The Everyday Lore Project

29 April 2020 – Let Sleeping Feet Lie

29 April 2020 – Let Sleeping Feet Lie

Today I’ve been trying to put my foot to sleep because it’s said you can cure a sleeping foot with a salivary sign of the cross. But who knew that a spot of enforced podal repose could be so time consuming and so complicated?

I have ridiculously poor circulation so I thought this experiment was going to be a doddle, after all, it happens all the time. Turns out no, not today. I started with The Tucking Under The Bum Technique. Nothing. Well actually, no numbness but a surprise whiff of pins and needles when I did move. Next was The Jamming The Foot Up Against The Sofa Arm At An Uncomfortable Angle Procedure, but that just made me limp when the cat started howling for food. Then I switched to The Both Feet On Floor While Elbows Cut Off Circulation By Pinning Knees Process, but no luck with that either. 

So finally I shifted to The Foot Trapped Beneath Thigh Method, slightly more subtle than The Tucking Under The Bum Technique but in this case much more effective. Within three minutes my foot and ankle were flashing hot and cold as the burden of my weighty femur began cutting off the circulation. Within ten minutes my calf was asleep but on squeezing my big toe I realised there was still a moment or two to go, and I shifted my bulk again and pressed down hard on my foot. Needless to say, don’t try this at home. 

Then it became like the timing of a Masterchef chocolate fondant; one second either way and the disappointment would be palpable. But in the end pain in my ankle forced me to move, and popping my foot on the floor, with a sigh I realised that this too hadn’t quite worked. I licked my finger anyway and made a cross on the top of my foot and hobbled out of the sitting room. 

Within 10 steps a raging pins and needles threatened to topple me, so I bent down and did the cross thing again. And it went away. Not that instant but within another 10 steps it had reduced to a gentle buzzing. Which was unexpected, given the severity.

But I’m not chalking this up as a folklore win just yet. Seeing as my foot had stubbornly refused to cooperate in its slumber to begin with, I’m not sure the pins and needles are an accurate reflection of true circumstance. Plus, according to the book, I was also supposed to be wearing a boot, but no footwear’s allowed on the sofa.

So I shall try again, just to make sure. But probably not tonight. There’s only so much contorted sloth this lockdown body can take. 


Daniels, C.L. & Stevans, C.M (eds) (2003) Encyclopædia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World,Hawaii, University Press of the Pacific

Published by Liza Frank

Author of My Celebrity Boyfriend. Obsessed with hula hooping, sons of preachermen and fresh dates, sometimes all at the same time. Curator of Folklore Agony and The Everyday Lore Project.

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