Long-Lost Friend: More Comments Answered

Tonight, I answer some of your comments regarding The Long-Lost Friend.  First, we’ll start with AncientHistory:

I’m curious if there’s a direct precedent for Hohman’s diving rod. I’m passing familiar with the forked twig for divining the location of ores from De Re Metallica and Lazarus Ercker’s Treatise on Ores and Assaying, but the details of use are different. Specifically, Hohman’s use of ‘any tree’ for the wood and without exact directions on how the fork is to be held (traditionally, palms up) seems a fairly basic error.

AH is here referring to this procedure for creating a divining rod for use in the operation of dowsing.  Here’s a brief segment:

To make a Wand for searching for Iron, Ore, or Water.

On the first night of Christmas, between 11 & 12 o’clock, break off from any tree a young twig of one year’s growth, in the three highest names, (Father, Son and Holy Ghost,) at the same time facing towards sunrise…

So, is Hohman not following tradition?  Having taken a peek at the “Wunschelrute” (divining rod) article in the Handwörterbuch des Deutschen Aberglaubens, I can say that it’s unlikely anybody in Germany knew of the “proper” way to dowse, whatever that might be. There is an incredible amount of differents woods, creation techniques, incantations to be said (or not), etc., in the German tradition.  I gave up on using the article to link Hohman to any particular tradition, and I don’t think he was any more clueless than the majority of authors on the subject.

(If someone does know of a good treatise specifically on German dowsing, please let me know.)

Kevin Nelson asks:

I’m wondering if you’ve found in your research how “Long Lost Friend” relates or compares to Dr. G. F. Helfenstein’s “Vielfaltig erprobter Hausschatz der Sympathie; oder, Enthullte Zauberkrafte und Geheimnisse der Natur” (1853). Portions of this work were later translated by William Wilson Beissel in 1938 and titled “Secrets of Sympathy”. Some of the charms are similar to “LLF”. I have a copy of “Powwow Power”(1998), published by Beissel’s great-nephew which reprints “SoS”. I’ve wondered what Beissel might have left out, or if it’s simply more charms that resemble material found in “LLF”.


To elaborate, I have achieved a copy of the relevant sections of Powwow Power, which went out of print rapidly and was nearly impossible to track down even through interlibrary loan.  I also obtained the 1853 edition of Der Lange Verborgene Freund with Helfenstein’s work in the back, specifically so I’d have a copy of the text.  A quick and likely inaccurate skim didn’t turn up any striking similarities, though some of the charms follow similar lines, use similar motifs, and are for many of the same complaints.

Keep the comments and questions coming.

Published in: on April 19, 2010 at 11:01 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. Well, you probably know that the invocation from “A CHARM TO BE CARRIED ABOUT THE PERSON” is taken from the canticle “The Song of the Three Holy Children” (or so I presume). However, where Hohman gives the names as “Ananiah, Azariah, and Missel,” I’ve usually heard them as “Ananiah” (sometimes “Hananiah”), “Azariah”, and “Mishael”. Is this just a small misstep in the translation, or was this an error carried forward that would point to a specific source?

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