Braucherei – German American Folk Magic from a Witches Perspective

Copy of five-pointed star with prayer for protectionImage with colors reversed from the website below with more detail at end of this  post

Yesterday at the end of my post i wrote a little on Braucherei, better known as Pennsylvania Dutch Powwow, and gave some links which you should read first since i won’t repeat them here. So i will write a little more here but not much because i do not practice nor am i trained in powwow, though i do know two people who do practice, one of which being a member of our Coven. But in some ways it is similar to folk medicine from many native tribes from around the world, except it is a Christian system.

Since i am no authority on the subject i will just refer you to more links here, The one i found yesterday is to Pennsylvania Dutch Folk Magic and Healing that has a lot of good information and other links in it. Here also is a video by Rob Chapman of that website that gives a simple explanation of powwow:

And here are two good books on the subject that are out there on the market in print now:

The Red Church or The Art of Pennsylvania German Braucherei by C.R.Bilardi

Hex and Spellwork: the Magical Practices of the Pennsylvania Dutch by Karl Herr

So within my limited knowledge i will just give some personal opinions and stories of my encounters with powwow practices.

Some people, like some witches in south central PA, think that you can substitute the names of other Wiccan and Pagan Gods and Goddesses into the formulas and it will work the same, but i do not agree with that theory. I think one really has to be a Christian and believe in YHVH and Jesus to really call it powwow. Otherwise it is just European folk magic using some verses from the Bible, which is not unheard of in other systems of western grimoire Magickes. Another example is just because a Moslem quotes verses from the Jewish scriptures (because some of them are in the Koran) that does not make him a Jew. Powwow is a Christian system and you have to believe in Christianity to really make it work.

Regarding powwow and witchcraft a lot of old powow is to protect people from witches, which in their terminology means witches who only work to do harm to others, sometimes called Hexens. So they are not talking about the modern practice of white or grey witchcraft. To quote from the website linked above the author clarifies:

“NOTE:  Where the mention is made of ‘witchcraft’; this does not automatically include those who consider themselves to be ‘witches’ in the modern, primarily neo-pagan sense of the word; such as with the religion of Wicca.  “Witchcraft”; as it applies to this website and the PA Dutch, is the practice of MALEVOLENT magic designed to cause discordance and harm; with no real benefits except to the ego of the caster of such magic.”

Regarding their herbal medicine of my theories is that when the Germans and other Scots-Irish immigrants came over to America they brought over some of their native healing plants, and discovered some of them already growing here, AND the AmerIndians already here shared their herbal knowledge with them so their herbalism merged together.

My fellow covener, “Dutch J”, has done some powwow for me both in healing and protective work. He “works with both hands” to coin a Hoodoo phrase. And powwow is German Hoodoo in my opinion. I have watched him closely though i cannot tell what he is saying because he is whispering in PA Dutch German. His original coven was in the prime south-central Pa Dutch area and they used some powwow in their spells and some of it was pretty dark but i will skip those details. He helped me do a couple binding and protecting spells and i can tell you the power raised scared even me and later worried me that it may have gone too far. But he was also initiated as what is called a “Burner” so he was trained to handle the karma of such acts. They were not spells to harm anyone, unless they crossed a certain line, and we drew that line in ritual. One thing I learned – powwow is powerful and not a force to be dealt with lightly. Those protective spells were rarely needed, and J mostly worked 95% of his “trying for you” on healing spells for me and others who came to him. Unfortunately he has not found someone to pass it on to since it has to be to a woman and no one in his family is interested.

In my opinion the most important things in powwow healing are faith in a higher power working through you, and the ability to transmit energy through one’s mind, voice and hands.

Regarding the image at the top of this page, as i said it is from the website referred to and i am not sure if it was drawn by and owned by the author or whether it is from another source. When i first looked at it the central sigil it looked a little familiar and i remember a picture i took (posted below) in a local cemetery. I could tell it was in Arabic and looked like it was shaped like a ship so i assumed the deceased to be a Moslem or Baha’i. My one powwow friend told me it is the Moslem Baslama for one of the praises to the name of Allah. Still, i think it pretty strange to find that locally and then to find it again on a Powwow website, but perhaps future emails will clarify this and i will insert a footnote.

Arabic Bahai grave