A Family Trained Hedge Witch-The Elements

A Hedge Witch and the Elements

I think many have the idea that a hedge witch is someone who lives and breathes herbs, or is simply a kitchen witch. In my family tradition, a hedge witch is someone who lives and works with the elements and psychism daily. My family tradition defines witchcraft as being able to work with all the forces of nature, those in the real world and those not in the real world.

For those that follow my blog, you will remember my entry titled Weather magic with clairvoyance in time and space. In that entry, I described how I built my relationship with the Element of Air. In this entry, I will further elaborate on that experience by stating I believe the direction and the element are separate things. The direction of East is the realm where the Element of Air lives. This precept is fundamental to how I work with the elements.

First of the elements as we walk the circle is Air.

So, what is Air? Breathing, or weather? Certainly, those are its most basic functions, however, the air has components. These components are part of air yet much more than just basic air. The components of Air are; the wind, a storm, lightning, weather, and the atmosphere, and each has a different function, action, reaction, and spirit. Each has a different feel, different energy, different smell. Each reacts differently when you speak to them or ask something of them, and some may even make requests of you in return.

Other aspects and components of Air are flight, levitation, psychism, invisibility, thought and sound, intellect, energy, intent, dreams, and my favorite, the astral planes.

The element of Air is the breath of life. When we are born the first thing, we do is gasp for breath, without it, there is no life. As without so within, meaning if the planet is not able to breathe it will not survive either.

East, the realm air lives in and is guarded by, is the place of dawn, it births a new day for us each time the sun rises, this makes it the realm of light. For me, its ritual tool is the wand. We wave it in the air and direct energy and use it to send energy and intent. Wands are typically wood, meaning trees that create oxygen and live in the sky. So this makes sense to me.

Next, as we move around the circle is Fire.

The Element of fire lives in The Direction of the South, it is the place of heat volcanos, deserts, and the sun. The Direction of South is the holder and guardian of the flame and the flame is the spark of life.

Many of us think of actual fire when we address the South and the Element of fire. Many forget the greatest fire our planet experiences, the sun. The sun is the fire that keeps this planet going. Without the sun’s heat, we, the plants, and animals could not live.

At Imbolc, the sun heats the earth just enough that the plants hidden in the earth quicken just a little. The energy of the quickening can be felt by those who are sensitive to it. The energy of the quickening is an energy of expectation, pregnancy, and re-birth. This energy is put forth by all living things, and we feel it as the hope of spring and the spark of life.

Each flame or fire transforms the things it burns to nutrient-rich soil through the ash it creates. The sun then turns into new growth. As the sun rises each day after a fire, we again see the dawn of a new day and feel its promise. This makes Flame and the sun, the actuators of rebirth. When you think of it the act of rebirth is both destruction and creation. Flame is transformative, for no one, no thing, is the same after being touched by flame. It is cleansing and purifying and like our sun it is both creator and destroyer, giver, and taker.

We humans would not be here today without either. We usually think only of what flame takes from our lands and not what it gives back. There are components of flame too, dryness, heat, intensity, stillness and sudden and fierce movement, blasts of energy and heat. All things that occur before a fire or during very hot sunny days.

In my practice, the athame is the tool for fire. The Athame is created by fire, a sword or knife are often used in an act of passion, destruction, or creation, and all are attributes of flame and the realm of the South.

Our hearts are the fire within us. Our hearts drive our passion, our desires. It drives our will to live, and each has a different spirit and energy that can be felt, noticed, watched, and interacted with. We consider something is alive when we can hear its heartbeat. Like the sun our heart warms us. It is the engine of our bodies, as the sun is the engine to our planet. Our hearts drive our energy, it gets our blood pumping like the sun does for the planet in the quickening, making fire the spark of life. Again, as without so within.

Following around the circle we are now in the West, which is water.

What do most of us think when we think of water? Drinking it, a river, the ocean, emotions?

Ever consider how we carry water with us every day? And I do not mean in a plastic bottle. Our very bodies are 2/3rds water and so is our planet, again as without so within. Water in my tradition is the great nourisher of our bodies, our planet, and our very souls.

Ever notice how sitting next to running water soothes most people? That is water soothing our souls. We are carried in water for 9 months in the womb and our planet cannot flourish without water. In short, we cannot live or come into the world without water.

Water is the birth of all living things. Our bodies die without water, this makes it the nourisher of our bodies. Water is also for cleansing and not just in the spiritual sense. We use it to clean all the time without a thought.

Water purifies and dilutes, which is what it does as we sit next to it and feel soothed. It dilutes our stress, purifies our thoughts calms our passions. Water represents the waves of our emotions, our tears, our moods, and holds our soul.

Water gives us rain, nourishing the planet. It provides fog and humidity which in its way also provides water to nourish the planet in which we live. Fog, humidity, rain, and ice are all parts of water. All with a different job to do and each has a different energy and spirit, different actions, and reactions within our atmosphere. Each of them can be worked with if one pays attention and builds a relationship with them.

The realm of the West is the place of thresholds, liminal space. Liminal space is the between spaces and places. The West and Water both, are the dark realms, not just because of the depts of the oceans but because that is where the sun sets each day. In ritual, the tool for water is the challis, the bowl, and any vessel holding the water or drink to be used.

The last element in the circle is Earth.

Earth is the mother of our bodies she is the great provider of all. Earth is both life and death in the great cycle. Without Earth there is nothing. No plants, no food, no place to live, no air, no fire, no water, no us, for she holds it all. We are born here, it is the home of our bodies and she provides our very way of life in all aspects.

She is the great womb from whence all things are born. Including the other elements. There is no breathable air or atmosphere in space, no fire or flame except the sun, and no plants or animals. All those things may exist on another planet but not so much in space itself. As a hedge witch, I see the other elements as parts of the earth, individual, but parts just the same. The Earth provides the plants, which provides oxygen, Earth holds the water, also partially made of oxygen, Earth and her natural cycles, of heat and cooling help, provide rain, ice and all-weather. She provides what fire burns. Without her gases, there is no atmosphere it is her breath and ours, as without so within.

Like any mother, she provides all that we, her children need. She allows us to live on her, to flourish, or run rampant. She has her way of telling us she has had enough to by using her elements of storms, fires, floods, drought, or famine to speak to us if we listen.

Daily she gives us hints as to what the weather will be like. She tells us what needs to be watered, or tended to, her children the plants are signaled by her to show us their needs we can see when a plant begins to droop or turn brown. Animals are signaled by her to show us their needs for food, water, or shelter. The land talks too, is it dry? does it need to be fed? tilled or raked? All signaled by her if we watch, listen to feel, and speak to her.

The Great Mother also takes all our woes, our energy our garbage, and our bodies back into her and turns it back into something full of life for she is the great regenerator of all things, the place of life and death and everything in between. Earth represents stability, home, hearth, health, and prosperity in all aspects of life and for all living things.

The realm of the North is the realm of creation and destruction, home of the gnomes, home to all things ice, all things magnetic, home to fluctuating energies, and is the gateway to the cosmos. The tool I prefer to use in ritual for North is the staff. It stabilizes us as we walk on the earth, it is born on the earth and holds and directs earth energy.

In ritual as I begin calling the elemental quarters, I draw up the sacred connections I have with each one. I draw their awesome powers within me till they vibrate then I begin my vocal call to them loaded with those vibrations. I let those vibrations channel through any tool I may have in my hand as well.

Such are the relationships, I as a hedge witch, hold with the elements. Their realms and their tools are alive and a way of being. They help me live with the forces of nature each day. They make it possible to call them on a moment’s notice if there is a need. I remain aware and mindful that each element and each realm is symbiotic to the other. For one cannot exist without the other, just like in our bodies. We and the elements have symbiotic need of each other as is represented in the saying, As above, So below. As without, So within, So the universe, So the soul.

Personal contradictions and dualities

 

Personal contradictions and dualities

Every day social media asks the ultimate loaded question: “What is on your mind?” Well in the age of instantly knowing everything at once how can we not have too much on our minds? This highlights one of many dualities, how do we care about everything going on in the world and balance that with time for ourselves? I do not mean doing fun things with friends and family here. I mean us personally. In this fast-paced world taking time to feel, to grieve, to be happy, to cry, to enjoy a moment alone, time to let ourselves really feel everything we need to in order to properly think and process is not encouraged. That is until Covid.

During the lockdowns, the feelings we had stuffed from being so busy began to rise. Anger was at the forefront. Anger at the way the world was, anger at the way our jobs are or are not, housing, health, murder, civil rights and so much more. The onslaught of media has us angry at all of these things. Then we are angry at the politicians for not doing enough fast enough.

But here is the thing about that part. They can’t do enough fast enough no more than we can as an individual, and that is what angers us the most because it highlights how powerless and overwhelmed, we feel, so we project our feelings towards them and everyone.

There is an implied assumption fueled by the media that they should do more when we feel our world is such a mess. We forget they are people with emotions, health needs, and families that get overwhelmed or bogged down in rules and laws that we put in place. In our anger and sense of powerlessness, we forget that, so we blame, judge get angry, and lash out at everyone. Does that let them off the hook? No, but they need time we do not feel we can give them.

Rather than letting our anger and feelings run if we could acknowledge our sense of powerlessness and anger then begin to do something that we do have control over it would ease our anger and powerlessness. This would give us time to think, feel and simply be for a moment. Doing things like gardening, laundry, meditating, taking time to cry, grieve, laugh, do a hobby, getting the mail, changing the house around, go outside for five minutes, or most anything that is for us personally gives us solace, a sense of control and a sense of being right in our corner of the world.

When we participate in the fervor of the blame game on media, we forget we are responsible for giving ourselves solace and control. This is not the job of anyone outside of us, not politicians not loved ones, just ourselves. However, because we are human it is much easier to lash out at others or let ourselves be baited by others.

This happens simply because we are human, does that let us off the hook? No. No more than it does the politician. We are accountable for ourselves, our anger, our being judgmental, and for giving to ourselves, all of it. Is this easy? No! Are we bad people because we fall into these traps? Only if we do not pull ourselves out of them and take joy in it or let it become the person we are.

I think under all the anger and feeling of powerlessness, most people’s hearts and souls are quite different. I think more people than not say to themselves “It should not be this way” or “That is not how I really feel” or have remorse for something they said or did in a heated moment. When we feel this way it is the time for accountability.

That feeling is our que we have done something against our inner nature. To be accountable we can apologize or own our stuff in some fashion. That redemption is what keeps us liking ourselves and quells our anger. If we do not do this, we end up hating life, everything in it, and ourselves too. This leads to feeling even more powerless and it becomes a cycle.

I know we are not encouraged to admit we were wrong or did a bad thing. It is perceived as weak and we are taught it only opens us up to attack shame or rejection. Society has us fearing a societal consequence while ignoring the personal consequence which is much more destructive to our lives. We end up feeling miserable and hopeless. Then we act miserable because our emotions come out in our actions and words.

It took me a while to figure this all out and I am by no means perfect at it. But each day, in moderation, I do what I can to tell myself that taking care of myself, doing things for myself, is more important than anything or anyone. We have all seen what can happen when the individual goes too far with self-importance. I am talking about doing this in a healthy way, in moderation, with accountability, responsibility, and humility.

Humility is another taboo in our society. It too is a contradiction and duality the human being has. I once said confidence is symbiotic with arrogance and is difficult to temper with humility. But we as humans must temper it or we have all the things that have been discussed previously. We end up with what we see on social media. An attitude of “screw other people they do nothing for me.” We see disregard and dissolution with anyone perceived as an authority or someone offering their own view. Most on social media are people angrily yelling I matter more. This is because they have not turned their attention to themselves. Listened to themselves, loved themselves and they still think it is the job of others to make them feel valid.

It is not the job of others to make you feel as though you matter or that you are valid and heard, because they will always fall short of your expectations, only you can meet your own expectations fully. You will feel discounted and invalid until you validate yourself in a way only you can.

As I write that I am well aware many will take issue with my words and misunderstand them, all for the reasons stated above. When I say it is not the job of others to make sure you matter, I am not talking about civil rights, gender, or anything like that, I speak only of the inner self.

The human being is a complicated critter, and because of social conditioning and social media, our inner conflicts and dualities have only gotten more complicated. I have even had to address my own misogyny and behaviors that were conditioned into me as I grew up. I did so because I realized it was in direct conflict with my beliefs about gender, relationships, and love, and I have many more I need to deal with, we all do. It is lifetime work however, it is my self-acceptance and humility that allows me to say so openly without fear of what others will say because the kind of person I am matters the most to me, not them.

So, what keeps us in duality and contradictions that no longer serve us? Fear. Mostly what others think and social consequences. But the biggest one is the fear of change and the unknown. But here is the most obvious and unstated and unrecognized thing about that, rather we change or not we still have consequences. So the way I see it I would rather have consequences that are mine to deal with, consequences that come from me not others. This allows me to stop worrying about what others think or what they will do. It is an interesting duality to be sure.

In nature there is duality in all things, a light side a dark side, an upside a downside, a green side, and a dark green side. However, with nature, we embrace and accept that, we seldom accept that about ourselves or say it is ok because in our society it is a taboo to admit that about ourselves. If we admit our duality and contradictions, we are seen as broken or in need of mental health. I feel it is just who I am and it is my job to manage that the best I can. It is not the job of my friends, loved ones, social media, or the media to monitor those contradictions and dualities or even to give me advice about it.

The job of others is to see you as clearly as you see yourself and love you anyway. It is their job to trust that you are handling it because they will really know you when you are that transparent. If they do not, take care of you and move on in some fashion. Yet in human contradiction and duality, it is the human passion to point out someone else’s faults to them as though they are five years old.

It is true sometimes people do not see their duality and contradictions. If so and you are close to them then this is the time it is appropriate to offer insight. But you will not know if they are aware until you take a risk and ask first before assuming and telling them what you think they should do.

Another contradiction and duality is how far people will go to avoid what they perceive as conflict or to take the risk of being honest and speak up or ask a question. Again, fear puts us in this place. I do not fear this because I am the one dealing with me and any fallout is my responsibility, not theirs. It is the most liberating place I have ever been even when it makes those, I love uncomfortable.

People have tried for many years to keep me within their idea of safe and protected to no avail. They attempt this because it is comfortable for them to see others do as they would do. It validates their position, feelings, and perceptions. It also allows them to not face things that are different than what they would do or what they see as reasonable. The way my family raised me was the greatest contradiction of all. They raised me to be an honest free thinker and doer, that is until I was that way toward them because it made them face their own choices, words, and actions. This is the meaning behind the statement “others are a mirror of your own issues.”

In summary, we all have duality and contradictions because we are human and we are built that way, so we may as well accept that about ourselves and of others and make it work for us instead of feeling broken and quit fussing so much about how others do things on a personal level. Which is yet another contradiction and duality in the human being, we all want autonomy, many demand it, yet they spend so much time interfering with the autonomy of others. I find human beings to be complex, exhausting, and amusing creatures.