Shoes are extremely powerful personal concerns and much good and evil work can be done with them. In hoodoo, most people are familiar with shoes as an extension of "foot track magic". Many people may not realize that the use of shows as spiritual decoys/dummies, or even as spirit traps, is incredibly ancient.
The concealing or depositing of shoes as a spiritual decoy/dummy or spirit trap is one of the oldest ways of working with shoes. To date, the finding of the oldest example of such work has been dated as being performed in the 14th century. This practice is hundreds of years old. Though it's been claimed that the practice went extinct back in the early-to-mid 20th century, I'm personally inclined to think that it actually still survives to this day.
What makes a shoe powerful as a personal concern is the fact that shoes are generally unwashed, meaning they have taken on the essence of their wearer, the person's sweat and skin cells. The strong stench of an old pair of shoes is evidence of it's power as a personal concern. Additionally, shoes actually will form a mold of the wearer's feet. Take an old pair of shoes and carefully explore the inside. You will see indentations indicating the presence of the big toe, as well as the other toes, not to mention the heel. Even a person who is flat-footed will leave their unique imprint of such condition in the shoe. So shoes become a powerful marker and link to their wearer.
When employing shoes one should keep a just a few things in mind.
1. They need to be old. New shoes won't work.
2. Only one shoe is needed. The majority of all finds of shoes used as spiritual decoys have been of only one shoe.
3. The majority of the finds of these shoes have been of the left shoe and far more women's and children's shoes have been found than men's shoes. However, the weird thing about this is that they are often found in locations, such as building foundations, that women would not have easy access to. Therefore, it's believed that this practice may have been most often performed by men. In fact, my own personally belief is that not only would this action be done by men for the protection of their family but also it might have been done to ensure that a man's wife stays with him and doesn't leave him.
3. Shoes do not need to be fixed. Do not place anything inside them. In fact, to do so would be to actually negate their ability to protect you.
4. Place them in the same places one would deposit or employ a spiritual decoy, such as; fireplaces or mantels, hearths, inside walls, buried near the front door, windows, etc.
5. Because the shoes are not fixed there is nothing in them that will cut or "kill" the evil. Instead, shoes serve as spirit traps, meaning that witches, their familiars or other evil spirits will go inside them and not be able to come out again. Because of such, it is extremely important that once deposited they should never be disturbed. To disturb them would mean risking setting free the evil that has been trapped.
6. Never tell anyone about the presence of the shoes nor disclose where they have been concealed. To do so would immediately reverse their ability to protect you.
7. If you find an old shoe in an out of the way place in your home, do not remove it! The custom is to always keep it intact but then add your own next to it. Remember, the shoe acts as a trap. So if you disturb it then you would be setting the evil free to now plague your family. Simply add your own shoes next to the find and keep the tradition going. Just makes sure you keep it secret.
Interestingly, this practice of concealing shoes as spiritual decoys and spirit traps has been documented not only all over Europe, but also in the U.S. it can be found both in New England and the South. I do not know if Harry Middleton Hyatt ever recorded this or similar practices as I have not personally searched his work for this material. However, I would be shocked if it did not appear in some form. If anyone knows of examples in Hyatt's work then feel free to leave a comment letting me know.