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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Naturally Dye Your Easter Eggs - The New York Times


If ever you've wondered why we greet Spring with colored eggs, I can tell you in two words: sympathetic magic.


Spring is When the Eggs Are


In Autumn, the birds fly away. After a long, bird-less Winter, they come back, bearing Spring on their wings. Soon there will be eggs, and the cycle will begin anew.

The chicken got to northern Europe in Roman times. Before that, eggs were a strictly seasonal food. Even in domestic fowl, egg production is photo-dependent: more light means more eggs.

Just when food is starting to run out, behold.


Color, Come Back


Winter, especially here in the frozen North, is the colorless time, when all the world, Heaven and Earth, becomes one vast, undifferentiated whiteness.

Then comes Spring. Spring = color.

Therefore, to bring Spring, you take what was the color of snow, and transform it.


Bridging the Gap


In the old days, we dyed our eggs using vegetable dye-stocks: onionskins, beets, purple cabbage. (Witches still do this.)

Thus do the fruits of one growing season bridge the grinning gap of Winter to herald—and induce—the coming season of growth.

Call it alchemy, transformation. Call it Turning the Wheel.


The Daily Spring


Dawn is the daily Spring, Spring the yearly Dawn.

Just before sunrise, go look East. What do you see there?

Dawn: the eastern sky filled with color; in fact, the very colors that those natural dye-stocks produce. After colorless night, color floods back into the world.

Welcome to the Dawn of the Year.

Last modified on

 How To Dye Eggs Naturally With Onion Skins (Chemical-Free)


48 days from now, on Monday, March 20, 2023, Spring will begin in the Northern Hemisphere at 5:24 p.m. PDT (Paganistani Daylight Time).

If you have not already done so, please begin to save onion skins now, so that by the Equinox you will have amassed sufficient dyestock to dye eggs for your entire household. Remember: every egg dyed brings Spring a little closer.

Non-cooking households may apply to the Ministry of Cultural Affairs for their annual allotment of onion skins. Please apply early, as supplies may be limited.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs



42 years ago, back before Paganistan was even called Paganistan, a few of us got together just before the Vernal Equinox to dye up a few dozen eggs using only natural dyestocks.

We've done the same every year since and, 42 years on, we're still doing it. Since the demise of the Wiccan Church of Minnesota's May Lottery—remind me to to tell you that story some time—it's the oldest ongoing tradition observed in the local pagan community.

1980. I had blown into town the previous year, ostensibly for post-graduate study at the U, but in actuality looking for my People. Knight, Tanith, Volkhvy and I had decided to try putting together a coven. When Ostara rolled around, we got together to dye up a batch of eggs using the natural dyestocks that I'd been reading about in Venetia Newall's magisterial An Egg at Easter. It seemed an appropriately witchy way to welcome in Spring.

That first year, we used just two dyestocks, onionskins and tumeric. (Depending on how you do it, these produce a range of colors from pale yellow to deep Minoan red.) Natural egg-dyes are mostly heat-applied: you throw the dye-stocks into the pot as the eggs are boiling. The results were breathtaking, infinitely more beautiful than the insipid food-color pastels of my youth: rich, gutsy Earth-Mother colors, tribal colors, pagan colors.

(As it turns out, my great grandmother used some of the same dyestocks for her eggs that we do for ours, but I didn't find this out until later. Now there's a pagan parable for you: knowledge lost, knowledge regained.)

So today's the day, Egg-Dye Sunday, one of my favorite days of the year. (Usually it's the Sunday before Ostara, but next weekend some of us will be out at Paganicon 2022 instead. Pagans haven't survived all these years without being flexible.)

The house fills up with people, the tables fill up with food. (It wouldn't be a pagan holiday without a potluck.) The windows steam up; the volume of a house-full of pagans all talking at once is ear-splitting. By the time we've finished, we'll have dyed up scores of dozens of eggs, the kitchen floor, and the snow in the backyard. It's our annual act of collective alchemy, transmuting Winter lead into Summer gold.

Pagans are a young community, and to date, we haven't been very good at building successful institutions. Still, all things considered, 42 years of the All-Natural Pre-Ostara Egg-Dye strikes me as an accomplishment to be proud of.

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