Billed as an alternative to Tupperware parties, the events will combine the skills of foot reading – where an expert consults bunions and big toes to reveal personality traits about the owner – with more conventional staples such as drinks and nibbles.
Foot reader Jane Sheehan, who is based in Buckinghamshire, has held the parties in such salubrious places as Skibo Castle near Dornoch – where Madonna married Guy Ritchie – and at Wimbledon. She has also read the feet of celebrities such as Reese Witherspoon and claims to be able to tell an enormous amount about someone’s tastes, beliefs and character just by examining their feet.
Now Sheehan, who is also a trained reflexologist and says her poor sense of smell shields her from the worst hazards of peering at feet all day, will be bringing her skills to Edinburgh and Aberdeen in August where she hopes to train Scottish foot readers who can host their own “foot parties”.
“I have interpretations that relate to emotions and personality,” she says. “I don’t do spooky readings. There’s nothing I wouldn’t read that you didn’t already know about yourself, but what is amazing is that by looking at your feet I can tell so much about you without having met you before.”
Her seminars will teach Scots how to read feet using a combination of reflexology and traditional Indian forms of medicine, as well as something Sheehan calls a “toe alphabet” and tell people their innermost secrets just by looking at the shape of their feet. A little toe that is on its side for example, shows a rebellious side, while an elongated second toe can mean natural leadership qualities.
Sheehan, who charges £160 per foot party or £20 for an individual reading, which she can do in person or by looking at a photograph, says she knows some people will be sceptical of her skills.
“I’m very aware that most people think it’s a load of old hooey,” she said. “But when I hold my foot parties, usually with a gang of friends, they will come in with a sense of curiosity and cynicism, and before they know it they’ll be saying, ‘I can’t believe you can see that in my feet’ and ‘I haven’t told anyone that before’.”
Sheehan’s foot reading system means smell can tell her different things about a person’s character or even health problems.
“If the feet have a particular aroma then sometimes that can help me understand which body systems might be out of balance and need checking out,” she said.
“Some feet smell acidic, which means we check out the urinary tract. Some are very sickly sweet which makes you wonder about pancreas/diabetes and some smell yeasty which makes you wonder about digestion or fungal infections.”
However, experts were keen to stress that foot reading was not the same as reflexology.
Tracy Smith, of the Association of Reflexologists, said: “Foot reading is a separate thing – it’s not taught in the [reflexology] qualification, which is more of a continuous professional development. It’s an individual choice whether reflexologists choose to do foot reading or not as an addition to reflexology.”
Sheehan says that some people treat her foot readings as “therapy through the back door”. “People who would never dream of seeking help will see me for a bit of a laugh and find that it opens doors for them. It can be a catalyst for change. Just by saying what I see, someone quite often reacts by saying, ‘crikey, if she can see that then maybe I ought to do something about it’.”
Sheehan’s seminars will take place in Edinburgh on 17 and 18 August and in Aberdeen on 24 and 25 August, and she has even published several books on foot reading.
Party planner Anna Wilson of Sublime Events Scotland said she could see foot reading parties taking off as a novelty.
“People are always looking for something different these days when they’re planning a party,” she said.