Mending the Cosmic Egg
One of the most pervasive of symbols in creation myths is that of the World or Cosmic egg. From the earliest recorded example of this concept in Sanskrit scriptures, right the way through to cosmologists in the 1920’s and 1930s invoking the idea of a gravitational singularity as a cosmic egg, the egg as symbol for the creation of the universe or world has been found across the globe and throughout history. Do have a quick read of the linked article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_egg
Shortly after I moved to my current home (about 7 years ago), I dreamed a strange dream. In the dream, something fell down the chimney, and when I went to look, I saw that a large egg had fallen down, and had cracked. Something was moving within the fragments of egg and after a moment, from the ruins a creature emerged. It was an extraordinary being, a serpent, but with the head and wings of a bird. It escaped from the wreck of its egg and ran away from me, hiding itself within the room and then the house. I recorded the dream, painted it and then, still baffled, I forgot it.
A couple of years later, I returned from a work trip abroad; the following morning, my husband admitted that while I was away, an item had been broken by accident. As a birthday present, years before, my brother had given me an ostrich egg. It was a blown one, totally plain and I’d really loved such a quirky item. This had been knocked off a shelf, by a series of improbable events, and smashed to smithereens. The pieces had been collected together and I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away. I promised myself I would one day mend the egg. I finally accomplished this difficult task a few weeks ago.
If you have ever seen the documentary with Sir David Attenborough about the extinct Elephant Bird https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASJvktzfQ4g you’ll see how tricky it is to piece together such an item. His egg was a lot bigger than mine, and was broken into fewer bits. It took me over a week, allowing the glue to dry between sessions. It was very frustrating, as the more complete it became, the harder it was to get the final fragments to fit. The tiniest of misalignments, measured in fractions of a millimetre, add up. The final piece fell inside before the glue finished setting, making it impossible to retrieve. A few minute scraps of egg were missing, lost when it broke. But the overall integrity was there, and using some gold outliner (originally for glass painting) I emphasised the cracks, the process called Kintsugi. Kintsugi is a Japanese concept, the basic idea being that instead of hiding brokenness, you accentuate and draw attention to the damage, so that an item that has been restored is seen as MORE beautiful because of its history. It’s a very healing thought, that instead of being fit for the rubbish heap, something is held up as having greater loveliness because of what it has been through.
For me, taking the time to piece back together that egg had significance. Something that was broken has been honoured. It is a beautiful thing, and it reminds me that however damaged I feel I am, the efforts I have made to make good that damage, while they can never erase it, and I can never be as I was before, I have become something else. Something that I hope can be of use and joy to others.
We cannot mend the original cosmic egg, but perhaps we can envision a world where the damage is made good. Those visions are the ones I would like to explore. I may be a dreamer, but nothing can exist unless someone has dreamed it first.