Much of my magical work revolves around craft projects, which I’ve talked about in previous posts. Today, I wanted to share one of those projects: how to make a besom or ritual broom. There are folks out there who make some really amazing, artistic and functional brooms. This one is more decorative and in this case it is a Halloween/Samhain decoration. I learned this method from a lovely friend and fellow priestess.
What do brooms have to do with witchcraft?
Brooms or besoms are one of those household items that likely became a ritual tool because a witch can have one without raising any suspicions. Like the cauldron, it has a mundane purpose that parallels it’s ritual purpose. In the case of the besom that purpose is sweeping away energy and clearing out both metaphorical and literal cobwebs. Handfastings also feature the besom, as many include the tradition of the new couple “jumping the broom“. Literally, the two hold hands and jump or step over a broom.
Brooms are also associated with witches in the flying on a broomstick sense. There are likely a few theories on this, but the one I hear most often is that witches created a “Flying ointment” which was essentially a hallucinogen supposedly used by witches and first described in the 1400s.
What do I need?
Handle/broom stick: A stick that’s 4 foot long or taller and about 2+ inches in diameter works well and feels good in the hand. The type of wood you use is up to you, many trees are associated with particular energies so this is a great time to do some research. My stick came from the big friendly tree in my front yard during a trimming session.
Bristles: A batch of straw, dried grass, thin twigs or whatever else suits your fancy. The bristles need to be at least a foot long for a full sized broom and the material should be stiff so that the broom can stand up on the bristles. I have about three large handfuls of dried and dyed 20 inch long stiff grass from a craft store. Again, use what calls to you. You could also choose to incorporate particular herbs like lavendar. Just keep in mind that the bristles will take a beating if you do use it to sweep; something sturdy would be best.
Wrapping: The way I construct a broom is to wrap something around the bristles to hold them on the broom stick. You’ll want something strong enough to tie the bristles to the handle and long enough to wrap around it 20 or so times. I like wired raffia for the look and strength. It’s also helpful to have a foot or two long piece of scrap string or yarn that we’ll use for a temporary tie.
How do I make it?
Lay a piece of scrap string on a flat surface and spread the bristles across it.
Lay the end of the broom stick down on the bristles. Decide how much of the bristles should extend past the end of the broom stick; you’ll need at least 4 inches of bristle overlapping the end of the broom stick so that you can wrap the two together. (I had a really long stick, so my overlap is more like 10 inches.)
Now use the yarn to help you gather the bristles around the broom stick. Try and have an evenish amount of bristles all the way around the broom stick. Then tie off the yarn into a loose knot or bow. This is a temporary placeholder while we do the permanent wrapping. This is a good time to level out your bristles, trying to get them all an even length across the bottom.
Now you can start wrapping your string, twine or wire around the area where the bristles and broom stick overlap. My wrap will start where the white yarn is in the picture above. Wrap tightly, as this is the only thing holding your broom together in the end. I do about 20 wraps around and try to cover a few inches.
That’s it, the structure is complete.
Now for the finishing touches: remove the temporary yarn place holder (if you haven’t already), level out your bristles (again) and add any additional decoration that you choose, such as leather wrapping, feathers, beads, carving, etc. You may also choose to cleanse and consecrate this as a ritual tool.
Do you use a besom as part of your spiritual practice? I’d love to hear about how you use it.
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