A broom stick, for sweeping the home. Still rather charmingly used by street sweepers in The Netherlands. Traditionally twigs, straw, herbs or combinations there-of, fastened around the end of a hazel pole.
In Wicca, a besom cleanses a space to be used for rituals. As with the cleaning of physical spaces with brooms, so a besom is used to purify a space by sweeping away negativity, bad spirits, or simply the old in favor of the new. Celebrants may use a besom to purify a space before casting the circle, walking clockwise and cleaning the space as they go.
In some pagan handfasting ceremonies the couple jumps the broomstick, held horizontally between two people, to symbolize a leap into the future together, a fresh start. The jumping of broomsticks is also found in other marriage ceremonies around the world, with different meanings attributed to it, but this is the interpretation which was used at the handfasting of myself and my lovely husband.
The use of the broomstick or besom in wedding ceremonies is also connected to the broomstick as a fertility symbol. Although primarily associated with masculinity (the central staff), the broom also incorporates the feminine in the birch twigs. The broom was used in practices intended to increase the fertility of the soil, with witches smearing themselves all over with flying ointments, often containing psychotropic plant extracts, and then leaping around the fields straddling their broomsticks. The witches thought they were flying, and aimed to teach the crops how to reach higher and grow tall.