Other Dacian branches
As many know, in the area of the world I come from, the eggs are very important in witchcraft. From the special painted eggs of the spring equinox, decorated with occult symbols (the famous painted eggs of Romania, Bielorussia, Ukraine, Poland, Croatia, Bulgaria, etc) to various uses in spellcraft. From old times, the eggs painted for the spring equinox have each of them a story.
Their preparation involves specific rituals. Each color or pattern or symbol used to decorate the egg is meant to work for a specific purpose that egg is spelled for. It takes a long time, talent and patience to paint these eggs. First they are emptied of their contents and covered with a thin layer of bee wax. Then the meticulous work can begin. Using special tools like “chisita” women “write” the motifs in vegetal (natural) colors. Each element has a meaning and nothing is left to chance.
A Romanian painted egg tells you a story, if you know how to read it. Among the many stylized motifs you’ll often find the tree of life, the sun and the Star, the cross, the rooster, the snake and oak leaves, waves, spirals and much more. Each egg is unique. Each egg is special.
This art, although not kept a secret, is not taught in schools: it’s a folkloric legacy, carried from generation to generation, flourishing only in some parts of Romania. Newly wedded couples keep painted eggs in their homes as charms to protect their home, bring equilibrium and secure happiness in marriage. Romanians believe that painted eggs bring luck and protect their homes against demons and unholy spirits. The shells of the spring equinox eggs are blessed, they should not be thrown away, but sprinkled over the soil in gardens to provide for fertility and richer crops.
Easter painted eggs with bright colours in geometrical patterns or stylized figures, animal and floral designs are traditional for Eastern Europe, from Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, to Lithuania. It started long time ago as a pagan ritual. Christianity adopted this pagan tradition and Easter eggs have become an indelible feature of the feast commemorating the Resurrection of Christ. In many parts of the world one finds ancient myths in which the Egg features as a symbol of the Sun, Spring and Revival of Nature.
Ethnologists of the 20th century have discovered that the ancient beliefs of many peoples regarded the Egg of Light as a source from which the world had sprung, developing from Chaos to Order. In Eastern Europe the tradition of painting eggs goes back thousand of years - clay eggs, once evidently painted and dating from the 13th or 12th century B.C., were unearthed by archaeologists from river Nistru (Dniester) to Moldavia and Vilnius, Lithuania. Painted eggs must have been used as charms guarding against evil. For it to have magic powers, a painted egg must be painted at a specified time, in certain colours and patterns, and chants must be sung while it was being painted. It was also very important to give it as a present to the right person.
Painted eggs were mostly painted by elderly women, late at night, after everything had grown quiet. It was desirable to do it at the end of the day which had passed without any rows, scandals or emotional upheavals. It was a sort of a ritual in which one had to observe the rules whose origins had long been last in the mists of time. The eggs had to be either a fertilised one, taken from under a hen, or if the fertilisation could not be ascertained the egg to be painted had to be sucked out.
To do it one has to make two tiny holes with a needle at the opposite ends and then by eggs of its contents. The symbolism of colours, patterns and designs varied from area to area but were certain patterns and designs which were of a more universal character. if the colours, patterns, chanting and other things were of a more universal character.
If the colours, patterns, chanting and other things were right, if the eggs had been properly chosen and treated before being painted, if the time of the day when the painting was done was correct, then the painted eggs were believed to be powerful charms against fire, lighting, illnesses and other mishaps
Christianity imbued the painted egg with new meanings transforming it into the Easter egg and giving it a new symbolism but it could not eradicate the elements of pagan beliefs associated with the painted egg.
Easter eggs, blessed in church by a priest, continue to be used as a sort of charms for many different occasions: to be placed under the corner stone of a house; to help making bees to give more honey; to guard against misadventure on a journey; to secure happiness in marriage; to promote multiplication in the animal, floral and human worlds, to a name but a few of its functions.
Some of the patterns and signs on painted eggs have symbolism that has come down to us probably from the pre-historic times. Wavy patterns symbolize rain; dots - grain which is about to sprout; squares and rhombi - earth and its its fertility; the Greek cross - the Sun, and originally a god of the Earth; a zigzag with rounded angles - the snake which was a symbolical representation of a god of the Nether World; a tree - the sacred Tree of Life; a female figure - the Great Goddess; Goddess of the Sky, Protector of all Life on Earth; a fish - health, fertility, life and death; birds - creatures that are able to fly high and thus carry messages to the gods; oak leaves - the god of Thunder, of human and solar energy, of life. All the figures representations, of course, are highly stylized.
Up until the beginning of the 20th century natural dyeing materials were used such as onion peel, birch leaves, hay, oak or alder bark. Very popular was the dark dye produced by soaking and boiling a mixture of alder bark and rust. Dyed eggs were placed in a hot oven or hot water for the wax to melt. Patterns in several colours were produced by painting them with wax on a lighter colour and placing the egg in a darker dye. Similar patterns could also be scraped with the tip of a knife.