Earthing shoes, also known as grounding shoes, regardless of style or the amount of material going into them, are the kind of footwear that make reconnection with the Earth’s subtle yet essential life-supporting, healing energies possible, readily available. Hence the term of earthing (grounding), which in this bioenergetic sense is a fairly new phrase adopted by Clinton Ober and subsequently established by the groundbreaking work in natural healing, Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?, a book Mr. Ober is a co-author to.
Modern term yes, coupled with important scientific research, however under the innumerable names of the countless cultures who’s vernacular landscape and climate calls for some kind of protective wrap around the feet, have only worn such footwear until about the last second in human history, when synthetics started gradually replacing or adulterating natural materials.
The phenomenon opened a wide way to the flip-flops, gumboots, Gore-Tex boots, sneakers, stilettos and everything in-between, all disrupting the flow of Earth’s healing, negative charge power through our bodies, at the same time desensitizing us from the environment. This is little more than misinterpreting “protection” at the cost of our health and the well being of the other-than-human world.
Just think of all those heavy metals and petrochemical derivatives that build up a typical footwear in our modern times from soles to laces, which people who don them unwarily take out into the middle of pristine nature from cliffs to marshes, from wildflower meadows to sandy beaches. What happens, is that once there, in full conviction that they are doing the best intimately reconnecting with nature, these people actually contaminate the very nature they came to love – what an ironic chemistry.
With each step these synthetic pieces of footwear rub and spread their toxic molecules onto the sensitive face of the Earth.
Here at Handcraftedtravellers we are determined to help reverse the trend and raise awareness about the benefits of virtually unlimited grounding with continuous access to the powerful earth energies through:
- increased barefoot walking indoors and outdoors alike
- connective earthing shoes, footwear that – by the way – you can handcraft for yourself and your loved ones, too, and we show you some ways to do just that
- apart from work-required special footwear, progressively getting rid of all leisurely boots, shoes, sandals, slippers or socks one typically spends the most time of a day in, that prevent genuine earthing
In our view such benefits can only be fully harnessed if the materials making up the footwear are exclusively natural – not only in origin, but in their final manifestation. Morally speaking, that is ecological ethics-wise, besides your bare feet it is also the hundred percent natural earthing shoes (and natural clothes) alone that comprise authentic means to benefit from earth’s energies while showing due respect to nature, the Earth that lends these energies not only to us humans, but to all other creatures on its surface from water bodies and rocks through grass to the soaring eagles.
In case you wonder about the commercial availability of earthing products, it is really easy to both be flooded and confused over what is true grounding. Industry and science working hand in hand are highly opportunistic and creative about this. Creative, perhaps, but not always genuine.
Earthing – we believe – is far from being dependent on science. After all, as stated earlier, peoples living in harmony with nature have done it for eons. An instinctual continuity inherited from well before the first Homo erectus days.
However if one puts intuition back to sleep and is easily satisfied with half answers, then the individual becomes vulnerable prey to the sales gimmicks of commerce giving all sorts of fashionable touches to their wonder products with the promise that one can take the path of least resistance (so do business as usual), just have, say, this special alloy diskette in the heel of an otherwise conventional shoe and the lost connection with the Earth will be reestablished.
The truth remains that for grounding one needs to get down to earth – period.
It does take changing one’s lifestyle to fully benefit from earth energies, gearing that lifestyle on natural paths.
The two of us, Cheryl and Roland, have come from a very conventional backgrounds as far as our footwear collection: new and secondhand, brand names, adulterated leather, high heels, rubber and all sorts of other synthetic soles, glues, synthetic dyes, plastic shoelaces, etc.
One thing we could proudly claim though, even about these largely bygone days, is that we had long stopped using shoe polish, switching to occasional lard rubs instead.
Coming from town to visit us on our farm, Roland’s dad noted one time disparagingly that a shoe polishing would be in order, looking at his son’s worn down leather boots. Back then we still had goats, so it was only fitting for Roland to ask his father how much shoe polish he would find acceptable in his goat milk.
Things are a lot more complexly interconnected, with subtleties not so obvious at the first sweeping view. One’s polished look can wreak havoc to a million.
Our little family of three began conscious grounding concomitantly with our daughter, Csermely first standing up on her own feet at the age of one and a half, in 2012. She had been privileged to wear only natural, often organic handknit socks even before that point and continues to don all natural footwear handcrafted by us, her parents, to the day.
The core principle that has guided us in creating her sandals and shoes upon the demand of her growing feet, is the same as the one we follow for every new garment we make for ourselves:
We trust it’s a descriptive enough way to grasp the level of commitment continuously incorporated in the way we cover our bodies. What is pampering, what is caring for ourselves, each other and the Earth if not this?!
That’s because we fear many have tried to push down nasty chemical compounds their earthworms’ and compost piles’ mouths, especially with the advent of so-called compostable plastics. So we decided to up our standards a few notches to the height of our own digestive tract. Of course, this is all theoretic digestion of the plant and animal fibers going into our garments, nevertheless it makes for a kind of imaginatory play, that is a great test for scrutiny. It immediately brings precaution to the foreground with zero tolerance level for dubious materials.
Becoming absolutely committed to earthing, our last piece of store-bought footwear (our last piece of store-bought garment in general, for that matter) was a pair of gumboots in 2011 or 2012. Since then we, Cheryl and Roland have been wearing out the shoes and sandals we already had and have prepared for the making of our very own custom creation earthing shoes. Of course, based on the principle described above.
Not having any viable access to naturally tanned (brain or oak) strong leather, the idea arose to use a combination of hemp cord for soles, hemp canvas or felted wool for the upper parts and flax sewing thread to keep everything together.
one piece hemp canvas tops, organic cotton fabric laces and natural flax sewing thread. Nothing more, nothing less.
Meanwhile our daughter has picked up speed and courage on her two feet, so canvas soles attached to knitwear have demanded more secure and sturdier solution for her walks outside of our property.
This real need gave birth to Roland’s novel concept of one-rope sandals, literally sewn together from one continuous piece of hemp rope each sandal.
They performed so great, we decided to share the idea in form of a detailed do-it-yourself payable tutorial.
Four months had gone by in Roland’s own shoes before their soles needed repair. Considering that these earthing shoes took him four months of intermittent work to finish, the balance of invested time versus useful time wasn’t bad, but wasn’t great either.
These two pairs of grounding shoes alone already provided us, and hopefully our blog’s readers as well, with a good deal of insight as to how will and creative power can free one from dependence on conventional consumerism, while opening up new horizons: the ecological, economical, aesthetic benefits of such act of self-reliance as making one’s own custom-fit earthing shoes.
Soon thereafter followed Cheryl’s turn of trying her fingers out at the new kind of needlework: sewing shoes. She built in part on the craft experiences gained with the earthing footwear made by her husband, Roland and coupled her craft with a strive for better time efficiency, as well as a physically less demanding labor, while staying focused on not losing from the effectiveness of her work or the integrity of the end product.
Csermely had been outgrowing her sandals and the weather had turned significantly cooler. Time came for closed-toe shoes with a warm top.
Cheryl’s innovation stood in only sewing the upper side of the hemp cord sole and while maintaining the one-rope concept, she coiled the rope longitudinally, without spiraling it from a center.
The reward of her creative diligence was this hip pair of earthing shoes that seven months later Csermely still wears joyfully, receiving countless curious looks and compliments wherever she shows up in them.
It features hemp rope sole, toes, back and laces, while the upper is made from a relatively thin, undyed merino felt. She also used natural flax sewing thread.
From here she moved on with her newly gathered confidence and determined to craft her own custom-made natural footwear, at the age of thirty-five, Cheryl engaged in sewing her first earthing shoes. This turned into two months of intermittent work, but the comfort and happiness of her deserving feet made the effort well worth it: a pair of true ladies’ earthing shoes was born.
Next to the successes let us also mention a smaller failure, nonetheless one that yielded further understanding of material properties and a more practical use of flat elements in building up a three dimensional organic shape. This happened when Roland dipped his fingers into leather shoe making for our daughter.
For these grounding boots his material of choice was an angora rabbit hide previously brain tanned and sun cured by himself, hemp rope and flax thread. Intended for cold weather wear, the idea was to equip these boots with a double rope sole, where the layer in contact with the ground would closely mimic Csermely’s true footprint, that is the print her damp feet left on a sheet of paper, so by which her body weighs down on a relatively flat and hard walking surface. If you think about it, commercially available footwear never does this, shoe soles being a rounding up from a general footprint shape.
Rabbit skin proved to not be thick enough for secure stitching. The boots also turned out awkward to walk in, due to an inadequate construct, but presumably not the flaw of this sole concept.
The double sole concept remained to be tested on Roland’s own veteran grounding shoes that were in need for a retread. Cheryl’s method was applied to the old, cracked and holey sole, with quite pleasing result. Take a look here for the whole retreading story.
But walking itself is the true test. Will see how the retreads hold up.
As soon as spring set in, Cheryl’s hands – that are never idle between pencil, keyboard buttons, stirring spoons and needles – got started on a pair of women’s hemp cord sandals for herself. When after just a couple of weeks’ worth of on-and-off work the rope sandals were finished, once and for all she could save her feet from being touched by synthetic industry-made footwear.
On a family level it allowed us to claim that we were no longer wearing synthetic footwear of any kind – neither Cheryl, nor Roland and of course not Csermely either, who has never owned factory shoes in her life, ever.
Here is what Cheryl’s freestyle hemp rope sandals look like (many months later, treading Paris’s park alleys and sidewalks, under moderate use, they still looked the same):
Walking in them is at once femininely gracious and caressing to the Earth, while the wearer remains grounded (on the right kind of surface)…
Cheryl turned her sandal project into a full-fledged tutorial as well, allowing any of you, ladies, to follow her suite. Just adjust the measurements to your own, the style to your likes and you are soon ready to earth, yourself too.
In general terms about natural rope application in shoe making as seen through our experience with hemp:
- rope is breathable, washable, fast drying material
- by itself and in combination with the salty, fatty, road dust mix temporarily adhering to the rope sole while in use, makes for a great conductive medium for earth energies to access your body and perform their beneficial effects
- working with rope is such a forgiving job even for the first time of ever trying it and that is because cord gives you virtually limitless variations for covering the same surface area (say, your footprint) or three dimensional shape (like that of your foot), one only needs to find the right match between imagination and practicality
- be mindful of the treading pattern and the limited grip of the rope-sole footwear on the extremely smooth, polished walk surfaces (e.g. marble) of certain modern indoor spaces, where one should walk prudently
- rope is much more affordable alternative where natural leather tanning is not within easy reach
- if you are in the fortunate situation to have a larger available selection of rope thicknesses, than choose the thickness proportionate to the body weight of the person the footwear will be made for, but be aware at the same time that the thicker the rope the less flexible it gets, limiting what you can do with it
- at the end of its life, depending on the exposure to synthetic pollutants from the ground while in use, with or without the shoe upper, a rope sole could potentially enrich your compost pile, too
On a different note about the same earthing footwear, we feel compelled to share with you something our intuition leads us to believe is right.
Although we, Cheryl and Roland have been married to each other and have lived together, dined together for over twelve years now, we still come from very different food cultural heritages. Surely, they have some common traits, such as the omnipresence of wheat and the consumption of A1 type cow milk.
But the fact that we both started showing explicit, undeniable, repeat and persistent symptoms of gluten, A1 milk and eventually starch (potatoes, rice) sensitivity, the two of us nearly at the same time, seems to be more than just coincidental with getting out of our synthetic shoes and starting to be barefoot.
It seems as though earthing has drawn our attention to our weaknesses as actual strengths: touching basis with nature again, revealed to us what is not right in our food provision system, in agriculture and food processing.
Well, as it turns out, modern wheat is a measly far-cry from ancient wheat, and the cow milk most of us drink north of the Mediterranean basin and on the two sides of the northern temperate Atlantic, so A1 milk, is the product of a genetic mutation that occurred some time between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago in Europe.
We had to realize first hand after thirty some years of being desensitized in a thin but crucial separation from nature, that some of the foods we had eaten with such delight all our lives, arguably have been rendered unfit for human consumption, if one is to thrive in life.
Thank to our findings through earthing, our family has since gone gluten-free and we can’t wait to tap into organic raw A2 milk.
So do a favor to yourself, get out of your synthetic shoes, walk barefoot as much as you possibly can and put earthing shoes on for the rest of the time.
Become an indicator of our species, you too.
When you are ready to move on to leather shoes, watch this following video for inspiration to get started: