Hi friends! After taking a wee break from social media, I am beyond excited to share a new feature in the Tending the Hedge series, and folks, I have to say that this feature is a real “fan girl” moment for me!
For new readers, I began the interview series in 2020 as a way to highlight inspiring individuals I know who engage in a practice of “magical stewardship,” living and working with intention, exploring themes of mutual aid and rejecting a mindset of competition and scarcity culture. I was so inspired by the myriad ways in which folks are tending the hedges of their own communities, so to speak— we talked about things like sustainability and stewardship, body positivity and social activism, spirituality and disability awareness, and staying true to oneself in a world that is full of “should’s.”
Writer, educator, podcaster, and feminist activist Amelia Hruby, PhD., offered some thoughts on these themes when we spoke earlier this spring. Through her work (including her book Fifty Feminist Mantras, podcast, newsletter, and free feminist mantra texts), Amelia cultivates feminist consciousness and community, and I believe she is a true paradigm of what it means to “tend the hedge.” Here she shares some thoughts on empowerment and liberation, and how active listening is some powerful magic…
What are your pronouns and what is your sign?
My pronouns are she/her. My Sun/Moon/Rising are Aries, Gemini, and Capricorn.
Are you a witch? If so, what does that word mean to you?
I don’t normally call myself a witch, but I think I definitely am one! After leaving organized religion in my teens, in the past few years I’ve started cultivated my own spiritual practice through personal and communal mystical rituals. I love feeling connected to other people, plants, animals, places, spirits, atoms, and more. This year I’ve been exploring more occult practices, and I joined a coven that meets for new and full moon offerings. I’m really enjoying that sense of making magic in community.
To me, being a witch is about recognizing the interconnectedness of all things and appreciating the unknowable aspects of human and nonhuman lives. I think “witch” is a personal and political identity and practice. It’s a commitment to the liberation and empowerment of all beings, and an appreciation for beauty, love, pleasure, and a whole set of values that our white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchal society denies.
What drew you to your work? Why is it important?
I’m a feminist author, educator, and podcaster. I loved talking to people and sharing stories, and I’ve done both since I was a small child. My family loves to remind me that when I was four or five I would gather everyone in the same room, sit down on the couch, and announce “Let’s chat!” I still try to bring that joyful, friendly ethos into my work every day.
Whether I’m writing, teaching, or podcasting, my goal is always to share words that resonate, so people can feel affirmed, held, and empowered to share. I want stories to be shared in ways they can be heard and heard in ways they can be shared. I also want to invite all of us to uncover our stories and unpack the false narratives we internalize, so we can learn to love to ourselves, our bodies, and each other. At the end of the day, I think love is the most important thing, and I think telling, sharing and listening to stories is a powerful form of love.
How can others engage with this work and tend the hedge in their own communities?
I’ve been writing in a journal since I could write, and I always like to invite others to do the same. If writing isn’t your thing, I think that recording audio notes, taking selfies or doing anything else that captures how you’re feeling in a moment is a great way to get to know yourself. Invite yourself to take your story seriously and to practice sharing it with people you trust. Then listen when people share their stories in turn.
As much as I’ve emphasized storytelling here, I think that listening might actually be the most magical practice we can cultivate right now. The focus on the written word in patriarchal society means that we’re not really taught how to listen–starting with the fact that listening happens with our whole bodies. If we listened to our communities with our whole bodies, we wouldn’t be able to stand the injustice that happens around us. We’d have to care and act and love on each other deeply and daily. That’s how I aspire to tend the hedge in my community.
Did you enjoy this feature? Check out other magic-makers in the Tending the Hedge series!