“Warp” by liveandrock – CCBY2
The Art of Hedge Riding – A series [Part II of IV]
In this series we will be exploring the art of Hedge Riding. This is an advanced form of magick in which one enters an altered state of consciousness that allows them to peer beyond the veil separating this world from the next. Through this ability, practitioners are able to better connect with spirit guides, ancestors and other entities. In addition, it can be seen as a valuable tool for self exploration and further development of occult skills.
In part II, I will explain exactly what Hedge Riding is and how it can benefit us as practitioners. In case you missed the previous installment, it can be found here: Part I – The Induction.
Part II: What is Hedge Riding?
I remember sitting with Rose in her living room, I was sat on one of Rose’s chintzy mismatched armchairs, my feet dangling off the edge, my eyes closed. “Think back to your flying dreams, picture yourself flying off through the trees and into the shadows, look for your guide and come back when you are ready.” said Rose.
It had been roughly a year since I started spending time with Rose and now she was trying to teach me to Hedge Ride on command using a trance state. I sat there, focused on my breathing, picturing the long path into the trees in the garden outside. I silently called out for a guide to help me and continued down the path.
When we Ride the Hedge, we pass through that space that separates the physical world and the non-physical world. This space is perceived differently depending on the person, some see it as an infinite darkness, some may see an ocean. I usually perceive it as either ancient woodland or else a tunnel of trees or a maze of hedges. The key to Hedge Riding is being able to transcend this in between space and get to the other side.
To do this we need to connect with our shadow aspect. Rose taught me that inside each and every one of us we all have this shadow aspect. Just as our physical bodies cast a shadow into the physical realm, our inner workings cast a shadow into that space between worlds. The shadow walks with one foot in the physical realm and one foot in that other place.
When we go deep and connect with this shadow self we start to journey. With focus and practice we eventually learn to exert enough control over the shadow aspect that we can use it to navigate our way through the Hedge and into the other side.
Once we reach our destination most people discover a tree, often believed to represent Yggdrasil from Norse mythology though again some people will perceive it differently, some may see a system of caves or various doorways but the tree is most common.
Whatever you perceive, this is your entryway into the other side, explore it. For example with the tree, look for hidden tunnels within the roots, large openings within the tree, look high and low and you will find your entrance. You should find that there are several entrances though you may not find them all at the same time. The one most commonly found the first time is the entrance to the lower worlds.
Navigating the levels
It’s a very common belief that there are either three or nine different “levels” to this place or more accurately three levels each containing three smaller levels. Personally I perceive it how Rose described it to me, that it’s like an ocean in that you can move up and down amongst the various levels of that plane but it’s not divided like land and sea. Navigating up and down this plane will take time and practice.
The lower level is a place of wild spirits, elementals and a place where the dead can communicate with the living. When a medium speaks with a spirit they are usually communicating via this plane. This is also the place that you are most likely to encounter your spirit animal.
Upon arrival in this lower world, especially the first time, it’s imperative that you call out to your guide. We are not native to this plane and we need the guidance and guardianship of one who is native. Your guide will come to you in the form of an animal, usually one that you would see in the wild on a regular basis, however some may be more exotic.
Pay attention to the animal form it chooses to take as this in itself is often important, think about what the animal represents to you, study it and observe the traits of the animal and think how it can be applied to your life or what lesson you can learn from it.
Your guides will likely change over time, once they have imparted their lesson or when you outgrow them, some may stay with you for life. I still call upon my original guide every time I cross over. The reason they come to us in animal form is that our limited human brains cannot perceive their true forms, they will guide and protect you and teach you to navigate this new place.
Rose explained to me that this plane was not stationary like our world. The landscape is constantly shifting and changing so each subsequent visit can be disorientating to us who live in a fairly stationary world. For that reason, a guide who can navigate is essential.
We can also connect with our ancestors here, they often have lessons to impart or sometimes requests to help settle their spirits. They will also quite often agree to assist you in magickal workings, as will your animal guides. So you see – even by just getting to the first level of this plane you can increase your own magickal power by having a direct link via the shadow self to these helpful beings.
You must keep in mind that your guides and ancestors are not your servants, they are willing to help you and they typically love to assist you but they do not exist for you to make demands of. Be polite at all times and always thank them for their assistance and remember to greet and say farewell to them on each journey.
Once we have learned to navigate and have the companionship of a guide or two we can learn to explore the middle level. You may find your way there through the trunk of the tree or you may find an entrance within the lower level. Either way the middle level is often seen as an overlay of our physical realm. More stoic in nature than the lower level but still shifting at times. This middle level can be a hostile place. Many lost souls wander this landscape as well as malevolent spirits and other beings. That’s not to say everything that dwells here is something to be wary of, there are many benevolent or just plain neutral beings here that will sometimes have a lesson to bestow. Again you must remember to be polite but also be firm, if you don’t feel comfortable say “Thank you but goodbye” and leave. Your guide will often direct you to the more helpful of beings but you must learn to hone and trust your instincts.
The Uppper Echelons
The most difficult level to reach is the higher level. This is a place of the divine and the infernal. The highest and lowest of beings reside here in this place of extreme power. The reason that this plane is so hard to truly access is that our primitive human brains can hardly perceive it. To enter this place we must be accompanied by our guides who can help us “tune in” to the frequency required to perceive this plane. Rose often compared this place to an old radio, you must navigate through the static to be able to listen to the station.
This plane can take decades to reach and you will not reach it before you are emotionally prepared to be in the presence of some of the most powerful beings in existence. Keep in mind that in this place you are a guest, be very careful in how you communicate, not all beings here are benevolent and even those that are may take offense to any perceived insults. That being said, we can learn some of our greatest lessons here and improve not only our magickal abilities but our entire being.
So now you have a basic understanding of the world we are looking to access. Continue connecting with the shadow self and start to practice visualizations related to journeying. In part three we will start to look at the techniques to start riding the hedge and discuss different ways to achieve the required trance state.