Handmade & hand painted wooden Easter egg to add to your Easter basket. The word pysanka comes from the verb pysaty, “to write” or “to inscribe,” as the designs are not painted on, but written with beeswax.
Many superstitions were attached to pysanky, they were thought to protect households from evil spirits, catastrophe, lightning and fires. Eggs with spiral motifs were the most powerful, as the demons and other unholy creatures would be trapped within the spirals forever. A blessed pysanka could be used to find demons hidden in the dark corners of your house.
They held powerful magic, and had to be disposed of properly, lest a witch get a hold of one. She could use the shell to gather dew, and use the gathered dew to dry up a cow’s milk. The witch could also use bits of the eggshell to poke people and sicken them. The eggshell had to be ground up very finely or broken into pieces and tossed into a running stream. The cloth used to dry pysanky was powerful, too, and could be used to cure skin diseases. And it was considered very bad luck to trample on a pysanka–God would punish anyone who did with a variety of illnesses.
The design motifs on pysanky date back to pre-Christian times – many date to early Slavic cultures, while some harken to the days of the Trypillians, neolithic ancestors, others to paleolithic times. While the symbols have remained through the ages, their interpretation has changed, in an act of religious syncretism. A triangle that once spoke of the three elements, earth, fire and air, now celebrates the Christian Holy Trinity. The cross which depicted the rising sun is now the symbol of the risen Christ. Sun and star symbols once referred to Dazhboh, the sun god, and now refer to the one Christian God. And the fish, which spoke of a plentiful catch and a full stomach, now stands in for Christ, the fisher of men. Even so, under this Christian veneer, there still lurk the berehynia and the serpent, the sun and the moon, the old gods, the old ways, and the old beliefs.
The symbols, which decorated pagan eggs, underwent a similar process of adaptation to the new religion. In pagan times these symbols imbued an egg with magical powers to ward off evil spirits, guarantee a good harvest and bring a person good luck. While the pagan spring ritual celebrated a new beginning for the earth after a cold winter. The symbols and ornaments on the eggs didn’t change; what changed was simply their interpretation.
An old myth tells of the power of the decorated eggs as a ward against a dragon of evil chained to a cliff. If there’s not enough pysanky created, the legend goes, the monster escapes and evil takes over the world.
Adorn your home with these hand painted treasures to keep evil spirits at bay and to bring prosperity to your household.