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Author Topic: Hand of Glory - folklore (dark arts?) expertise needed  (Read 7358 times)
Jake of All Trades
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« on: June 17, 2007, 01:02:48 am »

By most accounts, the preserved hand of a hanged criminal possesses the power to "freeze" people in their tracks and perhaps even unlock doors.  Now, in recent years, a certain Ms J.K. Rowling has ascribed it instead with the ability to cast a light which only the holder can see.  OK, so I know the former is the real function, but did Ms. Rowling base her version on anything besides her bountiful imagination?  Is there any real "device" that is said to do this?  Any light you can shed (no pun intended) on the topic would be most appreciated.

Post Script: I assure you, this is Steampunk-related.  You'll see in a few weeks... Grin
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dman762000
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« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2007, 01:47:21 am »

Rowling usually uses things that are in real witchcraft folklore and depending on where you look (google folklore, hand of glory) some do say that a hand of glory does all only the holder to see in the dark/ cast light for only the holder, notice i said some, other folklore has it giving talents that you mentioned, so it depends on which tale you ascribe to
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« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2007, 01:49:13 am »

I do not believe that the light that shines only for the bearer idea was Rowling's invention... I am sure I have read about that elsewhere, along with the ability of the Hand of Glory to prevent sleepers from waking. These characteristics are also attributed to "thieves' lights", which are made from unborn babies' fingers. I have to wonder whether the two stories may have been merged at some point... thieves' lights disturb me more than a little.

The doors and the freezing thing, though, I don't think I've heard of outside of Hellboy.
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Jake of All Trades
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« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2007, 02:04:44 am »

I do not believe that the light that shines only for the bearer idea was Rowling's invention... I am sure I have read about that elsewhere, along with the ability of the Hand of Glory to prevent sleepers from waking. These characteristics are also attributed to "thieves' lights", which are made from unborn babies' fingers. I have to wonder whether the two stories may have been merged at some point... thieves' lights disturb me more than a little.

The doors and the freezing thing, though, I don't think I've heard of outside of Hellboy.

Ah, excellent!  See, it was just the opposite for me: I had read about the paralyzing properties in a couple aged tomes years ago, but had only known of the "thieves light" from HP.  I thought I had heard of it elsewhere, but those books seem to have that effect on me; independent of truth Smiley  I had read both sides in the bit of Web research I did, but wasn't sure how much of it was just Potter fans going off.  I know Ms. Rowling uses "real" witchcraft, etc as inspiration as well, but I'm also aware that she (most understandably) takes liberties as well.  I just wanted to make sure this was not one of those instances--thanks!  Now: back to the laboratory!
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Flynn MacCallister
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« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2007, 02:24:07 am »

That's okay ^__^ One of the books I'm looking at that mentions the light-only-visible-to-bearer thing was published in 1986, now that I check, so yep: definitely not just Rowling.
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Dr von Zarkov
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« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2007, 07:37:47 am »

A scene in Anthony Shaffer's 1973 The Wicker Man includes a Hand of Glory. Sadly, we do not recall its purpose or know of earlier allusions/references to its use or efficacy.
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« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2007, 07:39:27 am »

In The Wicker Man it was to prevent someone from waking.
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Tinkergirl
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« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2007, 09:51:38 am »

So, no-one else is curious as to why one of the more tinkering of our members is asking about thieves lights?  No?

I am.  And I'm wondering if he's going to be using the IR end of the barely visible light spectrum with it too.  Or perhaps UV...  Nope - I've not got it worked out yet.  How would you make a thieves light?  My only thoughts are from using strong IR light and IR filters, but that would only work in the dark and you'd need no filters then (and others would be able to see it just as well).  I assume there will be goggles involved, however.
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Jake of All Trades
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« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2007, 10:14:42 am »

So, no-one else is curious as to why one of the more tinkering of our members is asking about thieves lights?  No?

I am.  And I'm wondering if he's going to be using the IR end of the barely visible light spectrum with it too.  Or perhaps UV...  Nope - I've not got it worked out yet.  How would you make a thieves light?  My only thoughts are from using strong IR light and IR filters, but that would only work in the dark and you'd need no filters then (and others would be able to see it just as well).
Shhhh!!!  Loose lips sink airships!

I assume there will be goggles involved, however.
Well, that's pretty much always a safe assumption Grin
« Last Edit: June 17, 2007, 10:16:24 am by Jake of All Trades » Logged
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« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2007, 11:23:15 am »

Mmmm interesting....  Sits down to wait patiently for results...
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Flynn MacCallister
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« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2007, 11:30:59 am »

So, no-one else is curious as to why one of the more tinkering of our members is asking about thieves lights?  No?

I am.  And I'm wondering if he's going to be using the IR end of the barely visible light spectrum with it too.  Or perhaps UV...  Nope - I've not got it worked out yet.  How would you make a thieves light?  My only thoughts are from using strong IR light and IR filters, but that would only work in the dark and you'd need no filters then (and others would be able to see it just as well).  I assume there will be goggles involved, however.

Of course, but M Jake seems to say we have to wait a few weeks to find anything out, so we shall all have to contain our curiousity.
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uberdude
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« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2007, 06:11:15 am »

When I first read "Hand of Glory" I couldn't help but snicker, it just sounds so dirty. Wink
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« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2007, 08:08:22 am »

I hadn't heard of a Hand Of Glory having only a light the bearer could see, but I have heard of them rendering the bearer invisible. The most common use that I remember off the top of my head was that if the hand was lit inside a house all the residents were enchanted to fall and stay asleep.

strangely, I remember more of what is was made out of ( Left hand of a person hanged for thievery removed at midnight cured with salt and herbs for 30? 40? nights and then the fingers were dipped into fat rendered from unbaptized babies and turned into candles) than I can remember what it was used for.

*shrugs* nobody's ever said that I wasn't morbid. 
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alfa1
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« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2007, 03:55:45 pm »

Just to add more pre-Rawlings history, I did a usenet groups search, and one of the very earliest mentions of 'hand of glory' is this posting from 1992:

J. E. Shum        
Feb 10 1992, 9:26 pm
Newsgroups: alt.horror
From: j...@mitre.org (J. E. Shum)
Date: 10 Feb 92 18:30:35 GMT
Local: Mon, Feb 10 1992 7:30 pm
Subject: Information concerning "Hand of Glory"

From _Brewer's Dictionary Of Phrase And Fable_, Centenary Edition, Revised;
Copyright 1959, 1963, 1970, 1981 by Cassell Ltd.; Library of Congress
Number - 81-47407; Edited by Ivor H. Evans:

Page 485

Glory.  Hand of Glory.  In folk-lore, a dead
 man's hand, preferably one cut from the
 body of a man who has been hanged, soaked
 in oil, and used as a magic torch by
 thieves.  Roberts Graves points out that
 the _Hand of Glory_ is a translation of
 the French _main de gloire_, a corruption
 of _mandragore_, the plant _mandragora_
 (mandrake), whose roots had a similar magic
 value to thieves.  Cp.  DEAD MAN'S HAND

Page 317

Dead Man's Hand.  In the western states of
 U.S.A., a combination of aces and eights in
 poker, so called because when Sheriff Wild
 Bill Hickock was shot in the back at
 Deadwoods, S. Dakota, he held such cards in
 his hand.
   It is said that carrying a dead man's
 hand will provide a dead sleep. Another
 superstition is that a lighted candle
 placed in the hand of a dead man gives no
 light to anyone but him who carries the
 hand.  See HAND OF GLORY under GLORY.

--
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Doctor Trakov
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« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2007, 04:13:12 pm »

If all else fails, kill everyone in the building...
With your tesla cannon, of course...
(and leave their relatives black tulips)
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« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2007, 05:58:06 pm »

Just to add more pre-Rawlings history, I did a usenet groups search, and one of the very earliest mentions of 'hand of glory' is this posting from 1992:

...

Page 317

Dead Man's Hand.  In the western states of
 U.S.A., a combination of aces and eights in
 poker, so called because when Sheriff Wild
 Bill Hickock was shot in the back at
 Deadwoods, S. Dakota, he held such cards in
 his hand.
   It is said that carrying a dead man's
 hand will provide a dead sleep. Another
 superstition is that a lighted candle
 placed in the hand of a dead man gives no
 light to anyone but him who carries the
 hand.  See HAND OF GLORY under GLORY.

--


Yes this is mentioned in Wikipedia:

Quote
In the Harry Potter book Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Draco Malfoy comes across the Hand of Glory in the Borgin and Burkes pawnshop located in Knockturn Alley. It makes another appearance in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince when Draco uses it to make a quick get-away. In the book, the Hand doesn't render people immobile, but gives light only to the person using it. (Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (2005 edition) mentions this variant of the superstition under "Dead Man's Hand", but only refers to unspecified "magic powers" under "Hand of Glory").


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hand_of_glory

Seems like the two concepts have been mixed together but there is a difference between the two. Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend is the definitive source for such things and discusses the Hand of Glory in detail (along with other similar objects) all of which "work" through sympathetic magic to make the inhabitants of the house "dead."

On a sidenote I know someone who owns a Hand of Glory. Piccies:

http://heritage.scotsman.com/myths.cfm?id=555282006
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Von Effenger
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« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2007, 06:50:06 pm »

All I can offer is according to The Simpons an old monkey's paw will grant you four wishes....
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Alderman Simeon
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« Reply #17 on: June 19, 2007, 07:41:03 pm »

All I can offer is according to The Simpsons an old monkey's paw will grant you four wishes....

So I guess the fourth wish would be, "I wish I had another old monkey paw".
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Von Effenger
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« Reply #18 on: June 19, 2007, 07:53:57 pm »

All I can offer is according to The Simpsons an old monkey's paw will grant you four wishes....

So I guess the fourth wish would be, "I wish I had another old monkey paw".

and not a turkey sandwich.
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Quebrith
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« Reply #19 on: June 19, 2007, 08:14:48 pm »

That was my recollection as well, that the Hand was used by thieves keep the household asleep. I can't remember where I first read it, however.

There was a mention of that use in one of "The Adept" series of books (Deborah Turner Harris and Katherine Kurtz), but I'm sure I'd heard of it long before then....
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Dr von Zarkov
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« Reply #20 on: June 19, 2007, 09:48:49 pm »

Do not wish for a Monkey's Paw. It will bring naught but evil and misfortune:

"He calls you out; he calls you forth
beyond the living
beyond the dead
beyond the Raised Hand"
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Simon Hogwood
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« Reply #21 on: June 20, 2007, 02:52:56 am »

By most accounts, the preserved hand of a hanged criminal possesses the power to . . . perhaps even unlock doors. 
There was also an episode of The Dresden Files in which the Hand had the power to open portals in solid objects for a short time. Unfortunately, is also gradually possessed those who would dare to use it . . .  Shocked
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« Reply #22 on: June 20, 2007, 03:43:11 am »

In Charles Stross' The Atrocity Archives, placing a mirror at the base of a Hand of Glory caused the artefact to emit a coherent beam of netherworldly energies.
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« Reply #23 on: June 21, 2007, 10:07:37 am »

Yay evil laser!

A.
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dman762000
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« Reply #24 on: June 22, 2007, 12:19:55 am »

According to the "Encyclopedia of witchcraft and demonology" Rossell Hope Robbins Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature copywright 1959

"Hand of Glory. Many grimoires and handbooks of magic describe the hand of glory, a gruesome device sometimes featured in trials for witchcraft. The sorcerer wrapped the hand of a hanged man in a piece of shroud, drew it tight to squeeze out any remaining blood, and pickled the hand in an earthen ware jar with salt, saltpeter, and long peppers. After two weeks, the hand was removed and exposed to the sun until parched, or dried in an oven with vervain and fern. one recipe suggested using the hand as a candleholder for candles made from the fat of a hanged man, virgin wax, and lapland sesame.   The Jesuit demonologist Del Rio related how a thief lit the fingers of a hand of glory to put to sleep the inmates of a house.   He was observed by a servant girl. While the theif ransacked the house, the girl tried to extinguish the flames, blowing on them and throwing beer or water over them, and finally she dowsed them with milk. Immediately the household awakened and captured the thief. This story was widespread in folklore and was retold in the  Ingoldsby Legends.   Guazzo, another demonologist, borrowing from Remy, told of a trial (in 1588 at Guermingen) of two witches, Nichel and Bessers, accused of digging up corpses. They prepared a hand of glory; while the fingers were burning, they could successfully poison people; when they could successfully poison people; when they had finished their maleficia, they extinguished the flames and saved the hand for use a second time."

Of course that was from a book in 1959 and there may be other legends that may have been mingled over the years but thats what I got.
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