How well do you ride the broom?
Folks talk about using brooms to ride to the Sabbat, jumping over them for special occasions like hand-fastings, and other ritual uses. Like the cauldron, the broom is another rather mundane and ubiquitous household item that has become associated with Witchcraft. Why? During the Witch-Craze, witch-hunters made money off of seeding fears that fed into hysteria: that witches could be anywhere, anyone. Nothing was sacred, everything could be perverted for their use – from the holy mass and number of attendees at the Last Supper to utilitarian items found in your hearth and cupboard.
Thanks to the artists who took these ideas and ran with them over the last several centuries, these things have become iconic and integrated into our culture. Brooms got another boost thanks to the Harry Potter series, especially the game Quidditch, which is played on broomsticks. Never mind the fact that even sitting sidesaddle on them, brooms do not make comfortable seats.
Impracticality aside, I think riding the Witch’s broom can be handy as a metaphor for some kinds of practice. (And it’s a bit more easy for many to relate to versus say riding a surfboard, which is my first go-to). Let’s talk about riding the broom as a means to allowing yourself to be in the universal flow of things.
Yeah I know, “universal flow” is amorphous and precariously new-agey. And “Moving through life as if navigating a river where you’re partly in control, and partly subject to the whims of Fate, all while being an active thread in a cosmic loom” is too damn long. I’ll add it to my list of “things to create new words for” – in the meantime, let’s move onward.
Navigating sounds easy, but most people suck at it. It requires looking forward, backward, and present simultaneously (a gift of Hekate I would say.) You also need to know when to paddle and when you have to give into the current. A sense of not over-planning is also helpful, while also being prepared.
I got to thinking about it yesterday as we flew home from New Orleans. Contrary to our departure from SeaTac the week before, where everything was on TSA pre-check mode (don’t take anything out, don’t remove anything), everything, including tablets had to be pulled out. Despite having even less in my backpack this time, it got flagged, and it took a while to get checked out. I’m not sure what the agent was looking for, but by the time she got to the tiny stuffed Bast in my bag, she was over searching and just handed it back to me. I thanked her pleasantly and we went on our way. We had given ourselves extra time, and so there was no rush or worry. No need to be rude for being inconvenienced a bit – which I see so many people do. Whether I think TSA are effective or not does not change the fact that there are people behind those uniforms.
Boarding was easy, as we were in the beginning of the B group: plenty of seats and overhead space for the violin. As we got settled in, I noticed a burning smell, and sure enough they announced that a mechanic had been called to check on something that was probably an easy fix. Actually managed to nap for at least 20 minutes, when they gave us the news that we had to deplane. Luckily there was another plane available just up the way. (For a moment I considered us staying in NOLA another night, but oh well). There was some confusion about the boarding process (sans boarding passes since we already turned those in) and then someone announced the wrong flight for a gate change. After moving across the way to the other gate, we noticed not that many people moved over. So I headed back over to check, and right in front of me passed one of our flight attendants. In that brief glance, I spotted what looked to be my iPod case. It must have fallen out of my lap because I had double-checked the seat-back pocket for all of my things before we deplaned. I would have not realized it was even missing had we not followed the incorrect gate change and went back to check.
In the end, we left nearly 1.5 hours later than our original departure, which was cause for some sweating, as that was more than the length of our layover for our connecting flight to Seattle. And I had been so glad we scored the A group too. But they made up time, and we landed just as boarding was scheduled to start – but we were in the wing section, so it took about 10 minutes for us to get off the plane. I hoped the boarding would be delayed or still going on when we got there – or be an empty flight. I checked myself and breathed as the woman in front of me slowly gathered things from the overhead bin while blocking the aisle. Then we ran – luckily just 4 gates down – us and another couple. My heart sank as I saw the gate empty of people, except the agent. But the flight was indeed nearly empty – they had boarded quickly, and there were still quite a few open rows and plenty of space for the violin case above. More people from our flight also filed in – as Southwest Airlines does tend to wait for connecting flights, which is another thing I appreciate about them. And it was Halloween, so booze was free.We arrived in Seattle early, and because we were nearly last on the plane, our bags came out first. We were the only folks on the shuttle to the parking lot and the guy was super friendly and helpful. We stopped to get some Ezell’s for dinner – and they had just enough left of what we wanted. Then we came home to good news – I’ll be vending at PantheaCon!
Everything aligned for us to get home safely, on time, with everything we needed. In fact, the whole trip manifested that way. Last summer when we stopped in New Orleans on tour, I didn’t think it was possible for us to get back there for Halloween. I had poked a few possibilities with little results. But as we left the city, I felt this whisper, a nudge to try again. So I tried again, and things fell right into line.
What does this all have to do with Witchcraft? Freaking everything in my experience. I don’t think that I’m “lucky” or live a “charmed life.” Plenty of shit happens, but I think it’s how we handle that shit that makes a difference. I grew up in a household that loved to cite Murphy’s Law and Goldberg’s Law.
Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
Goldberg’s Law: Murphy was an optimist.
What that means is that I’m prepared for the worst to happen, meaning I’ve already negotiated it in my mind – and considered possible alternatives. Yet, I’m not set on manifesting disaster either. I don’t deal in negativity or the “Can’t Cycle.” What I mean by the latter is those folks who are always saying/posting why they can’t do something, instead of considering what other options are available. If you constantly forecast the negative and declare what’s impossible, you’re not going to shift or change anything. You’re not going ANYWHERE but in a circle in a swamp. However, you can acknowledge being stuck in a swamp while putting energy in how to get out of there. Otherwise you’re just chatting with alligators. This is all part of reacting to the path we’re on. We have to respect ourselves, we should seek to treat others fairly and considerately – until we are given a reason to do so otherwise. That way we’re never wasting our energy, and we have a far better chance of a smoother journey.
How do you do it? Practice observing everything and everyone around you that you can – noting behavior, actions, locations, etc. Act but don’t automatically react to your surroundings – check your emotions before using words or actions. Take time to be aware of your body and its needs. Breathe. Be mindful of other people’s needs as well. Take responsibility not only for your past actions, but be ready to assume it for future ones. Open yourself to possibilities. Exert kindness as a default and apply pressure when necessary.
Riding the Witch’s broom means we can steer our path and use the current to guide us at the same time. It means being able to listen and entertain possibilities and new paths – and being open to take them without fear. This mentality applies to metaphysics and spellcraft, to ritual and devotion, and especially to daily living. Because there is no “off” time when you’re a Witch. It’s not an easy or comfortable ride, but it’s definitely a worthwhile one for the willing.