The Broom is Married to the House

September 14, 2012


In pagan imagery, the broom is not just a symbol of witches, but of wives. The Celtic goddess Brigid has among her many functions the charge of housekeeping, and her followers report that they often see her with broom in hand. Women used to leave their broom outside the front door when they left the house, as a signal to visitors that they were not at home. The ordinary broom used for household chores, as opposed to the witch’s ritual broom, is married to the house; when a family moves it is customary for the broom to remain at the house rather than being brought along to the new location.

Many people are familiar with the phrase “to jump the broom,” which means to get married, and this custom relates to the broom as symbol of housekeeping and mature womanhood. The custom of jumping the broom was common on the American frontier when ordained ministers were scarce. A couple might be awaiting their second child before their marriage became official within their church, and the broom served to sanction their union until then. Broomstick weddings were also common among African American slaves, who were denied “real” marriage by slaveholders and Christian authorities. The association of brooms and marriage has antecedents in so many cultures that it is impossible to trace the origin of the custom, other than to say that it almost certainly did not originate in America.

In many pagan weddings today, it is the jumping of the broom, rather than the exchange of rings or the words “I do,” that is the core part of the ceremony. The couple, holding hands or with hands fastened by ribbons, jumps over a broom lying horizontal on the ground. While in the air the spirits of the couple become joined, and when they hit the ground that union becomes sealed in the physical world. Superstitions about broom handles touching the ground suggest that in the older ceremonies the jumping broom might have been elevated or propped against something.

The Goddess and Her Sacred Trees: A quiz

June 15, 2012

Olive tree in Pelion, Greece. Photo by Dennis koutou.

Back when I posted the quiz on Bird Companions of the Goddess I had requests for a tree version. So here it is. This will be a bit harder, because I’ve only mentioned one of these trees on this blog. Match the tree on the left with a goddess from the right column.

Laurel

Birch

Olive

Myrtle

Ash

Cedar

Willow

Pine

Pomegranate

Apple

Rowan

Acacia

Linden

Sycamore
Laima

Nimue

Daphne

Athena

Persephone

Frigga

Aphrodite

Hecate

Neith

The Norns

Cybele

Hathor

Brigid

Ishtar



Answers are here.

Bonus question. Name the gods linked with these trees: Ash, Pine, Laurel. (Hint: they are also associated with the goddesses of these trees.)

Continue the tree discussion in the comments.