Mystery of the Easter Egg
An interest to many curious minds is our widespread celebration known as the Easter Holiday, which falling so directly on the Spring or Vernal Equinox, is never alien to its origins as a “pagan”, or really a nature celebration. To Christians it is held as that holy day (holiday) when Christ resurrected into a splendor of metamorphoses. However the accuracy as to this being the exact date marking the resurrection of Jesus, or if such a resurrection wasn’t merely a celestialized fable, is not of our concern. Rather the fact that this day marks the season of the Sun par excellence, and the time when nature is liberated from dormancy by springing into bloom—is indeed more provocative. Knowing that our mythologies, long obscured by the dark veil of history, made permanent their epic tales by superimposing them on the cycles and patterns of nature, it is by no means shocking to find such things as Holidays well spread across distant civilizations. As Manly P. Hall pointed out in his Secret Teachings of All Ages
“In Phrygia there existed a remarkable school of religious philosophy which centered around the life and untimely fate of another Savior-God known as Atys, or Attis, by many considered synonymous with Adonis. This deity was born at midnight on the 24th day of December. . . To the rites of Atys the modern world is indebted for the symbolism of the Christmas tree. Atys imparted his immortality to the tree beneath which he died, and Cybele took the tree with her when she removed the body. Atys remained three days in the tomb, rose upon a date corresponding with Easter morning, and by this resurrection overcame death for all who were initiated into his Mysteries.”
Alike to the descent and resurrection of the Babylonian Ishtar through the seven gates, easter when seen as a resurrecting Holiday is never short of an abundance of parallels. Mystical symbolism in the cycles of culture repeat certain themes no matter the distance in between their centers. The Egg of Easter, more so than the rabbit — which is a leftover tradition from the Pagan Festival of Eostre or Eastra, a northern goddess who was symbolized with the rabbit or hare— is definitely a symbol for which their are more arcane explanations as to how it permeates itself through myth and legendary.
Regardless of the implications this Egg has upon easter the argument could well be made that it is a survival of ancient cosmology. It is of great interest then, that the Egg is far more abundant in symbolism than merely appearing as Humpty Dumpty or dropping from some Mother Gooses bottom. We see in Ancient Egypt the fashioner god Ptah—whom the Greeks named Hephaistos and the Romans styled Vulcan (see Herodotus, the Histories)—with a potters wheel and the Cosmic Egg at his hands out of which the world was birthed (see Budge’s, the Gods of the Egyptians) . We find in the Hindu Trinity, the creator god Brahma latent within the Mundane Egg which splits at the beginning of each world age re-creating the heavens and the earth (see the Vishnu Purana). Thus again, it is Orpheus, of whom Pythagoras and Plato are indebted for a degree of their sacred wisdom, who also carried the “Orphic Egg” from which came creation itself. This Egg however was intwined with another important symbol—the serpent—of which like so many spiritual symbols appears around the world in such variety. The historical person (or persons) Orpheus made his way into Greece from the east, and there he went instructing candidates into musical harmony and mystical sciences. Yet what system may he have carried this symbolism from? Was it the Magi of Persia or the Mystics of Egypt? Such a question like this becomes more relevant when seeing that the Celtic Druids, whom also are suspicious in that they traveled westwards from eastern regions, carried with them an Egg as an emblem associated with the story of creation. Therefore looking to these eastern areas we deem it no surprise to discover, as Plutarch points out when discussing the Zoroastrian Cosmology of Persia and Chaldea, that Ahura Mazda
“ having made four-and-twenty other gods, he put them into an egg. Whereupon those that were made from Areimanios [Ahriman], just the same in number, piercing through the egg . . . ––whence the bad have been mingled with the goods.”
So we see from this, the great Easter Egg might as well be held as a central symbol of cosmology, becoming now those eggs that we scatter about like secrets having the children hunt them down for their inner treasures upon the return of a luminous spring. In the same breath it would do well to mention for our little egg hunt article, that a certain Chinese creation story, that of P’an ku, the Creator of the World, also arises out of chaos forming the Yin and Yang and all of earth out of a great Cosmic Egg (see the Encyclopedia of Eastern Philosophy and Religion). Indeed, though this tiny article omits itself from any great detail, the Cosmic Egg is quite an enduring symbol whom, like the bunny rabbit, hops hither and thither dropping upon our minds chocolate candies of fascination.