Friday, October 21, 2016

May Totems: Bee

In our tradition we divide the year not only by eight solar and agricultural holidays, but also by the Kalends. We celebrate twelve months of the year by the common calendar, plus a special thirteenth month for Samhain.  These month cycles are associated with different totemic spirits. Each month is assigned an animal, a bird (or other flying creature), and a tree. May's totems are Cow, Hawthorn, and Bee.

The totemic associations are as follows:

Cow (Tarbh/Bò) – fertility, prosperity, protection, nourishment
Hawthorn (Huathe) – fertility, cleansing, protection, joy
Bee (Beach) – fertility, community, sweetness, celebration, organization


No animal is a better example of the power of community than the bee. Each bee in a hive has a specific function which she will perform even if it means giving her life for the hive.  There are three types of bees: workers, drones, and queens.  The worker bees are the common bees we are most familiar with.  They secrete wax to form combs, and produce honey to feed the hive.

Bees pollinate all kinds of plants, and many of our food crops would be useless without them.  Because they are the element that carries the reproductive pollen from one plant to fertilize another, bees are strongly associated with fertility and abundance.

Honey was anciently the only source for a sweetener. Thus, the bee has come to symbolize the sweetness of life.

Bees communicate by dancing, and those who work with bees will find themselves drawn to dance and rhythm. The bee's dance is indirect relation to the sun in the sky.  Bees are symbolic of solar celebration.

Honeybees will only sting if they feel that the hive is in danger.  A honeybee gives its life when it uses its stinger.

The queen of a hive is chosen from newly hatched bee larva when the hive requires a new queen.  In summer bees will swarm in search of a new hive.  The chosen queen will be fed royal jelly which will allow her to become the sole reproducer in the hive.  She will be attended by male drones who give their life for mate with her. 

When a new coven of witches is formed from members of an older group it is said that the new coven has “hived off”, just as swarming bees would gather under a new queen.

Druids thought that the bee came from the world of sun and spirit.  They drank mead, a drink made from fermented honey, to celebrate this connection.

Honey and propolis, a resin which bees smear on their hives, are both antiseptic and are wonderful would healers and preservatives.  Thus, bees have powerful healing magic.

All bees everywhere build the combs in their hives at specific intervals of measurement. This is known as “bee space”. If bees are prevalent in your life you may need to examine if you are claiming the right amount of personal space for yourself.

Finally, the bee's droning buzzing can be compared to the sounds of otherworldly trance. Its hum is commemorated in many folk names for the creature, including drumbee, drummer, doombledore, hummabee, and humble-dad. In Welsh the word for harp, tellinn, is a truncated version of the word for bee, an-tseillean.

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