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Every cell in our beautiful and amazing bodies contains the whirling wisdom of the universe. This is the journey of one witch remembering that, and celebrating the sacred and divine in beings of all genders and manifestations.

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Through Our Soles, Our Souls

A light rain falls in these California redwoods. I am walking back to my nest, the VW camper van that is my home for the next week at Witchcamp where I have come to be with witches of all genders from all over the world. It is dark: no Moon is visible, though Her fullness above the clouds makes Her presence felt, tugging on every cell of my body’s oceans. It is not a cold night, damp but surprisingly mild. There is a small footbridge crossing the shallow stream before I get to where I am parked. I am alone in the sweet darkness. Walking to the edge of camp after the opening ritual. I am still barefoot, shoes in hand, and, instead of taking the bridge, I wade into the creek. It flows around my ankles and halfway up my calves. It is also surprisingly warm and so I stop and turn off my flashlight and let my skin do what it does best: feel. There are no more shoes for me at Witchcamp, this is too powerful a place, too powerful an experience to miss anything through the soles of my soul.

The next day someone asks, “Don’t those rocks at the stream’s edge hurt to walk on?” I reply, “I go barefoot a lot. I have Hobbit feet.” But the truth is that if I walked on those rocks the way I do in shoes, it would hurt. The faster pace and heavier trod would bruise me. Yet, because I am barefoot, I walk slower, lighter, with greater intention. And, because I am barefoot, I don’t have to avoid the mud puddles in those first few days of camp before the sun finally dries out the ground mid-week. I can, with glee and full abandon, splash right in and feel the mud squish between my toes.

As the week progresses we dive into the myth of the Sumerian goddess Inanna. Together we descend into the underworld realm of her sister, the goddess Ereskigal. I walk Her descent barefoot. In the story, Ereskigal strips her sister of something at each of the seven gates to the underworld until Inanna finally arrives naked. As we wade deeply in the story, I too relive a time thirteen years ago when my life was stripped away. The memory is vivid as if it were seeping up from the forest floor through the cells of my soles.

In the myth, motive is unclear, but there is a breach in the sisters’ relationship and Ereskigal casts upon Inanna the eye of death and hangs Her exposed and lifeless. I remember my own experience of leaving a very successful work position in 2000, thinking I was going to move into a PhD program, one that didn’t materialize. Like Innana, my work, my identity, and my sense of carefully constructed ego, were stripped away. I had to finally face a pattern of depression and relationship choices that had been shadowing me since college. In the story, Inanna hangs there for three days. I hung in the depression long enough for my eyes to become accustomed to the dark - long enough to realize hanging in the dark can actually be a relief, a repose, a rest, and a place where nothing is required of us. I hung in the dark long enough to realize that the dark is no scarier than what’s up there in the light.  

In the myth, Inanna has allies and help, as did I. The god Enki sends flies to the underworld to empathize with Ereskigal who is in constant labor giving birth to the dead. Ereskigal, moved by their empathy, wants to gift them. They ask for Innana’s corpse and reanimate Her with the water of life and the food of life. At the next evening’s ritual, still barefoot, I remember, like Inanna, my own reanimation back to life and the sacred circles of folk who brought me aid, support, and tenderness.

The ascent was in some ways harder than the descent for both Inanna and myself. Slowly and painfully, I transitioned from one kind of life to another, one kind of way of being in the world into another, and re-emerged into the upper world of light, changed forever. Now, I love my current life, and found myself filled with love and thanksgiving to Ereskigal for the painful and cathartic process. Working this myth at camp, I re-emerge barefoot, with gratitude for the life flowing up through my soles into my soul.

My story is common. Most of us find resonance in these ancient archetypal myths because to walk the Earth is to love and struggle, to lose and find, and to discover our own true power often after being stripped of, or letting go of, something or someone. The pantheons of deities continue to infuse our very cells with the wisdom of these stories, spiral turn after spiral turn, as we walk barefoot through time.

I recently read a medical article about the health benefits of walking barefoot on the Earth. It turns out it can actually reduce the risk of heart disease, boost our immune system, and may help regulate both the endocrine and nervous systems. Each of us, and the Earth Herself, is a lovely collection of sacred cells, embodying the Feminine Divine. May the power and gifts of The Goddess fill our souls through our soles, and may we in turn give Her back our barefoot devotion.

For more about the health benefits of walking barefoot on The Earth go to: barefoot.html


For more about Reclaiming Witchcamps around the world go to: /

Photo with this blog post by Paula Matzinger

Photo of Lizann for blog by Madrone Jack


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Lizann Bassham was both an active Reclaiming Witch and an Ordained Christian Minister in the United Church of Christ. She served as Campus Pastor at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley working with a multi-faith student community. She was a columnist for SageWoman magazine, a novelist, playwright, and musician. Once, quite by accident, she won a salsa dance contest in East L.A. Lizann died on May 27, 2018.


  • Ashling Kelly
    Ashling Kelly Saturday, 20 July 2013

    I loved this post. We were never allowed to walk barefoot as children, and as an adult, well, I just rarely do it....this post makes me want to give it a conscious try. Thank you!

  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham Saturday, 20 July 2013

    Blessings on your bare feet Ashling!

  • Jennifer Mills
    Jennifer Mills Sunday, 21 July 2013


  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham Sunday, 21 July 2013

    Thank you Jennifer.

  • Emily Mills
    Emily Mills Wednesday, 24 July 2013

    I was also not allowed to walk barefoot as a child, although sometimes I did. In college I liked to walk barefoot on the first snow of winter, but I'm not sure where that impulse came from. More barefoot adventures in my future, for sure. Thank you for the lovely post.

  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham Wednesday, 24 July 2013

    Thanks Emily. Blessings on your barefoot adventures!

  • Tammy
    Tammy Tuesday, 06 August 2013

    This post resonated with me on a very personal level. I have been travelling the path of not-knowing the past few years. I am slowly relearning who I am and banishing what does not work any longer.

    Thank you - Blessed Be.

  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham Tuesday, 06 August 2013

    Blessings to you Tammy as you relearn, let go of who and what you are no longer, and embrace who and what is now!

  • Kalyca Schultz
    Kalyca Schultz Wednesday, 13 November 2013

    This reminds me of nature defiicit disorder, which I've been meaning to read more about. Communing in/with Nature is certainly therapeutic, but I'd not thought to try it barefooted! An excellent suggestion.

    And I have always been curious about Witchcamps. Perhaps circumstances will free me to go in the future at some point. Blessings to you.

  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham Thursday, 14 November 2013

    Thank you for your blessings to me, and blessings on your barefoot experiments Kalyca. I do hope Witchcamp may be in your future, it is amazing! I have only been to California Witchcamp, but by all reports every Witchcamp around the world has its own wonderful energy and blessings.

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