The besom has many traditional uses. Long ago besoms were kept in homes and decorated much like wreaths are in today's modern times for each season. One of most the popular and well known traditional uses of the Besom is the sweeping away of unnecessary energy and sweeping in useful new energy.
Traditionally a witch would create her own besom from magical woods, brush, bristles and natural fibers chosen by the witch for the properties or magic contained within. In English traditions, besoms are made from ash representing the World Tree and element earth, birch representing air, and willow representing water. There are many other properties associated with the sacred woods depending upon cultural or spiritual history and belief.
In this Wyrd Wytch's opinion a magical besom may be created out of any wood or material a practitioner feels connected to. As with all magic it is important to follow your intuition. Magic after all comes from faith, our own inner knowing and our personal connection to energy and source. Besoms used for magical purposes may be decorated with runes, symbols, or other items significant to the practitioner. Above all the besom should be meaningful and significant in property when created to its user.
In modern day magic besoms are still used for ritual purposes. The Besom itself is symbolic of both masculine, the staff and feminine energy, the bristles. Besoms may be used during rituals and sacred rites, fertility rites (as a phallic symbol, but also as a symbol of masculine and feminine unity), and during marriage or hand-fasting rituals.
The Bristol end when embraced as the feminine may be used as a receiver of energies which can then be swept into place.
The masculine or or phallic staff end may be used similarly to a wand or staff. The masculine energy is the active energy in each of us. It can be used directing magic.
• House Blessing ~ The Witch may cleanse the new home first and then place a decorative besom charmed to bring certain attributes to the home near a door or the hearth. Many believe you should never bring an old broom into a new home, to prevent carrying any old energy the previous broom may hold from entering the new home.
• Hand fasting ~ The besom is often jumped over as part of the ritual to bless the union with fertility and symbolize the “leap” from single life to married life. One suggested source of this tradition is the Greeks’ belief a broom symbolized sexual union, and that jumping that broom 3 times consecutively would result in instant pregnancy. Immediately after the union the besom should be placed in a place of prominence in the home.
• Fertility ~ the besom can be placed under the marital bed for protection and to improve diminished sexual appetites, bundle herbs and crystals with your besom to assist in the effect..
• Creating Sacred Space ~ Besoms can be used to sweep negative energies out of an area during cleansing. They can be used to cast and banish circles and may represent a gate or door to ritual space. The Besom is used to open and close circles by cleansing or sweeping the energy. To open or close a circle with a broom, walk the diameter of the circle. The bristles of the broom can be dipped in blessed water or other magical liquid and used to cleanse or sanctify an area.
• Used in Place of a Wand ~ A Witch can use the handle of his or her broom to direct energy just as one would with a wand.
• In the place of incense ~ The besom when symbolizing air may be used with or in place of incense and is a protective force.
• Expel Evil Spirits ~ The besom is used as part of a banishing or exorcism ritual, again cleansing a space.
• Protective Wards ~ commonly besoms are used in a decorative way in the modern Witch’s home. Besoms can be charmed as protective wards for the home and hung beside or above doors, windows, hearths, and cradles. Caution should be taken that there are no poisonous components if there are children or pets around.
• Sweeping away what is Old to Welcome the New ~ in some practices winter is swept away with a broom on Candlemas to welcome the coming of spring. Other traditions hold that a new besom should be made every year just before Samhain and then used on the night of Samhain to sweep out the old "Witches year" and welcome the coming one. Some use a new Besom for each season and decorate them like wreaths to celebrate each season.
• As a component to a Witch’s Jar for Protection ~ Place pieces of straw out of your besom in with the other items being used in your Witch’s jar.
Besom care and placement:
• Always keep your besom with the bristles up to ensure luck and protection. There are sources that say it is okay to keep your besom on its side but never with the bristles down. This prevents the magic from "falling out" according to some beliefs.
• Do not use you besom for everyday cleaning. According to some beliefs it is important to keep your ritual use tools and your daily use tools separate. I do however know many a hedge witch and kitchen witch who might disagree. Again all magic should first and foremost be based upon you intuition.
Myths and Folklore:
• Propping your broom bristles up by your entrance door to ward off bothersome family members and guests and spirits.
• Two crossed brooms will keep negativity from entering your home.
• A broom falling in front of a door means company is coming.
• To ensure good luck always pick up a fallen broom.
• When used for “sweeping” out a space the bristles should not actually touch the ground/floor.
• Some petition the Faeries to help them find the perfect handle for their besom.