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Legacy of the Witch–Pennsylvania Dutch Folk Magic

Legacy of the Witch by Kirsten Weiss Goddess Fish Promotions

Researching Penn Dutch Folk Magic

by Kirsten Weiss

When I was a kid, my Pennsylvania Dutch father told me about having a wart removed by his uncle. His uncle cut a potato in half, rubbed it on the wart, said some words, and then buried the potato on a moonlit night. At the time, I thought the story was bizarre, but I didn’t pursue it. My father’s gone now, and I wish I had.

Pennsylvania Dutch Country holds within its rolling hills and quaint villages a rich tapestry of culture and tradition. Among these traditions lies a practice known as Powwow or Braucherei. Rooted in the folklore and beliefs of the Penn Dutch, this form of folk magic has woven its way through generations and plays a central role in my new book, Legacy of the Witch.

Braucherei emerged from the melding of various cultural influences, including German folk traditions and Lutheran mysticism. The practice took shape within the tight-knit Penn Dutch communities in the 17th and 18th centuries.

At its core, Braucherei is a system of folk healing and protection, grounded in the belief in the power of words, symbols, and rituals to affect change in the physical and spiritual realms. Practitioners, known as Brauchers, are often regarded as gifted individuals within their communities, possessing a deep understanding of herbal remedies, prayers, and incantations passed down through generations. The tradition is largely oral, Brauchers having to memorize incantations rather than write them down.

Key elements of Braucherei include the use of spoken charms or “Dutchy,” symbolic gestures such as the laying on of hands, the use of string and smoke to draw out evil influences, and the administration of herbal remedies believed to possess curative properties. Whether treating common ailments like headaches and toothaches or offering protection against hexes and curses, Brauchers employ a blend of faith, tradition, and intuition to address the needs of their clients.

While the world around them has evolved, the traditions of Braucherei have remained. And in recent years, there has been a renewed interest in Braucherei, both within the Pennsylvania Dutch community and beyond. Scholars and enthusiasts alike have sought to document and preserve this unique form of folk magic, recognizing its cultural significance and value as a living tradition.

The Braucherei described in Legacy of the Witch comes from these more academic sources. I wish I could have just asked my father, but I suspect his understanding of the practice was hazy. As a child, he seemed to have been as incurious as I once was.

Legacy of the Witch

Seeker: As societies grow increasingly fragmented, hopelessness, nihilism, and division are on the rise. But there is another way—a way of mystery and magic, of wholeness and transformation. Do you dare take the first step? Our path is not for the faint-hearted, but for seekers of ancient truths…

All April wants is to start over after her husband’s sudden death. She’s conjuring a new path—finally getting her degree and planning her new business in bucolic Pennsylvania Dutch country. Joining an online mystery school seems like harmless fun.

But when a murdered man leaves her a cryptic message, she catches glimpses of another reality she’s unwilling to acknowledge. A reality where bygone enchantments cast cryptic shadows, and the present brims with unanswered questions.

As April works to unearth the mystery, every step brings her closer to a truth she’s been evading. And to a conspiracy of hexes that may end in her demise.

Legacy of the Witch is a spellbinding, interactive tale of a woman’s midlife quest to understand the complexities of her own heart. A paranormal women’s fiction murder mystery for anyone who’s wondered if there might be more to their own life than meets the eye…

Book 1 in the new Mystery School Series featuring the UnTarot, a deck of cards for meaning making. Start reading now!

UnTarot deck app included!

Meet Kirsten Weiss

I believe in free-will, and that we all can make a difference. I believe that beauty blossoms in the conscious life, particularly with friends, family, and strangers. I believe that genre fiction has become generic, and it doesn’t have to be.

My current focus is my new Mystery School series, starting with Legacy of the Witch. Traditionally, women’s fiction refers to fiction where a woman—usually in her midlife—is going through some sort of dramatic change. A lot of us do go through big transitions in midlife. We get divorced or remarried. The kids leave the nest. Our bodies change. The midlife crisis is real—though it manifests in different ways—as we look back on where we’ve been, where we’re going, and the time we have left.

Now in my mid-fifties, I’ve spent more time thinking about the big “meaning of life” issues. It seemed like approaching those issues through witch fiction, and through a fictional mystery school, would be a fun and a useful way for me to work out some of these ideas in my own head—about change and letting go, faith and fear, and love and longing.

After growing up on a diet of Nancy Drew, Sherlock Holmes, and Agatha Christie, I’ve published over 60 mysteries—from cozies to supernatural suspense, as well as an experimental fiction book on Tarot. Spending over 20 years working overseas in international development, I learned that perception is not reality, and things are often not what they seem—for better or worse.

There isn’t a winter holiday or a type of chocolate I don’t love, and some of my best friends are fictional.

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