Why Do Witches Ride On Broomsticks?

June 24, 2017 9:45 AM

This article is more than six years old and was last updated in June 2021.

Witch On A Broomstick
When you think of the classic witch, you imagine a haggard old lady wearing black robes and a pointy hat flying through the sky on a broomstick with her black cat perched behind her, but did witches really ever fly on broomsticks and why was a broomstick their vehicle of choice?

We've all been impressed by Harry Potter's flying skill on the quidditch pitch and even remember his first flight in Madam Hooch's flying class but outside the world of fiction, real-life witchcraft dates back centuries and to this day much of their occult rituals and practices still remain a mystery.

We've all heard the famous words from Shakespeare's 'Macbeth' which offers us a grisly list of ingredients such as eye of newt, toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog. It turns out these were real ingredients but they're not what you think they are.

Witches were unlikely to chop up animals for their craft, they were herbalists who were proud of their connection with nature and many of their potions were natural remedies which used herbs and botanicals. The ingredients they used like eye of newt were a real but were alternative names designed to keep magic within the magic circle. These disturbing names stopped muggles from replicating their brews.

So, we know that some of those images we associate with witches do date back centuries but might not be what they seem and it's pretty unlikely that real-life witches could actually fly and even if they could, wouldn't a broomstick be an odd choice of vehicle when they could have enchanted anything... perhaps a Ford Anglia like the Weasley's.

Well, it turns out that witches did in fact ride broomsticks and this enabled them to fly but just as their ingredients aren't what they seem, neither is this. We know that that witches were herbalists dealing with natural ingredients and as you probably know, there are many substances in nature which can make you think you're flying. It turns out witches were pretty good at brewing hallucinogenic compounds from various plants including Deadly Nightshade, Mandrake, and Jimsonweed.

Over the years witches honed their recipes making their brews and ointments even more potent, helping them to get higher quicker. To begin with, witches would ingest these substances orally but as with any drug, the quicker it gets in to the bloodstream the faster and harder it hit the user as Eye Ball Paul proved in 2000 comedy movie 'Kevin & Perry Go Large'.

There are a few places on the body where a user can bypass the liver, the organ that removes toxins from the body, this means the drug isn't broken down and retains its potency. Today some drug users snort substances, others inject it directly into their veins, and in the world of medicine there's the option of taking a suppository. Just pop a little pill up your bum and it gets absorbed in to the body more quickly.

Well, the anus isn't a bad option but the witches often encounter something which we now know as "severe intestinal discomfort" but there was another option and you've probably guessed it already, the vagina.

If you're going to apply a hallucinogenic ointment to your lady area then you might find it easier to use some kind of tool or implement, and that's where the broomstick came in handy. They'd grease up their broomstick with the drug and straddle it to allow easy application to their lady bits. They were basically "riding" the broomstick to get high.

Perhaps this claim that witches rode broomsticks in order to get high was taken a little too literally by some outside of occult circle in the same was as frog's legs and eye of newt were, or perhaps it was common for witches to embark on hallucinogenic trips once they'd dosed up on their psychedelic concoctions.
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