The Mythology of the Shoe

Shoes are transportive. They take us on trips. The God Hermes traveled between seen and unseen dimensions in his winged sandals. Cinderella’s glass slippers gave her access to an otherwise exclusive world. Dorothy’s ruby slippers took her on a journey of initiation.

They may also signify the erotic. The western stiletto or the lotus shoe of the bound foot of China connote the sado-ecstasy of another’s pain. After a wedding, there is the custom of tying a pair of shoes to the departing car of the betrothed to signify sexual union. Thigh-high boots mean sexual dominion over another.

They can represent agency, status or authority. If I were in your shoes; To fill someone’s shoes; to wait for a dead man’s shoes is to wait for entitlement achieved only by someone’s death. An expensive pair of shoes is a status symbol second only to the “it” bag.

Contrarily, shoes that are worn-out evoke pity. You’ve lost agency over your life and wealth. There’s the image of the tramp with his toes poking out-he is exposed to the elements and cruelty of fate.

In the German fairy tale, The Shoes That Were Danced to Pieces, twelve daughters of a king descend to an enchanted underground realm where they dance with imaginary suitors. They return home with their shoes destroyed, reminding us that we must have our feet on the ground.

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The Gold Tooth

In color symbolism, gold is steeped in powerful associations and meanings. While silver stands for the hidden, subconscious energies of the moon, gold has solar qualities that support active, worldly power and drive. It’s extraverted and conscious. We wear gold to show wealth. It’s an intentional display of our wish to dominate. It’s not about private, personal power but about worldly.

So after so many years of doing self-work/consciousness work, I recently decided to get a gold tooth. It was time to let the world know I was ready to reveal the person that I had become. This was not an ego-driven exercise-this ornament was meant to signal to the universe that I was now relating my personal power to the outside world in a way that served mankind. To carve out a place in humanity. It was no longer about sitting at home alone with my meditations and books and mantras but finally applying those tools I had been accumulating to connecting with others.

A funny thing happened when I got it-I’ve entered an energy of attraction. People have started picking up what I’m putting out creatively and energetically. Without even really trying, I’m beginning to draw. My art has started selling. My professional/creative hero has started calling on me. Dreams are getting fulfilled. The tooth gets noticed, at least once a day, among both strangers and friends/acquaintances alike. There’s usually an element of surprise. Why would this relatively innocent-looking girl (I’m small, usually in braids) be making this sort of fashion statement? What is this fashion statement? People usually can’t figure it out but interest is peaked. 

Of course it I can’t say for sure if my new tooth has attracting power or if it subconsciously causes me to behave as if it does. Maybe it gives me more confidence. But I like to think it supports my dreams and intentions with a little magic. And at the end of the day, that’s what we hope dress and adornment does. When worn with intention, it helps take us to where we want to go. 

The Psychic Life of Indigo

Indigo denotes the sixth chakra, the third eye, the doorway to the occult and the east.

Indigo expresses the beginning and end of life and period of creation in between. It is the color of death in funerary dress and textiles in the Middle East. Women of ancient Egypt would smear their cheeks with the dye as a mourning ritual. The mourning period in that part of the world is still measured by the length of time it takes for the last indigo stain to fade from the skin. In the Arab World, it may signify new life when smeared on the face to announce a birth in the family. The Bedouins mark it on their bodies to display virility.

The indigo dying process shares traditions with obstetrics in parts of the world like Indonesia, where indigo dyers are medicine women who borrow from systems of menstrual regulation and fertility control. The same ingredients are used to control the “bleeding” of the cloth and the bleeding of women. The extract is used as a contraceptive and abortifacient in Nigeria. In Southeast Asia, the dye vat is seen as the uterus and the indigo “blood,” the fetus. Pregnant or menstruating women are banned from the shack as their life-giving blood threatens the black blood of the dead plant and both birthing processes can be corrupted.

Indigo dyestuffs are believed to have magical properties. Among the Omani bedouin, it wards off evil spirits and is nicknamed haras, or “the guard.” The indigo-dyed turban in parts of Asia prevents headaches and protects from the desert-dwelling, shape-shifting jinn.

In some societies, indigo is considered an agent for transmitting evil. Dyers using other dyestuffs seclude themselves from the indigo dyer. In India, he gets his own subcaste within a caste of weavers.

When he cuts down his plant, it turns black with death. In the dye hut, it steeps in the vat until it turns yellow and then green again before finally becoming a deep, soulful blue. Therefore the plant returns to life. He is in effect a kind of alchemist.

A dyer in A Thousand and One Nights  informs us that the secret to indigo is carefully guarded as it is passed down through generations. What other mysteries and paradoxes it contains is a many-fold riddle in this magical part of history.