Hexenkopf Rock

Watershed Coalition of the Lehigh Valley.

In the remote area of the Lehigh Valley, in the municipality of Williams Township, Pennsylvania, lies a phenomenon of sorts known as Hexenkopf Rock. For those who can read German, you may be wondering why a rock is called Witch’s Head. I would like to answer that, but first, we need to delve into the past.

During the time of Pennsylvania’s founder, William Penn, parcels of land were sold to be settled. One of those is known as Williams township, which spreads from the Delaware river up the south mountain. This became home to many of the early German immigrants of the time. The mountain was home to the farms, whereas, the valley was home to the city folk. The towns of Easton (the Northampton County seat), and Bethlehem (the home of the Moravian community), are the two larger places, with little villages throughout the whole county.

One of the beliefs the Germans brought with them was an understanding of the witches from the Black Forest of their homeland — both the dark “evil witches” and the good “white witches”. Even in the Germans’ new home, the witches seemed to have followed them. Hexenkopf Rock is the second-largest point in the area, second only to Gaffney Hill, which is 1,030 feet above sea level. It is a set of stones, more like boulders, really, that have what some see as the profile of a witch’s head coming out of the ground.

How did this rock get so much power? Sheer belief is a wonderful start, but there is more to the story than just believing. The name “Hexenkopf” did not come into fashion until the late 18th century. What we must understand is why this rock is so important. The whole of Williams township was settled by brauchers or, if you like, Pow-Wow doctors. Besides using herbs in their healing, they would also pull out the evil influence from their patients. This was done with Christian incantations, usually taken directly from the Bible. When they pulled out the evil influence, the brauchers needed a new place to put it. Animals were a favored place, such as chickens, cats, or even wild animals in the area. Eventually, however, the brauchers began pulling out the evil influence and placing it in the rock — a much safer and more secure place to keep the negative influence from escaping.

I’m not sure if they were aware or not, but in reality, by putting the negativity in the rock or earth, they would be allowing Mother Nature over time to take that negative energy and turn it into a positive one. Plus, no animals were harmed in the process.[1]

After the evil influence was removed, the patients would start to recover. A Pow-Wow practitioner was a well-respected doctor of the times and would be sought after if a physician were unable to help with the patient’s infliction. A braucher believes that they, themselves, do not heal the sick, but it is God’s will. They, in fact, are the in-between person, the conduit for the influence to travel into its new home. With that, it was also believed that a Pow-Wow doctor would go mad from having all that “evil” running through them. In many cases, history has recorded that to be true. Pow-Wow practitioners stayed alive in the area until the late 1970’s to the early 80s.

Many other things have come from Hexenkopf. If you do some research on the subject of brauchers, then you will come across the name of John George Hohman, who is the writer of the famous Pow-Wow book Long Lost Friend. There are many copies of this book out there, so it is still available. The author lived in the Williams township area, and it is this book that set the precedent for working the healing magic of the Pennsylvania Dutch folk. Mr. Hohman was considered a master Pow-Wow practitioner. Besides Long Lost Friend, his first book, The Field and House Pharmacy Guide, is a very useful guide to taking care of the farm and home, with recipes for cleaning and preserving, as well as healing oneself and one’s animals. This book has no spells in it. Long Lost Friend was the first to contain those.

Over the years, Long Lost Friend became the “Bible” of Pow-Wow practitioners and was considered so powerful that before a braucher passed on, they would either give it formally to another practitioner, sink it in deep water, burn it, or make it powerless with the “read out,” which is reading it from the last word to the first word.

These are not the only books to come from the rock. There have been some writers who have decided to create some fiction, with the rock or the township being a part of the action. One such book is The Hex Woman, by Raube Walters. The appeal of the rock is still pretty alive today, as well.

The rock is situated a mile and a half from my husband’s family farm, so it is a place we have driven past hundreds upon hundreds of times. There are stories of how as you drive past the rock at night, another vehicle that is behind you will just disappear. That has happened to me. At the time, I thought it was someone turning into a driveway. Going past the next day, I noticed there were no houses or drives in that area, only woods.[2] There are some small hauntings in the area even today.

In order to help preserve the history of the township, Hexenkopf Rock and its surrounding area are going to become a park. Both are currently privately owned, but the owner has made the necessary arrangements to turn the property into a park. When that happens you, too, can come and bask in the history of Hexenkopf Rock and the brauchers who made it famous.

High Elder Redhawk

[1]The author wished to add this little-known fact that giving any negative influence back to the earth would, in fact, let the earth recycle the energy and make it once again positive (meaning evil into good, not negative and positive polarities).

[2]This is a true story. At the time of the incident, the author was unaware of the stories of such hauntings. It was several years later when he learned the truth.

Ned D. Heindel, Hexenkoph: History, Healing & Hexerei, ISBN: 9781877701207

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