Tonight, in our review, we’ll take a look at Silver Ravenwolf’s newest book “Hedge Witch”
Among many pagans, Silver Ravenwolf doesn’t have the best reputation, but she is one of the best selling pagan authors, and if you go to any bookstore that has a new age section, you’re likely to see at least one of her books there.
She’s also been interviewed in the mainstream media, and
many non-pagans have heard of her, heard her, and when they think “witch”, they
think of Ravenwolf. She’s appeared in the Wall Street
So what is it that makes someone such as Ravenwolf so well known, yet somewhat dismissed in the Pagan community? Quite simply, it’s her simplicity. Her books simply don’t delve into the depths of Paganism and the Occult that other authors’ works do. She deals very little with the “why”, and extensively with her version of “how”.
Hedge Witch is apparently last year’s project for Ravenwolf. It consists of 14 rituals and some sections on crafts, with emphasis on “primal language”, and smiling. The rituals are designed to prepare one for an initiation or dedication as a hedge witch which occurs on the 14th ritual. The rituals may take a day, or a week to accomplish, depending on how the reader wishes to work through the book, each of them making the reader more familiar with various elements or energies in the universe. They are also designed to allow the reader to free themselves of baggage which might interfere with the acceptance of something better.
The craft sections of the book include such arts as soap-making, candle-making, gardening, knitting, crochet and such. She spends some time with essential oils and herbs, using them in ritual, candles and soaps. She speaks of using herbs for their healing benefits, and warns against using certain herbs internally. Comfrey, for one, comes to mind.
Where “Hedge Witch” fails, as do other of her books, is in their ability to offer something to the more mature reader. As someone who has studied paganism and the occult for more than a short while, I’d be interested in knowing what Ravenwolf’s concept of a Hedge Witch really is. It’s not really defined in her book, and one might get the idea that it’s simply someone who works with herbs, makes soap, candles and other crafts, and who happens to work magick. She really doesn’t address the history of the term, nor does she provide any references to other books on the subject.
Her spells and poetry are also a bit lacking. In her 14th ritual, she has a “Hedge Witch Charge”, which calls to mind the “Charge of the Goddess”. The traditional Charge, is truly a charge, a set of instructions to the people who would worship the Goddess. The Hedge Witch Charge, on the other hand, is more of a spell, written in the style of Ravenwolf.
So, what is Hedge Witch? In my estimation, it’s a book for teens who wish to do witchy things. It’s a spiritual craft book for young people, written in a language and a style that they will relate to.
It’s also a recapitulation of Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret”. Much of the book focuses on “The Law of Attraction”, and manifesting what it is that you are truly looking for. It’s the same theories, dressed up with somewhat “witchy terms.
It’s not a serious book for serious study of Hedge Witchery or Wicca or Witchcraft. It’s not even really a good starting point for a serious study of the subject simply because the question “why” is so seldom answered in the book
If you’re looking for a book on crafts, and want a really basic introduction to candle-making or soap-making, you might find something in the second section. Still, even here, there were apparent oversights. Some of the herbal recipes call for a quantity of herbs, only half of which are used in the recipe. There is no explanation of what the rest of the herbs were for. I’d recommend reading the entire recipe at the start, and adjusting the list of ingredients to suit what it is that you intend to use.
If you really want to learn the workings of Witchcraft, or even Hedge Witch craft, other books might be a better choice, but if a young person you know is looking for something that’s really simple, and wants to do some “witchy” things, maybe this would be a fun start.
Hedge Witch is published by Llewellyn, and should be available at most well-stocked bookstores.
© 2008, Deirdre Hebert