Posted tagged ‘pow-wow’

Podcast 49 – Powwow and Braucherei

February 25, 2013

Summary

Today we’re taking a brief look at the folk magical system of the Pennsylvania German (or “Dutch”) community, known as Powwow or Braucherei. We’ve got an interview with braucher Robert Schreiwer, several readings on the topic, and some charms, spells, and songs, too.

Play:

Download: Episode 49 – Powwow and Braucherei
Play:



-Sources-

Books mentioned within the show

  1. Discovering American Folklife: Essays on Folk Culture & the Pennsylvania Dutch, by Don Yoder
  2. The Long Lost Friend, or The Pow-wow Book, by John George Hohman
  3. American Shamans: Journeys with Traditional Healers, by Jack Montgomery
  4. The Red Church, or The Art of Pennsylvania German Braucherei, by Chris Bilardi
  5. Hex and Spellwork, by Karl Herr
  6. Buying the Wind, by Richard Dorson
  7. Strange Experience: The Autobiography of a Hexenmeister, by Lee R. Gandee

Additional Sources

  1. Signs, Cures, & Witchery, by Gerald C. Milne
  2. Ozark Magic & Folklore, by Vance Randolph (section: “Power Doctors”)
  3. Powwowing Among the Pennsylvania Dutch, David W. Kriebel
  4. Hex Signs: Pennsylvania Dutch Barn Symbols, by Don Yoder
  5. New World Witchery Podcast 29 featured an interview with author Jack Montgomery, who presented some good information on powwowing

Websites

  1. Urglaawe – Braucher Rob Schreiwer’s site on Heathen braucherei
  2. Three Sisters Center for the Healing Arts – A place to learn more about braucherei & associated practices
  3. Braucher.webs – Braucher Rob Chapman’s site for powwow and braucherei
  4. New World Witchery posts on Braucherei: Intro Part I, Part II, and Part III (also see our page Resources:  Magical Systems, under the heading “Braucherei, Hexenmeisters, & Pow-wow”)
  5. We have a great written interview with braucher Chris Bilardi here: Part I & Part II
  6. An online essay on Powwow by David W. Kreibel is available here

If you have feedback you’d like to share, email us or leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you!

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 Promos & Music

Title music:  “Homebound,” by Jag, from Cypress Grove Blues.  From Magnatune.

German folk songs came from the site Mamalisa.com. The songs played in this episode were:

  1. Winter, Ade!
  2. Taler, Taler du musst wander
  3. Meine Hande sind verschwunden
  4. Rolle, Rolle, Rolle
  5. Handewaschen
  6. Guten Morgen ruft die Sonne

Incidental music was Johannes Brahams, Symphony No. 4, found at Archive.org

Promo 1- Lamplighter Blues

Podcast 48 – Healing Magic

January 25, 2013

Summary

In this episode we’re discussing magic, medicine, & healing. We’ll look at holistic therapies as well as why Laine & Cory don’t grab a spellbook or a pill bottle when they get a headache.

Play:

Download: Episode 48 – Healing Magic


 -Sources-

  • Cory mentions Hands of Light by Barbara Ann Brennan, and while he doesn’t mention it, there’s a sequel called Light Emerging as well.
  • Make sure to visit our post about our current contest! You could win one of three amazing prizes!

If you have feedback you’d like to share, email us or leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you!

Don’t forget to follow us at Twitter!

 Promos & Music

Title music:  “Homebound,” by Jag, from Cypress Grove Blues.  From Magnatune.

Promo 1- Cosmophilia
Promo 2 – Between the Earth & Stars

Blog Post 168 – New World Witchery Cartulary No. 2

November 29, 2012

Today we’re rounding up another group of links that readers of this blog might find interesting or enjoyable and sending them out into the world. I’ve not had as much time to write for the blog or record for the show as I’m knee-deep in the process of thesis-writing and researching places for PhD research, but I do continually find myself reading new posts, articles, and information that pertain to the various branches of folk lore, folk magic, and folk belief. Here’s a brief list that will hopefully give you some things to peruse while you’re waiting upon tenterhooks for the next riveting New World Witchery post or show.

I’ll start today in the realm of Pennsylvania-Dutch magic. There’s a brand new edition of the pow-wow classic The Long Lost Friend available from Llewellyn, edited and annotated by Daniel Harms.  Hohman’s text is presented here in several formats, including the original 1820 edition (with the German language version) and in an expanded 1856 English translation. Many of the spells are pulled from a third edition, the 1837 “Skippacksville” version. It’s a surprisingly stuffed text with a tremendous amount of folkloric value, and if you have any interest in American folk magic at all I highly recommend getting it.

In the same vein, if you enjoy braucherei, hexerei, and pow-wow, but want to explore it in a Pagan/Heathen context, I cannot recommend enough that you hurry over to Urglaawe. This is Rob Schreiwer & Co.’s site which helps collect—in English and PA-German—the vast stores of Germanic magic which exist on both sides of the Atlantic (with a heavy emphasis on the beliefs and practices of the Pennsylvania-Dutch in America). Schreiwer will be part of an upcoming episode of the show, and he’s a brilliant mind with a tremendous amount of information in his head, so please take a look at the work he’s doing. If you’re a schuler of things Deitsch, you won’t regret it.

In a final nod to the Germanic cultures of America, I was recently introduced by SilverShadow and Dr. Hob to the fascinating phenomenon of courting candles. These little spiral-shaped candle holders would be lit and adjusted to provide light for suitors to visit their sweethearts. When the candle burned out, the beau had to leave. If a father liked a suitor, he’d adjust the candle to provide more time in the light; if not, he’d move the little key to make the candle burn out more quickly. I’m always fascinated by things like this, as I can see plenty of ways they can be used magically in addition to their more mundane applications.

Speaking of Dr. Hob, he’s been very active on his own website lately, Pennies for the Boneyard, with phenomenal posts on topics ranging from his relationship with Christianity and conjure work to a review of ConjureMan Ali’s Santisma Muerte book to a rather flattering and kindly review of our own cartomancy guide. If you’ve not come across his blog before, give it a visit and tell him we sent you.

You should also check out the fun and informative show he and SilverShadow are doing together, called Lamplighter Blues.

I’m reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil for the first time as part of a book club, and if you haven’t read it, it’s worth the time. The story gives you a wonderful portrait of the strange, beautiful, and eerie city of Savannah, Georgia, as well as a specific murder trial that occurred there in the 1980s. A major portion of the story takes place in cemeteries, and a conjure woman whom the author names “Minerva” becomes somewhat crucial in the narrative. This is essentially a non-fiction book, though, and Minerva is actually Valerie Fennel Boles, widow to one of the Dr. Buzzards of Beaufort, South Carolina. Boles carried on Buzzard’s conjure work until her death in 2009, and the portrayals of her practice in the book—despite the appellate of “voodoo” which author John Berendt uses to describe what she does—are incredibly vivid and authentic.  You can read more about Dr. Buzzard in Jack Montgomery’s American Shamans, too, which we’ve mentioned here before.

If you haven’t seen it yet, Sarah Lawless’ latest venture has gone live. Go take a peek at the Poisoner’s Apothecary, and check out some of the projects she’s working on. I’m particularly excited about the range of pipes she’s carving for smoking rituals.

I think that will just about do it for today. If you enjoy these links, let them know who sent you and let us know what you like best in the comments section. And feel free to share what you’re reading/writing/learning these days, too!

Thanks for reading!

-Cory

Blog Post 149 – Witch Wars

January 10, 2012

The term “witch wars” comes up frequently in discussions about neo-Pagan community infighting, as shorthand for the feuding and vitriolic verbal sparring that happens periodically between rival groups. Such wars, however, have not always been barbs exchanged over message boards or smear campaigns between unfriendly covens. The nature of magical practice has almost guaranteed that so long as one witch could cast a spell, another could undo it.

So how do witches fight witches? With magic, of course, but so many of these tales involve what seems to be a battle of wills between two equally gifted magical workers. Strangely, while a witch might attack a person or family, when the witch-doctor enters the picture and counter-attacks the witch, the witch-doctor is seldom targeted back during the battle. Most of the witch-doctor’s services are more geared towards revealing the identity of a witch and providing victims a way to remediate their own problems. This is true in both New World and Old, as scholar Owen Davies demonstrates in his seminal text on English cunning folk, Popular Magic:

“The cure of witchcraft could be effected in three main ways: by going straight to the source and tackling the witch either physically or through the law courts; by breakin the spell at a distance via magical rituals; or by using a mix of herbs and charms to expel the witchcraft from the patient’s body. Cunning-folk were instrumental in facilitating all these methods,and they sometimes employed a combination of all three…the client saw what they wanted to see; in other words, the person they already suspected. The process was one of confirmation rather than detection…” (Popular Magic, Davies, 106-7)

The biggest step in fighting a witch was determining who he or she was. Then, a magical remedy would be applied to disrupt the spell which was affecting the victim. This might involve scalding milk from a bewitched churn, shooting an image of the witch with a silver bullet, etc. Then, in a critical step, the witch would attempt to come to the property of the victim and either enter the home or take something from the house. There seems to be a uniform understanding that such an act must be prevented, or else the witch’s power would remain or perhaps grow stronger over the victim. Davies gives one such example from England:

“In 1682 the parents of a bewitched girl named Mary Farmer were advised by ‘Dr Bourn’ to burn her clothes. He assured them ‘that then the witch which had done her the hurt, would come in.’ The parents testified in court that, having done this, a neighbor, Joan Butts entered their house, ‘and tumbled down, wallowing on the ground, making a fearful and dismal noise.’” (Davies, 109)

In this case, further magical action must be taken, including smoking a cow’s heart in the chimney, to break the witch’s spell.

The magical battles took place between malevolent witches and the community-sanctioned (or at least tolerated) ‘white witches’ or ‘witch-doctors’ indicate that those who could fight a curse were usually fairly well known to their community. A story from Hubert J. Davis’ The Silver Bullet tells of one such struggle, which occurred when a family sought to alleviate its suffering and bewitchment by calling in a man gifted at ‘overlooking’ or breaking curses. To break the curse placed on the family’s child, Tim and Ada consult with this ‘Quaker doctor’ (most likely a Pow-wow/braucher), who provides them with a stoppered bottle into which the family’s nail parings, hair, etc. are gathered, then left under the burning embers of the fire. Adding in some prayers, including a candle burning which ends with the traditional “In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost” (further indication of Pennsylvania Dutch magical practice), the “tall, stinguished looking man with thick white hair and a well-trimmed moustache [and] kindly blue eyes” forbids them from letting anyone into their house for three days. Sure enough, an old woman by the name of Old Betty Orts attempts to come in, revealing her as the witch. At that point, the father strikes her head, drawing blood (which immediately saps the power of a witch), and the curse is broken (“The Quaker Doctor and His Magic Bottle,” Davis, 56-8).  The pattern of curse, diagnosis, prescription, attempted incursion, and final defeat of the witch is maintained.

In another account of Appalachian witch warring, an interesting and somewhat unusual battle occurs between two men (in most of these tales at least one of the magicians is female). Patrick W. Gainer recounts the battle between Uncle Johnnie and Uncle Jimmie Webb which took place over the use of a butterchurn. Uncle Johnnie, when denied use of the churn—and here it should be pointed out that the woman he wished to borrow from had two churns available, thus demonstrating the lack of social hospitality mentioned in my earlier post on the Witch’s Ire—enchants it so that he may steal her butter. Uncle Jimmie then helps the churn’s owner, Eliza Morris, to break the spell by whipping it with switches while churning with his left hand. This, in turn, causes Uncle Johnnie to suffer welts and undoes the enchantment (“Uncle Johnnie Bewitches the Cows,” Witches Ghosts & Signs, Gainer, 142-4).

This is not, of course, a wholly good vs. evil phenomenon. Scholar Emma Wilby notes that magical folk in England often employed their magic as the situation dictated, being neither entirely helpful nor entirely harmful:

“Although some cunning folk had a reputation for being wholly good, a large proportion of them were considered ambivalent, that is, they could employ their magical powers to both help and harm…The trial records of East Lothian cunning woman Beigis Tod, who was accused of witchcraft in 1608, echo this popular perception when they claim that Beigis was known to be skilled in both ‘on-laying and af-taiking of seiknes’. [Wilbiy’s italics, short for “laying on and taking off of sickness”].” (Cunning Folk & Familiar Spirits, Wilby, 54)

These mixed talents were often set against each other, with one magical practitioner putting a spell on a person, place, or group of people, and another showing up to take it off. Sometimes this un-bewitching was done for free, but frequently a fee would be charged, which led some to suspect that the ‘bad’ witches and the ‘good’ witches were in league with each other and splitting the profits. One such example is the tale of “Mont and Duck” from Hubert J. Davis, in which an old couple moves into an area which suddenly begins experiencing oubreaks of illness. The community blames the newcomers, of course, but the response is interesting:

“[O]ne of their neighbors accused Mont and Duck of having cast a spell on their sick cow. Old Mont awed his accuser by readily admitting that his wife, Duck, had the power of evil, and that he could break the spells. Shortly after this, he began to offer to cure ailing animals by removing the spells on them in return for a bushel of potatoes or some other vegetables, or even a piece of meat” (“Mont and Duck,” The Silver Bullet, Davis, 214).

One family that refuses to pay for relief from magical attack experiences a death in this story, and the entire community takes their powers quite seriously. Mont is valued, but feared, for his powers as a witch-doctor, and the racket they have established continues for quite a while without any repercussion from the locals.

Yet there are certainly accounts of magical battles in which the side of ‘good’ seems to be operating from a mostly altruistic stance. Arguably one of the most famous magical battles in American lore is the account of sorcerous combat between Sherrif James E. McTeer and Dr. Buzzard (presented here in quoted abbreviated form from Low Country Voodoo, by Terrance Zepke, and also found in American Shamans by Jack Montgomery):

“One person who remained unimpressed with the root doctor [Dr. Buzzard, aka Stephaney Robinson] was Sheriff J.E. McTeer. He was elected in 1926 and saw many stgrange things that were attributed to Dr. Buzzard, such as people getting sick and dying or witnesses having seizure in the middle of testifying in court…The sheriff…began a lifelong study of conjuring so he could better understand it. In time he, he became known as a ‘white root doctor.’ …McTeer felt strongly that he was the one who could stop Dr. Buzzard once and for all…[he] issued a warning that if the witch doctor didn’t stop, he would eventually bring him to justice.

The infamous root doctor was not used to being threatened. To the contrary—most folks feared or respected him too much to even think about it. The sheriff’s warning mae him so mad that the witch doctor set out to ruin him. The spiritual warfare came to a halt after Dr. Buzzard’s son was killed in a car crash. The conjurer believed the wreck was was the High Sheriff’s doing and went to see his adversary. The root doctor told th sheriff that he respected his mantle and would leave him alone if McTeer would do the same. McTeer agreed, on the condition that Dr. Buzzard quit practicing sorcery. The conjurer thought about it for several seconds before nodding his head in agreement” (Low Country Voodoo, Zepke, 82-4)

In this fighting-fire-with-fire version of the witch war, ‘good’ triumphs in the form of McTeer, though Dr. Buzzard would eventually return to his old ways with diminished success.

So, in conclusion, the witch war has not always been the genteel affair that it is today. When sharp tongues trade barbs, it can be unpleasant, but thankfully no one is stealing anyone else’s butter, drawing blood from anyone else’s forehead, or causing the death of someone else’s child to prove a point. Or at least, I hope they’re not. I think I’ll go and recharge my house protection spells now…

Thanks for reading!

-Cory

Blog Post 132 – The Value of Silence

August 1, 2011

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? But it’s good to see you all again, to get the chance to rejoin the conversation. Except that today, I’m going to be talking about silence, which makes for a rather one-sided discussion, right?

I thought this would be an appropriate topic as I’ve been away for over a month at this point, with very little feedback flowing towards our listeners and readers and almost no new material on the blog or podcast. We’ve been in a realm of silence here at New World Witchery, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing. After all, silence has its uses.

The famous “Witch’s Pyramid,” for example, contains the four sides of a (Wiccan) witch’s code of conduct: To know, to will, to dare, and to keep silent. That’s a fairly modern code, of course, but because it is a complex system expressed in simple language, it taps into some fairly old ideas, including the keeping silent part. There are lots of interpretations of this idea; some say it means one should not discuss one’s magic after the working (one of Shivian Balaris’s interesting Twitter #WitchTips said “never sharing what magick you’ve done is felt to protect the spell so that it can complete properly; plus keeps ego in check,” for example-July 25, 2011). Others think that the silence is designed to insulate practitioners of the “Old Ways” from the persecutions they might suffer if their practices were openly discussed. Still more maintain that the silence in magical practice forms a core component of its spiritual nature; in other words, the silence maintains the mystery, which is very important in a Mystery tradition. I personally think elements of all three positions can be present in a magical practice, though not everyone agrees, of course (fellow podcaster Fire Lyte has mentioned on several shows that he does not like the secrecy and cloak-and-dagger-style mystery that accompanies some of these practices, as they create elitism and insulate seekers from knowledge, for example).

Turning to folklore (as you knew I would), there are several examples of silence serving one of the aforementioned functions. Of course there’s the common practice of observing a “moment of silence” in honor of a fallen hero or a significant event. Folk tales abound in quiet characters. In the story of “The Yellow Ribbon” from Minnesota (which I’ve also heard as “The Black Ribbon”), a woman’s silence guards a mystery that literally means life or death to her. An Old World fairy tale called “The Dwarfs’ Tailor” tells the story of a foolish and loquatious young tailor who must serve a group of dwarves in their enchanted mountain forest home in order to win the love of his old master’s daughter. The dwarves beat the tailor every time he tries to speak or ask questions, and so he learns to serve them in silence, and thus cures his foolish tongue-wagging and becomes a master tailor in his own right. And in the classic Grimm’s tale “The Six Swans,” a young princess must sew six shirts for her six brothers—enchanted into the shape of swans—during a six-year silence in order to release her brothers from the spell upon them. Other stories contain themes of silence, of course, from “The Little Mermaid” to “The Silent Princess” to the (creepy and captivating) episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer entitled “Hush.”

Within the magical continuum, calls for silence or secrecy appear in several traditions. In the Pow Wow practice, you can find this spell:

A GOOD REMEDY FOR THE FEVER.
Good morning, dear Thursday! Take away from [name] the 77-fold fevers. Oh! thou dear Lord Jesus Christ, take them away from him! + + + [here make the sign of the cross three times]

This must be used on Thursday for the first time, on Friday for the second time, and on Saturday for the third time; and each time thrice. The prayer of faith has also to be said each time, and not a word dare be spoken to anyone until the sun has risen. Neither dare the sick person speak to anyone till after sunrise; nor eat pork, nor drink milk, nor cross a running water, for nine days. (from The Long-Lost Friend by J.G. Hohman)

Here the silence seems to be an integrated part of the spell, a purification of the operator in the same way avoiding pork or milk might work (as they are foods often associated with unclean spirits and witchcraft).  It might then be comparable to fasting, a way of conditioning the body to respond to magic, or of preparing it for magical action. Other spells use magical silence to maintain a solemness and help maintain focus, as in this one from the Ozarks:

Some hillfolk say that a girl can call up a phantom of the man she is to marry by wrapping a lock of hair with some of her fingernail clippings in a green leaf and thrusting them into the ashes in the fireplace. Then she sits down before the fire. When the hair and fingernails begin to get warm, the ghostly appearance of her future husband is supposed to rescue them from the fire. Sometimes several girls try this at once. The door must be left open, and everyone must maintain absolute silence (Randolph, OM&F, p. 177-8)

This particular spell is rather reminiscent of the Dumb Supper, of course, though much simplified. The Dumb Supper itself is fascinating as a ritual of silence, but is a topic too big to tackle here. And since I’ve already given a good overview of it in my Halloween article from last year, I’ll leave it be for now.

Still other magical performances use silence as a cipher for secrecy, maintaining that certain things must not be spoken of, or at least, not spoken of frequently. Another Ozark account describes the passing of a specific sorcerous power—fire-drawing (or burn healing)—as a ritual wrapped in secrecy:

A gentleman near Crane, Missouri, has enjoyed a great success in relieving the pain from superficial burns. He just blows gently upon the burned place, touches it with his finger tips, and whispers a little prayer. The prayer may be told to persons of the other sex, but never imparted to one of the same sex. This man said he had learned the magic from Mrs. Molly Maxwell, an old woman who lived in Galena, Missouri. Since he could not tell me, I asked a young woman to get the secret words from him. This is what she heard : ‘One little Indian, two little Indians, One named East, one named West, The Son and the Father and the Holy Ghost, In goes the frost, out comes the fire, Ask it all in Jesus’ name, Amen.’ In teaching this prayer to a member of the opposite sex, the healer said, one should whisper it three times and no more. If a person cannot learn the prayer after hearing three repetitions, I was told, “he aint fit to draw out fire nohow !” (Randolph, OM&F, p. 121-2).

This idea of passing on magical powers in secrecy, carefully revealing them only to the chosen, the initiated, or those otherwise deemed “right” by the magician (or whatever higher power is in charge of the spell/tradition) is central to some practices. Others disavow the entire idea of such secrecy, preferring to work almost entirely in the open. Both seem to have their reasons, and both seem to do effective magic, though I will say that as folk magic goes the rule of silence shows up too often for me to ignore it entirely. I prefer to circumvent it by the time-honored technique of trickery, so that if I pass on secret magical knowledge I do so not by telling a person, but by speaking to an object in the room in such a way that anyone who happens to be in the room might well eavesdrop in on the “secret.”

From what I understand, whoever is in charge of magic seems to appreciate trickery as much as he or she appreciates silence. So that works out well.

Thanks for reading!

-Cory

Podcast 29 – An American Shaman

May 13, 2011

-SHOWNOTES FOR EPISODE 29-

Summary
Today we talk with author and American folk magician/shaman Jack Montgomery.  Then we have some listener feedback and a few announcements.

Play:



Download:  New World Witchery – Episode 29

-Sources-
American Shamans, by Jack Montgomery
Strange Experience: The Autobiography of a Hexenmeister, by Lee Gandee
Fifty Years as a Low Country Witch Doctor, by Sheriff J. E. McTeer
High Sheriff of the Low Country, by Sheriff J. E. McTeer

If you would like to donate to the Japanese relief effort, here is the Peter Dybing page we mentioned in the show.
Please also consider donating to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which is currently helping victims of the Alabama Tornado.

Promos & Music
Title music:  “Homebound,” by Jag, from Cypress Grove Blues.  From Magnatune.
Promo 1 – Irish & Celtic Music Podcast
Promo 2 – Dr. E’s Conjure Doctor Products
Promo 3 – Magick & Mundane
Promo 4 – Forest Grove Botanica


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