Thursday, July 17, 2008

Double Dose Of Havdalah Consciousness

י"ד תמוז התשס"ח
Faunus 16

My besom, handcrafted at Samhain.

A traditional witch's broom is called a besom. Sweet-smelling spices in traditional kabbalah are called besomim. There is an interesting connection between a witch's besom (ritual broomstick) and kabbalistic besomim (ritual spices, typically a mixture of cloves and myrtle although other fragrant spices and plants may be used).

The Hebrew word besomim (בשׂמים) is from the root בשׂם meaning to "cut up" [1] (where spices are cut from a whole plant). Ritually, besomim are spices used to separate between sacred time and mundane time. In other words, besomim are significantly associated with the liminal zone between and joining sacred and mundane time (times primarily for spiritual and physical pursuits, respectively).

Likewise with respect to liminality, in ancient Rome, midwives used special brooms to ritually "cut the ties between the world of the living and the realm of the dead after childbirth" [2]. Thus, the besom of traditional witchcraft is significantly associated with the liminal zone between and joining a time of embodied life and a time of spiritualized life.

These facts taken together suggest some common esoteric-occult-linguistic foundation for both the witch's besom and the kabbalist's besomim. The common foundation between the two ritual tools is connected to the ideas of "cutting", "liminality" and "unifying the physical and the spiritual".

Here is an interesting link describing how to construct a witch's besom.


[1] Etymological Dictionary Of Biblical Hebrew, R' Matityahu Clark

[2] Solitary Witch, Silver Ravenwolf; and The Woman's Dictionary Of Symbols And Sacred Objects, B. Walker

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