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Author Topic: Hedge Witchery and Other Shamanic Practices  (Read 3335 times)

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Shalandriel

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Hedge Witchery and Other Shamanic Practices
« on: August 10, 2013, 01:28:50 PM »

When I tell people that I am a hedge witch, I usually get strange looks, even from those familiar with paganism and witchcraft.  I usually end up saying "the practices are shamanic", because people better understand that.  I practice divination through the use of my tarot, astragaloi as well as through oracular divination.  Being a hedge witch means I also practice trance.  I do this through a variety of methods including dance, drumming, meditating, breathing exercises and yes, even entheogens.  While I grew up in a home that was wholly non-religious or spiritual, my grandmother (who raised me) was constantly in the garden and taught me quite a bit about the practical uses of plants.  While I never received any actual mentoring, I have been studying botany since before I began my practices 11 years ago.  While I don't recommend that the average person do this, I do grow my own plants/herbs to be made into flying ointments, teas and smokes for my own personal use.  My trance work allows me to meet and get to know spirits.  Specifically, I work with non-human spirits (such as plant spirits, land wights, elementals, etc etc.  I have no interest or need to contact human spirits/ancestors.).  My work with plant spirits allows me to practice what I call "plant spirit healing".  During a P.S.H. session, I actually channel the spirit (some might call it possession) of the appropriate plant in order to help heal someone.  I couple this with using the plants practically through the use of ointments, oils and whatnot.  So, if you were to come to me with stomach problems, I might channel the spirit of a ginger plant to help heal you as well as give you a ginger tea.  I do not do this commercially, I only do it for close friends and family, and on the rare occasion, someone they know.

These are just a few of the things I practice.  So, does anyone else here practice anything similar?
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dragonspring

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Re: Hedge Witchery and Other Shamanic Practices
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2013, 07:03:59 PM »

Some of my practices are shamanic and involve trance work, but I would say that a lot of Pagans practice shamanism to varying degrees.  Dancing, drumming, rattles, meditation, trance breathing, and even the rhythmic sounds found in nature are common tools to attain the trance state.  I don't see a reason to use entheogens personally, but I know others that do (or have in the past). I do work with my ancestors and have also worked quite a bit with nature spirits.

I use tarot and runes for divination as well as experiencing visions on occasion.  I think practicing divination is pretty common among Pagans as well.
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Shalandriel

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Re: Hedge Witchery and Other Shamanic Practices
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2013, 10:17:13 PM »

Personally, I usually only use entheogens when I plan on being in an extended trance state or when travelling somewhere I haven't yet been to.  Once I am comfortable with a new "location", I'll stop using them.  I also use them during an oracular divination ritual that I do once a year.  Within my beliefs, there are seven gods that decree "fate" that I attempt to channel (not all of them always respond, but I usually get a hit from a handful of them) during this ritual and it's extremely difficult for me to keep up the trance when transitioning from one to the other.  I use "fate" lightly because it's not something that is considered to be set in stone within this faith/practice.

I honor my ancestors and keep an altar for them, but I've personally never had a need to contact them directly.

I've never felt a connection to the runes, though my astragaloi have proven to be extremely insightful.  I've used a few decks, but the one that really fits for me is the Revelations Tarot, by Zach Wong. (it's very good at looking into the emotions, thoughts and motivations of the people involved in a situation)

If you don't mind me asking, do you worship/work with any gods and how do you do so?
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dragonspring

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Re: Hedge Witchery and Other Shamanic Practices
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2013, 11:43:07 PM »

Ah, my path has been a rather winding one and I have worshiped many Gods and Goddesses along the way.  I have worked most directly with the Morrigan and Lilith for divination and magic but have been affected by several others from varying pantheons in visions.  I also work rather closely with my dragon guide (or maybe my fylgia) in all things.  At the beginning of this year, things changed for me significantly as a result of many things, most especially a healing session with a Peruvian shaman during which I made a connection to my ancestors and one of the Dis of my line.  I now see myself as a Heathen and worship the Norse pantheon exclusively during rites with our Kindred group.  However, I still feel connections to the Celtic pantheon and to Lilith and continue to honor them in my home.  In a lot of ways, the Celtic gods are very similar to the Norse and I think they are different expressions of the same root religion.  Heck, that could be true of any of the polytheistic faiths.   :rolleye: 

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NowhereMan

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Re: Hedge Witchery and Other Shamanic Practices
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2013, 02:38:29 AM »

While I'm Asatru, which is pretty far from hedge witchery, I do use the runes for divination (as well as other uses), and I'm slowly learning to practice seidr, which is basically Norse shamanism. I've never been terribly in tune with the spiritual world in that sense, but it's something I'm trying to change as I open myself up to deeper forms of meditation and communion with the gods.
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Shalandriel

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Re: Hedge Witchery and Other Shamanic Practices
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2013, 10:22:09 AM »

I too have worked with many gods in the past, but the Babylonian/Sumerian gods/practices are what I've settled into.  I first started with an interested in Wicca (BTW, I had/have no interest in "eclectic" Wicca) but a few things turned me away from it.  I have worked with the Greek pantheon in depth, even exploring the Eleusinian Mysteries with my coven.  I've also worked with some of the Egyptian pantheon.  I've studied a bit about the Celtic and Norse cultures, faiths and gods, but neither seemed like a good fit for me.  This is probably why I never felt comfortable reading the runes as well.  However, I have stopped working with any other pantheons since deciding that becoming a recon. was what I wanted.  Ishtar had been calling to me since I first began studying paganism.  However, she required certain things that I was not comfortable or ready to do until about 6 years ago.  I developed my relationship with her first, while learning about the other gods.  Guglanna was the second god of this pantheon that I studied and began worshiping as he is, at one point, an important consort to Ishtar and his death is the reason she descends into the underworld.  After I was comfortable in my relationship with her, she kind of "introduced" me to the "seven who decree fate" (she is a part of the seven).  They are essentially the governing council of the gods.  Over the past few months, my study has expanded and I've begun honoring the other gods, such as Ereshkigal and Nergal.

I do love finding the similarities between different religions and pantheons.  I've even begun tracing the Judeo-Christian god back to ancient Mesopotamia.  I'm doing it for a friend, but it's very interesting to see where "God" originated from and to see that he wasn't always a part of a monotheistic faith.  It's very interesting to see where many of the Judeo-Christian beliefs of their God originated.

NowhereMan, I am sure, that with time, you will find yourself more open/receptive to the spirits.  While I've always had a knack for such things (I would even receive visions as a child, though they were never of anything important/significant), I do find myself opening up to more of it as I delve deeper into my practices.  I've recently begun having more experiences with what I would consider to be underworld spirits (spirits with an affinity/tie to the underworld, not "evil" or dead things) since I began honoring Ereshkigal, the ruler of the underworld.  I've also recently finalized my bond with my spirit familiar (I'm not sure if you know what an alraun is, but my familiar is in that form), which is an underworld spirit so I think that has also attributed.  I feel that because I have opened myself up to it, I am beginning to experience new mysteries.  So, just keep at it!
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dragonspring

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Re: Hedge Witchery and Other Shamanic Practices
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2013, 12:58:08 PM »

So, just keep at it!
Agreed.  I think that it takes a while for most people to deprogram themselves from the influence of modern western society.  At least it was that way for me.
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NowhereMan

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Re: Hedge Witchery and Other Shamanic Practices
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2013, 03:54:31 PM »

So, just keep at it!
Agreed.  I think that it takes a while for most people to deprogram themselves from the influence of modern western society.  At least it was that way for me.

Thanks for the encouragement, ladies. :)
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Shalandriel

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Re: Hedge Witchery and Other Shamanic Practices
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2013, 05:40:32 PM »

Happy to give it!  I remember when I started out I had some serious problems with getting into even a basic meditative state.
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NowhereMan

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Re: Hedge Witchery and Other Shamanic Practices
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2013, 06:16:35 PM »

Do either of you have any tips on meditating and getting into a trance state? The vanilla stuff on the net never really cuts it hehe.
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Shalandriel

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Re: Hedge Witchery and Other Shamanic Practices
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2013, 06:36:12 PM »

Well, it depends.  What methods have you tried?  Sometimes simple meditation just isn't enough.  Personally, I can't just sit still and meditate, I'm too twitchy.  I prefer an active method, like dancing.  I play heavy music, like drumming, in the background and simply act out what feels right to me.  My husband introduced me to dubstep and it's strangely effective for me.  I find that when I get active like that, it pretty much makes it impossible to focus on anything else, allowing me to enter the right state of mind.  It's really hard to give specific advice because everyone is different.  Just try different methods until you find one that works better for you then fine tune it.
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NowhereMan

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Re: Hedge Witchery and Other Shamanic Practices
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2013, 06:51:32 PM »

I've tried simple meditation and meditation with a recorded drum beat in the background, which seems to help quite a bit. I've also considered going under/outsitting to better facilitate a deeper meditative state, but I haven't tried it yet.
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dragonspring

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Re: Hedge Witchery and Other Shamanic Practices
« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2013, 09:05:45 PM »

I had not heard of outsitting, but it seems like it might be effective.  Appears to be similar to utiseta as I have come to understand it.  As for me, I have found hiking alone to be a very effective meditation tool.  The rhythmic clicking of my hiking pole on a moderately easy trail is very soothing and helps me enter a light trance state. Normally, I can enter a trance state pretty easily by playing the singing bowl or lying quietly on my bed.  When I am having trouble concentrating, I have found sitting in complete darkness and practicing the four fold breathing technique to be effective though. 
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NowhereMan

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Re: Hedge Witchery and Other Shamanic Practices
« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2013, 10:38:52 PM »

I had not heard of outsitting, but it seems like it might be effective.  Appears to be similar to utiseta as I have come to understand it.

Utiseta is, as far as I know, a form of outsitting. Outsitting, or whatever it may be called depending on the person, is a more general practice of veiling oneself to induce a trance state. Utiseta is usually more specific, in that one goes under the veil on a burial mound or grave in order to commune with the dead and ask their assistance.

Quote
As for me, I have found hiking alone to be a very effective meditation tool.  The rhythmic clicking of my hiking pole on a moderately easy trail is very soothing and helps me enter a light trance state. Normally, I can enter a trance state pretty easily by playing the singing bowl or lying quietly on my bed.  When I am having trouble concentrating, I have found sitting in complete darkness and practicing the four fold breathing technique to be effective though.

Yes, I believe that, overall, I just need more practice. All things in their own time. :D
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Shalandriel

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Re: Hedge Witchery and Other Shamanic Practices
« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2013, 11:48:51 PM »

I have practiced something similar to outsitting with the goddess Hekate in the past.  In ancient Greece, Her followers would practice this form of trance to induce visions. 
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NowhereMan

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Re: Hedge Witchery and Other Shamanic Practices
« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2013, 01:21:58 AM »

Hm, interesting. I knew that the Pythias were said to go under the veil for their prophecy work, but I didn't know that Hekate's followers did the same.
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Shalandriel

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Re: Hedge Witchery and Other Shamanic Practices
« Reply #16 on: August 12, 2013, 03:34:08 PM »

Well, she is considered the goddess of the veil between the worlds.  She is the goddess of the crossroads, magic, witchcraft, necromancy.  She holds secrets of death and rebirth.  The work I did with her was very shamanic in nature.  I actually went through my ritual death while working with her, which involves a trance state.  It's mostly about confronting your "shadow-self".  The Pythia is usually depicted as sitting over what appears to be a crevice from which steam is being emitted.  Many people now believe that the steam/gas contained fumes that would induce trance/visions/hallucinations.  So, it is still a trance state, but achieved differently.  Also, with the Pythia, there were priests who would attend the Oracle and they were the ones who would decipher the meaning of her words, whereas a follower of Hekate would be left to do that themselves.  Visions from Apollo might benefit many people or foretell the future, whereas visions from Hekate are typically for the diviner specifically.
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Eternal Seeker

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Re: Hedge Witchery and Other Shamanic Practices
« Reply #17 on: August 12, 2013, 04:26:26 PM »


I use and teach a form of Trataka; it's quite effective, even early in the learning curve.

peace,
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Shalandriel

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Re: Hedge Witchery and Other Shamanic Practices
« Reply #18 on: August 12, 2013, 06:25:18 PM »


I use and teach a form of Trataka; it's quite effective, even early in the learning curve.

peace,
ES


I practiced this when I first started learning how to meditate and enter a trance state.  I've done it with a candle flame and a black mirror.
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VisionFromAfar

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Re: Hedge Witchery and Other Shamanic Practices
« Reply #19 on: August 13, 2013, 11:52:58 AM »

I realize I'm chiming in late, but things have been nuts around the homestead lately.

Sitting outside can work, but not always. Most of the time, I usually get the attention of our overly curious and amusing fae that hang about. One night, however, it was still quite cold for the just the T-shirt I usually wear, with ~45 degree windchill, and I had taken one of my idols (a delightful bust of the Valfather) outside with me as a focus. Between having an object of focus, the cold, and the darkness, it was probably the deepest I've gone into a trance yet, and felt the attention of more than one deity (which was alarming and intense, to be sure). Sometimes I get the urge to stand just outside my porch in a thunderstorm (crazy, I know), but I usually fall into a light trance between the rumble and crash and staccato rain. Keep your mind open and be ready for when someone wants to talk, as it may not always be on your schedule. Just be as safe as you can while you do it.
I'm not advocating ANYONE do this crazy stuff like me, just throwing out examples of how just about anything might be the trigger or help you need to alter your state of mind.
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