Hex Signs and Magic Circles

Hex Sign on a barn

Hex Sign on a barn

barns-hex-signDuring the winter while on the road, I spotted some hex signs on a couple of barns.  I was exited to see them!  I rarely see these.  I took a few pictures (above).  Hex signs are really interesting.  I’m sure we’ve all seen smaller versions in craft shops for hanging at home.  However, they are not only decorative art.  There is quite a bit to them.

Most view hex signs as simply colorful decorations, as folk art.  Historically they served a specific purpose.  They were talismans used to protect the barn, the farm and the home from fire, theft, lightening and misfortune.  And to promote good fortune, prosperity and fertility.  What made them different from talismans was their generally public nature.  They were beautiful art while serving an esoteric purpose.  Their occult aspect was not too obvious.

Hex signs arrived in Pennsylvania in the 1800s, the tradition brought by immigrants from the Old World.  But these protective symbols are very old.  They have a long history that reaches far back into paganism.  Since hex signs were public, the esoteric symbolism was subtle.  If anyone put a talisman from the Keys of Solomon on their barn, it would probably invite a fire started by an offended neighbor instead of warding it off.

Double Star Hex Sign

Double Star Hex Sign

The symbolism of the hex sign is interesting.  On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be all that much to them.  They are often only geometric shapes. It seems any meaning is in the eye of the beholder.  However, if we consider numerology and sacred geometry we can discern some of the esoteric meaning behind the hex sign.

These symbols were enclosed in circles.  Inside the circles were symbols such as a swastika/solar wheel, rosettes, double rosettes, pentagrams, double stars and triple stars.

A circle enclosing geometric shapes is suggestive of the magic circles of ceremonial magic.  The ceremonial magician would evoke celestial/spiritual powers while he remained in the magic circle’s protection.  The magic circle is a cornerstone of magical practice.


Lets consider a common symbol, the Star.  If we compare the hex sign’s typical “star” with some of the talismanic imagery contained in the old grimoires, they look  familiar.  Take away the cryptic script and you could easily have a hex sign.

The number of points on the star has significance.  Five points, the pentagram, has obvious occult meaning.  Four points represents our physical world, symbolized by the four points of the compass.  A double star adds four more points to what is symbolized as the material world.   This reflects the attempt to protect and bless this physical world, our farm and home, with celestial aid.

Tart Card the Star

Tart Card the Star

In the tarot card the Star; we have a star that looks just like a hex sign.  Just draw a circle around it!  It represents the actual stars above, but the Star is also a metaphor for a metaphysical force.  Astrology is suggestive of the influence of these “stars”.  The Star symbolizes the spiritual Universe and the Astral Powers Above.  The meaning of the Star card is about harmony between the Heavens and the Earth, the Spirit and the Individual.  As is above, so below.  As the woman pours water into the pond, she reflects what is going on at a higher level, as the Spirit pours its essence into the world.

The star in a circle, as seen with ceremonial magic’s circle, and with classical talismans and hex signs, represents our attempt to capture celestial influence for our benefit.   And keep it in our circle!

17 Responses to “Hex Signs and Magic Circles”

  1. Arlene deWinter Says:

    Very nice post, David! I enjoyed that.

  2. David Says:

    Hi Arlene, I wish I could spot more hex signs on barns when I’m in the countryside, but they seem pretty rare nowadays. Maybe because family farms are rarer nowadays. I doubt big corporate farms care about hex signs. A shame, really.

  3. Alex Says:


    Very nice and interesting. Yesterday I read all you wrote about talismans!

    Greets from Italy :-)

  4. David Says:

    Hi Alex. Lucky you, living in Italy. Europe has so much more occult symbolism to check out. In the US, very little.

  5. Stephanie Says:

    This is very cool. I knew nothing about hex signs though I do wear a pentagram.

  6. David Says:

    Hi Stephanie, I think hex signs are cool. Most of us don’t have a barn, but a lot of us have tool sheds where we keep our lawn mower and snow blower. A tool shed is our modern barn, so lets put up some hex signs on our tool sheds!

  7. Terry Says:

    I like the hex on the barn in the picture. Does anyone know were this is located? It is not the usual hex sign that one comes across. . Good page anyway. T…

  8. David Says:

    Hi Terry,
    I took that picture on a barn on the way to Lake Geneva, a tourist spot in Wisconsin near the border with Illinois. I forget which highway I saw it. But the moment I spotted it I had to stop and take a picture. I don’t see many hex signs around, so it caught my attention.

  9. Another David Says:

    A cousin of mine found a few of these up in Door County, farther north from where those pics came from but also in Wisconsin. She was concerned about their meanings but it looks to me like a few farmers hoping for better luck… Considering the economy as well as some nasty explosions that occurred around their area a few years ago, I can’t say that I can blame them for it…

  10. edward Says:

    hey i like this just untill now i never real believe in demouns stuff that ummm im leaning lots about that stuff now can any1 tell me where i can see ore make the hole protective circle??

  11. Kathy Says:

    Hello, I loved your article and I am an artist. I have been desiging amost any size of the Barn circles. I can remember when my Grandma had one on her Barn and she just thought it was a pretty design. I am now designing barn signs that relate to what the people want. I’m beginning another one today and it is from the Bible. I think they are attractive on the old barns.

  12. alexander king Says:

    Symbols have been used for eons before written language symbols were the only communication . The only thing you ALL have to worry about is the way the large conglomerate and industry that world wide are Pagans and have been worshiping and marking there property to brag to there friends in plain sight,for way too many years , they even use the Church . Example: Look at any major organization then look at its advertising symbols and I will leave it at that. Did you know the dollar symbol is over 7 to 8 thousand years old?? Yeah no joke! Look up it’s real meaning and you will be shocked at how our Gov uses us like puppets or slaves to rake in the dough and take our God given freedoms for there ancient beliefs. I Pray people will wake up before it’s too late

    Alexander King

  13. David Says:

    Hi Alexander,
    Big Business are very expert at symbolism. They know marketing! They spend billions on advertising and know what works. However, I think the only religion the global economy follows is the religion of money. Corporations are souless beings, and if they have to destroy the world to make a dollar, they will.

  14. Ronna Says:

    Your magic circle is upside down and backwards. The larger letters are in Hebrew, on what should be the top. You can clearly identify the Aleph, “A” equivalent. I’m not sure what it means, but the letters are Lamed, Aleph, yud, and either samech or mem, so it is either L’achim or L’achiss.

  15. David Says:

    Hi Ronna,
    Thanks for catching that for me, I don’t know Hebrew. I’ll have to fix that (photoshop!).

  16. JT. Says:

    There are lots of these symbols on barns in rural parts of Kentucky. Albany, Somerset area. Almost every barn sports one.
    Thanks for the info. Maybe ill start taking photos and compile.

  17. David Says:

    Hi JT,
    That is cool. I wish we had more hex signs out where I am in Illinois. You should take pictues…you can record part of our culture.

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