Mircea Eliade - Eggs as a universal symbol
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Patterns in Comparative Religion – Mircea Eliade
A creation myth of the Society Islands tells of Ta'aroa, ancestor of all the gods and creator of the universe, sitting in his shell in darkness from eternity. The shell was like an egg revolving in endless space. This motif of the cosmogonic egg which we find in Polynesia is also common to ancient India, Indonesia, Iran, Greece, Phoenicia, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, the Pangwe of West Africa, Central America and the west coast of South America – according to Frobenius' map.
What are especially important to us are the ritual or mythological parallels of the cosmogonic egg; in Oceania, for instance, it is believed that man is born of an egg; in other words, the creation of the cosmos here serves as a model for the creation of man, the creation of man copies and repeats that of the Cosmos.....
Then too in a great many places the egg is connected with the symbols and emblems of the renovation of nature and vegetation; the new year trees, maypoles, Saint John's trees and so on, are decorated with eggs and egg-shells...
In Persia, for instance, coloured eggs are the appropriate gifts for the New Year which, even today, is still called the Feast of the Red Eggs. And the Red Eggs given at Easter in the Balkan countries are probably also left over from a similar ritual pattern used to celebrate the coming of spring.....
During the Hindu vegetation feast, Holi, which is also a feast of the dead, the custom in some places is to light fires and cast into them two little statuettes, one of a man, the other of a woman, representing Kamadeva and Rati; with the first statuette an egg and a living hen are also thrown into the fire. When it takes this form, the feast symbolises the death and resurrection of Kamadeva and Rati. The egg strengthens and assists the resurrection which, again, is not a birth, but a return, a repetition.