The Hand of Glory was a particularly grotesque tool used by criminals, particularly thieves, to aid in robberies. The legend dates back to the 15th century, and there are numerous accounts of people using them throughout history.
The name reportedly comes from the French, “main de glorie”, which in turn got its name from the magical mandrake root.
According to legend, mandrakes grow under gallows from the seed of a hanged man, and they were believed to shine like lamps at night, also in roughly the shape of a hand.
The process of making a hand of glory is quite particular, and adds to the macabre nature of the thing. Sabine Baring-Gould wrote in his book, Curious Myths of the Middle Ages: “The Hand of Glory .. is the hand of a man who has been hung, and it is prepared in the following manner: Wrap the hand in a piece of winding-sheet, drawing it tight, so as to squeeze out the little blood which may remain; then place it in an earthenware vessel with saltpeter, salt, and long pepper, all carefully and thoroughly powdered. Let it remain a fortnight in this pickle till it is well dried, then expose it to the sun in the dog-days, till it is completely parched, or, if the sun be not powerful enough, dry it in an oven heated with vervain and fern. Next make a candle with the fat of a hung man, virgin-wax, and Lapland sesame.” (1873)
The people who used hands of glory had different beliefs. Some believed it could give light only to them, leaving others in darkness, some believed it could make them invisible, many thought it could burn forever and could only be put out if the user so desired, others believed and hoped it could render any nearby person motionless or put occupants of a residence to sleep. All tales of the hand of glory seem to show the belief that the hand could open any nearby lock, making it an even more useful tool for those wishing to take something that does not belong to them.
Open, lock, To the Dead Man’s knock! Fly, bolt, and bar, and band! Nor move, nor swerve, Joint, muscle, or nerve, At the spell of the Dead Man’s hand! Sleep, all who sleep! — Wake, all who wake! But be as the dead for the Dead Man’s sake!
Now lock, nor bolt, nor bar avails, Nor stout oak panel thick-studded with nails. Heavy and harsh the hinges creak, Though they had been oil’d in the course of the week. The door opens wide as wide may be, And there they stand, That murderous band, Lit by the light of the Glorious Hand, By one! — by two! — by three! By Thomas Ingoldsby
And of course fans of Harry Potter will be familiar with the Hand of Glory from Mr. Borgin and Burkes’ store when young Mr. Malfoy takes a fancy to it. “Ah, the Hand of Glory!” said Mr. Borgin, abandoning Mr. Malfoy’s list and scurrying over to Draco. “Insert a candle and it gives light only to the holder! Best friend of thieves and plunderers! Your son has fine taste, sir.”
Which gruesome hand is your favourite and why? Let me know in the comments and remember to check out any of the artists if you liked their work.
Most people are horrified by the thought of serial killers. There have been some truly terrifying and disgusting people; people who have done awful things. So it’s normal to be repulsed by them. But some people are drawn to this darker side of humanity. Many people want to know why and how someone could take another’s life. Some also try to relate to killers and humanize them. Making them pseudo-celebrities.
Here are some of the most notorious and well-known serial killers; immortalized in skin.
H.H Holmes is one of America’s most well-known serial killers. Holmes was convicted of 9 murders, confessed to 27, but is thought to have killed up to 200. He is known for building a “murder hotel”. In 1887 he constructed a hotel full of passages, dead ends, and trap doors. People would check in, get lost and wander the hotel sometimes for days at a time before he would finally kill them. In May 1896 Holmes was hanged for his crimes.
Richard Ramírez, also known as the “Night Stalker” brutally attacked and killed people in Los Angeles from 1984-1985. He was a known Satan worshipper, known for drawing pentagrams in blood in the homes of his victims. Ramírez was charged with 14 counts of burglary, 11 sexual assaults, 5 attempted murders, and 13 murders. His youngest victim was a 9 year old girl, and his oldest were a couple in their 60’s. He was sentenced to death and was on death row for 23 years before he died due to complications from lymphoma in 2013.
Jeffrey Dahmer, known as the Milwaukee Cannibal, was an American serial killer and sex offender who raped, murdered, dismembered, and ate parts of 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991. Along with cooking and eating parts of his victims, he also committed necrophilia on a number of the bodies. Dahmer was finally caught and convicted after a would be victim was able to over power him and call the police. In 1992 he was convicted of murder and given 15 life sentences. He died two years into his sentence when he was beaten to death by a fellow inmate.
Ted Bundy was an American serial killer and rapist who terrorized women and young girls during the 1970’s. Bundy was described as charming and handsome. He would lure his victims into secluded areas and then overpower them where he would sexually assault them and finally murder them. He decapitated at least 12 of his victims and kept the heads in jars in his apartment as trophies. Bundy was actually caught twice, escaping police and a court house, committing three more murders before finally being caught for good. He admitted to killing 36 people but it is believed he killed up to and possibly more than 100 people. He was put to death in 1989, by electric chair in Florida.
John Wayne Gacy, also known as “Pogo the Clown”, and, “The Killer Clown”, was an American serial killer from Chicago. He sexually assaulted and murdered 33 teenagers and young men 1972 and 1978. He was a trusted member of his community and was even involved in local politics. Gacy was also a party clown and would perform for children. He would lure his victims to his home with the promise of work before strangling them, then burying their bodies in his crawlspace. Gacy was convicted of 33 murders and was given the death sentence. He died by lethal injection in 1994 after spending 14 years on death row.
Edward (Ed) Gein, also known as “The Butcher of Plainfield”, was an American murder known for exhuming corpses from the local graveyard and creating decorations for his home from their bodies. He did also murder two women, but he is not actually a serial killer; though most people include him in their list due to his macabre hobby of crafting decorations made from corpses. Ed Gein also inspired Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses and Tone Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Gein lost all of his family members, but it was when his mother died that he truly seemed to “lose it”. He boarded up rooms used by her to keep them in pristine condition, but quickly let the rest of the house fall into disrepair, and started filling it with macabre creations such as lamps made from bones, with lampshades made of human skin. Upon further inspection done by police, Gein had also covered chairs in human skin, put skulls on his bedposts, made bowls from skulls, masks made from female faces, and Mary Hogan’s face in a bag, and her skull in a box. Mary was one of Gein’s two victims. Other more gruesome items were also found in his home. He killed Mary Hogan in 1954, and Bernice Worden in 1957. He was found unfit to stand trial and put in a psychiatric hospital where he remained until he died at age 77 in 1984 from cancer of the liver.
Charles Manson is one of the most famous people on this list. He was a cult leader in California. Manson spent half of his life in correctional facilities for various crimes before trying to make it as a musician in California. He worked briefly with the drummer from The Beach Boys and recorded a few short albums of his own. Manson believed in “Helter Skelter”, a term he stole form The Beatles song. He used it to describe an impending race war he thought would happen. To start this war he convinced a number of young people to murder 7 people for him. These were people who followed his cult. Manson was charged with the murder of 2 people, and for the murder of 7 others, even though he did not actually kill them. His band of followers were known as the “Manson Family”, and they are most famous for brutally murdering actress Sharon Tate, Gary Hinman, and others. The “family” was also responsible for numerous thefts, assaults, and the attempted murder of President Gerald Ford. Manson was given the death sentence, but it was later ruled unconstitutional. He was in prison from 1971-2017 where he died from natural causes. Manson continued to have followers in prison and had hundreds of people (mainly women) writing to him.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (better known as Alice in Wonderland) was written in 1865 by Charles Dodgson (under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll).
The story follows a young girl, Alice, who falls down a hole into a fantastical land full of bizarre characters and situations.
There are also films based on the book, with the most popular being Disney’s animated version from 1951.
More recent films Alice in wonderland (directed by Tim Burton) and Alice Through the Looking Glass (directed by James Bobin) are also produced by Disney, but take on a much darker theme.
People in the 1960’s-80’s speculated about what the story was “really” about. Many people thought that it was really a psychedelic trip. Due in large part to the frequent usage of drugs such as LSD and magic mushrooms at this time. Experts usually disagree with this theory though, as Charles isn’t thought to have been a user of recreational drugs.
Popular characters include the Mad Hatter, Cheshire Cat, Red Queen (Queen of Hearts), the March Hare, White Rabbit, the Caterpillar, and many more.
The Lord of the Rings, written by J.R.R Tolkien is one of (if not the) most iconic fantasy stories ever written. The story was written as a sequel to another novel of his, The Hobbit. The Lord of the Rings was written in stages between 1937 and 1949.
Tolkien fought in WW1, and this was extremely influential in his shaping of Middle Earth. As an example, WW1 was fought not by heroes, but by civilians. This reflects the hobbits who are quite literally the “little people”, who then step up to fight a war that they had not asked to be a part of.
The films were directed by Peter Jackson, starting with The Fellowship of the Ring in 2001. They were filmed back to back on location in New Zealand, making for fantastic landscapes and scenery.
Some of the most popular characters include Gandalf, Frodo, Gimli, Legolas, Gollum (Smeagol), Sam, Aragorn, Elrond, Saruman, Witch king, and Sauron. Fantastic creatures include the ents, the balrog, and the nazgul. Popular items include the swords sting, and the shards of Narsil, as well as the Witch King’s flail, and quaint hobbit holes. Of course we also can’t forget the ring itself, which makes a stellar tattoo, especially when paired with a portrait.
Lord of the Rings tattoos are often done in a photo realistic or hyper realistic style, as well as black and grey, dotwork, linework, American traditional, and neo traditional.