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How the Witch Got Her Broom

Besoms (or brooms made of twigs tied around a stick) are so commonplace in witchcraft that they’ve become a symbol of witches themselves. It’s common throughout cinema and folklore to see witches flying on brooms, the full moon behind them as they soar through the night sky. But where did this idea come from? What is the history behind this Halloween icon, and what are its current daily uses? Let’s explore!


The history of the Witch’s Broom:

The first witch to confess to riding a broom was, ironically, a man. Guillaume Edelin was a priest from Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris. He was tried for witchcraft after publicly criticizing the church. His confession came under torture, and he eventually repented, but was still imprisoned for life. By the time this happened, witches “flying on broomsticks” was already a common rumor. It is also believed that ointments made of things like deadly nightshade and other hallucinogenic plants were applied to the broom, which caused witches to believe they were flying. Some anthropologists speculate the association between witches and brooms has roots in paganism. The “broomstick dance” is a pagan fertility ritual in which rural farmers jump over a broom or pitchfork in order to increase the abundance of their crops. There’s lots of information on this subject. Way too much for this blog!


How Besoms are used today:

Any broom can be a besom, but hand made is best. Many witches use a small hand broom to cleanse their altar in between spells. During spring cleaning, you can use a broom to “sweep” all the negative energy right out your front door! The “broomstick dance” is still a common practice amongst green witches who plant gardens and in luck and fertility rituals.


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