The Witches’ Broom or Besom is an important and largely misunderstood tool of the Witch.
Gaining its notoriety from the witch hunters’ manuals of medieval Europe, it is a tool of a far more ancient origin. As we know, the writings of those who “documented” the traditions, rituals and practices of early witches did not do so in an inimical fashion. This largely explains the negative associations related to many customs, tools and traditions of ancient Witches.
It is believed that the practice and use of the Besom can be traced back as far as ancient Egypt. While typical or traditional Besoms are made of a specific plant called Broom (from which the broom gains its name); it would also appear that many traditions and cultures have their own version of a Besom.
Some are made of feathers while most are made of twigs, long stiff grasses, and other pliable materials that are easily bent and tied through the method of soaking or forming them into shape during their pre-dried our young state. In more modern times, the Besom has taken on a very decorative and beautiful look as they are personalized for the Witch. Some are made with specific colors, herbs, and might have Sacred symbols or stones attached.
In this new form, The Witch’s Broom begins to take on additional magical qualities related to purification and cleansing. The main use of the Besom is to cleanse an area of negative or undesirable energies. These energies are traditionally swept out of a Witch’s dwelling, often through every door in the house.
Many traditions speak of the Witch opening every door to his/her home and beginning in the corners of each room, negative or undesirable energy is sweep to the center of each room. This energy is then escorted out each door leaving the home free of said energies. In some rituals and traditions related to spirit activity, salt (often black) would be sprinkled on the floor and the Magickal Besom would sweep the spirit from the house as the Witch performs an exorcism of the home.
It is important to remember that the Besom is a Magickal Tool use to cleanse energy from home and self. It is not intended to do your everyday cleaning in the home. The Besom should be kept free from hair, dust, and other common debris. Often a besom will be mounted on the wall or above the doorway of a Witches home for the purpose of keeping it clean as well as serving other specific Magickal tasks.
Some handheld Besoms are used by mystical healers to excise negative energies and spirits from the body and mind. These smaller brooms are usually made of softer bristles. (A tutorial on how to make your own is at the end of this post.) This smaller Besom can also be made with other herbs and Magickal or sacred symbols that are significant to the Witch using the broom.
In other folklore and legends the idea that Witches rode their brooms is still an element we see to this day. As we near Samhain, the vision of Witches with their pointy hats perched on their Besom, flying across the moon is a typical image. Besom is a symbol of the element of Air. This embodiment of air and spirit is believed to allow the rider to travel between the thin veils to other planes of existence. It is believed the purpose of this was to gather information and connect with spirits in their various forms.
I have to ask myself when I think of this fantastical imagery, “How did this come to be? How could this kind of flight be made possible?” We very well know that one cannot simply soar through the skies by mounting a handmade broom of any sort.
It is said that the use of the Besom could only be achieved by a highly trained practitioner of Magick. In some Witchcraft traditions, the besom itself is only used by the High Priestess or Priest; those who have mastered certain areas of Magickal practice. Specifically the practice of Astral Travel. This discipline requires the practitioner to master the ability to leave one’s body for an extended period of time while maintaining complete control.
This control allows the practitioner to travel to desired locations outside of the physical realm and return safely; without the risk of spirit possession or unwanted spirits in tow. There is also the risk of losing one’s self in other realms, so the practitioner must remain focused and in complete control at all times. This level of focus and control requires a high level of mastery depending on the task and length of the visit. It is obviously not a practice for the faint of heart or anyone with a wavering or weak Magickal mindset.
Many versions and mentions of this kind of Astral travel speak of a special “flying ointment or oil” that would act as a mild hallucinogen for the practitioner. Recipes for Flying Ointment included ingredients like Belladonna (Deadly Nightshade), Mugwort, and Poppy.
To achieve flight, a Witch would lie in a relaxed position with his or her besom at their side. Various pulse points on the body were anointed with this special flight mixture. This anointing was often done by an experienced member of the coven. One who knows how much to apply and exactly where to apply the ointment or salve.
If a “sensitive person” were to look up into the sky during this is “flight”, it is said that he/she could see an apparition of the Witch flying across the moon on a broom. This would explain the so called “sighting” of witches on their broomsticks throughout history, giving way to the images we often see leading up to Samhain. It is also thought that these sighting most often occurred after peasants consumed fermented foods like fruit and grains. So perhaps Witches were not the only ones using hallucinogens.
Below is a quick tutorial and the written instructions on how to make your own Besom or Witch’s Broom!
DIY Witch’s Broom Tutorial
Flexible natural bristle type materials i.e. Twigs, Broom, Grass
- Soak your dry bristle materials, until they are pliable
- Blot off some of the extra water with a dry towel
- Gather up the desired amount of bristles for your broom base
- Position your stick in the center of your bristles near one end of your bunch
- Take a piece of twine and tightly tie the bristles around your stick (near the end), ensuring that the stick is centered within the bristles.
- Begin folding down your bristles to reveal your stick
- Continue to make sure your stick is centered and that the bristles are even as they fold down.
- Using more of your twine begin securing the bristles in their downward position. Be sure to tie your twine tightly.
- Finally, you can choose to trim the bristles if you like a more manicured look.
DIY Besom Tutorial Video
There you have it! An easy & FAST way to make your own Witch’s Broom!
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