During 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.
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.
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!