We often see the image of an egg used in many of the festivities celebrated around the world this time of year. Why is that? What has fascinated people throughout the world to place such importance on eggs? What is it about this symbol that draws us to it? There are no easy answers to this question because unfortunately, in today’s intellectually oriented society, a lot of our original connection to this symbol has been lost.
A short study of the world’s ancient beliefs shows that the egg has always had an important place in our myths and religions. The Babylonians believed that the Goddess Astarte came from an egg of wondrous size that fell into the Euphrates River. Brahma dwelt in an egg for a divine year before splitting it and forming heaven and earth. In Egypt, Osiris is born from an egg therefore the egg was sacred to Isis. The Egyptian God Ptah emerged from an egg that came out from the mouth of Amun-Knepth, the true and perfect serpent. In Rome, the mystic egg preceded the parades in honor of the Goddess Roman. The egg was part of the sacred ceremonies of the Mysteries of Bacchus. In China, it was believed that the first being, Pan-gu emerged from a cosmic egg after eons of incubation. The heavy parts (yin) of the egg drifted downwards and formed the earth while the lighter parts (yang) rose to form the sky. A Druid’s Egg was a magical egg produced by serpents which is credited with endowing its possessor with the ability to obtain almost all he might desire.
In the Spring, eggs were used in various folk rituals to improve or protect their crops. In Sweden, eggs were thrown over the field during plowing. In Germany, they were hurled in the air before the sowing began “to ensure that the grain would grow as high.” In both Germany and Czechoslovakia, an egg which was laid on Thursday was taken, colored green for fertility, and buried in the largest wheat field to ask for Thor to protect their crops against springtime hail stones.
Sometimes eggs were decorated to imbue it with even more power. Painted clay eggs (white with black and red stripes) were found in a Germanic cemetery in Worms (ca. 320 CE) as part of a child’s burial goods. Greeks dyed eggs dark red and gave them as gifts. The Hindu fables celebrate their mundane egg as of a golden color. An ancient egg decorating tradition among Ukrainians called Pysanky states that if egg decorating should ever cease, evil in the guise of an ancient, vicious monster chained to a huge cliff, will encompass the world and destroy it.
Symbols have power, especially if you can connect emotionally or spiritually to them. All you have to do is examine your feelings after seeing a swastika to believe that. An allegory is the use of symbolism to convey complex abstract or spiritual idea or to put a “face” on an idea. Symbols can be credited with being our link between the conscious and the unconscious, the mundane and the magical, the spiritual and the physical. The consistent use of a symbol has also been said to cause a great storehouse of wisdom to be collected in the collective unconscious which is sometimes referred to as the Akashic records. So what wisdom might you derive from an egg?
The egg is often used as a symbol representing fertility for obvious reasons. Though I am way past my baby-making years, fertility does not necessarily mean “capable of bearing offspring.” Webster states that fertility also “implies the inherent power of production.” For example, “one whose mind is fertile has resources of thought and a readiness of application which enable him to think and act effectively.” Maybe this symbol can empower your intent to make your life more fertile, your mind more fertile, and your relationships more fertile. Maybe it can help you fertilize some other aspect of your life that needs to be hatched.
Old Mystery schools suggested that the egg symbolized the rebirth of nature in the Spring. The very word “spring” goes back to the Old High German springan which means to jump. So Spring is about action, and in particular, about new life leaping forth once again. This makes the egg, which is the embodiment of new life itself, the perfect symbol of Spring. We might use the symbol of the egg to empower us to begin something new or to completely revitalize something. On March 20th, at the time of the Vernal Equinox at 6:44 AM Central, light and dark will be in balance with the light beginning to get stronger each day. Maybe this is a good time to bring more light into your life also.
The egg can also serve as an archetype for Mother Earth. As we know, the earth is not round, but is rather egg shaped. Like the earth, the egg supports life within by providing everything that it must have to live—food, water and air. Food and water is provided by the protein and water in the yoke and albumen. The shell filters the air keeping out bacteria. As we hold an egg in our hands, we might be well to consider our earth and how amazing but fragile it is. The threats to our natural resources and the atmospheric shield surrounding us are numerous. What can we do to help fight these threats?
Lastly, the egg can be used as an excellent allegory for protection. Peanut M&M’s were used by Selene during a Wicca 101 class that I took to help us visualize a Psychic Shield. Eggs could have been used as well (though it wouldn’t be half as tasty.) Though seemingly fragile, the eggshell is extraordinarily strong. This is sometimes demonstrated in children’s science projects where they determine how many books an egg will support. In general, a large egg has the ability to support about nine pounds on its long axis and seven to eight pounds on its short axis. This amazing strength comes from its dome shape and is replicated in many of the most incredible architectural forms in the world. .
Symbols allow us to conceptualize abstract ideas and connect to our unconscious. While symbols can form a framework of reference, it is of vital importance that we use our own insight in interpreting the messages symbols offer us. One cannot learn the definition of a symbol in an intellectual way – a symbol needs to felt. The world of symbols is an intuitive world. During this Sabbat, maybe you find a place for the power of the incredible, magical egg in your life.