by Donna Henes
If the winter solstice signals the birth of the sun, then the spring equinox exclaims the birth of the earth. The resurrection of nature from the dark death of winter. The life, which has stayed hidden, in exile or underground, during the long deep sleep of the season, now shifts and starts to stir. Poking and peeking, it seeks the surface. The space. The air. The light. Striving, stretching skyward, life breaks new ground. Bulbs, shoots and buds burst forth from the earth, exploding open, exposing their tender green growth. The sweet sap rises.
The birth waters break. The skies open. It rains, it pours, it mists, it drips fertilizing fluids from the heavens. The air is damp like a baby’s bottom. The land is soaked. The mud, like mucous, like afterbirth. The defrosting sodden soil is teeming, churning with every creepy crawly thing that ever slithered out of a swamp. Hordes of birds descend, drawn by the juicy feast. Animals awaken from their pregnant hibernations, skinny and starving and suckling their young. Birds and beasts, alike, set out on a concerted feeding frenzy, gorging themselves and their ravenous, insatiable, mouths- ever-open offspring.
It is as if the great egg of the whole world has hatched.
The egg, the symbol of life, of birth, has come over the millennia to signify the season of spring. For it is then that the aspect of fertility and rebirth within the cycle is so overwhelmingly evident. Clearly, the egg stands for spring. The egg, in fact, stands at spring. Actually stands up on its end at the moment of the Vernal Equinox. Stands at attention as the sun crosses the equator into the northern hemisphere. Stands in salute to spring.
Soon after I started studying and celebrating the seasons in the city on the Winter Solstice of 1975, a friend returned from the Orient with an odd bit of equinoctial information for my interest. Apparently, in pre- revolutionary China, it was customary for peasants to stand eggs on their ends on the first day of spring. To do so would guarantee good luck for the entire year. I have since had people tell me that their old Scandinavian grandparents, too, balanced eggs at the equinox in their home countries. What an intriguing image! I immediately set out to prove it on American soil.
Of course they stood. That was thirty-two years ago, and I have initiated and personally participated in the public balancing of many thousands of eggs — Eggs on End: Standing on Ceremony — on every Spring Equinox since. There is something extraordinarily powerful in the image, in the experience, of an egg standing upright. Something incredibly moving that elicits ancient and rarely accessed emotions. Stood at the first moment of spring, the egg becomes the symbol of a new season, the birth of new life.
I wish you all a sacred spring filled with the wonder of newness.
(c) DONNA HENES, Urban Shaman, has been a contemporary ceremonialist for 30+ years. Mama Donna, as she is affectionately known, is the author of four books and a CD and writes a weekly column for UPI (United Press International) Religion & Spirituality Forum. In addition to teaching and lecturing worldwide, she maintains a ceremonial center, spirit shop, ritual practice andconsultancy in Exotic Brooklyn, New York, Mama Donna’s Tea Garden and Healing Haven, where she works with individuals and groups to create personally relevant rituals for all of life’s transitions.
For information about upcoming events and services contact:
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PO Box 380403 Exotic Brooklyn,
New York, NY 11238-0403