A Witch’s Broomstick

As we get closer and closer to Halloween, a witch’s broomstick is definitely what came to mind for today’s prompt. I’m not entirely sure what a true witch would prefer, but I assumed it would be something handcrafted, and since I don’t paint people, you’ll have to simply imagine the witch, just out of frame. The actual history of why broomsticks are associated with witches is fascinating, though potentially vulgar to some. It all started at a time, centuries ago, when people were just learning about ways to create hallucinogenic drugs. Using nefarious ingredients such as hemlock, nightshade, henbane, and mandrake they would create “potions” that when applied properly could give you the sensation of flying. If ingested, these potions caused nausea, so it was quickly discovered that a topical approach would work much better. Let’s just say that the potion worked best when applied to hard-to-reach areas and so something like a broom was helpful in the application. I’ll let you google the actual details yourself, but it provides the link to why broomsticks are still today associated with witchcraft.

By the time the 16th and early 17th centuries rolled around, you would find a preponderance of images that involved witches riding up out of chimneys. But it’s not hard to connect the dots with that one. In a stupidly patriarchal society, I would assume many women dreamed of hopping on a broom and flying up out a chimney. And perhaps this connection with rebellion is what makes a witch one of the most popular halloween costumes of all time. There’s something fun about Halloween that allows people to challenge the norm and express themselves in totally unique ways. It’s a spirit that I happily endorse and as artists, I think it’s one we should always embrace. Most of you who read these rambles know that I’m not a fan of rules that “shouldn’t be broken.” In truth, I rather love rules in general as they’re the guidepost one can use to know if you’re actually trying something different. Rules are great for that purpose, but when they become doctrine I tend to get a little antsy.

We live in a world that’s so ready to tell us what we should or shouldn’t do. Everyone around us has an opinion, and they’re always ready to offer it up as fact. I too have opinions I’ve now transformed into fact, but I know they’re only my personal facts of life. Things that I have decided to be true, simply because it feels true to me. I’ve spent a lifetime wading through ideas and ideals that come my way, and in the end, most of what I believe is almost silly in its simplicity. I think we’re all creative and wonderful beings, capable of magic. Not the kind that scared Puritans, but the real magic that can make the world a better place. The kind that isn’t so much about spells and potions as much as simply being good, honest, present, loving, and open to new ideas. It’s simple, I told you, but magical in practice. And in this Halloween season, the most creepy time of year, it’s as close I come to riding on a witch’s broomstick.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Da Vinci Yellow, Terra Cotta, and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book.
#WorldWatercolorGroup - Day 29 - A Witch's Broomstick - Doodlewash

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!

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32 Comments
  1. Sharon Nolfi 4 weeks ago

    I love that shadow and all the magic of doodlewash!

  2. Sandra Strait 4 weeks ago

    Hah! Another salacious historical fact that I didn’t know. Probably a sign off my infantile humor, but that kind of think makes me giggle. It also makes people from the past seem more real to me. Love your broomstick and agree with you about rules – totally.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 weeks ago

      hehe… it was so difficult to write about it and keep the PG rating of Doodlewash! Lol Thanks so much, Sandra! 😃💕

  3. Mickey Baxter-Spade 4 weeks ago

    I’m thinking that broom may be used as a gigantic magical paintbrush by a witch while flying gleefully over the trees tops tipping the leaves with splendid colors in autumns past and present. So nice of you to tickle our imaginations, Charlie.

    • Nancy Sapp 3 weeks ago

      I LOVE the picture you painted with words, Mickey Baxter- Spade!

  4. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 4 weeks ago

    I didn’t know anything about witches and their broomsticks and never even considered what might be the history or mythology behind the woman. (They’re always women, aren’t they?) To connect their quest for flight to acts of rebellion against the constraints of society is a genius thought process. This was fascinating to read about, Charlie. Your painting is very cool – I’d like a broom like this though it probably doesn’t clean as well as my vacuum.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 weeks ago

      Thanks so much, Shari! 😃💕 Yeah… witches are always women… men have always had trouble dealing with the genius that is woman! LOL It’s no wonder really, since apparently they possess all the magic. 😉

  5. SnehLata Maheshwari 4 weeks ago

    In ancient time brume was found in each and every 🏠 to clean the house. There are lots of stories behind this but main cause was to clear the dust etc. Although time have changed n we have. Many aportuntie to clean.
    Charlie awesome some broom.nice painting.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 weeks ago

      Thanks, so much, Snehlata! 😃💕 Hehe… yeah, the main reason for brooms is still to clean dust for sure.

  6. Jill Gustavis 3 weeks ago

    Yes! to the personal ‘facts’ philosophy! I used to be all about rules and should/n’t dos through my teens/20’s, but kept my 2cents internal as I’m also extremely non-confrontational. I’m happy to say (for my own good) that I’ve substantially mellowed out. I still don’t harbor a fondness for people who push opinions on others, but now I usually keep an open mind (and maybe a raised eyebrow afterwards) when I hear other people’s ‘facts’ even if I do not agree. Meditation studies and a drink afterwards help too. 😉 And a good painting session, yes.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 weeks ago

      Definitely to the drink afterwards and always painting, of course! LOL Yeah… it’s fabulous to have opinions, they are what define us, but they only define us… not others. I wish more people would realize this. 😃💕

  7. Susan Cuss 3 weeks ago

    Interesting, Charlie. Those rebellious thoughts can sweep away the cobwebs of constraints. I’m feeling silly as I fly away……..lol …..neat broomstick.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 weeks ago

      hehe! Yay!! Fly away and be awesome, Susan! 😃💕 And thanks! Glad you liked my broomstick!

  8. jakkigarlans 3 weeks ago

    Thank you Charlie, and Doodlewash, for making me see that shadows aren’t black!! The magic of being shown new ways of seeing!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 weeks ago

      What a wonderful comment to receive! Thank you so much, Jakki! 😃💕

  9. Jennifer McLean 3 weeks ago

    first of all, ewwww. LOL, second, I totally agree with Sharon, that shadow rocks. Happy Halloween Charlie. Have some candy for me, preferably chocolate!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 weeks ago

      Total ewwww!! LOL Thanks for picking up on that! haha…. and happy Halloween to you as well and cheers to lots of chocolate! 😃💕

      • Jennifer McLean 3 weeks ago

        uhhhhh, you said the word chocolate!!!! Devil! hehehee.

  10. Teri Casper 3 weeks ago

    What a great Halloween broom.
    My friends husband says she and I ride our brooms together. One of those standing jokes.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 weeks ago

      LOL… yay! Ride ’em high I say! I know for a fact after watching all of your haikus and watercolors scroll by that you are indeed capable of magic! 😃💕

      • Teri Casper 3 weeks ago

        That’s what broom riding will do. Lol.
        Thanks Charlie.

    • Kaye Boggs 3 weeks ago

      that’s funny!

  11. Yvonne Reeder 3 weeks ago

    Amen to “good, honest … being open.”!!! We so need more of that in this world. A friend of mine recently said that “we each need to be a bright light in this world to burn away the darkness we are facing around us.” Charlie, if a witch’s broom would help me shine that light brighter, I wouldn’t hesitate to jump on and fly! 💛

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 weeks ago

      Yes to that, Von!! 😃💕 So true! We can each add of a bit of light to this crazy world we face today. Thanks so much for adding yours!

      • Yvonne Reeder 3 weeks ago

        My pleasure, Charlie. I want to leave this world a better place for having been in it, if I can. I see that same desire in you. ❤️

  12. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 3 weeks ago

    Yes – yes we do. Thank you for remembering. 😀

  13. Sandra Gilbert 3 weeks ago

    Beautiful broomstick and fascinating trivia that made me giggle. Lol, no need to google, I have an awesome imagination.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 weeks ago

      Excellent! 😃💕 LOL Yeah… that’s what happened apparently!

  14. Nancy Sapp 3 weeks ago

    Charlie – your paintings are always Awesome! Did you happen to have a handmade broom to look at whilst you painted it? Broom-making is an interesting craft as well & I love to watch them being made at our craft shows.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 weeks ago

      Thanks so much, Nancy! 😃💕 This was a blend of photo references… I’ve never actually had or made one!

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