Misha Crews

Love stories about old houses and family secrets.

At some point in my writing journey, I took a side-trip into the world of folklore and mythology. The result is known as Ha-la, which is the totally made-up mythology belonging to the town of Angel River, and its surrounding countryside. Here is the first glimpse into the history and practices of our little town’s traditions.

History, both real and imagined

First, the real history:

The addition of Ha-la to the Angel River series was first inspired by a documentary called Hex Hollow, which I caught on Amazon Prime one blustery afternoon. The documentary follows events that led to a 1928 murder in Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, and tells the story of Powwow (also known as Brauche or Braucherei), which is a folk magic and healing practice that evolved when Europeans migrated to North America in colonial times. These people, known mostly as “Pennsylvania Dutch,” were German speakers. (They’re called “Dutch,” but this term is a mispronunciation of the word “Deutsch,” which means German.) Powwow has its roots in Christian beliefs and is still in practice today.

A barn bearing a Pennsylvania Dutch “hex sign.” You can read more about it here.

And now, the imagined history:

Well, of course, my writer’s mind was fired up at the thought of a such an intricate belief system evolving in the U.S. before and after the Civil War, and it seemed like Angel River needed exactly this kind of lore and tradition to deepen its roots.

My maternal grandmother’s family emigrated from Holland, and so I decided that Angel River’s folklore would be Dutch instead of Deutsch. In researching, I found that one of the Dutch words for heal is helen, which was the name of my beloved aunt. And since human beings are slangy creatures, I knew that as the tradition evolved, the name would be shortened. And so, Ha-la was born.

Signs and symbols

Ha-la has several elements which have appeared at different times in the Angel River books. The one which has probably been mentioned most frequently is the seven-pointed star, also known as a heptagram. The symbol has many uses in real life, including representing the Biblical seven days of creation, which is how it’s used in Ha-la. If you were to take a drive through the fictional town Angel River, you would see this symbol on houses and barns throughout the countryside.

Design found on Pinterest.

There is more to the invented folklore and history of Angel River, which I’ll share in blog posts from time to time. In the meantime, of course the best way to get to know about it is to read the books, which you can find on Amazon, as well as in my shop.

In the meantime, what do you think of Ha-la so far? Do you have any questions or elements that you’d like to see in future posts, or future books? I hope you’ll let me know in the comments.

Hugs and happy reading,



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