How many of you actually own a besom? Or must admit that it is the last ritual tool you either bought or made?
A besom is a broom made of a bundle of twigs tied to a handle. The brush part of the besom is usually round instead of flat. The bristles can be made of straw, herbs or twigs, and folks have used various woods for the handle.
Besoms are used mainly to sweep out negativity from a space…be it the ritual circle or your home. Many also believe that if you keep your besom by your hearth, it will help in preventing negativity from entering in the first place. It is often used in handfasting ceremonies, with the couple jumping over the besom during the ritual.
Despite these uses, I have found that often folks just aren’t fond of the besom. It could be that it’s reputation with witches in a negative sense makes folks cautious in obtaining one. They can’t get over the picture of ugly crones (or the Wicked Witch of the West) flying around on a broomstick…or are loathe to endure snide comments from non-pagan friends when they see the besom next to the fireplace. I’ve experienced those comments first hand: Do you actually ride that thing? I knew you were a witch – there’s the broomstick! Followed by chuckles. It is such a stereotypical symbol that some shy away from it. They don’t want to be a caricature of their spiritual beliefs.
On the other hand, why not? It is thought that since the besom was an everyday household object back in the Middle Ages, it was an important tool used in witchcraft because it wouldn’t raise suspicion. I like the idea of embracing our roots…of honoring those who have walked this path before. An item can only demean your beliefs if you allow it too. This year embrace one of the oldest ritual tools and acquire a besom. You can find instructions on making one on the web…or purchase one you love at a county or Renaissance Faire. Display it proudly and use it often. Come up with answers to all those questions…answers that you can give with a wink and a mischievous smile. It’s great to keep them guessing.