Monday, December 26, 2011

The Hedge

The word hedgewitch can conjure up many images in those unfamiliar with the path. Some hear the term and think of green witches, and while we may have a good bit in common, the two terms are not truly interchangeable. To hedgewitches, the hedge is a powerful symbol, and while it can mean somewhat different things to different individuals, there's one theme that's common to most... the hedge as a boundary.

The boundary symbolism plays a dual role. The first is perhaps the more obvious - a hedge is literally a boundary, usually formed of shrubs or small trees, but sometimes of stone. A hedge separates the yard (or the village) and what lies beyond. The domestic and the wild. What is 'ours' and what is not. The second boundary is along similar lines, the boundary between the seen and unseen worlds. Some Wiccans and other pagans call this boundary the veil.

A hedgewitch works with both levels of symbolism. They cross the hedge into the wilds of the seen world, knowing the land and working with it. They cross the hedge into the unseen world to seek knowledge and learn from, and work with the spirits there. However, it's not just about crossing the boundary, going between here and there, but also working and living along it, finding a personal balance. Never only on one side or the other, but with a foot in both. Just as it is a mistake to view the wild lands as totally separate from a domesticated area (they are both part of the same Earth, after all), it is a mistake to view the seen as totally separate from the unseen. What is done in one will affect the other. The seen and unseen are parts of the whole, and must be balanced as such - a balance which is unique to each individual.  

Beyond being a boundary, the hedge can be a habitat and shelter for wildlife, a place to forage plants and herbs, a place where one can work with the spirits and energies of the boundary. Plant hedges are also not the only hedges, as I mentioned earlier sometimes they are made from stone (rock walls are a common sight in New England), sometimes they are natural, sometimes they are built by humans. There are many different types of hedges, and it can be interesting to consider the subtle differences in symbolism between each.

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