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What is a Besom: a Ceremonial Broom

Updated on:

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Written by: Dawn Black (Witchipedia)

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Reviewed by: Tina Caro

The besom is defintely one of the most iconic withy tool, one of the first tool popping up to our minds when thiking of witches as folkloristic figures. But, we also know that besom are incredibly useful and powerful tool we can use in our craft. Let’s learn more about it with this article

KEY TAKEAWAYS

A besom, also known as a witch’s broom, is a traditional tool used in various magical and pagan practices.

It typically consists of a bundle of bristles bound to a handle, often made of wood.

The besom holds symbolic significance, representing purification, protection, and the sweeping away of negative energy.

In magical rituals, besoms are used for sweeping ritual spaces before ceremonies, symbolically clearing away psychic debris and creating a sacred area.

They may also be used in rituals involving cleansing, banishing, or purification.

Additionally, besoms are sometimes used in folk magic traditions for purposes such as ritual sweeping of the home for protection or luck.

What is a besom?

The besom the ritual object that, more than any other, characterizes the witch. In our imagination, it is the witch’s mount, or rather that object, that makes her fly through the skies.

Analyzing this first aspect, it is clear that we will never see a witch flying in the sky, at least with our physical eyes. The broom has the same function as the drum for the shaman. It is the mount through which, in an ecstatic state, the witch flies into the 3 worlds.

AspectExplanation
DefinitionIn witchcraft, a besom, also known as a broom, is a ceremonial tool typically consisting of a bundle of bristles bound to a handle.
PurposeThe primary purpose of a besom is ritualistic and symbolic, representing the sweeping away of negative energies, purification, and the delineation of sacred space.
MaterialsTraditionally, besoms were made with natural materials such as straw or twigs bound to a wooden handle. Modern versions may incorporate synthetic bristles or decorative elements.
SymbolismBesoms symbolize purification, protection, and the sweeping away of negative influences. They are often associated with witches and magical practices, featuring prominently in folklore and mythology.
Ritualistic ImportanceBesoms play a significant role in witchcraft rituals, where they are used for cleansing, consecration, and the creation of sacred space. They are considered essential tools for practitioners of many magical traditions.
Table 1: Overview of Besoms in Witchcraft

The symbolism of the besom

The shaman also uses other tools to travel in the three worlds: sometimes smoke, other times a rope or a vertical axis representing a tree. The Axis Mundi that connects the 3 worlds like a tree of life.

The broom acquires, in my opinion, the same symbolism. It is the equivalent of the Axis Mundi, the vertical axis that connects existence. It is made of wood and branches, from this point of view it can be considered a representation of a tree that extends its branches towards the World Above or Below.

Other important symbolism in this instrument is the sacred marriage of the Masculine and the Feminine. The handle is the male part, while the sorghum is the female part. At an energetic level, however, we must consider the instrument immersed in the environment. In the environment the feminine is the earth, whose energy rises, while the sky is the masculine.

If we observe the energies we have a positive – negative polarity. When we place the complementary elements in contact, the energy can move freely along the axis, while there is no energy exchange between homologous elements.

Type of BesomDescription
Traditional BesomTraditional besoms are handmade from natural materials such as straw, twigs, or birch branches bound together with natural fibers. They often feature a wooden handle and are used in traditional witchcraft rituals.
Decorative BesomDecorative besoms may feature embellishments such as ribbons, feathers, crystals, or pentacles, adding aesthetic appeal and personal symbolism to the ritual tool. They are often displayed as decorative pieces in the home or sacred space.
Ritual BesomRitual besoms are specifically crafted or consecrated for use in magical rituals and ceremonies. They may be adorned with symbols, runes, or charms for specific magical purposes.
Table 2: Common Types of Besoms in Witchcraft

The magickal uses of a besom

In addition to being the witch’s mount, the broom has several ritual functions.

The broom is used, in everyday life, to clean the house, to eliminate dirt and take it away. So, even on a mystical level, his task is the same: to clean the environment or people from dirt.

To do this, the broom, obviously, must be placed downwards. The fact that the broom is turned upwards to indicate protection, reminds us of the image of the housewife who runs after the unfortunate person to beat him (and chase him away) with the broom.

Its purpose is to purify the sacred environment, to ward off negativity and evil spirits, who love dirt; traditionally a sorghum broom is used but it can also be made using ash for the stick and birch branches tied together with willow; its symbolism is also linked to fertility, in fact in pagan weddings, the spouses use to jump on the other side of the handle, to propitiate a fruitful union.

What is a beson in Witchcraft by magickal spot
Copyright: Magickal Spot

In Scotland, pagan newlyweds jumped on the broom, it was used to chase away negative influences, starting with their backs to the altar and making a leap towards the guests.

A wedding celebrated with a broomstick marriage was not unusual in those periods in which marriage laws were not very strict, but those who practiced it did not always feel bound by this ceremony; jumping on a broomstick was also part of the gypsies’ wedding rites.

Ritual UseDescription
Cleansing and PurificationBesoms are used for sweeping and cleansing ritual spaces, removing physical debris, and energetically clearing negative energies to create a clean and sacred environment for magical workings.
Ritual ConsecrationBesoms are used to ritually consecrate and bless ritual tools, altar spaces, or individuals by sweeping the besom over the object or person while focusing intent and energy for purification and empowerment.
Casting CirclesBesoms are used in the casting of magical circles, where practitioners walk clockwise around the perimeter of the circle, using the besom to physically delineate and energetically seal the sacred space.
Symbolic Ritual ActsBesoms are incorporated into various symbolic rituals and magical acts, such as handfasting ceremonies, where couples jump over a besom as a symbol of unity and fertility, or ritualized cleansing ceremonies to remove negativity.
Table 3: Uses of Besoms in Witchcraft Rituals

It is an ancient symbolic custom: the broom represents the threshold of a door, jumping over it for a couple means crossing the threshold to cross paths in a new home, taking a leap into a new life; if the two did not fall or touch the broom, their union was legalized and the children born from the union were legitimate; if they wanted to divorce, they had to make the leap again, but backwards and any children would be supported by the father.

When a child was born, the threshold of the house was touched with a broom, an ax and a pestle (symbols of culture, cleanliness and fertility) to keep negativity away.

Finally, being a symbol of magical protection, you can leave one behind the door (or across it) to prevent malice, envy, jealousy and negativity from entering the house.

When you proceed with the energetic cleaning of the house, the bristles of the broom must not actually touch the ground, because the “gesture”, the symbolic act of sweeping, i.e. removing waste, already has an exorcising function, of removing evil.

We can use it as protection, placing it in front of the door of the house, under the bed or in front of a window.

The broom also has a strong link with rituals and spells of procreation and abundance.

The broom, declared a witch’s tool, used by women in household work, is a phallic symbol, as is easy to understand from its position between the legs of the witch, a gesture that links the figure to ancient divinities who, ensuring the fertility, brought man the greatest gift, life and therefore the continuity of the species and the abundance of the fields.

The birch branch broom, of the type now used by gardeners, was an integral if not fundamental part of a witch’s paraphernalia; its male counterpart is the pitchfork. In short, the old woman with her broom between her legs is a guarantee of certain fertility, so my advice: never antagonize a witch!

DIY – A custom homemade besom

The broom is an indispensable tool for every witch and if handmade it is certainly more powerful.

Here is a guideline for making it yourself. Choose a wood, which will be used as a broom handle, that has protective properties (such as ash, birch, elder).

Get some straw that is easy to find and attracts fairies. Straw can be painted in various colors (using dyes).

If you decide not to paint it, wet it and it will be easier to move. If you can’t find straw, you can use thin fallen twigs.

To make the broom “magical”, tradition dictates that it be sealed with a few willow branches.

Before cutting the straw that you will use for the bristles, collect it in your hands so that the ends are equal and are equally distributed around the handle.

You can obviously add personal details such as engravings or put sprigs of lavender as a further seal. Tradition wants it to be done at Samhain.

How to consecrate a broom?

In order to be used as a magical and ritual object, the broom must be consecrated and activated. It is possible to do this with sacred (or blessed) water and with fumigation with specific purification and protection herbs.

Subsequently the wood will be activated with a special oil through which we can also charge it with our intentions. At that point it can be presented to the 4 elements and directions as we saw in the consecration of the salt.

Conclusion

The besom is more than a symbol, than an icon. It’s a powerful and useful tool we can add to our practice to make sure we channel its energy and work with its properties and magick for protection, fertility, power and more.

About Morningbird (Witchipedia's Founder)

I am a homesteading hearth witch who grew up along the shores of the Hudson River and has lived among the Great Lakes for the past 20 years. Together with my musical husband and youngest child, I steward a one-acre mini homestead with herb, vegetable and flower gardens, chickens, ducks, geese and rabbits, and areas reserved for native plants and wildlife. 

I have three children; two are grown, and I have been practicing magick alone and with family and friends for over 30 years.

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