Katydid's Site Index

The Besom
Making A Besom
The Witch's Besom
Besom Lore

The Besom

The besom was believed to be the chosen mode of transportation for witches, the besom was thought to symbolize the ability to blend home life with travel to other spiritual dimensions.

Making A Besom

If you would like a besom of your own, they are fairly easy to find in craft stores, country markets, or folk art fairs. You can also invest your energies into making one, a good idea if you wish to use it in place of a wand or other ritual tool. 

You Will Need:
1 four foot dowel one inch in diameter 
1 ball of twine 
scissors 
1 straw or other long strands of pliable herbs 

Procedure:
Take the straw, or another herb you have chosen for the bristles, and allow them to soak overnight in warm, lightly salted water. The water softens the straws to make them pliable, and the salt soaks out former energies. 

When you are ready to make your besom, remove the straws from the water and allow them to dry a bit, but not so much that they lose the suppleness you will need to turn them into your besom. 

Find a work area where you can lay out the length of your dowel, and begin lining the straws alongside the dowel. Starting about three inches from the bottom, lay the straws, moving backward, along the length of the dowel. Begin binding these to the dowel with the twine. You will need to tie them very securely. You can add as many layers of straw as you wish, depending on how full you would like your besom to be. 

When the straw is secured, bend the top straws down over the twine ties. When they are all gently pulled over, tie off the straws again a few inches below the original tie. Leave the besom overnight to allow the straw to dry. 

The dowel part of the besom can be stained, painted, or decorated with pagan symbols, your craft name, or any other embellishments you choose. Dedicate your finished besom in your circle as you would any other ritual tool.

The Witch's Besom

Another indisputable symbol of Samhain is the witch's besom. The besom is the witch's broomstick, and though it is not a tool of paganism in the modern sense, it was often utilized in the magickal practice of the Middle Ages. Like the cauldron, the besom was an everyday household object and could not be held up as a sign of witchcraft in the courts. This fact elevated their prominence as magickal tools, often taking the place of wands and staves. 

Because of this association it is not surprising that they quickly became objects of magickal protection. Besoms were often placed near the hearth of the home to protect the opening, and many pagans still believe a besom at the fireplace will prevent evil from entering. If negativity is a problem, just take your besom and visualize yourself sweeping these feelings out the door. Using the besom to sweep away negativity from a circle site was common practice, one still observed by many pagans. 

The besom is a phallic symbol and was used by female witches in fertility rites, and it is from this that the idea of the Halloween witch riding around on a broomstick also may have materialized. The sweeping end was usually made of the European broom herb, a feminine herb. Thus the broom was complete as a representation of the male and female together. 

At Halloween we are bombarded with images of the demonized Crone Goddess riding her broom across the moon. The idea that witches could fly on broomsticks may have been a misunderstanding of astral projection, a sending forth of one's consciousness to other places.

Besom Lore

Luck
Dropping a broom while sweeping is the sign of a new carpet.
Certainly, the most common superstition connected with brooms is that they were used by witches to fly on... However, did you know that it was in the fourteenth century that brooms were first regarded as a vehicle for witches' transportation?  This tradition may stem from the fact that, in many of their ceremonies, witches did dance with a stick between their legs, jumping high in the  air. Toward the end of the eighteenth century, the question of witches flying was settled once and for all in an English law court.
 
Lord Mansfield declared that he knew of no law that prohibited flying and, therefore, anyone so inclined was perfectly free to do so. 
Shortly thereafter, reports of witches flying on broomsticks ceased (except for isolated reports of East Anglian witches skimming across church spires).

According to Yorkshire belief, should a young girl inadvertently step over a broom handle she will become a mother before a wife.....(I
will add here....this belief is also Appalachia and rural country folk)
 
Among the Dyak people of Indonesia brooms made out of the leaves of a certain plant (doesn't say which plant) are sprinkled with rice water and blood. These are used to sweep one's house, and the sweepings are placed into a toy house made of bamboo. The toy house is then set adrift on a river. It is believed that bad luck will be carried out to sea with it.
 
In Africa, should a man be struck by a broom, he will grab hold of it and hit the broomstick seven times, or he will become impotent.
 
In Sicily, on Midsummer's Eve, people often put a broom outside their homes to ward off any wickedness that might come knocking.
 
In Wales, among the Gypsies, an old custom of the broomstick wedding persisted for some time. The couple solemnized their rites before witnesses by leaping over a broom placed in a doorway, without dislodging the broom. Should they wish to dissolve the marriage, they simply had to reverse the process, jumping backwards out of the house, over the broom, before the same witnesses.
 
American country folk say no good can come of carrying a broom across water, leaning a broom against the bed, or burning one. Good luck can be had by sending a new broom and a loaf of bread into a new home before entering it.
Likewise, brooms laid across the doorways are believed to keep out bad...  And a few more traditional ones.... 

Never use a broom when there is a dead person in the house.
Never use a broom to sweep outside the house, unless the inside of the house has been cleaned first.
Never walk on a broom.
Never sweep upstairs rooms in the afternoon.
Never sweep the room of a departing guest until he has been gone for some time, or else your sweeping will bring him back.
Never bring old brooms into new houses...(remember a broom becomes attached to houses...always leave the old one behind....)
Finally.........always sweep dustballs into the middle of a room.....they will protect against bad luck.
One old wart cure consists of measuring a wart crosswise with a broom straw, then burying the straw  The straw, so intimately connected with the wart, will decay, and so too should the blemish.
Placing a broom across any doorway allows your departed friends and family to speak to you if they so choose. As long as the broom
remains in place, they can communicate freely. 
If you feel as though you are being followed and haunted by unfriendly ghosts, stepping over a broomstick will prevent them from disturbing you.

Good Luck
A broom dropping in front of the door means company before the day is over.
Always pick up, for luck, a broom that is lying on the floor or ground.
Burn up the rubbish when  you sweep on New Year's Day and  you will have money throughout the new year.
Carry a broom under your arm for luck.
If you must sweep on New Year's Day, you can avert bad luck by not taking up the dirt and leaving it in a pile on the floor.
It is a sign of good luck to have a broom drop in front of you.
Keep the corners of your broom square or even for luck.
Let the broom rest with the straws up and  you will be lucky.
Sweeping on New Year's Day means that you will sweep out the money made during the coming year.
To have good luck, place the broom on its handle in a corner.
When a small child takes a broom and begins to sweep, company is coming.

Bad Luck
 Always sweep dirt out the back door or you will sweep away your best friend.
Bad luck will befall  you all  year, if you sweep on New Year's Day.
Carrying a broom over your shoulder will give you bad luck.
Do not sweep immediately after the departure of a guest or you will sweep him bad luck.
Hitting someone with a broom means that he will go to jail before a week has passed.
If a broom falls as you are passing it, you will have bad luck.
If a broom falls in front of you and you step over it before picking it up, you will have a "bed of sickness."
If dirt is swept out a door before sunrise, you may expect bad luck.
If dirt is swept out of the house on Friday, the house will burn.
If someone comes in to see you and you pick up a broom and go to sweeping in front of them, that is the sign they are not wanted and
you want them to go home.
If you go to someone's house and have to step over a broom, it shows that the mistress of that household is an untidy housekeeper.
If you hand a broom through a window to someone, you may expect bad luck.
If you hit a person with a broom just before he starts "uptown," he will have trouble before returning.
If you let a broom fall and do not step back over it immediately, someone dirtier than you will come.
If you must borrow a broom, take it without the owner's knowledge, and  you will not have bad luck.
If you must sweep your kitchen after sunset, you can avert bad luck by burning the dirt.
If you step over a broom you will be arrested.
If you sweep after dark/ You will bring sorrow to your heart.
If you sweep after dark, you will sweep out the money made that day.
If you sweep in front of someone, you are sweeping them off the earth.
If you sweep under someone while he is sitting on a chair, you are giving him bad luck.
It causes bad luck to sweep a porch after dark.
It is a sign of misfortune, to lay a broom on the bed.
It is unlucky to borrow a broom.
It is unlucky to sweep dirt out a door at any time. Pick up the dirt and carry it outdoors for luck.
It is unlucky to sweep on Monday.  
It means bad luck when a broom falls across the derail
It signifies bad luck, if you sweep under a bed on which someone is lying.
It signifies bad luck, to carry a broom through the house from the front door to the back door.
Lean a broom against a bed and you will be unlucky.
Lending a broom will cause you bad luck.
Letting the sweeping edge of a broom wear off at the two corners will bring you bad luck.
Never burn up a broom; it will bring you bad luck.
Never sweep dirt out the front door; it will bring you bad luck.
Never sweep the kitchen after supper, whether daylight or dark, or you will sweep out all your money.
Never sweep your kitchen early in the morning before sunrise, or you will be unlucky.
Stand a broom on its handle and you will always be poor.
Step over a broom and you will break  your mother's back.
Stepping over a broom is a sign of slovenliness.
Stepping over a broom will bring sorrow to your heart.
Stumbling over a brook handle will bring you good luck.
Sweep after dark and you will never be rich.
Sweep dirt out of the house on Friday and it will cause you bad luck.
Sweep on the third day after Easter and you will have bugs in the house.
Sweep the top of a bed and you will have bad luck.
Sweep under a person's feet while he is sitting in a chair and he will not grow any more.
Sweeping after dark means you will lose a friend.
Sweeping dirt over a doorstep after six o'clock in the evening will bring bad luck.
Sweeping under chair upon which someone is sitting will make you unlucky.
The child who steps over a broom will get a whipping.
The one who is hit by a broom will soon be arrested.
The person under whose feet you sweep will always be poor.
The person who is hit on the top of the head with a broom will be arrested.
To avert bad luck after you have walked over a fallen broom, step backwards across the broom.
To brush your boot with the broom while your are sweeping will give you bad luck for a week.
To set a broom in the corner with the brush up shows that you are an untidy housekeeper.
To step over a broom will start a quarrel in the house. 
To sweep after dark will bring trouble to the house.
To sweep dirt out the door is a sign of a slovenly housekeeper.
Touching anyone with a broom while you are sweeping causes bad luck.
Walking over a fallen broom will cause you bad luck.
When a broom falls across the door, it indicates that you will walk on strange ground.
When someone is hit with a broom, he should spit on the broom and take ten steps backwards so he will neither have bad luck or be
arrested.
When you sweep after dark, you sweep away your friends and let enemies in.
You sweep away your best friend by sweeping after dark.
You will be unlucky, if you do not pick up a fallen broom at once.
Your luck will be swept away, if you sweep your kitchen after sunset.
Also never sweep after sunset since so doing will chase away happiness or hurt a wandering soul.
It is said that a new broom should sweep dirt out of a house only after it has swept something in.
An ole English Rhyme....."Buy a broom in May, and you will sweep your friends away."

Remember to harm none!!!!

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