Pennsylvania German Powwow

Faith healing and folk magic of the Pennsylvania Germans

Rufe mich an in der Noth, so will ich dich erretten, und du sollst mich preisen.


49sten Psalm

Call upon me in need, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt praise me.



The powwow is a healer.  He or she functions as an intermediary between you and God and helps facilitate the healing process.  In this sense, a powwow functions almost as a clergyman; aiding those in need with religious/spiritual healing methods. 


Powwow is successful depending on two crucial factors:

--The powwow's belief in God.

--The individual who needs healing should not allow skepticism to prevent the body from healing.

Belief in God is crucial to the success of the powwowAfter all, the foundation of powwow is that the powwow is petitioning God on your behalf.  So the powwower's belief in God (and His ability to heal you) is imperative if you want to actually get better.  

Belief in God is a tricky subject.  During the early days of Pennsylvania, life was a lot harder.  The people were challenged more because they had only themselves to depend upon for food, clothing, shelter, etc.  These were God-dependent people and so belief in God was more necessary to their very survival.  It is understandable then why a practice such as powwow would have been so successful.  Access to medical care was practically unheard of and so if a local powwow was available, that was as good as it got.  They had to believe in God and believe in the faith of the powwower.  There simply were no other viable options.

Some modern day skeptics ask "what if one does not believe in God, will the powwow still heal him?"  To that I reply "it depends".  It is understood that the powwow calls upon God for healing, that he has no powers of his own, so with that in mind it is difficult to determine why a non-believer would come to a powwow.  Anyone who contacts me does so with the knowledge that I believe the power comes from God.  So if they don't believe, their non-belief may very well be detrimental to their own healing.  But it is ultimately up to God, not to me, so I try for all cases; regardless of belief.  In the case of animals, belief is not necessary.  Who knows what, if anything, animals believe in.  Maybe God has a different sort of connection with them... I don't know.  But the powwowing is still effective.

The role of the powwower in modern times is supplemental to modern medical procedures and practices.  We may be called upon to help soothe a minor burn or ease the pain of a headache, but the really big stuff is (and should be) saved for those who have schooling in the treatment of such things.  I believe it is irresponsible for us to take on the role of healer if the individual in need of healing hasn't explored all possible avenues of treatment.  We can help supplement the healing process by catering to the faith of our clients, but in no circumstances should we take on the role of sole caregiver.  Always tell your clients to be sure to seek proper medical attention.

I like David Kriebel's model of powwow healing power.

-God is source of all healing.

-Healing power is channeled from God.

-God controls the use of this power.

-Belief in God is necessary in order to powwow.

The PA Dutch model of belief is as follows:

-God exists.

-Jesus Christ is the son of God.

-The Holy Spirit exists.

-God exerts power in the world.

-The three aspects of God are defined in the Bible as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

-Prayer has power to heal.

-God is source of all healing.

Therefore, a powwower has no power of his own, he only channels what God works through him.  Those who are professional physicians are using skills given to them by God, therefore they control those skills and can charge for services.  A powwower has no control over the healing power of God, therefore he cannot charge.

With all this in mind, I share with you some of the powwow healing charms and techniques that might work for you (I make no guarantees).  Most of these have come from the already published sources for powwowing information as well as other publications that mention powwowing (but not necessarily have an exclusive focus on the subject).  Some of the charms featured on this site are charms I learned from members of my church.  And there are a few that I've learned from other non-published sources.  Because there is something of a taboo in sharing what was officially taught to us in a teacher-to-student capacity, I have not shared the few charms I learned when I received my private instruction in the tradition.  If the charm I present comes from an unusual source, it is so noted. 

Remember that with all charms, you are instructed to make 3 crosses over the place with your thumb.  All cures with forms of words are repeated 3 times, and always wait a few hours, then the third repetition is on the next day (Long Hidden Friend, 1863).  The single N. signifies the first name, and two N.N. the first or Christian name and the surname of the patient. 

My personal powwowing bible and two of my healing stones (sometimes referred to as "mad stones"). These particular stones came from the Nelson Rehmeyer property. 

Headache Charm


This is my favorite charm, and the one I am most successful with.


Slide your hand from the top of the head, down the forehead, then pull the headache out through the sinus area and toss behind you.  Repeat this gesture for a total of three times each time you say the spoken part of the charm.  The charm is spoken three times, wait 3 minutes, repeat, wait three more minutes, repeat.  When you are finished, you will have spoken the charm nine times and made the gesture 27 times.

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.

               + + +

Here is a variation of this charm translated from the German in Hohman's Long Hidden Friend (1819).

Form bone and flesh, as Christ in Paradise, who alone can help; and this I say to thee (N) for penitence. + + +


Say this thrice, at intervals of about 3 minutes, and the headache will soon leave. But if it is caused by strong drink, it is not so likely to go away. You must then say it every minute.


"It makes so heavy in my heart cause you ain't good-you'd better make yourself over to the doctor-now hurry yourself and get better!" -example of PA Dutch speak


For the removal of germs and/or bacterial infection (note: the use of the term "worm" was common before the idea of germs and bacteria were common knowledge.)

Our Lord God went to a field, on a Gods-Acre, He plowed three furrows, he found three worms.  The one is white, the other is red, the third is death for all ye worms.  In the Three Highest Names"


To Staunch Blood


 As Christ was born in Bethlehem and baptized in the river Jordan, He said to the water, "Be still. 'So shall thy blood cease to flow.  In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost'.-Amen."



For Sprains


Tie nine knots in black wool thread.  Tie the thread around the sprained area (ankle, wrist, whatever).  In a soft muttering voice, so as not to be overhead, say:


"The Lord rode

and the foal slipped;

He lighted,

and she righted,

set joint to joint,

bone to bone,

and sinew to sinew,

Heal in the Holy Ghost's name!!!" 

Burn Remedy

This charm against burns must be performed/spoken exactly as written.  It is said that any deviation from the actions or wording of this charm will invalidate it's power and your efforts will be unsuccesful (Foxfire Book, 1972, page 367).

To draw fire pass your hand over the exposed burn, open and palm down, in a direction away from you and away from the patient--as if pushing the fire away from both you and the patient's body.  Do this slowly three times, at the same time blowing gently on the burn.  The head remains fixed over the burn, but turns so that your breath follows your hand thus blowing the fire away from the victim's body.  Simultaneously, and each of the three times you do the above, repeat the secret healing verse silently.

The verse must be memorized word for word, for one mistake will invalidate the cure.

Their came an angel from the east

bringing frost and fire.

In frost out fire.

In the name of the Father,

the Son,

and of the Holy Ghost.



For Burns


Three Wise Men came from the east,

One brought fire, two carried frost.

Out fire! In frost!

In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost


Another for Burns


The Blessed Virgin went over the land

What does she carry in her hand?

A fire brand.

Eat not in thee.  Eat not further around.  In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.


So saying these words, stroke slowly three times with your right hand over it, bending the same downward one, two, and three times; and blow three times, each time three times. 



This is an old-fashioned term for when children have difficulty breathing and even a tightness in the chest.  I do not have a remedy to share here, although I would like you to READ THIS ARTICLE.  It's from 1984 in Northumberland County Pennsylvania and relates one woman's experience with a powwower who cured a child that was 'livergrown'.


For thorns (or splinters, perhaps..)

"Christ was of a virgin born

and crowned was he with a crown of thorn

he did neither swell nor rebel

and I hope this never will."

At the same time, the middle finger of the right hand must be kept in motion round the thorn, and at the end of the words, three times repeated, the thorn should be touched each time with the tip of the finger.  Then, with God's blessing, it will give no further trouble.


For inflammation

Lay a knife across the swollen area.  Repeat three times:

"Across the red landscape I saw a red forest

And in the red forest I saw a red church

And in the red church I saw a red altar

And on the red altar I saw a red book

And on the red book I saw a red knife

And with the red knife I cut out the inflammation"

Seal the healing with the sign of the cross.


"Grandma's got it so in her back-she's feelin' poorly!" -example of PA Dutch speak



To Drive Away Fever

Write the following order of letters, sew them into a patch, hang it about the neck until the fever leaves:














This charm is a variation of the ABRACADABRA charm.  The word ABRACADABRA is a Hebrew word meaning "I speak the power here" or "I speak power into creation" or something similar.  This is a very old Judeo-Christian charm that has been popularized by it's use in stage magic.  The ABRACADABRA charm can be used to diminish something, as in the above example, or to bring something into creation, as in the following:












There are other uses for the ABRACADABRA charm as well.  In this picture from around the year 1700, the ABRACADABRA charm is used as an amulet of protection.

In the Harry Potter movies, a variation of Abracadabra is used by the Death Eaters as a killing curse.  AVADA CADAVRA which means "I speak death here" or "I speak and here is death" or something similar.



To stop bleeding

Hold hands over the bleeding area while repeating three times:

"I walk through a green forest

there I find three wells.

The first is courage

The second is faith

and the third will stop the blood."


Another to stop bleeding

"This is the day on which the injury happened.  Blood, thou must stop, until the Virgin Mary brings forth another son.  In the names of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."


For general sickness

Measure a red string from the top of the individual's head to the tip of their toes.  Use this string to measure the circle of their head and tie a knot.  Now measure the circle of their chest and tie a knot.  Now measure the length of their left arm and tie a knot.  While doing so, repeat either the Lord's Prayer three times or Psalm 30:2 three times. Burn the string.


To stop bleeding

Hold a small round stone over the wound and say:

"The water is mud

and run's aflood

and so does thy blood.

God bade it stand

and so it did.

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


Repeat for a total of three times.

Remedy for wounds

St. Anthony's Fire and the Dragon's red,

Together over the Brook they fled.

St. Anthony's Fire is done;

The Dragons they are gone.  +  +  +


Another for stopping blood

Hold the knife over the bleeding area while repeating:

"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!"

Make the sign of the cross over the wound after each repetition.  Repeat for a total of three times.

For Sore Throat

To cure sore throat, read the eighth Psalm seven times for three successive mornings over the patient.

For Snakebite

This is an unusual charm that comes from the English Cunning Folk (Baker, Jim: Cunning Man's Handbook, 2013)

A piece of hazelwood, fastened in the shape of a cross, should be laid softly on the wound, and the following lines twice repeated-

"Underneath this hazelin mote,

There's a bragotty worm with a speckled throat,

Nine double is he;

Now from eight double to seven double, and from seven double to six double, and from six double to five double, and from five double to four double, and from four double to three double, and from three double to two double, and from two double to one double, and from one double to no double.

No double hath he."

+  +  + 

For splinters or thorns

"Jesus walked upon the earth, he pricked his foot with a thorn, his blood sprung up to heaven, his flesh never rankled nor perished, no more shall not thine.  In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen." +  +  + 


 For Swelling

Swelling, swelling, swelling, in the name of Jesus, I command thee, that thou shalt cause N.N. as little pain as the three nails caused our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Those nails were driven through his hands and feet by the wicked Jews.  + + + Three times.  (Albertus Magnus)


For Burns

Away burns, undo the band; if cold or warm, cease the hand. God save thee, N.N., thy flesh, thy blood, thy marrow, thy bone, and all thy veins.  They all shall be saved, for warm and cold brands reign.  + + + Three times spoken.






It is a common practice to seat the client in a chair used specifically for PowWow work.  The client would traditionally be facing East, with plenty of space left around the chair for the PowWow Doctor to do his work.  This photograph (forgive the quality) is of a PowWow chair used in the 1800's in Manheim, PA (photo from the Schaefferstown Historical Society).  The three posts on the back of the chair represent the Holy Trinity.  Note the seat contains a label of some sort.  It was common to place prayers on or under the seat to add power to the healing work.  The client would be seated in the chair and typically asked to hold a Bible on their lap.  This is still the common practice today. 

The PowWow session


There are several different types of Pow-wowing that you may find yourself participating in; depending on the specific needs of your client. In most cases, you will be asked for some very general brauch work; most often for quickie healings for minor burns or scrapes and the like.


For general healings; simply work the charm as it is directed to be used. Generally speaking, the charm is spoken three times, more if the situation requires it, but generally not less than three. If you feel you need to do a little more work, wait for the space of about thirty minutes and repeat the three repetitions of the charm. Then finish up a third time the next morning. This is for generalized work.

Of course, your client may not be able to return the next day. For simple matters, like bee stings and such, simply working the charm in a repetition of three is generally sufficient.


For actual healing sessions where the client is coming to your home, I have developed the following outline. This outline is based on the more traditional brauch methods and you'll find that most of the PowWow Doctors practicing today will utilize an outline similar to, if not the same as, the following:

1. Welcome the individual to your home. Your home is where you will be doing most of your Pow-wow work, so it is important for your client to feel safe and welcome. Seat your client in a chair facing east and have them hold your bible on their lap.

2. Assess their situation and determine which charm or charms you will be using to heal them, remove a curse, etc.  You may already have enough information before they arrive to have this prepared ahead of time.

3. Depending on how religious you are, you may take a moment to pray silently for the ability to successfully work your powwowing.  If not, it's ok.  There is no historical precedence for praying before your work, but certainly it won't hurt.

4. Do the techniques necessary in order to effect their healing. Whether you are doing a charm for pain relief or a chant for a specific illness or whatever, work through it carefully. Take breaks so you do not overwhelm your client. Don't be spooky or weird or silly about it. Just stick to your technique. Keep in mind that some may be uncomfortable with elaborate displays or discussions of magical techniques. Your methods should be kept simple and/or quiet so as not to alarm your client.

5. Finish up by sealing the powwow work with the sign of the cross in the names of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. +++  If you have handmade charms to give the client to take with them, now is the time to do so.  Then end your session.




The third type of brauch work you may be called on to do falls into the realm of 'more complex'. This is work to banish the negative effects of witchery or spiritual contacts. A lesser-known aspect of Powwow is the Powwower's role as Exorcist. The mistake made in modern types with the more spiritually loose individuals is that they all have the power to banish malevolent energies and forces and this false sense of power can be dangerous at best; deadly at worst. I've met countless individuals who claim to have vanquished demonic forces and the powers of darkness; not to mention simple ghosts and the out-of-control effects of bad magic; and I question the truth of such claims. There was once a time when I had no real belief in the power of negative witchery or spiritual/demonic forces. It wasn't until I was on the receiving end of such workings that I realized not only how dangerous such things could be, but how little the practitioners who were calling upon these forces knew what they were doing. A good rule of thumb to adhere to when you are faced with a potential evil spirit or negative witchery: Don't assume you can handle it because you probably cannot. Things like this are of a completely different nature than we are. In the realm of Powwow, leave situations like this to those who know what they are doing and have the spiritual foundation to do it. In my personal experience, Christ is the only true power when it comes to vanquishing witchcraft and demonic forces, and only a Christian has access to this power.

Using astrological correspondences in conjunction with healing...

So that a Magician is no other but divinorum cultor & interpres, a studious observer and expounder of divine things; and the Art itself is none other quam Naturalis Philosophiæ absoluta consummatio, then the absolute perfection of Natural Philosophy. Nevertheless there is a mixture in all things, good with evil, of falsehood with truth, of corruption with purity. The good, the truth, the purity, in every kinde, may well be embraced: As in the ancient worshipping of God by Sacrifice, there was no man knowing God among the Elders, that did not forbear to worship the God of all power, or condemn that kinde of Worship, because the devil was so adored in the image of Baal, Dagon, Astaroth, Chemosh, Jupiter, Apollo, and the like.

Neither did the abuse of Astrology terrify Abraham, (if we believe the most ancient and religious writers) from observing the motions and natures of the heavenly bodies. Neither can it dehort wise and learned men in these days from attributing those vertues, influences, and inclinations, to the Stars and other Lights of heaven, which God hath given to those his glorious creatures.


--Arbatel De Magie Veterum, 1575


The phases of the moon and the astrological sign the moon is in are important to the PA Dutch for both agricultural work and healing. 



The head and face-Aries




Reproductive organs-Scorpio









When using the moon's phases and planetary correspondences, you will probably need a good almanac.  The Farmer's Almanac has monthly astrological information that is perfect for powwowing (as well as planting and harvesting).


Generally speaking, the moon's energies ebb and flow with it's phases.  The New Moon is when the moon is not visible in the sky.  From this point to approximately 7 days later, the moon is in it's First Quarter.  This is a time of building and beginnings and powwowing for the increase of something is empowered at this time.


From 7 to 14 days after the New Moon the moon is in it's Second Quarter.  It culminates in a Full Moon.  This phase of the moon is for empowering your healing, increasing something, building something, making paper talismans, etc.


From the Full Moon to 7 days after is the Third Quarter.  This is a time of decrease; a time of things fading and going away.  Hex removal and protection charms are empowered at this time.


From 7 to 14 days after the Full Moon is the Last Quarter.  This is a time of banishing, binding, curse removal, combating witchcraft and elimination.


The moon travels through each of the Zodiac signs (mentioned above).  It stays in a sign for approximately 2.5 days (give or take).  During those times, conditions for the parts of the body ruled by that sign are more favorable.  Remember: when in need, do the powwowing.  Don't wait for proper moon phase or sign.  Do what you need to do, when you need to do it.  However, the moon's energies can add something extra to your work, so if it's possible to wait, then do so.


To get the most benefit from working with astrological correspondences when healing, a good rule of thumb is to pick up a good Farmer's Almanac.  For the past three hundred years, the PA Dutch have been using almanacs to keep track of the Moon's phases and signs.  Almanacs are also invaluable for their weather predictions, funny stories and even favorite recipes.


To use this information in your healing work, check your local almanac and find out which sign the moon is currently occupying.  It's good to keep in mind that the moon stays within each sign for approximately two days, give or take several hours, the almanac will give you more detailed information.  The moon travels through each of the twelve signs in approximately 29 days; a full cycle from New to Full to New again.  The sign the moon is in can be an additional boost for specific healing work.  Use the information above to help you plan your visits with those who need your help. 


For timing purposes, some PowWows will calculate Planetary Hours. This gives you the planet which is 'in charge' for any given point during the day so that you may get the most benefit out of your work. The planetary hours are adjusted according to your location. I recommend getting a good Planetary Hours calculator, like CHRONOS XP. It's a free download for your computer and will calculate your planetary hours for you. :) I've been using Chronos for a long time now and it's perfect.


Remember that this is just an extra bit of information that may help you in your healing work.  Never put off helping another person just because you don't feel the moon sign matches up with their need.  However, if it is possible to wait a few days for a more favorable moon, then do so if you and the client are in agreement.


Also important to consider is whether the moon is WANING or WAXING.  A WANING moon represents things lessening, banishing, disappearing, going away, diminishing, etc....  A WAXING moon represents things building, growing, increasing, advancing, appearing, etc. 



amish home remedies for allergies

The following information comes from "Amish Folk Medicine" by Don Yoder and Barbara Duncan.  I highly recommend this book and it can be purchased HERE.


Catnip-treatment for hives caused by allergies.  Wash the hives with catnip tea.  Catnip also have calming properties as it contains nepetalactone, a mild sedative.  Bring to a boil one quart of water, add four teaspoons of dried catnip and continue to boil for ten minutes.  Strain out the leaves and let the solution cool before use.


Honey-the Amish use honey to prevent and treat hay fever.  One remedy for hay fever is to take a tablespoon of honey in a half-glass of water once a day.  This may also help lose weight.  Chew the honeycomb to stop a runny nose.  For treatment of local allergies, it is believed that it's best to use local honey.


Salt Water-snuffed into the sinuses to cleanse the area of mucus and dust.  This removes irritants from the mucuous membranes and may prevent sinuses from becoming infected.

HERE IS A NICE ARTICLE about an Amish couple who offer holistic medical treatments and herbal cures in the state of Indiana.



The Astrology Rhyme

The Pennsylvania Germans were story tellers and song singers and famous for their rhymes.  Many of the poems surviving are in English, and perhaps the rhyme is not quite as obvious as it was in it's original German.  Still, there are plenty of examples of rhymes or cute phrases created in order to remember something important.  We know astrological associations are important to the agricultural Pennsylvania German, so it's only understandable that a rhyme would be created to remember the signs.  This particular rhyme was for those who utilized astrological associations in the healing arts.  The rhyme was designed to remember the order of the zodiac associations for the image below.


Der wider der staised,

Die kinner sin base

Der labe, der brilled,

Die woke die gilt.

Der shits der sheesed,

Der wasserman giesed.

Der fish, der schwimmt,

Der steinbuck springt.

Der scorpion sticht,

Die yungfrau spricht.

Der greps, der shot,

Der ox, der blatt.




The weather butts;

the children are angry;

the lion roars;

the scales weight.

The hunter shoots;

the waterman pours;

the fish swims;

the goat leaps.

The scorpion crawls;

the maiden talks;

the crab scratches;

the ox lows.