The besom is a traditionally constructed broom. They are an item some people choose to keep around for various reasons. Of course, the meaning has changed significantly over time. Unlike a regular broom, a besom should have a rounded brush instead of flat. This is because the straw should be wrapped around the pole. You can buy them in a store, but they are relatively simple to make on your own.
They are best made with an ash staff, birch twigs for the brush and bound with willow. This option give you the best protection, healing and love. Straw is another common item for the brush. The three items are symbolic of the triple aspect of the Goddess. Ash represents one’s ability to work with the four elements. Birch draws spirit to one’s service, and the willow is connected to the dark Goddess’ energy. In some lore the besom would contain 6 different woods- willow, broom, hawthorn, birch, hazel and rowan.
I was once believed that if the witches went to sabbat and left their besoms behind, the besoms would fly to the sabbat on their own to be with the witches. Broom ends were thought to have their own life force and were capable of warding bad weather away from crops. Because of their uses, medieval witches were sometimes referred to as “broom amazons”
Midwives of ancient Rome used special brooms to sweep the threshold of the house after childbirth. This was to cut the ties between the world of the living and the realm of the dead. It was believed that the child had entered from the world of the dead and the pathway should not be made easy for a quick return. Since around 1336 B.C, Egyptian priests swept the ritual area then sprinkled it with blessed water. This ancient tradition is in a way still used since in modern practice, a large besom is used for cleaning the area before a circle is cast. Sometimes a besom is lain across the edge of the circle to serve as temporary closure.
Crossing brooms at quarters, and then symbolically uncrossing them, had been used to allow quarter energies into the cast circle area, while nailing crossed brooms to your front door or wall is said to guard the house and disperse negative energy.
Brooms are used to banish unwanted energies, send the dead back to slumber land and work weather magic. Besoms were used for Pagan weddings as couples would “jump the besom” to symbolize their union. This is literally jumped during a hand fasting to signify the leap from one “life” to the next.
Besoms might not have as much meaning now as they used to, but I think that they are still important in casting a circle as it is always better to have a cleansed area then not.