Blessed Be Thy Feet, Part 6: Martina’s Story


    “Some of the trails are rugged and rocky, and I am probably saddled with a backpack full of bottled water, lunch items, and maybe campfire wood.  I am usually tethered to one of the horses with a hemp rope around my waist, so it’s necessary to keep pace with the horses.”
      For Martina, this is just another adventure in the woods with her Mistress.  Martina is a Nature Pagan, submissive, and full time barefooter.  ”It can become quite an ordeal to endure for several hours on the trails.  But it’s another way we use and experience nature and natural things in our activities.”
      Martina goes barefoot full time, in all terrain and weather.  ”I go barefoot….about everywhere really.  It keeps me grounded and allows me to draw energy from the earth.  It also makes me feel more at one with nature.”
     ”I always watch out for snakes when hiking…, but not so much in Fall and Winter because they stay sheltered in cold weather.”  Despite snakes in the forest, walking barefoot is relatively safe.  ”It is more of a problem in poor or underdeveloped countries where sanitation is a problem and cities are dirty.  Like streets that have both people and livestock using them, along with garbage and trash.  They can be quite filthy.”
    Going barefoot full time is a relatively recent development in Martina’s life.  Like most children, she was barefoot a majority of the time, but she didn’t “shuck the shoes” completely until recently when she moved away from home.  She found herself wearing them less and less until she wasn’t wearing them at all.  As a final act of her commitment to being barefoot, she turned her shoes over to her Mistress, who is Wiccan.
    “It is something I want[ed] to do, and something that Mistress says is right for me.  That is why she asked for my shoes…as a way to encourage me to be true to my commitment.  And it is something that she finds erotic in a way that relates to how we first met and connected.”
      Martina and her Mistress like to incorporate nature into a lot of their activities.  This includes outdoor ritual glass dancing, which will be covered in “Blessed Be Thy Feet, Part 7″.




Blessed Be Thy Feet, Part 4: No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem!

For many of us, going barefoot during childhood was a way of life, especially during the summer.  Our mothers would admonish us to put on shoes and we’d laugh.  Eventually, though, we grew up and donned the footwear that best suited our needs.  Tight shoes for formal occasions, rubber shoes for gym, and flip flops for the summer.  Some people, however, have reverted back to their childhood ways and go barefoot everywhere.  These people, commonly known as barefooters or in some Pagan circles as Earthwalkers, go barefoot a majority of the time: summer, winter, city streets, stores, restaurants, etc.   Some of you may laugh, some of you may roll your eyes, but the Barefoot community is growing, not just for humans but for horses as well (I kid you not!).



I got started on this path about feet because a fellow sister-in-arms who reads this blog is a barefooter.  I’ll share her story and exploits in a future blog.  I also heard a Micheal Sandler, who is a barefoot advocate and runner, do an interview on the radio and my interest was piqued.  He wasn’t Pagan, and he seemed fairly main stream.   However, when I requested an interview, I received no response (shame on you, Micheal Sandler!).

Micheal Sandler’s site: runbare.com

 While there are many sites and researchers who do not promote running or simply going barefoot because “it’s dangerous”, a fair amount of research has been done that proves that going barefoot and running barefoot is healthier for humans over all.  According to the researchers at Harvard’s Skeletal Biology Lab, running barefoot tends to make people land on their fore foot to mid foot, which is more natural and healthier for the foot than landing on the the heel.


Just like with any movement, there are lots of groups springing up to meet the demand for education, publicity, and fellowship.  One of the many out there is the Society for Barefoot Living.  Their site has a lot of good information, but the site hasn’t been updated since 2010.  Some of the information about laws may be outdated.  There are also tons of Yahoo groups for barefooters out there, but I’ve found that they were either non-active or didn’t want me in their group.  I was really curious about the group Spiritualbarefootlifestyles, but they seem to be dead.  I joined several months ago, and there has been no activity.  It’s a shame because they taut themselves as for “Pagans, Wiccans, Spiritualist, ‘Mystics’, and the like who enjoy being barefoot as a lifestyle or as a part of worship.”

So where does that leave Pagans in the barefoot movement?  Well, to be honest, I’m not really sure.  From my brief survey of folks from several different paths in different parts of the United States, there doesn’t seem to be a large Pagan presence in the Barefooter movement.  In the Southwest, people don’t go barefoot much because of scorpions, snakes, and nasty sticker plants.  In the Midwest, it’s usually too cold.  In Hawaii, nobody would respond to my emails.  What I have found, though, is that a lot of Pagans will take their shoes off in circle, so that they “can feel the Earth energy and connect” or something like that.  I’ve also had several Pagans tell me that they’ve noticed that people will go skyclad in circle but still wear shoes.  That’s a little like wearing utilitarian socks during sex: visually unappealing and just wrong.  If you’d like to get started going barefoot slowly, see Christopher Penczak’s book The Inner Temple of Witchcraft for a nice Earthwalking meditation.


Krampusnacht Remembered

As I’ve been doing research and soliciting interviews for upcoming blogs, a fond memory of my Krampusnacht popped into my head.  Hopefully your Krampusnacht was all you wanted it to be, and if not, well there’s nothing stopping you from having Krampusnacht tonight!

If you’d like to contribute blog ideas or be interviewed for a blog (I’m currently interviewing Earthwalkers, barefooters, Hare Krishnas, Mormons, Muslims, foot washers, Pagans, and Sungazers), please drop me a line at chirp_sparrow@yahoo.com.

Blessed be thy feet: Part 1–A little tickle

Blessed be thy feet, that have brought thee in these ways…..

Feet.  Most people have them.  Some people love them, some people hate them, and some people fetishize them.  Quentin Terentino loves Uma Thurman’s feet.  Watch Pulp Fiction and the Kill Bill movies again and count how many times the camera has a tight shot of her feet.  Feet take us everywhere.  They can bring us pleasure and they can bring us pain.  They can be lavished and spoiled, or punished and tortured.  They can symbolize dominance, like a foot on the back of the neck, or they can symbolize submission, like bowing to kiss someone’s feet.  Feet carry us on secular paths and religious paths, often both at the same time.
The next series of blogs was suggested and inspired by two of my readers.  The series will look at how different religions, not just Pagan ones, incorporate feet into their worship, deities associated with feet, the Eathwalking/barefoot movement in the US, and some of the grittier, kinkier things that can be done with feet.  As always, along the way, tie-ins will be made to Paganism and how to incorporate this topic into your personal religious practice (and maybe other practices too).
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Hinduism
From a Hindu forum:
“ In the image, the sole of one foot of the Goddess is visible,
apparently decorated with Mendhi, beautiful designs. I thought that it
was an insult to display the sole of one’s foot. Is that only true for
the Islamic population? Is there an exception for Goddesses or other
deities? Am I misreading the image, perhaps?”
“Every part of the Great Goddess Durga is Sacred! Haha It may be a little

distasteful to rub your own dirty feet on someone else or point them from a
cultural standpoint. From the point of Divinity it changes though. In fact,
many temples to the Goddess and Vishnu amongst others have only an image of
the deities feet. The idea is that to gaze upon the whole figure would be to
overpowering.
There is a Hindu custom of touching the Gurus feet or even placing your head
at the Gurus feet as a sign of reverence. The idea is simply that you
acknowledge the Guru’s superiority in whatever it is they are teaching you. A
direct way to state that they are above you in some regard.
There is nothing filthy, or profane about the Goddess’s feet for she is a pure
concept.
Look at Kali Ma-she is dancing on Lord Shiva’s chest right now!
He doesn’t seem to mind;-)”
He looks asleep or dead to me.  I guess that’s why he doesn’t mind!

Some people may question why I would investigate Hinduism and other religions for a blog that is unabashedly Pagan.  The reason is because Paganism is eclectic.  Even Wicca, that little subset, is eclectic.  Many Pagans have taken ideas and deities that they like from different religions and made them their own.  Gardner took many, many idea from the Hindu religion and made them Wiccan.  This was brought home to me one time at a handfasting that I attended.  The handfasting was at a public park, and an Indian couple stopped by to watch the rite from afar.  Once I spied them, I motioned for them to come closer and join in the fun.  After the ceremony, all they could talk about was how similar the handfasting ritual was to their own Hindu marriage ceremony that they had had in India.  The ritual planners hadn’t set out to borrow Hindu customs, but because they had gone with a status-quo Wiccan ceremony they had done so anyway due to Gardner’s original borrowing.

In the above quotes, the answerer discusses how bowing and touching one’s head to someone else’s feet is seen as an act of humility and respect to teachers and deities.  This practice is called Pranama.  It’s often part of the custom of darshan, which means to “see with reverence and devotion,” where not only does the one touching their forehead look to connect with divinity, the one who’s feet are being touch often bestows a blessing.  This is done in connection with puja, which could be described as a Hindu worship service or ritual.
In some British Traditional and Gardnerian covens, especially ones that adhere to The Ardanes, coven members are expected to show respect to the High Priestess by bowing, sometimes to the point of their head connecting with feet.  As in Hinduism, it’s a sign of respect.  I also know of many groups that will bow to the elements and deities when they are welcomed in or invoked in circle.  Some groups also have their members bow low to a person who is representing or aspecting a deity, especially if a blessing is being bestowed.