Sunday, July 1, 2012

M - Melissae (Bees) #paganblogproject

Bee Goddess plaque from Rhodes
"Melissa" means "bee" in Greek, and to the Ancients, a melissa was a priestess of the Goddess. Of which Goddess exactly, we can't always be certain. Some melissae were dedicated to Demeter, to be certain. Some to Artemis. But some were priestesses of Aphrodite, and there is popular lore that holds that the bee itself is the embodiment of the soul of a priestess of the Goddess of Love -- a happy, productive little maiden continuing to produce the golden nectar of the Gods.

Omphalos stone from Delphi
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. Interestingly, only the drones, whose job it is to impregnate and care for the queen, are male. The rest of the rest of the bees -- all of the ones we see -- are female.

Pendant from Palace at Knossos

Seal Ring of Bee Priestess from Knossos
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.

Sumerian Bee Goddess
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. This heritage can be traced back as far as Minoan and Mycenaean culture and is evident in the worship of Kybele, the Great Mother, who was honored with drum and cymbal music. In fact, the buzzing of the bee is said to be the voice of the Great Mother herself, and the sounds of drum and cymbal in the worship of Kyebele were intended to imitate her voice.

For more information on the Bee Goddess and her priestesses, read this article.


Elle Hull said...

Ah, synchronicity rules! I heard a lot about bees and priestesses at the Memories of the Mystic Goddess conference on Saturday. Marguerite Rigoglioso did a fabulous talk about it all. She also did an interview for the Thamesis Hour, so for folks who weren't there (which is most!), you can listen to the interview here:

I'm interested in the lore you mention regarding the bee being the embodiment of the soul of a priestess. Where can I read this lore?

Laurelei said...

Oh, thank you for the link, Elle! I do adore the wee little bee. Such a precious soul is she! One of my upcoming tattoos will be that of a bee and rosebud arm-cuff. I see Bee very much as a sister spirit.