Besom Making

While tools are not always necessary or even sometimes desirable they are fun, and making those tools that you can for your own use, and for others is even more fun. You tend to invest more of your energy and creative essence in any tool that you have taken the time and patience to create.

So with that in mind I am going to share with you how I made my Besom. Making a Besom or witch's broom is not difficult and there are many good ideas around to borrow from and improve on. In choosing the wood you want to use wood that has protective properties and most important what feels right to you.

Good choices for wood are Ash (protection, prosperity, health); Birch (protection, binding, purification) - the traditional broom of the Witches was made of birch twigs; Dogwood (wishes, protection); Elder(binding, protection, healing) - though this is more often used for wands; Oak (protection, health, money, healing) and a tree scared to the Druids; Pine (healing, protection, binding, money); or Rowan (psychic powers, healing, power, success, protection).

The wood of my Besom is unknown, I found it on our then new property an loved the shape and feel, it had been lying waiting for me to find it for years and looked akin to driftwood, which would also be a good wood to use.

After leaving it natural for a long time I decided to sand it, it turned outwith a dark, finely grained and satiny pattern. If you decide to finish your wood than strip it first and let it dry and then do any sanding necessary. After you find the wood that you want to use as the handle taking in account the size and length best suited to you, properly thanking the Goddess, cut very carefully, you don't want to kill the tree, only take what you need, (you might want to consider a tree limb that is bowed under as those are the most likely to fall and could hurt the tree or property) and use a saw as your boline will not work.

The next step is gathering the materials for the "broomstraws" the binding and any decorative touches. I suggest straw as it can be easily obtained and attracts fairies. Wheat can also be used, but might shed more than you wish. The traditional binding for a magical, or Witch's broom is a willow branch, it is very flexible and easy to work with. Straw can be dyed using herbal dyes, for black use alder, black walnut or yarrow. For blues, elder, indigo, woad, oregon grape. For brown use comfrey, fennel, hops, onion, pokeweed. For Golds use dock, goldenrod, safflower. For greens use barberry, bayberry, sage. Binding the straw: I use a double binding method for this. Before cutting the straw the length you wish add about two inches.

I have found that it is easier to work with the straw if it has been soaked and then just left damp. Gather the straw with the ends even and pointing towards the top of the handle and distributed around the handle, bind the added two inches with strong twine, fold the straw down pointing in the right direction and bind with the Willow branch.

Now come the most fun making your Besom uniquely your own. If using pine you can add small pine cones strung with twine and attached to the binding, if using oak do the same with acorns. Slip lavender under the binding or heather, add dried flowers...this is your besom to play with it. You can also decorate the handle anyway you wish, and if you can whittle or carve you can create a beautiful one of kind Besom. Creating your Besom for whatever purpose. Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herb's is an excellent reference on Herb's and woods.

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