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Besom brooms have been made since time immemorial by tying twigs, herbs or straw to a long pole. Hanging a besom broom with its bristles upwards is thought to protect the home from evil spirits. A traditional witches' broom is made with an ash handle and birch twigs, the twigs tied to the handle by strips of willow. It is used to ritually, spiritually cleanse an area before spell casting, in the same way that incense is traditionally used in religious ceremonies.


Some think that the use of the besom as a witches tool began in the bad old days of the witch trials and persecution, when many an imperilled witch might hide her magic wand as an ordinary household cleaning implement, a besom broom. The first witch to confess using a broomstick as a magical aid was a male witch, Guillaume Edelin in 1453. No doubt in the middle ages it was the highly unlikely idea that a man would ever do housework, that drew suspicion to poor Guillaume. But despite what Guillaume no doubt suffered for his being found to be a witch with a besom broom, these brooms are usually associated with female witches flying through the air astride their trusty besom. This idea has it's origins in the pre-Christian period of our history, when witches applied flying ointment to their brooms and bounded across fields of crops to encourage crops to grow high and healthily. Flying ointment is made from a base of Atropa belladonna or Mandragora officinarum which are both psychoactive drugs, which promote visions and astral projection (out of the body experiences). One witch described the feeling of flight after rubbing this ointment over her body. The ever-useful besom can also be used as temporary accommodation for a spirit.

The phallic symbolism of the besom is not hard to miss and yes the handle does represent the male but the bristles represent the female, a perfect union. The broom is an exceptionally powerful fertility symbol, which makes the besom so suitable for it's romantic role in the Wiccan hand-fasting, or marriage ceremony, when the couple sometimes jump over the broom together in order to guarantee having children. Be warned, only jump if over it if you want a brood of children! So you can see why the modern witch would never replace her besom broom with a mere vacuum cleaner alone, the besom is an irreplaceable tool, no magic home should be without one.

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