Sweeping Spells and Lore

SWEEPING SPELLS AND LORE

If you feel your life is in chaos, take a look around at your front porch and front walkway. If the front walk is cluttered with leaves and dirt, then sweep your walkway and front porch clean with your magickal broom and envision thatyour life is in order and that all that comes to your will be clean and cleared.

When you move from one house to another, it’s always good to change your workaday broom. Either burn your old one, or make sure that it is buried with honor. Always bring a new broom into the new house, but sweep some dirt from the outside in before you sweep the dirt from the inside out. This is to bring in good luck from the beginning and not push your luck out the door.

Always hang a broom by the front door for protection. Brooms will keep the bad things out and the good things in. I have a broom at every door of my home. I keep it in the corner. Always stand a broom on end with the brush facing up. This helps the wear and tear on the brush  and it’s also said to bring love from
the earth through the broomstick and given up to the heavens through the brush.

If your broom falls from your hand while you are sweeping or doing other work, make a wish before you pick it up. It’s also said that if a broom falls from it’s kept place, company is coming and it’s not good news. When you pick up your broom after something like this happens, sweep the energy out the door and bid it a due not to return again.

If you or your kin are having recurrent nightmares or night hauntings, sweep the room clockwise while stating that all that lies between here and the other world be gone and back whence you came.

Hither, hither, hither gone.
Hither, hither, hither gone
Hither, hither, thither gone
So Mote It Be.

Now stand the broom outside the bedroom door and place a piece of garlic under the bed.

Where Did All The Myths About the Besom Come From?

Where Did All The Myths About the Besom Come From?

Some authors claim that the oldest known source of witches flying on broomsticks is a manuscript called Le Champion des Dames by Martin Lefranc, 1440. This might be one of the oldest images representing a hag on a broomstick, but it is certainly not the first. A wall painting from the 12th century in Schleswig Cathedral (Germany) shows the Norse deity Frigg riding her staff.

If we really dig a bit deeper into history, we’ll find that from the Roman world there are reports that mention witches flying on broomsticks as well as having used ointments, as early as the first century. They were called Straigae (Barnowl) and the Lamiae from Greek culture had similar characteristics. Later in Roman history, the goddess Diana was the leader of the Wild Hunt:

“It is also not to be omitted that some wicked women, perverted by the Devil, seduced by illusions and phantasm of demons, believe and profess themselves in the hours of the night to ride upon certain beasts with Diana, the goddess of pagans, and an innumerable multitude of women, and in the silence of the dead of the night to traverse great spaces of earth, and to obey her commands as of their mistress, and to be summoned to her service on certain nights”.

Similar beliefs existed in many parts of Europe. From Norse mythology, we know that the army of women, lead by Odin (Wodan), called the Valkyries, was said to ride through the skies on horses, collecting the souls of the dead. In continental Germanic areas, the goddess Holda or Holle was also said to lead the Wild Hunt and is connected to chimneys and witchcraft. Berchta or Perchita, another Germanic goddess, which can be identified with Holda, has similar characteristics.

Again in Celtic Traditions, the Horned God Cernuous, and/or Herne the Hunter was leader of the Wild Hunt and the Scottish Witch Goddess Nineveh was also said to fly through the night with her followers. Eastern Europe sources also have a wealth of folklore about witches flying through the air. So flying through the air, evidently, was a deeply rooted mythological theme, associated with the free roaming of the spirit, the separation of soul and body.

The Broomstick

The Broomstick

The traditional companion of the witches was the enchanted broomstick, used for their wild and unholy flights through the night and probably to some distant Witches’ Sabbat. This is one of the first images you get to see as a child and this was doubtlessly believed by the prominent rulers of Europe. The number of
actual confessions of witches doing so is remarkably small. Usually confessions state that they went to the Sabbat on foot or on horseback.

Legends of witches flying on brooms goes back as far as the beginning of the Common Era. The earliest known confession of a Witch flying on a broom was in 1453, when Guillaume Edelin of St. Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, stated that he had done so. In 1563, Martin Tulouff of Guernsey said to have seen his aged
mother straddle a broomstick and whisk up the chimney and out of the house on it, saying “Go in the name of the Devil and Lucifer over rocks and thorns”. In 1598 Claudine Boban and her mother, witches of the province of Franche-Comt, in eastern France, also spoke of flying up the chimney of a stick. The belief of
flying off though the chimney became  firmly embedded in popular tradition, although only a few people ever mentioned doing so. It has been suggested that this idea was connected with the old custom of pushing a broom up the chimney to indicate the absence of the housewife. The Germanic Goddess Holda or Holle is also connected with the chimney.

Other indications that lead to the popular belief that witches actually flew on broomsticks can be found in an old custom of dancing with a broom between the legs, leaping high in the air. In Reginald Scot’s book, The Discoverie of Witchcraft, published in 1584, we find a similar description:

“At these magical assemblies, the witches never failed to dance; and in their dance they sing these words, ‘Har, har, divell divell, dance here dance here, plaie here plaie here, Sabbath, Sabbath’. And whiles they sing and dance, ever one hath a broom in her hand, and holdeth it up aloft.” Scot quoted these descriptions of Witch rites from a French demonologist, Jean Bodin, who made observations of a kind of jumping dance, riding on staffs. These customs might have contributed to the popular picture of broomstick-riding witches through the air.

In 1665, from the confession of Julian Cox, one of the Somerset coven, mentioned “that one evening she walks out about a Mile from her own House and there came riding towards her three persons upon three Broom-staves, born up about a years and a half from the ground. Two of them she formerly knew, which was a Witch and a Wizard”.

Broomstick Weddings

Broomstick Weddings

“To marry over the broomstick,” “jump the besom”, was an old-time form of marriage, in which both parties jumped over a broomstick to signify that they were joined in common-law union. Also in the Netherlands, one can still find the old saying “over de bezem trouwen” (marrying over the broomstick). At gypsy
wedding ceremonies, the bride and groom jump backwards and forwards over a broomstick. A besom used to be placed before the doorway, the married couple had to jump over it without dislodging the broom, from the street into their new home. At any time within a year, this process could be reversed to dissolve the
marriage by jumping backwards. All this had to take place before several witnesses.

In folk-belief, like that in Yorkshire, it was unlucky for an unmarried girl to step over a broomstick because it meant that she would be a mother before she was a wife. Light-hearted wags used to delight in putting broomsticks in the path of unsuspecting virgins.

Handfasting and Marriage Broom Lore

HANDFASTING AND MARRIAGE BROOM LORE

As a Priestess and Wiccan Minister, I perform several Handfasting Rites per year. One of the main things I encourage Wiccan engaged couples to do is to find a broom together. This is the symbol of hearth and home. Once the broom has been found, then it is anointed as I stated above, then some of the broom brush is pulled from the stem. That brush is then woven together and placed upon the wedding altar. The broom is present during our counseling sessions and then the wife-to-be is usually the keeper of the broom until the wedding. This represents that she is the keeper of the home and keeps peace and harmony while the man
goes out to work. It also means that she is the keeper of the Magickal power of the home. As it seems in these modern times that this is wrong to have such sexed roles, this is Celtic lore from more than 600 years ago.

The night before the wedding, the couple will dress the broom by weaving 3 strand of colored ribbon around the handle. What this represents is the inter-twining of their lives and they themselves are no longer individuals but are part of each other. The broom is then placed either standing by the altar or placed lying under the altar during the ceremony as the vows are said, the promises made, that hands fasted. They are pronounced husband and wife and the broom is then put before them as the final test of love. The couple either steps, or in old tradition, jumps, over the broom. This is the final end of the ceremony. Then it is recommended that the couple takes the broom home and makes love with the broom under the bed. This seals the marriage.

Your broom can be your best friend and your magickal ally. Treat your broom with honor, reverence and respect and you will have a life-long companion and ritual tool.

Brooms or Besoms

Brooms or Besoms

A broom is used by many Witches to cleanse an area of baneful* energies before a rite. They can represent the air or fire element, depending on each practitioner’s tradition. The staff or handle is considered masculine, while the brush or broom part is considered feminine. This uniting and balancing of polarities makes the besom a natural choice for Handfasting rites. Brooms also represent purification, protection, fertility and prosperity.

The classic images of Witches riding broomsticks may have originated from ancient fertility rites. People would jump high in the air on brooms to ‘show’ the crops how high to grow. This is a form of sympathetic magick.

There are many other myths and associations of Witches with brooms. In Ireland, the besom was sometimes called a “Faery’s Horse”. In medieval times, the besom was equated with marriages outside of the church. So much so, that it was recorded that weddings ‘by the broom’ were to be considered illegitimate.

The broom eventually became a symbol of antiestablishmentarianism and and sensuality. This led at one time to the word ‘besom’ becoming a slang term for an easy woman. These associations may have been promoted by the church to discourage marriages outside of the church.

 

 

Chapter 13 of “The Magical Household” by Scott Cunningham and “An ABC of Witchcraft” by Doreen Valiente have additional information and lore about besoms.

*Baneful in this instance is defined as energies that are not conducive to the working at hand, are harmful, or are considered negative.

The Care & Feeding of the Wicca Broom

THE CARE AND FEEDING OF THE WICCA BROOM

As Witches, we need to be aware of the Ancient Broom Lore that has been passed down to us from those wonderful Crones of the past.

1- Never leave home for long periods of time without telling your broom.

2- Treat your broom as you would any other member of your family, with honor, reverence and respect.

3- Magickal Brooms are not regular cleaning brooms and should not be used for such mundane tasks.

4- Never leave your Magickal Broom outside your cast circle.

5- Speak with your broom as you would speak to other members of your family or coven.

6- Never leave your Magickal Broom outside in the weather unless you ask the Broom.

7- Oil your broomstick with every turn of the wheel.

Brooms have long been known for their magickal ways, probably due to it’s shape, use in purification rites and kinship with magickal wands and staffs. The common household tool has been known to be so sacred that in many parts of the world there are Broom Deities.

Sao Ching Niang – The lady with the broom who lives in the Broom Star. When there is too much rain and the crops are threatened, it is not uncommon in China to see pictures of Brooms hanging on the front door or fences to bring clear and sunny weather to the field.

As this is invoking the Great Earth Goddess herself, the Broom Star is the fertile womb of our Great Goddess, and thus she gives us life of the fields that are represented by the Corn Fields. Hence the broom is brought into our homes from the womb of the Goddess.

In Mexico, the Witch Goddess Tlazoiteotl is depicted riding on a broom. This symbolizes the coming of the night, the dark part of ourselves, the growing darkness of the winter.

The priests in South America hve been known to burn offerings of owls and snakes. These were offered at the dark moon. Through these offerings, the people were calling upon the Broom Witch to sweep away their transgressions.

My grandmother was a Broom Witch. Here are some of the old magickal things that can be done with a broom. On a hot summers day, I would watch her go out on the front porch and swing the broom over her head. Grandma would just tell me to be quiet, the rain was coming. And if fact she was right. A few hours later we always had rain. So Granny would call the rain with her broom by swinging it clockwise over her head.

In turn, if it was raining too much, she would go out and talk with her broom for a while on the front porch. She would sing “Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day”. Then she would raise her broom and swing it over her head counter-clockwise to stop the rain, and again, a few hours later the rain would stop.

With some practice, I know have mastered this little broomlore spell. I find it handy to tell the broom what I want it to do before I do it, then I say my incantation and swing the broom.

The Care and Feeding of a Magickal Broom

THE CARE AND FEEDING OF A MAGICKAL BROOM

When you first get your broom, always greet it by rubbing your hand over the entire staff of the broom. Learn the body of your broom, inspect it’s divets and curves. Use anointing oil to open and activate your broom. A good oil is made from rosemary, thyme, myrrh and lavender in base oil. Make this oil by the full
moon and then open your broom on the first day of the new moon.

When getting a new broom, it’s always good to talk with it awhile. I usually carry mine along with me in my car, and I sleep with it by my bed. Talk with your broom, it’s amazing how much these magickal tools have to say to us and how lonely they become when cast to the side. When shopping for a new broom, always put out your intention on the day after the new moon, burn pink and white candles, and ask for the right broom to be shown to you. My preference is a broom made with natural corn, or harvested brambles. I like to find a natural handle for the broom. Elm, birch, ash, oak, sassafras, those are all really good magickal woods to use as broom handles. If you are lucky to live in a natural area, you can make your own from the Divine Goddess Garden. If you are a city dweller, local shops sometimes carry natural brooms that are hand-tied. Usually they are found at local gift shops or craft fairs. Also go to the local Antique mall. Sometimes you’ll find an interesting retired broom that would like to be put back into service. Nothing is worse then to have a wise old broom and not have it in use.

After your broom has been chosen and spoken to, then start using it to call in your circle. I point the broom in the direction that I’m casting and use this to focalize the energy.

Once the circle is cast, then I lay the broom across the east to guard the entrance until my magickal work is done. I also sprinkle salt in the east over the broom to strengthen the seal, especially if I find myself doing some intense spell casting.

Once I’m done with casting my magickal work, I thank my broom and lift it from east and dismiss the quarters. A broom can also be used to cast a circle in a hurry, much the same way a staff can be used. If I know I need immediate protection, I point my broom to east and cast a circle with my broom pointed to the earth, moving in a clockwise direction. This really works if you are in a hurry and need to have some sacred space like NOW.

I also oil my broom handle with my anointing oil 4 times a year during each turn of the wheel. This helps recharge the broom and helps you reconnect with it. It likes to be stroked and caressed. Your broom is a sensuous creature and like to be part of the Divine Feminine.

Making A Moon Altar

Making A Moon Altar

 

1.   Outdoors, use a rock or a table and on it either set a silver tray or make a circle with white stones, shells or clear glass nuggets. Thirteen stones for the 13 moons is most symbolic unless you are superstitious, in which case use nine (for the three by three of the triple moon goddess).

2.   Set the stone circle anticlockwise if following moon lore or keep to the normal clockwise direction if you prefer.

3.   If you are using an indoor altar, place a white or natural beeswax candle at the four main direction points. If you decide to work outdoors,  you can use small, glass enclosed white night lights that will not blow out in the wind or you can rely on the moonlight.

4.  In the center of the altar place a dish of moon water (in beach rituals you can collect sea water, the water ruled by the moon).

5.   Circle this bowl with moonstones of white shells (13 or nine), creating an inner circle.

6.   Position a moon incense to the right of the dish of water as you face west, still within the moonstone inner circle.

7.   You will also need a metal or ceramic oil burner with a night light underneath it to the left of the water bowl with the middle circle as you face west.

8.   You can enclose just the bowl in a third even smaller circle of three small white stones, shells or moonstones, thus giving one circle for each phase of the moon.

9.  The bowl of water will act as the medium for raising the power.

10.  If you have a willow wand (or a pointed twig willow twig), lay this directly in front of the bowl with the tip facing west (outside the innermost circle if you make one).

 

The Pentagram (A Poem)

The Pentagram

I invoke Ancient Powers of The Star
The Powers of Five
The Spiral Powers
The Powers of Earth
I invoke the Ancient Powers of Life
Star in the Circle
In the Iron Circle
Quaint, ancient symbol
So ancient, primordial and timeless
Dark symbol of life
On planets bearing life
Deep in DNA
Deeply branded in the Heart of our Earth
Touchstone of Wisdom
Of Ancient Knowledge, NOW,
Living in the stars
I call out through the Circled Iron Star
For my Star Power
Out through the Galaxies
Claiming Dark Powers

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