Sunday, October 4, 2015

COUNTDOWN TO HALLOWEEN (Day 4): Is That A Broomstick Between Your Legs Or Are You Happy To See Me?

When thinking about the traditional or stereotypical view of the Witch from today’s perspective, it does mirror the view of them from as far back as the 1400s, when broomsticks were first associated with them.  Now as history goes, it’s not all so cut and dry as this, but the use of brooms in pagan ceremonies go back possibly earlier than we can know and continues to this day in marriages.  The handle representing the male phalus, the bristles representing the female genital area.  It is a fertility thing, a helper in rites that related to good fortune for a family and their farm.  The broom was also seen as a way to clear out evil spirits

And being that the broom is handy in the home and kitchen, it’s really not that hard to see it’s handle being used to stir stews and brews in bigger cauldrons, in fact it may well be that the practice of “riding” broomsticks evolved from an accidental exposure to a mold called “ergot” which grew in rye bread.  In high doses, it can be lethal, but in smaller doses, ergot is a powerful hallucinogenic.  It soon became popular to those who experimented with folk cures and herbalism.  It became the main ingredient in the ointment that witches rubbed their broomsticks with before they hopped on to go for a “flight”.

When absorbed through the skin, particularly the thin skin of the genitals, the hallucinogenic effects were more pronounced and led to less sickness and death.  And so this was the practice of many a witch.  Getting high was symbolic and flying was more a side-effect of the drug which produced euphoric and powerful feelings and imagery:

“My teeth were clenched, and a dizzied rage took possession of me … but I also know that I was permeated by a peculiar sense of well-being connected with the crazy sensation that my feet were growing lighter, expanding and breaking loose from my own body. Each part of my body seemed to be going off on its own, and I was seized with the fear that I was falling apart. At the same time I experienced an intoxicating sensation of flying …. I soared where my hallucinations—the clouds, the lowering sky, herds of beasts, falling leaves … billowing streamers of steam and rivers of molten metal—were swirling along.”

And so, in answer to the question—What’s the connection between witches and brooms?—there seems to be a pretty solid consensus.

The Atlantic published this informative article:

Atlas Obscura produced this piece:

And had this to say:

I Fucking Love Science said:

Here’s a brief illustrative comic about riding on broomsticks:

But of course, there’s more of a spiritual side to the broom too and a bit of that knowledge can be gained here:

and here:

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