Hand of Glory

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Hand of Glory

The hand of a dead man (preferably hanged) in which a lighted candle was placed. In Ireland and Mexico it was formerly believed to be an instrument of magic. If the candle with its gruesome candlestick was taken into a house, the sleeping inhabitants were believed to be prevented from waking, and the candle itself remained invisible. To be truly effective, however, both hand and candle had to be prepared in a special manner. The term hand of glory is believed to derive from the French main de gloire or mandragoras and be related to legends of the mandrake. The mandrake plant was believed to grow under the gallows of a hanged man. Belief in the efficacy of the hand of glory to facilitate robbery persisted as late as 1831 in Ireland.

(See also Glas Ghairm )


Ingoldsby, Thomas. The Ingoldsby Legends or Mirth and Marvels. London: R. Bentley, 1840.

Robbins, Rossell Hope. The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology. New York: Crown Publishers, 1959.

Thompson, C. J. S. The Hand of Destiny. London, 1932. Reprint, Detroit: Singing Tree Press, 1970.