eggs

Retha’s Crystal Reflections

June, 2018

A Beginners Guide to Choosing & Working with Crystal Shapes & Types

 

Crystals & stones come in so many varieties it can be quite overwhelming at first, this is an overview of how to choose the appropriate type for what you want to use your crystal for. Of course you can get creative and improvise, this is meant to help show you some of the options there are and what it all means. Most important when choosing a crystal to work with is how it makes you feel, touch it and get acquainted if you can. If buying online from a picture, spend a minute looking at the photo and observe how it makes you feel when tuning into it. Intuition can really help guide you to the perfect crystal tool for you. And experiment! That’s the fun of crystals! Your experience will be unique to you…there are no wrong choices. 

 

Spheres:

A sphere is a crystal or stone polished and carved into a sphere shape. They come in endless varieties & sizes. The main reason one would choose a sphere shape in particular, is because spheres radiate energy from all sides and in all directions. They are great for the home or on an altar to raise the energy of your space. If you wanted to bring love into your space, you would want a rose quartz or Rhodochrosite sphere for example. Spheres are also great to hold in your hands during meditation. 

 

Generators:

Generators are flat on the bottom and generally have six polished sides. They come to a point mostly but can have a  flat ridge on top too. They have many uses but my favorite use is in crystal gridding. They are perfect as the center point of the grid. You can use generators to direct energy in a certain direction as well, in the same way you would use a wand, as a generator is basically a wand with a flat bottom that can stand upright. Some like to collect generators and make a generator garden, which is simply a grouping of them. I personally have a big generator garden and I love it. Quartz generators in particular are ideal for use in gridding as quartz is the highest vibration crystal there is. 

 

Obelisks:

Obelisks are very similar to generators but instead of having six polished sides, they have four uniform sides. They resemble a tall pyramid. It has a flat square bottom. These are used for display, or used the same way as generators. 

 

Pyramids:

Exactly as it sounds, its a stone carved & polished into the shape of a pyramid and can be a four sided or three sided pyramid. They could be used in the center of a grid, used on an altar or in a space to bring in Egyptian energy, or simply enjoyed for their beauty. Pyramids are a sacred shape.

 

Tumbles:

A rock or crystal that’s been polished into a small to medium size, perfect for so many purposes. I like to carry tumbles in a medicine bag or pouch when I leave my house. Much less hard on the shoulders than traveling with palmstones or specimens! (Take my word on that lol)! Tumbles are also great for using in grids, wearing in your bra. They can be placed in bowls in your home, or can be placed in plants, or in a bag in your car, the sky’s the limit! I like to pick out a few tumbles each morning to travel with me throughout my day. I will hold them in my hand as needed. Its a great way to learn a stone a day if you’re new to crystals.

 

Palmstones/Pillows:

Palmstones are polished stones that are medium to large size that are made to fit into the palm of your hand and are usually an oblong shape. Many prefer to work with them in pairs, holding one in each hand during meditation or crystal healing sessions. Pillows are used the same as palmstones but are round shaped.

 

Worry stones/Thumb stones:

These are smaller polished stones that have a little thumb imprint or indentation in the middle, perfect for rubbing with your thumb when you are anxious or worried. These are excellent for children or people with anxiety. 

 

Hearts:

Stones carved into a heart shape, perfect for raising love vibrations. Many collect these, including myself.

 

Eggs:

Stones carved into egg shape. They are appropriate for representing new beginnings, fertility, the cycle of life, and are often seen at Imbolc on altars.

 

Faceted Meditation Stones:

These are carved and polished crystals with a flat bottom that are perfect for use in Crystal healing and meditations, placing it on the forehead or on chakra points along the body. Also rad for opening yourself up prior to readings or astral travel. 

 

Platonic Solids:

These six shapes are geometric symbols that are visual instruments that can bring our vibrations into harmony with the rhythms of nature. Working with crystals carved into these magical shapes are very powerful, especially when working with them all together. They sell sets of all the platonic solids that come in nice boxes. The platonic solids shapes include: tetrahedron, hexahedron, octahedron, icosohedron,  and dodecahedron. 

 

Points:

Points are the natural, not polished pieces of quartz or other minerals that grow in terminations. They are broken off of clusters or a matrix. Some points have multiple points or terminations. If a point has two points its called a twin, three points a triplet. Points are perfect for gridding and its good to use one for each cardinal direction. Points function as mini wands. 

 

Clusters:

These are a bunch or group of points or terminations on a matrix. Clusters come in all different sizes and shapes. They are stunning display pieces. I like to use clusters for charging jewelry overnight or when I’m not wearing it. Just drape your jewelry on top. You can charge your jewelry with the properties of the cluster its placed on!

 

Pendulums:

Pendulums are used for divination. Some also wear their Pendulums as necklaces. Pendulums are a crystal that is carved with a downward pointing tip that is suspended from a chain. They come in never ending variations and are quite beautiful. Some collect Pendulums. You can use them to get answers to questions with the use of a pendulum mat or board or by learning how it communicates. They will go left to right, up and down or in a circular clockwise or counterclockwise motion. 

 

Carvings:

Crystals or stones can be carved into almost anything. Some common carvings include animals, deities, skulls, angels, chalices, offering bowls, mortar and pestles, boxes, etc. They are fun to collect. 

 

Polished Massage Wands:

These are stones or crystals that are polished into the shape of a wand to be used for either massage, in meditation or in crystal healing or energy work.

 

Single-Terminated Wands:

These are natural or cut and polished points/wands that are used in directing energy, in ritual or in crystal healing. They are often used to make homemade wands and glued to the tips of wood or clay wands for use as a ceremonial wand. 

 

Double-Terminated Wands:

These have a point or termination on both ends, and can be natural or cut and polished into this formation. These are required for use in activation of crystal grids. Also the ideal tool for opening ritual circle or a protective circle or bubbling around yourself or a space. 

 

Crystal Jewelry:

One of my favorite ways to work with the properties of crystals is by wearing them! When looking for crystal jewelry, I recommend getting settings that are open in the back, that allow the crystal to have contact with your skin at all times. This will maximize their effect. They also make little metal cage pendants that allow you to put small crystals or tumbles into it and you can change out the stone as often as you like. If on a budget you can try your hand at wire-wrapping your crystals as well. These can be very simple or quite elaborate depending on your personal preference. 

If you are wanting to bring in prosperity and abundance for example, you would look for jewelry in citrine, pyrite or jade. And I recommend wearing quartz every day, as it will both keep your personal vibration high and amplify the properties of any other crystals you are wearing or working with. You can also program clear quartz to act “as if” it was any other crystal. This is unique to clear quartz. Just remember to unprogram it when you are finished working with it. I wear clear quartz always and it’s my can’t live without crystal for sure. Its a great place to start if you are new to crystals and its very common, readily available and inexpensive. 

I hope this brief overview has helped you to understand the many many different ways you can work with crystals, and how consciously choosing which type or shape of crystal you work with can help to amplify your intentions. Not to mention all the shapes and varieties are beautiful and stunning in a collection or on display!  Have fun and give one of these a try! Follow your intuition and your heart and it will lead you where you are meant to go.

 

Crystal of the Month

Yellow Apatite – THE Manifestation Crystal!

 

When I am doing ANY type of manifestation work or my new moon intentions, I ALWAYS work with yellow or golden apatite. I will pair it with another crystal that is appropriate for the work I’m trying to do. If I’m working on alignment for example, I would pair yellow apatite with blue Kyanite!

Yellow apatite has a hardness of 5 on the MOHS hardness scale and is a calcium phosphate mineral. It’s nae is derived from “to deceive” in Greek, because of it’s ability to look like many other crystals, as it can be blue, green, yellow/gold, brown, or colorless. It comes from Brazil, Burma, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, India, Mexico, Greenland, Canada, and the USA, but the largest known deposit is in Kirovsk, Russia.

Yellow Apatite is a solar plexus chakra stone and is one of the purest crystals of the yellow ray. A stone of strength, mental clarity, and of learning, it enhances confidence and charisma, prosperity and manifestation, of course. It carries the energy of the fire element and is an action stone. Use this when you want to birth a new business venture or creative project.

Create, Manifest and Go Get It!!! This is a vital crystal in everyone’s Crystal Toolbox!

 

I’m so glad you stopped in to read my column and hope you’ll come back next month. Happy Crystal Hunting!

Crystal Blessings! XOXO Retha

 

Resources:

The Crystal Bible– A Definitive Guide to Crystals – by Judy Hall – 2003

The Book of Stones, Revised Edition: Who They Are and What They Teach – by Robert Simmons – 2007

***

About the Author:

Retha N. Lent has been married for 17 years to her husband Mark & they have four cats that are their life. She lives in Norristown, Pa. Retha has her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Behavioral Counseling Sciences from Drexel University. She is the owner ofRetha’s Crystals& sells sterling silver unique crystal jewelry & specimens on her FB business page. She has a FB group for her customers and those interested in learning more about crystals & all things magical called “Retha’s Crystal Circle“. She is also an advisor in the Sage Goddess Affiliate Program. She has her Holistic Healing Certificate and Pillars of Priestessing certificates from Sage Goddess. She is also an Ordained Pagan Minister from the Universal Life Church. Retha has a passion for crystals, nature, astrology, working with moon cycles, ritual practices, tarot and oracle cards, runes, essential oils, herbs, manifestation work, ancient cultures, magic & music. Her favorite place is New Orleans, La. Retha has an extensive personal crystal collection and loves sharing her love of crystals with the world. She has been a practicing pagan since she was 16 years old. 

You can reach her at rethalent@hotmail.com or on her business page on FB: https://www.facebook.com/Rethas-Crystals-197411227666484/

Or in her FB group:

https://m.facebook.com/groups/1960619300929876

Her Sage Goddess affiliate link is:

www.sagegoddess.com/ref/84/

Or follow her on Instagram at @spookygirl16

 

Affairs of the Pagan Heart

April, 2018

Ostara and Eggs

Eggs are an old symbol of new life. With fertilization, care and time, something new comes to life, and what a great opportunity it is to view a wedding as something new. A marriage is born!

The most opulent display for an Ostara wedding ceremony or reception is to make or commission a Fabergé wedding egg. It is a lot of fun to make one yourself, and a great exercise for you and your partner any time, not just at Ostara or Easter.

What you’ll need:

  • eggs (raw); white are best to get the colouring you desire

  • food colouring and jars

  • pencil with a straight pin stuck into the eraser end

  • wax candle

  • paper towels

  • some patience and a bit of creativity

Method:

Choose the colours you want to add to your egg and prepare the dye water. Remember combinations like blue and yellow make green, so you don’t need to prepare a mix of green dye. Are there colours that represent your partnership or colours you want to use at your wedding? Have these ready for a later step.

Select a design. This is where you can get really creative and it forms the basis of the end result. What patterns or symbols do you want to use to represent your union? Maybe you have a symbol or word that you want to include that has meaning to your relationship. Draw it out in pencil on paper first if you’re an inexperienced doodler, then draw it on the egg when you’re ready.

Stick the pin in the end of the pencil and dip the pin head in some melted wax. Trace what you’ve drawn in pencil, and this is where you can be really creative.

When you’re satisfied covering one layer with wax, carefully lower the egg into the dye water for about 15-20 seconds. If it’s not the intensity you want, put it back in the dye water. It could take 10 minutes or more. Then trace some more wax as another layer and lower the egg in another colour for another 15 seconds to see the colours blend and mix. The spots where there is wax won’t get dyed, so keep that in mind when planning your layers and colour combinations.

Remove the egg from the dye water with a spoon between each layer and carefully pat it dry with a clean paper towel.

Removing the wax is a difficult task but is also satisfying to see how it all comes together. Carefully hold the egg near (but not directly over) the candle flame, just close enough to melt the wax that you can carefully wipe off with a clean paper towel. You’ll do this several times as you move the egg around to get all the wax off.

You’re done at this point, and your egg is beautiful. Or maybe you want to repeat the steps to add some more. The choice is yours!

For more in-depth descriptions of these steps and a wide variety of tips and tricks, visit http://www.instructables.com/id/Pysanky-Ukrainian-Egg-Dying

Be sure to poke a small hole in both ends of the egg when you’re done and blow out the contents. It would be bad enough if your egg cracked or smashed, but the smell of the rotting contents would make the situation even worse. However, once a hole is poked, you can add a thin ribbon to it and make it an ornament, an activity you could also do for Yule or other sabbats.

***

About the Author:

Rev. Rachel U Young is a pagan based in Toronto, Canada. She is a licensed Wedding Officiant and under the name NamasteFreund she makes handfasting cords and other ceremonial accessories.

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

March, 2018

Egg Spells

Merry meet.

Eggs are one of Ostara’s most prevalent associations. Like all seeds, it contains the promise of a new life. It is a potent symbol of fertility because it contains the power to become something: a chicken, a turtle, a bird, a fish. Eggs are a symbol of abundance, prosperity and the rebirth of nature. In some traditions, the entire universe is portrayed as an egg. That makes them very magickal.

At Ostara, the Wheel of the Year is perfectly balanced. Day and night are of equal length. Masculine and feminine, inner and outer, dark and light are also balanced as the world begins to come alive. Imbolc’s whispered hopes become Ostara’s actions. At this moment, the light defeats the dark. The power is expansive and exuberant.

To harness Ostara energy in a spell, let an egg be the seed that will bring forth your desires. Inscribe it with symbols, pictures or words for abundance, joy, healing, strength, security, laughter or whatever you can imagine and feel yourself possessing. Consider dying the egg in a corresponding color, such as green for abundance, fertility, or eco-magic; and red for will, strength, passion or purification. Yellow corresponds with laughter, thought, travel, communication, happiness, freedom and beginnings; while blue can be used for healing, compassion, love and dreams.

As you decorate the egg, infuse it with the feeling of already having these qualities, of having reached the goal or of having had the wishes come true. Clear your mind and hold the egg as you continue to add your energy to it with breath, song, dance or words, focusing on your desires and their place in your life.

Then, on Ostara night, bury it, perhaps in a garden, as an offering to Mother Earth, and know that as it transforms and feeds the earth, it feeds and transforms what you wish to manifest.

You can also use an egg as a spell bottle of sorts.

First, make holes at both ends of the egg and blow the contents into a small container to be used for recipes. Rinse out the empty shell and let it dry.

Write your spell on a piece of paper small enough that you can roll it up and slip it into the hole at one end of the egg. You might want to include symbols, anoint it with an oil related to your desires and perhaps include corresponding botanicals before rolling it up.

Once it is inside, seal the holes by dripping melted candle wax on them.

Place the egg at the base of a special tree and ask it to guard your workings, adding its strength to yours.

If you have other spells involving eggs, please share on our Facebook page so that we all might benefit from your experience.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

***

About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

SpellCrafting: Spells and Rituals

March, 2015

Fertilizing an Egg

Merry meet!

Eggs are a major theme for Ostara. They represent rebirth, fertility and spring. This spell will fertilize an egg with your intention that then can be placed on your altar, buried or hidden in nature as a gift to the God/dess.

Write your desire, wish or intent on a piece of paper and roll it up tightly. Inflate a small balloon, insert the paper and tie off the balloon.

Craft

reprinted with permission from Amy Anderson from her blog

With a sponge brush, apply Mod Podge to the balloon. Tie one end of a ball of yarn or string to the knot of the ballon, then wrap the balloon, turning as you do, so that the string encircles the ballon from all angles. Dab a generous amount of Mod Podge over the string, soaking it well.

Let the string dry for 24 hours. Pop the balloon and remove the pieces. You will be left holding a string egg containing your intention. Know that that egg contains all the nutrients and ingredients necessary for that desire to manifest. Feel what it feels like to have attained that desire. When you look at the egg, enhance its energy by re-experiencing that feeling.

A similar spell would be appropriate for new moons as well.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

Witchcrafting: Crafts for Witches

March, 2014

 

“Egg”ads!

 

Merry meet.

 

I am calling this column Witchcrafting because it’s going to be about crafts connected to the Craft.

 

Since Ostara occurs March 20 or 21, depending on your location, this first column will be about a key symbol: eggs.

 

The egg – as well as all seeds – contains the promise of new life. It is a potent symbol of fertility because it contains the power to become something: a bird, a plant, a turtle, a tree. Eggs are a symbol of possibilities, wishes, abundance and prosperity.

On Ostara, they are used as decorations, for offerings, as food and in magic.

I tend to work with hardboiled eggs and colors from nature like turmeric for yellow, red cabbage for blue and beets for pink. Grass or spinach is said to yield green; red wine supposedly produces a deep purple color; and red onion skins, red. Give yourself permission to experiment.

 

Eggs – real, wooden or plastic – can be decorated with symbols, words or designs using Sharpies, stickers or any of a dozen other methods. Perhaps label them with intentions, goals and desires that you want to hatch. Let your imagination soar. Remember, it’s all about intent, not about being beautiful enough for a magazine spread.

 

If the eggs are real (raw or hardboiled), they can be planted in the ground as part of a ritual and become an offering that will eventually be transformed by the earth.

Last year, I saved carefully cracked egg shells and poked a small hole in the bottom of each. In circle, we filled them with dirt, infused seeds with our intentions and planted them in the egg. An egg carton neatly held them on the windowsill as they grew. When it’s time to move them to the garden, crush the shell and either remove it or place it in the ground with the plant.

 

Shells that have had the egg blown out of them can be used to make a wreath. You might consider writing what you would like to manifest on small slips of paper, and then rolling one up tight and inserting it into the eggshell. Keep it on your altar while you give yourself permission to have the desire, and be amazed at the ways the Goddess grants you your wish. (Remember to be careful what you wish for.)

 

Candles can also be made in egg shells. For a wick, try using a birthday candle that has been cut short to fit. Egg cups become candle sticks.

 

For more options, a trip to almost any store will yield a variety of egg-shaped candies such as malted milk speckled eggs and individually-wrapped chocolate eggs. Sugar-coated almonds and jelly beans – even peanut M&M’s – come in a variety of colors and serve as respectable substitutes for eggs.

 

I like to put eggs in birds’ nests. If you don’t have a nest from nature, one can be made from shredded brown paper bags. Cover a small bowl with plastic wrap. In another bowl, mix equal parts clear glue and water. Dip handfuls of the shredded paper into the glue mixture and cover the bowl with them. Finish by pressing dry pieces of shredded paper to the outside. Let sit for 12 hours before pulling the plastic wrap off bowl and separating it from the nest of paper.

I’ve also made nests by just forming a hunk of Spanish moss by hand, pushing aside the middle. More elaborate ones can be made by twisting natural twine around ropes of the moss. You can make a mold by turning over a bowl and wrapping tin foil around the bottom. Hot glue the moss to the outside, remove the bowl and carefully hot glue more to the inside.

 

Every Easter, my grandmother made braided rings of Sicilian sweet bread into which she put colored eggs (that cooked during baking) secured with a strip of dough. She also made more elaborate baskets when we were very young. I have seen similar recipes and am thinking about using ropes of the sweet dough to make nests for Ostara.

 

For an easier edible nest, you can make Rice Krispie Treats – substituting chow mein noodles for the cereal – and pressing them into large muffin tins or custard dishes, leaving the center open. One tip I read for handling the messy mixture is to work with your hands inside lightly greased plastic baggies.

I have seen recipes for making nests from shredded phyllo pastry, and a suggestion to use the vermicelli that comes packaged in the shape of a nest, brushing them with honey and melted butter before eating.

 

I think if I had an edible nest, I’d place a few candy eggs inside and use it for cakes and ale.

 

Merry part.

And merry meet again.

Ask Your Mama

April, 2010

Are you cyclically confused? In a ceremonial quandary? Completely clueless? Wonder no more.

*Ask Your Mama

The What, When, Where, Why, How, and Who of

Ceremony & Spirituality

by

©Mama Donna Henes, Urban Shaman

A Question of Egg Balancing

Dear Mama Donna,

First let me say that I have great respect and gratitude for the work

that you do. As a long time organizer in the neo-pagan community I have followed your activities with pleasure in the media through the years. But there’s one thing that really irks me; this spring equinox egg balancing hoax.

The fact is that it is no easier or harder to balance an egg on its end

on any day of the year, and your promotion of such a vacuous myth is

impossible for me to understand. This pseudo-science ‘eggsperiment’ is now regularly dis-proven by grade school students to show them the difference between delusion and knowledge. Why is a smart, strong, adult woman doing this?

Please don’t take this as an attack, but seeing you promote such a blatantly untrue and irrational belief as the egg hoax is baffling to me. It robs you and those of us with similar spiritual leanings of credibility.

Practicing Pagan in New York

Dear Practicing,

Well, we could argue about whether or not you can stand an egg up at any time of the day, week, month, year, but this is beside the point of my egg events. What is truly important to me is that thousands of people make it their business year after year to attend to the shift of a season, to actively participate in a planetary rite of passage and to share this cosmic experience in sincere communion.

Standing an egg at other times may work mechanistically, but stood at the first moment of spring, the egg becomes the clear, rightful, recognizable symbol of a new season, the birth of new life. Eggs On End: Standing On Ceremony is every bit a traditional vernal fertility rite. A popular, contemporary celebration of the return of green and growth and light after the dark winter.

The event itself is astonishingly simple. An orange laundry basket that contains 360 eggs is passed among the crowd. We all hold them up in the air together, pledging to walk on the earth as if we were walking on eggs. Promising anew, in honor of the season, to protect our fragile yet resilient planet home.  We count down the minutes to the equinox. And when the time is right, we stand our eggs in unison in salute to spring. No matter how many people attend, the real event is always each single person feeling for themselves what gravity and balance and equilibrium might mean.

Standing an egg on its end, feeling it as the yolk shifts inside to find its perfect point of balance, is like holding the entire universe in the palm of your hand. The excitement is profound and never, it seems, forgotten. I receive notes, clippings, testimonials, feedback and photos from folks from all over, who have attempted to stand up eggs either as a participant at one of my events, or alone, with friends, family, or with the entire television viewing audience. They send pictures of eggs standing on book shelves, kitchen tables, school rooms, driveways, even on a boat in the Caribbean. Eggs with kids, with astronomers, with physicists, with news anchors, with pet cats. This widespread celebration of the equinox, of the earth, of the universe and each other is what really counts.

By noting the especially energetic times of the equinoxes, solstices and other Celestially Auspicious Occasions, we associate ourselves as participants in the planetary cycles of our solar system — the seasons of the year and the seasons of our lives. It is immaterial whether or not the egg can stand at any other time. The important thing is to recognize the symbol, the season, the sky, and the kindred souls who surround us.

Yours in the spirit of balance,

xxMama Donna

*Are you cyclically confused? In a ceremonial quandary? Completely clueless? Wonder no more. *Send your questions about seasons, cycles, celebrations, ceremonies and spirit to Mama Donna at: CityShaman@aol.com

Donna Henes is an internationally renowned urban shaman, ritual expert, award-winning author, popular speaker and workshop leader whose joyful celebrations of celestial events have introduced ancient traditional rituals and contemporary ceremonies to millions of people in more than 100 cities since 1972. She has published four books, a CD, an acclaimed Ezine and writes for The Huffington Post and UPI Religion and Spirituality Forum. Mama Donna, as she is affectionately called, maintains a ceremonial center, spirit shop, ritual practice and consultancy in Exotic Brooklyn, NY where she works with individuals, groups, institutions, municipalities and corporations to create meaningful ceremonies for every imaginable occasion.

www.DonnaHenes.net

www.TheQueenOfMySelf.com

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donna_Henes

Watch her videos:

http://www.youtube.com/user/MamaDonnaHenes

Follow her on Twitter:

http://twitter.com/queenmamadonna

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Let’s Spell Out

March, 2010

Eostre’s Eggs of Ostara

Eostre’s Day: Ostara

Ostara is the pregnant phase of the fertile season.  This is due to the fact that animals are either giving birth or are going through their sexually receptive or estrus period (named after the goddess Eostre).  Because of this, the egg is a prevalent symbol of the Spring Equinox and the theme of birth, life, death and life renewed.

Eggs and those that lay them are harbingers of Spring and the fertile season to come.  For instance, schoolchildren are taught that the sight of a Robin is a sure sign that Spring has actually sprung.  The turquoise-shelled eggs of the Robin have since become such a symbol; the Earth Goddess and the Sun God are back from such a long winter.

The Eostre/Astarte Connection

Eostre is the German goddess of the Spring and dawn and eggs are a predominant symbol for the Rites of Spring.  They are decorated, exchanged, buried or ritually eaten to symbolize the rebirth of Springtime as well as the union with the gods of Spring.  The egg has been a symbol of renewal around the world.

The egg was so special to the Celts that the Druids adopted it as the sacred emblem of the order.  The Hindus have a tale of golden world-egg. The sacred egg of Japan is of a brazen color.  The Chinese paint eggs for their sacred festivals. The Greeks consecrated an egg in a nocturnal ceremony during the Dionysiaca (the mysteries of Bacchus).

To the peoples of Egypt and Syria a great goddess was born form an egg on wondrous size: Astarte.  This egg fell from the heaven and landed in the Euphrates River.  Fish gathered together to push the egg to the riverbank so doves could sit on it and hatch it.  Venus, who later came to be called Astarte by the Syrians was born form this egg.  Astarte, who also lent her name to Easter, took the egg as one of her symbols.  This Mystic Egg had two meanings; one was the “mundane egg”, meaning the egg of the world or the world’s inhabitants.  The other meaning was used by the Church in reference to the ark of the great flood.  In this egg, or ark, the earth’s inhabitants were like a chick enclosed within the shell waiting to be safely hatched.  In the Hebrew language, the egg is called Baitz (masculine) or Baitza (feminine).  In the languages of the Chaldean and the Phoenicians, the word is Baith or Baitha, also meaning “house”.  The Church adopted this mystic egg and the doves of the goddess Astarte along with her name for the purposes of Christ’s resurrection.  They even created a prayer to be used: “Bless, O Lord, we beseech thee, this thy creature of eggs, that is may become a wholesome sustenance unto thy servants, eating it in remembrance of our lord Jesus Christ”.

The Easter/Ostara Connection

Like other Pagan festivals from around the globe, the Spring Equinox celebration was also Christianized.  Yule was used to commemorate Christ’s’ birth and the Vernal Equinox, or Ostara as we now call it, or Easter as the Christians call it, was used to celebrate his resurrection.  At the end of the Middle Ages the day was named Easter after the goddesses Astarte and Eostre.  The day was also given a formula so that it would coincide but not directly fall upon the Vernal Equinox.  Easter Sunday is chosen by an ancient Moon calendar; the fist Sunday after the first Full Moon either on or immediately following the Vernal Equinox.

Why All the Fuss About Eggs Anyway?

The Vernal Equinox is a balance of light and dark because the sun crosses the celestial equator on this day.  Because of the time of the year that they are available and the yolk inside, eggs are symbolic of the Sun and also sacred to such deities as Vulcan and Helios.  Today we can buy eggs at any grocery store any time of the year, but this was not the case for our Pagan ancestors.  Foods were seasonal and eggs were no exception.  The retina of a hen’s eyes need more than twelve hours of light stimulation for the hen to lay eggs.  The retina is the part of the eye that captures both light an images and when the retina ceases to get enough light stimulation, she stops laying eggs for that year.  Fire was not a strong enough light source to fool the hen’s eye so humans only had eggs for one half of the year; starting to lay eggs at the Vernal Equinox and ceasing Autumnal Equinox.  The Vernal Equinox is a celebration of life renewed while the Autumnal Equinox is associated with such themes as death and dying.  Therefore, as the world bloomed and greened, the egg became a natural symbol for renewed life.

The Origin of the Easter Bunny

It is so common these days, you find it everywhere; pastel colored baskets, fake grass and plastic eggs or dye kits.  But where do Easter Baskets and the Easter Bunny come from anyway?  What do they have to do with Christ dying and rising form the dead?

The answer is really nothing; it is yet another Pagan practice that has been adopted by  and added to the new religion.  The root of the Easter Bunny and the Easter Basket is actually in Eostre, the Pagan goddess for which the holiday Ostara is named.

The basket that the Easter Bunny uses to deliver the eggs and treats to children is steeped in Pagan symbolism as well.  The very first baskets that mankind used may have been inspired by nature; watching birds weaving their nests.  The basket is also symbol of life renewed at Spring.  It is a form of the chalice or cauldron; the fertile womb of the Mother Earth Goddess where male and female meets and unites to create new life.  The Hare or Easter Bunny is also a symbol of rebirth (resurrection) and was the sacred totem of many Moon goddesses including Eostre.

As the story goes, the Easter Bunny came to be from one hare in particular.  He wanted to give a gift to the Goddess, but what could a hare give to a Goddess?  After all, she can have anything that she could ever want, right?  But, one day while foraging around for something to eat other than dried grasses; the hare came across a fresh egg.  Hungry, the hare wanted to eat it, but thought better of it so he could give it to the Goddess instead.  The hare decided to make this egg extra special so it would be fit for a Goddess and began to decorate it in symbols and colors of the woods and fields that Eostre’s animals lived in.  Once he felt is was a fit offering, he gave it to Eostre and she was so pleased with this offering that she wanted all of her human children to enjoy it as well.  Since then, that hare’s descendants, Eostre’s Bunnies, or rather Easter Bunnies, have been given the task of delivering treats and decorated eggs to children at springtime.

Egg Decorating: Pysanky

The art of Pysanky is Ukrainian egg decorating that is both beautiful and magickal at the same time.  During the Vernal Equinox, also called Ostara, these naturally dyed eggs are placed in either baskets or bowls after being magickally inscribed so they can be used within the home or to be given away.  Depending upon the designs the Pysanky are powerful amulets for prosperity, fertility or protection.  Their creation is ancient tradition that once was practice solely by women.

The Pysanky also protected the Ukrainian people from a monster that if not kept chained, would devour the entire world.  The monster strains and pulls on the chains throughout the year which weakens the links.  The only thing that keeps him from getting loose is how many Pysanky are created and exchanged during the Vernal Equinox.  The more Pysanky, the stronger the chains.

It wasn’t until 988 CE that the Ukraine accepted Christianity as the official religion.  As in other areas of the world, the people refused to give up their Pagan practices easily.  Eventually, the Church had to assimilate these practices, including the art of Pysanky.  The eggs became known as “Eastern Eggs”, named after Pagan goddess Eostre.  The ancient pagan symbols were reinterpreted and Christian symbols like crosses, steeples and fish from the New Religion were added in.  And the monster that had to be kept chained by the strength of the Pysanky was reinterpreted as well.  No longer did it stand for the need of balance and harmony.  It now represented the Church’s view of the struggle of good over evil.

To create your own Pysanky, you need dye (see below for ideas to create your own dye), a tool called a kitska and beeswax.  A kitska has a pencil-like handle with a tiny metal cup at the end that holds the beeswax but disperses it through a narrow opening.  After the beeswax is poured into the metal cup, it is held over a candle flame to melt the wax.  The wax is used similarly to the method of batik and the kitska is used to draw the design onto the egg.

The word Pysanky is a derivative of the root word “pysati” which means “to write” because signs and symbols are written on the egg’s surface for magickal purposes.  Depending on your purpose you can combine various symbols and colors, creating a powerful talisman that like a fingerprint, no two are alike.  To begin, decide if you are going to use animals, vegetables, geometric shapes or a combination of all three.  For fertility, a man would have been given a Pysanky with a rooster and his wife might have received a Pysanky with eggs drawn upon it.  To protect the home from fire, water designs in shades of blue were drawn on the Pysanky.  For a bountiful harvest, a Pysanky might have wheat inscribed on it.  Curls and spirals were used to bestow divine protection upon the owner of the Pysanky where dots and small circles represented stars which bestowed good luck and success.

If you are not sure where to start, go with the tried and true method of using encircling bands. These represent the birth-life-death-rebirth cycle and where two bands intersect, you create a solar cross which represents the union of opposing forces like spirit and matter or God and Goddess.  Within these bands are geometric designs which also have symbolism; triangles represent the Triple Goddess, squares symbolize the element of Earth, ladders represent the various worlds of planes or even the planes within planes, rakes were used for agriculture and the Sun was represented by either pinwheels (feminine)or eight-pointed stars (masculine, the eight solar Sabbats).  Sometimes the shapes are filled with a cross-hatch of intersecting lines that resembles netting which also represent the solar cross.  Sometimes the symbols are repeated within a band, like triangles which were called “wolf’s teeth” which transformed the egg into a Pysanky of protection, wisdom and strength.  Sometimes the lines and not straight but instead meander.  These usually mean one of two things; fire or water, dependant upon which color you use for the line.

After a design is decided on and the wax is ready, the next step is to begin dying the egg to transform it in the Pysanky.  The dyes for Pysanky are transparent, so you will need to begin with the lightest color and work you way up to the darkest.  For instance, you would work your way through the color spectrum of yellow, then orange, followed by red, then brown, followed by purple or black.  Let’s say you started with yellow; any part of your design that you wish to remain yellow would need to be waxed before moving on to the orange dye.  Then, you would simply repeat this process until you have gone through all of the colors that are in your design.

Once dying is complete, set your oven to about 200 degrees.  Place your egg(s) inside with the oven door cracked slightly and keep watch until the egg(s) look wet.  At this point, the egg(s) can be rubbed with a paper towel to remove the wax and reveal your intricate design.  If you wish, you can finish your egg(s) with glossy varnish.

Like the people of Pagan Ukraine, you can either exchange, give away or keep your Pysanky, depending on your design and what it’s for.  Pysanky with protective symbolism were kept in the home as amulets of protection and proudly displayed throughout the year, not just used as a seasonal decoration.  Because eggs are symbolic of the birth-life-death-rebirth cycle, Pysanky are powerful amulets that help maintain the balance between the light half of the year (starting on the Vernal Equinox) and the dark half of the year (beginning with the Autumnal Equinox).

Egg Decorating: Colors

Today we have commercially dye kits, but it is possible to use the methods of our Pagan ancestors to achieve the same results.  Yellow onion skins will yield a yellow color, a single red onion skin will produce a soft orange and deep rust comes from a handful of onion skins.  Use beet juice to achieve a pink hue.  For a shade of blue; use blueberries for a light blue and red cabbage leaves for a robin’s egg blue.  A half-teaspoon of turmeric produce a sunshine yellow, blackberries will give you lavender, carrots for orange and for the color green use wither spinach or kale.  Additionally, you can use white grapes for a pale yellow, vanilla extract for a yellow-orange, daffodil blossoms for a yellow-green, dandelions for orange, orris root for a rusty-orange, paprika for a brownish-orange, heather for pink, madder root for red, bracken for green, iris blossoms for a pinkish-blue, mulberries for a blue-violet and cayenne for rust.

How can you choose which colors to dye your eggs?  That depends on which symbolism you wish to represent.  For instance, in Asia red-colored eggs are offered at events such as births and funerals due to their connection to birth-life-death-rebirth cycle.  Use yellow to represent the sun, intellect and communication.  Orange is another Sun color that is connected to the third chakra and friendship.  Red is the color of the blood of the Mother Earth Goddess, from which all things are born (the Greek Orthodox Church adopted using red eggs in their Easter Eve service and the Druids had a similar practice).  Another Mother Earth color, green is the color of Spring, Summer and prosperity.  Blue is a color of the Maiden Goddess, peace and healing.  The color of the Crown Chakra, violet is connected to Spirit.  White is an all-purpose color and can substitute for any other color in a pinch.  Brown is the color of the element of Earth and its animals.  The color of the Crone Goddess in Western thinking, black is actually the color of life in Eastern cultures.  For romantic love, use the pastel or “spring” pink.  For the Moon Goddess use silver.  For solar deities or wealth, use gold.

The Easter Egg Hunt

It is thought that the first “Egg Hunts” were done by the hunter-gatherers in the Spring after the sparse Winter.

Keeping with the theme of life renewed, hunting for hidden eggs in India and Asia at springtime was commonplace thousands of years ago.  These cultures believed that each individual was responsible for their own actions and that each of us must find their own path.  Because of their belief in reincarnation and that connection to the egg, the egg-hunt was a time to think about the karmic balance of right and wrong as well as how to improve their position in their next lifetime.  In the eastern culture, the egg hunt represented the soul’s quest for renewal, striving for perfection and ultimately uniting with the Divine.

To the north, those living in the Scandinavian and German regions had a practice offering eggs to the Goddess at Springtime in exchange for a boon.  The Teutons placed eggs under human beds or animal dwellings and in the fields to encourage fertility and abundance (modern-day Pagans still use this practice when tending their magickal gardens).  But, after the rise of Christianity and Pagan practices made illegal, these offerings had to be placed so that only the Goddess could find them.  The authorities were ones who instigated the “egg hunt” and over time it became a children’s game.

It wasn’t until President Abraham Lincoln ordered what we now call the Easter Egg Hunt that this practice came to be commonplace.  In the middle of the Civil War, the Spring of 1862, Lincoln invited the children of Washington DC to come to the White House lawn on Easter morning to search for eggs and popular treats.

Egg Magick & divination

Eggs have been used for magickal purposes because in Metaphysics and Alchemy, they contain all five of the elements of magick; Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit.  The outer shell is representative of Earth, the egg-white represents Water, Air is represented by the membrane that connects the white to the shell, the yellow yolk represents fire and Spirit is represented by the embryo.  Because of this, a simple egg is symbolic of beginnings and endings, birth and rebirth, fertility and death, creativity and stagnation, endless possibilities.  The egg also has planetary associations; the Moon is found in the egg-white and the Sun is found in the Yolk.

The Great Cosmic Egg is a concept that has been passed down fro thousands of years.  For instance the Egyptians had a goose god called Gengenwar and he was given the job of keeping the Greta Cosmic Egg (from which all life sprang) safe.

Adder’s Tongue Spell

The pan-Celts had form of a necklace called the “Adder’s Tongue” (called “ouion anguinum” in Gaulish) which was both a protection amulet as well as a sort of telephone to the spirit world.  Usually made form a snake or adder’s egg (sometimes substituted with a black stone or a seashell), it was worn at the neck by a leather thong.

You can create a modern-day version of the Adder’s Tongue.  Don’t worry if you are fresh out of adder’s egg in you magickal pantry.  You can make a trip to your local arts-and-crafts-store to find what you need.  This time of year, you might even be able to find a bead or a charm in the shape of an egg.  But if not, you may find something that would make a good substitute.  If yours not into having and egg hanging form your neck, perhaps you would like to go with a seashell or a black stone substitution.  Or, you may be able to find a black stone that will rest atop of a shell, that would very nice and no one would have to know that you are wearing a magickal talisman that you created yourself!

Whichever you choose to hang from the leather thong, the next step is to find that part of the necklace.  You may wish to buy this at the   arts-and-crafts-store as well, but you could always buy a pack of leather shoestrings because those will definitely hold up to wear-and-tear.

So, will your Adder’s Tongue necklace be one of protection or one to wear to connect to the Divine?  Perhaps you would like it to serve as both?  Then you can alternate using the following two chants.  Whichever you decide, while you are crafting your necklace, make sure to chant with magickal intent.

Protection From Harm

“Today I create an Adder’s Tongue,

To serve me as a talisman;

This necklace will protect me,

With harm to none, so mote it be.”

Psychic Connection to the Divine

“Today I create an Adder’s Tongue,

To serve me as a talisman;

With it, I connect to Divinity,

With harm to none, so mote it be.”

Here are many more ways that you can use the eggs that are most likely already in your refrigerator:

  • Eggs aren’t just for breakfast and Egg Nog isn’t just for Yule (or Christmas).  Egg drinks and dishes are a popular Spring Equinox treat.  The word “nog” comes from an Old English root word that means “a strong ale”.  It has nothing to do with any particular time of the year, so if you wish to add it to you Ostara celebration, feel free to do so.
  • After been painted with magickal symbols, eggs were either thrown into fires or buried into the soil as an offering to the Mother Earth Goddess.  Sometimes the eggs were painted in the colors of the sun like yellow or gold and then used in rituals to honor the Father Sun God.
  • Eggs can be used to help magickally bring about wishes and desires as they represent surprises and new beginnings.
  • Eggs are buried near cemeteries to instigate reincarnation in places such as the southern Appalachian Mountains and in west-central Africa.
  • Ruled by the element of Water, eggs are a food that is ritually eaten at Ostara to celebrate the return of the Sun and the season of plenty.  This ancient tradition has survived until today including that of an Italian tradition.  Colored hard-boiled eggs are baked into braided bread-nests that look like a wreath or a basket.
  • Springtime (Ostara and Bealtaine) are a perfect time for initiation and eggs are a perfect symbol for the ritual.
  • Springtime is also a time of fertility.  Place a raw egg on your altar as a representation.
  • Also for your altar, a fresh, raw egg can be used as a non-living sacrifice given to the gods.
  • Have you seen trees or bushes in people’s yards decorated with pastel plastic Easter Eggs?  Well, this custom, like so many others has Pagan origins, too.  It originated as the Egg Tree, a form of protection in the Ozarks.  A small and dead bush was chosen, preferably one that was close to the home, and the branches were trimmed down.  Eggshells were emptied by blowing the contents out and then tied to the branches with ribbons.  Over the years, the “tree” would be completely covered with as few as dozens or as many as hundreds of eggshells.
  • In the Tattwas system, the predominantly used symbol for the element of Spirit is that of a black egg-shaped oval.  It represents the birth of the soul as there are may Pagan creation myths that involve the world being born from an egg.  It also represents the re-birth of the souls as eggs are a metaphor for reincarnation.
  • Called oomantia, ovamancy or ooscopy, the ancient art of divination by the use the eggs has been used by nearly every culture to such things as determine the sex of an unborn child or to determine is a person or animal has been afflicted by the Evil Eye.
  • Another practice that surpasses cultures is that of using eggs for the purposes of healing.  Our Pagan ancestors used an unfertilized egg from a black hen.  Nowadays, we have no idea what color the hen was that laid the egg that comes in a container from the grocery store, so you can easily substitute with a brown egg or even a white egg.

Sources:

  • Celtic Myth & Magick: Harnessing the Power of the Gods and Goddesses by Edain McCoy
  • Dancing With the Sun: Celebrating the Seasons of Life by Yasmine Galenorn
  • House Magic: The Good Witch’s Guide to Bringing Grace to Your Space by Ariana
  • Making Magick: What it is and how it works by Edain McCoy
  • Ostara: Customs, Spells & Rituals for the Rites of Spring by Edain McCoy
  • Sticks, Stones, Roots & Bones: Hoodoo, Mojo & Conjuring with Herbs by Stephanie Rose Bird
  • Teen Witch: Wicca For a New Generation by Silver RavenWolf
  • The Two Babylons: or the Papal Worship Proved to be the Worship of Nimrod and His Wife by the Late Rev. Alexander Hislop
  • Wheel of the Year: Living the Magical Life by Pauline Campanelli
  • The Wicca Cookbook: recipes, Ritual and Lore by Jamie Wood and Tara Seefeldt
  • Wicca Craft: The Modern Witch’s Book of Herbs, Magick and Dreams by Gerina Dunwich
  • The Wicca Handbook by Eileen Holland
  • The Wiccan Book of Ceremonies and Ritual by Patricia Telesco
  • The Wicca Spellbook: A Witch’s Collection of Wiccan Spells, Potions and recipes by Gerina Dunwich
  • The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca and Neo-Paganism by Raymond Buckland
  • A Witches Bible Compleat by Janet and Stewart Farrar

PaganDad

March, 2009

Spring is nearly here, the cold weather is beginning to wane and the showers of Spring will soon begin to fall. A short time after all that the plants will begin to bloom and the trees to turn green again. The animals will awaken and go out to forage and look for new food to fill their bellies empty from a long winter hibernating.

For me and my family this month has also been a time of rest and renewal. With nearly two months between Sabbats, we can take a break and turn our focus onto resting and preparing for the work of the coming season.

Soon we will be planting our garden and we will take this opportunity to teach our children about the importance of hard work, perseverance and patience.

Hard work because planting and digging is not always easy to do. Although my youngest seems to enjoy it. I think it is the playing in the dirt thing.

Perseverance because they have to take it on faith that the work that they are doing now will show rewards in the coming months. Plus, here in Florida, the heat comes early so they get hot quick and tend to want to quit almost as soon as they started.

The final lesson is patience. There is a process to gardening. From preparing the soil and planting the seeds. To the waiting for sprouting and then the cutting back. My children want to do it all right away and at the same time. So I have to hold them back and make them wait for the right time. They get tired of hearing the words, ‘Seeds don’t sprout overnight’.

These lessons are important and are sorely lacking from the rest of the world. We rush and rush in our society. We want it all and we want it yesterday. If we were a little more hardworking and patience and stuck it out to the end, than we would all be better off.

This is also the season of burgeoning fertility. We celebrate, like so many others, by painting eggs. In our Family Coven’s tradition this small act is an act of magick that will aid the Goddess and God in their bringing back the warmth and growth of the Spring. I also tell my kids that Coyote, the trickster steals the eggs and hides them. And so the egg hunt begins.

Of course the hunt also helps to spread the magick around. So my children learn from this that even though things may not always go according to plan and that bad things happen, that in the end they will work out for the best.

So as we go forward from here into Spring and the warmer weather comes take some time to go outside with your children and watch the world begin to waken from their long Winter slumber. Here in Florida one of the most common animals we see are cows with horses being a close second, and I know that in the next few months I will be able to point out the foals and calfs to my children.

And maybe you can pass on some of these lessons of Spring to your kids as well.

Herbal Creations

March, 2009

Crafty Natural Dyed Eggs and Herb Salad with Champagne Dressing

Crafty Natural Dyed Eggs

With Ostara just around the corner, everyone in my house is preparing for the coming spring.  Our yearly routine, after cleaning and clearing is the preparation for the celebration at Ostara.  I decided for this month’s column I’d add my families method of creating Ostara eggs and the herb salad that we serve with lamb.  I always use herb and vegetable dyes for eggs, as I am not about to eat or serve boiled eggs coated in chemicals.  Doing the herb dyes takes quite a lot longer than it does with the variety you buy in the local store. I personally don’t mind the extra time it takes, as I know they’re safe to eat, without any mysterious additives.  I hope you’ll all forgive me for adding some veggies to the dye list, as sadly the eggs can’t be done with herbs alone.  This method requires a bit of preparation and a lot of experimentation, but it’s all great fun.  You’ll need a pan big enough to allow the eggs to roll around in the boiling herb/veggie and water mix.  I always add my herbs first, then the eggs, cover them with enough water to leave about 2 ½ inches above them so they can roll around well.  For each quart of water you add, add about a teaspoon of white vinegar (the vinegar makes the color more bold).  Allow the eggs to come to a rolling boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.   Remove the eggs, and allow them to sit in an egg carton long enough to dry, then decorate with glued-on dried herbs, markers, or similar things.

How to get the color: (Of the list below, you can add a single item or any combination you wish, it’s all experimentation to get the result you desire).

Purple:  crushed violets, purple pansy, geranium, grape juice (frozen concentrate seems to work well), blueberries or blackberries

Yellow: Chamomile tea, goldenrod, dandelion tops, daffodil blossoms, orange or lemon peels, carrot tops (yes I mean the green part), green tea, celery seed, cumin

Red: Hibiscus flowers (I use the tea), red onion skin (you’ll need a good quantity of these, ask in the produce department if they’ll save them for you), pomegranate juice, cranberries, raspberries, fresh beets (cut up, sometimes this produces a more pink color)

Blue: Red Cabbage leaves, liquid grape juice

Green: Spinach leaves (these may take a bit longer than 30 minutes, use your own judgment on the color)

Brown/Tan: I use discarded coffee grounds (about 3 pots worth), black walnut shells and black tea (used tea bags)

Herb Salad with Champagne Dressing
Herb Salad

4 cups baby spinach leaves

1-cup fresh mint leaves

¼ cup fresh parsley

¼ cup fresh basil leaves

Goat cheese (to your personal flavor)

Champagne Dressing for Herb Salad

1 cup of extra virgin olive oil (the best quality mild flavored oil you can get)

¼ cup champagne vinegar

½ cup champagne

A dash of sea salt (to taste)

A dash of freshly ground pepper (to taste)

½ teaspoon of white sugar

Blend all of the above in a blender, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.