Category Archives: Bees

Taking note of the signs

Some days magick just isn’t on the cards, and perhaps it is a wiser person than me that recognises these signs. I maybe should have taken note when my bank suddenly had no record of my details and after a long conversation the account was unearthed with with incorrect, address, d.o.b and mothers maiden name. Maybe I should have taken note when running my pre ritual bath the water turned a putrid yellow. Maybe even the point should have got through when the neighbours who barely say more than “Morning” on a day to day basis invited me in for a cuppa when I popped round to warn them about the water, all of this conspiring to leave me less and less prepared for the task looming imminently ahead of me.

But Im a stubborn person and Im no stranger to the whole anything that can go wrong will go wrong pre ritual catastrophe, so I settled down in the dying light to perform my designated task, and then it came. Not angry, not irritated or impatient, just a firm statement. “This is not for you, there are other things going on, you do not need to be here” Maybe I should have taken note then, but I had commited to this work so I continued on, outside interferance is also not an unknown occurance. “Did you not get the hint earlier” at this point it was almost a sigh like a tired parent trying really hard not to be annoyed with an over precocious child. “Ok you can carry on, but you will just be going through the motions”. So I quickly and quietly withdrew.

To be honest this was a new experience in its own right, Im not used to being told to sod off, especially when the work was expressly sanctioned by herself. I sat quietly for a minute wondering what it was that I did wrong, wondering if my scrambling around and dithering with the mundane earlier in the day had been the catalyst for what I felt was a “ticking off”. A few minutes later, I decided that I wasn’t going to get an immediate answer so cleared up and prepared to perform a license to depart, I use a stock formula, probably recognisable by well, just about anybody of a particular school of thought, “I call upon any spirits here present trapped here by these my magickal rites, to return unto their rightful place, harming none along the way, but being prepared to return if I should call” at which point the neighbours cat which adopted me some six months ago charged out the bushes and practically knocked me over in his attempt to jump in my lap. Giggles I am afraid took the best of me, but you know what, that is okay too, banishing with laughter is a very valid tool in its own right. Lets face it any of you who may have attempted the Sparean inspired death posture and the drawing of obsessions through a mirror will know that even if you can attempt it successfully, when you finally catch sight of yourself in the mirror your going to laugh at the sheer obsurdity of it; its like an in built fail safe mechanism, laughter really is a beautiful thing.

Anyway later the laughter continued, perhaps it needed to, I have still yet to find out, but just as I was settling down to type my notes up, my smallest timidest cat (actually is timidest a real word?) came to me and dropped a present at my feet, the biggest bumble bee I have ever seen, it must have been as long as my thumb. I bent to pick up this treasured gift from a loyal companion, percieving it to be a sad and broken offering, bereft at the loss of life but inderstanding that this is the nature of all things and honored that my tiny wee girl who is normally scared of the shadow of her own tail should choose to share such victory with me. When it roused it self crawled through my fingers and flew into the air.

I jumped to open the french windows at the back of the lounge onto what was now almost a completely dark night, hoping beyond hope that this brave surviour would find its way out, yet knowing that to encourage him to do so would be condemning this little soul to a certain doom, bees rarely survive in the dark outside the hive, especially at this time of the year, if they are lucky they find a warm place to hole up until the morning and then try and find thier way home. An uncertain feat nowadays, as there is much debate and discussion in the agricultural communities, some people believe the bees have lost their ability to waggle dance, which is percieved as not only a road map for good nectar but the indicators for a safe round trip home.

This lovely visitor has chosen to reside the night in the safety of my home and has tucked itself in the warmth behind one of my wall lights, in the morning I shall open all the doors and windows in the hopes that it finds its way. But a good friend told me a tale this evening a tale that perhaps I should take note of, the story fo melissa.

Apparently the minoan-mycenean “Mistress” goddess Potnia, who named her priestesses “Melissa” meaning Bee, was also associated in later times due to her epithet of “Mistress of the Beasts” with Artemis, a deity who was very much syncretised with Hekate especially in the PGM. And of course those who are familiar with herself will know that there is an undeniable if unprovable connection with Hekate and the Minoan Snake goddess who may have once been called Ariadne the daughter of Helios.

Interesting in its own right as in certain recensions Medea is the grand daughter of helios and a priestess of Hekate; Ariadne also aided Theseus to overcome the minotaur when he took shelter in an old womans hut of (amongst other things) the woman, “hecale” possibly the only time I might even suggest that my titaness might be a crone but as I have written elsewhere the gods were only old and ugly if they were hiding out or had a plan see here.

Ask and ye shall recieve…

So a few posts ago, I posted about the plight of the british honey bee, and particularly how I viewed it from a magickal perspective. Imagine my delight whilst walking down the baking goods aisle in my local supermarket this evening to spy a slogan adorning Rowse’s Honey – Save the Honey Bee. Not only have they commited £100,000 to aid research, but currently if you buy a jar of Rowse’s honey you can register online for a pack of wild flower seeds to plant in your garden to, as they put it, grow more bee friendly plants in your garden. For details see here. Okay it may only be pennies in a fountain, but you know, pennies do add up, and so I bought a jar and have registered for my free pack of seeds, after all is it not better to take small steps in the right direction when you hit that crossroads, than just sit there discussing the journey?

Of air-born honey, gift of heaven, I now Take up the tale

Last weekend I had the honor of spending time with a wonderful group of like minded individuals. The purpose of this meeting of minds was to celebrate the Goddess Hekate.  Of the many subjects that were discussed around the fire was whether honey should be used in ritual considering the current worldwide crisis in the honey bee population.

For anybody who isn’t aware, there is a deep concern regarding the bee population, with whole colonies dying off or disappearing, the ecological effect of which is potentially disasterous for world agriculture; recently the Independant (Full Article Here) stated that:

“Most of the pollination for more than 90 commercial crops grown throughout the United States is provided by Apis mellifera, the honey bee, and the value from the pollination to agricultural output in the country is estimated at $14.6bn (£8bn) annually. In Britain alone, pollination by bees of a suite of just 10 crops, ranging from apples and pears to oilseed rape, was calculated to be worth £165m per annum in 2007.”

The causes for the dramatic decrease in population of this humble little creature are varied, from viruses, to mites, increased numbers of natural predators, pesticides and even mobile phones. Apiarists in the UK are petitioning Defra to spend £8 million pounds to conduct urgent research (Proposal in PDF Here) into these issues in an attempt to save bee population in the United Kingdom. Something which Defra says they cannot afford to do.

The knee jerk reaction of those who have more than a passing interest in environmental issues, is, most understandably, a desire to boycott honey and honey related products, a not insignificant sacrifice for anybody who works with Hekate, especially those who are starting out on thier path, for these products are a staple offering and eucharistic substance. But why is this?

Possibly one of the most well known and visually powerful evokations of the Goddess occurs in Book 3 of Apollonius of Rhode’s Argonautica (a.k.a Jason and the Golden Fleece). Medea a Priestess of Hekate instructs Jason as to how to enlist the help of the Goddess.

“wait for midnight which divides the night in two. Bathe in the stream of a river which is never still and, alone, without others, dress in dark robes and dig a circular pit. Over it slit the throat of a female sheep and burn it whole, heaping high a pyre on the very edge of the pit. Make appeasement to Hekate, the only born daughter of Perses, by pouring in libation from a cup the works of bees in their hives”

The libation is undeniably a honey based substance, and whenever I am contacted by somebody wanting to work with Hekate, honey and or mead is one of the first items I list. So imagine my discomfort to hear that people I respect and consider my peers, informing me that it was no longer the done thing to use honey in ritual. So I decided to look closer into this issue and I could only come to one conclusion, it is actually my responsibility to continue to use these products, if perhaps a little more responsibly.

So why have I come to this conclusion?

Defra have donated only £2 Million of a proposed £8 Million project, the most obvious place for sourcing the remainder of this funding is within the Bee-Keeping and Honey production industry itself. Reduced demand will in theory reduce the possible available funds.

A reduced demand for honey and bee related products will have a knock on effect, fewer apiarists will be trained, thus reducing the pool of expertise in this subject and thus theoretically affecting the level of consultation between the industry and the scientist who will conduct the research.

However, I am not advocating the purchase and indescriminate use of mass produced honey. For some time now, the honey and beeswax candles I use are mostly locally sourced, in fact I see the bees from the apiary in my garden on a daily basis in the summer months, they are particulary fond of my monster lavender bushes.  At a push I will purchase organic honey from the supermarket but only as a last resort and I have made the decision that I will no longer purchase mass produced mead, instead chosing to produce my own or just not use it at all.

And finally, I shall be taking a hint from Aristaios and petition his mother Cyrene.

His mother’s bidding: to the shrine he came,
The appointed altars reared, and thither led
Four chosen bulls of peerless form and bulk,
With kine to match, that never yoke had known;
Then, when the ninth dawn had led in the day,
To Orpheus sent his funeral dues, and sought
The grove once more. But sudden, strange to tell
A portent they espy: through the oxen’s flesh,
Waxed soft in dissolution, hark! there hum
Bees from the belly; the rent ribs overboil
In endless clouds they spread them, till at last
On yon tree-top together fused they cling,

~ Virgil Gregorics Bk 4