Sunday, March 12, 2006
Footprints and concealed shoes:Spookie Tales
Practitioners of Black Magic manipulate the course of nature by controlling supernatural forces through ritual and spell. The intent to do harm to others is enhanced by sympathetic magic which treats an image such as sticking pins into a doll; contiguous magic deals with things the intended victim has touched. Clothing, hair, toe nails and especially footprints are considered valuable prizes.
Many cultures are sensitive to the power of the footprint and consider it as an imprint of the sole. Those who control the footprint control the sole. Spooky is it not? The foot is the only part of the human body to be in contact with Mother Earth, and as such, is considered to have many mystical associations.
Woman of the American Indian tribe, Zuni, keep the soil of their husbands' footprint where they sleep believing this will dampen their spouses ardour thus ensuring their fidelity. Others take the earth footprint and hide it in an attempt to protect their men folk from harm.
A common practice in the Middle Ages was to leave an old shoe in the roofs and fireplaces of houses during building work, as a primitive form of protection against evil spirits. The shoes were traditionally believed to take on the essence of the wearer.
No less than the Masonic Order uses reference to an old shoe as part of its symbolism to depict the Mother Lodge (and it is a female shoe).
Footwear also appears prominently in many marriage rituals. In the Middle Ages, for instance, grooms kept their feet on their brides shoes to assure a lifetime of compatible and productive physical union. This reference remains with us today, with the car of the bride and groom traditionally decorated with old shoes and tin cans. The shoes were a guarantee of a happy (and fertile) life, with the noise of cans to fend off ill-wishers and evil doers. French brides still keep their wedding shoes as a good luck charm.
We have all heard the nursery rhyme.
"Something old, something new,
Something borrowed, something blue,"
but many people are not aware the traditional rhyme finishes with the line
"and a lucky sixpence in her shoe."