Gala's Hedge Witch Path
Last time, I talked about how long-distance training could be looked at as getting a head start on the hedge witch path rather than as a setback. Let's look at that claim a bit more closely so you can see what I mean.
When a Gala witch talks about his hedge witch path or his hedge witch (for short), he means to say that a particular set of practices and traditions is unique to him. It is solitary, deeply meaningful, and usually connected in some way to his heritage or his ancestry. He engages in this practice IN ADDITION TO the material that is in our tradition's official Book of Shadows (or BoS).
For me, personally, my own hedge witch path is a combination of old-school European witchcraft, yoga, and some other meaningful elements stitched together through the years. It really has evolved over time to create quite a beautiful tapestry of the life I've lived so far. Pretty much any book by Sybil Leek or Tarostar is fair game to spark my inspiration. I just love their work! I also focus heavily on Italian folk practices and American folk magics, especially practices connected to Pennsylvania (where I grew up) or the American South (where I live now).
To give you a fair idea of what I'm talking about, I have been known to turn to Charles G. Leland's Aradia, or Gospel of the Witches. I also use my copy of The Long Lost Friend and the 6th and 7th books of Moses quite a lot. Another book that is very near and dear to my heart is The Magic Candle by Charmaine Dey, since Charmaine, along with Sybil and Tarostar, are considered beloved dead or ancestors to Gala witches. In life, all three of them were elders within our kin traditions of either Horsa and/or Sacred Pentagraph.
Though a great deal of my own personal practice as Chief Elder has influenced Gala (the seasonal rites in Uncrossing Your Roads are an homage to Tarostar's style and influence), there's also an equal portion of what I do that is deeply personal and completely separate from Gala Witchcraft as a tradition. For example, my love of Appalachian and Ozark mountain magics is uniquely my own and doesn't really show up in Gala in any formal capacity. Instead, these practices feed my soul and allow me the opportunity to have freedom of expression and creativity even within the structure of a traditional initiatory system. That said, this isn't just true for me as Chief Elder of the tradition. It is the case for every initiated witch within our Order whether he is initiated into a coven or he operates as a solitary witch within the larger Gala Witchcraft tradition.
We, the elders who created Gala as the Gay Mystery line within the Horsa family of traditions, knew that Gay men needed to be allowed to express themselves creatively within their spirituality, and we didn't want to stifle that creativity in any way. In order to ensure that freedom of expression would be encouraged and that independence of spirit would be honored, we actively encourage each initiate (whether we're talking about a first degree or an elder of the Craft) to explore his own unique interests within the Craft while honoring the integrity of the BoS and our tradition.