BroomstickA broom is a cleaning tool with a stick, the broomstick.
Some people speculate that in the Middle Ages, women publicly accused of being witches (or at least women with knowledge of herbology), did "ride" brooms. They applied a layer of paste made out of trance inducing plants (such as belladonna) to the broomstick and "rode" it, as a way of applying the hallucinogenic herb to the thin skin of the labia where it might be quickly absorbed into the blood stream. However, due to the witchhunts and the general beliefs of the time, little to no reliable information exists to corroborate this belief. Records concerning witches of that time and their behavior are extremely unreliable, often having been extracted under torture.
Anecdotally, the broom served another purpose during periods of persecution. Witches and other magic practitioners would disguise their wands as broom sticks to avoid suspicion. It is also a tradition that brooms have been used by some as receptacles to harbor a particular spirit temporarily.
Today, the broom is included in lists of ritual tools in many pagan guide books, where it is often referred to as a besom. A broom is sometimes laid at the opening of some coven's circles. Representing the element air, brooms are utilized in the purification of areas. They are used to symbolically sweep ritual circles clean. The highpriestess or highpriest walks clockwise, traces the cast circle and sweeps with the broom a few inches off the ground. This practice can be used in place of incense to purify a ritual space. It is often employed by those allergic to incense, and during rituals practiced in smoke free areas. It is also a technique associated with "kitchen witches" who use what's on hand to work spells.
See also: Wicca
In the Harry Potter book series, magical flying brooms are used by Quidditch players as a kind of substitute for polo ponies. The brooms can also used for personal transportation, although the rider must take care not to be seen by Muggles.