The iconic image of the witch, the dark dress, the pointy hat, the broom flying against the harvest moon. That last is perhaps the most well known trait of the common ‘witch’, that they fly on a broom. Where did this come from and what does it actually mean?
The question “Can witches really fly?” can be answered with a simple “yes”. But the facts and history behind that answer may surprise you. The first step on the road to understanding is knowing that in those days, the broom (or besom, among occult practitioners) held a special iconic power. It represented the woman in her place of power, it represented the female power over men (note the phallic nature of the broom handle), and of course it represented cleansing, in both a physical and spiritual sense.
“But how did this come to represent flight?” I hear you ask? Well it wasn’t just the witches that had brooms, of course, any family you could name would have at least one, and they served a special place in the fields. Once the new crops were planted, the serfs and peasants would jump around the fields on their brooms, telling the crops how high to grow. This would also give the appearance of flight to anyone who happen to catch sight of this at the wrong moment.
So that’s the visual cue, but what about the rest? Surely this was a common practice and not all would be foolish enough to think it actual FLIGHT. If you thought this, good on you! The next stage of ‘Witches being able to fly’ largely had to do with Astral projection and the practice there-of.
Astral projection of course being that practice where you spiritually leave your body to travel elsewhere, whether through this world, or one nearby. In this way witches could very much fly as reported, though their body would often be left behind cold and apparently sleeping until their return.
Sometimes, while preparing to take an astral flight, witches would prepare to ease the way with psychoactive plants, ones that would assist in the temporary separation of soul from body. This kind of thing was a very common shamanic practice.
Plants like the Amanita mushroom or peyote cactus served to facilitate the opening of the practitioners consciousness to traveling the astral plane. These trips could often be long and intense, and came with the additional terror of not being truly under the control of the traveler. They could choose when to leave, coming home wasn’t necessarily something they could force.
Another method of flight available to Witches would be ‘borrowing’. Borrowing is the act of temporarily co-opting the body of another living creature. While this can be done forcefully, it is best done with the permission of the host body. Wearing the form of an owl, hawk, or any other airborne creature that would bear them aloft, the Witch would soar on the air on borrowed wings.
Obviously, when asking if a Witch can fly, one has to be careful what they mean by that question. Above we have discussed a little of the history of the broom, a bit about Astral projection, and hopefully have spread some light on whether Witches can fly, and how that flight would have been accomplished if so.