What's the deal with witches and broomsticks?

I’m writing in response to the question included in the Recent Classics section, “What’s the deal with witches and broomsticks?”

I’d like to clear up several misconceptions. While Cecil’s information is for the most part accurate, one must bear in mind that many “witches” made statements under duress and that the Church and the Inquisition altered policy and the Bible itself in order to be more able to prosecute those whom it believed consorted with the devil. One example among many was the accepted policy that a plea of innocence was in actuality an admission of guilt. Another note is that while the broom is a phallic representation, it was never used as such a “tool,” if you catch my drift. At least, not by any true follower of my chosen faith.

Now, speaking as a practicing Witch (or, to be more politically correct, I should use a term with less negative connotation, Wiccan) I would like to give Cecil and the Teeming Millions a more informative answer to the correlation between a Wiccan and a broomstick.

First, I’d like to establish that when referring to such things as magick and the like that any true Wiccan (those witches that cut themselves and others in bloodletting rituals and threaten people with hexes, curses, and what-have-you are horribly misguided and misinformed people) has a number of basic rules and guidelines to follow. We don’t practice evil and believe in no devil–evil exists but to give it a name is to give it power.

Now, to the point of the topic. In times long past, the broomstick was a riding and dancing pole (though pole dancing has become significantly more obscene and perverse in modern times) and was disguised as a normal household object for purposes of security when the Church arose and more corrupt members whose priorities were far out of order in that they wanted to expand the Church’s clientele and power base, if you will, rather than worship Jesus and God, chose to begin the systematic rooting out and execution of witches. Aside from its use as a symbol of witchcraft and a phallic representation (sexuality is an important aspect of the craft in the sense that it is widely responsible for the continuity of the human race However, yet again, misguided folk tarnish the reputations and good names of true Wiccans by holding mass orgies in the name of witchcraft), the broom was used in crop fertility rites where witches would run around fields on broomsticks and jump in the air. This was done for a number of reasons pertaining to sympathetic magick, and is most likely widely responsible for the misconception of witches flying on broomsticks–no amount of magic can evelate a Witch, or any other person for that matter, on a broomstick and propel them around wherever they should please. Honestly, you’d think you’d see more of it if it was true. Or at least, more people trying it if anybody seriously believed it had premise.

So, not to dispute with Cecil, but this is why you see so many representations of witches riding around on broomsticks. Why Halloween? Halloween was originally known as All Hallow’s Eve, during which rites were, among other purposes, conducted to ward off evil spirits. It was widely known as a time of peak witchcraft (even though at seven other points through the year similar rituals and celebrations are conducted).

I don’t wish to rant and rave, or preach for that matter, but I do wish to dispel misinformation and let people in on the true nature of Witchcraft. If anybody has some sort of rebuttal, question, comment, or any other sort of reply, I’d truly appreciate hearing it. Just keep it short of a religious debate, as this isn’t the proper forum for it from what I have seen, and please, no damnations to hell. I’ve recieved enough from devout Christians who, while having my best interests in mind by trying to save my soul, fail to notice that when the Bible says to, in short, dispose of those who practice Witchcraft it was actually an alteration by the Spanish Inquisition, where the original text states that all those who act in a hostile manner towards loyal Christians are to be properly informed of their act of blasphemy and therein have their souls saved. That sounds a bit like a sarcastic remark, but it isn’t, so please don’t take it negatively.

In closing, if you’ve read this far, thank you for your time and please take some more of it to issue a proper response. And Cecil, I know you’re a busy fellow, but any response from you would be much appreciated.

Edited to provide link to column – CKDH

With all due respect, the article was not discussing the connections between Wiccans and broomsticks; it was discussing the connection between witches and broomsticks. The distinction is not merely one of connotation. Wicca as it is now known did not exist at the time of the Salem trials. The term “witch” means a person who casts magic spells. Usually, the term is applied to a woman, and often, it carries the implication that the magic used comes from demonic powers. But it does not mean a follower of the Wiccan religion.

As is customary, here’s a link to the relevant column: http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a990903.html

Chronos, thanks for making the important point that the women prosecuted in the Salem witch trials were not Wiccans, since most of Wicca was cobbled together more recently. They were probably, in fact, ordinary Protestant women who were victimized by popular hysteria and ignorant superstition.

Women using broomsticks to put hallucinogenic ointment into their vaginas seems a little far-fetched, but so does the alleged pagan crop-fertility jumping-with-a-broomstick rite.

But I do love the idea of a broomstick “disguised as a normal household object”. See, it looks like a broomstick for sweeping the floor, but it’s actually… well, a broomstick, but one used for Magick! With a K! So do you have to have a different broomstick for ordinary sweeping? What happens if the two get mixed up?

My take on broomstick-riding is that sometimes people just make stuff up.

Now, Baldwin, surely you know that “magick” with a “k” is far more solemn and mysterious and meaningful and, well, downright real and believable than that silly ol’ “magic” without a “k”, which is the fakery kind of thing that David Copperfield does. Just as anything that is “compleat” is much more impressive than something that is merely “complete”. Archaic words and spellings are often used to lend a weighty air of importance to notions that might otherwise seem . . . well, y’know . . . silly.

Thank you for correcting me, I’ve re-read the column and realize that I was too quick to associate witches and broomsticks to mean wiccans and broomsticks :smiley:

As a footnote, lemme just say that I spell magick with a k because as mentioned above, magic is what David Copperfield does, i.e., sleight of hand and illusion.

And the whole jumping thing, from my research, was an older rite intended to symbolize elevation of the crops.

Should we make this a sticky or something? I swear it comes around about once a month.

Here’s Cecil’s reply to a similar response prompted by the very same article: What is the historical basis of the Wicca religion (modern witchcraft)?

And an excerpt:

Ed Zotti also discussed in more detail the distinction between “witch” and “Wiccan”: Followup: are witches satanists?

My hearty thanks to Achernar for the follow-up column.

My apologies to Cadbury Angel and any others with similar concerns, that was my first post and after realizing that I misunderstood the original column, this probably shouldn’t have been posted in the first place. In any case, looking at it now it should really be moved over to General Discussion, but I really wouldn’t be offended (much to the contrary, actually) if a mod were to delete the thread in its entirety).

Atlantis–Fighting ignorance is his bumbling, newbish way.

Who are you to judge? :smiley:

O.K bit nit picky but its always annoyed me. What David Copperfield does is prestidigitation Definition Magick is just an alternate spelling, it has no different definition.

I think you’ll get along fine here, Atlantis. I can certainly think of worse ways to get introduced to the boards! A little misplaced indignation (or some milder word) is no crime.

Au contrere, Tallayan. While historically magick is just a different spelling, it has been used in the modern context specifically to differentiate what wiccans/pagans do from stage magicians/conjurers. Word meaning changes through usage. The language is alive. Enough people want to make this distinction, and have agreed upon a spelling to convey that distinction. Whether you or I believe what they do is any more real than prestidigitation is irrelevant.

What right do all these people (and how many, exactly, is “enough”?) have to sit down and take a vote and make a decision about the English language without asking, or even notifying, me?

A helluva lot of people also think “kewl” is an okie-doke alternate spelling, that “they’re”, “their” and “there” are completely interchangeable, and that “seperate” is “definately” acceptable. Not all changes are for the good or even serve a useful purpose, and not all are as acceptable or justified as their adherents would have us believe.

“Magick” remains just an affectation, and nothing more. I and a bunch of other people have agreed upon it.

Dr. You forgot your smiley. :smiley:

There are people who would read your post and not understand your intent.

Ah crud :eek:, did I fergit muh smiley-face agin :smack: ? Shucks, where did I put that dadburned thing? :confused: Oh yeah! Here it is!

I profusely apologize :slight_smile: to those who were unable to visualize a smiley all on their own. :rolleyes: Silly me that I am, I keep forgetting that I’m responsible :dubious: for including primitive pictograms to aid any good folk who might perhaps suffer linguistic impairment and could conceivably perchance misunderstand something, lest such poor unfortunates suffer some deep emotional-type whiplash or something. :smiley: Or whatever. I am thoroughly chastened and consider myself deeply shrived. :o

Oh, one more thing. . . .


Different days I feel differently on this matter. I refuse to be consistent. I reject homeopaths describing normal medicine as “allopathy”, but just defended “magick”. shrug

Yeah, I can dig it. Different strokes, and all that. (Which I believe might relate to another current thread.)

I almost hate to ask, but I have to: cite? This is a new one on me, and I’m not buying it without some very convincing backup.

Hrm, it was my understanding that during certain pagan rituals, a small ceremonial broom was used to “cleanse” a particular area to rid the ritual place of negative energies of some sort. This might be far more recent than the witch/broomstick myth, however.

Or maybe I dreamt the whole thing, since I can’t seem to find a cite for it right now. :confused:

How interesting it is, that in the 21st century we even consider that folks pitching spells like a used car salesman pitches his spiel is ac tually real. But on the other hand folks buy into the BS that is distributed by way of the TV set and believe that is real too. So you have to ask “how you know if she (or he, I suppose for PC sakes) is a witch?” And as I recall, just because she (or he) looks like one, won’t fly. After all they did do the nose. And, oh yeah, the hat.