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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Why Do We Dye Eggs?

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.



Each year, looking at the rich and varied colors of the dozens and dozens of eggs at our annual coven egg-dye, I can't help but ask myself: Why do they delight me so?

But the answer to that question is never very far to seek: there's meaning here, deep meaning.

No, not far at all.








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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.


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