The Tools Of Ritual Magick

The Tools Of Ritual Magick

Formal ritual magick requires its own special tools. These may be real or symbolic.

The list I give here is intended only as a guide: some of these may not be relevant to your own way of working. I have listed the areas of the circle in which each tool is traditionally placed. There are many sources of magical tools and, as I mentioned in the section on spells, you may already have a number in your home. You do not need to spend a great deal of money unless you wish, but I would suggest that you take time in finding the right items. Even if you work in a group, you may like to build up a set for your own personal work.

Some people prefer to make their own magical tools and this certainly does endow them with energies. I have suggested books that tell you how to make your own candles for special ceremonies and even your own knife. Woodcarvers are an excellent source for small staves suitable as wands and will often make items to order. In time, you will build up a collection of items and by personalising and charging them, you make them not only powerful, but also your own.

Keep your magical tools in a special place, separate from your everyday household items, wrapped in a natural fabric. You can buy excellent hessian bags and may wish to keep fragile or items that will scratch in separate ones. You can also use silk. Secure your bags with three protective knots.

You may have heard various warnings about needing to destroy charged tools on the demise of the owner, and the dire consequences of their being touched by any outsider. This is real late-night-cinema stuff. But common sense dictates that you should not leave knives, sharp wands, etc. where children might harm themselves and on the whole it is better to keep magical items away from the curious and the sceptical.

There is really no reason why you should not use your kitchen knife for cutting vegetables and then, after a quick purification in water or incense, chop herbs in an impromptu spell, or open your circle with it. But on the whole it is better to keep a separate knife for your special ceremonies.

I believe that even formal tools are like electrical devices that are lying unplugged and unused: they contain the potential to help or harm only if misused. What is more, without your personal vibes, which act as your password, the power cannot flow; you have not created an independent life form.

The following tools are commonly used in formal magick.

The Athame
An athame is, quite simply, a ceremonial knife. It is one of the ritual tools that entered the tradition through the influence of magicians and witches who set out the wisdom, mainly at the beginning of the twentieth century and in the upsurge of covens during the 1950s. Gerald Gardener, one of the founding fathers of Wicca, considered ritual knives and swords of prime importance in modern formal witchcraft.

You can obtain an athame from a specialist magical shop, but as I said before, any knife – even a letter opener – will do, although it should preferably have a silver-coloured blade. Athames are traditionally double-edged and black-handled, but a single-edged blade is better if you are new to magick, to avoid unintentional cuts.

There is a vast array of scouting and craft knives available, with black wooden handles on which you can engrave magical symbols such as your zodiacal and planetary glyphs with a pyrographic set obtained from an art shop. You can also paint moons, stars, spirals, suns, or crosses with silver paint. I use a curved-bladed knife with a silver engraved scabbard, which I bought from a souvenir shop in Spain.

The athame is set in the East of the altar and represents the element of Air. Like the sword, it is traditionally used for drawing magical circles on the ground and directing magical Air energies into a symbol. When you are casting a circle, you can point your athame diagonally towards the ground, so that you do not need to stoop to draw (which is not very elegant and bad for the back). With practice, the movement becomes as graceful as with a sword.

The athame can also be used as a conductor of energy, especially in solitary rituals, being held above the head with both hands to draw down light and energy into the body. This uses the same principle as that of arching your arms over your head to create a light body as described on page 124. One method of releasing the power is then to bring the athame down with a swift, cutting movement, horizontally at waist level, then thrust it away from the body and upwards once more to release this power. If others are present, direct the athame towards the centre of the circle. After the ritual you can drain excess energies by pointing the athame to the ground.

An athame may be used to invoke the elemental Guardian Spirits by drawing a pentagram in the air and for closing down the elemental energies after the ritual. With its cutting steel of Mars, it is effective in power, matters of the mind, change, action, justice, banishing magick, protection and for cutting through inertia and stagnation. The athame is sometimes also associated with the Fire element.

If you don’t like the idea of a full-sized athame, there are some lovely paper knives in the shape of swords or with animal or birds’ heads.

Some covens give each of their members a tiny athame, to be used for drawing down energies during ceremonies. The main athame is used by the person leading the ritual who may draw the circle, open all four quarters and close them after the ritual.

An athame with a white handle is used for cutting wands, harvesting herbs for magick or healing, carving the traditional Samhain jack-o’-lantern, and etching runes and other magical or astrological symbols on candles and talismans. Some practitioners believe that you should never use metal for cutting herbs but instead pull them up, shred them and pound them in a mortar and pestle, kept for the purpose. Pearl-handled athames are considered to be especially magical.

The Sword
Like the athame, the sword stands in the East of the circle as a tool of the Air element. Swords are the suit symbol of Air in the Tarot and are also one of the Christian as well as the Celtic Grail treasures.

Each of the Tarot suits and the main elemental ritual items in magick, represented by these four suits, is associated with one of the treasures of the Celts. The treasures belonged to the Celtic Father God, Dagda, and are said to be guarded in the Otherworld by Merlin. There were 13 treasures in total, but four have come into pre-eminence in magick and Tarot reading.

These four main sacred artefacts – swords, pentacles, wands and cups, or chalices – have parallels in Christianity and were associated with the legendary quest of the knights of King Arthur, who attempted to find them. The Grail Cup was the most famous of these. The Christian sword of King David, identified in legend with Arthur’s sword Excalibur, appears in Celtic tradition as the sword of Nuada whose hand was cut off in battle.

With a new hand fashioned from silver, he went on to lead his people to victory. According to one account, the Christian treasures were brought in AD 64 to Glastonbury in England by Joseph of Arimathea, the rich merchant who caught Christ’s blood in the chalice as He was on the cross and took care of His burial after the crucifixion.

Some present-day, peace-loving witches, myself included, do not really like the concept of using swords, even though they are pretty spectacular for drawing out a circle on a forest floor, and swords are rarely used in home ritual magick. If you do want to use one, however, you can obtain reproduction ceremonial swords.

The sword is the male symbol to the female symbol of the cauldron, and plunging the swords into the waters of the cauldron can be used in love rituals and for the union of male and female, god and goddess energies as the culmination of any rite. However, the chalice and the athame, or wand, tend to be used for the same purpose, unless it is a very grand ceremony.

The Bell
The bell stands in the North of the circle and is an Earth symbol. It is an optional tool and can be made from either crystal or protective brass. Best for magick is the kind that you strike.

The bell is traditionally rung nine times at the beginning and close of each ritual; the person ringing the bell should stand in the South of the circle, facing North. (Nine is the magical number of completion and perfection.) It is also rung to invoke the protection of angels or the power of a deity and in ceremonies to welcome departed members to the circle. You can also sound the bell in each of the four elemental quadrants, before creating the invoking pentagram, to request the presence of each elemental guardian. It can also be sounded as you pass your chosen symbol around each quadrant of the circle. However, you should not use the bell to excess – it is better under-utilised.

The Broom
The broom, or besom, was originally – and still is – a domestic artefact. It represents magically the union of male and female in the handle and the bristles and so is a tool of balance. Brooms have several uses in magick. A broom is sometimes rested horizontal to the altar to add protection, and couples jump over one in their handfasting ceremony. Most important, you should use your broom to cleanse the ritual area before every ritual.

Brooms are easily obtainable from any garden centre (you want one in the traditional ‘witches’ broomstick’ shape, not an ordinary brush). Brooms made with an ash handle and birch twigs bound with willow are traditionally recognised as being especially potent, being endowed with protective and healing energies. Some practitioners carve or paint a crescent moon at the top of the handle, others decorate theirs with their personal ruling planetary and birth sign glyphs entwined.

When cleansing the area for rituals, you might like to scatter dried lavender or pot pourri and sweep it in circles widdershins, saying:

Out with sorrow, out with pain,
Joyous things alone remain.

You can also sweep areas of your home such as uncarpeted floors, patio paths and yards to cleanse the home of negativity. Remember to sweep out of the front door, away from the house and eventually into the gutter, or if in you live in a flat, you can collect the lavender and dust in a pan and send it down the waste disposal unit.

You may also wish to cleanse the area further by sprinkling salt and pepper dissolved in water after sweeping. If you are working on carpet, you can use a very soft broom (some modern witches even hoover in circles widdershins and sprinkle the area with water in which a few drops of a cleansing flower essence, such as Glastonbury Thorn, has been added).

The broom is an Earth artefact.

The Cauldron
The cauldron is the one ritual tool that is positively charged by being the centre of domestic life and can replace the altar as a focus for less formal magick spells. If you can obtain a flameproof cauldron with a tripod, you can, on special occasions such as Hallowe’en, light a fire out of doors and heat up a brew of herbs and spices in the cauldron. When not in use, you can keep your cauldron filled with flowers or pot pourri.

If your circle is large enough, you can place your cauldron in the centre. Then, if you are working in a group, form your circle of power around it, so that the altar is within the outer consecrated circle and you make a human inner circle with the cauldron as the hub. If you are working alone, you can have your altar in the centre with the cauldron in front of it. Alternatively, you can have a small pot or cauldron in the centre of the altar.

Experiment with the different positions both for group and solitary work and walk or dance your way around to work out the logistics. Some practitioners do not use a cauldron at all.

In your rituals, you can light a candle in front of the cauldron, fill it with sand in which to stand candles, or surround it with a circle of red candles to represent Fire. Wishes written on paper can be burned in the candles. Water darkened with mugwort may be placed in the cauldron, especially on seasonal festivals such as Hallowe’en and May Eve, and white candle wax dripped on the surface to create divinatory images that offer insights into potential paths.

You can cast flower petals into the cauldron water to get energies flowing. For banishing, add dead leaves and tip the cauldron water into a flowing source of water. You can also burn incense in the cauldron if this is the focus of a ritual.

The cauldron is a tool of Spirit or Akasha, the fifth element.

The Chalice
The chalice, or ritual cup, used for rituals is traditionally made of silver, but you can also use crystal, glass, stainless steel or pewter. The chalice represents the Water element and is placed in the West of the altar. Like the sword, it is a sacred Grail treasure and is a source of spiritual inspiration.

The Grail cup is most usually represented as the chalice that Christ used at the Last Supper, in which His blood was collected after the crucifixion. As such, it signifies not only a source of healing and spiritual sustenance, but also offers direct access to the godhead through the sacred blood it once contained. Tradition says that the original Grail cup was incorporated by Roman craftsmen into a gold and jewelled chalice called the Marian Chalice after Mary Magdalene. In Celtic tradition, it became the Cauldron of Dagda.

In rituals, the chalice can be filled with pure or scented water with rose petals floating on top. I have also mentioned its ritual use with the athame in male/female sacred rites, as the symbolic union of god and goddess that has in many modern covens replaced an actual sexual union (that now tends to occur in privacy between established couples only).

The chalice is also central to the sacred rite of cakes and ale that occurs at the end of formal ceremonies – the pagan and much older equivalent of the Christian holy communion. The offering of the body of the Corn God is made in the honey cakes on the pentacle, or sacred dish, and the beer or wine in the chalice is fermented from the sacrificed barley wine. In primaeval times, actual blood was used to symbolise the sacrifice of the Sacred King at Lughnassadh, the festival of the first corn harvest. The rite goes back thousands of years.

The cakes and ale are consumed by the people acting as High Priestess and Priest in a dual energy rite or by those initiated in those roles. Crumbs and wine are first offered to the Earth Mother or poured into a libation dish (a small dish for offerings). Then the priestess offers the priest a tiny cake and then takes one herself and he offers her the wine before drinking himself. The dual roles work just as well in a single-sex coven. The cakes and ale are then passed round the circle and each person partakes of the body and blood of the Earth, offering a few words of thanks for blessings received.

In some groups each person has an individual chalice set before them, but everyone still drinks one after the other, offering thanks, unless there is a communal chant of blessing before drinking.

The chalice can be filled with wine or fruit juice or water, depending on the needs and preferences of the group.

The cakes and ale ceremony and the male/female chalice rite can both be easily incorporated into a solitary ritual.

The Pentacle
The pentacle is a symbol of the Earth and is familiar to users of Tarot packs. It is placed in the North of the altar.

It consists of a flat, round dish or disc, engraved with a pentagram within a circle. The pentacle has been a magical sign for thousands of years. The five-pointed star of the pentagram within it is a sacred symbol of Isis and the single top point is considered by many to represent the Triple Goddess.

You can place crystals or a symbol of the focus of the ritual or charged herbs on the pentacle to endow it with Earth energies. It can then be passed through the other elements or empowered by passing over the pentacle incense for Air, a candle for Fire and burning oils or water itself for the Water element.

The pentacle can be moved to the centre of the altar once the symbol on it has been fully charged. It is very easy to make a pentacle of clay, wood, wax or metal, and on it mark a pentagram with the single point extending upwards. This is what you might call the all-purpose pentagram – drawn this way it always has a positive influence.

You might also like to make a larger pentacle for holding the tiny cakes for the cakes and ale ceremony. You can find special recipes for these cakes in books but any tiny honey cakes will serve well.

The Wand
The wand is a symbol of Fire and should be placed in the South of the altar.

The wand is sometimes represented by a spear. Both the wand and spear, like the athame and sword, are male symbols. The spear, another Fire symbol, is not used in magick, except occasionally in the form of a sharpened stick in sacred sex rites, when it is plunged into the cauldron or the chalice as a symbol of the sacred union of Earth and Sky, Water and Fire.

The wand is traditionally a thin piece of wood about 50 centimetres (21 inches) long, preferably cut from a living tree (some conservationists disagree unless the tree is being pruned). After a strong wind or in a forest where trees are being constantly felled, it is often possible to find a suitable branch from which the wand can be cut. It should be narrowed to a point at one end and rubbed smooth.

You can make a series of wands from different woods for your ceremonies.

Ash is a magical wood, associated with healing and positive energies.

Elder wands are symbols of faerie magick and so are good for any visualisation work.

Hazel comes from the tree of wisdom and justice and is linked with the magick of the Sun. The wand should be cut from a tree that has not yet borne fruit.

Rowan is a protective wood and so is good for defensive and banishing magick.

Willow is the tree of intuition and is said to be endowed with the blessing of the Moon.

You can also use a long, clear quartz crystal, pointed at one end and rounded at the other, as a wand. In its crystalline form, especially, the wand is used for directing healing energies from the circle to wherever they are needed.

The wand is used for directing energies and for making circles of power in the air – hence the image of the faerie godmother waving her wand – deosil for energies to attract energies and widdershins for banishing. It can be used to draw pentagrams in the air at the four quarters and it can also be used for drawing an invisible circle when you are working on carpet or another fabric that cannot be physically marked.

In some traditions, the wand is a tool of Air and so this and the athame, or the sword, are fairly interchangeable. However, the wand seems more effective for casting and uncasting circles, invoking quarters and closing power. It is also particularly good for directing energies in rites of love, healing, fertility, prosperity and abundance.

 

Practical Guide to Witchcraft and Magic Spells By Cassandra Eason

With my thanks to Lady Abyss for this great information first posted in April of 2019

Aspects of the Moon in Aquarius

autumn

Aspects of the Moon in Aquarius

 

General: Inventions, social life, future goals, technology, science, forming and maintaining friendships, establishing groups, gaining more freedom or autonomy (be careful of bringing in rebellious energies though), developing intuition, independence, heightened perception and resourcefulness, becoming more detached or overcoming being too emotional.

Watch out for unorganized thoughts, selfishness, not finishing projects and being opinionated.

New Moon: Independence, change, love, new ideas, individuality and the sciences.

Full Moon: Courage, loyalty, leadership, self-worth and independence.

Element: Air.

Colours: Electric blue. Incense: Eucalyptus, comfrey, rosemary, fennel, pine, clover, fenugreek, broom, violet, valerian.

Aquarius Incense Blend: Equal parts pine, rosemary and fennel with a few drops of clover essential oil.

 

 

Pagan Portals – Moon Magic

Rachel Patterson

 

Magickal Goody of the Day for August 2nd is Lammas Charm for Gathering in Abundance

Magickal Goody of the Day

besom

Lammas Charm for Gathering in Abundance

 

You will need:

A broom or beson

Ribbon (traditional Lammas colors, green(for abundance) or gold(for prosperity and gathering)

A Sprig of Mint

As far as the broom or beson goes, any broom/besom will do as it is always the intent of your actions that are important. If you don’t have a broom then collect a bundle of twigs and tie time at the top with your ribbon to make a hand shaped broom. The broom/besom is a potent symbo of hearth and home, found in some form in almost every home. It is a traditional magickal tool useful for everyday charms as it has the imprint of its owner firmly on it.

Next take your sprig of mint (ideally from your own garden, or dried mind – put in a pouch. The mint represents abundance and plenty and is easily accessible to obtain.

Take your broom and tie your ribbon around the top. Tie in your sprig of mint or securely fasten your pouch. Take your broom outside, place both hands on the stave and focus on your intention – gathering in the harvest for winter. Turn slowly three times in a clockwise direction then start to sweep towards your door saying:

“By one, two, three and four, sweep Lammas gifts to my door. May abundance be a constant friend by my hearth till Winter’s end.”

If you don’t have an outside space, you can sweep from your front door inwards to either you kitchen or hearth.

Repeat this three times, take your besom back into your house and put it in its usual place. You can leave the ribbon on for as long as you want to. If you have made your own broom you can place it where you consider the heart of your home to be. You can return the mint to the earth and be sure to say thank you for the use and gift of it.

 

Magickal Goody of the Day for June 9th – Litha Blessing Broom

Magickal Goody of the Day

Litha Blessing Broom

Litha is the time of the summer solstice, and it’s a season of great solar energy. A great project to put together is a blessing besom. Sweeping is, after all, one of the best ways of making a space sacred and clean. Make a blessing besom, and you can use it to physically cleanse your home, and then hang it up to keep positive energy flowing around you.

To make a blessing broom, or besom, you’ll need the following:

  • A broom — either>make your own, or purchase one at a craft store
  • Ivy or vines
  • Flowers and herbs from your garden
  • Ribbons
  • Small bells

Wrap the ribbons and ivy around the handle of the broom. Don’t wrap them too tight, though, because you’ll want to be able to tuck sprigs of herbs and flowers into the ribbons. Once you’ve added all of these things, tie a few small bells onto the broom, so that it will jingle as you sweep. In many cultures, bells are used as noisemakers to frighten away evil spirits and negative energies.

If you like, you can consecrate your blessing besom as you would any other magical tool. Use it to sweep around your home, starting near a window or a door, and working in a deosil (clockwise) direction. As you do so, you may wish to chant something like this:

Sweeping, sweeping, ’round the room,
Blessings from this cleansing broom.
From floor to ceiling, and all between,
May this space be fresh and clean.
Sweeping good energy here to me,
As I will, so it shall be.

 

Handfasting and Marriage Broom Lore

HANDFASTING AND MARRIAGE BROOM LORE

As a Priestess and Wiccan Minister, I perform several Handfasting Rites per
year. One of the main things I encourage Wiccan engaged couples to do is to find
a broom together. This is the symbol of hearth and home. Once the broom has been found, then it is anointed as I stated above, then some of the broom brush is pulled from the stem. That brush is then woven together and placed upon the
wedding altar. The broom is present during our counseling sessions and then the
wife-to-be is usually the keeper of the broom until the wedding. This represents
that she is the keeper of the home and keeps peace and harmony while the man
goes out to work. It also means that she is the keeper of the Magickal power of
the home. As it seems in these modern times that this is wrong to have such
sexed roles, this is celtic lore from more than 600 years ago.

The night before the wedding, the couple will dress the broom by weaving 3
strand of colored ribbon around the handle. What this represents is the inter-
twining of their lives and they themselves are no longer individuals but are
part of each other. The broom is then placed either standing by the altar or
placed lying under the altar during the ceremony as the vows are said, the
promises made, that hands fasted. They are pronounced husband and wife and the broom is then put before them as the final test of love. The couple either
steps, or in old tradition, jumps, over the broom. This is the final end of the
ceremony. Then it is recommended that the couple takes the broom home and
makes love with the broom under the bed. This seals the marriage.

Your broom can be your best friend and your magickal ally. Treat your broom with honor, reverence and respect and you will have a life-long companion and ritual tool.

Sweeping Spells and Lore

SWEEPING SPELLS AND LORE

If you feel your life is in chaos, take a look around at your front porch and
front walkway. If the front walk is cluttered with leaves and dirt, then sweep
your walkway and front porch clean with your magickal broom and envision that
your life is in order and that all that comes to your will be clean and cleared.

When you move from one house to another, it’s always good to change your
workaday broom. Either burn your old one, or make sure that it is buried with
honor. Always bring a new broom into the new house, but sweep some dirt from the outside in before you sweep the dirt from the inside out. This is to bring in
good luck from the beginning and not push your luck out the door.

Always hang a broom by the front door for protection. Brooms will keep the bad
things out and the good things in. I have a broom at every door of my home. I
keep it in the corner. Always stand a broom on end with the brush facing up.
This helps the wear and tear on the brush  and it’s also said to bring love from
the earth through the broomstick and given up to the heavens through the brush.

If your broom falls from your hand while you are sweeping or doing other work,
make a wish before you pick it up. It’s also said that if a broom falls from it’s kept place, company is coming and it’s not good news. When you pick up your
broom after something like this happens, sweep the energy out the door and bid
it adue not to return again.

If you or your kin are having recurrent nightmares or night hauntings, sweep the
room clockwise while stating that all that lies between here and the other world
be gone and back whence you came.
Hither, hither, hither gone.
Hither, hither, hither gone
Hither, hither, thither gone
So Mote It Be.

Now stand the broom outside the bedroom door and place a piece of garlic under
the bed.

The Care & Feeding of the Wicca Broom

THE CARE AND FEEDING OF THE WICCA BROOM

As Witches, we need to be aware of the Ancient Broom Lore that has been passed
down to us from those wonderful Crones of the past.

1- Never leave home for long periods of time without telling your broom.

2- Treat your broom as you would any other member of your family, with honor,
reverence and respect.

3- Magickal Brooms are not regular cleaning brooms and should not be used for
such mundane tasks.

4- Never leave your Magickal Broom outside your cast circle.

5- Speak with your broom as you would speak to other members of your family or coven.

6- Never leave your Magickal Broom outside in the weather unless you ask the
Broom.

7- Oil your broomstick with every turn of the wheel.

Brooms have long been known for their magickal ways, probably due to it’s shape, use in purification rites and kinship with magickal wands and staffs. The common household tool has been known to be so sacred that in many parts of the world there are Broom Deities.

Sao Ching Niang – The lady with the broom who lives in the Broom Star. When
there is too much rain and the crops are threatened, it is not uncommon in China
to see pictures of Brooms hanging on the front door or fences to bring clear and
sunny weather to the field.

As this is invoking the Great Earth Goddess herself, the Broom Star is the
fertile womb of our Great Goddess, and thus she gives us life of the fields that
are represented by the Corn Fields. Hence the broom is brought into our homes
from the womb of the Goddess.

In Mexico, the Witch Goddess Tlazoiteotl is depicted riding on a broom. This
symbolizes the coming of the night, the dark part of ourselves, the growing
darkness of the winter.

The priests in South America hve been known to burn offerings of owls and
snakes. These were offered at the dark moon. Through these offerings, the people were calling upon the Broom Witch to sweep away their transgressions.

My grandmother was a Broom Witch. Here are some of the old magickal things that can be done with a broom. On a hot summers day, I would watch her go out on the front porch and swing the broom over her head. Grandma would just tell me to be quiet, the rain was coming. And if fact she was right. A few hours later we always had rain. So Granny would call the rain with her broom by swinging it
clockwise over her head.

In turn, if it was raining too much, she would go out and talk with her broom
for a while on the front porch. She would sing “Rain, rain, go away, come again
some other day”. Then she would raise her broom and swing it over her head
counter-clockwise to stop the rain, and again, a few hours later the rain would
stop.

With some practice, I know have mastered this little broomlore spell. I find it
handy to tell the broom what I want it to do before I do it, then I say my
incantation and swing the broom.

Brooms or Besoms

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
prosperity.

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
illegitimate.

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
besoms.

*Baneful in this instance is defined as energies that are not conducive to
the working at hand, are harmful, or are considered negative.

Broomstick Weddings

Broomstick Weddings

“To marry over the broomstick,” “jump the besom”, was an old-time form of
marriage, in which both parties jumped over a broomstick to signify that they
were joined in common-law union. Also in the Netherlands, one can still find the
old saying “over de bezem trouwen” (marrying over the broomstick). At gypsy
wedding ceremonies, the bride and groom jump backwards and forwards over a
broomstick. A besom used to be placed before the doorway, the married couple
had to jump over it without dislodging the broom, from the street into their new
home. At any time within a year, this process could be reversed to dissolve the
marriage by jumping backwards. All this had to take place before several
witnesses.

In folk-belief, like that in Yorkshire, it was unlucky for an unmarried girl to
step over a broomstick because it meant that she would be a mother before she
was a wife. Light-hearted wags used to delight in putting broomsticks in the
path of unsuspecting virgins.

The Broomstick

The Broomstick

The traditional companion of the witches was the enchanted broomstick, used for their wild and unholy flights through the night and probably to some distant
Witches’ Sabbat. This is one of the first images you get to see as a child and
this was doubtlessly believed by the prominent rulers of Europe. The number of
actual confessions of witches doing so is remarkably small. Usually confessions
state that they went to the Sabbat on foot or on horseback.

Legends of witches flying on brooms goes back as far as the beginning of the
Common Era. The earliest known confession of a Witch flying on a broom was in
1453, when Guillaume Edelin of St. Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, stated that he
had done so. In 1563, Martin Tulouff of Guernsey said to have seen his aged
mother straddle a broomstick and whisk up the chimney and out of the house on
it, saying “Go in the name of the Devil and Lucifer over rocks and thorns”. In
1598 Claudine Boban and her mother, witches of the province of Franche-Comt, in eastern France, also spoke of flying up the chimney of a stick. The belief of
flying off though the chimney became  firmly embedded in popular tradition,
although only a few people ever mentioned doing so. It has been suggested that
this idea was connected with the old custom of pushing a broom up the chimney to indicate the absence of the housewife. The Germanic Goddess Holda or Holle is also connected with the chimney.

Other indications that lead to the popular belief that witches actually flew on
broomsticks can be found in an old custom of dancing with a broom between the
legs, leaping high in the air. In Reginald Scot’s book, The Discoverie of
Witchcraft, published in 1584, we find a similar description:

“At these magical assemblies, the witches never failed to dance; and in their
dance they sing these words, ‘Har, har, divell divell, dance here dance here,
plaie here plaie here, Sabbath, Sabbath’. And whiles they sing and dance, ever
one hath a broom in her hand, and holdeth it up aloft.” Scot quoted these
descriptions of Witch rites from a French demonologist, Jean Bodin, who made
observations of a kind of jumping dance, riding on staffs. These customs might
have contributed to the popular picture of broomstick-riding witches through the
air.

In 1665, from the confession of Julian Cox, one of the Somerset coven, mentioned “that one evening she walks out about a Mile from her own House and there came riding towards her three persons upon three Broom-staves, born up about a years and a half from the ground. Two of them she formerly knew, which was a Witch and a Wizard”.

Little Known Facts About Your Besom

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Little Known Facts About Your Besom

The besom is a long-handled tool with a bundle at one end that once made from the broom plant, which grows on European heaths and pastures. Broom is characterized by yellow flowers and angular branches ideal for bundling. Thus, the instrument made of this plant came to be known as a broom.

Since Roman times, the broom has been associated with feminine power and magick. Prior to childbirth, women used a broom to sweep the threshold of a house both for protection and to prepare the way for the new spirit to enter. Gypsy marriage rituals included jumping over a broomstick to ensure the couple’s fertility; this ritual neatly marked the line between single and married life. The broom appears in the folklore of various countries and cultures, such as these:

In some parts of the Western world, a broom propped up outside a house identified it as a house of prostitution.

*In Madagascar, women danced with brooms while their men were at war in order to sweep away the enemy.

*In China, the broom represents wisdom and insight because it brushes away worries.

*In Japan, brooms are used during spring rituals to purify the ceremonial space.

*In Victorian-age America, a new broom would never be bought in May, “lest you sweep the family away.”

No, witches don’t fly on brooms–that’s just a colorful misconception. Instead, they use them to sweep away unwanted energies from sacred space.

The Witches Spell for January 10: Simple Broom Purification Spell


Witchy Comments

THE BROOM PURIFICATION SPELL

Before dawn, take a branch from any tree. Thank the tree for its gift and leave a coin or semi-precious stone at its base in payment.

Next, obtain several brightly colored flowers on long stalks. Tie these flowers to the branch to fashion a sort of broom, then sweep the floor in every room of the house, visualizing the flowers of the broom absorbing negativity and “evil” as you work.

Then, still before sunrise, leave the broom at the crossroads.
Traditionally this ritual is repeated at the first of each month.

Broom Purification

Broom Purification

 

Items You Will Need:

  • tree branch
  • brightly colored long-stemmed flowers
  • string or thread

 

The Spell:

Before dawn, take a branch from any tree.  Thank the tree for its gift and leave a coin or semi-precious stone at its base in payment. Next, obtain several brightly colored flowers on long stalks. Tie these flowers to the branch to fashion a sort of broom, then sweep the floor in every room  of the house, visualizing the flowers of the broom absorbing negativity and “evil” as you work.  Then, still before sunrise, leave the broom at the crossroads.  Traditionally this ritual is repeated at the first of each month.

Herb of the Day for August 12 – Broom

Broom

Botanical Name

  • Family Leguminosae
  • Sarothamnus scoparius syn. Cytisus scoparius

Common Names

  • Scotch Broom, Irish Broom/Tops, Broomtops, Besom, Scoparium, Basam, Bizzom, Browme, Brum, Breeam

Cautions

  • Take internally only under professional supervision.
  • Do not take during pregnancy.
  • Do not take if suffering from high blood pressure.
  • Do not take with MAO inhibitors as it can cause a sudden rise in blood pressure.
  • Farm animals that ingest large amounts, especially along with alfalfa, may suffer fatal internal bleeding.

Description

Native to Europe, broom is commonly found on heaths, along roadsides, and in open woodlands. It is naturalized in many temperate regions, including North America, Africa, Canary Islands, Chile, and Japan. In the US, Australia, and New Zealand, it has overrun large areas of land once used for recreation and farming. The plant is a tall deciduous shrub, growing to a height of six feet, with narrow ridged stems, small trefoil leaves and bright yellow flowers in leafy terminal spikes. The leaves and pods are mildly toxic to farm animals if ingested in large amounts. The flowering tops are used by herbalists for medicinal purposes and are gathered from spring to autumn.

History

Both the common and species names indicate its usefulness as a sweeper (“scopa” means broom in Latin).

Its medicinal value is not mentioned in classical writings, but it does appear in medieval herbals. The 12th century Physicians of Myddfai recommended broom as a means of treating suppressed urine.

Broom was adopted at a very early period as the badge of Brittany, and has a long and colourful history. Geoffrey of Anjou was said to have thrust it into his helmet before going into battle so his troops could see him.

Henry II of England adapted broom’s medieval name (Planta genista) as his family name Plantagenet).

The shrub was seen on the great seal of Richard I, and adorns the Westminster Abbey tombstone of Richard II.

 

Medicinal Parts

  • Flowering tops
  • Sparteine is a potent alkaloid with actions similar to those of nicotine, slowing the heartbeat by suppressing certain nerve impulses. Other alkaloids in broom have shown to raise blood pressure and stimulate uterine contractions.
  • Isoflavones are estrogenic.
  • Scoparoside is a glycoside that is believed to have diuretic and laxative properties.

Traditional Uses

Common uses included ridding the body of excess fluid especially in CHF (congestive heart failure), as well as for treating cardiac arrhythmias, including an irregular, fast heartbeat. The plant acts on the electrical conductivity of the heart, slowing and regulating the transmission of the impulses. Since it is strongly diuretic, it stimulates urine production and thus countering fluid retention common in CHF cases. In Germany, broom is considered gentler and less toxic than the drug quinidine for treating heart arrhythmias.

It is also used to stimulate uterine contractions, and, since it causes the muscles of the uterus to contract, it has been used to prevent blood loss after childbirth.

By constricting small arteries, broom is said to help control heavy menstrual bleeding and reduces varicose veins.

Furze/Gorse Tree (Aprox. March 20)

FURZE/GORSE LORE

  • Tree of the Spring Equinox (Aprox. March 20)
  • Latin name: ulex europaeus
  • Celtic name: ‘O’ – Onn
  • Folk or Common names: Broom, Frey, Furze, Fyrs, Gorst, Goss, Prickly Broom, Ruffet, and Whin.
  • Parts Used: Flowers
  • Herbal usage: A decoction made with the flowers thereof hath been found effectual against the jaundice, as also to provoke urine, and cleanse the kidneys  from gravel or stone ingendered in them. In parts of the UK, it was once cultivated and cut down to provide burnable fuel for bakers’ ovens. The ashes  left after it has been set on fire yield a generous amount of alkali and have been used as a type of primitive soap for washing purposes after first being  mixed with clay and rolled into balls. The golden flowers yield an excellent natural yellow dye.
  • Magical History & Associations: Furze is a thorny shrub with bright yellow flowers that is associated with the Spring Equinox. This herb is a symbol  of the young sun at the spring equinox and royalty. Furze is associated with the astrological sign of Aries, the planet of Mars, the element of Fire, and is  a masculine herb. Furze is associated with Jupiter, Thor, Onn, and also with the Gallic ash-grove Goddess On-niona. The color for Furze is dun, and its bird  is the cormorant.
  • Magickal usage: Furze is a druid Sacred tree, whose flowers are associated with the Spring Equinox. Furze is a symbol of fertility and has the magickal  uses of Protection and Money. Furze is a good herb to use as a proctectant against evil. In Wales hedges of the prickly Gorse are used to protect the home  against dark fairies, who cannot penetrate the hedge. Furze wood and blooms can be burned for protection and also for preparation for conflict of any sort.  There are two school of thought about giving Furze flowers as a gift. On one had the gift is supposed to be good luck, but on the other hand if you give them  to someone that you love it means: Anger. There is an old rhyme about Furze that refers to its all-year-round flowering habits:”When Gorse is out of bloom,         Kissing is out of season.”

    Furze is also used in money spells; it attracts gold.