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The magic broomstick or, to use its proper name, the besom is an important and largely misunderstood tool of the witch. Gaining its notoriety from the witch finders manuals and woodcuts of mediaeval Europe, it is a tool of a far more ancient origin. Evidence of besom practice and use can be traced as far back as ancient Egypt. Papyrus drawings and carvings on the wall of temples show the Pharaoh holding in his hand a long, narrow paddle-shaped instrument. A symbol of sovereignty and mastery over matter, only the Pharaoh or the high priest was allowed to use this: tool. But what was it used for? Travelers and scholars who have visited Egypt for thousands of years have marveled at the construction of her pyramids and wonders that even to this day have never been explained. Only recently has the theory of levitation been posed again. The ancient priest scholars of Egypt and the magical adepts knewthat the Pharaoh's paddle-shaped tool symbolized the power over airand gravity. It possessed as well a spirit force called by the Egyptians "Sekhem" that could be animated through the use of a magical spell. Many examples of these ancient besoms have been found in the tombs of the Pharaohs, the most well preserved examples being from the tomb of the boy king Tutankhamen. The next evolution of the besom takes it from an elaborately gilded wooden staff with a fan of feathers to the traditional form we know today, that of the broomstick. Why it took such a common form is not known but is thought to be for protection so that persecutors would see it as an everyday household item and not the witch's tool that it is. In this new form it began to take on the additional magical qualities of purification and cleansing. The negative energies would be swept out of a person's dwelling, leaving it clear. In the case of spirit activity, salt would be sprinkled on the floor and the magical besom, accompanied by words of art, would sweep the spirit from the house in the form of an exorcism. Witch doctors in African tribes use the besom in a handheld form called a "Spirit Broom." With this they brush down the body of their patients to remove bad luck, illness and the evil spirit associated with them. However, beneath the surface of this folksy, somewhat benign use of the besom lies its higher magical purpose: that of a tool of flight. The embodiment of air and spirit allowed the rider to travel forth on other planes of existence to gather information and commune with other spirit forms. And just how was this flight achieved? Flight and the use of the besom could only be achieved by a trained practitioner of magic. In some Witchcraft traditions the besom itself as well as the crown and the sword were the tools of the High Priestess or Priest. Only those who had trained in astral work could hope to achieve flight. A certain level of discipline had to be reached, for besom flight entailed the separation of ones astral body from the physical. Traditional methods of besom flight that have been documented as far back as mediaeval times mention the use of a flying ointment. The flying ointment is a mild hallucinogenic that when applied assists the astral body to travel out onto the astral plane. To achieve this a witch would lie in a relaxed state with his or her besom at their side. The eyelids, nose, mouth, and pulse points would be anointed by fellow coven members. The flying ointment, while assisting in the separation of the astral body, would also act as a seal so that negative entities could not enter the body while it lay in stasis. Then, after magical words were spoken, the witch would leave her body to fly the astral plane. While flying around in her astral body, a witch could sometimes be seen by a sensitive person, appearing much like a ghost or apparition. This would explain the sighting of witches on their broomsticks throughout history. Sightings occurred mostly in small European villages and most probably after eating fermented grain, a mild hallucinogenic itself! So, as a final note before you get on your broomstick and fly, I would like to give you my personal recipe for flying ointment and a little word of advice: The care and use of the magical besom must not be taken lightly, especially if you intend to fly; you must learn first how to astral project properly and safely.
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