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Tools of a Witch 

The Besom (Broom)

     

by George Knowles 

The besom, or broom, is one of the main ritual tools of the witch and is sacred to both the Goddess and God.  The God - through its symbolic phallic shape, the Goddess - through its three-piece make up, the shaft, the bristles and the binding cord, three being the triform aspect of the Goddess.  While besom and broom are two names used interchangeably, there is a small difference in their definition.  The brush of a besom is usually made of twigs and is therefore more rounded in shape, whereas the brush of a broom is primarily made of straw, which is flatter in shape. 

Traditionally a besom was made from three different woods, Ash for the shaft, Birch twigs for the bristles and Willow strands for the binding cord.  Ash is protective and has command over the four elements, Birch is purifying and draws spirits to one’s service, while Willow is sacred to the Goddess and binds them all together.  In modern witchcraft today, while the traditional besom still takes pride of place, other woods are used for special purposes:  Oak for added power and protection, Pine for luck and health, Redwood for longevity, Maple for love and money, Walnut for health and wisdom, and Cinnamon for spirituality.

Magically, a besom is used for a variety of purposes, but more generally they are used to purify and protect.  In ritual they are used to cleanse sacred space before magick is performed by visually sweeping away negative energies and astral build up.  Before casting the circle, the Priest or Priestess will walk clockwise (deosil) around the circle space, and holding the besom a few inches off the ground sweep outward from the centre while chanting the Besom Chant: 

Besom Chant 

“Besom, besom, sacred broom

Sweep out darkness, sweep out gloom

Rid this sacred hallowed ground

Of demons, imps and hell bent hounds;

Then set ye down on Her green earth

By running stream or Mistress' hearth,

Till called once more on Sabbath night

To cleanse once more this sacred site.”

 

(Author unknown) 

Sweeping the area with a besom can be done in addition to or in place of incense, to purify ritual space, and is often used for such when rituals are conducted in smoke-free areas.  When not being used in ritual, place your magical besom by the door to protect the home from evil spirits and negative energies.  When standing a besom, always place the bristles up, with the shaft on the floor.  This not only makes the bristles last longer, it will also bring you good luck.  Another old custom was to place a besom outside the door, this as an indication to other witches that the occupants are out, or working, and didn’t wish to be disturbed.

To make your own traditional besom you will need the following: 

A length of Ash approximately 4ft long and about 1in

thick for the shaft.

Birch twigs (about 1-2 ft. in length) to act as the bristles.

Several strands of Willow for binding the bristles to the

end of the shaft.

A pair of Scissors.

Water and salt. 

Soak the Birch twigs and Willow strands overnight in warm lightly salted water (to make them pliable) and allow them to dry slightly before using.  They need to be damp and pliable before binding them to the Ash shaft.  Arrange the twigs alongside the shaft about 3-6 inches from the bottom, larger twigs form the centre of the brush with shorter ones around the outside, then bind them with the Willow strands.  Be sure to tie them very securely.  Use as many layers of twigs as you like depending on how full you want the brush to be.  Leave overnight to dry. 

Whether you make your own besom in the traditional way “as above,” or purchase a ready made one, you may then wish to decorate is it with a magickal name or other meaningful symbols or sigils.  Once decorated, the besom should then be consecrated ready for use in your magickal workings.  To do this anoint the besom with oil while reciting the following chant: 

Consecration Chant 

“Besom of birch and willow tied,

Be my companion and my guide.

On ashen shaft by moonlight pale

My spirit rides the windy gale

To magickal realms beyond both space and time.

To magickal lands my soul will sail.

In the company of the crone I'll ride

This besom of birch with willow tied

So do I consecrate this magickal tree.

As I will it, so mote it be.”

 

(Author unknown) 

Once consecrated for use in the magick circle, it should not be use for any other purpose.  When making a besom for normal household usage, it can still be magically charged for that use.  On one side of the shaft (from the bristles travelling upwards) carve the following words while visualising your intent:  “I sweep out evil and poverty.”  On the opposite side of the shaft (from the top travelling down to the bristles, carve “I sweep in money and luck.”  When sweeping, visualise the same intent, but sweep towards the fireplace if you have one.  If not sweep in any direction except towards the front door, so as not sweep out and lose your good luck. 

Myths and Folklore 

Most people identify the besom with the old wedding ceremonies performed by Gypsies and early American slaves, when couples “Jumped the Broom” to cross the threshold of their new homes ensuring fertility, domestic harmony and longevity.  This custom continues today in modern hand-fasting rituals, when as part of the ceremony, the bridal couple will jump across a decorated besom as conformation of their commitment to each other.  Should the marriage not work, or end in divorce, jumping the broom backwards will break that commitment. 

The age-old image of witches flying around on broomsticks casting baneful spells is believed to have come from old fertility rites associated with nature and agricultural.  As part of the seasonal Spring rites to aid the growth of newly planted crops, women from local villages would gather around fields with their besoms.  Placed between their legs as they circled the field, much like riding on a hobby horse, the idea was the higher they leapt, the higher the crop would grow. 

In renaissance times, according to the demonologists, the Devil himself presented brooms and flying ointment to newly initiated witches so they could fly to the Sabbats.  Often they carried with them familiars in the shape of demons or animals.  They were also said to fly across fields blasting their neighbour’s crops, or ride out to sea in order to rise up storms.  However, such concocted myths were generally forced from the poor tortured victims of the persecutions, and should not be taken seriously. 

Other Magickal Uses 

Placing a broom across a doorway allows your departed friends and family to speak to you if they so choose.  As long as the broom remains, they can communicate freely.  To bring rain, stand outside and swing a broom in the air over your head.  If lightening blows your way put a broom on your porch to act as a lightening rod.  Electricity and lightening are thought to be attracted to brooms.  Another way to safeguard a house against lightning strikes is to cross a spade and a broom outside the main entrance. 

A besom placed under the bed or beneath the pillows at night, will protect the sleeper from nightmares and ensure a peacefully sleep.  Similarly, it is not wise to leave a bed empty for too long.  If you are going away for any length of time, place a besom in your bed, laying the bristles on the pillow.  This will guard the bed against evil spirits until you return. 

Two crossed besoms hung on a wall or the back of a door will protect the house from unwanted influences.  With the exception of those used exclusively for magickal purposes, moving an old besom into a new house will result in bad luck. 

End.

 

Written and compiled on the 16th February 2009 © George Knowles

 

Best wishes and Blessed Be

 

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Traditional Writings:

 

 Wiccan RedeCharge of the GoddessCharge of the God  /  The Three-Fold Law (includes The Law of Power and The Four Powers of the Magus) /  The Witches ChantThe Witches CreedDescent of the GoddessDrawing Down the MoonThe Great Rite InvocationInvocation of the Horned GodThe 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief /  The Witches Rede of ChivalryA Pledge to Pagan Spirituality

 

Correspondence Tables:

 

IncenseCandlesColoursMagickal DaysStones and GemsElements and Elementals

 

Traditions:

 

Traditions Part 1  -  Alexandrian Wicca /  Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) /  Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) /  Blue Star Wicca /  British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) /  Celtic Wicca /  Ceremonial Magic /  Chaos Magic /  Church and School of Wicca /  Circle Sanctuary /  Covenant of the Goddess (COG) /  Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) /  Cyber Wicca /  Dianic Wicca /  Eclectic Wicca /  Feri Wicca /

 

Traditions Part 2 Gardnerian Wicca /  Georgian Tradition /  Henge of Keltria /  Hereditary Witchcraft /  Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) /  Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) /  Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition /  Nordic Paganism /  Pagan Federation /  Pectic-Wita /  Seax-Wica /  Shamanism /  Solitary /  Strega /  Sylvan Tradition /  Vodoun or Voodoo /  Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /

 

Other things of interest:

 

Gods and Goddesses (Greek Mythology)Esbats & Full MoonsLinks to Personal Friends & ResourcesWicca/Witchcraft ResourcesWhat's a spell?Circle Casting and Sacred Space /  Pentagram - PentacleMarks of a WitchThe Witches PowerThe Witches HatAn esoteric guide to visiting LondonSatanismPow-wowThe Unitarian Universalist Association /  Numerology:  Part 1  /  Part 2 Part 3A history of the Malleus Maleficarum:  includes:  Pope Innocent VIII  /  The papal Bull  /   The Malleus Maleficarum  /  An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum  /  The letter of approbation  /  Johann Nider’s Formicarius  /  Jacob Sprenger  /  Heinrich Kramer  /  Stefano Infessura  /  Montague Summers  /  The Waldenses  /  The Albigenses  /  The Hussites /  The Sun DanceShielding (Occult and Psychic Protection) /  The History of ThanksgivingI have a Dream, the 1963 speach by civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King /  Auras by Graham Furnell - Part 1 and Part 2 /

 

Sabbats and Rituals:

 

Sabbats in History and Mythology /  Samhain (October 31st)  /  Yule (December 21st)  /  Imbolc (February 2nd)  /  Ostara (March 21st)  /  Beltane (April 30th)  /  Litha (June 21st)  /  Lughnasadh (August 1st)  /  Mabon (September 21st)

 

Rituals contributed by Crone:  Samhain / YuleImbolcOstara /  BeltaneLithaLammasMabon

 

Tools:

 

Tools of a Witch  /  The Besom (Broom) /  Poppets and DollsPendulums / Cauldron MagickMirror Gazing

 

Animals:

 

Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar) /  AntelopeBatsCrowFoxFrog and ToadsGoat / HoneybeeKangarooLionOwlPhoenixRabbits and HaresRavenRobin RedbreastSheep SpiderSquirrelSwansWild Boar /  Wolf /  Serpent /  Pig /  Stag /  Horse /  Mouse /  Cat

 

Trees:

 

In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar.  For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following:  Birch /  Rowan / Ash /  Alder /  Willow /  Hawthorn /  Oak /  Holly /  Hazel /  Vine /  Ivy /  Reed /  ElderAlso see:  The Willow Tree (Folk Music)

 

Sacred Sites:

 

Mystical Sacred Sites  -  Stonehenge /  Glastonbury Tor /  Malta - The Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni /  Avebury /  Cerne Abbas - The Chalk Giant /  Ireland - Newgrange /

 

Rocks and Stones:

 

Stones - History, Myths and Lore

 

 Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin:   / Apophyllite  / Amber AmethystAquamarineAragoniteAventurineBlack TourmalineBloodstoneCalciteCarnelianCelestiteCitrineChrysanthemum StoneDiamond  /  Emerald / FluoriteGarnet /  Hematite Herkimer DiamondLabradoriteLapis LazuliMalachiteMoonstoneObsidianOpalPyriteQuartz (Rock Crystal)Rose QuartzRubySeleniteSeraphinite  /  Silver and GoldSmoky QuartzSodaliteSunstoneThundereggTree AgateZebra Marble

 

Wisdom:

 

Knowledge vs Wisdom by Ardriana Cahill I Talk to the TreesAwakeningThe Witch in YouA Tale of the Woods

 

Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:

 

Murder by WitchcraftThe Fairy Witch of ClonmelA Battleship, U-boat, and a WitchThe Troll-Tear (A story for Children)Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife /  The Story of Jack-O-LanternThe Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) /  The Two Brothers - Light and Dark

 

Old Masters of Academia:

 

Pliny the ElderHesiodPythagoras

 

Biographies

 

Witches, Pagans and other associated People

(Ancient, Past and Present)

 

Remembered at Samhain

(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)

 

Abramelin the MageAgrippaAidan A. KellyAlbertus Magnus “Albert the Great”Aleister Crowley “The Great Beast” Alex Sanders "the King of the Witches” Alison HarlowAmber KAnna Franklin /  Anodea JudithAnton Szandor LaVey  / Arnold CrowtherArthur Edward Waite Austin Osman SpareBiddy EarlyBridget ClearyCarl Llewellyn WeschckeCecil Hugh WilliamsonCharles Godfrey LelandCharles Walton /  Christina Oakley Harrington /  Damh the Bard (Dave Smith) /   Dion FortuneDolores Aschroft-NowickiDorothy MorrisonDoreen ValienteEdward FitchEleanor Ray Bone “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” /  Dr. John Dee and Edward KellyDr. Leo Louis Martello /  Eliphas LeviErnest Thompson Seton /  Ernest Westlake and the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry /  Fiona Horne /  Friedrich von SpeeFrancis Barrett /  Gerald B. GardnerGavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca /  Gwydion PendderwenHans Holzer /  Helen DuncanHerman Slater "Horrible Herman" /  Israel RegardieJames "Cunning" MurrellJanet Farrar & Gavin BoneJessie Wicker Bell “Lady Sheba” / John Belham-Payne John George Hohman /  John GerardJohn Gordon Hargrave (the White Fox) /  John Michael Greer /  John ScoreJohannes Junius the Burgomaster of Bamberg /  Joseph John Campbell /  Karl von EckartshausenLaurie Cabot "the Official Witch of Salem" /  Lewis Spence /  Margaret Alice MurrayMargot AdlerMarie Laveau the " Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" /  Marion WeinsteinMatthew Hopkins “The Witch-Finder General”Max Ehrmann and the Desiderata /  Monique Wilson the “Queen of the WitchesMontague SummersNicholas CulpeperNicholas RemyM. R. SellersMrs. Grieve "A Modern Herbal" /  Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-RavenheartOld Dorothy ClutterbuckOld George Pickingill /   Paddy SladePamela Colman-SmithParacelsusPatricia CrowtherPatricia Monaghan /  Patricia “Trish” TelescoPhilip Emmons Isaac Bonewits Philip HeseltonRaymond BucklandReginald ScotRobert CochraneRobert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and "The White Goddess" /  Rudolf Steiner /  Rosaleen Norton “The Witch of Kings Cross” /  Ross Nichols and The Order of Bards, Ovates & DruidsSabrina - The Ink WitchScott CunninghamSelena FoxSilver Ravenwolf /  Sir Francis DashwoodSir James George FrazerS.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” /  StarhawkStewart FarrarSybil LeekTed AndrewsThe Mather Family - includes: Richard Mather, Increase Mather, Cotton Mather /  Thomas AdyVera Chapman /  Victor Henry AndersonVivianne CrowleyWalter Brown GibsonWilliam Butler YeatsZsuzsanna Budapest

 

 

Many of the above biographies are brief and far from complete.  If you know about any of these individuals and can help with aditional information, please cantact me privately at my email address below.  Many thanks for reading  :-)

 

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