thieves’ lights In German folklore, magical lights made from the fingers of unborn children. Thieves’ lights are similar in purpose to the HAND OF GLORY, enabling thieves to bewitch victims and steal their belongings.
Thieves’ lights can be made only from unborn, innocent babies taken from the wombs of pregnant thieves or murderers. The Ritual for harvesting them is grisly. According to a 19th-century account:
When a female thief or murderer hangs or drowns herself, or is hanged or beheaded, and she is carrying a child inside her body, then you must go forth at midnight on the devil’s roads, not on God’s roads, with incantations and magic, not with prayer and blessings, and you must take an axe or a knife that has been used by an executioner, and with it you must open up the poor sinner’s belly, take out the child, cut off its fingers, and take them with you.
But this absolutely must all be done at midnight in the most perfect solitude and silence. Not even the softest sound, no “oh” and no sigh can escape the lips of the seeker. In this manner you obtain the lights, which you can burn whenever you want to. And however short they are, they will never burn up, but will always remain the same length.
Folktales tell of pregnant serving girls and others kidnapped by thieves who intend to kill them for their fetuses.
Thieves’ lights ignite and extinguish themselves in response to the thoughts of their owners. They render their owners invisible to others, while enabling them to see everything in the dark. Like the hand of glory, thieves’ lights will bewitch sleeping people into powerlessness so that thieves can carry off all their possessions. One candle is lit for every person sleeping in a house. The people will remain asleep as long as the candles burn.
Also, like the hand of glory, thieves’ lights can only be extinguished by a person other than their owner who uses milk.
Ashiman, D. L., ed. “The Hand of Glory and Other Gory Legends about Human Hands.” Available online. URL: https://www.pitt.edu/~dash/hand.html. Downloaded December 22, 2004.