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Brauche, also called powwowing, is the practice of customary healing (from Bräuche, i.e., "customs") transplanted to America by emigrants from South Germany, Alsace, and Switzerland, and practiced by many settlers in Pennsylvania Dutch country. Powwowing comes in various forms, depending on the geographical location and cultural traditions of the community. Some Brauchers use magical words and charms as they apply their art at the bedside of the ill. Other practitioners rely exclusively on the gift of "electric" in the hand. By rubbing and massaging and even following nerve routes through the body, pain can be located and treated. Some Brauchers learn their skills from local chiropractors and manipulate the body to relieve pain and pressure. All authentic Amish powwowers agree that the art of Brauche is a gift of God and not self-induced. The practice is usually carried out in the home. Treatments are free, but a modest contribution is accepted. Brauche has been the subject of debate for centuries. It has nearly vanished in some Amish communities. Many young people know little about this healing art, except for the glowing stories handed down by their elders.

See also Folk Medicine

Additional Information

Ervin Beck's Bibliography on Mennonite and Amish Folklore and Folk Arts (see section on Medicine)

Author(s) Samuel L Yoder
Date Published 1989

Cite This Article

MLA style

Yoder, Samuel L. "Brauche." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1989. Web. 27 Mar 2017.

APA style

Yoder, Samuel L. (1989). Brauche. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 27 March 2017, from

Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Kitchener, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 93. All rights reserved.

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