A Kinrowan Estate story: Hedge Witches (A Letter to Anna)


Dear Anna,

As you well know, I, unlike you, was schooled in the university of the land. I don’t regret it but it was a very good thing that I apprenticed to Macpherson, the Head Gardener before me, as the man knew more about botany than anyone save a hedge witch. And he knew one of those, too, so she filled in on my education where he couldn’t.

Scots are an odd bunch — even when they were strongly Christian, they believed deeply in hedge witches. Oh they might have called them healers, they might have called them herbalists, but they were hedge witches. Almost all were women, though a few down the centuries were men.

The particular hedge witch Angus had me work with was Lisbeth ab Owain Gwynedd, a lady who had been given a cottage on the Estate many decades ago. She helped Angus keep the animals and humans here healthy. She rarely went off the Estate, but that wasn’t unusual, given that we operate pretty much as a self-sufficient affair. She certainly didn’t need to leave the Estate for any of her needed botanicals, as she claimed only the plants that grew here would actually be beneficial.

Macpherson and ab Owain Gwynedd deeply believed in leylines, which they said ran across the entire Estate. They said that the best medicinal plants were found were the lines intersected, forming pools of geomantic energies. In her cottage was a map on sheep skin she said was many centuries old that showed all these lines.

Remember the circle of stones we found a few years back? They’re on the map as are several sacred springs and what ab Owain Gwynedd called fairy circles. Though there are superb mushrooms growing in the latter, no one harvests them.

Sadly ab Owain Gwynedd apparently passed on several decades back. No one knew how old she was but some claimed she was well over a hundred. Another hedge witch, Tamsin Sorenson, now occupies her cottage. The odd thing is that Tamsin attracts owls, lots of owls, with the woods around the cottage full during the day with them sleeping. But that’s another story for another time!

with affection Gus


About Diverse Writers

Diverse Voices is our catch-all for writers who did but a few reviews or other writings for us. They are credited at the beginning of the actual writing if we know who they are which we don't always. It also includes material by writers that first appeared in the Sleeping Hedgehog, our in-house newsletter for staff and readers here. Some material is drawn from Folk Tales, Mostly Folk and Roots & Branches, three other publications we've done.
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