I was making plans one day with a friend and we both agreed that before we left our respective homes, we needed to sweep. The friend made the statement that witches loved to sweep. Oh so very true. I do love to sweep my house because it gets rid of the dirt! More than that, when sweeping is done with intent, you can rid your home of the negative energy that has built up since the last time you swept. So, sweeping gets rid of dirt, all types of dirt. And what does one use to sweep the house? Why, a broom of course.
Witches have a long-standing relationship with brooms. The Witch’s Broom has become an icon in witchy images, usually not very complimentary images. Many of you have heard the term ‘besom’ to refer to the Witch’s Broom and think it means something magickal, or witchy, or evil. It doesn’t. The word besom comes from the Old English word ‘besema’. English is a Germanic language, so the word besom is actually a Germanic word meaning, you guessed it, broom. It specifically refers to a broom that has been made out of twigs bound together on a stick handle. There’s no mystery there, either. That was how a woman made a broom back in the day. It was the only way to get a broom.
There are many superstitions about besoms and witches, starting with the whole flying thing. So much ink has been spent on explaining that particular superstition that I decided not to even address trying to explain it. The one I want to talk about is the idea of always store your broom, or besom, with the bristles pointing upward so the good energy stays in the besom. If you store the besom with the bristles pointing downward, then the good energy flows out. It’s an old saying, but it is based in pure practicality. Way back when I was but a child and was beginning to learn the chores that kept a house clean, I like many people, started with sweeping. I put my mother’s broom away one day, bristles pointing down! My mother immediately corrected me and told me to always store the broom with the bristles up. Being a curious child, I asked why it mattered. She pointed out to me that if you stored the bristles pointing down, then the bristles would wear out much more quickly and the broom would have to be replaced much sooner. Pure practicality! My mother didn’t have to make her own broom, but she would have to buy a new one. Go much further back in time and think about the woman who had to make a new broom when the old one wore out. Of course you wanted the broom to last as long as possible. So, store it bristles up so it would have a longer life. I love it when the magick and the practical world come together and make perfect sense.
The tradition of Samhain is based on the Celtic New Year. Samhain is the ending of the old cycle and the preparation for the beginning of a new cycle, so of course you want to sweep up all that old energy so the new energy comes into a clean environment. On Samhain after the Sun sets take your old besom and sweep your house, and property, too, even if symbolically. Sweep in a widdershins direction because you are getting rid of all that old negative dirt. Remember to pay attention to corners and under things because negative energy collects in those areas just as any dirt does. When you are done, the old besom should be destroyed. Fire is the best, and since this is the Sabbat where you burn off the old fire to make way for the new, that is the best place to burn that old besom.
Your new besom can be whatever you want or need it to be. You can make one, or buy one. It’s totally up to you, as long as it is new and never been used. I made my new besom this year and it is highly symbolic in the materials I chose. After midnight on Samhain bless your new besom with the magick that you chose. Ancestors might well get involved in that part, especially the female ancestors. Once the new besom is blessed go in a deosil direction sweeping around your space. While doing that invite in all the positive energy you want to include in your reality.
Then store your besom in whatever place works best for you. Traditionally, it should hang by a door. I keep my working broom by my back door and my besom by the front door. Both with the bristles up.