Brooms or Besoms
A broom is used by many Witches to cleanse an area of baneful* energies
before a rite. They can represent the air or fire element, depending on
each practitioner’s tradition. The staff or handle is considered masculine,
while the brush or broom part is considered feminine. This uniting and
balancing of polarities makes the besom a natural choice for Handfasting
rites. Brooms also represent purification, protection, fertility and
The classic images of Witches riding broomsticks may have originated from
ancient fertility rites. People would jump high in the air on brooms to
‘show’ the crops how high to grow. This is a form of sympathetic magick.
There are many other myths and associations of Witches with brooms. In
Ireland, the besom was sometimes called a “Faery’s Horse”. In medieval
times, the besom was equated with marriages outside of the church. So much
so, that it was recorded that weddings ‘by the broom’ were to be considered
The broom eventually became a symbol of antiestablishmentarianism and and
sensuality. This led at one time to the word ‘besom’ becoming a slang term
for an easy woman. These associations may have been promoted by the church
to discourage marriages outside of the church.
Chapter 13 of “The Magical Household” by Scott Cunningham and “An ABC of
Witchcraft” by Doreen Valiente have additional information and lore about
*Baneful in this instance is defined as energies that are not conducive to
the working at hand, are harmful, or are considered negative.