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The History and Significance of Besoms ~Witches' Brooms



Besoms, also known as witches' brooms, are traditional tools used for sweeping and cleansing. They have a long history and have been associated with various rituals and practices, particularly in the realm of witchcraft and magick. The word "besom" is derived from the Old English "besma," which means broom.

Besoms have been used for centuries as tools for cleaning and purifying spaces. They are used to sweep away negative energy and protect homes from evil spirits. They are also used in rituals to purify and consecrate sacred spaces.

Besoms are believed to have magical properties and were used as a tool for divination and communication with spirits. They were also often used in wedding ceremonies, where the bride and groom would jump over the besom as a symbol of their commitment to each other and their new home. Along with having a new besom created when moving into your new home, to bring good luck, protection and blessings. Some say, it is bad luck to bring an old besom into a new a new home.


History: Witches' brooms have been associated with various folk traditions and superstitions for centuries. They are often linked to witches and the concept of flying on broomsticks. The image of witches flying on broomsticks is a popular part of folklore, especially during the witch hunts of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Besoms were historically used in many cultures for various purposes. They were not limited to witchcraft and were often employed for everyday cleaning. The association between witches and brooms is complex and may have been influenced by both folklore and the use of broomsticks in rituals.


The association of besoms with witchcraft and magic can be traced back to the early modern period, when the persecution of witches was at its peak. During this time, besoms were often depicted as being used by witches to fly through the air and attend meetings with other witches, known as "sabbats." This portrayal of besoms in popular culture has persisted to this day and has contributed to the enduring association of besoms with witches and magick.


Besoms are still used for their traditional purposes, but they are also used as decorative items and as symbols of Wicca and other modern pagan traditions, including the Wheel of the Year. Many people who practice these traditions see the besom as a powerful tool for cleansing and purification, and they use it in rituals and ceremonies to connect with nature and the spiritual world.


Besoms, or witches' brooms, have various uses in different cultures and practices. Here are some of the common uses of besoms:


Cleansing and Purification: Besoms are often used to cleanse and purify a space, both physically and energetically. They are used to sweep away negative energy, stagnant vibes, and unwanted influences. Many people use them to ritually cleanse an area before performing magical or spiritual work.

  1. Creating Sacred Space: Besoms can be used to mark the boundaries of a sacred or ritual space. By sweeping the area with a besom, practitioners can symbolically clear and consecrate the space for their spiritual or magical activities.

  2. Protection: Some people place besoms over doorways or thresholds to protect a home or space from negative energies or unwanted influences. The broom is believed to act as a barrier that prevents harm from entering.

  3. Astral Travel and Meditation: In some magical traditions, besoms are used as a tool for astral travel or meditation. They can symbolize the broomstick used for flying and may aid in achieving a trance-like state.

  4. Sabbat Celebrations: Besoms are sometimes used in Wiccan and other Pagan traditions during sabbat celebrations. For example, during the Beltane festival, people may jump over a besom as a symbol of fertility and union.

  5. Symbolic Ritual Tool: Besoms can be incorporated into various rituals and ceremonies, where they may represent the element of air. They are often used as a symbolic tool to help direct energy or as part of a ritual dance or procession.

  6. Decoration: Besoms can be used as decorative items in magical or witchy spaces. They are often adorned with ribbons, charms, or other symbolic elements.

  7. Artistic and Craft Projects: Some people create or use besoms for artistic and craft projects, both as functional brooms and as decorative pieces.

It's important to note that the specific uses of besoms can vary among different traditions and individuals. The symbolism and significance attached to besoms are deeply personal and often tied to one's belief system and practices. As such, the uses of besoms can be quite diverse, and they can serve a variety of purposes in magical, spiritual, and cultural contexts.


How to Make a Besom: Making a besom involves a few steps and the use of natural materials. Here's a basic guide to making a traditional besom:


Materials:

  1. A long, straight stick or branch for the handle.

  2. Thin, flexible twigs or branches for the broom part.

  3. Twine or cord.

  4. A knife or pruning shears.

  5. Scissors.

Steps:

  1. Gather Materials: Find a straight stick or branch for the handle. It should be about as tall as you are or slightly shorter, depending on your preference. Collect the thin, flexible twigs or branches for the broom part. These can be from a variety of plants, such as birch, willow, or heather.

  2. Trim and Prepare: Trim the handle to the desired length and remove any excess twigs or branches. If the handle has any rough spots or bark, you can smooth it with a knife.

  3. Tie the Broom Part: Gather the twigs or branches for the broom part, making sure they are roughly the same length. Bundle them together and tie them securely to the handle using twine or cord. Make sure the broom part is firmly attached.

  4. Shape the Broom: Trim the ends of the broom part so that they form an even, rounded shape. You can also trim the twigs to your preferred length.

  5. Decorate (Optional): You can decorate your besom with ribbons, herbs, flowers or other symbolic items if desired.

  6. Bless or Consecrate (Optional): Some practitioners like to bless or consecrate their besom, imbuing it with specific intentions or energies.

Remember that the specific materials and techniques used to make a besom can vary, and there are many creative ways to personalize them according to your tradition and beliefs. Besoms can be used for a variety of purposes, from ritual cleansing to marking a sacred space, and are an important tool in many witchcraft traditions.


List of Wood Types Commonly Used for Making Besoms:



Each wood has its unique properties and symbolism, making it suitable for various purposes. Here's a bit more detail on some of the wood choices:

  1. Birch: Birch is often associated with purification and protection. Its white bark gives it a clean, bright appearance, making it an excellent choice for the besom's bristles. Birch is known for its durability, and it is believed to have a natural ability to sweep away negativity and impurities.

  2. Willow: Willow is known for its flexibility and strength, which makes it an ideal choice for the handle of a besom. It is associated with healing, intuition, and protection. Willow's pliable nature allows for a comfortable grip and control while using the besom.

  3. Hazel: Hazel is another wood with a strong, flexible nature, making it suitable for both the handle and the bristles of the besom. It is linked to divination and protection. Using hazel can imbue your besom with qualities associated with these attributes.

  4. Ash: Ash wood is strong, straight-grained, and flexible, making it a practical choice for the broom part of a besom. It is associated with protection and strength, making it a good fit for a besom intended for protective or cleansing purposes.

  5. Oak: Oak is a symbol of strength and endurance, and it's often used for magical tools and ritual objects. While it's not as flexible as willow or hazel, it can be used for the handle or the broom part of a besom. Oak's strength and longevity make it suitable for grounding and protection.

When selecting wood for your besom, it's important to consider the properties and symbolism associated with the wood, as well as your own personal preferences and intentions for the besom. You should also choose straight, knot-free branches for the best results in crafting your besom. The choice of wood can add a layer of symbolism and intention to your besom, aligning it with your specific magical or spiritual purposes.



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