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Horrid Hub: The Histories, Victims, and Legacies of "The Woman from Lemb" and "The Hands Resist Him"

Updated on July 16, 2020

Most occult enthusiasts -myself included- are familiar with the prevalence of “cursed objects”. Some of the most identifiable paranormal trinkets include Annabelle (the haunted Raggedy Ann doll), the Dybbuk Box (a domicile of an evil spirit - and picured above), as well as the Devil’s Rocking Chair (a hotbed for exorcism). There are although other items that are not as commonly discussed when the topic takes a turn to the more macabre, hence this and future “Horrid Hubs”.

"The Woman from Lemb"

The Object

“The Goddess of Death”, also known as the “The Woman from Lemb” or “The Harbinger of Death”, is a limestone figure dated circa 3500 BC, identified as the Chalcolithic period. The small statue is carved via the cruciform technique, featuring ample, marked hips, yet undefined legs.

The History

With no archaeological record of its finding, “The Woman from Lemb” was most likely discovered in 1878 in the Capriot town of Lemb. It is believed that the statue was used for fertility purposes or depicted a particular goddess, whose name remains unknown.

While its archaic function is unclear, in recent history, the object has served a more sinister purpose, apparently facilitating the deaths of those who come into immediate contact with its limestone surface.


The Victims

Whisperings concerning the nefarious nature of the statue began with its first owner, a British gentleman named Lord Elphont. During the six years in which he possessed “the Woman from Lemb”, he lost his entire family -seven in all- to unexplained deaths. Ivor Menucci obtained the figure sometime thereafter; he and his family died in the next four years. The object was then procured by Lord Thompson-Noel, who perished soon after receiving it, as did his entire family. Ownership next fell upon Sir Alan Biverbrook, who abruptly died, along with his wife and daughters, amidst uncertain circumstances. In an attempt to avoid the “curse” that claimed their family, Biverbrook’s two remaining sons donated “The Woman from Lemb” to the Royal Scottish Museum in Edinburgh.

The Legacy

This fiendish statue remains on display in the Royal Scottish Museum, untouched in a glass case. The final casualty attributed to it is the curator who handled the statue upon its arrival in Edinburgh; he died a year post-contact. The origins of “The Woman from Lemb” remain a mystery, as does the its fatal history.

"The Hands Resist Him"

The Object

Completed by Bill Stoneham in 1972, “The Hands Resist Him” is a painting whose prominent feature is a glass doorway, which, according to Stoneham himself, represents “the dividing line between the waking world and the world of fantasy and impossibilities. Before this entrance stand a young boy and doll, the latter serving as a type guide to lead the boy through life. Visible through the glass behind them are numerous hands that signify the many possibilities the young boy may have in life, which he never recognizes.

The History

Stoneham based the painting upon a picture taken by his parents of him with a neighborhood playmate twenty years earlier, when he was five.

The artwork was forged while under contract with gallery owner Charles Feingarten, to whom Stoneham was contractually obligated to produce two paintings a month. The name of the painting was borrowed from a poem with the same title, penned by his first wife. The focus of this composition was Stoneham’s experience of being adopted as a young child and the absence of a relationship with his biological siblings.

John Marley, alleged victim of the painting
John Marley, alleged victim of the painting

The Victims

In 1974, the painting was put on display by Feingarten. During the show, it was reviewed by Henry Seldis, art critic for the Los Angeles Times, and finally purchased by John Marley, who is renowned for his role as Jack Woltz in The Godfather. These men, who had intimate interactions with “The Hands Resist Him”, all died three years of each other: Seldis passed in 1978, Feingarten in 1981, and Marley in 1984.

These -possibly coincidental- deaths are although not the sole reasons for this objects occult notoriety. After being abandoned behind a California art gallery, the artwork was found by a couple who posted it on eBay for purchase in 2000. This listing prompted strong reactions, soon going viral. The couple claimed that their 4-year-old daughter saw the children in the painting fighting and entering her room at night. Installing a motion-sensitive camera in her room revealed the boy crawling from the painting and the doll using a ‘gun’ to force the boy out.


The Legacy

“The Hands Resist Him” was eventually sold to Kim Smith, a gallery owner, for a little over $1,000. The viral fame afforded by the internet motivated an individual to commission Stoneham to paint a ‘sequel’ to his 1974 work, which he accepted and completed in 2013. This painting, which portrays the same characters as in its progenitor aged 40 years, was titled “Resistance at the Threshold”. A third commission followed: a request for a prequel to the original painting, which would become Stoneham’s 2017 work, “The Hands Invent Him”


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