Hex (or Hexerai)
Hex (or Hexerai)
General term for witchcraft spells among the Pennsylvania Dutch settlers of America, especially those of southeastern Pennsylvania. Beliefs in magic were brought to the area in the later seventeenth century and given focus in the Rosicrucian group that settled on Wissahikon Creek in Germantown. The group, generally referred to as the Woman in the Wilderness, dissolved in the early eighteenth century, but its members became practitioners of magic, astrology, and healing in the area and were the forerunners of the later hex meisters.
The standard textbook of hex spells and folk remedies used by hex meisters, The Long Lost Friend or Pow-Wows, was published by John George Hohman of Berks County, Pennsylvania, in 1820. The book includes instruction for a variety of magic formulas to accomplish practical tasks, as indicated by some of the topics covered: "Against Mishaps and Dangers in the House," "Treating a Sick Cow," "To Stop Bleeding at Any Time," and "To Charm Enemies, Robbers, and Murderers." Many Pennsylvania barns are still decorated with "hex signs," known as hexafoos, originally placed to keep away evil spirits, but today largely a decorative addition.
Hark, Ann. Hex Marks the Spot in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1938.
Hohman, John George. The Long Lost Friend or Pow-Wows. N.p., 1820.
Lewis, Arthur H. Hex. New York: Pocket Books, 1972.
Sachse, Julius F. The German Pietists of Provencial Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, 1895. Reprint, New York: AMS Press, 1970.
hex1 / heks/ • v. [tr.] cast a spell on; bewitch: he hexed her with his fingers. • n. a magic spell; a curse: a death hex. ∎ a witch. hex2 • adj. & n. 1. short for hexadecimal. 2. short for hexagonal (see hexagon).