The besom has long been a tool long used by both magickal and mundane people to cleanse the home and superstitiously to ward off “evil”.
The besom still resides as one of the most important tools of a witch. We use them today to cleanse away negativity, protect our homes and enhance the potential of our spells. Ritually a besom is used to sweep the circle or ritual area clear of negative energy and psychic debris. Traditionally a chant is said along with the sweeping, such as the one below:
We sweep this circle bright and clear
To enfold these precious souls who have gathered here,
With love in our hearts and good work to be done,
In the names of our God and Goddess, with harm to none.
So mote it be
Ash is a masculine wood and is often the chosen variety of wood for the handle because it represents strength and flight. Ash is also one of the few woods that will burn whether still green or cured, indicating constant enduring strength that is always at the ready. Ash was also the favored wood for arrows and spears due to it’s natural strength and straightness.
Birch is a feminine wood representing protection, fertility, purification, blessings and beginnings. Birch is found in cleansing rituals and has been used extensively for that purpose, which is probably why Birch is traditionally used for the brush, or knurl of the besom. (Traditionally, when people would “beat the bounds” in the springtime to chase out the accumulation of negative energy, it was done with a bundle of Birch.)
Willow is the binding, and it represents exactly that, the binding force. Willow is a feminine wood and is generally held sacred to the Goddess. It has an affinity for water and exudes emotion. Willow is the tree of the Lady and is suitable to balance the force of the Lord.