When asked to describe what kind of Witches the members of The Forest’s Edge are, the member asked might throw out any one, or any combination, of several terms: Green Witch, Hedge Witch, Cunning folk…but what do those mean? Below are some descriptions written by one of our founding members to ellucidate how these terms are understood specifically within The Forest’s Edge Tradition, including some favorite resources for finding out more.
Flavors of Witchcraft
Green witchcraft: Green witches emphasize the realities of the natural world. Nature is at the core of our worldview and practice. Greenwitches may have a variety of connections with nature. Some may be drawn to herbalism, some may connect deeply with non-human animals, some may wildcraft foods and medicines, some may garden and some may connect deeply with the spirits of the land. In this Tradition, we all work on building our relationships with the spirits of the land in various ways that suit our own paths. In our ongoing effort to ethically link the magical and the mundane, we are also all in the process of living our lives with the integrity that requires that we work toward minimizing our negative impact and increasing the positive impact of your lives on the natural environment. Recommended reading: Aldo Leopold, Wendell Berry, guides on practical subjects or specific locations or ecosystems.
Hedge Witchcraft: Hedge Witchcraft refers primarily to the practices of Witches who interact with spirits and travel to the Otherworld. It is a shamanic type of practice and worldview, but one which draws on the traditions of witchcraft and language indigenous to Europe and the British Isles. Wiccan author Rae Beth created some confusion with the term in the 1990’s, but now even she has recanted her original definition of hedge witchery as nature-oriented, solitary Wicca. She agrees with the definition now presented here. Recommened reading: To Fly by Night, Veronica Cummer ed.
Hearth witchcraft: Hearth witches focus their magic around the home. Whether their homes are urban or rural, big or small, old or new. Their rituals are likely to take place in their homes and their decorating their homes to honor the seasons is apt to be part of their practice. They may emphasize workings for home protection and blessing, for the wellbeing of those within their household, etc. Kitchen witchery is a type of hearth witchery that focuses on the magical and spiritual value of food and cooking. Ancient Ways: Reclaiming Pagan Traditions by Pauline Campanelli; Seasons of WItchery and Cottage Witchery by Ellen Dugan; Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection by Jessica Prentice.
Cunning craft: Witches use this term to align themselves with the cunning folk of early Modern England, Scotland and Wales. Early modern cunningfolk were middle class Christians who practiced magic for hire generally alongside another profession. They were solitary, interacting with each other only rarely. Cunning folk were the “village witches” in a sense. They were often herbalists, counselors, magicians and midwives. Although they could both curse and cure, they were often distinguished from those called witches at the time by being regarded as good by non-magical folks. In fact, the most common magical service provided by cunningfolk was combating witchcraft. Cunningfolk and Familiar Spirits by Emma Wilby.
Traditional witchcraft: This is a loaded term in the Pagan community. Sometimes it is used to simply mean non-Wiccan witchcraft. Sometimes it means witchcraft that draws on Cochrane’s teachings and related authors and traditons. Sometimes it means non-Wiccan Craft that emphasizes traditional folk magical practices. TFE is not Traditional Witchcraft per se, but it is one of our influences. One thing that TFE has in common with much of Traditional Witchcraft is the emphasis on ancestors. A Grimoire for Modern Cunningfolk by Peter Paddon; works by Robin Artisson; collections of letters by Robert Cochrane.