Friday, February 6, 2009
In the beginning was the feet.........
Feet not only provide us with stable pedestals to stand on and move in a unique way but also have become the metaphoric foundation of language and faith. Strange as they may seem the foot, leg and shoe have been used as metaphors to describe the human condition since the beginnings of writing. Perhaps, because they are the only part of the body to make contact with Mother Earth, feet have through the ages, and in every culture, been bestowed with mystical and magical importance. Reference to feet and shoes is well represented throughout the Holy Scriptures.
Perhaps the best recognised symbol from antiquity is the hieroglyphic, Ankh. The term came from the African language of Ancient Kemet and was aligned with water, air, and sun. The loop of the ankh represented the womb with the elongated section, the male penis. Combined they represent life. The potent amulet was taken as the physical and external life force. The Ankh symbolised eternal life bestowing immortality on all those who possessed it. It was considered a powerful amulet, which emanated life energy providing the wearer with protection from evil forces of decay and degeneration. Many Gods and kings were depicted carrying the Ankh to distinguish them from mere mortals. No one is exactly sure what was the inspiration for the original ankh was but by the same token one differentiating article of sartorial between the haves and have nots was the sandal (foot thong). These were worn by the privileged and came to represent material success. Some authorities, such as, Sir Alan Gardiner believe the inspiration for the ankh was a thonged sandal. In ancient Egyptian, the word for sandal is 'ankh' and by coincidence, these consonants also write the word life. Absence of definitive proof means the origins remain subject to scholarly debate. History does reveal however that sandals were considered by many Mediterranean societies to protect the wearer not just from physical harm, but also were worn as talisman against evil and safeguard from Hell.