National Geographic : 2006 Sep
FLASHBACK Sole Survivors The cruel shoes of a Hindu fire walker in Durban, South Africa, were meant to prove the wearer's piety. "Indian mystics will tell you that by self-inflicted tortures the soul reaches through flesh-numbing ecstasy toward those higher states of being that lie between it and the Absolute," wrote Melville Chater in "Under the South African Union" in the April 1931 GEOGRAPHIC. The nail-spiked sandals may also have helped toughen the feet of the fire walkers, who ran through a bed of embers so hot that the "spectators must shelter their faces from it." Noted Chater: "Indis putably the foot soles of two of the [fire walkers], as they lay in collapse after the ceremony, showed ash dust, but no burns." - Margaret G. Zackowitz Flashback Archive All the photos plus e-greetings, in Fun Stuff at ngm.com/0609. PHOTO:LYNNACUTT NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC(ISSN 0027-9358)IS PUBLISHEDMONTHLYBYTHE NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY,1145 17THST.NW,WASHINGTON,DC 20036-4688.$34.00A YEARFOR U.S. DELIVERY,$6.00 PERSINGLECOPY(INCLUDESPOSTAGEAND HANDLING).IN CANADA,AGREEMENTNUMBER40063649,RETURNUNDELIVERABLECANADIANADDRESSESTO NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC,PO BOX 4412STN. A, TORONTO,ONTARIOM5W 3W2. UNITEDKINGDOMNEWSSTANDCOVERPRICE£3.85.PERIODICALSPOSTAGEPAIDAT WASHINGTON,DC, AND AT ADDITIONALMAILING OFFICES.POSTMASTER:SENDADDRESSCHANGESTO NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC,POBOX 63002,TAMPA,FL33663-3002.MEMBERS:IFTHEPOSTALSERVICEALERTS USTHATYOURMAGAZINEIS UNDELIVERABLE,WEHAVE NO FURTHEROBLIGATIONUNLESSWE RECEIVEA CORRECTEDADDRESSWITHINTWOYEARS.