Witches and fairies in the hedgerow

Following on from the last post, fairies are often found living in or emerging from hedges in British folk tales – which makes sense because hedges symbolise boundaries and often work as magical gateways, and also because they divide the wild, strange beyond from the safe space within.

But there is also a connection with witches – the word “hag” is probably derived from “haga”, meaning hedge. This is because a hag (witch) could “hedge-ride”, or cross the boundary of enclosed settlements into the wild forest and return safely (which probably just means they were old and canny enough to know their way around).

If you don’t want witches coming through your hedge, you are supposed to be able to foil them by leaving holly growing there. I’m not sure if there is a recommended remedy for keeping out fairies though…

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Filed under Hedge Mythology, The Hedge Philosopher

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