Hand of Glory

Tales of 'Hands of Glory' date back to the 1400's but has only been known as such since the 1700's.

They were mainly used by Burglars as a charm to send the occupants in the house they were robbing into a deep sleep.  They were also said to render people speechless and freeze them in their footsteps, to open locked doors and enable the owner of the hand to become invisible.

  The hand would be severed from the dead body of a hanged criminal.  It would then be drained of blood, wrapped in linen and pickled for two weeks in an earthenware jar with peppers, salt and saltpeter ( potassium nitrate, a component of gunpowder).  The hand would then be dried in an oven using herbs such as Vervain to repel demons. 

 There are two types of this hand.  The clenched hand would be filled with human fat and used as a candle holder.  The second type, the outstretched hand would have wicks inserted into the fingers and used as candles.  If one of the fingers didn't light it would mean that someone in the house was awake.  The wicks were made of the hair of the criminal.

The hand could not be extinguished by water but only by blood or milk!

Old Rhyme used with the hand:

Let those who rest more deeply sleep,

Let those awake their vigils keep,

Oh, hand of glory, shed thy light,

Direct us to our spoil tonight,

There used to be a hand in the Witchcraft Museum in Boscastle and an outstretched one in the Whitby Museum.

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