How was your Full Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse? I have to say, if the feedback I got from last week’s episode is any indication, y’all spent it severing the hell out of some unwanted bonds. I was not prepared to hear from so many witches after that episode, but I’m glad that it did seem to give some folks the little goose they may have needed to enforce those boundaries.
We spoke about cord-cutting and reversal magick last week, if you haven’t listened to that episode. It’s not work that we take lightly, and it can be agony coming to the conclusion that a relationship needs to be redefined in such a stark way. But if you’ve done this work, I’m proud of you for asserting your power and rebuilding the terms of these relationships and in some cases, ending them altogether.
That’s serious work, that’s brave work, and I’m really proud of anyone who’s had to make that kind of difficult decision and perform that very difficult work. Well done. It’s not about revenge or retribution, it’s simply about taking responsibility for what your relationships look like and not allowing others to dictate those terms for you. What a gift to give yourself.
Kind of along those same lines, we will be talking about dealing with energy vampires next week, before American Thanksgiving and well before Yule, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. I think it’s important to protect ourselves from those kinds of people, so it’s just good to make ourselves aware of what to watch out for, and how to protect ourselves, as we spend the next couple months in close proximity to people who may be sapping our energies and our peace.
Now, this past week, I had a question from a witch who is going to be dealing with an issue that many of us can probably relate to with the imminent holiday season. She writes:
The holidays are coming and I have a daughter that I love but no one, not even me, can stand to be around. She constantly picks fights with her other siblings. She has been to counseling and it didn’t help. Is there something magical I can do to keep the peace this holiday and maybe help her in her own life?
I mean, who among us hasn’t had this experience? So in the spirit of the season, we will work some magic for keeping the peace during the holidays. First of all, if you’re going to be cooking anything at all, you are in a position to include ingredients in the foods that will support your intentions for patience and love. Consider what you’re going to be making for the holidays, and add herbs like basil, marjoram, sage, cinnamon, and vanilla wherever it may be appropriate. It’s also a good idea to light some white candles as well. If you’d like to carve intentions right into the wax, that is a great idea as well.
If you like, you can also burn incense before people arrive or, if that’s going to be too smelly or too smokey for your guests, you can create an infused spray to spritz around the house before people arrive. Get a jar of water and add herbs like sage, rue, rosemary, and lavender. Let everything steep overnight, then strain the herbs and add the water to a spray bottle.
Obviously, you can’t control your daughter’s behavior, and you can’t control how the rest of your family reacts to her. But if you can consecrate your home before everyone arrives and just create an atmosphere of understanding and happiness, you’ll be ahead of the game.
And now, today we are going to explore broom magick. And this is one of those things that we may not even think too deeply about because of just how ubiquitous brooms are in the iconography of witchcraft. It’s like the black cat or the pointy hat, you know we don’t generally give it too much attention. But, much like the black cats and the pointy hats, there are good reasons why witches are and have been historically associated with brooms and that’s what we are going to talk about today.
Now, the specific original association of witches with brooms isn’t really known. We do know that there are a few accounts of accused witches confessing that they would use the devil’s magic to fly on their brooms to orgies and other illicit ungodly activities, although these confessions were always made after these poor people had sustained brutal torture. Historians suspect that because brooms were associated with women and broom handles were phallic, that it just wasn’t a very difficult leap for sexually frustrated misogynists to imagine evil, lusty women riding on their brooms.
There were some accounts of witches concocting flying ointments, these would have been salves or balms that would have been absorbed through the skin and used to induce hallucinations or just to get high. Now, folks did in fact create these kinds of ointments and they did use them. But witch hunters were certain that witches were using these balms to help them communicate with demons.
The accused witches were said to rub these ointments onto their broomsticks so that they could apply the ointments vaginally. I’m telling you, these uptight, repressed, puritanical witch hunters were probably just jealous they didn’t get invited to the lesbian broomstick witch orgy.
But at any rate, the association between witches and brooms was made, and there is so much imagery of witches riding their brooms that it doesn’t really even matter anymore at this point where the connection came from. The point is, by like, the 1300’s that link was well established. And here we are.
But the broom has been reclaimed by the witch community, and now, the broom or the besom is used both symbolically and literally in magick and witchcraft. The purpose of a broom is to sweep things away. This is how my god-fearing Pentecostal grandma uses her broom and this is how I use my broom. But when I sweep the floor, I’m not just getting rid of dust and dog hair, like my grandma, but I’m also getting rid of old energy.
There are a lot of different brooms that a witch might use, of course there’s the household broom. Which, even as a mundane tool, is very powerful and useful. There’s the old tradition, never bring an old broom into a new home, because it’s thought that you would be bringing old mess into a fresh new environment, which would be not good, right? So here’s a tip, giving a broom as a housewarming gift is very on-brand for witches.
Some witches keep small, mini-besoms on their altars and these are strictly magickal brooms. If we’re going to initiate new spell work, if we’re just cleaning or reorganizing the altar, then giving the space a good sweeping with that ritual broom is going to help prepare the space and also the witch for clearing out the energetic remains of old spells and making room for new, fresh intentional energy.
You may choose to decorate your altar broom with flowers, ribbons, bells, charms, crystals, or whatever speaks to you. You may want to use color correspondences, or seasonal elements to decorate your besom, or you may choose to keep it simple with a basic mini broom. It all comes down to personal preference.
And in the same vein as the ritual altar broom is the decorative cinnamon broom. And the topic of brooms was suggested by Kim and she is witchy as hell. This woman forages literal mushrooms and makes mushroom soup and eats it. Like. That is some bold ass witchcraft. So Kim is the reason we are talking about broom magick, but the reason we are talking about broom magick today is because it’s cinnamon broom season. They’re usually made of pine straw and then scented with cinnamon oil, so we get the protective qualities of the pine, and then all the qualities of luck, success, and prosperity that cinnamon brings. These are not really functional brooms, they’re generally hung on the wall or over the doorway to create a protective spiritual barrier and they’re frequently decorated in accordance with the seasons.
I have a little 3-inch cinnamon broom hanging in my car as well as a larger one that we keep in the house. These are so inexpensive, they’re easy to find at Trader Joe’s, Home Depot even has them in the fall, craft stores carry them. Like I said, they are in season now, so get one if you can. They’re kind of a simple way to bring that magic into the house. And I love lazy magick.
Now, for some not-so-lazy magick, we can use our brooms for what they’re actually meant for. Sweeping your house from back to front once a month or whenever you feel like there’s unwanted negativity, stagnance, discord, laziness, bad luck, bad attitudes, etcetera, is a good way to maintain the spiritual hygiene of your home. Just get the broom out and start sweeping. Sweep that shit right out the front door. There are lots of good sweeping powders you can buy or make that can be customized for the kinds of energy you’re hoping to remove and/or to bring into your home.
And I guess we can expand here. As a base for all sweeping powders, regardless of the intention, I like to start with baking soda. It’s inexpensive, it absorbs odors, and it’s safe to use on the floor. And then to the mix I will also add plain old salt. This is very purifying, it’s also inexpensive, and it discourages unwanted spiritual energy. So I’ll start with two parts baking soda and one part salt. That’s the base for every sweeping powder. And then we get to be creative.
If I want to invite more love into the home, I’ll add some dried rose petals. If I want to encourage harmony I’ll add some chamomile. To invite abundance, I’ll add some pine. To invite money specifically, add some basil. For peace, add some sage. Add some rosemary for good luck, and thyme for a happy home. We can mix and match any or all of these as we see fit, and stir them clockwise into the baking soda and salt mixture.
Store your sweeping powder in a jar until you need it, and just shake a little on the floor of the home and allow it to sit for a while. How long it sits is up to you, there’s no exact science to this, just leave it for a bit while you take care of other chores and sweep it up when you’re ready. Or you can vacuum it too. Now don’t get too crazy and coat every square inch of the floor with a quarter inch layer of baking soda and herbs. A light sprinkling is all that is needed. Sweep it up and throw it out. This will kill your grass, so don’t sweep it out onto the lawn.
If you do want to do it that way, that’s fine. Just skip the baking soda and the salt and sprinkle only the herbs onto the floor. It’s a fine way to do it, I just prefer the odor absorbing properties of the baking soda and I really like the purifying aspect of the salt.
Another common use for brooms is a tradition called ‘jumping the broom’ which may or may not be a term you’re familiar with. Jumping the broom is a practice which originated in pre-Christian Celtic Europe. Once Christianity drove paganism underground, the practice came to solemnize marriages between people whose weddings would not have been recognized as valid by the church or under the law. This included Romanis in Wales, Celtic Scots, and eventually jumping the broom even came all the way to the United States. There are some records of enslaved peoples in the antebellum South jumping the broom as a way to formalize their own folk marriages during a time when it was forbidden by law for enslaved peoples to enter into such contracts.
This connotation, the idea that jumping the broom is a way for all kinds of marginalized peoples, the poor, the religious minorities, the racial or ethnic minorities, the oppressed, to jump the broom in front of witnesses as a way to validate their own vows and the law be damned, is incredibly powerful and empowering. And this is a practice you will frequently see at handfasting ceremonies as well. And I think it’s a really beautiful way to reclaim agency. For a couple to say, ‘This marriage is not valid because the church says so, or because the law says so, but because we say so.’
We don’t really know the original significance of this practice, but historians tend to agree that because brooms were both inexpensive and intrinsically tied to the concept of a household, that it’s likely that new couples would have received a broom as a gift and the practice just sort of evolved from there. And it makes sense. A broom is a household tool whose purpose is to keep order; it’s meant to keep a home tidy. To sweep things out that are unwanted and that do not contribute to the comfort of its family.
I love the symbolism of jumping the broom, and I would, if I had it to do over again, absolutely incorporate this practice into my own ceremony. Maybe we’ll renew our vows, it’s been 25 years, we’re due. But it’s just a beautiful and simple acknowledgment of what goes into making a marriage. It’s about cleaning up after ourselves, it’s about not allowing things to get dusty and disused, it’s about calling in fresh energy and making sure that we remove all the detritus that can interfere with creating and maintaining a happy home and a harmonious new life together.
And the broom is the perfect symbol of that, and you can really see why they’re such a staple in witchcraft. Because it’s the doing of the work, it’s the labor that goes into making things nice and keeping the home clean, both physically and spiritually. Whether you live alone or with a roommate or with a partner or with your family.
This simple, common, unassuming, unsung household tool is a really important part of maintaining a magickal life. So use your brooms well, we will speak again soon, and I hope you have a magickal rest of your day.
My name is Eli Ro, and this has been the Middle-Aged Witch podcast.