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.
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. When I was first introduced to the actual practice of powwowing, it was through the lens of a neopagan organization founded and run by an author famous for her poor scholarship. But in those days I was young (in my mid 20's) and extremely impressionable, and so I didn't realize that the history she was teaching was actually a lie. When I branched out on my own and set my pre-conceived notions and desires aside, I was able to study actual history and academia, and that's when my powwowing work really began.
Piecing together the history of folk magic traditions isn't easy. You have to first dig through the misinformation that is out there. That information is easy to spot. In addition to almost any title with a crescent moon on the cover, most of these publications are categorized under the headings of "new age" or "wicca" or something similar. But it's important to remember that actual folk magic traditions are a part of our history. And, within that history, they are pieces of actual and established cultures. In other words, the best way to learn about folk magic is by learning about the people who are associated with that folk magic.
The study of Pennsylvania German powwowing, 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. Those books are generally written with one thing in mind.....fame. Those authors want to have that book under their belt so they can give themselves some type of credentials within the neopagan world. And, indeed, that's all it really takes in that community. Unfortunately, academia and scholarship are often left at the door with many of those works. So skip that section, it's not a proper approach.
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. My last name means "Merchant". It's English in origin. However, to trace the line of my last name is nearly impossible. It isn't a straight line, as anyone who studies family history will know. 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, Chapman 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.
The SATOR charm is one of the most popular magical talismans in western occultism, and is a favored within traditional PA Dutch PowWow. It's history is sometimes disputed but most scholars believe it is a symbol of the early Christian church, most likely used by various Christian groups as a secret means of identification during the time of Christian persecutions.
SATOR is sometimes thought to be made up of five words; SATOR, AREPO, TENET, OPERA, ROTAS. There are various ideas as to what these words (as individuals) may mean; but consensus translates them into something like "the planter holds the works and wheels by means of water". Unfortunately for this idea, the translation doesn't make much sense, and does not explain the SATOR square's appearance in various countries, cultures, and sites of early Christian meeting places throughout Europe.
Instead, a more accurate explanation of SATOR is that it is a play on the Latin form of PATER NOSTER with the extra A and O placed to either side. This translates as the first two words in the Lord's prayer: Our Father. The A and O represent Alpha and Omega, which Christ identifies Himself as.
Palindromes were common in the ancient world as magical talismans, and many examples are found within Coptic Christian studies; and have even survived today amongst Christian magi and, in some instances, as decor in churches. A SATOR square dating back to the 2nd Century in Manchester is considered as evidence of the early arrival of Christianity into Britian.
The use of the SATOR square varies. In one instance, it is believed to extinguish a fire. Simply draw the SATOR square on a plate, toss into the flames, and the fire will be extinguished (Hohman, Long Lost Friend, 1820). A more practical and common use, is that of protection from malevolent witchery. The square can be engraved into metal, drawn on paper, tattooed on the skin, or somehown marked upon some type of surface, accompanied by the Lord's Prayer spoken three times, and it's protective powers are activated. It is an old belief of the Christian church that the devil is confused by palindromes, thus their protective power against witchcraft is understood.
The creation of the SATOR can be simple, if you lack time to create a more involved talisman. Or, more appropriately, the charm can be created under favorable astrological conditions (waxing Moon in Mars or waning moon in Saturn; also noting planetary hours for talismanic creation--- GO HERE TO CALCULATE). The more energy involved in the creation of the SATOR square, the more effective it will be. Remember to include the Lord's Prayer, spoken three times, in the creation of the charm.
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.
(The last three lines beginning with 'For thine is the kingdom...' you will no doubt recognize from the Lesser Banishing Ritual.)
For more information and uses, all reference works of the Pennsylvania Dutch PowWow contain the SATOR square (see: Long Lost Friend, Albertus Magnus, Romanusbuchlein, PowWow Book, Red Church, etc.).
Besides studying Powwow, one of my favorite areas of research is Christianity's history and early development. In my opinion, this is a fascinating area of study and research and may very well keep me busy for the rest of my life, which I'm totally fine with!
The early growth of Christianity is especially interesting because it was originally an oral tradition, passed on by the people through word of mouth. Because of this, accounts of Christ's ministry vary wildly amongst different sources. The four most compatible accounts were gathered together and kept as canon for the building of Christian tradition. We of course know these accounts as the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. But there were other accounts that gave details of Jesus' life and ministry, but these were not included in the Bible because they were either too far-fetched or they somehow gave accounts that were not true.
One of the most interesting ideas about Jesus and his miracles is that he was performing magics that many believed he was taught (and mastered) in Egypt. This is no surprise really as Egyptians were famous for their magic and sorcery. In many of the earliest depictions of Jesus, which I love looking at, Jesus is portrayed as a youth (beardless mostly) and using a magic wand to perform his miracles. The magic wand was important to the ancient Egyptians and very much a part of their magic, so it is no wonder that the earliest stories of Jesus included the use of the wand.
While it is doubtful that Jesus used a wand (no written accounts, whether canonical or not, include this detail), it is very interesting to me as I love the idea of magic wands. I have to admit, this love comes from my interest in Harry Potter (!), but it is a fun concept to toss around.
In Powwow, there is no real historical evidence to suggest that a wand was part of any healing or protection charms. There is one charm that includes instruction for making a wand to find Iron Ore, but that's pretty much it (see my earliest blog posts for directions how to make one!). However, on the more ceremonial side of Powwow (ceremonial magic), you may find the wand (as well as other tools, ,like ritual swords and such). I leave it to you whether or not to incorporate the use of the wand into your Powwow. While it may be fun, it may also cheapen the overall effect of your healing sessions.
Here are some of my favorite images of Christ with the magic wand. If you come across any that you like that I don't have here, please share them with me! I'd love to see them!
Is Powwow biased against witchcraft? Does Powwow teach that witchcraft is bad? Do Powwows see witchcraft as being evil?
The short answer to these questions is: Yes. Powwow is, by it's very nature, a practice designed to negate the effects of witchcraft. Within the old grimoires you will find almost as many anti-witchcraft charms as you will find home remedies for sickness. In many cases, the two are linked as one.
But why the anti-witchcraft stance? Witchcraft isn't evil, is it?
Well, let's put ourselves in the mindset of the people prior to the New Age Wicca movement of the late 1950's... Before the coming of Ray Buckland to the United States and his teachings of Wicca, the word "witchcraft" did not, in any way, shape, or form, have a positive meaning. It was a word that described malevolent magic cast by wicked persons. To be a "witch" meant you were in league with the Devil. In the PA Dutch culture, to be a "witch" or "hexerei" meant you were cursed by the Devil and had no choice but to do his work; causing mayhem and ill-intent in the world. To be a hex meant you had no say in the matter; you were a servant of the Devil and, unless you could pass this curse on to someone in your family, you would take it with you to the grave and never find eternal rest.
This belief is not merely my opinion or my attempts to be anti-witchy. This is culturally and historically the way it was. For many people, this is still the way it is today. In PA Dutch culture, hexerei is still very much alive and well. In my own personal life, I have met many who claim to be "witch" in the purely modern sense of the word (ie. Wicca or Pagan) but these individuals have also delved into hexerei quite easily, even if they won't admit it to themselves. Anytime a witch works magic to bring harm or discord to another individual, they have crossed the line into hexerei.
Many of the old anti-witchcraft charms are still very much in use today, even if they do seem dated and archaic. But the fact is, hexerei (witchcraft) does still exist today, just as it did 50, 100, even 200 years ago (and even further back). And as long as one exists, the other will too. As long as there is witchcraft, there will be anti-witchcraft.
Drawing the line between the "good" kind of witchery and the "bad" kind is really up to each individual. What might seem detrimental to me may very well seem appropriate to another person, and so it is really up to each person to decide for themselves when they have crossed that line into hexerei. This is why it is so important to have a religious foundation in your Powwow. The Christian religion is the basic foundation of the tradition. The morals and ethics taught within the pages of the New Testament are the guidelines to follow when determining how to move forward with your Powwow work (or not). The cliche' of WWJD fits nicely here...
So to sum it up, is Powwow anti-witchcraft? Yes, it is, very much so.
In Christian tradition, there is belief in the ultimate representation of evil: the Devil. The Devil has many names and guises and, generally, he is thought to be the anti-thesis of Christ; the ultimate bad where Christ is good; the Adversary, the Tempter, the Bringer of Death and Disease. It really does not matter where original notions and concepts of this ultimate bad guy stem from (whether Zoroastrian influence, Canaanite mythos, Babylonian mythos, etc) because the Devil has morphed in Christian tradition to represent the ULTIMATE EVIL. So how does this belief translate into the practice of Powwow?
Many illnesses and misfortunes are often thought to be the work or influence of the Devil. This is not merely a silly superstition of backward folk country belief, there is actually a very good reason why this is a valid belief.
The Devil is the epitome of all that is bad and evil and world-bound about humanity. He is empowered and invoked by the negative manifestation of our ego; the part of us that seeks to cause harm or discord or unbelief or hatred or envy or anger or wrath...you get the idea...and these manifestations are contrary to what we are taught is our natural state: that of connectedness to God and perfect love and innocence. In the context of sickness and disease, these are issues that are seen as contrary to our natural state of being, which is healthy.
If the Devil represents all that drives us away from God, then sickness and disease and misfortune fall under his realm of influence. What keeps us from our natural state (ie. union with God in love and health) must be something contrary to him: ie. the Devil.
In Powwow, many of the old charms are designed to throw off the influence of the Devil; remove evil influence; protect from evil witchery; and generally blast away the bad with the power of good. The Devil represents what we want to get rid of. He is the true focus of Powwow work.
"well," you say, "that's great and all, but I don't believe in the Devil..." Really? Well then you probably don't believe in God or Christ either, so Powwow is unaffective for you. Yes, it really is that black and white.
There are those in PA Dutch history that have found themselves 'cursed' and forced to serve the Devil in some way, shape or form. These are, historically, known as hexerei...witches. Hexerei are cursed to serve the devil and, before they die, they must pass this curse onto someone else, or they will remain earth-bound after death and be unable to find rest or salvation. Sounds far-fetched, doesn't it? Yet it's very real here in PA. Much of Powwow, real and true Powwow, seeks to undo the work of hexerei and the Devil.
For more information, email me privately and we can discuss it!
May you be blessed in all you do!