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The Search Continues

The Search for Pow-Wow Braucherei History and Information Continues!
by Silver RavenWolf

Yesterday my husband and I spent the afternoon at the Cumberland County Historical Society.  This is the third local society we’ve visited in our quest for searching our combined family trees and historical Pow-Wow information.   Folks at Cumberland County are friendly and helpful and my husband and I spent a delightful number of hours enjoying the peaceful atmosphere of the library.

In the past several months both my husband and I have pushed a concerted amount of energy into gathering more material.  The wonderful librarian at Cumberland told me that I can copy my files and submit them to the library as a total research packet when I feel I’m ready.  Book aside, I now have a new goal — amassing as much as I can, and submitting the work as a whole.  When you write a book you cut things out, try to keep the flow so that the reader isn’t brick walled with the start and stop approach that research brings.  There are also copyright rules, etc., that keeps quotes to a minimum.  Invariably, much of what you gather cannot enter the finished product.  By organizing a research collection, I’ll be able to give to the public everything I have.  I feel good about this.  This is the right thing to do.

Iam delighted that I now have pictures of Gertie Guise, and that Preston’s learning from her was mentioned in the Wednesday, August 8th, 1973 issue of The Guide, Vol. 40 No. 10. , Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  As some of you know there was a rude rumor or two floating around that no proof of Preston’s existence could be found by a few researchers.  Luckily, Gertie back in 1973 agreed to be interviewed and have her picture taken.  In the interview it clearly states that Mrs. Guise herself taught Preston Zerbe in York Springs the art.

as published in the 1973 Wednesday, 8 Aug issue of The Guide.

It has been twenty years since I wrote my book on Pow-Wow.  In that time I have used for hundreds of people and provided instruction as opportunity presented itself.  In that same time I have been accused of a variety of sins by a variety of factions from fundamentalist Christians to self-appointed Heathen experts, from pompous magickal folks seeking negative attention to die-hard religious academics who enjoy analyzing the system; but, haven’t the courage to use it.  Yet, had I not walked into Pow-Wow from a Wiccan point of view, I would not have done the system the justice it deserves.  I do not regret, nor provide the reader with excuses for my own faith.   I am a Witch — and that’s that.  My main focus was, and still is, to provide information that you can use for yourself when you are sick or in need.  How critics want to pigeonhole Pow-Wow is, to me, their problem — not mine.  While they are wasting their time analyzing flap-hand-whatever — you and I will be IN the system using it to our own advantage.  We’re not getting lost in history, we are using the knowledge of history to make our own.  Pow-Wow doesn’t work BECAUSE you are Christian, Wiccan, or Heathen or whatever — it works in the TRINITY of yourself, the person who needs help, and the pure field of Spirit.

That said, I have delightfully found two more commonalities in the system that I will add to my list.  The first is a closing line that Preston used as a final seal, and the second provided Eric Fasick in his article “What is this dream, that thou hast dreamed?”: Conversations with a Dauphin County PowWow Doctor– printed in the Susquehanna Heritage in 2006 — on how the individual feels who is experiencing the Pow-Wow.  Although researchers have long concentrated on the Braucher through the memories of the patient, little is said how the patient felt during the process either because the memory is so old or because, to the interviewer, it isn’t a question they think to ask. In his article, Mr. Fasick generously gives a detailed examination of his feelings during and after the process, which absolutely matches what I have felt myself, and what others have indicated to me about how they feel after a session.  I was also delighted to read the following on page 21 of the article:  “The tradition of powwowing, or brauche, is passed on largely by oral means.  There is no grand ceremony, only the communication of the necessary information, consisting of teaching the appropriate phrases to be used in the treating of different types of illnesses, along with the physical processes which accompany them.  This information could be written down for memorization and then later discarded when the information was comitted to memory.”

In general, the person who undergoes the Pow-Wow treatment normally feels light, calm, peaceful, serene, or unburdened right after the session.  Like peeling the layers of an onion, each step of the Pow-Wow’s treatment seeks to remove negativity from the outside as well as the inside.  This is why at least three treatments are often sought.  The first to cut the outer negativity, the second to cut the inner negativity, and the third to bring balance within and without.  If you have received the assistance of a Pow-Wow and wish to add to this post on your experiences, please do so.

Oh, the final seal?  Here it is:

This I credit unto thee as the true nature of Spirit.  Everything Gets Right.