It is anchored in the stories about witches that they fly to the Blocksberg on a broomstick for the witches’ sabbath. It’s actually a strange idea – how did this myth come about?

In a few days, witches will be up to mischief on Walpurgis Night and fly to the witch dance on their witch broomsticks. Not only the witches’ dance, but also black cats and the witches’ broom belong to this mythology. There is a very specific reason why these women were accused of using brooms as a means of transport.

The fact that brooms are associated with female magic has been documented since at least the ancient Romans: Back then, midwives, who were considered wise, swept the doorstep after the birth of a child to keep away evil spirits. A wedding custom in later centuries served a similar function: newlyweds had to jump over a broom when entering their new home. But how did it come to be believed that witches could rise into the sky using a wooden stick to which a bundle of fagots was attached?

Evidence of this can be found in old files from witch trials in which women who were herbalists were accused of using harmful magic and being in league with the devil. There is talk of mysterious flight ointments – substances that certainly did not actually make flying possible, but evoked this idea. To make them, hallucinogenic nightshades and mushrooms were used, which trigger delusions in the brain. The women who rubbed themselves with such an ointment – which was also applied to the broom – had the feeling of flying far above the earth when they were high on drugs. Over the centuries, the myth of Walpurgis Night arose, which Goethe also took up in his stage work “Faust”: Every year all the witches supposedly gather on the Blocksberg on the night between April 30th and May 1st. According to traditional accounts, they ride there naked on their broomsticks to dance unrestrainedly around a fire. The sexual meaning that has always been attributed to the witch’s broom becomes more than clear here.

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The original for this article “Witches ride broomsticks for a very specific reason” comes from World of Wonders.