Sweeping out the mess with Ngetal

The next card I pulled from Mickie Mueller’s Voice of the Trees oracle deck was Broom/Reed (or Ngetal), which I think is so pertinent since pulling Yew a few days beforehand. Yew talked about entering into a rite of passage, transformation or renewal, and now I find Ngetal has appeared, which makes perfect sense to me since in order to transform or renew one needs to cast out all the ‘crappage’ and dross first. A good cleaning out is in order obviously! And certainly Ngetal stands for cleansing but also vitality. Well once one cleans out the garbage one is automatically imbued with a renewed vitality, at least I am. This will give me the impetus and clear the way to enter into the next phase of my life.

The physician’s strengths include herbs one and all

With compassion and knowledge may your illness fall

While sweeping away darkness from body and soul

In the physician’s robe, heroic deeds make you whole.

If we feel dis-ease we need to take action and the first step is to clear away any physical and emotional toxins that are causing blockages to our vitality. These blockages really can make us unwell and sap our energy, not just physical energy but spiritual and emotional too. Dis-ease is a sign of imbalance within and the holistic view of this is that physical illnesses are almost invariably caused by some kind of emotional or spiritual blockage or issue that needs to be looked at, worked through or swept away.

I can remember my mother having a large Broom bush in our back garden when I was little; it grew right next to the Rosemary. I never quite knew why my mother grew the Broom because I found it rather uninteresting at the time, except that I did love its bright yellow flowers. Looking back now I realise that actually my mother had a great many medicinal herbs and plants in our garden and although I know she wasn’t ‘of the Craft’ she had a great love of nature and adored all kinds of plants and herbs.  In fact it’s been quite interesting for me to take time and remember all the medicinal and sacred plants and trees my mother actually grew – Rosemary, Broom, Mint, Heather, Rowan, Cherry, Rose, Hawthorn, Chives, Thyme…and probably more but that’s all I can remember right now. Maybe somewhere in her psyche she was a witch.

It’s one of those funnily strange things that the word Ngetal doesn’t actually refer to the name of a tree or plant. It actually means ‘wounding’, ‘to pierce or stab’ or ‘charm’.  Word Oghams associated with the letter are related to the practice of medicine, so healing could be assumed to be strongly linked with a physician’s healing chant (or charm). how does wounding or piercing relate to healing though? An example from an Anglo-Saxon Book of Leech-craft could provide an answer. It provides a healing charm which says ‘I wound the worm, I strike the worm, I kill the worm’ (in those days worm was another name for disease or illness). So the wounding or piercing is not literal although it could be, such as in lancing a boil or cutting a person in order to bleed them, or attaching a leech that would pierce the skin in order to suck out the blood (another form of blood-letting). We can see then that Ngetal refers to cleansing and healing by chanting incantations but also by piercing and wounding – perhaps metaphorically cutting the toxins out of the body or inner self. In relation to this ‘cutting and piercing’ it is also interesting to note that Broom is the close cousin of Gorse – a prickly, and very spiky plant. And when you think about it, using a ‘broom’ is decisive action isn’t it…no messing about…sweep and sweep and sweep until the dirt is gone.

But why does Ngetal refer to Broom AND Reed? Well, when we look back to Celtic times both these plants were important to that society and both seem to work harmoniously together..rather like either or! The Broom was often used for making actual brooms or besoms, as were reeds, and also reeds were used for thatching, so both were quite important commodities to our Celtic ancestors. As you can see also both plants were associated with the home. The reeds used for the roofs of houses, to keep the inclement weather out and maintain the coziness of the home, and the broom to sweep the floor and the hearth – both very important for maintaining a clean, safe and hospitable home. It’s the same for us – our bodies are our home aren’t they. They encapsulate our inner selves and both need to be harmonious and clean in order to be in balance and work well.

Traditional thatched roof in Ireland


The Celtic Goddess best known for her association with the Reed is Brighid – a triple goddess with influence over poetry, smithcraft and of course healing. She is patroness of Druids (particularly Bards) and strongly associated with healing wells and springs.

As for Broom, it has strong medicinal properties but it is ‘strong medicine’ and can cause violent vomiting if taken in too larger quantity. This again can show us the strength of its spiritual healing – it doesn’t mess about!

So how can I use Ngetal in my ‘mess clearing’? Well I don’t have access to Broom or Reed unfortunately but I can, in the spirit of physicians of old, write a charm to harness its powers. This would be perfect to use at the next New Moon next week.


Voice of the Trees Companion by Mickie Mueller

Celtic Tree Mysteries by Steve Blamires

A Druid’s Herbal of Sacred Tree Medicine by Ellen Evert Hopman


2 thoughts on “Sweeping out the mess with Ngetal

  1. It’s interesting to me how you mentioned piercing is related to this medicine. I thought of a traditional native american sundance ceremoy where an eagle/hawk talon is pierced thought the chest for sacrifice and betterment of the tribe. They don’t obviously use Yew or Broom but the tree is still very sacred to them. I’d love to hear your chants one day if you felt comfortable sharing them.

    • Yes, you’re right and the Native American Sun Dance is a good example I think of other tribes and indigenous peoples using ‘piercing’ as a form of healing – literally in their case. When you think about it we use it literally in modern day medicine too don’t we – take lancing a boil for instance or even surgery. Of course with Ngetal this piercing is symbolic. Funnily enough I’m planning on writing my chant to Broom and Yew in the next few days in time for my New Moon ritual next week and will share it on here 🙂

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