Blog Post 37 – Some Weekend Reading

Howdy everyone!

I thought that I’d finish up this week with another essay, this time one that I won’t actually be posting on the New World Witchery site.  Instead, I’m going to provide a link to an excellent essay I found on Pow-wow magic, and then some notes I made while reading it.

The essay itself is written by David W. Kriebel, Ph.D.  and has a distinctly academic tone.  It focuses on the history and practice of braucherei in the Pennsylvania area, as well as examining some modern practitioners (most notably Don Yoder and Silver Ravenwolf (aka Jenine Trayer).  It’s an interesting read, I think, but I’ll let you decide for yourself.

Here’s the essay:  http://www.esoteric.msu.edu/VolumeIV/Powwow.htm

Some of the thoughts I had while reading this were:

  • Why is Pow-wow fading from the magical stage so steadily?  Many spiritual and magical traditions have received increased attention in the past 30-40 years as the shiny patina of atomic-age wonder has begun to fade, yet Pow-wow still seems to be on the decline.
  • Is Pow-wow evolving into something else altogether?  Kriebel mentions Ravenwolf’s book, which has had a mixed reception at best in the magical community.  But her version of Pow-wow may just be where the practice is headed.  Is that a good thing, a bad thing, or just a thing, period?
  • The old books of Pow-wow, such as The Long Lost Friend and the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses, get a good bit of attention in this essay.  How relevant are they to the current practice of this magical system?
  • I love the story about Mountain Mary.  It makes me wonder just how many of my local folk heroes might have been magically inclined.
  • The three levels of magical ritual (I, II, and III) which Kriebel mentions correspond well to various practices I’ve seen elsewhere (a simple charm from Hohman might be a I or a II, while Chris Bilardi’s complete brauche circuit in The Red Church is more of a III, I think).  I wonder if the idea presented here about Pow-wow would hold true for other magical systems, like hoodoo.
  • One of the best things I come away with from this essay is in his conclusion, where he notes a 90% effectiveness rating for Pow-wow curing, which is remarkably good for any healing practice.  In the end, I think that kind of a result defies any attempts to explain magic as pure superstition, but I may be wrong.  What do you think?

That’s it for this week!  Have a great weekend, and as always, thanks for reading!

-Cory