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A 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 else, 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, virgin wax, and Lapland sesame oil (the candle could only be put out with milk), and the hand having come from the said hanged criminal, lighted and placed in the Hand of Glory (as in a candlestick) would have rendered motionless all persons to whom it was presented. (In another versions the hair of the dead man is used as a wick, also the candle is said to give light only to the holder.) The Hand of Glory also purportedly had the power to unlock any door it came across.


The legend is traceable to about 1440, but the name only dates from 1707. It was originally a name for the mandrake root (via French "mandragore" and thus, "maindegloire" - "hand of glory") that became conflated with the earlier legend. The confusion may have occurred because mandrakes are said to grow beneath the bodies of hanged criminals.

The Recipe

The first thing you need to make a Hand of Glory, is a man fresh off the gallows, no more than twenty-four hours dead. His hand must be severed at the wrist with a sharp knife.

Take a winding sheet and squeeze out the blood to get it as dry as you can. If possible, take some of the dead man’s flesh and render it down to produce a bowl of fat.

The hand should then be preserved in an earthenware jar that is filled with salt, saltpetre and black pepper – all well powdered and mixed. Leave the hand in the jar for two weeks.

Remove the hand, dry it and dust off all of the powder. Place the hand in a hot oven that is fired with vervain and fir. Leave it for about an hour and then remove. Mould the drying hand into a fist, with just enough space in the centre to take a candle.

The candle is then made from the previously rendered dead man’s fat, virgin wax and sesame oil. The wick should be made from freshly spun flax.

Coax the candle into the curled fingers, which are then squeezed tightly, gripping the candle firmly in position. When complete with the candle fixed into the mummified fist, you have a Hand of Glory!

And with a Hand of Glory, you have a power. You have magic! As you light the candle, you cast your spell:

“Hand of Glory, Hand of Glory, let those who are asleep remain asleep – in a sleep that is fast and deep! But those who are awake, be wide awake!”




Evil Rest Uneasy does not promote practices of this kind.