Try Something New: Kick off your shoes to get in touch with nature by Jennifer David Hesse

You know that feeling you get when you walk outside on a perfect, sunny day? You breathe in the fresh, clean air; you feel the gentle breeze. You hear the twittering birds and admire the beautiful trees and flowers, the blue skies and drifting clouds. You feel at once uplifted and relaxed. It’s a good feeling. And it’s good for you, too. Experts say spending time in nature can benefit our health in a myriad of ways, both physically and psychologically.

It can also be a spiritual experience. I know I’ve been awestruck hiking in the mountains, strolling on woodsy trails, and gazing at starry skies. For followers of Earth-based religions (like Wiccan sleuth Keli Milanni), communing with nature is a sacred act. In fact, it’s foundational. You might even say it’s magical.

Yes, the earth is full of wonder and mystery, providing many gifts for those who pay attention. Here’s another one: Besides enjoying the sun on your face and the wind in your hair, how about feeling the ground beneath your feet? Literally. As in, without shoes or socks.

Have you heard of this practice? There’s a term for it—well, two terms actually. It’s called “grounding” or “earthing,” like the thing you might do with an electrical device to avoid getting shocked.

To put it another way: “Earthing (also known as grounding) refers to contact with the Earth’s surface electrons by walking barefoot outside or sitting, working, or sleeping indoors connected to conductive systems, some of them patented, that transfer the energy from the ground into the body.”

Drawing up energy from Mother Earth? That sounds wonderfully witchy to me! However, the quote above didn’t come from Patti Wigington. It’s from the Journal of Environmental and Public Health. There have been several scientific studies proving this is a real thing, and lots of anecdotal evidence as well. Touching bare feet to the ground—whether to grass, dirt, sand, or even concrete—is said to promote better sleep, soothe colicky babies, eliminate jet lag, and reduce chronic pain, among other benefits. The recommended daily allowance of “earthing therapy” is generally a minimum of ten minutes per day, though some sources suggest twenty or thirty minutes.

When I first read about earthing, I was eager to give it a try. First, though, I had to wait for the weather to warm up. (I don’t know if grounding works in the cold, but I’m quite sure acquiring frostbite would be counterproductive!) As soon as spring finally sprang here in Chicago, I headed outside, kicked off my flip-flops, and placed my bare feet on the ground.

And you know what?

It felt good.

It really did. And I didn’t even have to wait ten minutes! I immediately noticed a slight rush of energy through the bottom of my feet. The warm patio was especially nice. Making direct contact with the ground gave me a sense of well-being and, yes, groundedness.

As for the squishy cold grass… that wasn’t quite as pleasant. I’ll have to try that again later in the summer. Still, squishy or not, it was kind of fun to tramp around the yard in my bare feet. It made me feel Bohemian and rugged. Like a hippie or a boss. (It’s my backyard, I’ll go barefoot if I want to!)

Of course, this wasn’t the first time I’d ever gone shoeless. But it might have been the first time I did it so mindfully. The simple act of touching bare feet to the earth generated a refreshing sense of freedom—like being on a beach vacation. Or like being a kid again.

I suppose the fresh air, burgeoning greenery, and welcome sunshine might have had something to do with my elevated mood that day. But I still think there’s something to this body-earth connection. It’s so easy, yet so powerful.

Getting ten minutes of feet-on-the-ground time might not be possible every day. But it sure seems like a pretty sweet summertime goal.

Why not give it a try?


It’s that haunted time of year, when skeletons come out to play. But Edindale, Illinois, attorney Keli Milanni discovers it isn’t just restless spirits who walk the night…

After her recent promotion to junior partner, Keli is putting in overtime to juggle her professional career and private Wiccan spiritual practice. With Halloween fast approaching, her duties include appearing as a witch at a “haunted” barn and hand-holding a client who’s convinced her new house is really haunted. But it’s the disappearance of Josephine O’Malley that has Keli spooked.

The missing person is Keli’s aunt, an environmental activist and free spirit who always seemed to embody peace, love, and independence. When Josephine is found dead in the woods, Keli wonders if her aunt’s activities were as friendly as they seemed. As Keli comes to terms with her loss–while adjusting to having a live-in boyfriend and new demands at work–she must wield her one-of-a-kind magic to banish negative energy if she’s going to catch a killer this Samhain season. Because Keli isn’t ready to give up the ghost . . .

Praise for Yuletide Homicide

“A perfect read.” —Library Journal “Hesse easily balances murder and romance in this holiday tale that’s so cozy.” —Kirkus Reviews