witches and modern Wiccans is that Green Witches use little formal ceremonialism in ritual. The focus is the earth, her tides and cycles, and has little to do with common forms of Western magickal practice. Many Green Witches are of Celtic leaning – drawn to practices directly from the lands of greenery! Green Witches work with the gods of the green earth, particularly those of harvest and fertility, and the ebb and flow of nature’s cycles. The primary deities of Celtic Green Witchery are the God and Goddess in their nature guises as the Horned God and the Earth Mother.
I felt like these two paragraphs from Goth Craft hit the nail on the head for numerous witches who follow a natural path – Hedge Witches and Herb Wives included. The focus on nature’s cycles and using herbs and plants for transformation are key points in natural witchery, especially my own.
The other two paragraphs I wanted to share are from an article I read in Plant Healer Annual by Rosemary Gladstar – a re-known herbalist that I look up to. She wrote That Night as I Lay Sleeping as a prelude of sorts to another article for United Plant Savers. I don’t think Gladstar had natural witches in mind as she wrote this but it resonated with me and I thought maybe it might touch your heart too, dear reader:
We are born again and again, renewed by the forces of life, each with our own eternal spark. There are those who are called fully into the service of the green unknowingly following a calling as ancient as life on earth. These are the caretakers, keepers of the green, watching over the gardens through millennia. And throughout time, when gardens are in danger, this energy is called home. The plants respond, animals respond, rocks and minerals respond, we respond.
Perhaps this is the real work of herbalists these days. Not to argue politics, create standards, or to set up regulatory boards for which we one day may be sorry, but rather to listen to the heartbeat of the plants, to seek to understand the medicine power that streams from its source, to share that with others and, ultimately, to restore the wild gardens ensuring the continuing integrity of the plant communities.
Wow. When I read this I literally felt my heart grow and energy vibrate in my chest. This is a truth that I simply had to share. This is the purpose of herbalists, hedge witches, green witches, herb wives and this very HedgeWife. Connecting with the earth in my lifetimes, helping the earth and others in my life even as I help my own soul in doing so.
I can only hope that even though I wasn’t able to explain in my own words, that I have finally explained the meaning of a HedgeWife with the words of these wonderful authors.