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Title: Himmelsbrief  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Memes, Amish, Superstitions, Spilling water for luck, The Goodman's Croft
Collection: Amish, Christian Folklore, Letters (Message), Luck, Memes, Pennsylvania Culture
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Himmelsbrief ("heaven's letter") is a name for religious documents said to have been written by God or a divine agent.

They are often said to have miraculously "fallen from sky", claim protection for owners of a copy (encouraging memetic replication) and punishment for disbelievers.

Some authors reserve the name for Christian apocryphal documents, but similar pieces are found in Islam, Hinduism and pre-Christian religions.

Hippolytus of Rome mentions one in Refutation of All Heresies (third century), and the earlier full text is a Latin one dated in the 6th century.

While preaching, Jacob, the organizer of the Crusade of the Shepherds, held one which was allegedly given by the Virgin Mary.

Pennsylvania German

In the Pennsylvania German community, they are part of Pow-wow tradition and contained Bible verses and other charms and assurances that their owners would be protected from death, injury, and other misfortune. The text of these letters was occasionally reminiscent of some contemporary chain letters. Pow-wow practitioners charged handsome sums for these magical letters; the price they commanded depended on the reputation of the practitioner. However, some traditions call for it to be given free of charge.

See also

  • The Roman ancile, Mars' shield said to have fallen from the sky.


  • Chain Letter Evolution,
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