Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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The Alchemy of Dyeing Eggs

Tomorrow's one of my favorite days of the year.

Egg-Dye Sunday.

This year will be our 38th Annual. (Usually it would be the Sunday before the Evenday, but next weekend we've got Paganicon.)

The year was 1980. I'd just blown into town, and Ostara was coming up. I'd been reading about dyeing eggs with natural dyestocks in folklorist Venetia Newall's indispensible An Egg at Easter and wanted to give it a try.

So a small group of us—myself, Knight, Tanith, Volkhvy, and Grog—got together in Tanith's kitchen to give it a try.

We've been doing it every year since. It's the oldest ongoing tradition in the local community that I had a hand in helping to found.

This being the Midwest, of course, we start off with a potluck: in this case, brunch. Then we stoke up the dye-pots—natural dyes are mostly heat-applied—and the annual alchemy begins.

Don't let the steamed-up windows, the smell of vinegar, and the houseful of people all talking at once fool you. This is a massive magical working, most ancient, and of profound power.

Using the roots, leaves, and peelings of last year's growing season, we're bringing up Spring out of the Dark.

The standing joke is, every year on Egg-Dye Sunday we dye 30 dozen eggs (enough for a whole coven), Kay's kitchen, and the snow in the backyard. It's traditional to empty the dye-pots into the snow-drifts in back. (Melting snow is part of the magic.) The effect can be pretty stunning.

One year—I shit you not—the thrown-out dyes actually produced the outline of a bunny riding a broom.

Believe it or not, as you like. I've even got photographic evidence of it around here.

Somewhere.

Well, happy Dye-of-Egg to you, and especially to the Rock River witches, this year dyeing their first eggs together.

If eggs be dyed, can Spring be far behind?

 

You can read more about the natural dyestocks that we use in our coven cookbook,

The Prodea Cookbook: Good Food and Traditions from Paganistan's Oldest Coven.

 

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Photo Credits:

Above: Katie Clapham

Bunny on a Broom: Bruner Soderberg

 

 

 

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Tagged in: Easter eggs eggs
Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.

Comments

  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Saturday, 10 March 2018

    Ham, sweet gherkins, and deviled eggs are the foods I associate with Spring/Easter.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Sunday, 11 March 2018

    ...asparagus, strawberries, deviled eggs, cheesecake....

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