The witch’s broom! Part one

Broom magick is powerful, more than folx think or could realize. It is very much integrated with home and hearth among other threads of life and spaces. I was browsing through a old witches & pagans magazine since I’m using bits of it to contribute to a new collage art crafty project I’ve just recently started….

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It it felt important to share this article written by Deborah Blake. She’s the writer of the book, “The Witch’s Broom: The Craft, Lore & Magick of Brooms”.

Heres the article below:

“the witches’ broom our most overlooked magickal tool”

We witches use many tools in our magickal work, some of them fairly common (like athames and sage smudge sticks) and others more unusual (a giant cast iron cauldron, for instance.) But there is one tool we all associate with witchcraft, but many of us don’t use in our practice of the Craft. I’m talking about the witch’s broom.

The broom has been connected with witches and witchcraft for many centuries, and in many cultures. Even today, most pictures of witches feature three elements: a pointy black hat, a black cat, and a broom. No one really knows where this association came from.

Some theorize that it started with the custom of blessing the fields at Beltane by having the village women “ride” their brooms through the field, hopping as high as they could in hopes of encouraging the crops to also grow high. Others think that the common broom was used as a hiding place for a witch’s sacred wand, by covering it with the broom’s bristles.

It is more likely, however, that since most witches were perceived to be women and the broom is a common woman’s tool, the two somehow became tied together.

Interestingly, the broom is the only magical tool that is both masculine (the wooden stick used for the stick) and feminine (the bristles). No wonder it is so powerful and so omnipresent.

The traditional broom, or besom, was a simple matter of birch twigs tied around a stick, often hazel, but sometimes oak or some other strong wood, and fastened with strips of willow bark. All of these woods are sacred and powerful, although as you can imagine, such a broom didn’t do a terrific job of mundane cleaning.

These days, brooms are more likely to be crafted out of broomcorn, with handles made of a variety of woods. String or wire is usually used to fasten the plant matter to the wooden handle. Both types of brooms are perfectly acceptable for magical work; it is really a matter of personal preferance. Some view the besom as more “witchy” because of its use in ancient times, or just prefer the way they look. Others like the flexibility of broomcorn which can be dyed or even braided. As with any other magical tool, you should simply choose the style that suits you the best.

Brooms can be used plain, or decorated in a wide variety of ways. You can craft brooms that honor particular elements or gods, celebrate the sabbats, or act as gifts for special occasions, such as a housewarming, the birth of a new baby, or even to celebrate the life of a loved one who has passed beyond the veil.

One of the most common uses of a broom in ritual is as part of a handfasting, or a Pagan wedding rite. “Jumping the broom” is an ancient tradition in a number of cultures which has been revived by many modern witches, and it can be a fun and moving part of both casual and formal weddings. I have officiated at a number of handfastings, and almost all of them ended with the couple jumping over a broom at the end of the ritual. This signifies the joining of the two in a new household, and the broom used in this ceremony should always be new – either bought or (even better) created especially for the occasion. Whether the broom is then used as a functional tool to sweep the house, or as a magical tool saved for sacred work, is up to the couple. But if you are giving one as a gift, you should probably find out what which use they have in mind, so you can know how best to choose the broom.

The other common use for a broom in magickal work is obvious when you think of how brooms are used in mundane life: for clearing and cleansing. Some witches use a sacred broom to sweep clear the energy in a ritual space before casting a circle. Others use the broom to do the actual circle casting itself, by walking around the edges of the ritual space and sweeping out the mundane while drawing a invisible line of magical energy to enclose the circle.

A broom is a valuable tool for magickal/spiritual cleaning. If you are simply cleansing the energy of your home, you will want to use your magical broom to sweep from room to room without actually touching the floor. The intent here is to move the negative energy, not the dirt.

If you want to physically clean your home, you can give a magickal boost to a more mundane broom by sprinkling it with water you have blessed: add a few drops of magical cleansing oils to the water if you wish. (Lemon, Rosemary, and sage are some of my favorites.)

if you don’t have essential oils, a few drops of lemon juice will do. Alternately, you can sprinkle the broom with a mixture of salt and water, or smudge it using a sage wand. The important thing is to put your intention of cleansing away negative energy and anything else that is disturbing the peace and sanctity of your home. Then keep your focus on that intention as you physically sweep the rooms clean.

Brooms can be decorative while still serving a magickal purpose. For instance, it is tradition to hang a broom above the entrance to a house as a protection from malignant spirits (or unwelcome neighbors.)  You can create a protective broom by dressing it with herbs and stones that are protective in nature, such as dried rosemary and perhaps a string of red agate or black onyx beads.

Brooms are also used to ward off nightmares by placing them under the bed. To ensure a peaceful night’s sleep, decorate a broom in colors that go with your bedroom (you can tie colored ribbons around it, or even hang a small dream catcher to dangle down the bristles), and then bless and consecrate it with lavender, an herb that is associated with peace, sleep, and love. A few sprigs of lavender tucked amongst the bristles will make it smell sweet, too.

A broom can be as simple or as fancy as you like; it can be used actively in ritual work or hung as a decoration. You can buy one, or make it yourself. If you’re not out of the closet, no one has to know that broom on your wall is a symbol of your magical life (which may be why the early witches were so fond of them).

Do your have to have a broom just because you are a witch? No, of course not. But now that you know how multifaceted and magical a tool they are, I’ll bet you’ll want to.

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Yesterday, when I was re-reading this article written by Deborah Blake, I had a ephinany come to mind…. The broom is also a two-spirit magic space to work with! No wonder why I’ve always had such a deep affinity with the broom. I look forward to delving and honing a even Deeper  relationship with the broom this year. I will share more of my thoughts regarding brooms and magic in a second post.

Autumn Equinox blessings and magicky wishes abound!

-mr. Thorne

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