Hand of Glory
The Hand of Glory is the dried and pickled hand of a man who has been hanged, often specified as being the left (Latin: sinister) hand, or, if the man were hanged for murder, the hand that "did the deed."
According to old European beliefs, a candle made of the fat from a malefactor who died on the gallows, lighted, and placed (as if in a candlestick) in the Hand of Glory, which comes from the same man as the fat in the candle; this would have rendered motionless all persons to whom it was presented. The candle could only be put out with milk. In another version, the hair of the dead man is used as a wick, and the candle would give light only to the holder. The Hand of Glory also purportedly had the power to unlock any door it came across. The method of making a Hand of Glory is described in Petit Albert, and in the Compendium Maleficarum.
Etymologist Walter Skeat reports that, while folklore has long attributed mystical powers to a dead man's hand, the specific phrase "Hand of Glory" is in fact a folk etymology: it derives from the French main de gloire, a corruption of mandragore, which is to say mandrake. Skeat writes, "The identification of the hand of glory with the mandrake is clinched by the statement in Cockayne's Leechdoms, i. 245, that the mandrake "shineth by night altogether like a lamp" (Cockayne in turn is quoting Pseudo-Apuleius, in a translation of a Saxon manuscript of his Herbarium)
In literature 
Severed hands in an occult context occur as early as Herodotus's "Tale of Rhampsinitus" (ii, 121), in which a clever thief leaves a dead hand behind in order to avoid capture. They also appear in early stories of lycanthropy, such as Henry Boguet's Discours exécrable de sorciers in 1590.
On display 
In popular culture 
- "Hand of Glory" is the name of a public house in the 1944 film, A Canterbury Tale.
- "Hand of Glory" is the title of a song by the band Witch (band).
- In the Supernatural, episode "Red Sky at Morning", the brothers are hunting down a Hand of Glory in order to burn it and stop the spirit of the thief it was taken from. This was the thief's right hand though.
- In the Harry Potter series, a Hand of Glory appears twice: once in The Chamber of Secrets (for sale) and again in The Half-Blood Prince (in the possession of Draco Malfoy) as an object which grants illumination only to its holder.
- Hand of Glory is the title of the second album from the Cornish band Spriggan.
- "Hand of Glory" is a song from The Smithereens' album Especially for You.
- In the film Angel Heart, the character played by Charlotte Rampling keeps a Hand of Glory in a box.
- In Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, a Hand of Glory is offered for sale to Richard.
- A Hand of Glory is employed against Sgt. Howie as he feigns sleep in The Wicker Man.
- The legend is the basis for the 2011 dark thriller Hand of Glory.
- The Hand of Glory is used as a model for the Transient Curse Item in video game Dark Souls
- In the video game Thief: The Dark Project, collecting a Hand of Glory is a mission objective for the Cragscleft Prison mission
- In Hellboy's Box Full of Evil story and Being Human story, a Hand of Glory is used to paralyse everyone except the holder of the hand.
- In The Invisibles by Grant Morrison, large parts of the plot surround attempts from both the Invisibles and the Outer Church to obtain and find out how to control a Hand of Glory. In the comic, it is seen has having the propensity to open doors in timespace – i.e. open gates to other worlds and ages.
- In the Lost Girl episode "Fae Gone Wild", a Hand of Glory is created by a group of selkies – fae who become human when they remove their seal pelts – to recover their pelt from a safe; this version of the Hand is able to penetrate any defence when the candle it holds is lit, and the candle can only be put out by milk.
- Episode 7 of The Dresden Files has Harry tracking down three college students who are using a Hand of Glory to bypass high tech security systems.
- A Hand of Glory appears in the episode "The House with a Clock in Its Walls" in the after school special entitled Once Upon a Midnight Scary, hosted by Vincent Price (who claims to have used it several times). It is based on the book by John Bellairs.
- In the 1997 film Quicksilver Highway, Christopher Lloyd's character (Aaron Quicksilver) uses a Hand of Glory as the vehicle to tell his second tale of horror and poetic irony. His description of the Hand of Glory is very accurate when compared to traditional lore.
- Andrew Bird's second 2012 album is entitled "Hands Of Glory."
- In Charles Stross' Laundry Files series, Hands of Glory are part of the standard equipment for occult field agents.
- In Randall Garrett's short story "The Eyes Have It" (1964) from the Lord Darcy series; a character dabbling in dark magic has a Hand of Glory among his equipment. It is described as a mummified human hand serving as a candelabra, each of the fingers a candlestick.
- In the 1993 film Hocus Pocus, three witches, hanged during the Salem witch mania in the 17th century, are brought back to life by the lighting of a "black flame candle", made from the rendered fat of a hanged man.
- Baker, Frank (1888). "Anthropologocal Notes on the Human Hand". American Anthropologist 1 (1): 51–76. doi:10.1525/aa.1888.1.1.02a00040. JSTOR 658459.
- "La main de gloire, & ses effets" [The Hand of Glory, and its effects.]. Secrets merveilleux de la magie naturelle et cabalistique du petit Albert. [The Little Albert] (in French). Albertus Magnus. Lyon: Héritiers de Beringos fratres. 1782. p. 115. OCLC 164442497.
- Davies, Owen (2008-04-04). "Owen Davies's top 10 grimoires". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-04-08.
- "Of Soporific Spells". Compendium Maleficarum. San Diego: The Book Tree. 2004 . pp. 83–90. ISBN 1-58509-246-0.
- Skeat, Walter William (1904). "Glory, Hand of". Notes on English Etymology, chiefly reprinted from the Transactions of the Philological Society. Clarendon Press. p. 119.
- Cockayne, Thomas Oswald (1864). "Mandrake". Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England'. London: Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, & Green. p. 245.
- Tricomi, Albert H. (2004). "The Severed Hand in Webster's "Duchess of Malfi". Studies in English Literature 1500–1900 (Rice University) 44 (Spring, Tudor and Stuart Drama): 347–358. doi:10.1353/sel.2004.0023. JSTOR 3844634.
- "Ingoldsby's Legends".
- "I have made enamels and cameos". Wuthering Expectations. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
- Gautier, Théophil (1887). "Étude De Mains" [Studies of Hands] (poem). Émaux et Camées [Enamels and Cameos] (in French). Paris. pp. 15–19. Retrieved 1 May 2010. "Curiosité Depravée"
- "Hand of Glory". Whitby Museum Miscellany. Whitby Museum. 15 September 2011.
- The Hand of Glory and other gory legends about human hands – Edited by D. L. Ashliman.
- Hand of Glory – Manufacture and use of the Hand of Glory.