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.

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