IN THE OLDEN DAYS wise-women (also known as hedge, kitchen, cottage, village or green witches) tended to live slightly apart from their communities, close to the woods and fields where they gathered their herbs. Besides this, living on the edge gave them an air of mystery that always helps when casting spells or giving advice. It also meant that people thought twice before calling on their services. For common ailments and troubles each family had its own store of women's lore anyway, also passed from mother to daughter - useful remedies and balms for the daily scrapes of family life. The wise-women were and still are there to step in when these are not enough.
They may not be as common or noticeable as they once were, but such wise women do still exist and carry on much as before with their herbs and spells and potions. In fact it seems to be a reviving tradition. It's true that not many wear pointy hats any more, like the traditional witches in our illustrations. In fact these days it's quite easy to pass one in the High Street without noticing, and often it takes getting to know them quite intimately to realize that you are talking to a modern witch. There are usually giveaway signs though - moon and star earrings perhaps, or a discreet pentacle or Brigid's Cross.