It wasn't intentional but very nearly all of our stories today involve food. Read about the revolution of "cutting meat," the development of the modern Japanese diet, and more in today's Earthy Thursday, our weekly segment on science and Earth-related news! All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!
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While eating lunch one day a girl noticed that, having shelled their hard-boiled eggs, her parents crumpled up the shells before throwing them away. She asked why they did this.
“If you don't, the witches use them for boats,” they explained. At one time this belief was quite widespread throughout Central Europe.
“Witches need boats, just like anyone else,” she replied, and threw her eggshell, uncrumpled, over her left shoulder. A whirlwind caught the shell and whisked it away.
One day the girl was fishing from an island in the middle of a river. Suddenly, due to a heavy downpour upstream, the water began to rise. Before she knew it, her boat was swept away, and soon the rapids were in danger of covering the entire island.
The thing about superstitions is, you just never know.
One of my favorites comes from southern Germany. If you want to find out who the witches in your parish are, when you go to church on Good Friday, slip an Easter egg into your pocket. You'll recognize the witches by three things:
Instead of hats, they'll be wearing milk pails on their heads.
Instead of prayer books, they'll be carrying slabs of pork. (!)
They'll be standing with their backs to the altar.
There are lots of edible, natural dyestocks that can be used to color eggs. Listed below are those with which we've had the most luck over the years.
The results will vary from batch to batch and from year to year, depending on amount of dyestock used, length of cooking time, and various other imponderables, possibly including (who knows?) the phase of the Moon. The colors you get may not be predictable, but they'll certainly be beautiful.
Most natural dyes are heat-applied; realistically, this means that you add the dyestocks while you hard-boil the eggs. Dyeing eggs is, of course, a controlled chemical reaction in which loose radicals in the dyestocks bond with the calcium molecules of the eggshells, and heat facilitates this bonding. As always in the pagan world, it all comes down to relationship.
If I believed in reincarnation, I'd say that it's probably a Long Memory. Since I don't, I can only say that I don't know.
She's old, and something is wrong, badly wrong. That's why the old country woman has come to the city, and is standing here nervously in the crowded street, looking up to the high temple, golden in the morning sunlight, that crowns the top of the hill. She has come to see the Lady, because she needs a favor, and she needs it badly. On her hip she bears her gift: you don't come empty-handed to the Lady, especially when you have a favor to ask. It's a poor woman's offering, a basket of eggs, but she has lovingly painted each one with the brightest colors she can find, to make them beautiful for the goddess.
That's it: as it were, a snapshot from the past. No before, no after. It's a memory, or rather an image, that I've had in my head since early childhood at least, one still frame from a vanished movie.
Tomorrow's one of my favorite days of the year: Egg-Dye Sunday.
We've been doing it every year since 1979 (what they call the Paganolithic). On the Sunday before the Equinox, a whole slew of us get together, stoke up the dye-pots, and (using only the finest natural dyestocks) dye up tens (if not scores) of dozens of eggs.
(With the advent of Paganicon, our local weekend-before-the-equinox Pantheacon North, the egg-dye, like clocks at Daylight Savings, has jumped forward. Old-Stylist that I am, I can't say that I'm best pleased with this turn of events, but the Old Ways haven't survived all these years without staying flexible.)
There is no set date, no temperature, nor is there a light level at which nature in the Northern hemisphere agrees on spring having arrived. It doesn’t help that freak storms and late frosts are always an option. Do you start early and hope to get ahead or hang on a bit longer in the hopes your precious eggs and shoots aren’t frosted to death?
Tree by tree, bird by bird, each individual makes their own choice about when to push forward into this new cycle of living. The choice to live is the risk of death and failure. At this time of year, there is nothing else. Living is a risky business, but wait too long and the opportunity passes, it is summer already and you have nothing to hatch....