But, there are many parts of the United States that have a rich history of superstitious folk tradition that don’t get as much attention. Thomas White’s book, “Witches of Pennsylvania: Occult History & Lore,” reveals that the Keystone State has quite a wicked history of its own.
At just under 100 pages, this isn’t a long book. Yet it is densely packed with information which introduces the reader to the cultural influences that bred a complex system of folk belief in Pennsylvania.
White explains in his introduction that he purposely chose not to cover every cultural group historically present in the region for a few reasons.
Native Americans, like other indigenous groups, were typically shamanic cultures and therefore had their own unique ideas about concepts such as magic, healing, and the spirit world. However, most Native American customs from the Northeastern United States were recorded only by European observers, if at all. Therefore historical observations of Native practices can often be rife with misunderstanding and bias.
An influx of German groups brought various Christian sects to the colony and later to the state. Many of these immigrants brought a wide range of traditional folk beliefs and customs with them. These folk practices mixed Christianity with pre-Christian customs which had been common in Germany, making the Pennsylvania Germans a group known for both witchcraft and the folk healers who use their own magical means.
Though this is a serious historical survey, White’s prose flows easily. His accessible writing style plus the fascinating subject matter makes this an exceptional book which is enjoyable to read. Anyone interested in historical witchcraft, Pennsylvania German culture, or folk tradition in general will appreciate this book. Click here to view it on Amazon.