Whenever I think of these small, ignored body parts, I remind myself that they were, to some, utterly fascinating.
Witches found our soul in them
Witches in medieval Europe were supposed to use cast off nail clippings to conduct spells that would allow them to take control over their victims. Most of the fear mongering dealing with witches was created by those hunting them out, by the way, or by modern pagans in the 1960s seeking to create a historical link with modern pagan believers. The reason they were thought to be so useful is that the essence of the victim was thought to be retained in these cast offs, and so they could be used to find locations or even to cause pain from miles away. This was a case of fear, as well as beauty, being in the mind of the beholder.
They were mementos of those lost to us
A second grouping that saw value in these were the families of Kamikazi pilots. These Japanese pilots would leave home, knowing that they were never to see their families again. More than other soldiers’ sacrifice, however, was the knowledge that they would never have a funeral or be buried. So they would give to their families their nail clippings, finger and toe, so that the families would be able to show some memento of their existence.
Sign you have too much money!
One thing I learnt while preparing for my wedding is that there is someone out there who can sell you anything. For any euro note you have, there is someone who can charge you for an item that you don’t need and won’t remember.
The same thing can be said for toenails and beauty salons: You can, in some salons, spend hundreds in getting them ready for summer, say, or just even routine pedicures. Yet with Irish summers, toes get an airing maybe one or two days at best!
So it is far to remark that a quick survey of toenails, of how they were regarded, preserved and maintained, shows us a great deal of our own history.
P.s.; don’t look up ‘toenails’ on Google unless you have a strong stomach!