Serbian Witchcraft and Vlach Magick

Upon doing some research into Eastern European folklore and paganism I came across Vlach Magic which is still practiced in small villages in Serbia. Similar to Voodoo, its a blend of beliefs from the Orthodox Church and ancient pagan traditions. It’s a very secretive and ostracized practice which has been passed down from witch to witch within families. Black Weddings (marriages at funerals between the living and dead), blood, animal sacrifice, black and white magick are an integral part of the Vlach narrative. Vice did and interesting piece on this below.

The Hand of Glory: A Thief’s Best Friend

Over the centuries, the folklore surrounding The Hand of Glory was passed down between generations as an extremely powerful token. The Hand of Glory, or main de gloire, is a severed human hand from the body of a hanged man. Carrying mystical powers, stories tell of it being a prized possession of thieves and criminals for it’s potent powers. Accounts vary surrounding it’s actual capabilities and ways to absolve yourself of it’s wrath, but it remains one of the most intriguing stories of the magical and the macabre.

Crafting the Occult

The process for crafting a Hand of Glory was very precise and doesn’t vary too much across folklore. It was either the left hand or the hand which committed a nefarious act they were found guilty of. The left hand was often viewed as the unlucky or evil hand. Sinistra, the Latin word, originally for “left”, took on darker connotations and soon became used to describe sinister acts. Sorry all you lefties! Ideally it was removed during a lunar eclipse or at least during the night.

The hand was dried and pickled once the body was cut down from the gallows. Pickling consisted of first draining the hand of all blood then positioning the fingers. Most imagery depicts the hand as standing vertical in a natural pose but there were instances where the palm was laid flat and the fingers bent back at a 90 degree angle to be used as candles. It was then treated with a pickling solution, wrapped, and set to cure for 2 weeks. Once unwrapped it would be allowed to dry then the wax added to the fingers. Often the wax was made from the fat of the hanged man, along with wicks made of their hair. These were placed at the tips of the fingers to be lit.

Roots of the Mandrogore

The history of the hand dates back to medieval times and can be seen as early as the 16th century in texts. In general, we can see a similar thread woven throughout the folklore – the hand of a deadman has always had mystical powers.

Picture of a Mandrake root which many thought looked eerily similar to someone’s hand.

The hand’s roots, no pun intended, can be traced back to the French phrase Main de Glorie; a moniker for the Mandrake root. The word mandrogore, the French version of mandrake, bares a striking resemblance to Main de Glorie. It’s no stretch of the imagination to see how closely the two are related. Also contributing to the lore surrounding the hand was the belief that the plant grew from the seeds of a hanged man below the gallows and would even emit a glow during the night. They also looked eerily like human hands.

Earliest references to the legend of the mandrogore were present during the 15th century but the story seems to have transitioned to the hand sometime between then and the 16th century.

Hand of Glory references traced back to 1593 in the Disquisitiones Magicæ. Image provided by Folklore Thursday.

Swiss Army Knife of the Supernatural

Where this story varies greatly are the actual perceived powers of the Hand of Glory. Some of the more common stories told of the hand involve it’s ability to render anyone in it’s presence immobile or to fall into a deep sleep. It can also unlock any door encountered as well as glow bright when near treasure. It’s flames are nearly impossible to extinguish once lit in some stories. The most gruesome source of this everlasting light is from German folklore which refer to the hands as “thief’s lights”. When the fingers are procured from a pregnant hanged thief’s unborn child, cut off with the hangman’s axe it becomes almost invincible.

The Hand of Glory could render inhabitants immobile and allow thieves to scavenge as they pleased. Image provided by Folklore Thursday.

Gall of the Black Cat

As I mentioned above, some versions of the hand were seemingly inextinguishable; but there are some methods rumored to render the hand ineffective.

The only known way to extinguish the flames was with sterilized milk. An easier solution was to prevent even encountering the hand by preventing it from even entering your home. Simply rub your doors and windows with the gall of a black cat, the fat of a white hen, and the blood of a screech owl. All simple things to find, right? The door must be anointed during what’s referred to as the dog days of summer. This is a period from July 3rd to August 11th during with the dog star, Sirius, ascends to the sky.

A lot of people wonder if these legends were reality. Would people really go to such lengths to have such rumored power? The simple answer is yes. Up to recently the last physical Hand of Glory could be seen in the Whitby Museum. Perhaps we doubt the hand’s power since it’s too macabre of a concept to dare to attempt. What do you think would happen if you lit those fingers?


October Recommendations

Are you like me and getting into the spirit of Halloween an entire month early? A few months early? All year round? If you need a place to start or just need some new suggestions within the creep realm I’ll be serving up my favorite titles across mediums (movies, comics, books, podcasts, and music). Enjoy!

Harrow County


Dark Horse comics doesn’t get a lot of love from me as of late, mostly because Image is crushing it and Boom! is having a quiet renaissance of its own (but that’s a whole other conversation). But one title I cannot get enough of is Harrow County by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook. The story follows Emmy, a young woman living on a farm in the South with her father, who discovers the farm land and the old gnarled tree which looms over the property holds way more mystery and terror than the ordinary estate. This was one of the first comics in the horror genre that genuinely terrified me and frankly, delighted me. This is not your run of the mill horror genre title filled with tropes and cliches, it’s emphatically unique. Crook’s artwork is subdued when it needs to be, but he somehow knows exactly when to heat things up with fiery splashes of orange which make the page seem like it’s glowing. The title is well underway, current on it’s 27th issue giving you plenty to sink your teeth into it you decide to dip into the darkness on the farm.



If you’re a newcomer to the Giallo genre, consider Suspiria your gateway drug. Dario Argento, known for his Italian horror films during the 70s and early 80s, is probably best known for this film. Ballet. Witches. Murder. Maggots. This movie’s got it all. On top of the exciting subject matter, the film is stunning to watch. The colors are dramatic, tri-toned red, blues, and purples. The sets are dream like and look similar to something out of Alice in Wonderland with tall, dramatic doors, twisting hallways, and secret passageways. What many people don’t know is that Argento’s original script was written with a school full of 12 year old girls in mind (which was eventually changed to 20 year old women). Because of this, Argento went so far as to raise the doorknobs higher on doors to force the perspective to skew childlike and whimsical. The visuals are emphasized with the score by Goblin, which you can hear in the trailer above. You’ll catch yourself hissing, “WITCHES”, around the house after you watch this.

The word “giallo” is Italian for “yellow” The term was derived from a series of cheap paperback mystery novels, popular in post-fascist Italy, which were published with yellow covers.



Quiet. Understated. Factual let fictitious enough to have a brilliant story woven by Richard Maclean Smith, the podcast’s host. Unexplained was started back in 2016 as a bi-weekly podcast tackling the unknown occurrences across history that have somehow evaded explanation. I’m always shocked to discover how few people actually know about this podcast. I would rank it at the same level as Lore, and at some times would prefer the subject matter over the vanilla rehashed topics of other paranormal podcasts. Trust me, I really don’t need to hear more about the Danvers State Hospital or Rolling Hills. Unexplained cuts deep with some of the most obscure and compelling content I’ve heard in a long time. I’d recommend starting with Season 1 Episode 10: The Spaces that Linger to journey to Aleister Crowley’s (and later Jimmy Page’s) home, the infamous Boleskine house or start at the beginning with Season 1 Episode 1: Opening the Gate which discusses the mystery surrounding the death of occultist Netta Fornario.

Ghost Town by The Specials


Drive around with your creep friends and enjoy some grim ska.

Witches of America by Alex Mar

witches-of-america-design-rachel-willeyGuys. GUYS. I finished a book. A physical book! It’s been a while since I’ve been genuinely intrigued by a piece of non fiction. Throw witches in the title and I’m bound to have my interests piqued but for a title to hold my attention is impressive. In “Witches of America” Alex Mar spends time traversing various pagan religions from traditional Wicca to the reclusive Feri tradition and even delving into Thelemic magick. Since a young age, I discovered Wicca at age 12, I’ve been enthralled with the concept of the occult and worship of deities but have never through to really read more into the various sects and paths of practice. This book really hooked me on Thelemic magick and the Ordo Templi Orientis, which is the organization founded by famous occultist Aleister Crowley. I even went so far as to find out if there’s a temple located in Austin (Surprise, surprise they do and it’s name is incredible – The Scarlet Woman Lodge). Obviously I have a lot to learn before attending a Gnostic Mass, but the concept is rather intoxicating. Here’s one of my favorite passages from during Mar’s time at the Alombrados temple during a Gnostic Mass.

We were not made by a father figure, separate from us in his holiness; instead, we come from chaos, born out of the same fire as the universe. And from Babalon, the Great Mother, the Scarlet Woman, the bride of Chaos, the destroy of limits, the ecstasy of living! She is every woman’s sexual appetite, woman free from society’s constraints. Fearless, she arrives riding the Beast: she reins him in with one hand, and with the other she raises a cup full of love and death!

Have you read, listened to, or watched any of the titles above? How do you feel about them? Do you know anything about…witches?