Hedge: The neo-pagan religions (such as Wicca and Druidism) centre around groups coming together for spiritual celebrations; druids have groves and witches and wizards have covens. But there have always been people who – through circumstance or inclination – do not join a group, but follow a solitary spiritual path. In paganism, they are given the prefix ‘Hedge’ – so solitary practitioners are Hedge witches or Hedge druids. Whilst I have dipped my toe into pagan waters, I have found that these paths are not for me.

Take off

My spiritual philosophy is quite simple:

We are a part of nature, not apart from it.

It’s a simple statement, but the idea behind it is quite profound. It means that if we hurt nature and pollute our environment, we are ultimately hurting ourselves. An example of this is that we are now discovering that our habit of throwing plastics ‘away’ is coming back to haunt us in microplastic pollution of the air, soil and water, animals and humans.

Teasel in flower

Hippy: The name hippy (or hippie) was given to members of a counter-cultural youth movement that began in the 1960s. These new bohemians – socially unconventional in an artistic way – rebelled against convention and authority, rejecting materialism, racism, sexism, and elitism. They promoted altruism and mysticism, honesty, joy and non-violence.

In the 60s, the hippie movement played out in huge festivals and love-ins, with groups of people living communally, involved in large protests and group activism, but even at the time there would have been people who believed in the ideals but walked a more solitary path – what I am calling Hedge Hippies.

Papaver somniferum

These days hippies are often remembered as dirty, hairy, drug-addicted sex maniacs, and yet they really did change the world. Their ‘flower power’ aesthetic is adopted by festival goers everywhere, and the foods they introduced (tofu, tempeh, brown rice, yoghurt, granola, etc) have become mainstream. Many people these days follow in their footsteps to more personal spiritual experiences, as can be seen by the proliferation of mindfulness apps and yoga classes.

(People who embrace the lifestyle aspects of the hippie movement without the underlying idealism are referred to as ‘rippies’, but the hippies were never mindless consumers.)

Helenium 'Moerheim Beauty' 2

A true Hedge hippy embraces the values and ideals of the original movement – peace, love and harmony, caring for the environment, and a sense that we are part of something larger. Our spiritual seeking may be entirely secular (based on personal growth and inner peace) or on cultivating a relationship with the divine.

“If you support the environment, reject racism, sexism, war, are sexually open-minded, and are inherently suspicious of the government, then you’re already a hippie — regardless of your fashion sense or how you wear your hair.”

Tyler Starry, How to be a Hippie

I’m crazy busy at the moment, but when I get a second I will hippy this place up a bit. Brain is still working on the Hedge Hippy concept, but I thought I would plant the seed here now, so it can grow 🙂