These blog posts represent my personal take on the system of PA Dutch PowWow, which tends to follow a more traditional view of the system as it was originally practiced in the culture of the Pennsylvania Dutch. While there are several modern translations of the system, I personally prefer to adhere to a more traditional view and application; remaining more true to it's roots and more in tune with the culture from which it comes. So therefore my blogs and teachings reflect my personal view and experience which may or may not be the same as the more modern translations. It is my best advice that you explore all options of Braucherei and find the system that speaks the best to you.
For those of us with European ancestry, which is many of us I imagine, Saint Nicholas need not be forgotten in December in favor of good old reliable Santa Claus. What many don't realize is that Santa Claus is a relatively modern mis-pronunciation of the name Saint Nicholas. I believe we can thank the Dutch for this, but don't quote me on it...
Saint Nicholas was an actual, real life person that lived about 300 years after Christ, give or take... He is recorded as being the youngest (or among the youngest) Bishops in the Christian church and has so many miracles attributed to him that history often identifies him as "Nicholas the Wonder-Worker". Nicholas was born in Myra but his legends traveled the world. He is most known for the time he saved a poor man's three daughters from an undesirable fate by secretly providing the family with enough gold to marry off the daughters. These sacks of gold are believed by many to be the precursor of the gifts we find under the tree on December 25th.
Nicholas died on December 6th and it wasn't long before people started doing good works in his name. In many European areas, it is tradition to acknowledge Saint Nicholas on the eve of December 6th. Children will leave their shoes out overnight with the expectation that Saint Nicholas will leave a little something for them inside the shoes...usually candies, fruits, and such. Depending on the European location, Saint Nicholas may be accompanied by a companion. Whether Krampus, the demon who punished naughty children, or Black Peter, or Knecht Ruprecht, Saint Nicholas is an interesting fellow!
In my home, as in many homes of those with European ancestry, Saint Nicholas Eve is a time of expectation for the arrival of the Wonder Worker. On December 6, we awaken to treats in our stockings... candies, toys, and other fun things.
If your family celebrates the feast day of Saint Nicholas, may it be filled with wonder and blessings!
As a powwow doctor in south central Pennsylvania, November turns my thoughts to Nelson Rehmeyer. In 1928, long before my time, a local Powwow Doctor was murdered by three men who believed Nelson had placed a curse on them. As a Powwow, Nelson provided healing services to his community. However, a few local young men who seemed to have nothing but bad luck needed answers. As the story goes, a local witch named Emma Knopp (Nellie Noll), revealed to the men that Nelson was the cause of their misfortune--and only by collecting a lock of his hair and Nelson's copy of The Long Lost Friend, a Powwow manual, could the curse be lifted. The men visited Rehmeyer on the night of November 28, 1928. By the end of the night, Rehmeyer was dead and the men felt vindicated, despite being unsuccessful in obtaining Rehmeyer's copy of Long Lost Friend. While there is a possibility that a curse may have been to blame for the men's misfortune, it has been determined that Nelson Rehmeyer would not have had any interest in verhexing the men, as they were his friends.
The home of Nelson Rehmeyer, now maintained by his descendant Rick Ebaugh.
Shank's Tavern in Marietta, Pennsylvania, is reported to be the former home of the Witch of Marietta, Nellie Noll.
Photograph of the investigation at Nelson Rehmeyer's home, 1928.
The murder of Nelson Rehmeyer brought the practice of powwowing out into the open and put a national spotlight on an otherwise quiet community. Because of this, a concerted effort was undertaken by the scientific community to stamp out all traces of powwowing. People became suspicious of powwow and it almost faded into complete obscurity. However, some practices and beliefs can survive even the harshest times, and powwowing continued, although without the popularity it once enjoyed. Now, almost 90 years after the murder of Nelson Rehmeyer, powwowing survives in local memory as well as practice and has gained a place of respect in the minds of those still connected to the Hex Hollow murder.
In 2013, Shane Free began piecing together the complex story of Nelson Rehmeyer and the three men who murdered him. The movie was released in November 2015. The documentary he put together, Hex Hollow, tells the story of the Rehmeyer family and the story of the three men accused of the murder. It successfully clears away misconceptions about powwowing and explores the belief in witchcraft and curses. For more information about this amazing project, go to hexhollowmovie.com
Nelson Rehmeyer is something of a patron for me and my powwowing. I have great respect for Nelson because he was well-known as a powwower in the York area and seemed to be well-liked by all who knew him. What happened to Nelson was unfortunate and tragic but a sobering reminder that no matter how good your intentions, there will always be a certain level of fear and suspicion when you choose to live on the fringes of society and practice folk magic traditions.
On November 28th, I set aside a moment or two to honor Nelson and say a prayer for him and all involved in the tragedy that ended his life. I am very blessed to be a part of the Hex Hollow documentary and I hope my contribution will help to dispel misinformation about powwowing for another 90 years to come!
The grave of Nelson Rehmeyer and his wife.
One of the common identifying traits within Powwowing is the use of himmelsbriefs, or Letters from Heaven. Dating back hundreds of years, himmelsbriefs were believed to be penned by God, Himself, and given to humanity to use for protection against all sorts of misfortune; poverty, illness, accidents, witchcraft, and even Satan. Hand-written notes of protection date way back to ancient Egypt.
During the 15th and 16th centuries, Letters from Heaven, known then as Conception Billets, were a product of the clergy. Monks would create and sell Conception Billets to those who could afford them-often made as gifts for nobles. Later, Cunning Men would create Conception Billets for the common folks in their communities. And, in more recent centuries, himmelsbriefs are created by the Powwow for the same reasons.
The style of Conception Billets has varied through the centuries, but the common points shared with all of them is that they are created on paper, contain prayers and petitions to God, and promise to protect the bearer against specific incidents. From the extremely artistic and elaborate to the simple handwriting on a sheet of paper by a barely-literate farmer, Letters from Heaven have been a piece of the magical and religious community for hundreds if not thousands of years.
This Conception Billet, copied from The Cunning Man's Handbook (Avalonia, 2014) can be carried by an individual or buried at the edge of a property.
"I conjure thee, paper, thou which servest the needs of humanity, servest as the depository of God's wonderful deeds and holy laws, as also according to divine command the marriage contract between Tobias and Sarah was written upon thee, the Scriptures saying: They took paper and signed their marriage covenant. Through thee, O paper, hath also the devil been conquered by the angel. I adjure thee by God, the Lord of the Universe (sign of the cross), the Son (sign of the cross), and the Holy Ghost (sign of the cross), who spreads out the heavens as a parchment on which he describes; as with divine characters, his magnificence. Bless (sign of the cross), O God, sanctify (sign of the cross) this paper that so it may frustrate the work of the Devil! "Ye who upon his person carries this paper written with holy words, or affixes it to a house, shall be freed from the visitations of Satan through him who cometh to judge the quick and dead."
"Let us pray, Mighty and resistless God, the God of vengeance, God of our fathers, who hast revealed through Moses and the prophets the books of they ancient covenant and many secrets of they kindness, and didst cause the Gospel of thy Son to be written by the evangelists and apostles, bless (sign of the cross) and sanctify (sign of the cross) this paper that thy mercy may be made known unto whatsoever soul shall bear with him this sacred thing and these holy letters; and that all persecutions against him from the devil and by the storms of satanic witchcraft may be frustrated through Christ our Lord. Amen."
The paper is to be sprinkled with Holy Water.
In the Spring of 2013, I was asked to be one of many individuals interviewed for the Hex Hollow Documentary film, put together by filmmaker Shane Free. This documentary was to tell the real and complete story of powwower Nelson Rehmeyer, who was brutally murdered in the 1920's near York, Pennsylvania. His assailants were told by a local witch that Nelson had placed a curse on them, and so they took matters into their own hands.
The filming began in the summer of 2013 and my piece was filmed at my home in mid July. This was a very cool experience, unlike anything I had ever been asked to do before.
My good friend, Chris Bilardi (author of The Red Church) was also there that day for his interview. We really did not know what to expect in our interviews, so instead we sat in front of the camera and just answered questions as they were presented to us.
Over the past year, I have heard from the filmmaker periodically about the progress of the documentary. I never realized what a huge undertaking it could be to put together a story utilizing over 20 different people's input. My piece was only a tiny fraction of the story. But combined with all of the other folks who were interviewed for the movie, we are telling the story of Nelson Rehmeyer, his reputation in the community, his practice of Powwowing, and the events leading up to (and including) his murder. It's an important story to tell, and never before has it been told by so many people who covered many aspects and angles of the incident.
One year after the initial filming, the movie crew returned to Pennsylvania to get more footage. This time I wasn't interviewed, but rather asked to perform various powwow-related techniques for the camera, and film what is known in the movie industry as "B Roll"... It was another exciting experience and I can't wait to see the finished product.
According to the filmmaker, the movie will hopefully be released by the Fall of 2015, which means one more year. But a project this important can't be rushed, and I can wait patiently.
As I get more information, I will update this website accordingly. In the meantime, https://www.facebook.com/HexHollowmovie" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">there is a facebook page for the movie.
One of the largest hurdles that those of us who study and practice folk magic traditions faces is the lousy research and misinformation that is perpetuated in modern 'magical' literature. Thanks to the new age boom in the 1990's, the shelves of the bookstores are weighed down by poor academia, historical revisionism, and just plain old bad writing. And sadly, it is this information that has been used as the foundation for magical practice for the past 20 + years.
The study of Pennsylvania German powwowing, and any other American Folk Magic tradition, with the intent of establishing yourself as a practitioner and authority on the subject, requires several approaches, which I've outlined here for you to consider. And keep in mind that these are the steps (more or less) that I adhered to in order to piece together a proper history and understanding of the tradition.
1.- Skip the New Age/Occult/Wicca section of the bookstore. Don't even go in that direction, it won't help you.
2.-Go to the library. In that library, seek out the history of the culture you are interested in. In the case of Pennsylvania German culture, there is a wealth of information out there. You have to first ask yourself who are the people that make up this culture? Start there and learn about those people. Since we're talking about folk magic, you also have to research the beliefs of those people. What were the prevailing religions? What were those religions like prior to the immigration of those people? If you are looking at an American folk magic tradition, find out the history of the churches for those people. And, of equal importance, learn the history of the areas where those people settled here. That's where you'll find the creation of the folk magic traditions. Remember to ask yourself: Who, What, When, Where, Why, How, and To What Extent. All of these things can be asked in regards to the people and culture and beliefs and location of the folks you are studying.
3.-Remain neutral. Don't study with an agenda of proving something. Study with an agenda of LEARNING about those people. When it comes to our American folk magic traditions, keep in mind that these people are our cultural ancestors. It does them an injustice to superimpose our romanticized ideals onto them. It insults their memories. In my case, my ancestors weren't particularly "magical". However, they were members of the Reformed church in Austria and it was a tremendous leap of faith for them to leave their lives behind and come here to Pennsylvania to establish themselves. Had they not made that sacrifice and brave move, I wouldn't be here. It would be a dishonor for me to pretend they were something other than what they were. History is amazing, and the more truth you learn about your family's history, the more power there will be in your practice of their folk magic.
4.-Take it for what it is. If you learn that the culture was responsible for horrors beyond imagining, take it for what it is. It's still history. It's still a part of the culture that created the folk tradition you are studying. Take that information and understand it for what it really is: a piece of history. A necessary piece that helped to mold things into what they are today.
5.-Don't speculate. Putting assumptions onto the actions of our ancestors is not real history and it certainly isn't scholarly. Saying things like "My great great grandfather painted this star hex sign to protect his barn. I'm sure he understood this symbol to represent the three-fold Mother Goddess...". No. He probably didn't. But unless you found his diary explaining his reasoning, all you really know is that he painted a star. What is the historical and cultural significance of those stars? That's more likely your answer. Don't get crazy, stick to real history and facts.
6.-Don't assume that because the ancients of a country did something, that means your ancestry did it too. Just because my ancestors (some of them, at any rate) came from Austria, it does not mean they were Heathens. It does not mean they were even very good Christians. All I really know of them is that they were members of the Reformed church and remained members when they came to Pennsylvania. There is no evidence to suggest they kept any type of heathen beliefs alive. What we know from history is that much of Austria was Catholic in the 1800's. The Reformed Germans were something of a minority. There is no evidence of pagan beliefs active at the time. And, since I can't trace my family back any further, that's all I really know.
7.-Don't assume that because your last name means something, that this is an indication of your connection to a pagan past. And when you take on the study of your family, you can't go back very far, trust me. Your last name is your connection to a great big long list of people, with various beliefs and lifestyles and origins. You can't make narrow assumptions. Your last name may very well be an accident. In my case, Phoenix isn't even the name I was given at birth. So there are many things to consider. Don't assume you know all there is to know about your lineage by your last name. It's so much more complex than that.
8.-ALWAYS CITE YOUR SOURCES. Remember that the more historical and academic your sources are, the more correct your information will be, and the more seriously you will be taken. In order to be a student of a folk magic tradition, you literally need to become an academic and a scholar. Always cite your sources. If you are presenting information online, link to your resources. Personal gnosis doesn't count as academia. Also, try not to link to your own work, unless you are doing so as a reference, not a resource. Also remember to be prepared to have your work challenged. If you are making claims, prepare to back up those claims with actual academia. In this day and age of misinformation, it is crucial to the preservation of culture that you are doing things properly. That means that when you are challenged, you can confidentaly prove that what you say is true.
9,- Ask questions of people who know. There are many learned individuals out there. Ask them questions. Track down the real authorities. Let them know your interest in preserving a piece of culture.
10.-Immerse yourself in the culture. Live it. That's how you'll learn it. That's how you'll understand it. Without an understanding of how that culture formed and lived, you won't have a proper understanding of it's folk magic. If you don't have that personal connection, you are essentially playing a game of pretend.
11. Stick to it. Don't give up. The information is out there, but you have to be persistent. Go to local Historical Societies, go to the library, ask the older folks who may remember, just keep going. Don't ever think you know all there is to know, because there is always more.
12.-Be true to the history and culture of the people. Your study of a specific folk magic tradition is also an effort to preserve that bit of culture. Be true to it. Don't make it something it is not. Be faithful to the people who lived it. Keep it alive to preserve culture and history and honor those who made up that culture.
Before our much Americanized, and commercialized, version of St. Nick, kids growing up in Pennsylvania Dutch homes were taught the Belsnickel story, said Zach Langley, director of education at the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center at Kutztown University.
Really, the Belsnickel was the ultimate judge of whether kids were being good or bad, Langley said.
Europeans who immigrated to America from the Alps brought with them the legend and tradition of the Belsnickel, Langley said.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas in rural Pennsylvania, a man from the town would dress in dirty clothing to take on the character of Belsnickel, Langley said. In many cases, he'd ask kids to recite a Bible verse or some other question to gauge their disposition, he said.
Children were rewarded with nuts, fruit or some other small trinket. But the kids who erred would get a rap on the knuckles, or worse.
"The classic Pennsylvania German image is a fur-covered guy walking around with a switch," Langley said.
By the early 20th century, Pennsylvania German families began to assimilate into American customs and the Belsnickel fell out of fashion.
And around that time, the familiar version of Santa Claus that we've come to know and love was developing. His image, Langley said, is due in no small part to advertising and the popular media of the day.
Nowadays, the Belsnickel makes appearances during depictions of early Pennsylvania German life at museums and historical societies, Langley said.
That's not a bad way for the Belsnickel to be remembered.
This story originally appeared in The Reading Eagle, December 30, 2010.
Read the original article HERE.
It seems like every winter my body is just on the verge of being sick. It's like there is a constant shadow of a cold hanging over my head, and most mornings I wake up with a scratchy throat, some sinus pressure, and other unpleasantness. But then as the day progresses it seems to go away. Just yesterday I developed one of the worst sore throats I've had in years, and today there is barely a trace of it. What the heck?!?!
Cold and flu season can be a pain; especially if you are like me and seem to pick up every single germ and bug that passes back and forth between us humans.
Powwowing is really focused on helping issues after the fact. But sometimes you just can't get to your local powwow or, more likely, you don't even have a local powwow! It really is a waste of time and money to go to the emergency department for the common cold. I wouldn't want to discourage you from seeing a physician if you feel you need it, but there is a reason they call it the "common" cold. It's common. Everyone gets one. Don't panic. Instead, try some of these tried and true methods for relieving your symptoms. If you really and truly feel that you need proper medical attention, then by all means go. But you can still do some of the following:
Tea. Lots of it. There are all sorts of herbal infusions (ie. teas) available these days, and some even do what they claim to do. A few of my favorites are chamomile, for it's calming and relaxing effect, and lemon, because it basically soothes everything... Small warning, chamomile tea tends to feel 'dry' in my throat and therefore doesn't do much good when my throat is sore or I have a dry cough. I might also recommend echinacea tea (add some sweetener to it...lots of people like honey---I do not---but sweeten it with whatever you like). Mint tea. There are lots of teas of the mint variety and all of them are good for relieving stuffiness and can even soothe an upset stomach.
Chicken soup. It's true, homemade chicken soup really does make you feel better. Since it's the winter season, you may even have some baked turkey in your fridge. A nice hot and hardy soup made with fresh veggies and turkey and rice and potatoes can really do wonders for even the worst of colds. And the added benefit of the turkey is the triptophan, which may even help you fall asleep!
Mustard plasters. I know, it's REALLY old-fashioned, but don't discount it. Chest rubs and plasters can have a tremendous effect on relieving chest and head congestion. I'm sure your grandmother has a favorite recipe, just ask her.
Vapo-rub. Do it. You won't smell nice, but it works.
Cough suppressants. You can make your own with a little time and effort. Here's how. You will need:
Spearmint extract (they sell these in the baking section of the grocery store)
3/4 cups water
3/4 cups clear corn syrup
3 cups sugar (hey, no one promised they were sugar free)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons food coloring, if you like
1 baking dish lined in aluminum foil
Boil the water and sugar and corn syrup together until the sugar is dissolved. You will also need a thermometer to make sure the water temperature reaches 300 degrees. Once it does, remove from heat, add a teaspoon of each extract and add the food coloring. Mix until it's all blended. Then add the baking soda and watch it get all fizzy. Pour into the foil-lined baking dish. Let it cool. If you did it properly, it will solidify. Once it does, remove the foil and hardened mixture and put in a plastic bag. Smash it up with a hammer. Eat as needed. And yes, this is a modified recipe of Coal Candy, another Pennsylvania-born tradition!!!!!!
Salt water. You can gargle with salt water to relieve a sore throat or you can boil salt water on the stove and put your head over it, and cover your head with a towel to keep the steam in. You can also add a few drops of spearmint extract (leftover from the above recipe) to the water to breathe that in.
Sleep. Turn off Netflix, put down the Kindle, turn off the lights, and go to sleep. Sleep is our greatest weapon against illness as our body repairs itself while we sleep. You will get better faster with plenty of sleep.
If you still feel lousy and need some powwowing, write to me. If it's even worse than that, like the flu (ugh) then go see a doctor.
Ask any old Pennsylvania Dutch farmer about the weather and they will undoubtedly tell you about their own methods for predicting the weather. These methods appear, on the surface, to be directly descended from superstition and local folklore; lacking any real scientific foundation. Yet, for many of us, these localized predictions have proven to be reliable and trustworthy, especially for the farming community of the Pennsylvania Germans.
Some of the more common weather predictive techniques are listed here. If you have any more, please send them my way!
For snow: Predicting frost and snow is a very big deal in Pennsylvania; especially if you're a farmer or gardener. Once October comes, we are on the lookout for the first snow fall.
Our pets give us our first clues: if your dog howls at the moon, expect the first snow fall soon! If your cat sits with her back to the fire, snow is on it's way!
Frost is a little trickier and requires a bit of calendar work. Once the katydids start singing, count 90 days. That's when the first frost hits! And if you're feeling really adventurous, count the number of mornings in August when fog covers the ground. That's how many snowfalls we will have come winter!
Keep your eye on the first 12 days of the year. Each of those days represents the weather of each corresponding month.
When the smoke stops rising up the chimney and instead fills up the house, snow is on it's way! It might also be an indicator that you need to sweep the chimney!
A ring around the moon usually indicates snow in the next three days. Two rings and it means snow is coming in 24 hours! Look out!
For rain: When the cows lay down in the fields during the day, rain is coming.
When your cat lays on it's head, rain will follow.
When your dog starts eating grass, it means rain is in the air. It might also mean he has a belly ache!
When the leaves show their backsides, a storm is approaching.
Northern winds signify cold and windy days.
Eastern winds signify powerful storms; even tornadoes.
Southern winds can mean lots of rain, but sometimes can be warm and pleasant.
Western winds are most favorable!
In the evening when the sky is red, the next day will be fair. In the morning, a red sky indicates storms. (Interesting note: believe it or not, this comes from the Bible. Jesus spoke about this method of prediction in Matthew)
The Moon: many of the old farmers believe the phase or appearance of the moon gives an indication of the weather to come.
Horns pointing up, rain within three days.
Horns pointing down signifies a dry spell.
If a woman goes out onto the fields during the waning of the moon, rain will spoil the crops. (Note: this is not so much a weather forecast as it is a type of hex).
A full moon obscured by clouds brings sunshine and dry weather.
And, of course, we can't forget the tried and true method of weather-prediction..... arthritis pain! "The rain's gonna make down, it pains me so!"
In Pennsylvania, weather patterns move from West to East. Here in South-Central Pennsylvania, we are often spared the harsher weather that our more northerly and western PA neighbors get. We are often referred to as the "snow hole" in the winter; meaning when everyone else in the state is shoveling out their cars, we are enjoying mild clear weather, with nary a flurry to be seen!
One of the most common distance charms in the PowWow tradition is the recitation of Ezekiel 16:6 "Then I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, and I said unto thee, 'Live'." (paraphrased). This particular passage is really about how God picked up the nation of Israel and nurtured it and made it into something beautiful. If you read through the rest of Ezekiel 16, it is almost as if the author is speaking about a woman, but it's really a metaphorical chapter about God's love for Israel. This is a tried and proven all purpose charm within the PowWow tradition, and it is known to work especially well for distance healing.
When someone asks me for healing work, I do one (or more) of several things...
For starters, their name is put into my Bible. Generally I write their name on a slip of paper and place it in the pages of my Bible. I then say a silent prayer for their recovery.
Then, on Monday evenings when I do my distance PowWow for all of the requests I get throughout the week, I work through the Ezekiel charm for each individual separately. There are a few other charms that I use for long-distance work in place of Ezekiel, depending on the circumstances.
The Lord's Prayer. This can be said over the name of a sick individual.
Our Father, who art in Heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,
on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory
forever and ever. Amen.
The all-purpose charm that I typically use for headaches:
Tame thou flesh and bone, like Christ in Paradise, and who will assist thee, this I tell thee (NN) for your repentance sake. In the names of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. Amen. Amen.
If they have a long-term condition, I then place the paper with their name in my private charms book. There is a page exclusively dedicated to distance charms that contains a symbol and private writings designated for this purpose.
(copy of page from my personal charm book)
If you want to work distance healing for others, simply let others know that you do this work. Then you can follow along with what I do, or you can come up with your own methods. Remember to read through the rest of this website, as well as the recommended reading list, for more ideas.
Within PowWow there are several variations of magic mirrors (erdspeigel) used for divinatory purposes. In most cases, these mirrors are used to discern the identity of the witch who has cursed you. There are a few different sets of instructions for these charms in the old grimoires. Consensus amongst the practitioners is that a mirror must contain the following inscription in order for it to be useful:
S Solam S Tattler Echogardner Gematar
The meaning of this inscription is unclear and may very well be what is known as 'barbarous' language; meaning it is nonsensical and used only for this purpose. The words may have had meaning at one time, and were poorly translated over and over again, in which case their original meaning may be lost forever.
The library of Kutztown University has record of two such mirrors in possession of writer Ann Hark. In her examples, the above inscription is included and the mirrors were given to her as a gift. No mention is made of the inscription's meaning.
The mirror is used as a means of discovering the identity of an individual. The instructions are to engrave the barbarous words on the mirror and hide it within a crossroads during an uneven hour. Keep it hidden for three days time. On the third day, return to the mirror at the same time you hid it. Make sure you use the mirror on a night without a moon (the new moon, I assume), in total darkness, and you must cover both your head and the mirror in black cloth so as not to allow any light at all to penetrate. There is to be total silence (no speaking at all) while you use the mirror. It is believed that the individual's face will appear in the mirror. Further instructions state that you should not be the first person to look into the mirror but rather allow a pet (cat or dog) to look into it. As a pet lover myself, I would not want to subject my animals to any sort of magic that may potentially be dangerous, so therefore I looked into my mirror right away. I took the risk and my mirror works just fine for me.
I have a personal mirror that was created slightly different than the above instructions, but used for the same purpose. I felt the need to add a protective circle around my mirror as I have no desire to test the limits of hexerei, even if it is just a reflection of the individual. If there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's to never trust a hex!
The inscription listed above "S Solam S Tattler Echogardner Gematar" is on the back of the mirror.
Another symbol that is inscribed onto the back of the mirror is the protection pentagram as pictured below.
The German word "heilig" translates as Holy. The word "Elohim" means "Lord". The phrase is familiar from the Christian hymn "Holy, holy, holy Lord".
It is best to keep the mirror wrapped in black cloth and hidden away, only to be used to discern the identity of a witch who has verhexed an individual.