Books on Pow-Wow, Braucherei, and Granny Magick fall into two categories — (1) What past practitioners used as reference and modern how-to’s, and books written by non-practitioners researching the subjects. This article covers some of the commonly used books and materials available in the How-To category.
Books Employed by Pow-Wow Doctors in South Central Pennsylvania — Past & Present
by Jenine Trayer
Although the teachings of Pow-Wow were primarily oral in nature with the requirement of memorization on the part of the practitioner, a few books and pamphlets were utilized on occasion by both Brauchers and their clients. The following texts were commonly used (and still are today) by various practitioners of Braucherei in South Central Pennsylvania.
Long Lost Friend — Johann Georg Hohman(n)
Johann Georg Hohman arrived on the ship Tom in America on 12 October 1802, landing in Philadelphia from
Hamburg, Germany with his wife and son, Philip.(1) A poor man, Hohman and his wife worked as indentured servants to pay off their passage debt and moved to Reading, Pennsylvania. As soon as Hohman attained freedom he busily began writing and publishing an extensive number of broadsides, books and articles, this fact supported by his record of payment for printing costs from the account books of the Readinger Adler. Don Yoder, noted folklorist writes, “His (Hohman’s) broadside publication was extensive. His Himmelsbrief of 1811, the text of which states that he brought it to America in 1802, is the first known print of this basic folk-religious document in America. In 1811 he also published the popular Mayerh of Murder Ballad, which he admits improving for better singing, and he added the three last verses. It became a best-seller.” (2)
Hohman’s zest for writing knew no bounds, with his collection covering household medicine (The Countryman’s Family Medicine Chest), ballads, hymns, the first American version of the Himmelsbrief (Letter from Heaven) and his famous powwow book — Der Lange Verborgene Freund — Long Lost Friend. Hohman claimed the book was partly derived from a work published by a Gypsy and partly from secret writings. Given that Hohman gained passage to America as an indentured servant, his mention of Gypsy charms and spells in Long Lost Friend, the fact that he was Catholic in a primarily Protestant immigration wave, and his penchant for songs and ballads – it is highly possible that Hohman himself may have been a member of an unusual sect of German / European people with olive skin and curly, dark hair known as The Black Dutch, or may have been highly intimate with them. Don Yoder, folklorist, explains that as much as one-third of the entire content of the Long Lost Friend was lifted from the German language charm book “Romanus-Buchlein” which appeared in Germany in 1788 — just 14 years before Hohman came to America, published under a different author. A copy of this book can be found at http://www.esotericarchives.com.(3)
“Aside from the Holy Scripture and the dictionary, probably no single book in America has had consistent and lasting sale as Hohman’s Long Lost Friend” — wrote A. Monroe Aurand, Jr., the publisher of many Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore chapbooks through his own publishing company — the Aurand Press, in 1929. It has been estimated that more than 150 editions and about a half-million copies of Long Lost Friend have been sold since its first publication. Hohman disappeared after the publication of his last book in 1846.
Long Lost Friend is considered the Grand Dame of all faith-healing books. Beginning with testimonials, the book opens into a collection of approximately 187 recipes of chants, charms and techniques for curing all manner of human and animal sicknesses, forcing the return of stolen goods, listing unlucky days, extinguishing fires by magick words, avoiding gun rust, protection against guns and evil people, and more. Placed on almost every household mantle, often beside the Bible so that it could gain more power, the book has figured prominently in the training, study, and history of Braucherei. It even took center stage in a gruesome Rehmeyer murder in 1928.
.PDF copies of the original version of the Romanus-Buchlein, along with both original German and English translation are still used today across the U.S. by Pow-Wow practitioners.
The Family Bible (edition depending upon your faith)
When accused of going against God’s word, several PowWow’s responded with, “That cannot be so. The chants I use come directly from the Bible!” (add indignant tone here). Particularly thought to be powerful were those passages believed to stop blood — Ezekiel 16: 6 (“And When I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live!; yea, I said unto thee when thou was in thy blood, Live!” )and the general chant — “And these signs…” Mark 16: 17-18. As different editions and types of Bibles existed, so did the recitations of the charms also differ among the various practitioners. For example, in the blood stopping charm, another rendition is: “And when I passed by thee, and saw thee trodden underfoot in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live!; yea, I said unto thee when thou was in thy blood, Live!” Even more confusing, in some Bibles the passage is marked as 16:6 and in others, 16:8. 16:8, however, in the Bible we have here lends itself to a marriage charm and obtaining one’s life partner.
The Psalms of the Bible were also heavily used, allowing the practitioner the safety of the faith. He or she could operate in the zone of community acceptance by recommending these Psalms as a part of follow-up care. Over time, specific Psalms were identified to assist in overcoming various life circumstances. For example, Psalm 3 is for backaches and headaches that won’t go away. Psalm 4 is for turning bad luck around and removing hexes, jinxes, and crossed circumstances.
6th & 7th Books of Moses – Johann Scheibel
language that became extinct in the 12th century. The book contains over 125 seals, signs, emblems, and incantations purportedly used by Moses, Aaron, the Israelites and the Egyptians and particularly expounds the feats of Moses against his enemies. Like the Long Lost Friend, Scheibel’s Books of Moses has enjoyed longevity of publication. Though the seals in the book are allegedly Kabbalistic, in nature, scholars agree that there is very little or no influence of Kabbala actually in the book. Less used by the total collection of Pow-Wow’s (many due to religious fear and the association of the spirits as demons), this volume, like the others is a mis-match of information garnered from a variety of sources. Unlike Hohman’s work, the text deals entirely with ceremonial magick rather than the down-home spells that populate Long Lost Friend and Albertus Magus Egyptian Secrets. This book in particular appears to change per publishing company, meaning a varied number of editions contain different information. For more information on this text and other occult related information, you may wish to visithttp://www.esotericarchives.com
This book, however, is written in the same style as Hohman’sLong Lost Friend with approximately 833 charms, spells, recipes, formulas and practices covering a compendium of daily agricultural life. A large number of medicinal formulas involving herbal concoctions to ingest or to be used as salves, as well as a preponderance of charms for protection are peppered throughout the work. Practical spells such as how to win in court, how to make wine, how to win a fight, cow whispering, mending broken glass, and the cessation of drinking and gambling are also included as well as a plethora of spells to catch a thief. Due to the title indication — White and Black Art – this was another book that was not publically used by most Pow-Wow practitioners. Upon perusing the book, there are a few off color suggestions including the use of a criminal’s skull for one spell and in two spells a needle that has been used to sew a shroud. Lucifer is conjured in three spells to remove his own garbage from the practitioner’s or client’s life. I suspect these six procedures frightened off most of the godly, even though the author swears in the beginning of the book that all things must be done in the name of God, and that by using the information you will wrest the power from the Devil, himself.
The Guide to Health or Household Instructor
Published by Ossman & Steel, Wiconisco, PA in 1894, this book is also much like Hohman’s Long Lost Friend containing a variety of charms and medicinal suggestions for good health, long life, protection and more. The focus of this text is more on the rural remedies including how to make plasters, tinctures, etc. to treat people and livestock. The introduction focuses on the ease of Pow-Wowing through the information contained therein. The text goes on to say: “One feature of this book we wish especially to impress upon the mind of our readers, and that is, that every word and every line, and every page, is true. ” The book opens with the Letter of Protection said to be carried in the Army by George Washington. The book is 109 pages in length and carries approximately 150 spell, cures, formulas, and charms.
A Friend in Need
The Friend in Need – Der Freund in der Noth. An earlier Hohman work recently translated and annotated by Patrick J. Donmoyer from Kutztown University. The book is available at the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center. “Additional material is featured as a series of appendices, including selections and images of original sources found in the collection of the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center, consisting of contemporaneous manuscript and printed folk-healing manuals (see above right), as well as facsimiles of related early 19th century protective broadsides such as the “Gypsy Fire-Charm” (3) Reference to, and some translation (not complete or entirely accurate) is also found in South Mountain Magic, written in 1882 by Madeline Vinton Dahlgren. South Mountain Magic is not covered in this article as it is not a how-to volume.
Pow-Wow Books of Today
PowWow material continues to fall within a niche market, and only a few present-day authors show interest in the subject as a how-to art and science. Texts currently available include American Shamans by Jack Montgomery, Hex and Spell work by Karl Herr, and HexCraft by Silver RavenWolf.
An excellent on-line course that encompasses Pow-Wow, Braucherei and Granny Magick is available through Silver RavenWolf on her Etsy site. Not only are the lessons informative, but the student also receives support from Silver, herself, and the other students on the private blog that matches the course. Lessons 1 through 3 are currently available.
(1) Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s, Johann Geo Hohmann, Strassburger, Ralph
Beaver,. Pennsylvania German Pioneers: A Publication of the Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of
Philadelphia from 1727 to 1808. Ancestry.com Database online — Microfilm Roll Number: M425_4