Welcome to the Order of the Sacred Star! This Pagan/Wiccan group, based in Winnipeg, Canada, is committed to teaching the Craft to all those who wish to learn. Our goal is to provide a complete and fulfulling learning experience. Our public classes are offered through the Winnipeg Pagan Teaching Circle.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Sabbat of Ostara — Decorating Eostre's Eggs

The decorating of eggs to celebrate the coming of spring is a tradition that stretches back to the legend of Eostre’s Bunnies. Often called Easter eggs, these fun crafts are an excellent way to celebrate the Spring Equinox. Commercial kits are available for this art, but natural dyes can also be used.

Egg-Decorating Kits and Their Value

Around the time of Ostara, you can go into almost any store and purchase a kit to dye your Ostara eggs. These kits include dyes and stickers and many little things to make your egg decorating experience complete. The colors are bright and resilient, and most kits are fairly inexpensive and easy to use, and come with specific directions. These artificial dyes, however, are not always very good for the environment.

Natural Dyes for Decorating Eggs

Many Wiccan and Pagans prefer natural dyes for decorating their Ostara eggs. These dyes are better for the environment and allow you to decorate eggs the way our ancestors did. In addition, plant material can be used to imbue individual eggs with specific magickal tasks.

Of course, there are downsides to natural dyes. It is almost impossible to produce colors as rich and dark as commercial dyes, and the finish tends to be fragile. In the case of most natural dyes, it is quite easy to scratch or rub the color off the eggs. Natural dyes also take more preparation, and drying times will also be increased.

Preparing and Using Natural Dyes for Decorating Ostara Eggs

Before you begin dying eggs, you’ll have to choose your plant material. I have personally used the following materials to produce these colors:
  • Carrots — yellow;
  • Daffodils — yellow-green;
  • Dandelions — orange;
  • Heather — pink;
  • Bracken — green;
  • Red cabbage — blue, like a robin’s egg;
  • Blueberries — blue; and
  • Beets — blue-violet.
There are other options, of course. I have heard that grapes produce decent colors, and raspberries will probably also make an excellent dye. Think about what plants stain your fingers when you touch them. These plants usually make good dyes. Experiment and see what works. However, make sure you’re using only non-toxic plants. You don’t want to make yourself or your family ill.
When you’ve gathered you plant material (you will need a generous amount), add it to 3-5 cups of boiling water. Reduce heat slightly (to a low boil) and wait until the water takes on a very deep version of the shade you want. Stir occasionally. You may need to add more plant material to achieve the desired shade.
When ready, strain out the plant material and bring the water to a light simmer. Add a pinch of salt, 2 tablespoons of vinegar, and 3 tablespoons of cream of tartar. These will help to set the dyes. Mix well and remove from heat, allowing the mixture to cool.
Place your hard-boiled or hollowed eggs into the dye until they achieve the desired shade. This may take some time, so be patient. Once removed from the dye, the eggs will have to completely dry before you handle them. Remember that natural dyes might rub off on your hands, so keep handling to a minimum.
Dying your own eggs is simple, whether you use a commercial dye kit or natural dyes. Experiment, have fun, and enjoy Ostara, Easter, the Spring Equinox, or any other spring holiday you choose to celebrate.

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