Pennsylvania German Powwowing


Faith Healing and Folk Magic
of the Pennsylvania Germans

A note from me....

A few years ago, when I first started putting this site together, I found myself stressing over the best way to present the information.  Back in those early days, my information was scattered.  I had initially learned the system of Powwowing from a not-so-reliable source; although at the time I wasn't aware of that.  Growing up in Pennsylvania, I had heard of powwowing but didn't really have an interest in it.  I was well aware of the Pennsylvania German culture; having quite a bit of PA German influence on my father's side of the family.  So the food, the hex signs, the décor, the art, the speech....all of these things were familiar to me.  But Powwowing wasn't so familiar.  So when I learned the system from my first teacher, I thought what she taught me was correct.

 

As time went on, I felt a very strong pull to do more research on my own because what I had been taught of powwowing just didn't ring true with what I knew about the Pennsylvania German culture..  The practice of Powwowing felt right to me, yet I still wasn't able to do it!  I wasn't sure why in those early days, but I knew it was the right tradition for me...I just needed to figure out it's "secret".  And so I began my research.

 

Let me just tell you right now that researching a system like Powwowing is much easier said than done.  First, I had to wade through the information that was current at the time.  And unfortunately, that available information wasn't accurate.  And so I prayed about it and let God guide me... and guide me He did.

 

Years later, I am still researching the system of Powwow.  However, I see things in a whole new light now.  Studying and practicing PA German Powwow connects me to my roots.  It reminds me of my grandparents, and weekends spent exploring the forests on their property.  It makes me think of the food I ate growing up.  It makes me feel like I'm reconnecting with the world of my childhood.  Through my studies of powwowing, I have learned more about my own ancestry, and how my great great grandparents came to Pennsylvania from Austria because they were seeking a better life.  They lived in a time when religious freedom was unheard of, but Pennsylvania offered it to them.  They knew oppression and poverty, but also the value of hard work and perseverance.  Traveling so far to begin a new life and set down roots so their own descendants could have a good life came at a price; the leaving behind of the life they knew.  It was crucial for the Pennsylvania Germans to preserve their way of life and their traditions.  In the early days, they bonded together to maintain a sense of community and feel like they were home.  In modern times, that need still exists.  We must preserve the culture as our ancestors knew it.  After all, they worked very very hard to establish it, probably harder than we will ever know.

 

Now, at age 42, I am only sorry it took me so long to find this path.  It truly is like coming home.  And I mean that literally.  I left Pennsylvania briefly back in 2010.  I didn't go far, just to Baltimore.  But I knew I wasn't home.  I was disconnected from my roots, away from home, and in territory that is as alien to me as Mars.  When I moved back to PA after just six months, it was like my connection to my roots was re-established and my life started fresh again and I just knew that I would never leave my home state again.

The more I learn about the culture that my ancestors came from and the church they belonged to and the morals and philosophies and beliefs they upheld, the more I am focused on being 'correct' with my powwowing.  Anything else, in my mind, is an insult to their memory.

 

This is the headstone of my great great grandparents, Solomon and Sarah.  They are buried in Zion's Stone Church Cemetery near Lehighton, Pennsylvania.  My grandparents (pictured below) are buried in the same church yard.

 

 

On the left is my great Aunt, Sarah Steinhert.  In the middle is my grandmother, June Betty Bankes-Whitley.  On the right is my grandfather, Arthur Owen Whitley.

 

 

This is a picture of my dad, Robert Owen Whitley.  He passed away in 2010.

 

So the point to this long and winded tale is that I do what I do because it's a piece of my cultural heritage, it's my history, it's my present, it's my family, it's my childhood, it's my home and it's my passion.  I have studied and practiced many many different things throughout my life but nothing comes even close to how I experience the actual and historical/cultural practice of PA German Powwowing.  This site is a testament to my love for the culture and the tradition.

 

 

May God guide you always.

+ + +

HOW TO CONTACT ME

I've worked hard over the years to gather as much academic, historical, and culturally-accurate powwowing information as possible.  There is a lot available that I'm still looking through, and often my research takes me into seemingly unrelated topics in order to gain a proper and more thorough historical perspective.  To that end, this site is heavy with links to many of the resources I use.  I urge you to follow all links and read all the information presented on those links, if you wish to gain the most workable knowledge about the subject of Powwow.  No topic is cut-and-dry or black-and-white, and no proper understanding can take place without a thorough study of the subject in it's historical, cultural, religious, and academic view.

 

If you would like to assist with my research because you feel I've forgotten to include an important aspect of the tradition or simply because you are nice and want to add to my work, I do have some guidelines that I ask you to follow when contacting me.

 

1-be sure to include academic links to all of your resources.  There are some resources that are just NOT academic, and some that are.  If you are unsure, submit the links to me and I will make a determination of it's worth based on further research of my own.  I always do my best to investigate all claims, no matter how far-fetched, to uncover whether or not there is truth to them.

 

2-be sure the information is not already presented on this website.  I've gotten quite a few emails, especially recently, from individuals who felt I left out important points pertaining to the study of powwowing, when in reality the information is most certainly included on this site.  You really have to look through the whole site.  Sometimes the information and links can seem overwhelming, but it is all absolutely essential for a proper education in the subject.  If you've checked and re-checked and definitely cannot find mention of something you feel is crucial, please let me know.  Please also be aware that in some instances I merely mention an aspect of PA German culture (like the various dialects, for example) but do not elaborate on because I am not an expert in that topic.  Instead, I'll offer links to further study for your own education.  In those cases, I probably will not be willing to add more information to this site because it is simply out of my realm of expertise and not crucial to the understanding of the system of powwowing.

 

3-be sure you are not contacting me just to vent your anger at me.  This has happened a LOT over the years.  There are some who like to believe that powwow is something other than what it really is.  This is the fault of the new age/neopagan movement and that group's tendency toward poor scholarship.  The fact is, I know this topic better than I know how to care for my car.... I know powwowing better than I know the names of the 50 states.... And I certainly know powwowing better than I know most dinner recipes.  You can trust that the information I'm providing here is well-researched.  That's why I include so many links, and why I insist on academia.  If you have suspicions or questions about what I'm posting, follow the links and see for yourself.  If you really feel I'm doing a bad job of presenting powwowing, then simply provide links to your academic sources and I'll check into it.  I'm always open to learning new elements and am not threatened by new ways of looking at things.  What I do NOT like, however, is historical revisionism and the modern new age idea that people can call on whatever they want, or do whatever they want.  Those ideas are the death of culture, which makes piecing together actual history that much more difficult.  And also please keep in mind that I was born, raised, and still live in Pennsylvania.  I am very much a part of the PA Dutch culture.  I do know what I'm talking about...  IF YOU WRITE TO ME TO COMPLAIN, YOU WILL NOT GET A RESPONSE, SO DONT BOTHER.

 

4-be sure you are not contacting me just to tell me I'm a bad Christian and I'm going to hell for practicing magic.  Your time spent typing and sending the message will be wasted time; time you can better spend walking your dog or catching up on the laundry.

 

Please send all research information/requests to my email: robertphoenix73@gmail.com.  You may also share your personal powwowing stories, I would love to read them!

Please understand that I cannot always respond to every email.  Between my career and my family and my school work, I'm pretty busy.  However, I do my best.  If you don't get a response, please don't take it personally.  Thanks for understanding!

If you are interested in learning more about The Society of the Phoenix, a project I am beginning for those who wish to study and discuss (and practice) magic using an academic and historical approach, please contact me via email and put "Phoenix" in the subject box so that I will be sure to respond.

Requests for healing or other powwowing

Over the years, I have had countless individuals come into my home for various powwowing needs.  This has largely been a positive experience.  However, as every person is unique and carries their own unique energies, occasionally the experience was not pleasant.  And for anyone who has ever offered their services to those in need, you will no doubt know that sometimes the residual energy from a bad visit can really mess up the energy of your home and family.  Because of this, I am no longer willing to see clients in my home.  My family has grown over the past few years and their safety and comfort is my primary concern.

 

However, this does not mean I have ceased my powwowing activities.  Certainly I still try for those in need.  However, since face-to-face sessions are rather limited, the best I can offer you is distance work.  If your situation demands immediate attention, then please go to a doctor or hospital.  Powwowing should never, ever replace a properly trained medical professional.  In this day and age of urgent care centers and emergency departments of hospitals, there is very little reason why someone should choose to wait for an appointment with a powwow before getting treatment.  However, I also know from experience that not all situations are medical in nature.  As a powwow, one of my specialties is protection and removal of witchcraft.  You won't get that service at a local clinic.  Therefore, please email your situation to me and I will do the work as the situation dictates.  That may require me to meet with you in person, it may not.  But I will make that decision and let you know.

Lectures, seminars, workshops, classes, private teachings, etc.

About 5 years ago I started doing public seminars and workshops on the topic of Pennsylvania Dutch Powwowing.  These have all been fun experiences and have allowed me an opportunity to travel around to places I normally would not have gone, and meet people I otherwise would not have gotten a chance to meet.  Some venues are more fun than others.  For example, shop seminars are fun because you get a wide array of students with various occult/magical/religious experiences.  University lectures give the subject a more academic slant and are a great way to get that historical information into the minds of young scholars.  Private workshops and classes are also fun but present more of a challenge because, generally speaking, these class participants have an interest in actually becoming practitioners, so my work is doubled.

 

If you represent a shop that would like to host a workshop for the public, please contact me.  The rule of thumb is that the workshop is for informational purposes only.  I do not provide any type of healing work at these workshops because it is a place of business, and my powwowing is not for hire.  However, a general overview of the system and it's history, as well as a practical set of examples of how powwowing works, is a fun way to introduce your customers to the practice and give them a good foundation to build upon on their own. 

 

 This picture was taken in November 2010 at a seminar at a new age shop in Northeast Pennsylvania.  This was definitely a 'hands-on' workshop where I had all participants demonstrating various powwowing techniques on each other. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For academic venues, like a school or university, my lecture would be far more historically and culturally geared and there would be little practical demonstration.  I have found that school settings are primarily interested in adding some cultural education to their student's history or religious studies classes, as opposed to giving the individuals an education in magical practice or theory.

 This picture was taken as I set up for my lecture at Indiana University.  This was a lot more formal and geared toward teaching culture and history as opposed to magical application.  I actually preferred this to my shop seminar experiences, but all have their own type of fun.

 

At this time I am not teaching private classes on powwowing. 

 

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About Me

 

Guder Daag!  Wie bisch?

My name is Robert Phoenix (formerly Chapman) and I am the creator of this site.  I do all of this research myself because I truly love the culture of the Pennsylvania Dutch and the tradition of Powwow.  I was born and raised in Pennsylvania and currently live in South-Central Pennsylvania and work for the state of PA.  I've always been interested in folk magic and have studied many different systems over the years.  I was raised Catholic, as this was the religion of my mother's side of the family, and as an adult I have embraced the religion of my father's side of the family, the Reformed church; known nowadays as the United Church of Christ.  My personal beliefs are a blend of both traditions.  I love Powwowing because it's a Christian-based system that really does work and it connects me to the traditions, beliefs, religion, and folklore of my ancestors.  

Books You Should Read

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current Moon Phase

The Pennsylvania Dutch know the value of being aware of the Moon's phases.  Keep track here for all of your planting/harvesting needs!

 

CURRENT MOON

Featured Hex

 

The Lancaster County Hex.  It doesn't have any mystical meaning, it's purely a decorative advertisement piece. :)

Another variation of the Double Distlefink, meaning double good luck.

 

Known as the "Daddy of all Hexes", this combination of color and symbology provides good luck all year round. The twelve petals around the circle symbolize the twelve months of the year.

 

 

The Distlefink is my favorite hex sign image.  The double Distlefink is a sign of Double Good Luck.

 

To view or purchase hex signs, go to ZOOKS DUTCH NOVELTIES!

My friends

These are links to some of my friend's sites that I think you might enjoy!

 

Jim Minick a blog by a friend with powwowing in his family.  Keep up to date for his upcoming book!

 

Rue and Hyssop  a blog about herbal products with some really fun giveaways

 

The Orphan's Almanac  a blog of fantastic book reviews

 

New World Witchery  a site with articles about the many variations of American folk magic

Some of my favorite charms

An all-purpose healing charm

Heile, heile, Segen.

Drei Tage Regen.

Drei Tage Dreck.

Und jetzt ist alles weg

+  +  +

Translation:

Holy, holy blessing

Three days of rain

Three days of muck

And all is gone.

+  +  +

To insure safety from an angry dog

Dog, hold thy nose to the ground;

God has made me and thee, hound.

 

To cure a person of worms

You are a little worm, not entirely grown.

You plague me in marrow and bone.

You may be white, black, or red,

In a quarter of an hour you will be dead.

 

A Charm for Personal Safety

Cross of Christ and Crown of Christ and Jesus Christ; red blood, be to me at all times and all hours good.  god the Father is before me.  God the Son is at my side.  God the Holy Ghost is behind me.  Who now is stronger than these three persons may come to seize me.

+   +   +  then follow up with three Paternosters.

 

To Compel a dog, horse, or other animal to follow you

Casper guide thee, Balthasar bind thee, Melchior keep thee

Three times, utter these words into the animal's right ear.

For Wounds and Stopping of Blood

Blessed is the day on which Jesus Christ was born; blessed is the day on which Jesus Christ died; blessed is the day on which Jesus Christ arose from the dead.  These are the three holy hours; by these N.N., I stop thy blood.  Thy sores shall neither swell nor fester; no more shall that happen, than that the Virgin Mary will bear another son.

+   +   +

Protection from Sorcery

Take elm wood on Good Friday, cut the same while calling the holiest names.  Cut chips of this wood from one to two inches in length.  Carve on them, in the three holiest names, three crosses.  Wherever such a slip is placed, all sorcery will be banished.

To Stop Blood

There stood three roses upon our Saviour's grave.  The first is mild, the other is good, the third shall stop the blood.

 

+ + +

A Protective Talisman

To be hung in the home, hidden in a secret place, or carried with you.

A charm to make a thief return stolen goods

Write upon two pieces of paper the following words, and attach one to the top of the door, and the other under the threshold, and the thief will return on the third day and bring back the stolen articles:

 

Abraham bound it †

Isaac redeemed and found it †

Jacob carried it home †

it is bound as tightly as steel and iron, chains and fetters. † † †

 

To Remove Skin Infections

Many of the old charms refer to a skin infection known as "wildfire".  This referred to a very specific skin condition called erysipelas.  I use the term to refer to any skin condition.  Feel free to change it to something else that might work better for you if you choose not to use the term "wildfire".

With a red string, pull it tight between your two hands.  First touch the top of the individual's head then sweep the string down the front of the body and away from the person three times while you repeat the following three times:

Wildfire

fly, fly, fly

The red string chase you

away, away, away

Then speak the baptismal name of the individual then seal with the words:

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

 

To Stop Blood

On a slip of white paper, write the following:

+++Pishon+++Gihon+++Tigres+++Euphrates+++

Place this paper over the wound to stop the blood.

 

Charm to cure burns

For mild burns on the skin (don't try to treat serious burns, get medical attention immediately):

At the end of each spoken line, gently blow on the burned area (GENTLY!!!)

Fire of God (gentle breath)

Lose thy heat (gentle breath)

As Judas lost his color (gentle breath)

When he betrayed our Lord (gentle breath)

In the garden of olives (gentle breath)

Amen, Amen, Amen (gentle breath)

Repeat for a total of three times, seal the working.

To Guard your home against thieves and witches

Take a glass of water and repeat over it 77 times:

Adonai, Elohim, the LORD my God

Pour the water around the perimeter of your home.  This is believed to prevent witches and thieves from infiltrating your property.  Made more powerful if done on a Holy Day or after taking sacrament at church.

 

Interesting charm and it's language variations

This was shared by a member of my church as she learned it as a child growing up in PA Dutch country:

 

"Heile, heile, Hinkeldreck! Marifree ischt olles weg."

or, another variation,

"Heile, heile, Hinkeldreck! Marifree ischt olles recht."

in German,

"Heiliger, heiliger, Huhnerdreck! Morgen fruh ist alles weg (recht)."

and, in English,

"Holy, holy chicken dirt.  Early morning it is gone/away/right."

and, made to rhyme, we get the familiar charm as demonstrated below,

"Holy, holy chicken dirt.  Tomorrow morning it won't hurt!"

 

It is said that to spit on the area of pain helps seal the magic.

 

To Keep Witches Away from your Property

In the Amish community, there is an old belief that if a bundle of St. John's Wort was hung over the door of the house or barn, no witch could enter and no witchcraft could effect the people or animals within.  In these days of the prevalence of hexerei, why take chances?

 

Sealing a Powwow working

When a charm calls for sealing the working with the sign of the cross, this is done with the right hand, made into a fist, and the thumb straight out (like a 'thumbs up' position).  The cross is 'drawn' over the affected area with the ball of the hand just below the thumb; typically three times; spoken in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

 

For Easing Pains

Hold hand over painful area and recite three times:

Holy, Holy chicken dirt

Tomorrow morning, it won't hurt

Blow on area three times, then seal with the sign of the cross.


To Banish Fevers

Suspend, upon a Friday, a letter containing the names set forth below, between the hours of eight and nine, upon the patient's neck, in the following manner:

Fold together, and tie it in grayish red cloth, which must be unbleached, and pierce through the cloth and the letter, three holes. Draw red thread through them, while calling the three holiest names. Suspend the same around the neck of the patient, and let it remain eleven days. After taking it off, burn it before the lapse of one hour:


 

 

H B R H C H T H B R H

H B R H C H T H B R

H B R H C H T H B

H B R H C H T H

H B R H C H T

H B R H C H

H B R H C

H B R H

H B R

H B

H





Against Evil Spirits and all manner of Witchcraft.

 I.

N. I. R.

 I.

 Sanctus.   Spiritus.

I.

N. I. R.

I.

All this be guarded, here in time, and there in eternity. Amen.

You must write all the above on a piece of white paper, and carry it about you. The characters or letters above, signify: "God bless me here in time, and there eternally."

 



To Protect your home from all manner of evils

In chalk or white stone, just outside your doorstep, mark on the ground three crosses spaced equal distance apart while saying:

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people.  He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David as he said through his holy prophets long ago, salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.


To Soothe Aches and Pains

Place hands gently on the afflicted area.

Repeat the following for a total of three times:

I will exalt you, O Lord,

for you lifted me out of the depths

and did not let my enemies gloat over me.

O Lord my God, I called to you for help

and you healed me.

O Lord, you brought me up from the grave;

you spared me from going down into the pit.

(Excerpt from Psalm 30, spoken with devotion.)


To Stop a Wound from Bleeding

Say three times over the wound:

Mary goes throughout the land

She has two pitchers in her hand;

In one is blood, in one is water;

Blood stay; water go.

Make three signs of the cross over the wound.


To Determine if you have been Bewitched

Rub a raw egg from the top of your head down the length of your body to your feet three times.  Break the egg into a dish or fireplace.  If there is blood in the egg, it is a sign that negative witchery has been cast on you.


To Remove Negative Witchery and Return it to the Witch

Boil a piece of beef and while it is cooking, keep sticking it with a needle.  The one who bewitched you will have the same pains and the spell upon you will be broken.


To Prevent Weak or Malicious Persons from doing you an injury

On a piece of paper write the following:

Dullix, ix, ux. Yea, you can't come over Pontio;

Pontio is above Pilato. + + +

Hang this above the main entrance to your house and it will certainly protect you from malicious persons!

To Protect The Home

Go to each window and door individually.  In the air make the sign of the cross or protective star while saying:


Three angels with three swords stand before the house of God.

The first is courage,

the second is strength,

the third strikes down all enemies.

In the name of the Holy Trinity!


Weather Charm

Hold a red knife in the air, blade facing oncoming storm, and say three times:

"Three angels ride the winds

to lands both far and near

Go west, go east, go south, go north

but do not linger here!"

Stick the knife into the ground.


To Stop Blood


Place a red knife gently over the affected area.


Three ladies came from Jordan's land

Each with a bloody knife in her hand

Stand blood, stand, in the name of God stand

Bloody wound, in God's name mend!


Repeat three times.


For Justice in Court


Carry a bit of Pot Marigold (Calendula) on the day of your court appearance and, prior to leaving your home, recite Psalm 20 three times.


The SATOR charm can be copied onto a slip of paper then taped to the inside of your front door to protect your home from thieves and intruders.