The origin of the word 'Hex', to describe these often brightly painted signs is of disputed origin. Some claim it's root is the German "Hexe"/Dutch "Heks", which means witch. Some claim that it derived instead from the word "sechs", which means six. They are believed to have originated in the practice of painting runes on buildings in Europe. Hex signs also believed to be derived in part from Frakturs, documents used to keep track of family histories that were decorated with many symbols found in the signs today, like tulips and birds.
Hex signs adorned not only barns but birth certificates, gravestones, furniture, pottery and textiles. Each design a sort of painted prayer, with the intent of bringing the ideas expressed in them from the spiritual into the physical realm. In general, they were thought to keep away bad spirits and brought good luck, particularly for crops and livestock. It was common practice to say a blessing over the Hex sign after it was painted.
Some Common Hex Designs:
Rosette: to keep away bad luck and evil.
Eight Pointed Star: goodwill.
Double Eagle: strength and courage.
Daddy Hex: double luck - an outer Rosette with 12 petals, smaller for added luck at difficult times.
Triple Star: good luck and happiness.
Tree of Life: love, happiness, God's abundance.
Some Symbols and Meanings in Hex Signs:
Birds of Paradise - the deep beauty and profound wonder of life.
Circle - eternity.
Crescent Moon- the seasons.
Distelfink - luck, joy; 2 crossing one another, friendship; 2 double luck.
Doves - friendship, peace, joy
Eagle - strength, bravery, clarity
Heart - love from God, the source of all love; lace around the heart represents marital love
Horse Head - (in a star) protection from lightening, protection of livestock
Maple Leaf - contentment
Oak Leaf - endurance
Pineapple - welcome
Raindrops - abundance, fertility
Scallops - ocean waves, smooth sailing
Stars -in general good luck, hope, love, peace, energy, 4 points - bright days, 5 points - protection against fire and lightning, protection for animals, 8 points - (most often blue) good omens, light, protection.
Sun Wheel - fertility
Tulips- 3 represent the Trinity and faith, hope, charity; trust in both yourself and your fellow man
Wheat - abundance
Colors and Meanings
Black - protection, binding symbols together
Blue - protection, peace, spiritual strength
Brown - earth, friendship, strength; a brown ring, as above, represents the cycle of life
Green - success, ideas
Orange - abundance in things that have been lacking
Red - passion, creativity
Violet - indicates things that are held sacred
White - purity, the moon
Yellow - health, connection to God