There are currently around 30 faith healers in Appenzell Innerrhoden, who relieve pain and homesickness, stop bleeding and banish warts and other skin diseases. They use secret healing spells and blessings, some of which date back to late mediaeval times. In dialect, they say that these individuals «tuet fö Hitz ond Brand», which means that they use supernatural powers to cure fevers and heal burns.
Faith healers are medical laypersons who use their knowledge of folk medicine and generally see their faith healing as a form of praying or link it closely to the use of prayers. Many ask the person seeking help or their relatives to pray as well to strengthen the effect.
Healing for them is a God-given talent that they practise in private, in addition to their primary occupation. Faith healers are recommended to others based on people’s own experiences or on reports of successful «treatments». Patients come from all social classes and most are native Swiss residents.
Faith healers must have empathy, compassion and a sense of justice. No fees may be requested otherwise the talent may be lost. However, those seeking help generally feel they should give something. The healers know that although it is forbidden to ask for anything, there is nothing that forbids them from accepting gifts.
Faith healers can also work from a distance even when the sick person knows nothing about their actions. Faith healers are most frequently consulted in cases of fever, inflammation, pain, skin conditions and before and after operations, to promote healing and calm the patient. A particular specialty is the dispelling of homesickness.
In the case of stubborn dermatological conditions, it is often a faith healer, who is consulted. The best time for calming the affected skin is during a waning moon.
In many cases, faith healers are consulted alongside conventional
therapies. Faith healers are often sought by farmers to help with livestock illnesses.
The healing power is passed down from generation to generation. Normally transcriptions of the healing spells are handed down and the old books of spells get destroyed.