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Witches and Brooms...Witches and Brooms!

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posted on Nov, 19 2016 @ 09:53 AM
Perhaps this post is a few days late, Halloween and all, but earlier this morning the wife was sitting in the front room watching one the first Harry Potter movies on television. At one point Harry Potter gets on a broom and starts flying around inside this cave/dungeon they are exploring. I wondered aloud why the broom was chosen throughout history as the mechanism of flight. Why not a saddle, or a chair...or a hammer? Why a broom?

So off to the interwebz I went in search of the reasoning behind the fabled flying broom...

It turns out the history of the broom and its legendary capacity for "flight" is actually rooted in history (as I had suspected), but it is the "how" and "why" elements which are so striking! I've long been fascinated with the history and rituals behind holidays, Halloween in particular. All Hallows Eve, in history, is NOT what most people believe it to be (like Christmas) and it is certainly not some happy night of fun where children got dressed up and were given candy by strangers. Oh, there were "tricks"to be sure, but the "treats" people sought were not trivial little sweet bites, but rather critically needed basic elements of survival.

One of the most common themes of Halloween is that of the "Witch" and no witch would be complete without her flying broom, right? But where did this lore originate? And why? The convergence of witches and Halloween is no coincidence either, being the pagan holiday it is. Whom better to call upon to cast out evil spirits and ensure a bountiful harvest the following year than a witch, right? So this part is easy to equate, but the flying broom not so much.


The popular image of a witch, which you can see everywhere right now in the form of Halloween costumes and decorations, is a woman with a pointy hat and warty nose stirring a cauldron or flying on a broom. How did that odd choice of transportation get tied to witches and locked into our collective imagination?

One proposed explanation has its roots in a pagan ritual where people danced astride poles, pitchforks, and brooms in their fields, jumping as high as they could to entice their crops to grow to that height. “Anyone observing the leaping broomstick dance of witches at the full moon,” says anthropologist Robin Skelton, “could be expected to think of flying.”


One theory; harmless enough I guess, but it gets darker rather quickly...

Another explanation is that the broomsticks and the potions that witches brewed in their cauldrons are linked, and the former was a tool for delivering the latter.

Hmmmm..."delivering" is not what you think. Oh, the trusty broom was a delivery method alright, and it delivered "flight", but neither in the way most commonly thought...

During the witch panics of the Middle Ages, authorities confiscated various brews, ointments, and salves from people accused of witchcraft and sorcery. In the early 1500s, physician Andres Laguna described one such substance that was taken from the home of an accused witch as “a pot full of [a] certain green ointment ... composed of soporific herbs such as hemlock, nightshade, henbane, and mandrake.”

The local constable was a friend of Laguna’s, so the doctor was able to obtain some of the ointment to experiment with. His first test subject was the executioner’s wife, whom he anointed “head to foot” with the green stuff.

“No sooner did I anoint her than she opened her eyes wide like a rabbit, and soon they looked like those of a cooked hare when she fell into such a profound sleep that I thought I should never be able to awake her,” Laguna wrote. “However ... after the lapse of thirty-six hours, I restored her to her senses and sanity.”

When the woman was conscious again, she asked Laguna, “Why did you awaken me, badness to you, at such an inauspicious moment? Why I was surrounded by all the delights in the world.” She then turned to her husband and claimed that she had cuckolded him and taken a “younger and lustier lover.”

Laguna wrote that even long after her dream, the executioner’s wife “stuck to many of her crazy notions.”

“From all this we may infer that all that those wretched witches do and say is caused by potions and ointments which so corrupt their memory and imagination that they create their own woes, for they firmly believe when awake all that they had dreamed when asleep,” he said.

Another 16th century physician, Giovanni Della Porta, described a similar case where he witnessed a suspected witch apply one of her ointments. She also fell into a “most sound and heavy sleep,” and when she awoke “began to speak many vain and doting words, affirming that she had passed over both seas and mountains.”

He reached a similar conclusion as Laguna: These potions were the source of the bizarre things that witches claimed to experience and partake in. After applying their ointments, Della Porta wrote, these women “seem to be carried in the air, to feasting, singing, dancing, kissing, culling, and other acts of venery, with such youths as they love and desire most: for the force of their imagination is so vehement, that almost all that part of the brain, wherein the memory consists, is full of such concepts.”

But why the broom? Well, it turns out these witches concoctions are quite toxic and have some pretty nasty side effects...

To get around the risks of taking these potions orally, somewhere some clever witch figured out an alternate way for getting them inside the body: a staff, stick or a tool they already had around the house—the broom.

The hallucinogens in the brews, it turns out, can be absorbed through the skin without any of the unpleasant side affects. Some of the best places for absorption are the sweat glands in the armpits and the mucus membranes around the rectum and female genitalia. To apply the potions to these places, witches would slather them on their brooms and “ride” them to their witchy gatherings.

Broom/Article Source

EEEEEeeeeeeew, right? But who knows? And while the authors even cast some possible doubt at the end, the fact that so many witches actually confessed to the same or similar facts is interesting none the less, and would seem to lend more credence than not to the validity surrounding the lore of the fabled "flying broom".

Hope you enjoyed.

edit on 11/19/2016 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 19 2016 @ 10:00 AM

edit on 11/19/2016 by Flyingclaydisk because: goofed up edit.

posted on Nov, 19 2016 @ 10:14 AM
Nicely put together thread.

I always thought they had brooms because, most households had them back then and was easily accessible to every witch.

posted on Nov, 19 2016 @ 10:17 AM
Interesting, I enjoyed the post. We usually find a little truth in each fable.

posted on Nov, 19 2016 @ 10:25 AM

originally posted by: Flyingclaydisk
Why a broom?

Because it can go "Broom Broom Broooooooooom!" of course.

Ever seen or heard of a witch on a slow form of transport? Even the old brass bed in "Bedknobs and broomsticks" was turbo charged.

posted on Nov, 19 2016 @ 10:29 AM
Transvaginal ( w/ broomhandle or wooden spoon) or suppository... are superior delivery methods and you dont run the risk of vomiting the mixture, as many of the herbs used induced vomiting.

posted on Nov, 19 2016 @ 11:34 AM

off-topic post removed to prevent thread-drift


posted on Nov, 19 2016 @ 01:57 PM

originally posted by: Advantage
Transvaginal ( w/ broomhandle or wooden spoon) or suppository... are superior delivery methods and you dont run the risk of vomiting the mixture, as many of the herbs used induced vomiting.

You get it.

It works anally, as well, for the penis-having witches. I've tried to ingest one particular iteration of this orally and it didn't... "fly" too well with my belly.

Heck, even hair band from the 80's and 90's did this but with other things. Wasn't it Metallica who did vodka enemas or something?

(post by Advantage removed for a serious terms and conditions violation)

posted on Nov, 19 2016 @ 11:17 PM
amanita muscaria

posted on Nov, 20 2016 @ 12:27 AM
And Here I Was All Along Thinking A Woman's Work Is Never Done.
I Thought The Broom Was For Sweeping.... Even On Pagan Observances.

posted on Nov, 20 2016 @ 09:35 AM

edit on 20-11-2016 by DrumsRfun because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 20 2016 @ 09:37 AM

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posted on Nov, 20 2016 @ 09:52 AM
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

You have just ruined Walt Disney's, "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" for me.

posted on Nov, 20 2016 @ 10:19 AM
No! O'Pal... You Are Easily Swayed.

The Witch Is Depicted With A Broom Because She Is The One You Assume Is Busy Away In Her Own World. A World You Think Is Filled With Work. She Is Sweeping... And So It Would Seem.
But... She Is A Witch. Never Think She Is Beneath You Or Hard Pressed On Her Toils.
The Greatest Thing A Witch Can Accomplish In Her Devilry Is Making You Believe She Is Just Passing Away Her Time As An Ordinary Woman.

The Worst She Can Do Is Likely Only Going To Work On You. Hence Different Folks, Different Strokes.........

posted on Nov, 20 2016 @ 11:19 AM
a reply to: DBCowboy

So then do you think I should hold off on the publication of my next work, "Bedknobs in Lore"?

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