A Pagan friend and I sat in a bookstore staring at the front door. It was Witches & Friends’ first meeting and we had no idea what to expect. We sent out emails promoting a group where experienced Pagans, and people who were new or friendly to Paganism, could get together and learn about the belief system in a nonthreatening environment. Prospective members started to show up, and my friend and I could barely hide our excitement.
Thirty minutes later I broke the ice…
“My name is Magaly and I’m an Eclectic Witch. My friend Dayanara and I started this group because we want to share ideas with likeminded individuals while having a good old Pagan time! Now, let’s go around the circle and please tell us your name and why you want to be part of this group.”
“Hi I’m Dayanara” said my dear friend looking as nervous as I felt. “I’m here because I miss my coven. We were together for 7 years, but I had to move across country because of work. I joined this group because I miss the company of other Pagans.”
A young woman sitting next to Dayanara smiled shyly. “I’m Briana and I’m Methodist. I’m taking a philosophy of religion class, and one of my assignments is to go out and learn about other religions critically. I got the information about this meeting from your website.” Briana pointed at me. “I hope you don’t mind, but if you do…”
“Of course we don’t mind, girl!” I told Briana, hoping my excitement didn’t make her run for the woods. “It would be great if you could become a permanent member of the group. I was raised Catholic, did you know?” Briana shook her head and I continued without letting her say a word. “You don’t have to be Pagan to be here. I can’t wait to get your input. Goodness, I’m sure we’ll learn tons from each other. Don’t you think guys?” Everybody agreed and I continued on a blissful roll. “What about you?” I chin-pointed at a guy sitting next to Briana and across from me.
“I’m Grim Thunder… that’s my magic name. Aren’t we supposed to have magic names?”
“Magic names are okay.” I told him.
“Good,” he continued. “Well… my real name is Dixon, just so you know. And I joined Witches & Friends because I really want to learn how to fly a broom.”
My jaw must have hit the floor at the same time I swallowed my tongue. I couldn’t utter a single word. I stared at the man and then at everyone else, hoping someone would say something.
Briana broke the silence with a very appropriate question: “Wow! You can fly brooms?”
“No, we can not.” I answered as soon as my jaw and tongue returned to where they belonged.
I would love to tell you that I made up the whole story. But the reality of the situation is that the only fiction in it relates to the names of those involved. A grown man did attend a Pagan meeting, at his local Barnes & Noble, expecting “to learn how to fly a broom”. For the record, I’ve never met a Witch who can fly a broom. In actuality, most of us use our broomsticks for the mundane activity of sweeping the floor. So where does the broom flying myth come from? To be honest I couldn’t begin to tell you! But according to Lynn Smythe’s article, Flying Broomsticks and Plant Lore, in the old days “[Witches] would go out into the fields and dance and leap high into the air while astride their brooms…. It was thought that this would cause the crops to grow as tall as they were able to jump into the air.”
And although Lynn didn’t say this, I’m inclined to believe that such an act seen through the eyes of an outsider might have been enough to start the flying myth.
I use my broom for cleansing and protection. When I feel my house overflowing with negative energy, I sweep the entire place from back to front while visualizing all the negativity running out the door. The protection part came from my maternal grandmother. She was a devout Caribbean Catholic who practiced Witchcraft. She used to take two brooms and form a cross on the floor in front of my bed. She believed that kept evil spirits out of my dreams. Also, whenever there were rumors about evil witches lurking around town, my grandmother would spill small seeds by my bedroom door. She would then place a broom close to the seeds, and it was her belief that any evil witch would be so compelled to sweep away the seeds that he or she would never make it to my bed before awakening the entire house with the sweeping noise. That meant that my grandmother would come to my rescue before evil got anywhere near me, but as you just read there wasn’t any flying involved.
Do you have any old tales about witches and flying brooms? Do you believe that the secretive nature of Witchcraft has contributed to the rumors flying around? Do you have a personal story where brooms have unconventional uses?
I borrowed this image from someone’s Facebook profile. I don’t know who it belongs to. If it’s yours, please let me know and I’ll give your credit… or remove it, if that is that what you prefer. Thank you!