Piecing together information about a tradition like Powwowing is not always easy. I first had to pick a good place to start so I immersed myself in the study of the history of the Pennsylvania Germans. Once I had a good grasp on who the PA Germans are, I delved into the religious beliefs and folk customs. From there, the larger picture of what Powwow is and what its place is in the culture started to become more clear.
No folk tradition can be separated from the actual culture that gave it birth and still maintain its historical and cultural integrity. This is why I believe it is so difficult for those outside of the PA German community to truly comprehend Powwowing. Its so deeply ingrained into the religious beliefs and lifestyles of the Pennsylvania German culture that it is nearly impossible to fully appreciate if any of the cultural elements (location, religion, dialect of origin, history, etc) are removed or misrepresented.
To that end, I welcome any and all correspondence that may help flesh out the information and resources I have gathered here on this site. This includes links to academic websites that provide helpful information about the PA German culture, book recommendations, historical resources, and so forth.
This is the headstone of my great great grandparents, Solomon and Sarah. They are buried in Zion's Stone Church Cemetery near Lehighton, Pennsylvania. My grandparents (pictured below) are buried in the same church yard.
On the left is my great Aunt, Sarah Steinhert. In the middle is my grandmother, June Betty Bankes-Whitley. On the right is my grandfather, Arthur Owen Whitley.
This is my dad, Robert Sr. He passed away in 2010.
Before you email me, please read the following guidelines.
1-If you are sending historical, religious, and/or cultural information, be sure to include academic links to all of your resources. There are some resources that are just NOT academic, and some that are. If you are unsure, submit the links to me and I will make a determination of it's worth based on further research of my own. I always do my best to investigate all claims, no matter how far-fetched, to uncover whether or not there is truth to them.
2-be sure the information is not already presented on this website. I've gotten quite a few emails from individuals who felt I left out important points pertaining to the study of powwowing, when in reality the information is most certainly included on this site. You really have to look through the whole site. Sometimes the information and links can seem overwhelming, but it is all absolutely essential for a proper education in the subject. If you've checked and re-checked and definitely cannot find mention of something you feel is crucial, please let me know. Please also be aware that in some instances I merely mention an aspect of PA German culture (like the various dialects, for example) but do not elaborate on because I am not an expert in that topic. Instead, I'll offer links to further study for your own education.
3-if you have questions/comments/etc that involve Native American studies, culture, religion, etc, please understand that I am not the person to contact. I have almost no knowledge of Native American culture to share with you, nor is PA German Powwowing in any way, shape, or form connected to Native American culture. I can't tell you how many emails I've received filled with accusations of cultural appropriation. However, I can tell that the authors of those emails haven't actually read through this website. If they had, they would understand that this is something very different than Native American religion and culture. Emails of this nature will simply be deleted and ignored as I have no information to share on this topic.
4-If you find that one of the links on this site no longer works or doesn't lead to the page that it's supposed to, please let me know. I try to keep up with all the links on this site by checking them regularly to make sure they are still good, but sometimes I miss a few. If you should find such a link, or if you know of a site that might be a good one to link to this one, please send me a message. I appreciate it! :)
Please send all research information/requests to my email: email@example.com. You may also share your personal powwowing stories, I would love to read them!
Please understand that I cannot always respond to every email. Between my career and my family and my school work, I'm pretty busy. However, I do my best. If you don't get a response, please don't take it personally. Thanks for understanding!
Over the years, I have had countless individuals come into my home for various powwowing needs. This has largely been a positive experience. However, as every person is unique and carries their own unique energies, occasionally the experience was not pleasant. And for anyone who has ever offered their services to those in need, you will no doubt know that sometimes the residual energy from a bad visit can really mess up the energy of your home and family. Because of this, I am no longer willing to see clients in my home. My family has grown over the past few years and their safety and comfort is my primary concern.
However, this does not mean I have ceased my powwowing activities. Certainly I still try for those in need. However, since face-to-face sessions are rather limited, the best I can offer you is distance work. If your situation demands immediate attention, then please go to a doctor or hospital. Powwowing should never, ever replace a properly trained medical professional. In this day and age of urgent care centers and emergency departments of hospitals, there is very little reason why someone should choose to wait for an appointment with a powwow before getting treatment. However, I also know from experience that not all situations are medical in nature. As a powwow, one of my specialties is protection and removal of witchcraft. You won't get that service at a local clinic. Therefore, please email your situation to me and I will do the work as the situation dictates. That may require me to meet with you in person, it may not. But I will make that decision and let you know.
Guder Daag! Wie bisch?
My name is Robert Phoenix (formerly Chapman) and I am the creator of this site. I do all of this research myself because I truly love the culture of the Pennsylvania Dutch and the tradition of Powwow. I was born and raised in Pennsylvania and currently live in South-Central Pennsylvania and work for the state of PA. I've always been interested in folk magic and have studied many different systems over the years. I was raised Catholic, as this was the religion of my mother's side of the family, and as an adult I have embraced the religion of my father's side of the family, the Reformed church; known nowadays as the United Church of Christ. My personal beliefs are a blend of both traditions. I love Powwowing because it's a Christian-based system that really does work and it connects me to the traditions, beliefs, religion, and folklore of my ancestors.
An all-purpose healing charm
Heile, heile, Segen.
Drei Tage Regen.
Drei Tage Dreck.
Und jetzt ist alles weg
+ + +
Holy, holy blessing
Three days of rain
Three days of muck
And all is gone.
+ + +
To insure safety from an angry dog
Dog, hold thy nose to the ground;
God has made me and thee, hound.
To cure a person of worms
You are a little worm, not entirely grown.
You plague me in marrow and bone.
You may be white, black, or red,
In a quarter of an hour you will be dead.
A Charm for Personal Safety
Cross of Christ and Crown of Christ and Jesus Christ; red blood, be to me at all times and all hours good. god the Father is before me. God the Son is at my side. God the Holy Ghost is behind me. Who now is stronger than these three persons may come to seize me.
+ + + then follow up with three Paternosters.
To Compel a dog, horse, or other animal to follow you
Casper guide thee, Balthasar bind thee, Melchior keep thee
Three times, utter these words into the animal's right ear.
For Wounds and Stopping of Blood
Blessed is the day on which Jesus Christ was born; blessed is the day on which Jesus Christ died; blessed is the day on which Jesus Christ arose from the dead. These are the three holy hours; by these N.N., I stop thy blood. Thy sores shall neither swell nor fester; no more shall that happen, than that the Virgin Mary will bear another son.
+ + +
Protection from Sorcery
Take elm wood on Good Friday, cut the same while calling the holiest names. Cut chips of this wood from one to two inches in length. Carve on them, in the three holiest names, three crosses. Wherever such a slip is placed, all sorcery will be banished.
To Stop Blood
There stood three roses upon our Saviour's grave. The first is mild, the other is good, the third shall stop the blood.
+ + +
A Protective Talisman
To be hung in the home, hidden in a secret place, or carried with you.
A charm to make a thief return stolen goods
Write upon two pieces of paper the following words, and attach one to the top of the door, and the other under the threshold, and the thief will return on the third day and bring back the stolen articles:
Abraham bound it †
Isaac redeemed and found it †
Jacob carried it home †
it is bound as tightly as steel and iron, chains and fetters. † † †
To Remove Skin Infections
Many of the old charms refer to a skin infection known as "wildfire". This referred to a very specific skin condition called erysipelas. I use the term to refer to any skin condition. Feel free to change it to something else that might work better for you if you choose not to use the term "wildfire".
With a red string, pull it tight between your two hands. First touch the top of the individual's head then sweep the string down the front of the body and away from the person three times while you repeat the following three times:
fly, fly, fly
The red string chase you
away, away, away
Then speak the baptismal name of the individual then seal with the words:
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
To Stop Blood
On a slip of white paper, write the following:
Place this paper over the wound to stop the blood.
Charm to cure burns
For mild burns on the skin (don't try to treat serious burns, get medical attention immediately):
At the end of each spoken line, gently blow on the burned area (GENTLY!!!)
Fire of God (gentle breath)
Lose thy heat (gentle breath)
As Judas lost his color (gentle breath)
When he betrayed our Lord (gentle breath)
In the garden of olives (gentle breath)
Amen, Amen, Amen (gentle breath)
Repeat for a total of three times, seal the working.
To Guard your home against thieves and witches
Take a glass of water and repeat over it 77 times:
Adonai, Elohim, the LORD my God
Pour the water around the perimeter of your home. This is believed to prevent witches and thieves from infiltrating your property. Made more powerful if done on a Holy Day or after taking sacrament at church.
Interesting charm and it's language variations
This was shared by a member of my church as she learned it as a child growing up in PA Dutch country:
"Heile, heile, Hinkeldreck! Marifree ischt olles weg."
or, another variation,
"Heile, heile, Hinkeldreck! Marifree ischt olles recht."
"Heiliger, heiliger, Huhnerdreck! Morgen fruh ist alles weg (recht)."
and, in English,
"Holy, holy chicken dirt. Early morning it is gone/away/right."
and, made to rhyme, we get the familiar charm as demonstrated below,
"Holy, holy chicken dirt. Tomorrow morning it won't hurt!"
It is said that to spit on the area of pain helps seal the magic.
To Keep Witches Away from your Property
In the Amish community, there is an old belief that if a bundle of St. John's Wort was hung over the door of the house or barn, no witch could enter and no witchcraft could effect the people or animals within. In these days of the prevalence of hexerei, why take chances?
Sealing a Powwow working
When a charm calls for sealing the working with the sign of the cross, this is done with the right hand, made into a fist, and the thumb straight out (like a 'thumbs up' position). The cross is 'drawn' over the affected area with the ball of the hand just below the thumb; typically three times; spoken in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
For Easing Pains
Hold hand over painful area and recite three times:
Holy, Holy chicken dirt
Tomorrow morning, it won't hurt
Blow on area three times, then seal with the sign of the cross.
To Banish Fevers
Suspend, upon a Friday, a letter containing the names set forth below, between the hours of eight and nine, upon the patient's neck, in the following manner:
Fold together, and tie it in grayish red cloth, which must be unbleached, and pierce through the cloth and the letter, three holes. Draw red thread through them, while calling the three holiest names. Suspend the same around the neck of the patient, and let it remain eleven days. After taking it off, burn it before the lapse of one hour:
H B R H C H T H B R H
H B R H C H T H B R
H B R H C H T H B
H B R H C H T H
H B R H C H T
H B R H C H
H B R H C
H B R H
H B R
Against Evil Spirits and all manner of Witchcraft.
N. I. R.
N. I. R.
All this be guarded, here in time, and there in eternity. Amen.
You must write all the above on a piece of white paper, and carry it about you. The characters or letters above, signify: "God bless me here in time, and there eternally."
To Protect your home from all manner of evils
In chalk or white stone, just outside your doorstep, mark on the ground three crosses spaced equal distance apart while saying:
Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David as he said through his holy prophets long ago, salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
To Soothe Aches and Pains
Place hands gently on the afflicted area.
Repeat the following for a total of three times:
I will exalt you, O Lord,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
O Lord my God, I called to you for help
and you healed me.
O Lord, you brought me up from the grave;
you spared me from going down into the pit.
(Excerpt from Psalm 30, spoken with devotion.)
To Stop a Wound from Bleeding
Say three times over the wound:
Mary goes throughout the land
She has two pitchers in her hand;
In one is blood, in one is water;
Blood stay; water go.
Make three signs of the cross over the wound.
To Determine if you have been Bewitched
Rub a raw egg from the top of your head down the length of your body to your feet three times. Break the egg into a dish or fireplace. If there is blood in the egg, it is a sign that negative witchery has been cast on you.
To Remove Negative Witchery and Return it to the Witch
Boil a piece of beef and while it is cooking, keep sticking it with a needle. The one who bewitched you will have the same pains and the spell upon you will be broken.
To Prevent Weak or Malicious Persons from doing you an injury
On a piece of paper write the following:
Dullix, ix, ux. Yea, you can't come over Pontio;
Pontio is above Pilato. + + +
Hang this above the main entrance to your house and it will certainly protect you from malicious persons!
To Protect The Home
Go to each window and door individually. In the air make the sign of the cross or protective star while saying:
Three angels with three swords stand before the house of God.
The first is courage,
the second is strength,
the third strikes down all enemies.
In the name of the Holy Trinity!
Hold a red knife in the air, blade facing oncoming storm, and say three times:
"Three angels ride the winds
to lands both far and near
Go west, go east, go south, go north
but do not linger here!"
Stick the knife into the ground.
To Stop Blood
Place a red knife gently over the affected area.
Three ladies came from Jordan's land
Each with a bloody knife in her hand
Stand blood, stand, in the name of God stand
Bloody wound, in God's name mend!
+ + +
For Justice in Court
Carry a bit of Pot Marigold (Calendula) on the day of your court appearance and, prior to leaving your home, recite Psalm 20 three times.
The SATOR charm can be copied onto a slip of paper then taped to the inside of your front door to protect your home from thieves and intruders.