January 27, 2012

Besom Crafting and Lore

How to Make a Besom

A Besom (pronounced "beezum") is used as a cleansing tool to sweep away negative energies even though the bristles may or may not touch the ground during sweeping. Used also in handfasting ceremonies, a couple may jump over the broom (or small bonfire or lit cauldron) to signify their leap from Maiden and Sage to united couple of Mother and Father.



The Besom has been around for about 6,000 years. It is utilized in Sabbats and Rituals of the Craft, as well as an aid to Astral Travel and Fertility Rites. Smaller versions of Besoms are sometimes used upon the Altar for decoration and ritual cleansing. The Besom is fashioned of natural materials combining both the masculine and feminine properties.

Traditionally, the positioning of a Besom placed in the entryway of a person's home held a significant message. If the Besom was leaning against the door with bristles up indicated you're away from home visiting others. When the bristles were positioned downward, passersby would know you are home. If the broom were lying down, visitors would know you are busy and to please return at another time. Additionally, varying colors of ribbon (or written messages) were sometimes tied around the bristles to signify someone in the home was sick, giving birth, getting married, and so on. Finally, if the broom was positioned against a window with bristles up, it was an indication that the lady of the home was away briefly and that visitors may come inside and wait for her return.

Materials for Crafting a Besom:

A fallen branch of masculine property such as Ash (protective property), Birch, Hazel or Oak. It should be about 4 feet long and about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, completely dried (no longer "green") and absent of bark which may shed later. Some prefer the branch has a bit of twist to it while others prefer a very straight handle.

Strips of Willow (sacred to the Goddess) or Hemp twine to tie it together.

Scissors or pruning shears.

Birch twigs (purification properties), Willow branches, or Heather. Any brush or herb with feminine properties will work nicely. You may also wish to incorporate scented or decorative stalks of herbs such as Lavender, Rosemary, or Cinnamon.

Water and Sea Salt for soaking.

Instructions:

Clean the branch and sand any imperfections as needed.

Soak the materials in warm salt water overnight which will be used for the bristles, along with the Willow binding materials. The salt will dispel any negative residual energies within the materials.

Lay your branch flat and align the bristle materials (with narrowest parts toward the handle and thickest parts toward the bottom of the broom) about three to six inches from the bottom of the branch. Note: Before attaching the bristles, you may wish to protect the  lower end of the staff with Linseed Oil or Polyurethane to help prevent moisture buildup and mildew growth.

Bind the bristles very securely around the branch with the Willow strips or twine, adding additional layers until the broom is of the desired fullness.

Gently bend the tops of the bristles downward over the Willow or twine and tie them securely just below the fold with another strip of Willow or twine.

Leave the Besom hanging with bristles downward, but NOT touching the floor, to dry overnight. Once dry, you may trim the ends of the bristles or leave them natural, decorate with feathers, magic symbols, carvings of your Craft Name, and so on. Some folks choose to seal the handle with stain, linseed oil, or polyurethane.

Finally, dedicate your ritual broom as you would with other magical tools.
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Inspired by her Native American roots and Bradbury lineage, Polly Taskey is a writer and grandmother in the northern USA.  She shares her wisdom and pagan interests through Pagan by Design and The Moonlit Grove.

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