At Sunday’s Magical Chat, in discussing magical uses for Easter eggs, we talked about how eggs are used in different shamanic healing techniques, and my idea of how one could enhance such techniques by using eggs dyed in herbs and spices with beneficial qualities. An example was turmeric, which can be used to color eggs, and how in India, both Hindu and Muslim brides as well as babies may be rubbed with turmeric because of its auspicious golden glow. Looking through various sources on natural dyes for Easter eggs, I see that some other substances used to color eggs include beets, red cabbage, red onions, walnut husks, coffee grounds, caraway seed, sage, spinach, marjoram, young beech or wild apple leaves, and cherry or crab apple bark.
Also, I have been looking through my notes on traditional healers, and thought you might enjoy reading about some specific instances where eggs are used. The following comes from “The Mixe of Oaxaca: Religion, Ritual, and Healing,” by Frank J. Lipp. The author had gotten a bit of fright after falling into a ravine on one of his rambles. Because the Mixe (like many traditional peoples) believe fright deranges your energy body with a form of soul loss, he called in a healer. Lipp relates, “Beginning with the most painful area, she then rubbed my head with two eggs. The state of fright is not absorbed by the eggs but ‘taken off’ before it can spread through the body …” [Lipp 178]. The curer afterward buried the two eggs as an offering to the “Night Wind,” which she considered to be the malign spirit that seized his soul on the mountainside where the accident occurred.
This practice of rubbing the body with eggs is very widespread, especially in Latin and Middle Eastern culture areas, as well as South America. In her book, “Woman Who Glows in the Dark: A Curandera Reveals Traditional Aztec Secrets of Physical and Spiritual Health,” Elena Avila explains how she has found the egg useful in her practice of curanderismo: “I have been astonished at how rubbing an egg over someone’s body has helped me to read their energy. This tool has become a doorway that helps me to read peoples’ souls.” (The egg rub is part of the “limpia,” a spiritual revitalization process.) Avila is also able to use the egg in divinatory diagnosis, by breaking the egg and dropping it into a glass of water to “read” it, once the ritual treatment is finished. She says, “What I do at such times is to look at the relationship between the egg yolk, which symbolizes the individual, and the egg white, which represents the energy that does not belong to the client because she has just released it in the ceremony of the five directions.” [Avila 36, 166] Note that Avila uses the term “energy that does not belong to you” as a way of describing intrusive energy forms that others might label as evil spirits.
The next example is more unique, because it involves eating an egg as a way of recovering a lost soul fragment. This comes from Venetia Newall’s “An Egg at Easter,” and the original source is a 1966 National Geographic article by Peter Kunstader, who was working in northern Thailand, and reported a situation where, “a member of the Karen tribe [was] cured of fever when one of his thirty-two souls—which had escaped and so caused the illness—was recaptured inside a hard-boiled egg. Friends called to the soul repeatedly and, when they were able to balance the egg on a small stick stuck in the ground, they knew it had heard and gone inside. The sick man was then given this to eat and made a good recovery” [Newall 109]. This concept of having multiple souls is also very widespread, so dealing with soul loss is something which plays a primary role in shamanic cultures everywhere.
If you’ve ever experienced feelings of disorientation or fragmentation, you could be said to be experiencing a form of soul loss. To perform a little self healing after traumatic incidents have left you feeling a bit “beside yourself,” you could decorate an egg with your name, your birth-date, your astrological symbol, and other symbols that are special to you, then ceremonially eat the egg with the idea that you’re pulling some of your own energies back into your body. This would also be a nice treat for a child who has had a bad day at school, or any of the other number of upsets that children are sensitive to.
Incidentally, the idea of charming the wandering soul fragment into an egg reminds me of Russian fairytales in which a sorcerer hides his heart or spirit in an egg.
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