The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005
The Book of Pow-Wows or The Long Lost Friend
Books of Magic and Witchcraft
The Book of Pow-Wows has over the years become the work most often used to define the Pow-Wow tradition. This selection of charms and folk medicine was compiled in 1819 by Johann (John) George Hohmann.
Pow-Wow uses an Iroquois word to name the magical traditions of German immigrants to the United States. More information may be found within the DICTIONARY.
Unlike virtually all other books in this section, medieval and otherwise, The Book of Pow-Wows and its author are well-documented. Pow-Wow artist John George Hohmann (his name is variously spelled Hohmann, Homan, and Hohman) was born in Germany in approximately 1775. He emigrated to the United States as an indentured servant, arriving in Philadelphia on October 2, 1802 with his wife Anna Catherine and at least one child. Mr and Mrs Hohmann worked as indentured servants in different households in exchange for payment of their sea passage.
Hohmann served in Bucks County, Pennsylvania for 3 1/2 years. Upon release from indenture, The Hohmanns reunited and set up a household together. Hohmann was a devout Roman Catholic and a fervent believer in faith healing. He put together a German-American spellbook, reflecting Pow-Wow tradition. The book was initially published in German as Lange Verborgene Freund (The Long Lost Friend) in Reading, Pennsylvania in 1820. It was eventually translated into English and retitled The Book of Pow Wows or The Long Lost Friend in 1855.
Hohmann did not want his compilation to be considered a grimoire, or at least he didn’t want the local negative attention that authoring a grimoire would attract. This reflects the controversy in the Pow-Wow community between those who perceive themselves as devout Christians, with Pow-Wow as a form of Christian faith healing, and those who acknowledge and perhaps identify with other roots and influences. Hohmann certainly would have resented having his book appear on the same list as The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses, a book reputed to be dangerous and diabolical although (perhaps for that reason) it was extremely popular among German magicians as well as dabblers in the occult. Many understand The Book of Pow Wows to be a safe alternative to that book.
Needless to say, The Book of Pow-Wows is intensely Christian in tone, if not ritual. Pagan Pow-Wow practitioners avail themselves of the same charms by merely deleting Christian references, many of which are easily omitted.
The Book of Pow-Wows was extremely influential outside the Pow-Wow community as well. Traveling salesmen specializing in “religious goods” carried The Book of Pow-Wows to the south, where it was purchased by Hoodoo and Voodoo practitioners who began to incorporate its practices and from whence it entered what would eventually become mainstream American magic transmitted to the world.
The book contains magic from various traditions including German folk magic, Romany magic, and Kabalah. As is so often the case, The Book of Pow-Wows seems to have offered readers more benefits than it did its author. Hohmann did not enjoy economic success; five acres belonging to him were sold in a sheriff’s sale in 1825.