Review: The Way of the Hedge Witch: Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home

This book was recommended by a fellow Vanatruar, Cena Nico quite some time ago, but I was never really interested in it until now. I’ve been feeling very domestic lately, and since my mother’s passing in January, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen making things that I never had a chance to make and trying new foods. I’m actually typing this from my new computer room. I still have a bit of work to do cleaning it up, but right now I have enough space to work at the computer.

The Way of the Hedge Witch is focused on making the domestic (particularly the kitchen) sacred. The title may be a little misleading, as it doesn’t focus on hedge witchery in the sense of journeying between worlds, but the care of the home and hearth (in this respect, the book could have been called “Way of the Hearth Witch” and avoided any confusion). The book covers topics like working with the spiritual hearth, hearth deities and spirits, magic in the kitchen, hearth deities and spirits, and spells, rituals, and recipes (which includes oil and incense recipes as well as recipes for stews and baked goods).

Since this is a book about home-based spirituality, it’s no surprise that the book focuses on simple rituals and practicality. It’s refreshing to read a book that doesn’t disparage modern technology and insist that everything be done by hand. Murphy-Hiscock recommends blessing the appliances you commonly use and even lists correspondences for common kitchen tools. It’s also refreshing to read a chapter on food that doesn’t preach to you about how so much of the food we eat is killing us and we all need to switch to a paleo diet or the popular diet du jour.  I also like that the language used in the book is religiously neutral, for the most part, and the author encourages you to adapt the rituals to fit your own spiritual framework. The material in this book could easily be adapted to suit the needs of Vanatruar or Heathens.

If you’re looking for information about using a cauldron in your practice in particular, you might want to give this book a look. I’ve never really considered using a cauldron as part of my practice due to not being allowed to burn incense or candles in the house, but because of this book I’ve thought about picking one up if only to serve as a reminder of the significance of the hearth (and the hearth was very significant to the Norse). Most of the material in the book assumes you have a cast iron cauldron, but the author gives correspondences for other cauldron materials as well, including brass, copper, and aluminum cauldrons.

If I had a complaint about the book, it would be that most of the material is focused on the cauldron and the hearth as the center of praxis in the home. There’s not much on the rest of the house, which strikes me as odd for a book about home-based rituals. It’s worth noting that this book started as a book on cauldrons and their use in magic specifically, so it’s understandable that it would be limited in scope. There’s also an assumption that the reader will share what they are doing with their family, which is obviously difficult to impossible for closeted readers. I would also take the chapter on deities and spirits with a grain of salt as their descriptions in this book are at best a brief glimpse of complex beings.

This is a short book and a good resource for those of you who are looking to integrate spirituality into mundane tasks like cooking and cleaning or for integrating the use of a cauldron into your practice in particular. I found it was pleasantly devoid of preachy writing when it came to the use of magical tools and in the chapter on food. It’s not a definitive guide to domestic spirituality and magic, but it’s a good starting point.

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