Thursday, April 8, 2010

Foot Cleaning - A Short History (Archive)

The column found below was published in April 2010 on Wu's Feetlinks. With Wu's passing in 2014, I have decided to preserve these columns here on the all new Wu's Feetlinks Columns Blog as new columnists carry on with the new ones. Please note: Website URLs, e-mail addresses, and mailing addresses found within these republished blogs may no longer be valid.

Patrick, Editor

In a world where it is nearly impossible to find a place that you can frolic freely barefoot, touching and bathing another person's feet can be an extremely intimate and personal act which shows signs of trust, love, and openness. Cleansing your own feet can be a relaxing moment that can help you feel refreshed and renewed and has become quite a common grooming habit for many men and women. If you really look at the history of this act you will find that it has been used as an initiation, a welcoming gesture, a purification ritual, and as a means to demonstrate humbleness.

The root of religious feet-washing appears to be found in the customs of many ancient civilizations, especially where sandals were commonly worn. A host would provide water for guests to wash their feet or they would provide a servant to wash the feet of the guests. Roman Catholics believe that Jesus washed the feet of the 12 apostles before The Last Supper to show humility and brotherhood. It also recorded that the observance of foot washing at the time of baptism was maintained in Africa, Gaul, Germany, Milan, northern Italy, and Ireland. In Buddhism, clean water mixed with sandalwood to clean the feet is one of the eight typical offerings and if you cleanse the feet of an enlightened being, it is possible to cleanse one's own karma.

Foot cleansing can involve just plain water but many like to include other ingredients to help soften, fortify and provide relief from tension, stress or abuse. Rose Absolute essential oil can be useful for stress, eczema, menopause and depression while Epsom’s salt (or sea salt), Lavender oil and Tee Tree oil can help relax you and get you ready for a good night's rest. You can also mix a milk and honey bath which provides skin conditioning but also a really delicious aroma and taste. Ingredients are not the only additions to foot baths. You can also add scrubbed and cleaned stones and rocks to the floor of your foot bath to give your toes a little something to play with while you are soaking and cleansing.

You can observe the same rituals and ceremonies as our ancestors or you can create your own. There is no strict set of rules that apply so go wild! Study our past cultures and experiment to suit your taste and comfort level.