Reviews & Interviews

Book Review – Craft of the Hedge Witch: A Guide to the Solitary Path by Geraldine Smythe

Book Review
Craft of the Hedge Witch:
A Guide to the Solitary Path
Written by Geraldine Smythe
Foreword by Rachel Patterson
Illustrated by Wycke Malliway
Publisher: Crossed Crow Books
177 Pages
Publication Date: August 22, 2022

 

This short review cannot possibly tell you the many gems the book contains or the immense amount of wisdom it covers. This is a book for the solitary witch, for the one who walks their own path, who makes their own rules. Geraldine Smythe shares her own personal journey and gives you thoughts and insights about being a hedge witch but she also gives you practical advice. This is an excellent book for both the beginner witch and the one who has been practicing for years.

What is a hedge witch? To quote Tudorbeth,

“Hedgewitchery is the belief of nature and the power contained within that nature. The Hedgewitch goes beyond her brothers and sisters in the many forms of witchcraft and Paganism. She is the esoteric branch on the Pagan tree, totally at peace living in a different reality, where no science of man can comprehend or even begin to explain its origins. Science completely dismisses that which we hold dear and sacred.”

Geraldine Smythe has been a hedge witch for many years. She says:

“Hedgecraft is indeed an eclectic path that centers around drawing the power of magic directly from the source.”

She will remind you of things that you already know while telling you things you do not. You have probably learned the power to be found in solitude. She reinforces that. “Solitude keeps others from dragging us down. Worry is one of our top energy drains. It drains our energy and doesn’t solve the problem.” and “Simply take account of the danger, people, and situations that could potentially interfere with your happiness and sap your energy, and adjust things accordingly.”

There is an excellent walking meditation that can be adapted to fit you and she has exercises that will help you with hedge walking.

There is a section in part two on lucid dreaming. “The ancients discovered that dreaming was an area of infinite possibility and they treated their dreams as if they were real events.” There are tips and tricks which will help with lucid dreaming but I will NOT recommend the ‘nootropics and supplements’ as those must be researched on a person-by- person basis depending on your health and the medications you are taking. Anyone consuming these do it at their own risk as she states in the book. High level of study and caution advised!

In part three, she speaks freely of moving back and forth between the world of dreams and the world of what we perceive of as ‘reality’ by using a key – “The key of the Hedge Witch is the act, word, phrase or even object that opens up a gate to the bridge of dreaming.” She gives us a spell to call our key. I find this invaluable.

“We are all different and each of us will have certain innate tendencies and talents, so instead of fighting with something that doesn’t come naturally, move on to what does work well for you and then adapt those methods to include the methods that might have been more difficult in the beginning.”

There is so much substance in part four I cannot even touch on all of it. There are deities, spirit allies, familiars, a hedge witch grimoire. She discusses the four elements and working within them. She mentions how you might recognize your primary element if you don’t already and gives elemental correspondences for each.

We read a brief history of the change from the nature religions when man was one with all that was around him and recognized gods within the elements to the book religions when “the gods no longer walked among us and we lost our capability to see.” She discusses humanity’s awareness in the past as opposed to now and it strikes a chord because they were so much more in touch, more connected than mankind as a whole is now. All experiences were real. It can be so again. Our deities did not die.

Part five contains Spellcraft 101; You are what you believe; and A Hedge Witch’s Book of Shadows. She encourages us to “use witchcraft everyday! Let it breathe through you and manifest even in your smallest act.”

There are tips and tricks for what to put in your grimoire and keep the things private which should not be revealed; how she does hers; and recipes and formulas that she uses that you can use.


Geraldine is a native upstate New Yorker with her family roots in rural Pennsylvania and Kildare, Ireland. She grew up in a religiously tolerant Irish Catholic home and was raised on a spiritual diet of Northern European fairy tales, Irish-Catholic ritual and Early American folklore. At the age of five, Geraldine requested that she dress as a real witch on her first Halloween and subsequently demanded that same costume every year after. In high school she voraciously consumed every book she could find dealing with magic and occultism and finally discovered the occult/new age section at her local shopping mall bookstore where she bought her first rune stones. Her passion for the craft took her into diverse areas of occult study and magical practice.

In 1992 she began traveling regularly to New York City and became a regular customer at the legendary Magical Childe occult shop in Chelsea. Here, she made many friends and quickly joined a group of Dianic Witches who based their work on a combination of Gardnerian Wicca and New Aeon Thelema. During college as a student of sociology, she became interested in the vibrant and multi-faceted practices of Cuban and Puerto Rican Spiritism and their roots in African religions and the Catholic Church. She was eventually welcomed into a circle of Espiritismo practitioners, where she was formally initiated and had her spirit guides identified.

Over the past twenty years Geraldine has grown to identify as a Hedge Witch, continually weaving her knowledge and passion for the Craft into a beguiling tapestry of Traditional Witchcraft, indigenous shamanic practices and spirit work; all specifically aimed at greater empowerment, honoring the forces of nature and facilitating her nightly journeys through the Hedge.

A special thank you to the talented Witch and author Rachel Patterson for graciously agreeing to write the foreword for Craft of the Hedge Witch. Rachel is the author of over eighteen books on various magical topics. She describes her craft as being a combination of old style witchcraft, Wicca, wild witchcraft, kitchen witchery, green witchery, and folk magic, with her heart finding home in the kitchen. To learn more about Rachel Patterson, visit her website at rachelpatterson.co.uk.

Craft of the Hedge Witch: A Guide to the Solitary Path on Amazon

 

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About the Author:

Katy Ravensong is a practicing green witch in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. She was raised here where she ran barefoot & free. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, voracious reader, crocheter, and amateur herbalist. She glories in the freedom that comes with being a Crone ~ when she is gone, she will not be known as a woman who could keep her mouth shut! She is disabled, yet tries to make disability work for her. She is an advocate for human rights. She is Dean of Wortcunning and Assistant Dean of Natural Philosophy at The Grey School of Wizardry. She has studied with various herbal teachers, with Witch School International, with Avalonian Institute of Metaphysical Arts, and is a priestess with the Sisters of Earthsong, Order of the White Moon. Her poetry has been featured in several publications including ‘Pagan Poetry for the Festivals and Seasons’ by Wyrdwood Publications edited by Edain Duguay, 2008. Her favorite quote is from Emily Dickinson “If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain. If I can ease one life the aching or cool one pain or help one fainting robin unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain.”

Katy Ravensong is a practicing green witch in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. She was raised here where she ran barefoot & free. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, voracious reader, crocheter, and amateur herbalist. She glories in the freedom that comes with being a Crone ~ when she is gone, she will not be known as a woman who could keep her mouth shut! She is disabled, yet tries to make disability work for her. She is an advocate for human rights. She is Dean of Wortcunning and Assistant Dean of Natural Philosophy at The Grey School of Wizardry. She has studied with various herbal teachers, with Witch School International, with Avalonian Institute of Metaphysical Arts, and is a priestess with the Sisters of Earthsong, Order of the White Moon. Her poetry has been featured in several publications including 'Pagan Poetry for the Festivals and Seasons' by Wyrdwood Publications edited by Edain Duguay, 2008. Her favorite quote is from Emily Dickinson “If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain. If I can ease one life the aching or cool one pain or help one fainting robin unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain.”