Merry we meet - Merry we meet - Merry we meet
Written and compiled by George Knowles
During the 17th and 18th centuries there was much migration from continental Europe when whole families seeking to flee the hardships, famine and poverty of their own lands set their sights on the adventure and prosperity offered in the new lands of hope and glory called America. Many of the German settlers who colonized the interior of Pennsylvania also brought with them their Old World beliefs in Witchcraft and Magick. Due to the lands resemblance to their former homes in Europe, many of them settled in the rich rural areas of York, Dauphin, Lancaster, Schuylkill, Carbon and Reading, which over time became commonly known as the counties of the “Pennsylvania Dutch” (Dutch, a corruption of “Deutsch” meaning German).
The early Pennsylvania Dutch peoples were proud family orientated folk-people, deeply religious, and fiercely defensive of their traditional ways of life. They kept to themselves and were suspicious of outsiders, and even retained their German language. This over time and through necessity became mixed with English to form their particular Pennsylvania Dutch dialect. They also continued to practice their own form of traditional Witchcraft and magick. As much of their witchcraft and magick was centered on herbs and healing, they enlisted the aid of local Indians to learn about and find native roots and herbs for use in medicinal recipes.
Observing the Indians powwows, their meetings for ceremonial dance and conference purposes, they discovered that like themselves, the Indians used charms and incantations for healing. Impressed with the Indians methods of driving out evil spirits, they adopted the term “powwowing” to refer to their own magickal healings. Powwowing has survived through the advance of time and is still practiced today, and while some of the charms and incantations used date back to ancient times, many contain Biblical and Kabalistic elements that can be adapted for modern-day use.
Of the old
pioneers to emigrate from Germany and settle in Pennsylvania, John George Hohman
is of particular interest concerning powwowing.
Hohman, his wife Catherine and
son Caspar arrived on a ship from Hamburg, Germany in 1799 and
settling in Rosenthal, Reading,
began their lives in America in
“indenture” service. A
farmer called Fretz who lived in the Bedminister Township purchased the
Hohmann’s services. Later, he
formed the acquaintance of a Nicholas Buck for whom he formed a strong
attachment. Arrangements were made to allow Hohman to pay off the rest of
his indenture with Nicholas Buck while his wife and son worked for Mr. Fretz.
Hohmann was a devout Roman Catholic and a great believer in faith healing, and once free from indenture began to collect various charms and herbal remedies, as well as collating those passed down through centuries of oral tradition and published them in a handbook called “The Long Lost Friend” (1819). This allowed Hohman to achieve some modest financial success, for it quickly became one of two “Bibles” on powwowing (the other being an anonymous book called the “Seventh Book of Moses”), both of which could be found in virtually every Pennsylvania Dutch household.
In “The Long Lost Friend”, Hohman mixed magick and healing formulas gleaned from a variety of sources, including Germany, England and Egypt, some dating back to antiquity. It was not a book of “hexes”, and Hohman emphasizes that a “hex” was a spell, curse or bewitchment cast by a Witch, commonly with evil intent, though it could be use for either good or bad purposes and should be used for healing not for destroying. In it he also included the wisdom of the Gypsies and the Kabbalah, as well as testimonials of his own successes. In his introduction he states:
“There are many in America who believe in neither hell nor heaven, but in Germany there are not so many of these persons found. I, Hohman, ask: Who can immediately banish the wheal, or mortification? I reply, and I, Hohman, say: All this is done by the Lord. Therefore, a hell and a heaven must exist, and I think very little of any who dares deny it”.
Hohman also promised his readers that:
“Whoever carries this book with him, is safe from all his enemies, visible or invisible, and whoever has this book cannot die without the holy corpse of Jesus Christ, nor drowned (sic) in any water, nor burn up in any fire, nor can any unjust sentence be passed upon him. So help me”.
In the book he offers the following charm to prevent witches from bewitching cattle, or to stop evil spirits from tormenting people in their sleep at night. It should be written down and placed either in the stable or on the bedstead:
“Trotter Head, I forbid thee my house and premises, I forbid thee my horse and cow-stable, I forbid thee my bedstead, that thou mayest not breathe upon me, breathe into some other house, until thou hast ascended every hill, until thou hast counted every fence post, and until thou hast crossed every water. And thus dear day may come again into my house, in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen”.
The second “bible” of powwowing is the “Seventh Book of Moses”. This is a mixture of material take from the Talmud, Kabbalah and the Old Testament. It explains how to break a hex by wearing an amulet containing specially selected herbs wrapped in parchment paper inscribed with biblical verses or charms. In another method it tells how the hexed person should avoid direct sunlight, to stay in-doors when the moon is full, to cover the ears at the sound of a bell, and to never listen to the crowing of a cock. Most family households in the Pennsylvania Dutch “hex belt” (as these areas became known) had copies of both powwowing “bibles”, and anyone could use them. However the charms were believed more effective when prescribed or recited by a “bona fide” practitioner.
most skilled of powwowing practitioners are born into it, inheriting such occult
abilities as healing, clairvoyance and precognition. According to tradition, the “seventh son of a seventh
son” inherits special powers, and is thought to be the most powerful, but
both men and women can be practitioners. Powwowers
start their training at an early age, and are taught only by family members of
the opposite sex. They use a
variety of techniques to help their clients, such as the laying on of hands,
incantations and signs (such as the sign of the cross).
Some specialize in charms and amulets, while others may use special
herbs, potions and powders. One
well-reputed powwower from the turn of the century was called Charles W. Rice.
He lived in York, where he specialized in curing blindness with a potion
he called “Sea Monster Tears”. This
he dispensed at $2.50 a drop.
The most common of the powwower’s charms are the “Himmels-briefs” (heavens letters). These are basically a guarantee of protection written by the powwower on a piece of parchment paper in biblical verse. It is then hung up in the home or barn, or carried on the person it was written for. They can be written to protect the home, animals and people from all sorts of harm and disaster, be they natural or un-natural. Disbelievers were told: “Whosoever doubts the truth of a Himmels-briefs, may attach a copy of the brief to the neck of a dog and fire upon it, he will then be convinced of its truthfulness”. Himmels-briefs typically cost from $25.00 to hundreds of dollars depending on the power and reputation of the powwower and the specifics of the charm. They were particularly popular with the soldiers of World War I, who carried them into battle for protection against injury and death.
powwowers work quietly and attract their clients by word of mouth and
reputation. Some work at it as a
sideline to their main business, seeing clients only in the evenings or at
weekends, others work at it full-time. To
many it is considered unethical to charge fees for their services, and instead
accept “voluntary contributions” though they may suggest appropriate
amounts for specific services. Most
will also help those clients who cannot pay, trusting that grateful clients will
return when funds are available.
Today the secrets of Powwowing remain very much a Pennsylvania Dutch family tradition. However, Silver Ravenwolf a modern day neo-pagan, author and founder of the Black Forest Circle and Seminary, is also a trained practitioner of Pow-Wow, and has published her own version of powwowing in a book called: “Hex Craft: Dutch Country Pow-wow Magick” (lewellyn Publications; 1st edition - May 1995).
The Encyclopedia of Witches & Witchcraft - By Rosemary Ellen Guiley
An ABC of Witchcraft Past and Present - By Doreen Valiente
A copy of the “The Long Lost Friend” can be downloaded free from here:
First published on the 04th
March 2007 © George Knowles
Updated on the 18th May 2006
Best Wishes and Blessed Be
Site Contents - Links to all Pages
A Universal Message:
Let there be peace in the world - Where have all the flowers gone?
Wicca & Witchcraft
The Wiccan Rede / Charge of the Goddess / Charge of the God / The Three-Fold Law (includes The Law of Power and The Four Powers of the Magus) / The Witches Chant / The Witches Creed / Descent of the Goddess / Drawing Down the Moon / The Great Rite Invocation / Invocation of the Horned God / The 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief / The Witches Rede of Chivalry / A Pledge to Pagan Spirituality
Traditions Part 1 - Alexandrian Wicca / Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) / Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) / Blue Star Wicca / British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) / Celtic Wicca / Ceremonial Magic / Chaos Magic / Church and School of Wicca / Circle Sanctuary / Covenant of the Goddess (COG) / Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) / Cyber Wicca / Dianic Wicca / Eclectic Wicca / Feri Wicca /
Traditions Part 2 - Gardnerian Wicca / Georgian Tradition / Henge of Keltria / Hereditary Witchcraft / Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) / Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) / Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition / Nordic Paganism / Pagan Federation / Pectic-Wita / Seax-Wica / Shamanism / Solitary / Strega / Sylvan Tradition / Vodoun or Voodoo / Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /
Other things of interest:
Gods and Goddesses (Greek Mythology) / Esbats & Full Moons / Links to Personal Friends & Resources / Wicca/Witchcraft Resources / What's a spell? / Circle Casting and Sacred Space / Pentagram - Pentacle / Marks of a Witch / The Witches Power / The Witches Hat / An esoteric guide to visiting London / Satanism / Pow-wow / The Unitarian Universalist Association / Numerology: Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / A history of the Malleus Maleficarum: includes: Pope Innocent VIII / The papal Bull / The Malleus Maleficarum / An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum / The letter of approbation / Johann Nider’s Formicarius / Jacob Sprenger / Heinrich Kramer / Stefano Infessura / Montague Summers / The Waldenses / The Albigenses / The Hussites / The Native American Sun Dance / Shielding (Occult and Psychic Protection) /
Sabbats and Festivals:
The Sabbats in History and Mythology / Samhain (October 31st) / Yule (December 21st) / Imbolc (February 2nd) / Ostara (March 21st) / Beltane (April 30th) / Litha (June 21st) / Lammas/Lughnasadh (August 1st) / Mabon (September 21st)
Rituals contributed by Crone:
Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar and Totem Animals) / Antelope / Bats / Crow / Fox / Frog and Toads / Goat / Honeybee / Kangaroo / Lion / Owl / Phoenix / Rabbits and Hares / Raven / Robin Redbreast / Sheep / Spider / Squirrel / Swans / Unicorn / Wild Boar / Wolf / Serpent / Pig / Stag / Horse / Mouse / Cat / Rats / Unicorn
In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar. For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following: Birch / Rowan / Ash / Alder / Willow / Hawthorn / Oak / Holly / Hazel / Vine / Ivy / Reed / Elder
Rocks and Stones:
Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin:
Apophyllite / Amber / Amethyst / Aquamarine / Aragonite / Aventurine / Black Tourmaline / Bloodstone / Calcite / Carnelian / Celestite / Citrine / Chrysanthemum Stone / Diamond / Emerald / Fluorite / Garnet / Hematite / Herkimer Diamond / Labradorite / Lapis Lazuli / Malachite / Moonstone / Obsidian / Opal / Pyrite / Quartz (Rock Crystal) / Rose Quartz / Ruby / Selenite / Seraphinite / Silver and Gold / Smoky Quartz / Sodalite / Sunstone / Thunderegg / Tree Agate / Zebra Marble
Wisdom and Inspiration:
Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:
Murdered by Witchcraft / The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch / The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) / Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife / The Story of Jack-O-Lantern / The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost / Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) / The Two Brothers - Light and Dark
Old Masters of Academia:
(Ancient, Past and Present)
(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)
Pioneers: Founders, Elders, Leaders and Others
Aidan A Kelly / Aleister Crowley - “The Great Beast” / Alex Sanders - “King of the Witches” / Alison Harlow / Allan Bennett - the Ven. Ananda Metteyya / Allan Kardec (Spiritism) / Alphonsus de Spina / Amber K / Ann Moura / Anna Franklin / Anodea Judith / Anton Szandor LaVey / Arnold Crowther / Arthur Edward Waite / Austin Osman Spare / Balthasar Bekker / Biddy Early / Barbara Vickers / Bridget Cleary - The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / Carl " Llewellyn" Weschcke / Cecil Hugh Williamson / Charles Godfrey Leland / Charles Walton / Christopher Penczak / Christina Oakley Harrington / Cornelius Loos / Damh the Bard - "Dave Smith" / Dion Fortune / Dolores Aschroft-Nowicki / Donald Michael Kraig / Doreen Valiente / Dorothy Morrison / Dr. John Dee & Edward Kelly / Dr. Leo Louis Martello / Edain McCoy / Edward Fitch / Eleanor Ray Bone - “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” / Eliphas Levi / Ernest Thompson Seton / Ernest Westlake / Fiona Horne / Frederick McLaren Adams - Feraferia / Friedrich von Spee / Francis Barrett / Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca / Gerald B. Gardner - The father of contemporary Witchcraft / Gwydion Pendderwen / Hans Holzer / Helen Duncan / Hermann Löher / Herman Slater - Horrible Herman / Heinrich Kramer and the “Malleus Maleficarum” / Idries Shah / Isaac Bonewits / Israel Regardie / Ivo Domínguez Jr. / Jack Whiteside Parsons - Rocket Science and Magick / James "Cunning" Murrell - The Master of Witches / James Sprenger and the “Malleus Maleficarum” / Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone / Jean Bodin / Jessie Wicker Bell - “Lady Sheba” / Johann Weyer / Johannes Junius - "The Burgomaster of Bamberg" / Johann Georg Fuchs von Dornheim - the “Hexenbrenner” (witch burner) / John Belham-Payne / John George Hohman - "Pow-wow" / John Gerard / John Gordon Hargrave and the Kibbo Kith Kindred / John Michael Greer / John Score / Joseph “Bearwalker” Wilson / Joseph John Campbell / Karl von Eckartshausen / Lady Gwen Thompson - and "The Rede of the Wiccae" / Lambert Daneau / Laurie Cabot - "the Official Witch of Salem" / Lewis Spence / Lodovico Maria Sinistrari / Ludwig Lavater / Madeline Montalban and the Order of the Morning Star / Margaret Alice Murray / Margot Adler / Michael Howard and the UK "Cauldron Magazine" / Margaret St. Clair - the “Sign of the Labrys” / Marie Laveau - " the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" / Marion Weinstein / Martin Antoine Del Rio / Matthew Hopkins - “The Witch-Finder General” / Michael A. Aquino - and The Temple of Set / Monique Wilson / Montague Summers / Nicholas Culpeper / Nicholas Remy / M. R. Sellars / Mrs. Maud Grieve - "A Modern Herbal" / Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Morning Glory / Old Dorothy Clutterbuck / Old George Pickingill / Olivia Durdin-Robertson - co-founder of the Fellowship of Isis / Paddy Slade / Pamela Colman-Smith / Patricia Crowther / Patricia Monaghan / Patricia “Trish” Telesco / Paul Foster Case and the “Builders of the Adytum” mystery school / Peter Binsfeld / Philip Heselton / Raven Grimassi / Raymond Buckland / Reginald Scot / Richard Baxter / Robert Cochrane / Robert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and the "The White Goddess" / Rosaleen Norton - “The Witch of Kings Cross” / Rossell Hope Robbins / Ross Nichols and the " Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids" (OBOD) / Rudolf Steiner / Sabrina Underwood - "The Ink Witch" / Scott Cunningham / Selena Fox - founder of "Circle Sanctuary" / Silver Ravenwolf / Sir Francis Dashwood / Sir James George Frazer and the " The Golden Bough" / S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” / Starhawk / Stewart Farrar / Sybil Leek / Ted Andrews / The Mather Family - (includes: Richard Mather, Increase Mather and Cotton Mather ) / Thomas Ady / T. Thorn Coyle / Vera Chapman / Victor & Cora Anderson and the " Feri Tradition" / Vivianne Crowley / Walter Brown Gibson / Walter Ernest Butler / William Butler Yeats / Zsuzsanna Budapest /
Many of the above biographies are briefs and far from complete. If you know about any of these individuals and can help with additional information, please contact me privately at my email address below. Many thanks for reading :-)
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