Often described as a demon, witch or nocturnal ghost, the Heggemoeder (translation: Hedge Mother) or Heksenmoeder (translation: Witch Mother) was a bringer of illness, with fevers in particular. She could both give and take illness, the latter she didn't often do. This foe was said to live in tight hazel hedges and was notorious for going after pregnant women.
The Cure For Fever
As a safety measure, pregnant women often kept their stockings on when going to bed. One of them was worn normally while the other was inversed. Shoes had to be placed with the heels pointing towards the bed. When taking off their slip undergarnment, it had to be inversed and placed over the crib. This prevented the Heksenmoeder from coming over.
Fevers caused by the Heksenmoeder could be stopped by carving in peat and burning it to ashes, The Heggemoeder would proceed to sit on the peat, which breaks her spell. Some people would carve their name in the peat. Other methods involved carving a stripe for each sick day. While the peat is lit, one should keep their eyes intentfully on the carved peat within the fire until it is gone.
- M.D. Teenstra - Volksverhalen & Legenden van vroegere en latere dagen, uit meest nederlandsche schrijvers en mededeelingen verzameld