March 20, 2013

Ostara Eggs ~ Symbolism and Crafts


Image Origin Unknown
My personal "favorite time of the year" is a toss-up between spring and fall. The Spring Equinox is celebrated as a time of magic, hope, and new beginnings. The "egg" has long been a symbol of "the seed of life", although it is unclear why we began coloring, decorating and displaying them. I would guess it began as a ritual to give honor and thanks for the blessings and promises unfolding once more. In any case, there are so many ways to decorate eggs and share in this festive time of year!


Making All-Natural Easter Egg Dyes (Free, printable instructions, with additional colors and variations available at Better Homes and Gardens)


Blue: Cut 1/4 head of red cabbage into chunks and add to 4 cups boiling water. Stir in 2 Tablespoons of vinegar and allow to cool to room temperature. Remove cabbage chunks with slotted spoon.
Bluish-Gray: Mix 1 cup frozen blueberries with 1 cup water. Bring to room temperature and remove blueberries.
Lavender: Mix 1 cup grape juice and 1 Tablespoon vinegar.
Dark Pink: Cut 1 medium-sized beet into chunks and add to 4 cups boiling water. Stir in 2 Tablespoons of vinegar and cool to room temperature. Remove chunks of beets.
Rich Yellow: Simmer 4 ounces of chopped carrot tops in 1 1/2 cups water for 15 minutes. Strain and add 2 teaspoons of white vinegar.
Orange: Take the skins of six yellow onions and simmer in 2 cups water for 15 minutes. Strain and add 2 teaspoons of white vinegar.
Jade Green: Peel the skin from 6 red onions and simmer in 2 cups water for 15 minutes. Strain and add 3 teaspoons of white vinegar.
Brown: Add 1 Tablespoon of vinegar to 1 cup strong coffee.

If you lack any of the above ingredients, be sure to check out the color chart using other natural ingredients (located about halfway down the page) at What's Cooking America or on page two of this article from Organic Gardening.

Traditional Color Meanings


White: Purity, birth, virginity, youthfulness
Yellow: Youth, light, purity, happiness, and wisdom
Red: Passion, love, enthusiasm
Orange: Endurance, strength, power
Green: Renewal, freshness, hope, victory of life over death
Brown: Earth
Blue: Sky, symbol of air and good health
Purple: Patience, trust, power
Black: Remembrance, eternity, constancy, and death. (A combination of black and white symbolizes protection from evil and respect for the dead) 


Shapes and Designs (Many shown below are typical of Ukrainian Pysanky, but can be altered or modified to meet your intentions and traditions. This link, from www.pysanky.info, provides a vast resource of shapes, designs and meanings)


Straight Lines: Vertical for life, horizontal for death 
Circles: Relate to the sun and the cycles of life, protection, continuity, and completeness
Triangles: The Trinity; Sun, Moon and Stars, or the Elements of air, fire and water

Diamonds: Knowledge
Suns: The life giving force, fire and warmth, enchantment, prosperity, good fortune
Stars: Purity, life, giver of light, success, knowledge, beauty, elegance, and perfection

Curls: Protection
Spirals: Mystery of life and death, divinity and immortality
Crosses: (Usually equal-armed crosses) representing the four directions, or the four elements Sunflowers: Motherhood, life, love of the Divine
Wheat: Bountiful harvest
Waves: Wealth, rain
Ribbons: The thread of life, or eternity

Horns: Mobility, wisdom, triumph over problems, implying manhood and leadership
Bear paws: A guardian spirit, bravery, wisdom, strength, endurance, the coming of spring
Birds: Messengers of the Sun and heavens, fertility, fulfillment of wishes, good harvest
Roosters: Good fortune, masculinity, coming of the dawn

Hens: Fertility, (hen's feet to offer protection and guidance for the young)
Goose feet: Symbols of soul or spirit
Butterflies: Ascent of the soul, pleasure, frivolity of childhood

Spiders: Patience, artistry, industry, healing, good fortune
Fish: Abundance, sacrifice, regeneration
Pentacles: Elements, Earth, the Divine

Cauldrons: Rebirth, wisdom 

Now for some Fun and Creative Design Ideas

Combine the homemade "Treasure Rocks Coffee Dough" recipe (shown just below) with the "Dragon (or Dinosaur) Eggs" decorating idea (below recipe) to create some really unique "Magical Treasure Eggs".



Image from HomemadeMamas.net

Treasure Rocks Coffee Dough Recipe
2 cups flour
2 cups used, fully-dried coffee grounds
1 cup salt
1/2 cup sand
1 1/2 cups water 
Various tiny toy dinosaurs or dragons, "gems" or "crystals", trinkets, "fortune" messages written on slips of paper, coins, spells, spell ingredients, keys, or any other "treasures" you find appropriate. Perhaps you could make a treasure hunting game out of it for the kids by placing various colors of bingo chips inside. For example, a red chip might win a particular prize at the end of the "hunt", a yellow chip might give a half hour of television time, etc.

Thoroughly mix all dry ingredients and slowly add water (you may not need to use all of it). Mix with your hands until a very "mold-able" dough has formed (you may need to add more flour and sand to achieve optimum consistency). Form into natural looking "rock shapes" or "egg shapes" with the "prizes and treasures" tucked completely inside. Air-dry for several days OR bake in an oven at 150 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes, or until dough is no longer soft.

Dragon Egg (or Dinosaur Egg) Decorating: Carefully glue on various dried beans, split peas, etc. Note, you can glue these onto a regular hard-boiled egg or "blown" eggshell as well.


I could not find "written instructions" for creating these, but the photos (especially here) are quite self-explanatory.

To make the gradual "fade" shown below, let the egg sit in a strong dye solution for a while, gradually add a little more water, let sit, add more water, let sit, etc.

These eggs have been tightly wrapped with various doilies, held tight with rubber bands, before dipping.



The eggs shown here appear to be blown eggshells, dyed and dried, then melted chocolate was carefully poured into one of the holes.

These are edible Rainbow Jell-O Eggs. See the link for instructions to create these colorful treats.



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Inspired by her Native American roots and Bradbury lineage, Polly Taskey is a writer and grandmother in the northern USA.  She shares her wisdom and pagan interests through Pagan by Design and The Moonlit Grove.

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