Pennsylvania’s tradition of ritual healing, known as powwow (or Braucherei in the language of the Pennsylvania Dutch), is one of many folk healing systems in North America that blends elements of religion and belief with health and healing. Combining a diverse array of Christian prayers, gestures, and the use of everyday objects, these rituals are used for healing the body, protection from physical and spiritual harm, and ensuring good outcomes in everyday affairs.
Powwowing in Pennsylvania: Healing Rituals of the Dutch Country features artifacts, documents and photographs illustrating a wide range of expression within the ritual tradition of over three centuries of Pennsylvania Dutch folk culture. A collaborative effort between Glencairn Museum and the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center at Kutztown University, the exhibition features items from the Heilman Collection of Patrick J. Donmoyer, the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center at Kutztown University, the Mercer Museum, the Thomas R. Brendle Museum at Historic Schaefferstown, the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center, as well as the private collections of Clarke Hess, and Jim and Marcia Houston.
The full text of the exhibition catalog is available online (in both html and pdf formats). The catalog essay is titled, “The Heavens are My Cap and the Earth is My Shoes: The Religious Origins of Powwowing and the Ritual Traditions of the Pennsylvania Dutch.” A printed copy of the exhibition catalog may be purchased at Glencairn for $10.