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The Witch's Besom

A  Besom is traditionally made with an ash handle and birch twigs that are tied on with pieces of willow wood. The ash stick provides magickal protection and the birch twigs are meant to entangle malicious spirits. Willow twigs may be substituted, as they belong to the sacred tree of Hecate. As a ritual tool it is both masculine and feminine, the handle masculine in nature and the birch bristles feminine. The handle is plunged into and attached to the bristles, a perfect union of male and female energies. The broom represents the Element of Air.

The fantasy images of witches riding about on broomsticks are based on actual fact. Pagan Western European fertility rites involved women straddling the broom and riding it like a horse, around the fields to encourage crops.

Brooms have always been a symbol of women's domesticity. A woman would push her broom up the chimney or prop it outside the door to indicate that she was out of the house. The broom, a tool kept in all households, and used by all women, became a tool and symbol of witchcraft. It was an easy leap to believe that witches could hop on their broom and fly up the chimney!

It has been said that Witches Flying Oil, a concoction made from aconitebelladonnahemlock and henbane was rubbed on the handle of the broomstick before being "ridden" to Sabbats or Moon rituals. This would deliver the drugs topically. The powerful hallucinogenic ingredients combined with ecstatic chanting and dancing could very well cause the drug - induced hallucination of soaring through the air.

Today the besom's fertility magick symbolism is evident during the Wiccan Handfasting custom of "jumping the broom".

The besom was considered an attribute of Hecate in ancient Greece.

In Modern Wicca the besom is a symbol of witchcraft and a reminder of times not so long past when we were persecuted for our beliefs. It is used to cleanse and purify sacred space by sweeping away baneful energy.

There are various uses for brooms in magick.

Single use ritual brooms can be loosely put together, then burned or taken apart following use.

Special magickal brooms that are only used during rituals.

Plain household brooms can be used to magickally cleanse and purify your home.

Small handmade besoms may be decorated and placed on the Altar

Some traditions of Wicca say that your besom must never touch the floor and must only be used as a ritual tool. Others traditions hold that the power of your besom can be used for all manner or magickal and mundane work. Not everyone has the means to possess an array of tools reserved specifically for ritual use. Mundane activities, such as sweeping your kitchen floor, can be magickal with the correct intentions.

 

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