Pennsylvania German Powwow

Faith healing and folk magic of the Pennsylvania Germans


folk magic vs ceremonial magic

Posted by Rob Phoenix on November 18, 2017 at 4:10 AM

Sometimes people are surprised to find out I have a few ceremonial ritualistic elements to my powwowing. The surprise is understandable because powwowing is fairly simplistic no-frills sort of folk magic. So what's the difference between folk magic and ceremonial magic? And how can the two work together?

Folk magic is, for our purposes, the simple day-to-day magics of the powwow. These would include the removal of warts using a potato or apple or penny, the soothing of a burn from the stove, the stopping of blood from a minor scrape or cut, and other such cures and charms that one might find a use for throughout the course of his day. Folk magic is just a part of your every day life. It is an extension of your faith, and therefore could be called 'folk religion'. It need not be complex, it requires little or no preparation or props, and it serves a function in daily living.

Ceremonial magic, on the other hand, is a set of intentional and ritualistic actions that are coordinated to achieve a specific goal. For example, ceremonial magic could include the setting up of a work table or special altar, the creation of a ritualized space either through creating a magic circle or defining the space in some other way, such as with candles. Ceremonial magic often includes invocations and/or prayers to God. The ritual is generally worked during a planned time, such as during a specific phase of the moon or planetary hour. And the work done during the ritual is often the creation of talismans or the removal of hexerei or some other such complicated matter.

Generally speaking, a powwow need not ever concern himself with ceremonial magics as they typically fall outside the normal realm of practice for a powwower. However, the ceremonial elements can be added if you are the type of powwower that finds himself trying for frequent cases of verhexing. I suppose this depends on the area where you live. In my area, it seems that verhexings are common. Or, at least, many people believe they are common. Because of the frequency of requests I get for this type of work, I've created the ceremonial ritual elements that I wrote about in The Powwow Grimoire. They function as a means for me to bring my religious practices into my home and increase my own sense of protection while I'm working for clients with complex issues.

Ceremonial magic is really a way for you to have a religious foundation for your folk magic, if that is your preference. Since powwowing is a Christian practice, the ceremonial elements are really good for people like me that no longer regular attend a bricks and mortar church. Ceremonial magic is a way for me to have that experience at home while making it more to my religious liking, as opposed to sitting through a church service that may or may not bring me spiritual fulfillment.

Whether you choose to just stick with the folk elements of powwowing or flesh out your personal practice with some ceremonial stuff, I would advise you to stick with what you know, don't try to call up or conjure something you are unfamiliar with, and always keep your faith as your foundation. Learn to feel the words you are saying, rather than just memorize them for the sake of memorizing them. Make sure you understand what you are doing and why you are doing it. 

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