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Roots and Relationships: Growing Together Through Broom-Making

broom making jig and table with finished brooms and broom corn hung on a rutic wall

Last Fall and this Spring, I offer beginner-level classes on broom-making. We often think about "spring cleaning" this time of year, but a deep clean as we prepare to seal our homes for cooler weather is also an important time. The broom is more than a tool for cleanliness; it's about weaving together strands of tradition, nature, and intention. This craft, deeply entwined with our ancestors' wisdom, invites us to sweep through our spaces with purpose and reflection. Historically, brooms have been a staple in homes not just for their practical utility but as powerful symbols warding off negative energy and inviting peace and purity.

A Deeper Sweep: The Rich History of Broom-Making

Broom making is an ancient craft, entwined with folklore, tradition, and practical necessity. Historically, brooms were essential household tools, fashioned from available natural materials like straw, twigs, and herbs. Each region had its own traditional techniques, passed down through generations, reflecting the deep relationship between communities and their natural environments.

The craft of broom-making evolved over centuries, from simple twig bundles tied to sticks, to more sophisticated designs for more effective cleaning and spiritual practices. In many cultures, brooms have been imbued with magical properties, believed to sweep away evil spirits and negative energy. They’ve held significant roles in rituals and ceremonies, from weddings to seasonal festivals, symbolizing cleansing, preparation, and protection.

In medieval Europe, broom-making became a recognized trade, with 'broom squires' harvesting materials from local woods and crafting them into durable tools. The broom’s evolution from a humble household implement to a symbol of domestic tranquility and spiritual cleanliness showcases its enduring importance in human culture and tradition.

The Hawks-Tail Broom: A Symbol of Craftsmanship and Spirituality

two basic hawk-tail brooms

The hawks-tail broom, with its distinctive, fanned-out shape resembling a bird's tail, is not only a tool but a piece of art, reflecting the maker's skill and attention to detail. Creating a hawks-tail broom is an easy place to start with broom-making. It involves selecting the broom corn, separating it for length, and adding in design elements like the color of cord, additional herbs or elements to add in (like feathers or charms).

More than just practical objects, hawks-tail brooms carry a wealth of symbolism. The hawk is a messenger that can offer messages of guidance. Hawks can also signify a need for both focus and

simple hawk-tail broom with nautral bristles and black corn

the ability to see the big picture. In the form of a broom, the hawk's tail can represent the knowledge, insight, and leadership of things you want to sweep away or clean up in your life.

In spiritual practice, the hawks-tail broom is particularly revered for its symmetry and aesthetic beauty, making it a favored tool in rituals and ceremonies. This broom serves as a powerful metaphor for protection and cleansing. The spread of the bristles can be seen as an embracing of home, hearth, and sacred space, offering a broader shield against unwanted energies. It represents not only the physical act of cleaning but also the sweeping away of metaphysical dust and disorder.

Connecting to Nature and Community

Crafting your own hawks-tail broom intertwines your energy with the tool, enhancing its spiritual

decorative hawk-tail broom with black cord and herbs with added silver charms

significance and creating a personal connection that deepens with every use. It becomes more than a physical tool; it becomes an extension of your will to cleanse, purify, and protect any space you want to make sacred. As you craft your broom, every twist of the twine and placement of bristles becomes a meditative act, grounding you in the moment and in the environment. This hands-on process is a form of active meditation, allowing you to find tranquility and presence in the act of creation. It’s a rare opportunity to slow down, focus, and find a quiet connection with the natural world.

Broom-making ties you to the seasons and their changes. Materials become available at different times of the year, and the act of foraging these elements can tune you into the seasonal shifts of the environment. This seasonal awareness enhances your connection to the natural cycle of life and death, growth and dormancy. The traditional material of broom corn, or sorghum, can be replaced or augmented by many different natural materials. I've made an outdoor broom entirely from dried bee balm stalks that is perfect for the dirt around the fire pit and for adding the energetic cleansing of that herb. I also love to add in sprigs of cleansing herbs as I make brooms out of traditional broom corn and commonly add in rosemary, juniper, thyme, rue, and others.

The act of making a broom can connect you with a community of like-minded individuals who share a respect for nature and traditional crafts. It also links you to the generations of craftspeople who have come before, engaging you in the long line of human history and tradition of working harmoniously with nature. You’re participating in an age-old tradition, connecting with the earth's rhythms, and crafting a spiritual ally tailored to your journey.

Bring Home More Than Just a Broom

In our upcoming class on March 16th, 2024, we’ll explore these themes further, addressing the selection of materials, the symbolism of the broom in various cultures, and the step-by-step process of crafting your own hawks-tail broom. It’s an opportunity to bring a piece of history into your own hands, to learn a craft that bridges the practical and the spiritual, and to create something truly unique and personal. This class is more than a lesson in broom-making; it’s an invitation to sweep a new path in your spiritual practice and to cleanse and protect your space with a tool that carries the warmth of your own spirit. If you are interested in joining the class you can find the details here.

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