How to Make a Hand of Glory
Some say that the luck a gambler can get (or fail to get) from a dead man’s hand comes from a play on words, based on the hand of glory. The dead man’s hand is supposed to be the hand of cards held by Wild Bill Hickok in his final poker game. It is generally agreed that he had a pair of aces and a pair of eights, but historians and other spooky people debate what the hole card actually was.
The Adams Museum in Deadwood features a hand of Bulldog Squeezers Playing Cards — an ace of diamonds, an ace of clubs, an eight of hearts, an eight of spades, and a queen of hearts — which they claim are the actual cards which were in Wild Bill Hickok’s hand when he was murdered. The Adams Museum people also claim that their house may be haunted and commissioned Black Hills Paranormal Investigations (what ever BHPI is) to study the spooky occurrences there.
Hauntings have long been a part of Deadwood lore. Some of the “phantom events” are easily explained by natural means but there are still many apparitions and startling events which defy natural explanation.
For many years there have been reports of “strange occurences” in the Adams Museum and House. People have told of the odor of cigar smoke, the movement of objects and unexplainable footsteps.
Black Hills Paranormal Investigations recently completed a thorough inquiry of both locations. The Adams Legacy: A Paranormal Investigation of the Adams Museum and House gives the viewer a ring-side seat for this investigation.
You will see for yourself the discoveries made by BHPI during their investigation into the phenomena associated with the Adams locations. You may be quite surprised.
Writers may enjoy the Storytelling Resource Centre. It includes instructions for things such as how to make a hand of glory:
The first thing you need to make a Hand of Glory, is a man fresh off the gallows, no more than twenty-four hours dead. His hand must be severed at the wrist with a sharp knife.
Take a winding sheet and squeeze out the blood to get it as dry as you can. If possible, take some of the dead man’s flesh and render it down to produce a bowl of fat.
The hand should then be preserved in an earthenware jar that is filled with salt, saltpetre and black pepper – all well powdered and mixed. Leave the hand in the jar for two weeks.
Remove the hand, dry it and dust off all of the powder. Place the hand in a hot oven that is fired with vervain and fir. Leave it for about an hour and then remove. Mould the drying hand into a fist, with just enough space in the centre to take a candle.
The candle is then made from the previously rendered dead man’s fat, virgin wax and sesame oil. The wick should be made from freshly spun flax.
Coax the candle into the curled fingers, which are then squeezed tightly, gripping the candle firmly in position. When complete with the candle fixed into the mummified fist, you have a Hand of Glory!
And with a Hand of Glory, you have a power. You have magic! As you light the candle, you cast your spell
Some people feel that the wick of the candle should actually be from the hanged man’s hair, rather than flax as indicated in this recipe, but the Storytelling Resource Centre is still helpful for getting some of those occult horror details. Different creepiness aficionados have different theories on exactly what magical powers a hand of glory gives you. The Whitby Museum in the UK displays one of the only hands of glory outside of private witchy collections today.
Tags: candles, dead mans hand, deadwood, hand of glory, haunting, murder, occult, paranormal, poker, witch, witchcraft