Monday, January 30, 2006
Best Foot Forward: Jack in the box
In Greek times men involved in a hazardous enterprise often went with their right foot in a shoe and the left bare. An oracle warned King Pelias to beware of the man with one sandal, and when Jason arrived in this predicament, the King recognised his doom. Perseus wore only one shoe when he went to cut off the head of the Gorgon. Symbolically today one shoe off and one shoe on means death or glory.
In Celtic folklore Irish leprechauns made shoes by glow-worm light. The Elves of Islay in Scotland are said to sing marvelous songs with magical melodies when making their shoes but the imps will entice pretty girls away and carry them to caves beneath the sea if they are not careful. In those sun-less caverns lives mer-men and snorting sea cows.
In the fourteenth century one of the most popular clergy in England was a fellow by the name of Sir John Shorne. He was the rector of North Marston between 1290 to 1314 and his claim to fame was he trapped the devil in one of his boots. There are many contemporary woodcuts (prints) in books which show him holding the trapped demon. Unfortunately for us all, when Sir John died, he lost grip of the boot and allowed the devil to escape. At the time it was considered an act of piety to burn a candle at his shrine. Those who burnt two candles however were thought to do to honour the devil. Sir John Shorne is better known to us today as, "Jack in the box"