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Observations placeholder

Cirlot on the Egg



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

A Dictionary of Symbols – J E Cirlot [adapted by reordering text ]

The Egg of the World, is a cosmic symbol which can be found in most symbolic traditions, Indian, Druid etc.  The Chinese believe that the first man  sprung from an egg dropped by Tien from heaven to float upon the primordial waters.  The Golden Egg from which Brahma burst forth is equivalent to the Pythagorean circle with a central point or hole.  A great many prehistoric tombs in Russia and Sweden have revealed clay eggs which had been left there as emblems of immortality.

This meaning persisted among the alchemists, who added explicitly the idea that it was the container for matter and for thought. This Egg consisted of seven enfolding layers – betokening the seven heavens or spheres of the Greeks. 

The Easter egg is an emblem of immortality which conveys the essence of these beliefs.

But it was in Egypt that this symbol most frequently appeared.  In the language of Egyptian hieroglyphs, the determinative sign of the egg represents potentiality, the seed of generation, the mystery of life.   Egyptian naturalism – the natural curiosity of the Egyptians about the phenomena of life – must have been stimulated by the realisation that a secret animal growth comes about inside the closed shell, whence they drive the idea, by analogy, that hidden things may actively exist.  In the Egyptian Ritual, the universe is termed the 'egg conceived in the hour of the Great One of the dual force'.  The god Ra is displayed resplendent in his egg.  An illustration of a papyrus, in the Oedipus Aegyptiacus of Kircher (III, 124) shows the image of an egg floating above a mummy, signifying hope of life hereafter.  The winged globe and the beetle pushing its ball along have similar implications. 

The source of the experience

Cirlot, J E

Concepts, symbols and science items




Easter egg

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Beauty, art and music
Inherited genes