For a few years, ever since I heard about the extremely frightening and mysterious fact that honey bees are disappearing off the face of the Earth, I have wanted to know more about them. I generally do not get along with the Insect & Arachnid empires. In fact, Spider Goddess is my most feared and important Animal totem. What fear had been reserved for kthonic goddesses like Hekate, Persephone, Hel and others in ancient and not-so-ancient times is mine for Spider. I have learned much from her and have much more to learn. However, I digress. I’m talking about the Bees.
Yesterday at my-day job I was cleaning out the garbage cans. I mean scrubbing them from top-to-bottom inside-out. Standing next to the little gazebo for the Ice Cream Shop next to my store enjoying the few moments of bright sunshine during what has otherwise been a chilly start to Spring in West Michigan, a little buzzer quite like the one depicted to the left landed on a wooden plank only a few inches away from me. It just sat there, poked out its super-long tongue and rubbed it with it’s front feet. It was the first honey bee that I had seen this year and it was as if GOD appeared to me in the form of the Bee.
Now, for the past few weeks I’ve been studying up on the mythological representations and religious dealings with them. In my far away fantasy land of Ancient Greece, there were the Melissae, bee priestesses that have been identified as priestesses of various gods and goddesses. Among some of them are Demeter, Artemis, Dionysus, Aphrodite as well as aspects of certain goddesses just called Melissae. Some stories say Melissae was a nymph who took care of the infant Zeus. Meli means honey in Greek. Mead was the first intoxicant brewed by humans (but probably fermented naturally on its own). The Melissae on Crete were beekeepers. History shows that after the fall of Crete, the mainland Greeks did not carry on the art of beekeeping.
Bees kinda scare me but fill me with awe. I think that they are my favorite insect. And how dependent on them are we? So much! They pollinate most of our crops and without them we would have to do the nearly-impossible task of pollinating them by hand. The honey bees give us is so nutritious. My partner’s 100 year old Greek Grandmother eats plain Greek yogurt and honey on top all the time.
What’s really cool about honey to me is that it begins as nectar secreted by the flower (which anyone who has stared at certain flowers for a while has probably realized that they are not-so-secretly genitalia). Then, the bee comes along and seduces the flower (or is it the other way around). The bee takes in that nectar and processes it inside it’s body. When it gets to the hive it throws all this up for the baby-bees to eat. Bees are truly Alchemists.
They are also Oracles, or at least the helpers of humans acting as Oracles. Some sources say that the Oracle at Delphi was a Bee Oracle before she became Apollo’s, which kind of contradicts the whole Python thing… but perhaps the Oracle gained her sight from Bees, not the serpent. It is said that Apollo gained his foresight from three bee-goddesses, the Thriae. Even a Greek heros has been identified with bees and the mantic arts, Trophonios. There is a really interesting Spirit-worker named Dver that works with Trophonios in her oracles during the Dark-half of the year, reserving the Light-half for Apollo and Delphic-style oracle.
In my opinion, Bees. Are. Awesome. In days ahead of me I want to make some sort of tool that acknowledges all of my animal spirits. Represented would be Fox, Cat, Snake, Spider, and Bee. I feel like I’ve been having static-y Divination sessions lately. Maybe I should turn to Bee for mantic assistance?
Well, like the bee dispatched by the Queen in her chamber, I too must go out into the wilds to find myself some sustenance. I think a Gyro sounds great. Maybe some honey-soaked Baklava to honor the Bee after?