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Ostara Eggs
The Cottage March/Ostara 2002

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The egg is nature's perfect package. It has, during the span of history, represented mystery, magic, medicine, food and omen. The egg represents the rebirth of the earth. The long, hard winter is over; the earth burst forth and is reborn just as the egg miraculously burst forth with life. The egg, therefore, is believed to have special powers.

It was buried under the foundations of buildings to ward off evil; pregnant young Roman women carried an egg on their persons to foretell the sex of their unborn children; French brides stepped upon an egg before crossing the threshold of their new homes.

It is the universal symbol of Spring celebrations throughout the world and has been dyed, painted, adorned and embellished in the celebration of its special symbolism.
To many Pagans, the golden yolk represents the Sun God, while its white shell is seen as the White Goddess and the egg as a whole represents rebirth.

Traditionally, the eggs were marked with brilliant colors along with various types of bands drawn upon them which represented the cycles of life, death, and rebirth. Other symbols representing the triple Goddess, the Sun, and such shapes as triangles, squares, circles, and dots can usually be found. The drawing of special signs upon a symbolic object as with the eggs is a form of magick, as is done when creating a talisman or amulet.

Long before the Easter bunny, Medieval cooks dyed eggs with natural ingredients and gave them as gifts to celebrate the season. Try dyeing with traditional natural colors, a refreshing alternative to the jarringly bright colors of commercial dyes.

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Natural Dyes

The rich colors of natural dyes can be coaxed from the most unassuming items in your vegetable bin or spice rack. Humble ingredients--such as red cabbage, onion skins, paprika and coffee--can produce understatedly elegant and often unexpected colors when used as dyeing materials.

Dyes
Here are some suggestions to get you started with natural dyes. This amount of dye will color approximately six eggs. The only limitations on experimentation are the contents of your refrigerator, pantry and even your backyard--remember to use edible plants! As with any eggs, be sure to keep dyed eggs refrigerated and don't eat eggs that have been at room temperature for more than two hours.


Orange
Paprika--four tablespoons per quart of water

Blue
Surprisingly, red cabbage--about four cups, shredded, per quart of water

Red
Pomegranate juice in place of water or four cups red onion skins

Pink
Cranberry juice in place of water or four cups shredded beets per quart of water

Green
Spinach (fresh or frozen), four cups per quart of water

Yellow Carrots, white grape juice, turmeric, fenugreek
Red-Violet purple grape juice, red rasberries

Ocher
Onion skins--four cups of the dry outer skins

Mocha
Use one quart of strongly brewed coffee in place of water


How To
There are two ways to color eggs with natural dyes: boiling and cold dipping. Boiling allows dyes to penetrate the eggshell and results in darker, more even colors. The cold-dip method can be better if you want to eat the eggs and safer when children are helping out.

Boil Method:
Place 6-8 eggs in a single layer in a large pot and add enough water to cover eggs by one inch. Add some white vinegar (2 tablespoons per quart of water). Add dye ingredients (up to 4 cups vegetable solids or 3-4 tablespoons of a colorful spice, like paprika or turmeric, per quart of water or replace water with any all-liquid ingredient) and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes. The motion of the eggs in the boiling water ensures that the color will be even on the egg. The resulting egg will be very hard-boiled and inedible, as it picks up the flavor of the dye.

Cold-Dip Method:
Combine dye materials, vinegar and water, in the same proportions as the boil method above, in a large pot. Simmer 20-30 minutes, then strain and cool. Dip hard-boiled eggs in cold dye until desired color is achieved, soaking anywhere from 5 minutes to several hours in the refrigerator. Turn eggs occasionally to ensure even dyeing. Dry on paper towels or in egg cartons.

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Symbolism of Color


White: Purity, birth, virginity, and inocence.

Yellow: Youth, light, purity, happiness an dwisdom

Red: passion, love, enthusiasm

Orange: Endurance, strength, power

Green: Renewal, freshness, hope, victory of life over death

Brown: earth

Blue: Sky, good health derived from air

Purple: patience, trust and power

Black: remeberance, eternity, constancy, death

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Some Symbols to try

Nets and baskets: Containing knowledge, motherhood, giving life and gifts

Ladders: Searching, rising above the petty, ascending

Combs: Putting things in order

Rakes: Successful harvest

Trees: Strength, renewal, creation, organic untiy, growth and eternal life

Leaves: Immortality., eternal or pure love, strength, persistence

Flowers: Beauty, children, fenal principles of wisdom and elegance

Fruit: continuity, good fellowship, strong and loyal love, love of the divine

Sunflowers: Motherhood, life, love the Divine

Wheat: Bountiful Harvest

Stags: Leadership, victory, joy, masculinity

Horses: Wealth, prosperity, endurance, speed and the motion of the Sun

Rams: Leadership, strength, dignity, perseverence.

Birds: All kinds, are messengers of the Sun and the heavens, pushing away evil. Fertility, fulfillment of wishes

Roosters: Good Fortune, masculinity, coming of the dawn

Butterflies: Ascent of the Soul, pleasure and frivolity of childrhoos

Spiders: Patience, artistry, industry, healing and good fortune

Fish: Abundance, sacrifice regnerations

Circles: Protection, everlasting life, continuity, completeness

Traingles: The elements of aiur, fire and water
suns: The life-giving all embracing nature of the God

Tripods: Man, woman, and child. Birth, Life and Death

Stars and Roses: Purity, life, giver of light, the eye of God

Curls: protection

Spirals: Mystery of life and death, divinity and imomortality