Tools of the Craft - Besom

3rd November, 1998

The besom or birch broom, has long been associated with witches. It serves a variety of uses, including practical (actually sweeping a ritual area clean) and magickal/ritual (sweeping away negative/disruptive energies), a possible origin for the saying, "Making a clean sweep"? Since it is a purifying tool, it is often associated with the element of Water.

Brooms are generally used for protection and purification purposes in magick. The symbolism of the broom is varied. The shape of the broom has phallic connotations; it therefore has a strong association with fertility rites.

In handfasting rituals, couples often jump over the broom if they want children. The combination of the "brush" and the handle are a very powerful fertility symbol. Jumping over the broom was also a form of marriage for both Romany and African slave couples in years gone by.

The most common material for the besom is birch, however, any natural materials are acceptable. Male staff often of ash wood, and female broom often of brush, broom or birch. The witches broom is a rounded shape, as opposed to the flat, Shaker type broom.

Many of us know about the classic uses of brooms in sympathetic magick. These rites often included riding broomsticks and jumping in the air to "show the crops how high to grow." This practice may be the origin of "flying" witches.

The broom has strong protective associations. Many Witches have a broom-brushy side up - by their door to protect the home from unwanted outside energies. Many witches make their own brooms.

Making a Protection/Purification Broom

It is possible to also make a broom for a specific purpose. All that is needed is a stick (about 1 foot long), some raffia for tying the broom together and some appropriate herbs. For a protection and purification broom you might like to use lavender or rosemary (or a combination of both). Hold each ingredient in your hand, charging it with purifying energy.

Once you have a bunch of the herb gathered, evenly distribute around the bottom of the handle (stems against the end of the broom, the bushy part of the herbs facing down) and tie together with the raffia. You might like to complete the tying process in three or four steps to ensure strength.

Once the broom is complete, you should sprinkle some water onto the sweeps (the bushy end) and say "Water, cleanse this broom, and let it cleanse where ever it sweeps". Then cleanse your house, or whatever you constructed the broom for. When your finished, hang the broom above your door to enhance the protective spell you have cast.


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