The Powwow Guy

Home of Robert Phoenix and Traditional Pennsylvania German Powwow


Ethics of hexing/cursing in Powwow

Posted by Rob Phoenix on November 15, 2012 at 10:50 AM

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!

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