besoom

WitchCrafting: Crafts for Witches

December, 2016

Sorghum Besom

Merry meet.

There’s something special about crafting your own magical tools. I just completed making a besom and it was simple enough you might want to try it.

I had been sweeping my floors with corn brooms for more than a decade before I heard the term broomcorn. Flipping those two words triggered a brainstorm. Corn. I could grow corn. I could make my own broom.

The first challenge was to find the seeds at a nursery. An employee consulted reference material to tell me the scientific name was sorghum bicolor.

On Beltane, I planted a row about nine feet long and after thinning the seedlings, I ended up with about 45 stalks, a few growing alone, most growing in clusters.

Being a dry summer, I watered often. At Lughnasadh, I picked one stalk, but let the rest continue to grow, harvesting them under the full moon just before Mabon. I tied them in bundles and hung them upside down to dry.

My intent was to make the besom while on a Mabon weekend retreat, but it ended up being Samhain night before I sat down to do it. By now, the stalks were extremely dry. Although the YouTube video I had watched called for combing off the seeds and soaking the broomcorn for several hours, I did neither.

Using a witch hazel walking stick I had purchased several years earlier as the handle, I pounded a small nail into the wood about eight inches from the bottom. To that, I anchored a thin hemp cord typically used in beading.

Selecting a variety of colors, I placed stalks around the stick, trimmed them to the same length and wrapped the cord around them as tightly as possible. A few inches lower, I secured them with more cord.

I then selected more stalks, trimmed them to about the same length, and using another length of cord, again secured to the nail, I wrapped it as tightly as possible around the second layer in two places.

My intent was to have three layers, but with the seeds left on them, it was heavy. Most people would probably comb off the seeds – storing some in a paper bag for next year’s crop and feeding the rest to the birds – leaving just the tassels for the broom.

I continued to wrap twine tightly around the stalks until the space between the two sections were connected. By this time, the cording had cut through skin on two fingers in my efforts to keep it taut, and I decided to stop.

Grasping the broomcorn several inches below where it was wrapped to add another band of cord turned out not to have the desired effect of keeping the tassels more upright when the besom is stored with the handle down, which is the way I typically keep them. Other options are being explored, include covering the cord with leather, and adding embellishments such as gemstones and the phases of the moon.

Meanwhile, the besom was offered to the energies of Samhain, passed through smoke, sprinkled with salt water and held up to the next full moon while awaiting use as a tool in its first ritual.

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1Merry part.

And merry meet again.