“Thick Forest” by Orin Zebest is licensed under CC BY 2.0
The Art of Hedge Riding – A series [Part III 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 three we will take a closer look at the techniques used to cross the hedge.
⚠️ WARNING ⚠️
There will be some mention of substances that are controlled by law in some countries. Please read ahead at your own discretion and fully abide by all local laws. Some of these substances are also considered poisonous, I feel it would be a disservice to the reader not to discuss these aspects but I must insist you do the required research on these topics.
Part Three: How to Ride the Hedge
When we start looking to ride the hedge we must realize that it’s something most of us do fairly often whilst sleeping. Rose explained to me that it’s as natural as dreaming though even less likely to be remembered upon waking.
As a prerequisite for hedge riding we must improve our dream recall. There are many techniques for this but I find the simplest to be keeping a notepad beside your bed and writing down your dreams immediately after waking up. This encourages the brain to keep the memory of the dream and in time will assist you to ride the hedge. Take special note of any dreams where you feel like you are in an in-between place, it could be a vast darkness, a forest, a long tunnel etc. This was possibly an unconscious visit to the hedge and could give you a clue about your own personal entrance to the other side.
This is a fantastic time to also practice the art of lucid dreaming and/or astral projection. I won’t go into these particular topics as there are already hundreds of in depth guides out there. Learning to distinguish the difference will also prove valuable.
Once you are able to recall your dreams and have started exerting some control over the subconscious mind you can start practicing Hedge Riding. This will take time so do not be disheartened. If you don’t see results immediately – as with all things in life, some people will find it comes more naturally and others will have to put in extra work.
There are so many ways to cross the hedge and you may need to try several techniques until you find the one that works best for you. I will be listing the techniques I was taught, but it would be in your best interest to read other peoples’ experiences and techniques too. Eventually you may even be able to create your own method.
The Method of Rose
Rose’s favorite technique was a very simple visualization method which I touched on briefly in the previous article. It helps (especially at first) to use an area that you are familiar with in waking life, maybe a garden or a park nearby, you can even use urban areas if that feels right to you. The key is that the place you visualize is somewhere you pass through often enough to be familiar with it and are able to walk through it on “autopilot”.
Settle yourself somewhere safe and comfortable, I prefer to recline as opposed to lying down, as it helps prevent me falling fully asleep. This is also a good time to cast any circles or wards etc that you may use in your practice to keep you safe spiritually.
Close your eyes and meditate for a while, keeping your brain quiet and still and looking inwards toward the shadow aspect*. Once you feel that connection to your shadow aspect, start to visualize your chosen path. Wander the path in your mind, call out silently to your guides and keep wandering.
After some time you should notice that you have slowly slipped from actively visualizing and are now wandering the path on autopilot as you’ve done many times before in waking life. It’s very similar to switching from manual breathing – your mind needs to wander enough in order for the breathing reflex to kick back in. This shows that your mind is now approaching the altered state of consciousness required to ride the hedge.
Eventually you should notice that you are no longer in the area you started to visualize. It will most likely be similar, but things will start to look different, the trees may change, distort or start to disappear. If you began visualizing an urban environment you may notice it becoming more natural or find yourself walking an unfamiliar road. What you see isn’t hugely important, this is just your indication that you are most likely in that liminal space we call the hedge.
Look for your way through. The most common way to cross over is via the tree mentioned in the previous articles. Look for holes in the roots, a cave nearby or even a standard door somewhere odd, everyone will perceive things differently here.
Once you finally find your way though, remember to call out to your animal guides for companionship and guidance. Congratulations, if you make it through! Now to explore, learn and grow.
The Drop Shock Technique
Have you ever been in bed, on the cusp of sleep, half dreaming when suddenly you fall in the dream and your body jerks and wakes you up? I find that simulating this feeling without having the body react can sometimes propel you through the hedge. I call it the drop shock technique and sometimes use it if I’m riding the hedge and struggling to focus.
I do my usual visualizations and if I find myself stuck in a wandering loop I create something to jump into/drop off. Sometimes it’s a well, other times it’s a cliff face, anything you can drop off or into. The first tricky part of this technique is that you need to surprise your wandering subconscious with it – this means you cannot plan ahead for it. You need to be able to conjure the image and “fall” in a fraction of a second.
To achieve this, simply practice visualizing the drop point, perhaps during meditation or when settling down to sleep at night. Get to the point where you can summon up the image instantaneously.
If you find yourself stuck in a wandering loop whilst trying to ride the hedge, you should find that the image will fall into place. This might even catch you off guard – you should feel as if you are tumbling. The second tricky part here is learning to not have your body react to the fall. If it causes you to physically jerk, it will pull you out of the required altered state of consciousness. This will simply come with practice.
The Ritual Technique
This technique is exactly what it says, using a ritual to ride the hedge. This technique will vary wildly from person to person depending on their own style of practice so I would suggest creating your own here. I often find the ritual technique works best when I plan to ride the hedge during sleep.
An Example Ritual:
- Cast your circle around your bed.
- Set a small amount of mugwort to burn on a charcoal disc, alternatively you can brew it into a tea or simply place it in a pouch and pop it under your pillow.
- Light a candle, any colour will do.
- Meditate and focus on connecting with your shadow aspect.
- State your intentions to cross the hedge out loud.
- Silently call out to your guides and ask them to assist you in crossing.
- Extinguish the candle and charcoal then lie down.
- Repeat the following chant “Over the hedge and through the tree to the place I wish to be…” starting out loud but gradually getting more and more quiet until you are chanting internally, repeat until you fall asleep.
Remember that sleep induced Hedge Riding offers you less control and can often be confused with dreaming. Be sure to write your experiences down immediately upon waking before it slips away and in time you will learn to differentiate between Hedge Riding and dreaming.
The Elemental Technique
This technique is more of a pathworking exercise that can assist with improving visualization skills as well as helping us form a deeper connection to the elements. I find that this technique works best outside. Try and find a safe and comfortable spot somewhere in nature, if this isn’t possible you can do this from the comfort of your own house. I usually find the elements easier to connect to when I’m in nature.
Get comfortable and relaxed, breathe deeply and deliberately. Ponder the elements, consider the connection between them and their differences.
Once you feel like you have started to connect, allow your consciousness to gently sink down into the earth. Become the earth, feel the cold, soft soil, observe the feeling of roots intertwining within you. Sink deeper and deeper and feel the temperature rise as you approach the molten layer. Start to transition from earth to the fire and the earth mix which is magma. Feel yourself become the magma – a solid substance so brilliantly hot it acts like liquid. Flow through the earth and feel the intense heat which doesn’t burn you as you are the fire.
Flow back up through the earth as lava and push your way out and into the sea, again feel the transition from fire to water as you pour into the ocean. Leave behind the earthy solids and the fiery heat and become cool and fluid. Flow deep into the ocean, as you flow deeper and deeper, feel the light fade away. Feel the current you are now a part of, then let yourself simply flow.
Lastly, shift your focus upward and gently begin to ascend. Feel the light returning as you approach the surface, you are now a bubble of air, reach the waves and pop, you are now air itself, the water that was you is now water evaporated by the sun. You now feel yourself flying – not on the wind, but as part of it. Rise high and feel the coolness of the moving air. As you feel yourself speeding up, become a strong wind, blow back down towards the earth and feel yourself moving through the trees. Notice the bending of the branches and the creaking of the trees as you caress them on your descent back to the earth.
At this point you can decide what to do. It’s possible to perform the cycle again by re-entering the earth. You can also return to your normal waking state. It’s likely that you may just find your way across the hedge during the process, always keep an eye out for pathways during your journey. You can always mix things up with this technique, consider the properties of each element and craft the perfect pathworking for you.
Mugwort is a useful herb in this context. It can be brewed into a tea, smoked or burned as incense. The tea tastes very bitter so I would suggest adding something a little sweet to counter balance it. Smoking mugwort works for some people, personally it makes me gag too much. My favorite way of using it is burning dried mugwort on a charcoal disc mixed and allowing it to perfume the room before I commence my ritual.
Please be aware that mugwort can be toxic when used too often and is not safe for anyone who is pregnant. Mugwort, for me, is synonymous with Hedge Riding. It even grows near hedgerows and is, in my opinion, the second best substance to aid with Hedge Riding. Just remember to only use it on rare occasions.
Magic Mushrooms are my number one substance when it comes to Hedge Riding. These should not be used often as you may come to rely on them – at which point they stop being a tool and become a crutch. A lot of hedge riders refuse to discuss using Psilocybin containing mushrooms in their practice but I feel it would be unfair not to at least mention them.
To use Magic Mushrooms for Hedge Riding you need to find the right balance. A dose that is too large will prevent you from focussing and a too small dose won’t have enough of an effect. This will take time, research and practice.
The reason I like these guys so much is that they help you reach a state of altered consciousness and when used correctly can help you maintain that state for an extended period of time. They are very popular in various practices, the most obvious being Shamanistic practices, so there is a lot of information out there on how to use them this way. Please be aware of local laws and always do thorough research, safety first!
In this day and age I strongly believe that flying ointments of old just aren’t needed anymore. A lot of the ingredients were highly toxic, including Amanita Muscaria, Belladonna, Foxglove and Hemlock. Now we have access to a much larger variety of ingredients than our ancestors did. If you insist on using a flying ointment please ensure you have done your research.
Cannabis is a difficult ingredient to incorporate into the art of Hedge Riding. In a lot of people it tends to have an impact on focus and cannabis can inhibit dreams which could have a knock on effect when trying to Hedge Ride. Some people, however, find that with the use of cannabis they can relax into meditation and visualization more easily. Personally I find that using it in edibles is more effective than smoking it for this purpose as the onset is slower and often deeper. Again please be aware of local laws and do your research.
That’s all for part three. In part four I will share some of my experiences and how they have impacted my life and practice as well as sharing my final thoughts on the subject.