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Monday, August 30, 2010

Beware of the gruesome Hand of Glory burning its spell over you

This week’s Magical Monday post is dark and twisty. I’ve been perusing research books for tasks to give an alchemist character in the series I’m currently writing, The Enchanted Bookstore, the first book subtitled Seeking a Scribe. This bit of magic was so compellingly gory, I wanted to share. Caution: I wouldn’t eat while reading this post.

European magic folklore describes use of the Hand of Glory. The term is derived from the French main de glorie or mandrogore or mandrake plant, which is associated with the gallows. The severed hand of a criminal is preserved for use in spell casting. Apparently, the hand renders people afraid, powerless, or sleepy, so thieves may break into homes.


Particularly interesting, at least for the purposes of my alchemist character, is the preparation of said hand. It’s best to use the right hand of a murderer, cut from him/her during a lunar eclipse. Second best in efficacy, is to sever the murderer’s hand on any given night the corpse the corpse still hangs on the gallows.

Once the hand is acquired there is much work to be done. First it is to be wrapped in the corpse’s burial shroud and squeezed dry of blood. Next, it must be preserved before use, stored in an earthenware pickling pot for two weeks in a mixture of saltpeter, salt, and peppers. Then, the hand is wrapped in vervain leaves and dried in the August sun or an oven. Personally, I’d opt for the sun method, since the thought of the fumes in the house seems nauseating, but my alchemist might be in a bigger hurry for that hand than sun-drying would permit.

For a twist on usefulness, the dried hand can then be dipped in wax so the fingers may be burned. Alternatively, candles may be fabricated from the fat of the murderer and the hand’s dried fingers become grotesque candle holders. If you forgot to gather his/her fat, that of another recently executed murderer, or of a pony will do as well. Any of those choices must be combined with sesame and virgin wax to ensure proper burning. Hair from the dead man or pony is used to make wicks.


To cast the sleeping spell, the hand of glory must be burned. Caution: if the thumb doesn’t light, it’s a sign that someone in the house cannot be bewitched.


If you are the one being bewitched, take heed – only milk will extinguish a lit hand of glory. I wonder if soymilk qualifies, which is all I ever have in the house? If prevention is the route you wish, you will need to concoct an ointment from the blood of screech owls, the fat of white hens, and the bile of black cats. Once the liniment is smeared along all thresholds, chimneys, window sashes, and other points of entry, you are safe from anyone bewitching you with a hand of glory.

I think my alchemist can make good use of a Hand of Glory.

Art: Antrobus & Grimm; The Modern World/ Pynchonzak Smith

Reference: The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy, Rosemary Ellen Guiley, 2006, Visionary Living, Inc.


Heather Long said...

Excellent information! Thanks for digging this up.

Marsha A. Moore said...

Thanks, Heather. Glad you stopped by.

S.Durham said...

Marsha, fascinating! Where do you find these things? Sara

Marsha A. Moore said...

I have a collection of reference books that is taking over! :)

Thanks for visiting, Sara.


Lynda K. Scott said...

LOL, Marsha! I know precisely what you mean about a collection of reference books taking over. It's wonderful and scary, isn't it?

Marsha A. Moore said...

I'm much freer about ordering reference books than fiction, which seems more for entertainment. Every week I seem to have a couple new references in my mailbox. It's fun though -- I love digging up odd stuff.


Marsha A. Moore said...
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