“The Pow-Wow practitioner is more closely allied with theology than medicine and feels he is a mediator between the patient and God.”
– John Bisol
Pow-Wow Witchcraft, also called Hex Craft, has its beginning with the Pennsylvania Dutch. This practice focuses nearly wholly on healing and other connected human needs like protection. They also use true seeing and a little luck magic for good measure.
Pow-Wow Witchcraft: The Early Years
The Pennsylvania Dutch established settlements in the eighteenth century. Historians believe, however, that this magical tradition has roots reaching back to much earlier practices in Germany. Generally speaking everyone in a community knew who the Hex Masters were. There wasn’t something discussed in “polite” company because there were negative attitudes toward folk magic. The Pow-Wow Witch learned his or her art from their family or elders through oral tradition.
If you drive through Pennsylvania, you might see a star on a barn or vivid birds. These are remnants from Pow-Wow magic meant to protect the home, often from illness. Most villages had a healer who used roots and herbs in remedies. While the recipes for health had strong folk magic links, there was also a lot of knowledge possessed by these people. Even modern medicine has found many recommended herbs successful.
The name for Pow-Wowing is “braucherei.” You could sometimes find tidbits of Pow Wow magic among the Mennonites and Amish communities. There were also quiet Pow Wow practices in the Lutheran Church. This link to Christianity, among others, resulted in incantation and charms fashioned from Bible verses similar to Hoo Doo Witchcraft.
A Pow-Wow Witch’s Practices
Hex Craft is traditionally very simple and straightforward. There is all manner of spells. These spells focused on keeping malevolent spirits away, caring for farm animals and healing. Another interesting practice in Pow-Wow is that of finding water.
Also called water witching and dowsing, the water witch walks in straight lines carrying a Y shaped branch. The prevalent tree types chosen for dowsing are Willow and Hazel. If the rod dipped or twitched, that’s where they would dig in hopes of creating a well. While this may sound like a silly methodology, there was enough interest in water witching that the US Geology Department did studies on it in the early 1900s.
Regarding wellness, the Pow-Wow Witch had a very forward-thinking approach. She saw a person in the holistic sense. Treating disease and sickness needed not just the magical element but also physical and emotional. This permeates the entire Hex Craft culture.
Should you be fortunate enough to meet a Pow-Wow witch who is willing to teach you to be ready to learn a lesson in patience. You will receive one charm at a time and commit it to memory. The Hex Witch also expects that you will respect her tradition and keep her teachings private, remembering from whom they came.
Interesting Pow-Wow Spells & Charms
The early magic in Hex Tradition illustrates its ties to folk beliefs. Here are a few:
- If you wish to catch a fish hang the foot of a weasel, rose seed and mustard seed in your net. Be ready for a good haul.
- To keep a pet, especially a dog, from running off gather all the scraps from your table throughout a meal using the same utensils. Feed those scraps to your pet. For increased security repeat this process three times over three consecutive days.
- To relieve a headache one must wipe their forehead three times, then make the gesture of throwing it away from the top of your nose. One must repeat this gesture a total of 9 times, waiting three minutes between each repetition and speak an incantation.
- To retrieve an item stolen from you gather a piece of paper Write these phrases on the paper: Abraham bound it; Isaac redeemed and found it; Jacob carried it home. It is bound as tight as iron and chains (note that the symbol of a cross appeared after each line of the charm). Place this under your threshold, and in three days the item returns safely.
- When someone gossips about you turn your shirt inside out. Take both your thumbs starting at your heart and bring them down to your thighs thrice. Put the shirt on as it is.
It’s interesting to note that the number three plays a role in many such Pennsylvania Dutch spells and charms.
Visit our sister site, Building Beautiful Souls, to learn all about the symbolism and meaning of the number Three.
The Compassion of Pow-Wow Witchcraft
In looking at the Pow-Wow magical tradition one notices the importance placed on showing kindness to others. Compassion For the Pow-Wow Witch is a way of life. From their perspective, God is helpful, and that is an important example to follow. Perhaps this is why Hex Witchery focused so much on healing. That ability improved life’s quality for others. By extension, this helped the community as a whole.
Is Pow-Wow a Spiritual Calling
Practitioners of Pow-Wow do feel that one is called to this path, particularly those who have natural healing aptitudes. The duty of the Pow Wow’s does not stop conveniently when the sun goes down. Rather this healer is “on call” as needed. That need can become overwhelming, meaning the Pow-Wow Witch must carefully mete out her energy.
Those in this vocation usually have one specialty (but rarely more than 3). Some might be excellent at relieving pain, while others ease matters of the heart. Pow-Wow Witches might find they are best at protection or banishing too. This is where your ability to self-assess becomes essential. Only you can find your best strengths (as well as flaws). You are not the lone person with gifts on an island of illness. PowWow has community ties. The successful PowWow group knows the abilities of each person and how to utilize them, producing a greater good, by the will of God. For modern Wiccans and Witches, the reliance on the Bible can be a huge obstacle if they find this craft interesting. Without the Bible, there is no PowWow framework. Keeping with tradition matters greatly to the PowWow community.