“This is how the ancients described the egg; some called it the copper stone or the Armenian Stone; others the brain stone; others the stone which is no stone; others the Egyptian stone; and others again the image of the world.” ~ Anonymous alchemical manuscript
This week, I wanted to do something with eggs. Eggs don’t really need their symbolism explained, but some of you might not know that The Cosmic Egg plays a major role in many creations myths. It occurs as a motif among the Celts, Greeks, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Canaanites, Tibetans, Hindus, Vietnamese and Chinese. The egg is complete and self-contained, holding within itself all things. It only needs brooding – that is to say, love, tenderness, warmth, attention and recognition. Something has to want it to hatch.
If I use this collage for self-analysis, I would say there is something in me wanting to be born that needs my attention and desire to bring it forth.
The cultures listed above have vastly different interpretations of how the egg came to be – it may have risen mysteriously from the sea or a white lake; or been vomited up; or laid, or whispered into being by a dragon. Some say the egg is the Primal Spirit that arises out of the “sounding vibration” of the universe. How ere it be, the egg is the first differentiation that follows Chaos – everything – earth, air, fire and water; Heaven and Earth, the Sun and Moon, arise from its hatching.
The egg holds within itself the dualities of the feminine masculine and masculine, egg and sperm. Or as The alchemical Axiom of Maria Prophitessa says: One becomes two, two becomes three, and out of the third comes the one as the fourth.
Looking at the collage you could say that out of the one egg arose the masculine and feminine which produced the man-child who became the fourth. As you can see he is holding three birds. Of course, that isn’t what I intended at all; my only intention was to begin with an egg. However, as a student of symbols I am familiar with the language of alchemy. Who knows what strange amalgam of knowledge and preference made me choose these images, which may have been sitting in my files for years?
The boy reminds me of the images of the Minoan priestess holding snakes with a cat on her head and also of the mysterious boy child Zagreus who may have been the son of Persephone and Hades. It is hinted that he appears as a symbol of rebirth in the Orphic Mysteries. As the venerable riddle demonstrates, eggs are all about rebirth – “Which came first the chicken or the egg?”
I chose the flower because I wanted to add something lush and beautiful. I tried a number of images but this one with its trailing sepals seemed chthonic and earthy as well as beautiful and alive. I liked the funereal tinge it seemed to provide; the reminder that death is part of the mix.
By the time I got to the flower I was already thinking about ancient Greeks and Minoans – so this wasn’t as instinctive a choice as the others, but the collage work really starts to get fun for me when both sides of my brain are collaborating and playing off each other. Of course, my internal symbols librarian had to put her two cents in, demanding a snake. Eggs and snakes are ancient associates of each other. The Celtic Cosmic Egg was born of a snake. Like eggs, snakes are symbols of rebirth. And, of course, snakes lay eggs themselves. Who can forget the famous fierce fight to the death between the mongoose Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and the serpent Nagina in which, with the help of a courageous bird, he saves the boy Teddy by capturing the cobra’s last egg and taunting her with it …
Yikes! I’m off on another by-way, into another story; association leads to association, always with a thread of logic connecting them. Today, the threads seem to be eggs, snakes, death, and the very word ‘mongoose!’
For me, creating a piece of art, crafting a poem or evolving a ritual connects the dots between images, ideas and insights I’ve been filing away for years. I’m constantly grateful and excited that these miraculous psyches of ours allow for such an exponential expansion of creativity. Isn’t it amazing we humans come with a built-in entertainment system?