The award for most magically decorated eggs has to go to the Ukrainians and their pysanky eggs. Pysanky eggs are decorated by applying melted beeswax to a hollow eggshell. The layering of intricately applied melted wax and dying can take hours per egg.
Before Christianity came to the Slavic peoples, Ukrainians decorated their eggs for the sun god Dazhboh. Eggs symbolizing life, fertility, and the rebirth of spring were potent magical items used to protect homes, as well as to confer protective spells and blessings on people.
Ukrainians living in the Carpathian Mountains told a story about how the fate of the world depended on pysanky eggs:
Chained to a cliff in the mountains is an ancient serpent. If loosed, it will devour the world. Each year, minions of the serpent venture out into the world and count the pysanky being made. If the number of pysanky has decreased, the serpent will break its chains, but if the number has increased, the serpent’s chains are tightened and the people will survive for another year.
If you want to add pysanky and keep the serpent chained, you will need eggs, wax, and a special tool called a kistka.
Specific motifs and colors on pysanky have different uses. Some protect homes from disasters, lightning, or fire. Pysanky written with a spiral motif are for trapping demons. Wave designs symbolize water and ensure a good crop. The goddess motif promises fertility.
The laborious and highly detailed act of making the pysanky egg, created with secret methods passed down from mother to daughter, is a powerful example of creating the sacred. Pysanky artists imbue their eggs with magic, originally for their indigenous gods and then for the Christian God and the miracle of resurrection. It is a tradition that stretches back over 1000 years and is still practiced wherever Ukrainian people live.
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