hand of glory

   The first mention of a 'hand of glory' in English (1707) refers to a piece of *mandrake root, kept as a charm to make coins multiply; this corresponds to medieval French maindegloire, a corruption of Latin man-dragora 'mandrake'. The French word, however, sounds exactly as if it meant 'hand of glory', so it is commonly applied to a magical torch made from a dead man's hand to cast people into deep sleep. This is first described, though not named, in 1440, when a Coroner's Court at Maidstone (Kent) was told that a burning candle held in the hand of 'a dead man that has lain in the earth nine days and nine nights' will ensure that 'they that sleep shall sleep, and they that wake shall not move, whatever thou do' (Opie and Tatem, 1989: 100).
   This charm was said to be much used by thieves; variations are recorded from *Aubrey to the early 20th century - the Ashton-under-Lyme Reporter of 22 April 1905 says many a burglar feels sure 'that if he can possess himself of a candle made from the body of a young woman, he will never see the interior of a gaol' (FLS News 17 (1993), 15). An actual hand, reputed to have been used in this way, is in Whitby Museum (Yorkshire), together with 'A True Receipt for the Pickling and Claiming of a Hand of Glory, and likewise the Making of a Glory Candle' from a North Yorkshire manuscript book of 1823. It must be cut from the body of a criminal on the gibbet; pickled in salt and the urine of man, woman, dog, horse, and mare; smoked with herbs and hay for a month; hung on an oak tree three nights running, then laid at a crossroads, then hung on a church door for one night while the maker keeps watch in the porch - 'and if it be that no fear hath driven you forth from the porch ... then the hand be true won, and it be yours'. The candle is made from animal and human fat, with a wick of threads from a hangman's rope, and only milk or blood can quench it. This has continental parallels, notably in a French book of spells called Le Petit Albert (1722).
   An allegedly true story, current in the 19th century, tells how a burglar, having tricked his way into a house, lit a hand of glory, saying 'Let those who are asleep be asleep, and let those who are awake be awake.' But one servant girl was secretly watching him, while pretending to be asleep, and foiled his plot by dousing the hand in milk (Henderson, 1866: 201-2; Radford, Radford, and Hole, 1961: 179-80; Philip, 1992: 199-200).

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • hand of glory — /hand əv glöˈri/ noun A charm made originally of mandrake root, afterwards of a murderer s hand from the gallows ORIGIN: A translation of Fr main de gloire, from OFr mandegloire mandrake, from mandragore hand of glory noun see separate entry. • • …   Useful english dictionary

  • hand of glory — 1707, originally a piece of mandrake root, translation of Fr. maindeglorie, from a corruption of L. mandragora mandrake (see MANDRAKE (Cf. mandrake)). The dead man s hand charm is described from mid 15c., but not by this name …   Etymology dictionary

  • Hand of Glory — The Hand of Glory is the dried and pickled hand of a man who has been hanged, often specified as being the left (Latin: sinister) hand, or else, if the man were hanged for murder, the hand that did the deed. According to old European beliefs, a… …   Wikipedia

  • Hand Of Glory —    A charm made from the pickled or dried hand of a dead man, preferable a criminal that has been hanged. The owner of a Hand Of Glory can become invisible, or if shown to someone it will render them motionless. The hand is most often used with a …   The writer's dictionary of science fiction, fantasy, horror and mythology

  • Hand of Glory (album) — Infobox Album Name = Hand of Glory Type = Album Artist = Royal Trux Released = October 8 2002 Recorded = 1985 – 1989 Genre = Rock Length = 40:02 Label = Drag City Producer = Reviews = *Pitchfork Media (8.2/10)… …   Wikipedia

  • Glory to God — is a Christmas carol popular among American and Canadian Reformed churches that have Dutch roots. It is translated from the Dutch Ere Zij God and is one of the most beloved carols sung in the Protestant churches in the Netherlands.Whether the… …   Wikipedia

  • Glory Hole — (auch „gloryhole“ auf englisch; übersetzt: „Ruhmesloch“ oder „Ehrenloch“) − umgangssprachlich auch Klappenloch oder Schwanzloch − ist ein Loch in einer Wand zum Zwecke meist anonymer Sexualkontakte. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Begriff 2 Geschichte 3… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Glory Holes — Glory Hole (auch: „gloryhole“, englisch für: „ruhmreiches, glorreiches Loch“) − umgangssprachlich auch Klappenloch oder Schwanzloch − ist ein Loch in einer Wand zum Zwecke meist anonymer Sexualkontakte. Der Begriff wurde durch homosexuelle… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Glory hole — (auch: „gloryhole“, englisch für: „ruhmreiches, glorreiches Loch“) − umgangssprachlich auch Klappenloch oder Schwanzloch − ist ein Loch in einer Wand zum Zwecke meist anonymer Sexualkontakte. Der Begriff wurde durch homosexuelle amerikanische… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Glory hole (sexual slang) — A glory hole (also spelled gloryhole and glory hole)cite web last=O Hara first=Scott authorlink=Scott O Hara coauthors= title=Rarely Pure and Never Simple: Selected Essays of Scott O Hara publisher=Haworth Press; ISBN 0789005735 date=1999, page… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.