Pennsylvania German Powwow

Faith healing and folk magic of the Pennsylvania Germans


Even though this entire website is technically my "blog", this page will hold my extra articles that don't really fit in well on the other pages, or maybe there will just be ideas that jumped into my head that I wanted to share here. Some of the older blog entries are helpful and so I recommend you scroll down and look through the entries from 4 or 5 years ago. 

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Cold and flu season

Posted by Rob Phoenix on December 17, 2013 at 7:30 AM Comments comments (0)

It seems like every winter my body is just on the verge of being sick.  It's like there is a constant shadow of a cold hanging over my head, and most mornings I wake up with a scratchy throat, some sinus pressure, and other unpleasantness.  But then as the day progresses it seems to go away.  Just yesterday I developed one of the worst sore throats I've had in years, and today there is barely a trace of it.  What the heck?!?!


Cold and flu season can be a pain; especially if you are like me and seem to pick up every single germ and bug that passes back and forth between us humans. 


Powwowing is really focused on helping issues after the fact.  But sometimes you just can't get to your local powwow or, more likely, you don't even have a local powwow!  It really is a waste of time and money to go to the emergency department for the common cold.  I wouldn't want to discourage you from seeing a physician if you feel you need it, but there is a reason they call it the "common" cold.  It's common.  Everyone gets one.  Don't panic.  Instead, try some of these tried and true methods for relieving your symptoms.  If you really and truly feel that you need proper medical attention, then by all means go.  But you can still do some of the following:


Tea.  Lots of it.  There are all sorts of herbal infusions (ie. teas) available these days, and some even do what they claim to do.  A few of my favorites are chamomile, for it's calming and relaxing effect, and lemon, because it basically soothes everything...  Small warning, chamomile tea tends to feel 'dry' in my throat and therefore doesn't do much good when my throat is sore or I have a dry cough.  I might also recommend echinacea tea (add some sweetener to it...lots of people like honey---I do not---but sweeten it with whatever you like).  Mint tea.  There are lots of teas of the mint variety and all of them are good for relieving stuffiness and can even soothe an upset stomach.


Chicken soup.  It's true, homemade chicken soup really does make you feel better.  Since it's the winter season, you may even have some baked turkey in your fridge.  A nice hot and hardy soup made with fresh veggies and turkey and rice and potatoes can really do wonders for even the worst of colds.  And the added benefit of the turkey is the triptophan, which may even help you fall asleep!


Mustard plasters.  I know, it's REALLY old-fashioned, but don't discount it.  Chest rubs and plasters can have a tremendous effect on relieving chest and head congestion.  I'm sure your grandmother has a favorite recipe, just ask her.


Vapo-rub.  Do it.  You won't smell nice, but it works.


Cough suppressants.  You can make your own with a little time and effort.  Here's how.  You will need:


Spearmint extract (they sell these in the baking section of the grocery store)

Orange extract

3/4 cups water

3/4 cups clear corn syrup

3 cups sugar (hey, no one promised they were sugar free)

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons food coloring, if you like

1 baking dish lined in aluminum foil


Boil the water and sugar and corn syrup together until the sugar is dissolved.  You will also need a thermometer to make sure the water temperature reaches 300 degrees.  Once it does, remove from heat, add a teaspoon of each extract and add the food coloring.  Mix until it's all blended.  Then add the baking soda and watch it get all fizzy.  Pour into the foil-lined baking dish.  Let it cool.  If you did it properly, it will solidify.  Once it does, remove the foil and hardened mixture and put in a plastic bag.  Smash it up with a hammer.  Eat as needed.  And yes, this is a modified recipe of Coal Candy, another Pennsylvania-born tradition!!!!!!


Salt water.  You can gargle with salt water to relieve a sore throat or you can boil salt water on the stove and put your head over it, and cover your head with a towel to keep the steam in.  You can also add a few drops of spearmint extract (leftover from the above recipe) to the water to breathe that in. 


Sleep.  Turn off Netflix, put down the Kindle, turn off the lights, and go to sleep.  Sleep is our greatest weapon against illness as our body repairs itself while we sleep.  You will get better faster with plenty of sleep.


If you still feel lousy and need some powwowing, write to me.  If it's even worse than that, like the flu (ugh) then go see a doctor. 

Weather Lore

Posted by Rob Phoenix on October 28, 2013 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (1)

Ask any old Pennsylvania Dutch farmer about the weather and they will undoubtedly tell you about their own methods for predicting the weather.  These methods appear, on the surface, to be directly descended from superstition and local folklore; lacking any real scientific foundation.  Yet, for many of us, these localized predictions have proven to be reliable and trustworthy, especially for the farming community of the Pennsylvania Germans.

Some of the more common weather predictive techniques are listed here.  If you have any more, please send them my way!

For snow:  Predicting frost and snow is a very big deal in Pennsylvania; especially if you're a farmer or gardener.  Once October comes, we are on the lookout for the first snow fall. 

Our pets give us our first clues: if your dog howls at the moon, expect the first snow fall soon!  If your cat sits with her back to the fire, snow is on it's way!


Frost is a little trickier and requires a bit of calendar work.  Once the katydids start singing, count 90 days.  That's when the first frost hits!  And if you're feeling really adventurous, count the number of mornings in August when fog covers the ground.  That's how many snowfalls we will have come winter!

Keep your eye on the first 12 days of the year.  Each of those days represents the weather of each corresponding month. 

When the smoke stops rising up the chimney and instead fills up the house, snow is on it's way!  It might also be an indicator that you need to sweep the chimney!

A ring around the moon usually indicates snow in the next three days.  Two rings and it means snow is coming in 24 hours!  Look out!

For rain:  When the cows lay down in the fields during the day, rain is coming. 

When your cat lays on it's head, rain will follow. 

When your dog starts eating grass, it means rain is in the air.  It might also mean he has a belly ache!


When the leaves show their backsides, a storm is approaching. 

Northern winds signify cold and windy days.

Eastern winds signify powerful storms; even tornadoes.

Southern winds can mean lots of rain, but sometimes can be warm and pleasant.

Western winds are most favorable!

In the evening when the sky is red, the next day will be fair.  In the morning, a red sky indicates storms. (Interesting note: believe it or not, this comes from the Bible.  Jesus spoke about this method of prediction in Matthew)

The Moon: many of the old farmers believe the phase or appearance of the moon gives an indication of the weather to come.

Horns pointing up, rain within three days.

Horns pointing down signifies a dry spell.

If a woman goes out onto the fields during the waning of the moon, rain will spoil the crops.  (Note: this is not so much a weather forecast as it is a type of hex).

A full moon obscured by clouds brings sunshine and dry weather.

And, of course, we can't forget the tried and true method of weather-prediction..... arthritis pain!  "The rain's gonna make down, it pains me so!"

In Pennsylvania, weather patterns move from West to East.  Here in South-Central Pennsylvania, we are often spared the harsher weather that our more northerly and western PA neighbors get.  We are often referred to as the "snow hole" in the winter; meaning when everyone else in the state is shoveling out their cars, we are enjoying mild clear weather, with nary a flurry to be seen! 



Long-Distance PowWow

Posted by Rob Phoenix on April 29, 2013 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (0)

One of the most common distance charms in the PowWow tradition is the recitation of Ezekiel 16:6 "Then I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, and I said unto thee, 'Live'." (paraphrased).  This particular passage is really about how God picked up the nation of Israel and nurtured it and made it into something beautiful.  If you read through the rest of Ezekiel 16, it is almost as if the author is speaking about a woman, but it's really a metaphorical chapter about God's love for Israel.  This is a tried and proven all purpose charm within the PowWow tradition, and it is known to work especially well for distance healing.

When someone asks me for healing work, I do one (or more) of several things...

For starters, their name is put into my Bible.  Generally I write their name on a slip of paper and place it in the pages of my Bible.  I then say a silent prayer for their recovery.

Then, on Monday evenings when I do my distance PowWow for all of the requests I get throughout the week, I work through the Ezekiel charm for each individual separately.  There are a few other charms that I use for long-distance work in place of Ezekiel, depending on the circumstances.

The Lord's Prayer.  This can be said over the name of a sick individual. 

Our Father, who art in Heaven,

hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,

on earth as it is in Heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread

and forgive us our sins,

as we forgive those who sin against us.

Lead us not into temptation

but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory

forever and ever.  Amen.

The all-purpose charm that I typically use for headaches:

Tame thou flesh and bone, like Christ in Paradise, and who will assist thee, this I tell thee (NN) for your repentance sake.  In the names of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  Amen.  Amen.

If they have a long-term condition, I then place the paper with their name in my private charms book.  There is a page exclusively dedicated to distance charms that contains a symbol and private writings designated for this purpose.

(copy of page from my personal charm book)

If you want to work distance healing for others, simply let others know that you do this work.  Then you can follow along with what I do, or you can come up with your own methods.  Remember to read through the rest of this website, as well as the recommended reading list, for more ideas.

Magic Mirrors in PowWow

Posted by Rob Phoenix on April 19, 2013 at 8:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Within PowWow there are several variations of magic mirrors (erdspeigel) used for divinatory purposes.  In most cases, these mirrors are used to discern the identity of the witch who has cursed you.  There are a few different sets of instructions for these charms in the old grimoires.  Consensus amongst the practitioners is that a mirror must contain the following inscription in order for it to be useful:




S Solam S Tattler Echogardner Gematar




The meaning of this inscription is unclear and may very well be what is known as 'barbarous' language; meaning it is nonsensical and used only for this purpose.  The words may have had meaning at one time, and were poorly translated over and over again, in which case their original meaning may be lost forever.


The library of Kutztown University has record of two such mirrors in possession of writer Ann Hark.  In her examples, the above inscription is included and the mirrors were given to her as a gift.  No mention is made of the inscription's meaning.


The mirror is used as a means of discovering the identity of an individual.  The instructions are to engrave the barbarous words on the mirror and hide it within a crossroads during an uneven hour.  Keep it hidden for three days time.  On the third day, return to the mirror at the same time you hid it.  Make sure you use the mirror on a night without a moon (the new moon, I assume), in total darkness, and you must cover both your head and the mirror in black cloth so as not to allow any light at all to penetrate.  There is to be total silence (no speaking at all) while you use the mirror.  It is believed that the individual's face will appear in the mirror.  Further instructions state that you should not be the first person to look into the mirror but rather allow a pet (cat or dog) to look into it.  As a pet lover myself, I would not want to subject my animals to any sort of magic that may potentially be dangerous, so therefore I looked into my mirror right away.  I took the risk and my mirror works just fine for me.


I have a personal mirror that was created slightly different than the above instructions, but used for the same purpose.  I felt the need to add a protective circle around my mirror as I have no desire to test the limits of hexerei, even if it is just a reflection of the individual.  If there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's to never trust a hex!



The inscription listed above "S Solam S Tattler Echogardner Gematar" is on the back of the mirror.


Another symbol that is inscribed onto the back of the mirror is the protection pentagram as pictured below.




The German word "heilig" translates as Holy.  The word "Elohim" means "Lord".  The phrase is familiar from the Christian hymn "Holy, holy, holy Lord".

It is best to keep the mirror wrapped in black cloth and hidden away, only to be used to discern the identity of a witch who has verhexed an individual. 




The SATOR square

Posted by Rob Phoenix on April 12, 2013 at 8:20 AM Comments comments (1)

The SATOR charm is one of the most popular magical talismans in western occultism, and is a favored within traditional PA Dutch PowWow. It's history is sometimes disputed but most scholars believe it is a symbol of the early Christian church, most likely used by various Christian groups as a secret means of identification during the time of Christian persecutions.

SATOR is sometimes thought to be made up of five words; SATOR, AREPO, TENET, OPERA, ROTAS. There are various ideas as to what these words (as individuals) may mean; but consensus translates them into something like "the planter holds the works and wheels by means of water". Unfortunately for this idea, the translation doesn't make much sense, and does not explain the SATOR square's appearance in various countries, cultures, and sites of early Christian meeting places throughout Europe.

Instead, a more accurate explanation of SATOR is that it is a play on the Latin form of PATER NOSTER with the extra A and O placed to either side. This translates as the first two words in the Lord's prayer: Our Father. The A and O represent Alpha and Omega, which Christ identifies Himself as.



Palindromes were common in the ancient world as magical talismans, and many examples are found within Coptic Christian studies; and have even survived today amongst Christian magi and, in some instances, as decor in churches. A SATOR square dating back to the 2nd Century in Manchester is considered as evidence of the early arrival of Christianity into Britian.

The use of the SATOR square varies. In one instance, it is believed to extinguish a fire. Simply draw the SATOR square on a plate, toss into the flames, and the fire will be extinguished (Hohman, Long Lost Friend, 1820). A more practical and common use, is that of protection from malevolent witchery. The square can be engraved into metal, drawn on paper, tattooed on the skin, or somehown marked upon some type of surface, accompanied by the Lord's Prayer spoken three times, and it's protective powers are activated. It is an old belief of the Christian church that the devil is confused by palindromes, thus their protective power against witchcraft is understood.

The creation of the SATOR can be simple, if you lack time to create a more involved talisman. Or, more appropriately, the charm can be created under favorable astrological conditions (waxing Moon in Mars or waning moon in Saturn; also noting planetary hours for talismanic creation--- GO HERE TO CALCULATE). The more energy involved in the creation of the SATOR square, the more effective it will be. Remember to include the Lord's Prayer, spoken three times, in the creation of the charm.

Lord's Prayer

Our Father who art in Heaven

Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come; thy will be done

On earth as it is in Heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread

and forgive us our sins

As we forgive those who sin against us.

Lead us not into temptation

but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory

Forever and ever.


(The last three lines beginning with 'For thine is the kingdom...' you will no doubt recognize from the Lesser Banishing Ritual.)

For more information and uses, all reference works of the Pennsylvania Dutch PowWow contain the SATOR square (see: Long Lost Friend, Albertus Magnus, Romanusbuchlein, PowWow Book, Red Church, etc.).

Magic Wand: the tool of Christ?

Posted by Rob Phoenix on February 2, 2013 at 6:20 AM Comments comments (5)

Besides studying Powwow, one of my favorite areas of research is Christianity's history and early development.  In my opinion, this is a fascinating area of study and research and may very well keep me busy for the rest of my life, which I'm totally fine with!


The early growth of Christianity is especially interesting because it was originally an oral tradition, passed on by the people through word of mouth.  Because of this, accounts of Christ's ministry vary wildly amongst different sources.  The four most compatible accounts were gathered together and kept as canon for the building of Christian tradition.  We of course know these accounts as the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  But there were other accounts that gave details of Jesus' life and ministry, but these were not included in the Bible because they were either too far-fetched or they somehow gave accounts that were not true.


One of the most interesting ideas about Jesus and his miracles is that he was performing magics that many believed he was taught (and mastered) in Egypt.  This is no surprise really as Egyptians were famous for their magic and sorcery.  In many of the earliest depictions of Jesus, which I love looking at, Jesus is portrayed as a youth (beardless mostly) and using a magic wand to perform his miracles.  The magic wand was important to the ancient Egyptians and very much a part of their magic, so it is no wonder that the earliest stories of Jesus included the use of the wand.


While it is doubtful that Jesus used a wand (no written accounts, whether canonical or not, include this detail), it is very interesting to me as I love the idea of magic wands.  I have to admit, this love comes from my interest in Harry Potter (!), but it is a fun concept to toss around.


In Powwow, there is no real historical evidence to suggest that a wand was part of any healing or protection charms.  There is one charm that includes instruction for making a wand to find Iron Ore, but that's pretty much it (see my earliest blog posts for directions how to make one!).  However, on the more ceremonial side of Powwow (ceremonial magic), you may find the wand (as well as other tools, ,like ritual swords and such).  I leave it to you whether or not to incorporate the use of the wand into your Powwow.  While it may be fun, it may also cheapen the overall effect of your healing sessions. 


Here are some of my favorite images of Christ with the magic wand.  If you come across any that you like that I don't have here, please share them with me!  I'd love to see them!



Ethics of hexing/cursing in Powwow

Posted by Rob Phoenix on November 15, 2012 at 10:50 AM Comments comments (4)

Some of the older Powwow charms seem to cross the line and step into the realm of cursing or, as it's known in PA Dutch culture, hexerei.  Hexerei is malevolent magic with intent to cause some type of harm.  We see some of the old charms getting frighteningly close to this:

For example: 'turner be turned, burner be burned..'  This charm removes verhexed conditions from an individual and sends them back to the sender, thus it is essentially the same hex the hexer put on the victim.  Some people feel justified in this type of working because they feel it teaches the hex a lesson they sorely need to learn.  Others may feel guilt over returning such things, even to the sender, because a hex is a hex is a hex.  Me personally, I tend to flip flop on matters like this and feel it's best to avoid it if possible.

Another method that seems to skirt the lines of hexerei is invoking God for justice.  Note this excerpt from Psalms, which is a popular anti-hex charm:  "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand will save me" Psalm138:7

This one seems to say "Thank you God, you protect me and also smite my enemies".  Is this true?  I guess it depends on how much favor you find with God, but that's between you and Him.  However, this also seems to be a bit on the self-righteous side and declare that you are right and free of guilt and your 'enemy' will be struck down.

Some of the charms in Powwow that are designed to offer protection, are also designed to return the negative actions back on the individual who is causing the trouble.  I suppose we can remove this rider from the charms when we are creating them to avoid harming anyone, even those who would cause us harm.  But is it necessary?

As a Christian, we are taught to love our enemies and show compassion.  Nowhere does Christ teach us to get revenge or seek justice; leave it up to God.  However, if we tap into Old Testament for inspiration we see a very different view of God; one of justice and smiting and other nasty things that are invoked by song and poetry mixed with praise and worship (ie Psalms).  What's right?

The invisible line between what is right and what is wrong is often difficult, and the concept of cursing (even returning a curse) is generally frowned on in Powwow.  HOWEVER, there are those who are sometimes referred to as hexenmeister who are not afraid to cross this line, and will do so when necessary.  Ultimately it is up to you to determine where that line is and if you will cross it.  A good rule of thumb: when in doubt, don't do it.  Remember that it ultimately is up to what inspires you: are your actions inspired by God?  By ego?  By the devil?  Think first before you act, listen to wisdom, and ultimately let God guide you.

Be blessed in all you do!

Unusual Written Charms

Posted by Rob Phoenix on September 28, 2012 at 9:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Powwow has many different variations on paper talismans and charms.  Most of these are not works of art, nor are they meant to be.  A written charm is meant to be functional and practical.  In most cases, a few words from scripture written on a slip of paper suffices.  In some extreme cases, however, there may be a need for discreteness and secrecy.  In those instances, there is another Powwow technique for creating written charms that I like to use.  This is a variation of the method outlined by Chris Bilardi in his book The Red Church.

Please note that these charms can be made for many purposes; from stopping blood to healing wounds to protection, and I'm sure you can creatively think of other uses as well.  The creation is the same, the only thing that varies is the wording that you will use.

Here is a simple charm for protection for Sally Worth to carry in order to remain safe from her enemies.

LJ. C, P sw FahANaCbhE * It no T FSHS a + + +

Doesn't look like much, does it?  Here's how it's made:

A blessing is created using prayers, scripture verse, or whatever in order to state your need.  In this example, here's what I wrote for Sally:

"Lord Jesus Christ, protect Sally Worth from all harm and negative actions caused by her enemies.  In the names of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit Amen. + + +"

Not very detailed or imaginative, I admit, but still effective.

Now, because secrecy is an issue, we've taken the first letter of every word and written them out like this:


We could easily leave it at that, but a clever individual may be able to decipher this message (hey, you never know), so we change it up a bit, add some spaces, make some letters lower case and some upper, put a random star here and there, I've even seen numbers added to the mix chosen for their astrological and/or biblical associations. 


Now Sally has an effective but secret charm to carry with her, and anyone finding the charm would be hard-pressed to figure it out. 

Hex, hexen, hexerei

Posted by Rob Phoenix on September 7, 2012 at 6:30 PM Comments comments (2)

Hexerei is, in the mind of the PA Dutch, the practice of negative witchery.  Hexerei is self-serving; satisfying the ego of the caster and placing their own will above the will of God.  Throughout history, people have not only believed in the power of hexerei, but many have claimed to be practitioners...and have used their knowledge to cause harm and discord.  One famous case is the Nelson Rehmeyer murder.  It is said that a local witch is the one who told the murderers that it was Rehmeyer, a local Powwow, who was responsible for their woes and that, in order to lift the curse (which Nelson never cast in the first place), the men must get a lock of his hair and his copy of the Long Lost Friend.  By the end of the adventure, Nelson was dead and the men were in jail.  This is the deception of hexerei, that it's application can somehow be justified, or that the hex has your best interests in mind.  The reality of the Rehmeyer case is that the hex (witch) probably was jealous of Nelson's good reputation, and so she took action against him.

Hexerei is practiced by those who place Ego above God.  It is NOT to be confused with Powwow.  Nor should it be confused with some of the definitions of modern witchery, which include things like Wicca and other forms of neopaganism.  Sometimes Powwow is erroniously called 'hex work', I have been guilty of using this term myself on occasion, but this is incorrect.

The dictionary defines 'hex' as:


1. An evil spell; a curse.

2. One that brings bad luck.

tr.v. hexed, hex·ing, hex·es

1. To put a hex on.

2. To bring or wish bad luck to: "Chilly evening weather and a chain of minor snafus seemed to hex the $5,000-a-seat gala on Governors Island" (Newsweek).


[Pennsylvania Dutch, from German hexen, to hex, from Hexe, witch, from Middle High German hecse, from Old High German hagzissa.]


hexer n.

Word History: The word hex is a good example of the sort of borrowing from other languages that occurred in the English-speaking former colonies of Great Britain. German and Swiss immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania in the late 17th and 18th centuries spoke a dialect of German known as Pennsylvania Dutch. In this dialect hexe was the equivalent of the German verb hexen, "to practice sorcery." The English verb hex, first recorded in the sense "to practice witchcraft" in an 1830 work called Annals of Philadelphia, is borrowed from Pennsylvania Dutch, as is the noun.

"Hex" finds it's equivelent in non-PA German language as "witch".  The problem comes with the use of the word 'witch' in it's modern sense versus it's historical sense.  In modern day (post 1950's), the word is used mostly synonamously with the neo religion of Wicca, although other non-Wicca sects (and individuals) are embracing this term for themselves.  However, this should not (in general) be confused with the hexerei, which will always represent those who use their magic for malevolent and/or self-serving purposes without regard to others, and in defiance of God.  This is not the path of the Powwow, nor should it ever be confused as such.

So how does one counteract the workings of the hex?  That's a complex question, with no real definitive answer.  First of all, we can use our faith and the power of God to counteract such work.  Nothing in this world is greater than the power of God.  No individual's ego can match the power of God.  Secondly, we can make sure we do not further empower such individuals with our fears and anxieties.  While the use of hexerei is more prevalent now than it probably has ever been (just search the web for curses and hexes, you'll see), it is pointless to give in to irrational fears and worries over such things.  Thirdly, be sure your own conscience is clear and trust that your faith will protect you.  At the end of the day, a hex only has as much power as you give him or her.  If you surround yourself with your strong faith, you will have nothing to fear.

If you read through this site, especially the Protective Charms page, you'll find some good tips for protecting yourself from negative witchery.  The historical written works of Powwow are filled with tips and charms for protection against witchcraft.   Also, I recommend partaking in the sacred communion at your church.  You can make sure all gifts given to you are safe by making a blessing over them or consecrating them in the name of God.  Have your Pastor bless your home.  If you have further questions, search through this site or contact me and we can talk about it. 

May God bless you and all the good work that you do!



                                             +   +   +


Red things, 77 things, and other oddities within PowWow

Posted by Rob Phoenix on March 3, 2012 at 7:05 AM Comments comments (2)

A cursory glance at PowWow gives the impression that it is a simple folk healing practice with little depth.  However, a more thorough understanding of the system reveals that it is steeped in Judeo-Christian mysticism and biblical symbolism; and the study of some of these elements is fascinating and reveals much about the true Christian foundations of PowWow.

The Color Red

The use of the color red in PowWow is nothing new.  It's a color of power and energy and, most importantly, it's the color of blood.  Red strings are worn as protective charms around the wrist to guard against demonic attacks and other harmful influences.  This can be found within Jewish folklore, especially as a guard for newborns against the lilitu, a type of demon.  They also help protect what is rightfully ours (sort of an anti-thievery talisman).  If one reads the story of Judah and his daughter-in-law Tamar; and the birth of her twins, you will see the use of the red string to protect the firstborn's birthright. 

When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb.  As she was giving birth, one of them put out his hand; so the midwife took a scarlet thread and tied it on his wrist and said, "This one came out first."  Genesis 38:27-28

They can also signify that one is saved. In Christianity, one is saved by accepting that the blood of Christ was shed in order to cleanse of sin.  The red string around the wrist symbolizes your acceptance of this truth.  

Many of the charms within Hohman's Long Lost Friend call upon the power of the blood of Christ.  Here are a few examples:

--A good remedy for bad wounds and burns--

The word of God, the milk of Jesus' mother, and Christ's blood, is for all wounds and burnings good.

--To remove pain and heal up wounds with three switches--

With this switch and Christ's dear blood,  I banish your pain and do you good!

--Remedy for fever, worms, and the colic--

Jerusalem, thou Jewish city, in which Christ our Lord was born; Thou shalt turn into water and blood, because it is for (name) fever, worms, and colic good.

--A safe and approved means to be applied in cases of fire and pestilence--

(excerpt from longer version) I command unto thee, fire, to abate thy heat, by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, which he has shed for us, and our sins and transgressions

Those are just a few of the many examples of Christ's blood being called upon in PowWow work. 

Red doors are another prominent feature amongst the old farm houses in PA Dutch country. 

Front of the Nelson Rehmeyer home.

There is biblical precedence for this as well.  For this answer, let's look at Exodus where God instructs Moses to tell the Israelites to slaughter a lamb and mark their doorways in it's blood so they will be spared during the Passover:

Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the door frames of the houses where they eat the lambs......On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn-and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt....The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you.  No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt..  Exodus 12:7, 12-13 (some bits omitted).

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Scene from Prince of Egypt depicting the Passover.

On my own house, which is designed and decorated to represent the PA Dutch culture and style, the front door was originally painted red.  Before I moved into the house, the owner repainted the door black.  While I like the black door, I would love to have it restored to it's red color.  Unfortunately, this is out of my control...

Many illnesses and ailments are often 'seen' as red; possibly due to the color of the skin after a burn or swelling.  Heat is seen as red as well.  And blood is, obvioulsy, red. 

Barns are typically painted red, but this is really more for convenience and endurance reasons as opposed to occult reasons, but the color is still unmistakenly a part of our culture. 

Red painted barn, with hex sign, in Columbia County Pennsylvania.

The book, The Red Church by Chris Bilardi, is titled after this idea of the color red being used within PowWow throughout history. 

The actual "red church", of Lutheran denomination, exists in Orwigsburg PA.

The Red Church, Orwigsburg Pennsylvania

Numbers and other oddities...

The number 77 features in an obscure charm for fevers...

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! +++

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.

Let's take this charm apart and examine all of it's Judeo-Christian symbolism:

"Good morning, dear Thursday!.....used on a Thursday for the first time...." -Why Thursday?  Traditionally, the Last Supper is thought to have taken place on Thursday.  Afterward, Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray and was arrested shortly after.  Thursday is seen as a Holy day for this reason. 

"77-fold..." - The number seven, and multiples of it, are repeated countless times throughout the bible.  What is most fascinating to me, however, is that Jesus Himself mentions the "Kingdom" of God 77 times throughout the New Testament.  I have learned that nothing is within the bible without purpose, and this repetition of numbers is significant. 

In PowWow, charms are often repeated three times; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 

For a more thorough look at the use of numbers in PowWow, skim through the Bible and you will see the many repetitions.  This is a study way beyond the scope of this blog, but I wanted to mention it so you can see the biblical origins of the usage of these numbers.

"the prayer of faith..."  I will not go into this one.  This is one of those PowWow things that a Christian would understand.  :) 

"nor eat pork, nor drink milk...." these are straight from Old Testament Judaic laws.  There are many food-related laws in the Old Testament that give instruction as to clean and unclean things to eat.  Certain things should never be mixed together, and other restrictions apply.  These instructions speak of the Judaic influence insofar as fasting and dietary restriction during the period of healing.

"not a word dare be spoken to anyone until after the sun has risen..." There are instructions within this charm for both the PowWow and the sick person to adhere to.  Neither can speak to anyone until after sunrise on all three days the charm is worked.  Both have other instructions as well, such as the recitation of the prayer of faith, the dietary restrictions, and so forth.  This is important because, within PowWow, these detailed instructions are often ignored by practitioners.  It is important for us to stick with these instructions so that we can gain the maximum benefit of using these particular charms.  Just another oddity that makes PowWow unique!

PowWow, if taken seriously and done correctly, can be a complex study, and an even more complex practice.  It has many little nuances and tidbits that are not readily noticeable at first glance.  However, the deeper you entrench yourself into this tradition, the more mysticism and spiritual power you will find.  One of my favorite statements is "What's worth doing, is worth doing well." and nowhere is this more true than within PowWow. 

May God bless you always in the good work that you do. +++