There is a difference between a Pow Wow and Pow Wowing.
Traditionally, a Pow Wow was a meeting of the elders of a tribe to determine the future of a tribe. It has since come to be used to describe any gathering of Native Americans of any tribe.
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Pow Wowing has its roots in the Dutch/German culture and is a modality of healing.
WhiteBear is currently working on additional information about Pow Wows and Pow Wowing.
ancient times, Germanic tribes from the Palatine valley
relied on faith healers, brauchers, when health problems
developed. Several hundred years ago, brauchers immigrated
to the New World with various Germanic religious sects.
Cooperative, instructional meetings, or pow wows, between
Native American medicine men and newly immigrated brauchers
allowed the newcomers to learn about herbs and remedies
indigenous to North America. The brauchers, now known
as pow powers, practice within Pennsylvania Dutch communities
across the country, especially in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Dutch Hexcraft or "Pow-wow"
Pennsylvania, German settlers began arriving the late
17th century, the bulk of them immigrating in the first
half of the 18th century. The term Pennsylvania "Dutch"
is a corruption of the German word "Deutch"
meaning German. Silver RavenWolf lives in Pennsylvania
and describes this magical tradition in HexCraft. She
has Pennsylvania Dutch ancestors, as I also do.
Two distinct groups of German immigrants came to Pennsylvania.
The Fancy Germans, or Lutherans, brought their elaborate
folk history with them, including the ornate customs of
Christmas and Easter, the Yule tree and log, colorful
decorations, baskets, and pictures of bunnies. The other
German group was the Plain or Pietist Germans. They included
members of the Mennonite, Amish, Dunker, and Brethern
denominations. The Plain Germans wore distinctive clothing
and tried to live a simple rural life-style guided by
their interpretation of the Bible. Some of the pow-wowers
Silver RavenWolf interviewed were Brethren, Mennonites,
South central Pennsylvania was fertile and not physically
isolated, as were the southern Appalachians. Hexcraft,
or pow-wow, as it is locally called, survived because
of the tendency of both Fancy and Plain Germans to live
in tightly knit communities, where they preserved their
customs and language into the 20th century.
Native Americans were present, at least initially, when
the Germans arrived and the term pow-wow was possibly
derived from the early settlers' observations of Indian
pow wows. Silver RavenWolf thinks the word pow-wow may
also be a derivative of the word power or may come from
the Native American pow wow definition meaning "he
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Pow-wowing includes some charms and incantations dating
from the Middle Ages plus elements borrowed from the Jewish
Qabala and Christian Bible. Pow-wowing generally focuses
on healing minor health problems, the protection of livestock,
success in love, and the casting or removing of hexes.
For over 200 years, pow-wowers have considered themselves
to be staunch Christians endowed with supernatural powers
to both heal and harm.
Hex signs are the most widely recognized symbols associated
with pow-wow magic. The word hex means a spell or bewitchment
and comes from the German word hexe for witch. Hex signs
are round magical signs and symbols used primarily to
protect against hexerie (witchcraft). They were used by
the Fancy Dutch but not the Amish and strict Mennonites.
Some hex symbols and designs originate in the Bronze Age.
Ancient Celtic and Germanic tribes put emphasis on the
energy patterns of the divine Source rather than its representation
as a human archetype. The Source was depicted in universal
designs that assisted in focusing power either toward
or away from the design. The basic pattern found in the
original hex signs is the double rosette, which is found
at many ancient European holy sites.
Most of the charms used in pow-wow magic were originally
described in two books. The first book, Long Lost Friend,
was written in 1820 by John George Hohman. He was a German
Catholic immigrant who documented various charms and herbal
remedies that had been preserved orally for centuries.
The second book is the anonymous Seventh Book of Moses,
also called the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses. This
book contains a mixture of wisdom derived from the Talmud,
Qabala, and Old Testament. Silver RavenWolf says these
two books were once found in almost all Pennsylvania Dutch
Pow-wow tools include common items such as spools of red
and black thread, a ball of red yarn, several lengths
of red and black ribbons, small hand-made ceramic bowls,
a seam ripper, a creek stone (divinity stone) and a container
of holy water. Red and white are the basic colors used
Pow-wowing was still common in the early 20th century.
Gradually over time, several local murders were attributed
to pow-wowers. One belief held by some pow-wowers was
that a curse could be broken by killing the person who
placed it. Pow-wowing rapidly declined in the 1920s when
the news media portrayed it as an embarrassing example
of backward and superstitious Pennsylvania Dutch behavior.
While researching her book, Silver RavenWolf found only
elderly pow-wow practitioners, who often lived in local
old story related to pow-wowing:
No One Will Ever Make a Grade A American of You
Allen was a child he was very sickly. His parents
took him to every doctor in the region but no one could
cure the strange sickness. All they got was the
same grim assessment – Allen was very sick and he
would probably die very young. With no help from
modern medicine Allen’s parents turned to a Pow-wower.
Pow-wowing has always been a part of the Pennsylvania
German heritage and practitioners claim to have a special
knowledge of cures and home remedies. The Pow-wower
applied a hot mustard paste to Allen’s back and
then wrapped his torso in bandages like a mummy.
Whatever the concoction was, it cured Allen of his mysterious
sickness and he lived to be 92, spry and active until
the end even though he had been told that “no one
can ever make a grade A American out of you.” -
As told by Allen Goglen
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