What is a Besom?

A Traditional Besom...

A besom is the traditional witch's broom used in rituals and ceremonies.  Traditionally, a besom was made from the wood of three different trees and associated with faeries.  The besom is a purifier, so it is connected to the element of Water.

The Three Woods

  • Ash for the shaft, as it is protective and has command over the four elements
  • Birch twigs for the bristles, as it is purifying and draws spirits to one’s service
  • Willow strands for the binding cord, as it is sacred to the Goddess and binds them all together

A little history of the besom...

There have been few written accounts of early Witches decorating besoms with seasonal flowers tied on with decorative string or colored ribbon.  Herbs can also be added with the bristle bundle to add their magical properties to the besom.

Ancient besoms have been discovered with hidden compartments in the handle, to hold herbs, oils, and feathers.

The first official documentation that records a person flying on a broomstick is from 1453, from a confession by witch Guillaume Edelin.

Besoms in Handfastings

In Wiccan traditions, the broom is a symbol of fertility and sexuality; a union of masculine and feminine elements. The couple jump over the besom, hoping to bestow blessings of fertility on their union and home. The besom can be decorated with ribbons, flowers, crystals, charms or other items which the couple would like to help symbolize their "fresh start".

After the ceremony, it is hung above the main entrance door of the home, as a daily reminder of the ceremony and the new life it brings."

Besoms as Decorations

Ritual Cleanings

The besom, or broom, is used for sweeping a ceremonial area out before ritual.  A light sweeping not only cleans the physical space, it also clears out negative energies that may have accumulated in the area since the last cleaning.

Besoms are used to cleanse a ritual area before casting a circle by sweeping with intention.  Sweeping is generally done in a clockwise direction.  It is best to begin and end at a doorway, if indoors.  Once a circle has been cast, the besom can be placed on the floor and used as a doorway in the circle, protecting negative energies from entering.

It can also be used for directing energy like a wand, but is more often used for sweeping away negativity or sweeping in positivity in ritual space.

When done using, besoms can be hung just inside a door to ward off unwanted entities or energies, or kept upright by a door or fireplace for protection.

Ever wondered how to make a besom?

Check out our "Crafting Besoms" post to learn!
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