Looking at weird websites again?

is accessible, animistic trance training and magical mentorship for grown-up gifted kids and sensitive souls longing for deeper witchcraft without deeper dogma.

is accessible, animistic trance training and magical mentorship for grown-up gifted kids and sensitive souls longing for deeper witchcraft without deeper dogma.

WHAT

Spiritwork + Witchcraft + Hedgeriding
and other compound words.

WATCH or READ

What is spiritwork?
The Art of Subtle Conversation & Connection

Spiritwork is the art of engaging in meaningful conversation and relationship with spirits, especially subtle spirits. Some religions practice spiritwork, but spiritwork is not a religion. So, weird as this might sound, you don’t have to have believe in the existence of literal spirits to practice spiritwork.

READ MORE »

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What’s spiritwork? Spiritwork is the art of engaging in meaningful conversation and relationship with spirits, especially hidden or subtle spirits. That definition is pretty standard. A more telling question is: How do you define spirit?

Around here, I use an animist-friendly definition of spirit from the Ced Tradition of witchcraft.

Spirits are the identities of life—life’s forms. (And every identifiable sum and division of those forms.) I’m a spirit. My heart is a spirit. My family is a spirit. The tree is a spirit. The leaf is a spirit. The forest is a spirit.

Some spirits are subtle in the sense that they can be difficult for us as humans to notice, perceive, comprehend, or build a personal relationship with. Difficult, but not impossible. The God of Time. The Spirit of Hope. The Sum of your Ancestral Wisdom.

Most spiritworkers have a special fondness for these subtle spirits. Y’all might even read this and be like, “The ancestors aren’t subtle. They never shut up!”

Some religions practice spiritwork, but spiritwork is not a religion. So, weird as this might sound, you don’t have to have believe in the existence of literal spirits to practice spiritwork. Maybe you think it’s just the idea of our loved one that survives death. That’s cool. Ideas are spirits, too. I have had meaningful conversations and relationships with many of my ideas.

In fact, I consider engaging in conversation with our own ideas, beliefs, assumptions, and motivations to be a critical part of building healthy, meaningful relationships with spirits!

During a spiritworking I would ask you to behave as if the spirits you’re encountering are real and not governed by your mind—to suspend disbelief the same way we do when watching a film or reading fiction. Supported by effective trance, we let ourselves go there and enter the reality of the work.

After a spiritworking you can go back to believing and behaving in whatever way feels most natural to you. (Of course, what feels natural to you may shift over time if you continue to provoke spiritual growth in yourself through things like spiritwork.)

For the folks who are die-hard believers in literal spirits, I would ask you to remember that your mind plays a big role in interpreting and generating the sensory experience of spiritual contact—so even if the spirits are real, that doesn’t make our interpretations infallible.

So, it’s less a question of whether you believe in spirits…and more can you imagine the benefit of experiencing conversation and relationship with spirits?

I’ll quote Joy Harjo’s poem Speaking Tree (1951), but highly suggest reading it in its entirety. [ Joy Harjo is an internationally renowned performer and writer of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. She served three terms as the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States from 2019-2022. ]

Some humans say trees are not sentient beings,
But they do not understand poetry—

Witchcraft is loaded term that has long inspired both fascination and fear. Witch is a slur and a dangerous accusation. It’s also a very popular aesthetic and you can buy a Witchcraft Supply Kit on Amazon. It comes with tiny jars.

The dictionary (Merriam-Webster) offers four contradictory entries for witch, which I will combine into a single entry:

A witch is a mean, ugly old woman or a charming, alluring, young woman who practices either evil magic with demons or a modern nature religion with trees.

As for me, I’m more of a 40-something, quirky woman who practices a nature religion with demons. Kidding about the demons…or am I?

And therein lies part of my love for this word. I want to see who jumps to conclusions and who dares to ask, “Demons? What do you mean by that? Witchcraft? What do you mean by that?”

(And, no, I don’t agree with the dictionary about witch referring exclusively to women.)

My teacher Griffin of the Ced Tradition, and I’m paraphrasing here, says that witchcraft is rooted in the ability to commune with spirits and the ability to make magic.

Let’s start with the spirit part. Some of the world’s organized religions operate as hierarchies wherein only their highest of high priests or clergy are allowed to converse with spirits, gods, or God. Only they decide what goes in the holy book or accepted liturgy.

You might be allowed to pray, but they determine how you pray. You might be allowed to talk at God. But you don’t get to turn around and tell people what God told you. That’s called cutting out the middleman. And, historically, the middleman doesn’t like to be cut out.

The witch is the cultural heretic who thinks and acts outside the dogma, communing directly with spirit and divinity.

Further, if you make magic, specifically, the kind of magic that changes destiny and reality by the power of your will and desire…you’re not just talking to a god, you’re doing what gods do! Beyond religion or culture or a specific priesthood, you are circumventing the organization and rules of the universe!

The witch is the cosmic heretic who dares to participate in the on-going creation of the universe.

For me, witchcraft is about creating opportunities through spiritwork, spellwork, and ritual to experience, embody, and participate in the paradox of liberation and connection—a kind of freedom that makes you more able to love; a kind of love that sets you free.

It’s about the willingness to be perceived as heretical in pursuit of what is deeply ethical.

So, knowing this, should witchcraft still inspire so much fascination and fear?

Absolutely.

Witches rock the boat culturally and cosmically. How wonderful! How terrifying!

And, on a personal level, witchcraft offers folks like us who are probably already a bit weird and sensitive even bigger freedom and deeper feelings. Yikes. Hope you like change.

I guess the dictionary was right in presenting a set of contradictions. Witchcraft is both hideous and healing. Witches dance around the fire—sweating and screaming in ecstatic and necessary grief. Witchcraft is honest in a way that most folks recoil from. That tarot deck or divination can be so rude in a way that is deeply kind.

Witchcraft is beautiful and terrible and it makes sense to me that some folks feel more fear than fascination.

Then there’s us. Looking at weird websites again. By at least a little, our fascination exceeding our fear.

Trance is an umbrella term that includes meditative states, flow states, hypnotic states, ecstatic states, post-traumatic shock, compulsive rumination, texting-while-driving, and any state that diverts us from mundane, pragmatic, grounded awareness. It’s a big umbrella. Hedgeriding, the witch’s trance, is the art of skillfully and intentionally entering specific types of trance that change your state of being, sensing, and behaving in ways that are conducive to spiritual and magical communication, exploration, and transformation. It’s common for folks to think of hedgeriding as another word for journeying or spiritflight—to see it exclusively as a method of sending one’s awareness into the Otherworld. But, around here, the “hedge” in hedgeriding refers to all self-imposed or socially-constructed limits, boundaries, and enclosures. Yes, that includes the line between the realm of matter and the subtle realms of spirit—temporarily escaping the enclosure of my flesh. A hedge could also be the boundary between normal, predictable dancing and frenzied, chaotic dancing. Or the gap between my mundane voice and my sonorous, spirit-weaving ritual voice. How weird am I willing and able to get? How many hedges must I cross in order to shapeshift into a bear? It’s not just about putting the spirit of Bear on—it’s also what I have to take off. Tables manners have to go. A perception of oneself as clothed or naked is out. Any resistance to shitting in the woods is decidedly un-bear-like. It’s not just about getting weird in ritual. Our day to day choices and behaviors are influenced by our relationship with hedges as well. Can I skillfully ride beyond easy, socially-acceptable self-love (like bath bombs) into harder, heretical self-love (like ignoring the latest diet trend)? Hedgeriding is a way of turning questions into transformative experiences. Unfortunately, because hedgeriding is so often conflated with journeying, and because journeying has become increasingly conflated with hypnosis…a lot of witches are left trying to sit still, silence their minds, and sleepwalk into the work. Even if that were possible (and it isn’t for all human brains), I am here to encourage folks to build a foundation of embodied, active, conscious trance skill that more naturally fits into all of the witch’s important waking activities: like rituals, spells, readings, and, honestly, most spiritwork and spiritflight! I don’t want to go make deals with elder gods while zonked! Cunning requires consciousness. A witch is meant to have their wits! And that’s why, here at Ren+Spiritwork—the first step of the journey is: Hedge+Riders. Accessible trance training for folks that want to learn how to fly like a witch (regardless of whether you identify as a witch) so that you can have those meaningful conversations and relationships with spirits (spiritwork), participate in some cultural and cosmic dogma-breaking and magic-making (witchcraft), and learn how to confidently make any working or ritual transformative for yourself and your community through the power of trance (hedgeriding)! >> Learn more about Hedge+Riders. >> Learn more about Ren.

Ren+Spiritwork is accessible, animistic trance training and magical mentorship for grown-up gifted kids and sensitive souls longing for deeper witchcraft without deeper dogma.

After a decade of private, in-person practice as a spiritual guide and healer, I knew that there were folks (lots of folks) who wanted to build a solid foundation, but couldn’t afford one-on-one sessions with a mentor-for-hire like me—certainly not the number of sessions it would take to really dig in. Witchcraft training is measured in years, not weekends.

And who didn’t want to, or hadn’t had the opportunity, or couldn’t afford to commit to training within a specific tradition or coven. While many covens (including mine) don’t charge money for participation or initiation…there’s often the sharing of ritual costs, the expense of travel, the need to take weekends off from work or pay for childcare.

Plus, many folks are rightly wary of getting close with a group when they aren’t even feeling very close to themselves.

So, in 2016 I made a website. Ren+Spiritwork.

I chose to highlight the spiritwork part since a lot of folks practice witchcraft without an emphasis on relationship with spirits.

But, around here, even a spellcrafting is considered spiritwork. The spirit of the spell! The spirit of the ingredients! The spirit of my desire! Trance is approached as a spirit that we build relationship with, too. Trance, the horse we ride! Trance, the witch’s broom!

And the Ren part, well, my name is Ren. So, Ren+Spiritwork (pronounced as one word: renspiritwork) is Ren’s approach to spiritwork, witchery, and trance.

But the ren in Ren+Spiritwork isn’t just an invocation of my name. It’s also an allusion to ancient Egyptian lore that divided human beings into a variety of parts: the identity, the double, the power, the physical body, the spirit body, the heart…the divisions varied in number from dynasty to dynasty.

In this lore, the REN is a being’s name.

As someone who works with the sort of weirdos who insist upon understanding the why behind the teachings, who ask what the methods serve, and who adapt what they learn to suit their own unique practice…it seems appropriate.

Ren+Spiritwork is also You+Spiritwork. It’s (insert-your-name)+Spiritwork. It’s the way of finding your own way.

And, hopefully, understanding your way so well that you can communicate it and share it with others. Sure, being a heretic involves a willingness to stand alone. But doing things your way need not feel like a cage or commitment to isolation.

Finding your spirit, your witchery, your way of riding is like finding your voice as a writer or artist. And art, of all things, has the power to be bring us together.

WHO

Ren Zatopek
of Ced Tradition

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I first learned about witchcraft as a child the old-fashioned way—by being accused of it by schoolmates and neighbors on account of being raised by loving, freethinking atheists deep in the Bible-thumping heart of Texas.

They were wrong to mistake a lack of church for a lack of compassion, ethic, or interest in the mysteries.

But they were right about my magic—the curiously-timed lightning strikes, the moon-fed and frenzied poetry, the voices whispering about a kind of love that could crack your heart open.

They were a bit right.

I’m 40-something now, so, as you can imagine, the bookshops in my neck of the woods as a kid weren’t overfull with occult options. Phones had cords. The internet didn’t have pictures.

So, I developed my witchcraft the old-fashioned way, too—by talking back to those strange yet familiar voices. “Tell me about the love,” I’d ask them. Tell me about the lightning. Tell me about the bio-luminescent veins of blue light that sometimes appear in the shadows between trees at night…the light I see in my eyes when the bathroom is dark and the mirror starts to move.

I followed those voices and those veins of light through forests and through years. I followed them to Los Angeles and to North Carolina. I followed them through trainings in Druidry and Death midwifery, Energywork and Exorcism, Faery and Folk magic, in Somatics and Spellwork.

In 2012 I followed them through the initiatory doors of the folk and family of the Ced Tradition—witches, heretical and holy, ethical and irreverent, carriers and creators of what my witchfather Griffin once penned as a “vast, living legacy.” Keyword: Living. Ever-evolving.

(Ced is pronounced with a hard C like Craft, Chaos, or Coven.)

And it was there that I found my home, a place where I could live in paradoxical wonder: putting down loving roots without being tied to one place or perspective. A place where the common ground isn’t shared rules, beliefs, or curriculum—it’s shared evolution and shared experience. A shared desire to see, to awaken, to grow, to participate and contribute to the vast, living art of witchery.

And, importantly for folks that choose to study spiritwork and witchery with me, I grew within Ced Tradition the old-fashioned way, as well—through years of experience doing the work. Yes, Griffin and all of our people give great classes and share amazing information and insight. But, and I know they’d agree, you don’t learn witchcraft by listening to someone else talk about doing it. Learning witchcraft is more like learning how to paint or how to sing or act.

You learn, primarily, by doing a lot of it.

And if someone primarily wants to build their art without outside influence—there’s power in that! But, for myself, I benefitted enormously from the opportunity to participate in and witness the work first-hand. So, I choose to share that same gift with folks exploring witchcraft with me.

And I realize now what an incredibly vulnerable thing it is to be willing to give the demonstration or invite folk into the experience, because, unlike painting or singing or theatre, most of what’s happening in witchcraft can’t be seen even from the first row. To get it, you have to be in it. So, when you show it to folks who may not be ready to be in it, you know they may walk away saying: “I don’t get it!”

Most kids play with trance. Singing spontaneous songs. Repeating words until they dissolve. Spinning in circles.

Some kids, like me, take it a little further. I can’t tell you how many times my poor mother found me perfectly still, face down in the tub, because I had realized that holding my breath opened the flaming door of spirit. SORRY MOM.

So, in one sense, I was a natural when it came to trance. By the time I found myself in community with witches, I was known for the potency of my second sight and ability to shift and bring forth spirit in ritual.

I arrived among the folk of Ced and immediately felt like I’d found my kindred. They like to sway on their feet when working, too! They like to stare into the dark until it stares back! They like sharing their tongues with spirit friends and tone to attune to the hidden realms!

But they had something I seemed to be missing: control. They were intentional with their direction and depth. When the work was done they could often drop it on a dime.

If we consider the return journey to be part of journeying…turns out I was not a natural. And forget about grounding. I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. (Turns out—I didn’t want to. Not really.)

And now that I was spiritually and magically in deeper waters, my inability to return to the shore between experiences was less like trying to stand all day in the surf and more like trying to tread water all day in a storm. Can anyone else hear the walls chattering? Is anyone else crying hysterically in a voice that doesn’t sound like their own?

If I didn’t transform my relationship with trance one of two things was going to happen:

I was going to damage my sanity, my body, and my ability to function as a human by continuing to ride and practice traditional witchcraft without any sort of control over when I was altered, how deeply I was altered, what realms I was ending up in, what spirits I was contacting.

Or I was going to have to give up on practicing witchery in order to protect my sanity, which is like a musician quitting music, or a fish quitting water. I could’ve done it. And it might’ve saved me, but it would’ve been another kind of dying.

So, I dedicated myself to the study of trance partly out of a life-long passion and partly out of necessity.

And with time and training, with reading, and writing, and riding, with practice and more practice…I found my way.

I got good at returning and grounding. I learned to go deep and drop it on a dime. I stopped straddling the hedge and trying to live 24/7 with a foot in both worlds. I learned a lot about myself—about why I’d been so resistant to conscious control, why I’d gone from trance-adventurer to trance-addict.

I found the keys that had been eluding me. (Had my teachers given me those details previously? Very likely. But being given something is not the same as receiving it. Being told something is not the same as hearing it!)

When I felt ready, I began sharing what I knew and got to help other folks who were struggling with trance—sometimes in ways that were very different from me! Question by question I became a repository of knowing about our collective trance-struggles and trance-successes. Story by story I was able to adapt my teachings to be more inclusive of difference in body, brain, and lived experience.

And I’m not done! I don’t expect to finish before my final breath as I’ve come to realize that what seemed initially to be a personal probem…Ren isn’t good at trance…

…and then seemed to be an issue with people like me…other intense and sensitive folk are struggling, too…

…now appears very clearly as a social and cultural rupture many generations in the making which has been catastrophic for all beings, those within the rupture and those without.

There are so many humans now living in denial and fear of trance or in unmet desire and hunger for trance. Those of us within the rupture are getting dragged by our horses while still dreaming of what it would feel like to ride, dreaming of flight—of those experiences of liberating transformation within cultural context and collective purpose.

For some, their healing will come from reaching back in time to specific ancestors and cultures that had more consciousness connection with trance—who had festivals and rituals and teachings that can be brought back to life.

For some, the past is messier. We may not know our ancestry. We might not have access to their traditions or teachings. We may not have the unwritten cultural context to understand what we find. Even if we had the recipe book, we may not know how to cook!

And so, for my part, I seek to offer something that can be adapted to each person’s unique process.

Maybe it’s filling in a few gaps within a body of knowledge that you’re building from. Maybe you’re starting from scratch, working to find trance in your body the same way the first humans did.

Either way, building a healthy relationships with trance isn’t just about gathering skills. It’s also about shedding. The rupture wasn’t caused solely by avoiding trance—it’s about shaming and demonizing trance. Or, more recently, about folks within the rupture idolizing and “othering” trance—insisting upon extreme, inaccessible, or unattainable methods for getting on the horse.

So, another big component of our work is in shifting some of the ideas we may have been given about trance. Thankfully, every step we take towards conscious, intentional trance quickens our capacity for conscious, intentional transformation!

I live in North Carolina, but my accent is from nearly 20 years each in Texas and California. “That’s so valid, y’all.” The last name (Zatopek) is Czech—there’s a few Czech towns in Texas.

I like singing by campfires, petting mossy rocks, and want to stop at all the caves and caverns on any road trip.

I enjoy attending ancestral and primitive skills gatherings and learning new campfire songs, trying to make fires without matches, and did I mention I like fire?

I have a genetic disorder that kicks my ass with more symptoms than seems right for first date facts. Pain. Fatigue. Blood pressure so low that I pass out. Which can, funnily enough, cause pain…fatigue.

If you tell me to try essential oils or positive thinking for my condition, I suggest you try sucking my .

Despite my physical limitations, I have practiced a number of martial arts. Currently training in To-Shin Do. (If you’re gonna pass out, dojos have squishy mats. It’s ideal, really.)

I’m highly allergic to and completely obsessed with cats.

I’m bisexual and not allergic to .

I genuinely love people so much and also need 400 hours of alone time per week.

Maybe we could go sit quietly or sing songs in a cave somewhere?

“I am noticing a huge uptick in my creativity, problem-solving, and experience of synchronicity. I feel empowered by what I don’t know and what I have yet to discover, rather than discouraged.

I am trusting myself in a way that is new and astounding to me.”

HOW

Online Trance Training

Small Group Spiritworkings

Heretical Witchcraft for Humans

The trail begins with Hedge+Riders.

FOUNDING MEMBER PRICE: $9.79/mo

We gather once a month to practice. Maybe a journey. A spell. A ritual. Between gatherings, we talk. What worked? What didn't? Where did you go? How did you get back?

You'll get information about trance and the basics of witchcraft here, too. But, ultimately, skillful riding doesn't come from reading about horse anatomy—it comes from time spent in the saddle.

So, despite being digital, Hedge+Riders is pretty traditional in its slow-and-steady, learn-by-doing approach.

Once a week for five weeks, a small group of strange friends gathers with Ren for a free-form mix of spiritual counsel, spirit encounters, and spellcraft. As we settle in and share our stories, you'll be invited to notice themes, patterns, and burning questions that we'll use to determine our group's unique quest.

You must be in Hedge+Riders to join a Familiar+Spirits group. Members are notified when new groups are launching!

Familiar+Spirits is $279 per five-week adventure. Weekly sessions are roughly 90 minutes. (Compare to $170 per hour for individual talk-only mentorship with Ren—rituals and workings start at $333.)

Stretch your wings with a side quest.

NEXT SESSIONS: November 14-December 12
NEXT SESSIONS:
November 14-December 12

When the deeper waters are calling...

Many of us have been raised in shallow, rootless, and ruthless cultures that do not offer ritual outside of dogmatic religion, much less meaningful trance-infused, mystical experiences or initiation.

Some witches are able to go back a few generations and travel, read, or study their way into contact with a less broken culture. Some find joy in stitching together a few traditions to which they feel connected.

But for others, the sources and resources for such re-connecting and re-constructing are out of reach. And some, like myself, are called to the ancestors by another path. I feel most connected to those who came before when I work diligently, gratefully, and generously with what is at hand—even if it ain't much. Especially when it ain't much.

Human+Spiritwork offers the teachings, techniques, and experiences of traditional witchcraft rooted in a cosmology and mythology that you're already intimately familiar with—human life.

Imagine how it begins. Light a candle. Bring a rattle. Prepare to babble in the holy ritual of Babyhood. The sliver of light after the dark moon. Seeing as if for the first time. A seedling breaks through the frost. Crying like you've never known shame. Feeling the embrace of some enormous, warm spirit. Loving like you've never known grief.

Imagine how it ends.

This extensive training first launched in 2016. A second draft is in the works and, for the time being, the doors are closed.

Hedge+Riders is a pre-requisite for Human+Spiritwork, so if the inner compass of witchery is calling, dig in to Hedge+Riders. We'll be relying upon our trance skills and a shared language of spiritwork for successful collaboration in exploring the compass!

“Last year I would’ve told you I was new to all of this, but deep down it was so familiar. I have always been a spiritworker.

I just didn’t have words for it or ways to work with it until now.”

Questions are magic.

Is this for me?

This community welcomes beginners. Even experienced occultists will be beginners at the language and techniques used in Hedge+Riders.

Just like someone with a background in Judo joining an Aikido club—you might have some advantages as far as physical ability, experience recognizing timing, or confidence under pressure. You might have some disadvantages when you realize many techniques have the same names but different details. Your brain will want to say, “I already know this!” instead of “What can I learn from this?” or “How is this different?”

Beginners have an advantage! Your brain is primed to step into a new paradigm.

Around here, we say that questions are magic. That absolutely includes basic questions. Seemingly simple questions are often profound. 

What is a spirit? What does that word mean to me? What have I been told it means? How are we defining that here?

As far as “baby witches”—that’s fine as long as you act like adults. Entering witchery is a bit of a re-birth, so I get it. But, literal babies, witchy or otherwise, are not allowed. 👶 You must be legally an adult according to the laws of your country. 

Well, worst case, you already know everything I have to share about trance journeying. Maybe you know more than me!

So, instead of knowledge, you’ll get experience and adventure.

You’ll get the joy of riding out every month with an awesome community. You’ll have a space to share those experiences. You’ll get to benefit from the enthusiasm the beginners bring. You’ll get the knowing nods and grins from your fellow old-timers.

With so many magical people throwing in their visions, questions, and perspectives, there’s sure to be something that will delight or provoke in you new insight.

Like with any skill, there may be a point at which you don’t really need more information about how to paint, how to sing, or how to ride—but you will always need a place to practice, create, and share.

The folks we call experts and masters in their craft often find that the basics are bottomless wells of wisdom.

Hedge+Riders is not intended to prepare you to be a professional reader or witch.

It will provide skills relevant to professional readers, healers, spiritworkers, and witches. Also skills relevant to psychologists, doctors, kindergarten teachers, stay-at-home-dads, baristas, and dog-walkers.

Hedge+Riders will provides folks with basic frameworks, safeguards, and experiences needed to create ritual, journeys, readings, or any sort of spiritwork.

I’m a big fan of giving folks the skills and confidence to be their own source of magic—to celebrate holy days with family or find friends to experiment with. Turn your guest room into a temple. Unofficially officiate weddings or funerals.

I’m sure some folks will weave trancework into their existing professional offerings, private practices, or village witchery in ways inspired by our work here—I hope they do!

But no, Hedge+Riders does not cover professional readings or content related to opening a witchy private practice or business. (It also doesn’t techniques for teaching witchcraft or raising a coven.)

No particular belief, knowledge, or prior experience is required for participation in Hedge+Riders.

I do not care what you believe in your own time or how you identify your path. Atheist. Animist. Archdruid.

However, when we ride, we make-believe.

If you don’t believe in hidden, non-corporeal, autonomous spirit beings…

…for the duration of our ride, you make believe to the best of your ability. You imagine they are real and treat them accordingly. You don’t slap Athena because whatever she’s not real.

Someone else might believe in spirits, but need to make believe in magic. In their day to day they feel so powerless, but when we ride, they make-believe they can influence the cosmos. They make-believe that they matter.

Folks who are accustomed to doing whatever spirit says, because they are spirits…

…when we ride, they’ll be asked to make-believe that they are witches.

Witches don’t do subservience or obedience. We do collaboration and co-creation. Don’t do whatever Athena says because she’s Athena.

If our riding goes well, with time, I expect most of us will accumulate experiences of spirits, magic, and power that will evolve our day-to-day beliefs. That’s kind of the point. But, until then, believe as you like!

Seeing, contrary to popular wisdom, isn’t believing. It’s where belief stops, because it isn’t needed anymore.

+ Sir Terry Pratchett, novelist of great wit & wisdom

Totally fine. You can identify however you like.

Fair warning: you might be called a witch from time to time in the training. In our monthly ride you might be called riders or witches or weirdos or any number of loving pet-names.

But, no pressure to use the word yourself if it doesn’t speak to you.

Is this safe?

No. Not really.

Imagine you are signing up for horse-riding lessons. It’s going to challenge your mind and body. You may feel uncoordinated or confused. You are going to get blisters. You could fall. Horse-riding is not as safe as staying home and reading a book.

On the other hand, it will make a big difference if you have an instructor that is committed to teaching you how to ride as safely as possible—a teacher that knows that productive training lies somewhere between zero risk and frequent injury.

A teacher that bores you with lots of talk about the reins and horse psychology and saddle care when all you want to do is ride.

I’m a highly sensitive person, too! Witchery and trancework calls to many sensitive people.

Our training covers a variety of topics that may be very useful to sensitive folks. Sensitivity and trance often go hand in hand.

Our discussion space comes with extensive communication guidelines designed to support the fact that this first level of training at Ren+Spiritwork welcomes the weird, the wounded, and the uncertain.

The gist is that all discussions are treated as brainstorming. We’re here to ask questions and share possibilities, perspectives, and experiences. No debate or worrying about contradictions. All ideas on the board!

But also, the topics of discussion may be terrifying and triggering. Imagine a group getting together to openly, candidly share what they dreamed. Anything could come up.

Also, we’ll be hedgeriding. Mythical, provocative, and disturbing imagery and experience is common. If the discussions don’t shed light on your deepest fears, the hedgeriding (at some point) will. I hope you have a lot of good trips. But you may have the occasional bad trip, so to speak.

Witchcraft is about awakening, evolution, and liberation. So, for example, if you believed you were heterosexual, straight as an arrow, and a spirit came along to point out that you’ve been kidding yourself…that encounter might be very disturbing. A nightmare. An assault.

And also, how loving. You asked for depth and self-love and truth, and a spirit was willing to offer it, knowing you wouldn’t appreciate it at the time. A decade later, in hindsight, you might see it differently. How loving.

So, if you’re sensitive, but willing to be shook. Come on in.

If you are at a point in your healing where strict trigger avoidance is critical to your safety or the safety of people around you—then I would not recommend studying hedgeriding in a big online community at this time.

Firstly, please consider the previous section about sensitivity.

Further, Hedgeriding requires these four pillars:

  • Personal responsibility & ability to self-reflect
  • Mental flexibility & desire for growth
  • Compassion (including self-compassion) & a conscience
  • Will to live & be human

If you are in acute distress of any kind, these may be shaky. It may not be the best time to start riding.

Hedge+Riders is for long-term skill development. If you are looking for a quick fix for a pressing issue—this would be like signing up for an online martial arts class while someone is breaking into your house. Yikes! 

But, if your distress is chronic and you feel pretty stable for a depressed / possessed / dying person—

If despite the pain, fatigue, or shower-crying you still feel a desire for long-term growth and exploration—

If your will to live is greater than your desire to check out—

You are welcome to join.

REGARDING ADDICTION AND COMPULSION:

If you are presently in need of treatment, in treatment, or in recovery for diseases or issues with addiction or compulsive behavior, be aware that the trance techniques we are learning here have the potential for abuse. Our training ground discourages using witchcraft or hedgeriding to get high with the intent of escaping life, but some kinds of trance may create neurochemical highs and hangover. Please discuss with the folks supporting your recovery. If you do not have support, please seek support before pursuing hedgeriding.

REGARDING MENTAL ILLNESS:

Some types of trance increase focus. Some types of trance create feelings of ecstasy. Some experiences can be intense or cause shaking. These experiences have a cost as far as using more than your average load of neuromodulators. In our training the word hangover is used to describe a variety of after-effects. Hangovers aren’t glorified or celebrated. Discussion of reducing after-effects is welcomed. But please note that these highs and lows may not safe or recommended for all people. Please discuss with the folks supporting your health. If you do not have support, please seek support before pursuing hedgeriding.

COLOR BLINDNESS:
Our community site has been designed to meet online standards or readability for folks with color blindness.

LIVE CAPTIONS:
Our monthly live ride does not include live automatic captioning at this time. This feature may be added in the future.

RECORDING CAPTIONS:
Videos uploaded to the classroom contain burned-in captions.

RECORDING TRANSCRIPTS:
Transcripts are provided for persons who prefer to read, either to reduce the intensity of the ride, to help with auditory issues, or for those with English as a second language.

INTERNET BANDWIDTH:
Members with limited or spotty internet bandwidth may prefer to utilize our private podcast feed to access lessons and recordings, as these can be downloaded to your device and played back without access to internet.

Something else? Email [email protected] with your question.

Through these collective rides with Ren I feel empowered to connect with my deep wisdom and to converse, play, dance, and howl with the energies I find inside.

After years of disappointment searching through and experimenting with so many practices that never quite felt like me, where I felt that I was glimpsing into my interior through a foggy window, I am amazed at how the trancework Ren guides makes my internal landscape sing.

Like Dorothy walking into Oz and seeing color for the first time, I am dazzled by the meeting and greeting of my inner territories with such life and vibrancy and self sovereignty.

“Like Dorothy walking into Oz and seeing color for the first time…”

There are very few people I would trust to teach this type of work as much as I trust Ren. She is wildly brilliant, radically inclusive, inclusively radical, a truly powerful witch, and an all around awesome person. Her approach to trance and ritual is extraordinary.

She is hilarious and weird and slightly scary but also deeply, profoundly kind (but not always nice, and I say that as a good thing) and safe and comfortable (but not too comfortable), and mind and heart expanding and enlightening and enlivening. All of those things.

For folks like me who are fascinated by this, but a bit resistant to woo-woo witchiness, Ren is really splendid at helping us re-frame how we see and think of concepts like Spirit–part of her welcoming vibe.

“Hilarious and weird and scary and deeply, profoundly kind…”

Through these collective rides with Ren I feel empowered to connect with my deep wisdom and to converse, play, dance, and howl with the energies I find inside.

After years of disappointment searching through and experimenting with so many practices that never quite felt like me, where I felt that I was glimpsing into my interior through a foggy window, I am amazed at how the trancework Ren guides makes my internal landscape sing.

Like Dorothy walking into Oz and seeing color for the first time, I am dazzled by the meeting and greeting of my inner territories with such life and vibrancy and self sovereignty.

“Like Dorothy walking into Oz and seeing color for the first time…”

There are very few people I would trust to teach this type of work as much as I trust Ren. She is wildly brilliant, radically inclusive, inclusively radical, a truly powerful witch, and an all around awesome person. Her approach to trance and ritual is extraordinary.

She is hilarious and weird and slightly scary but also deeply, profoundly kind (but not always nice, and I say that as a good thing) and safe and comfortable (but not too comfortable), and mind and heart expanding and enlightening and enlivening. All of those things.

For folks like me who are fascinated by this, but a bit resistant to woo-woo witchiness, Ren is really splendid at helping us re-frame how we see and think of concepts like Spirit–part of her welcoming vibe.

“Hilarious and weird and scary and deeply, profoundly kind…”

In animistic witchcraft, states of being are spirits. So trance isn’t treated like an inert tool. Trance is a spirit. Trance is a horse. 

Trance can leap the fence of our resistance to transformation. Trance can carry us over the boundaries between the worlds!

Trance spooks a bit easily. Trance can be stubborn and will stop to eat dandelions when you’re in a hurry.

Trance will buck you right off if you don’t have the right touch.

Becoming a trance-whisperer is more than a means to an end, it’s one of the most essential spirit-relationships we cultivate as witches.

Have you ever seen a picture of a witch flying on a broom?

That broom's name is Trance.

to ride the horse of trance ahead
to leap beyond the fear and dread

and gallop up the highest hill
where change is fueled by witch’s will

this hallowed mare through vision trods
and seats you side by side with gods

in times of need for silent word
through trance the spirits’ voice is heard

so take the reins, come join the dance
and journey with the witch’s trance

heed your inner voice that stirs
and fly free with the…

$979 per month

FOUNDING MEMBER

Monthly Ride with Ren (recorded)

Private Community Forum

Trance Classroom (coming soon)

Bonus Library

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