It’s time for another post in our Magickal Tool Care Series! This week we’re talking brooms and besoms. The witch’s broom is an iconic stereotype alongside images of green skin, overly comedic noses, and warts. However, the besom is a highly regarded tool for the practicing witch.
As the aim of this series is to not only give a little definition behind the tools we keep but also how to care for them, we’ll also be talking about how to make one from scratch. So without further ado, let’s get into it!
Where does the word ‘besom’ come from?
“Old English besma “bundle of twigs” (used as a broom or a flail), from West Germanic *besman- (source also of Old Frisian besma “rod, birch,” Old Saxon besmo, Old High German besmo “broom, besom,” German Besen, Dutch bezem), which is of unknown origin, possibly from a non-IE substrate language.”SOURCE
WHAT IS A BESOM?
be·som | \ ˈbē-zəm
especially : one made of twigs
While yes, technically a besom is a broom, it also holds very important meaning to a witch’s practice. The main magickal purpose of a besom is to cleanse and purify. Just as we use a household broom to sweep out dirt and debris, we use a magickal besom to clear our space of negative psychic energy. Having said that, in some American folk magick practices the same besom is used for both physical cleaning and spiritual cleansing.
A witch’s broom can also be utilized for cleansing people as well as spaces and objects. By passing the besom over the entirety of a person, unwanted energies can be vanquished. Also, a besom has the capability to function as a wand or way to direct your energy.
WHAT DOES A BESOM LOOK LIKE?
“As a result of its construction around a central pole, the brush of the besom is rounded instead of flat. The bristles can be made of many materials including, but not limited to straw, herbs, or twigs. Traditionally the handle is of hazel wood and the head is of birch twigs. Modern construction uses bindings of wire and string (instead of the traditional split withy) and the head is secured by a steel nail instead of a wooden dowel.”SOURCE
As stated above, besoms can be made of many different kinds of materials. It’s because of this that there is a wide variety of besoms, especially when made by the practitioner themselves.
HOW TO CHOOSE ONE FOR YOUR PRACTICE
Some may think that “It’s just a broom!” but besoms are far more than that. Much like any other tool – as it’s been made abundantly clear in this series – besoms are very intimate to the practitioner. It’s because of this that choosing a besom is a very intimate matter. Being able to physically hold different ones allows you to feel their weight, take in dimensions, envision using it, and get an overall sense of energy. However, if shopping in person is not permitted, be sure to choose a reputable online shop. Read the reviews and descriptions and look through pictures – these should be high-resolution and plentiful.
HOW TO MAKE A BESOM
If the idea of crafting your own besom has you smitten, lucky for you it’s relatively easy! It’s important to remember that besoms are not used like a household broom, but rather for cleansing and purifying a space by “sweeping” out negative energies. As such, besoms can be decorated with charms, ribbons, beads, colored braids – anything you wish to adorn your creation.
Now there are a couple of different ways to make your besom. Starting from scratch requires materials for the brush and the handle. You could also choose to purchase a ready made besom and customize it to make it your own.
Let’s begin with the method of making it from scratch. Begin with picking out a tree you wish to bond with. It’s best that your tree of choice is easy to access at your discretion. If you want, you could choose multiple trees if your aim is to craft a besom with different woods for different parts of your broom. Prior to the harvesting of materials, take the time to bond with the tree by sitting in it, talking or reading to it, and eating meals under it.
Once you’ve made your tree decision, pick an important occasion like a Sabbat, full moon, your birthday, etc. when you will harvest the wood. Be sure to ask permission from the tree to take your needed supplies. Leaving an offering like fruit, water, or a biodegradable trinket is HIGHLY recommended. Be prepared to activate your materials on the same day as the harvest or another auspicious day. Bless and consecrate the twigs, sticks, and branches using your preferred method.
For your handle, make sure you choose a stick or branch that is sturdy and measures between 3 and 4 feet long and 1/2″ to 1-1/2″ diameter. How crooked or straight, rough or smooth – it is up to you.
OTHER MATERIALS YOU WILL NEED
- Botanicals like broom, rosemary, pine, rue, lavender, cedar to make up the bristles
- Twine, raffia, ribbon, or rope to bind the bristles to the handle
- Hot glue
- Hot glue gun
- Items for personalizing and decorating like pendants, charms, braids, beads, etc.
BUILDING THE BESOM
I like to begin any kind of spell or tool construction with casting a circle and giving respect to the process. Incense is a must as is choosing appropriate music for the mood. In this case, I would thank all of the gathered materials’ sources once again.
For the construction of the besom, take roughly five to six feet (better to have more than less) of the raffia/twine/ribbon/rope and using the hot glue, anchor one end in place. Wrap the rope a few times around the handle and add another drop of glue to secure it. You should have enough length left to bind the bristles to your besom.
Grab a handful of your chosen herbs and start placing them around the handle, wrapping the twine on top to bind them. Use your discretion to determine where to add dots of hot glue in order to secure the bristles. As you repeat this process, visualize your end product doing its job of cleansing and purifying.
When you feel your besom and its bristles are full, cut any remaining length of rope and glue the end to the handle, out of sight.
This step applies to both a handcrafted besom and a premade broom. This is where you really make it your own. You can carve or paint symbols into the handle, tie ribbons or braids with color magick correspondence, add feathers, bells, beads, pendants, or charms to your liking – the possibilities are truly endless.
Once you are satisfied with your besom, take the time to visualize using it and it performing as you need it to. This is also the instance where you may wish to dedicate your besom to a deity or the Universe or whatever else you may be called to.
HOW TO CLEANSE YOUR BESOM
Cleansing a tool that is used for cleansing is an important aspect for the care of your besom. Over time, magickal residue will accumulate and need to be discharged in order to keep your tool in good working order. But how does one go about this?
- You can burn herb bundles and use the smoke to cleanse a besom. Cedar is an excellent choice for this purpose.
- Utilize the natural properties of wind to pass through the bristles and remove negative residue
- Sound cleansing via a bell, tuning fork, drum, singing bowl or clapping
- Sprinkle the besom with salt and lightly tap it from the besom’s bristles
- Crystals can be placed around the besom to absorb unwanted energies. Selenite and Black Tourmaline are wonderful choices for this method.
HOW TO CHARGE YOUR BESOM
From my previous post in this series on Athames:
“Charging is when a practitioner fills an object with a specific kind of energy. Also known as programming or enchanting, you can charge both spaces and objects with your chosen intention. In this case, it’s like filling your athame with purpose.”
How you charge your athame is up to you. Here are a few options:
- Allow your besom to bask in a sun or moonbath
- Use your own magickal energy to charge your besom
- Ask a deity you work with to imbue your tool with their particular energy
- Pass your besom through diffused essential oil steam. Choose an essential oil that aligns with cleansing
- Lapis Lazuli and Selenite can be used to charge your besom
A NOTE ON CHARGING
Over time, objects that we imbue with specific intentions eventually lose energy. But how do you know WHEN to charge after the initial act?
- Any time you cleanse an object or tool it needs to be charged
- When energies feel “off”
- When you wish to reprogram an object or space with a different energy/intent/purpose
- When a tool begins to feel stagnant or stale or stops responding to your energy
HOW TO STORE YOUR BESOM
Personally, I like to keep my ritual besom on my altar and my larger besom standing upright by my front door. When kept upright by the front door or hung over a hearth, it keeps those who intend you harm away. You might choose to put it under your bed while you sleep as a way to protect you and keep nightmares at bay. Whichever way you decide to store your besom, make sure it is in a respectful manner.
Well, there you have it! Another day, another magickal tool. Did you buy or make your besom? How do you cleanse your cleansing tool? Let me know in the comments! And as always, Bright Blessings and Happy Crafting!