Hand of Glory

Of Anglo-Saxon origin, acquired by the Surnateum in London in 1920
Recently restored and installed on a base

The Hand of Glory - a rather worrying amulet - is reputed to make its owner invisible and paralyse anyone who looks at the light it emits. Highly prized by thieves and burglars, a few rare specimens can still be found in museums.
The Surnateum's specimen was acquired in London in the 1920s.
The term 'Hand of Glory' is a translation of the French main de gloire, derived from the old French mandaglore and ultimately from the Latin mandragora, meaning 'mandrake', a magical root highly prized by occultists in centuries past.
The Surnateum's specimen has five candles, one for each digit. According to tradition, in this case if the thumb candle does not light, then that means that one of the individuals targeted by the 'spell of fascination' will not be affected and will have the thief captured. In t his case, the wise burglar cautiously avoids the house in question. According to legend, anyone wishing to counteract the Hand of Glory's spell must throw milk on it to extinguish the candles.

Thomas Ingoldsby (1788-1845) wrote the following verse in his The Ingoldsby Legends:

Wherever that terrible light shall burn,
Vainly the sleeper may toss and turn;
His leaden eyes shall he ne'r unclose
So long as that magical taper glows,
Life and treasure shall he command
Who knoweth the charm of the glorious Hand.

The passage below, written in rhyming verse, is also taken from The Ingoldsby Legendes (R.H. Barham's version, 1840).

"On the lone bleak moor, At the midnight hour,
Beneath the Gallows Tree,
Hand in Hand, The Murderers stand,
By one, by two, by three,
Now mount who list, And close by the wrist,
Sever me quickly, the Dead Man's fist,
Now climb who dare, Where he swings in air,
And pluck me five locks of the Dead Man's Hair!"

According to the 1826 edition of Collin de Plancy' Dictionnaire Infernal, a Hand of Glory can be manufactured as follows:
"The Hand of Glory is the hand of a hanged man prepared as follows: it is wrapped in a piece of funeral pall and squeezed well to ensure that as much remaining blood as possible is removed. It is then placed in an earthenware vessel with salt, saltpeter, zimat and long peppers, all of which have been crushed to a powder. It is left in the pot for a fortnight, then removed and exposed to the hot sun until it is completely dry. If the sun is not strong enough, it is placed in a heated oven with fern and vervain.
Next a a kind of candle is made with the fat from a hanged man, virgin wax and Lapland sesame . The Hand of Glory is used as a candlestick to hold this candle when lighted. Wherever one travels with this baleful instrument, those who are already there will remain immobile, unable to move as if they were dead."

The Petit Albert adds that the wick must be woven from tufts of hair from the horse of the hand's owner.

Collin de Plancy adds that since fewer people are hanged now than previously, it is hard to make such hands these days. He recounts the following legend:
"Two magicians had plans to steal from an inn. They asked to spend the night next to the fire, and their wish was granted. When everyone had gone to bed, the serving wench, who distrusted the sinister-looking travellers, looked through a hole in the door and saw what they were up to. She saw them remove a human hand from a bag, slather the fingers in some kind of ointment and light them all, apart from one which would not light, despite their best efforts. As she found out, the reason it did not light was that she was the only one of all the people in the inn who could not sleep. Since the other fingers were lit, everyone else was in a very deep sleep. She tried to rouse her master, but was unable to do so. In fact, she was unable to waken anyone until she managed to put out the burning fingers while the two thieves were at work in one of the bedrooms. Once the candles were extinguished, everyone woke up and the thieves were chased out of the inn.
Thieves are unable to use the Hand of Glory if one has taken the precaution of rubbing the doorway with an ointment made from gall from a black cat, fat from a white hen and blood from an owl. This ointment must be made during the midsummer heat."
What a smell!

The Surnateum's Hand of Glory can rather easily open the lock on a safe, but less easily the doors of buildings, at least those in the Surnateum. Our Museum of Supernatural History is protected by spells infinitely worse than anything you can imagine. The last time a dishonest visitor committed a petty theft at the Museum, not only was the object returned to the Surnateum within two days, but part of the thief's family was decimated. These kinds of protective measures may explain why the Hand of Glory does not function properly within the Museum.