The Equniox is right around the corner and I've got eggs on my mind. Two week ago, my hens started laying again, perfect brown eggs. They fill me with such delight. We have them in a chicken tractor and they run about, lie on their sides in the sun like little pancakes and chase each other and unseen bugs and things all day. The nourishment they are able to create our of the bugs and grass, plus compost treats and grain we give them, is astounding. They are truly alchemists. It's almost time to celebrate the burgeoning growing year and bid hello to the wild flowers of Appalachian Spring time. I figured it as good a time as any to talk about Egg magic.
Eggs are used in many traditions for charming, hexing and curing. The Anglo- Saxons and Egyptians both placed eggs in their grave goods as well as on physical grave sites. There is no other symbol of new life so universal and apparent as the egg. Lying in wait to birth whatever being, or magical intention they hold. The tradition of egg dyeing that is quite popular in Easter customs today, most likely comes from Eastern Europe where the arts of Pysanky and Krashanka (two forms of decorated eggs) were born.
A red- dyed Krashanka bound with wheat and hung in a new house soothed disturbed spirits and invited spirit protection.
The shells are dyed many colors to correspond to their uses. Red dyed eggs were thrown into rivers to alert those in the Otherworlds that Spring had come and the Season of the Sun had returned. These were also placed on the graves of loved ones and check the following day for any disturbance. If any was detected, it was made known that their restless spirit was in need of a prayer, offerings or other releasing rituals.
Eggs were also placed under beehives to keep bees from leaving and to ensure good honey crops. When rolled in green oats, the dyed eggs acted as fertility charms when buried in fields as well. You can also write upon an egg any spell or wish you have an bury it in some secret place. As it decays, so does your wish disseminate into the ether.
I'm preparing for Spring by starting seeds and looking to the signs. Some in East Anglia would see if the time was right for planting by removing their trousers and sitting upon the land to feel its warmth. I have laid my own bare bottom on the Earth many times, but never with such a practical purpose! As the sun warms the soil, if possible, get your skin in contact with the soil. Why wouldn’t you want to take off your pants outside!? It sounds like a great time to me.
Still others would walk their land and ‘feel it in their bones’ as to whether or not it was the right time to plant. The lighting of bonfires in or adjacent to planting places with much singing and leaping dances would show the crops to grow tall and strong while the roaring fire would entice the sun to lend its life giving flames. The old beliefs about planting with the waxing moon and weeding with the waning further enliven the process of seed sowing with magic as the moon’s growth stimulates that of the seeds. “As above, so below.” The practice of planting by that signs carried over strongly with German immigrants to the Appalachians, where it surely mixed with First Nations and African beliefs from enslaved peoples, it has become the complex and rich story of living by the signs we have in the mountains today.
Planting By the Moon and Signs
Planting by the signs is an ancient practice going back thousands of years. This form of agricultural astrology is used in biodynamic and old forms of Appalachian farming techniques. The gravitational pull off the moon and planets is said to influence groundwater and its movement through plant bodies. Sometimes the lines between science and magic are blurred. If you'd like to join me in a journey to learn the ins and outs of planting by the signs, I'll be holding a class on it in Barnardsville, NC April 20th. Check it out and may your Rites of Spring bring you joy and may your seeds sown bear fruit.
Wheel of the Year: Living the Magical Life by Dan Campanelli and Pauline Campanelli
The Pattern Under the Plough by George Ewart Evans
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