A besom is a broom used by some Witches, especially for Handfasting and Imbolc (around February 2) rites. Because we hope to offer information here that is not readily available elsewhere, we won't go into all the basics about the besom. This page is to provide you will lesser known trivia about the besom that you might find interesting:
Many of us know about the classic uses of brooms in sympathetic magick. These rites often included riding broomsticks and jumping in the air to show the crops how high to grow. However, 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 broom or besom was equated with marriages outside of the church, and weddings "by the broom" were considered illegitimate.
Brooms are generally used for protection and purification purposes in magick. The symbolism of the broom combines both the masculine and feminine, and the besom is often associated with fertility and sexuality. The phallic staff (often made of ash) represents the male and the broom whisp (often of brush, broom or birch) represents the female.
This association with fertility and sexuality also contributed to the word 'besom' being used as derogatory slang for an easy woman. These wild, anarchist types of associations may have been promoted by the church, but they also expose the attitude that Pagans were free spirits.
References & Resources:
Further Reading: Chapter 13 of "The Magical Household" by Scott Cunningham has a great deal of entertaining lore about the besom if you are interested to learn more. ISBN-10: 0875421245 | ISBN-13: 978-0875421247