On Eggs — Part 2 of 2
This is the second half (Part 2) of a meandering exploration of the cultural history of the egg — weaving in & out of my own work. Part 1 can be found here. I hope you enjoy it!
A couple years ago, I had an intuitive feeling I wanted to “return to the egg.”
In other words, I wanted my home to be an egg. It was truly the only sensible option after a chaotic worldwide pandemic: retreat into a cozy, protected, nurturing place again. While I knew this “egg home” I hoped to cultivate was mostly metaphorical, I also started to research literal egg-like houses and structures.
In the context of cultivating a home, eggs are about security. They also seem to be about a temporary period of incubation to hopefully emerge anew. But how do you both secure and incubate yourself ?
Alchemy depicted the germ of the egg contained in the yolk as the “sun-point,” the infinitesimally small, invisible “dot” from which all being has its origin. It is also the creative “fire-point” within ourselves, the “soul in the midpoint of the heart,” the quintessence or golden germ “that is set in motion by the hen’s warmth” of our devoted attention.
Speaking of fire, my home is called “Firefly Sanctuary.”
I began Firefly Sanctuary because I needed it. Living alone felt like a rite of passage. “Everyone has their time again in the egg,” I figured. My egg would be not only my sanctuary but my boat from the underworld to the new world. It would help me re-emerge anew, I imagined.
At first, it didn’t have a name. As Chia Amisola says, “A name is not just sounded — it is something that must be lived.”
I love how names circle around. At their best, names are reminders of ideals to be lived out. But my favorite names aren’t too literal, or their meaning would be exhaustible. Names are like poems in the wild — continually being re-imagined by anyone who happens upon them.
Once I decided I wanted a name for my home, “Firefly Sanctuary” came to me easily. The word “sanctuary” arrived first, as it would be my home’s primary function. The word “firefly” followed quickly after, as it’s my primal astrology. It also felt like a timely animal symbol for me: glowing intermittently amidst a world of darkness.
My friend Becca said the website I created for Firefly Sanctuary was a way to “honor this space as a being.” I liked the idea that a website could be a way of honoring something, like a shrine, saying “this is significant.”
One common misconception of eggs is that they are entirely closed off worlds. Eggs are actually semi-permeable. Egg shells, for instance, have thousands of tiny pores that allow necessary nutrients to pass through their hard exterior.
How do you know when the container you’ve constructed around yourself is truly healthy and nurturing? When is a self-made sanctuary actually too protective? What constitutes a loving boundary, and when is that boundary actually cutting off necessary oxygen?
When creating your own sanctuary, reflect on what’s “oxygen” or nutritious to you. Construct your home so this passes in and out easily …
Only recently have I realized Firefly Sanctuary is an “egg work” of mine.
Not only is it metaphorically an egg, in the sense that I cultivated a living space that was warm and self-nurturing, but also literally: its website glows a light yellow color and its typeface (“Waxwing” by Michelle Lin) is named after a bird species.
Speaking of literal birds, the Icelandic artist Sigurður Guðmundsson created the 34 very large eggs in honor of the 34 species of bird that nest within the area.
Each granite egg accurately depicts the shape, patterns, and colors of the individual bird egg it represents. The eggs are all perched atop their own slabs of concrete, accompanied by a sign sharing the bird’s name.
I was thinking recently how eggs and seeds are similar.
But they are also different — eggs honor the container (the nurturing process is protected) — whereas seeds are more a process (in collaboration with their environment). Eggs are contained, whole worlds. Eggs are universes unto themselves.
In many creation myths, the universe is hatched from an egg. Often it is a bird, or birdlike deity, who lays this cosmic, world egg.
Eggs are meta, yes. Carl Jung shares in The Red Book:
Set the egg before you,
the God in his beginning.
And behold it.
And incubate it
with the magical warmth
of your gaze.
And I am the egg
the seed of the God
Relatedly, my friend shared with me something they heard from a friend of theirs:
Apparently a female human fetus develops ovaries and eggs by the third trimester. That means that each of us was once an egg not only inside not our mothers, but nested inside our grandmothers too.
Eggs are symbols of regeneration and rebirth. Each spring, possibility returns in thousands and thousands of eggs. Jellylike eggs of fish and frogs shimmer in shallow waters. In nests of all kinds, turtles and other reptiles lay eggs contained in leathery membranes, while birds lay and brood variously tinged and dappled eggs whose hard protective shells are are both permeable to respiratory gases and relatively impermeable to water.
This “Egg Chapel” pictured above was commissioned to be one of the world’s smallest churches — a pilgrimage destination to hold small prayer and song services, baptisms, weddings, and musical performances — all inside an egg.
While this chapel is firmly on land, surprisingly it was built with wood by expert boat builders — as if it were a yacht.
A year ago, I proposed a special egg house with my friend. We began:
Imagine a large egg that’s actually a house. It’s resting peacefully on its side in a golden wheat grass field in Nebraska. It’s often windy and sunny there — which is how the egg house gets its power — from its nearby wind turbine and solar panels. The egg is wooden inside and feels like a boat — and that’s because it actually is a boat — built by an expert boat-builder.
Inside the egg, there is enough room for basic necessities for living: a single bed (that folds out to be double), a small kitchen, and a bathroom. There is a singular elliptical window near the top that frames the blue sky and lets light in, and a hanging paper lantern for reading at night. The "ribs" of the boat provide ample shelving and storage all around the egg, with numerous books (many about eggs and energy) available for reading.
That’s because the egg is about potential energy. Surprisingly, this egg boat doesn’t swim but rests on land. Just like a real bird egg that incubates in a nest, gathering energy for its next flying phase, this egg house also harbors potential energy. When it’s time, it will evolve into its next form to take a voyage on water — an egg at sea!
This egg house is dedicated to forms of potential energy — wind & sun (that power the egg) and water (imagining the egg as a boat). A guestbook lets guests share their experience inside the egg and imagine the egg’s forthcoming voyage.
To re-enchant the egg feels powerful in this moment. Today more than ever, we need its patient, protected optimism.
For me, “egg” is most importantly a metaphor for nurturing structures we provide others and sometimes ourselves. It’s not always easy to create our own eggs, or self-nurturing containers. Studying eggs helps us create better ones in the future.
This is Laurel’s “Another Day in the Dome” newsletter, which is sent frequently.
This particular transmission is called “On Eggs — Part 2 of 2.” You can also experience Part 1. This piece is an adaptation of a talk I gave at Naive Yearly — a special egg I inhabited for a time. Full and expanding references can be found in this Are.na Channel. Special thanks to Alice Yuan Zhang, Reuben Son, and Sarah Basha for dialogue after my talk that helped evolve this adaptation.
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