The Hand of Glory is a legendary dark magic object that is believed by some to hold a variety of supernatural powers, although largely the stuff of folklore there are actual Hands of Glory on display in a few museums in England - though whether or not such objects hold any supernatural power is a matter of considerable debate.
The Hand of Glory is said to be the dried and pickled hand of a man who has been hanged, often specified as being the left 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 - lighted and placed (as if in a candlestick) in the Hand of Glory, which comes from the same man as the fat in the candle - would have rendered motionless all persons to whom it was presented.
The candle could only be put out with milk. (In another version 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.
In Popular Culture
- In "The Eyes Have It", a short story from the Lord Darcy 1964 fantasy series, a Hand of Glory is found among the belongings of a nobleman dabbling in black magic.
- In John Bellairs' novel The House with a Clock in Its Walls, the resurrected witch Selenna Izard uses a hand of glory to paralyze the two good magicians Jonathan Barnavelt and Florence Zimmermann. It is later implied that the hand may have been that of a homeless person named "Hammerhandle", who had disappeared after aiding Selenna Izard in her doomsday scheme.
- In J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Draco Malfoy sees a Hand of Glory in Borgin and Burkes, a specialist Dark Arts shop. He is told by Mr. Borgin that it "gives light only to the holder". Draco later buys the hand and uses it in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
- The Hand of Glory device makes multiple appearances in the Laundry Files series by Charles Stross.
- Multiple Hands of Glory appear in Cassandra Clare's book Lady Midnight, where they are harvested from murderers and used in a dark ritual to raise the main antagonist's true love from the dead.
- A Hand of Glory is mentioned as an item for sale at the floating market in Neil Gaiman's story Neverwhere.
- The hand of a man with Dupuytren's contracture is brought aboard ship by the naval surgeon Stephen Maturin in the Patrick O'Brian novel The Hundred Days. The ship's crew assume it's a Hand of Glory and it is thought to bring good fortune to the voyage.
- A Hand of Glory, stolen from the Pannett Park museum, allows the protagonist to search several houses without being witnessed in The Whitby Witches by Robin Jarvis.
- In the crime novel Surfeit of Lampreys by Ngaio Marsh, a hand is severed from the dead body of the Marquess of Wutherwood and Rune in an attempt to make a Hand of Glory.
- In Laird Barron's titular short story Hand of Glory, a hand is taken from a dead body and used to keep the protagonist from moving his body (except his mouth).
- A Hand of Glory is depicted on the cover of Middlegame by Seanan McGuire, as well as being frequently mentioned and used throughout the book. It effectively turns the user undetectable, and sometimes turns someone else indetectable. It is used by alchemists, and is the hand of any murdered person dipped in wax with each of the fingers lit.
- "Hand of Glory" is a song by The Smithereens from their album Especially for You.
- The story by Gérard de Nerval was adapted as an opera by Jean Françaix, after a scenario by Vanni-Marcoux; it was premiered at the Bordeaux Festival in 1951.
- Andrew Bird mentions the Hand of Glory in his song "Measuring Cups". He later named an album "Hands of Glory".
- The band Flesh Eaters reference the concept several times. The cover of their 1981 album A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die appears to depict a Hand of Glory. Their next album, 1982's Forever Came Today, has a song titled "Hand of Glory", and the lyrics of "The Wedding Dice" also include the phrase.
- U.K. noise group Ramleh released an EP in 1983 titled "The Hand of Glory". It also features a two-part song of the same name.
- Royal Trux released a 2002 album titled Hand Of Glory.
- A Hand of Glory appears in the 6th episode of Supernatural's third season where it is stolen by the thief Bela Talbot, only to find that the Hand is haunted by a vengeful spirit.
- A Hand of Glory was used in the 13th episode of The Originals' 3rd season by the witch Davina Claire to open a window to the afterlife to communicate with her dead boyfriend.
- A Hand of Glory was also used by John Constantine in the 3rd episode of the 1st season of Constantine. Here, the candle is used to briefly resurrect a deceased friend of John's by using a spell and lighting all five fingers. The spell also briefly resurrects every other dead body inside the morgue. The spell lasts as long as the fingers are burning.
- In the 9th episode "Hand of Glory" Graceland's 3rd season, a brief description is given to the origins of a Hand of Glory during a torture scene.
- In the season 1's 7th episode "Walls" of The Dresden Files,, three college students use a possessed Hand of Glory to commit robberies.
- In the season 2 episode "Fae Gone Wild" of Lost Girl, a group of selkies use a Hand of Glory to steal their pelts from a holographic safe.
- In the "The Missionaries" of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Sabrina uses a hand of glory to gain entrance to the academy of unseen arts.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, former vengeance demon Anya states to Rupert Giles, watcher of the slayer Buffy and the owner of the magic store she helped out that day that a "Hand of Glory packs some serious raw power. Better institute a seven-day background check for-" This is the first episode you see the villain for this season, named "Glorificus", "Glory" for short.
- In the 1944 film 'A Canterbury Tale(1944) a pub called 'The Hand of Glory' is featured.
- In the 1964 movie Terror in the Crypt, with candles burning on each fingertip, the hand is used by a witch in an occult ceremony to contact Satan.