One of the most macabre of all occult preparations was the Hand of Glory, a magic light made from the hand of a dead man. Once the hand had been severed from a corpse—often taken from the body of a hanged highwayman swinging on a gallows—it was to be slowly dried in an oven. When it was judged as quite dry, it was to be soaked in the melted fat of a
black tomcat. Each finger served as a separate candle, and twisted human hair wrapped around the fingers served as wicks.
Although used as a protection against evil by those common folk who somehow managed to acquire such a grisly deterrent of the forces of darkness, the Hand of Glory was a favorite acquisition of burglars and thieves who believed that as long as the fingers burned the persons whose house they invaded would remain fast asleep and allow them to conclude their thievery undetected. There was even a little rhyme to be said when the hand was lit:
Let those who rest more deeply sleep;
Let those awake their vigils keep.
O, Hand o' Glory shed thy light,
Direct us to our spoils tonight.
Flash out thy light, O skeleton hand,
And guide the feet of our trusty band.
The only way to stop the power of the hand once it had been ignited was to douse it with either milk or blood. According to belief, water alone was incapable of extinguishing the flames of a Hand of Glory.