I have been decorating eggs with ink and water color paints since I was a teenager. And when my children were young, I threw myself into creating Easter celebrations for them (though in the same pagan-esque way I have always celebrated other holidays). We decorated a lot of eggs during their childhoods. It was during this time that I began making the batik-style Pysanky eggs, using a kit for Ukrainian Easter Eggs from Luba. However, I wasn’t using traditional symbols and designs. (Hippy free-styling is always my downfall…)
Fast forward to now, the last days of February, 2022, with possibly a sort of end to the pandemic in sight. But wouldn’t ya know, here’s Russia unleashing carnage and war on their neighbor, Ukraine, and we’re all–those of us who are simply ordinary in scale along with the “leaders” of various things–wondering what to do. Nobody wants this shit except for a few crazy old men and their arms dealers. So ordinary sized people are praying for an end to this stupid aggression if they are religious and the witches…well, they are gathering for spell-making. I’m in the latter group, in case you haven’t figured that out.
Some of the first questions in the online witch communities are, who do we invoke/evoke? What fierce goddesses, gods, and deities of other genders, should we ask to join with us in focusing on the end of this war? I happened to see this article: “Pagans and witches offer prayers for peace in Ukraine” (Heather Greene, Religon News Service, Feb. 25, 2022. These paragraphs caught my eye:
Begin quote from article. <<In her call to action, [H. Byron] Ballard requested that those who join her in “energy work” focus on the Berehynia statue in Kyiv [l added this link]. The monument, standing in the city’s central square, was erected in 2001 as a symbol of Ukrainian independence. It depicts a woman holding up the Guelder Rose, another national symbol.
The statue, however, stands for more than just Ukraine’s political sovereignty, the reason Ballard specifically called attention to it.
Artist Anatoliy Kushch, inspired by Slavic mythology, based his female figure on Berehynia-Ornate [sic], the mother of all living things and the goddess of home and family. In that way, the statue is as much a spiritual protector and guardian as a secular symbol of the country’s strength.>> End quote from article.
I had never heard for Berehynia-Oranta before, but I began to research her. She’s an ancient mother goddess who also has a fierce aspect (like so many other mother goddesses). Berehynia’s ancient stance of upraised, open arms has apparently been enfolded into an image of “Mary Theotokos” in Orthodox Christianity. (The stance is called “orante” or “orans” in Christian tradition. I don’t know much more than this, so apologies for anything I’m getting wrong here.) The image below is a mosaic “in the vault of the St Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv in Ukraine. The icon has been in the cathedral since its foundation by Yaroslav I the Wise in the 11th century” (Wikipedia).
It is wonderful that in Kyiv there are two powerful protective images for the city, both female. One is pagan. One is Christian.
Interesting stuff–and yes, let’s do invoke or evoke these powerful spiritual figures on behalf of Ukraine, if we feel that calling–but what does this have to do with egg magic? Particularly with the batiked eggs known as “pysanky?” I’m getting to that!
The Pysanky Eggs
There is an incredible website called http://www.pysanky.info. What a rich source of information! And at this website I learned the connection between the ancient tradition of decorated eggs and Berehynia (see links below). Pysanky eggs are also an important part of the Orthodox Christian Church’s Easter celebrations and the symbols on the eggs we are most used to seeing are largely Christian. Both sets of symbols are fascinating, and I am beginning to see a link between my own history with and affinity for decorated eggs and the possibilities for egg magic spellworking now, as a loving gesture of solidarity for Ukraine–its lands, people, and creatures.
These decorated eggs are connected with both pagan and Christian female spiritual figures who protect Kyiv and the rest of Ukraine, and with blessings and renewal, so they seem to be ideal vehicles for peace spells. Pictures of completed eggs can also visually demonstrate solidarity with Ukraine’s people and lands. It is also interesting that the process of creating these jewel-like treasures is known as “writing” the egg, and that too seems to suggest a relationship with prayers and chants during the making of them.
Here’s One Way to Create Pysanky for Peace
First, look at then websites (below) and then watch as many instructional videos as you need. Then, gather the tools and materials to make these eggs: a kitska (pl. kistky)–the stylus which will contain heated wax; beeswax; white eggs; dyes (these are not food grade and may be toxic); papertowels and soft tissue for wiping eggs; a candle; water and white vinegar; lidded jars to make and store the dyes. (Search out instruction videos, please!) Unless you’ve got a really good art supply store, you may have to order materials online.
If you can’t work with hot wax, you can do an approximation using crayons and dyes on the eggs. Crayons would be a good option for children who want to participate. Let the kids know that these are NOT eggs to be eaten.
One last word, be fire safe. Keep your fire extinquisher near by. Make sure pets and children will not interrupt you while you are working with hot wax and the candle flame. Again, watch some instructional videos!
Suggestions for Rituals and Spellworking with the Eggs, As You Write Them
These eggs can be made as offerings to the goddess, to stop the war, for general peace and wellbeing in the area, and/or to honor the fallen. Your choice. And I am sure there are other choices as well. Do what feels right for you. Decide what you want to do.
Write your peace prayers, spells, invocations, etc. in advance. Research symbols or make a sigil to put on the egg. Whatever seems right to you. Blue and yellow are the colors of the Ukraine flag, so you might want to use candles and dyes in those colors. Or not. Again, it’s up to you.
Do whatever grounding, centering, protection, candle annointing, etc. that you usually do. Invite whoever you usually invite, including ancestors, if you feel this is appropriate. (I asked my ancestors if there was anyone in any of my four grandparent lines who had worked with Berehynia. My paternal grandmother’s line apparently had a connection.)
Bring your egg(s) to room temperature. Perhaps you’ve left them on your altar overnight, or just in a bowl in your kitchen. Dedicate your egg(s) to Berehynia-Oranta. Bless each egg and the life force it represents. It is sacrificial. Wash your hands before you begin, and also wash the egg with white vinegar and water before you begin. (FYI: You can empty the yolk and egg white after you write it, or just leave the contents to dry out inside the egg in perpetuity.)
After you complete your initial rituals, introduce yourself to the goddess, in whatever way seems right to you. Ask her if you can work with her and the eggs in this way, for peace, for continued independence for Ukraine and other nearby nations and regions, for healing, etc. etc. (I use a pendulum for questions and answers. Any other divination is up to you.)
Then do whatever spellwork, chants, prayers, etc. you wish while you write these eggs, using sigils and symbols, as well as the series of dyes (lightest to darkest). Remember, there are three groupings of pysanky symbols for Berehynia-Oranta. For those who also use Christian symbols, there is plenty of information about those as well.
For solidarity “signal boosting:” Take pictures of each egg and post on social media with the hashtag #PysankyForPeace, and #Ukraine, and any other hashtags that you want to use. I will also publish your egg pictures on this blog, if you like. (It has a somewhat international readership.) If you want to do this, please send jpgs of your eggs to firstname.lastname@example.org, as well as any information you want to share about yourself and your work with the egg.
For community efforts: Local libraries, schools, churches, covens, etc. could all participate in making Pysanky For Peace. Find ways to display the eggs,along with information about the war and why peace is so important, use them in peace rituals, whatever seems right to you. And if you have more ideas, please let me know.
Peace to the Ukraine, and to us all, always. Blessed be!
General Pysanky, from Pysanky.info.
Berehynia and the eggs, from Pysanky.info.
The goddess and tree of life symbols on eggs, from Pysanky.info.
Abstracted goddess symbols (curls and crowns), from Pysanky.info
Supplies for Pysanky work. (Note: there is no affiliate relationship.)
A beautiful and useful instructional video: https://youtu.be/ueIWiFXU7Zk