Dark Secrets: the Hand of Glory

The truth behind the infamous Hand of Glory

The Hand of Glory
The Hand of Glory

What would be Halloween without some dark story? So, let’s see a few things for one of the most well-known forms of Black Magic, the infamous Hand of Glory.

Even if I were to give you the way to create this hideous object, you would most probably have no luck in finding the right human to make it from. Nevertheless, I prefer not to present to you the exact recipe, nor the energizing incantation. For the Hand of Glory is, indeed, evil magic, made for evil purposes.

What is the Hand of Glory?

The Hand of Glory is actually made from a human hand. The left hand of a thief that has been hanged for his or her crimes. Thus, the practise of this technique is more common to places where the law requires the hanging of the thieves. To make it even more impossible, in some lores the thief must remain on the gallows for three days. According to this tradition, the hand is most powerful if it is cut during the third night from the thief’s death.

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After cutting the hand off, it is prepared as a candle, using the fat and the hair of the hanged human. Then, it should be energised by the use of an incantation. As I have already said, neither the exact way of preparing the Hand, nor the incantation will be given here.

The Supernatural abilities of the Hand of Glory:

The purpose of the Hand of Glory, despite its name, is not achieving glory. Instead, it is for helping other thieves to do their job without a problem.

According to the lore, when the Hand of Glory is ignited in a house, all who are already asleep cannot wake up, no matter what, until the hand is removed from the house. In the same time, all who are awake – the thieves, for example – cannot fall asleep.

If the Hand of Glory is well prepared, the actual Hand remains almost untouched by the fire. So, it can be used again and again.

Tradition says, that neither wind, nor water can extinguish the fire of the Hand of Glory. Even more, only the one who lighted it can extinguish the flames. Although, there are some stories saying that milk can extinguish the flames of the Hand and undo its sleeping spell.

Scientifically-wise, there is no reason milk can achieve what water cannot. But there are several traditions, both in Western Magic and in Eastern Magic, that give supernatural powers to the milk. Undoing evil magic is one of the most common ones. So, maybe, the tradition saying that milk can extinguish the light of the Hand of Glory comes from this idea.

The "hand of glory" or "le main de Gloire" as presented in a dark Medieval French Grimoire
The “hand of glory” or “le main de Gloire” as presented in a dark Medieval French Grimoire

Also, the lore proclaims that only the one who holds the Hand of Glory sees under its light. Everybody else see no light. The “only the one” part is probably inaccurate. There are stories where whole groups of thieves used just one Hand to do their job.

Anyway, I don’t know if it is true that no other sees any light. The fact is that, because of the chemistry of the “fuel”, the light the Hand of Glory produces is a very pale yellowish-white light. Therefore, if anybody could actually see the light of the hand from outside the house, they would most probably believe it is a reflexion of the Moon light, and so they wouldn’t think twice of it. Those inside the house, would obviously be under the sleeping spell of the Hand, and therefore would not see the light.

For all these abilities the Hand of Glory holds, it was for long time a magic act favourite to the thieves and other outlaws that lurked in the dark wishing to pass unnoticed. Of course, nowadays this practise is very difficult, as we don’t hang thieves, in most parts of the world.

So, the next time you see in a shop a “Hand of Glory”, remember what it stands for. You can still, of course, obtain it as a part of your Halloween decoration. Just do not buy it as a symbol of glory.

That’s all. Have fun and a Happy Halloween to you all.

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