The Glorious Egg
Please Take a Moment to Consider the Egg
The glorious egg, with its deep links to Creation mythology, is one of the oldest symbols of life and rebirth known.
Have you ever looked, really looked, at an egg? We are used to seeing the egg on our breakfast table, or ready to whisk in a bowl. Once a year we see the egg as made from chocolate and given as a gift for Easter.
But the Egg is much more than that.
It's a symbol of new life in cultures as far apart as Polynesian, Chinese, Phoenician, Egyptian and Greek. Many gods, demons and heroes have sprung from eggs. Look closely at an egg and you will see just what I mean.
Hold an Egg in your Hand
Consider the egg. Hold it in your hand, and study the delicate shell, so fragile and yet so strong.
Think on its weight, its shape, its perfection and totality - all the possibilities of a perfect creation are inherent in the egg. Its very form evokes wonder.
The elliptical shape follows the movement of heavenly bodies and of the earth itself. It describes the sphere of light that surrounds all living things. It declares our common experience in starting our existence in the egg-shape of the womb, both a container and a totality.
You can clearly see the idea of the World Egg. In the beginning, mirrored now in the Moon.
The Cosmic Egg
Many creation myths tell of a cosmic egg containing the seeds of everything, or the possibilities of everything. The hatching of the egg lets the possibilities take form.
The Hindu texts known as the Upanishads describe the creation of the world as the breaking of a cosmic egg.
From the Upanishads
The Egg in Hindu Mythology
Hindu mythology brings us a vivid picture of how the world-egg became the world that we now live in.
There was one, a warm, glowing, single egg. It rocked gently, a crack appeared, and the world was born.
Half the shell became the earth and the other half became the sky. Mountains were created from the inner membrane and clouds from the outer. The veins formed rivers, the fluid became the ocean and the yolk formed the sun.
It makes a kind of sense when you consider the egg.
More Mythological Eggs
Portrayals of winged eggs commonly float above Egyptian mummies, carrying the soul to another birth.
A great bird, Tien, dropped an egg in China and a man emerged from it.
Another egg of note is that of the Phoenix, the bird which dies in flames every 14,000 years after setting its own nest alight. From the resulting ashes, a new egg emerges. From the new egg hatches a new phoenix, which dies in flames ... and so it goes.
Helen of Troy and the Egg
It was said that Helen of Troy was hatched from an egg.
This is due to the lamentable lusty habits of Zeus. On one of his amorous forays he assumed the shape of a swan and dallied with Leda. On the same night Tyndareus, king of Sparta, also made love to her.
Leda produced two children, Castor and Clytemnestra, and two eggs from which hatched Pollux and Helen.
And everybody knows what became of Helen.
It was said that on the birthdays of notable Romans, hens laid red eggs.
Perhaps it was true. Who knows?
The Golden Egg
There's one folkloric egg that we would all like to have. It's a story common to many cultures
The owner of a goose finds that the goose can lay eggs of pure gold and so dissects the bird to extract the gold inside her. The goose turns out to be just the same as any goose inside and, being dead, will no more lay her golden eggs.
This is, of course, a cautionary tale, but eggs were as valuable as gold in an early agricultural society.
No longer does our diet depend on the season and we have forgotten how once we starved for food in winter, and how an egg was an ever increasing and expanding source of valuable protein.
A Beautiful Egg
At Easter we exchange gifts of eggs.
These Easter eggs, the dawn that arrives with resurrection of life, and the celebration of Spring all serve to remind us of the cycle of the earth.
Whatever your religion, consider the egg as the symbol for rebirth, renewal and hope in the world.
Make your own Easter Eggs
40 fantastic decorating projects from kid-friendly sticker-dyed eggs to festive egg garlands and elegant eggshell candleholders. Easy to follow directions
- An egg today is better than a hen tomorrow
- Actions count, not intentions. You may have a heart of gold, but so does a hard-boiled egg
- If you must tread on eggs, do so lightly.
- Unlaid eggs are a long time becoming chickens
- If you want your eggs hatched, sit on them yourself
How about you, do you notice eggs?
Have you ever really looked seriously at an egg?
© 2010 Susanna Duffy