Interactive Scholar --
What It's All About
My purpose in
writing this column is to stir up our brain juices and engage our
opinions, to get us thinking and talking together.
My goal is to
promote both thought and dialog. I want us to think together,
to wonder why we believe some of the things we think we believe.
Let's reconsider the "facts" upon which we base our beliefs.
Are they true facts or are they fond reconstructions of what we
want to see as truth?
plan is thus to ask some questions about things that interest me.
I hope that you will be inspired not to just talk to your computer
but to look for answers with me.
you'd like to "interact," to think and talk with me and
others here, consider the questions I pose in my article at left,
or those below. Send me an email with your thoughts, experiences,
questions, research, and scholarly intuitions about these or other
questions/issues that interest you. With your permission, I may
print some of our communication to embody this dialog.
- When you read
a book, a piece in a magazine, or a posting on the Web, do you
believe everything you read just because it's in print? Do you
ever wonder if an author is just making things up? Simply passing
along stuff we like to believe because it makes us feel good,
but which may not be accurate?
- Have you ever
read a book you think is just plain dumb? Do you ever want to
argue with an author, provide correct information, or at least
begin a conversation?
an author's web site and send an email. Ask a question, make a
comment, interact about some 'fact' you question or want more
information about. (Remember that courtesy is more likely to elicit
a reply than bad manners <grin>.)
Topics We Might Explore Together (please let me know things you'd
like to see added to this list)
- Swords as
women's ritual tools
Dr. Margaret Murray as source of Wicca
Gerald Gardner as source of Wicca
and Plagiarism, which is which?
Yesterday and Today
- Backlash &
the Goddess & Marija Gimbutas
Let's interact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Belief, Deity and The Blessed Bees
"If it's what I believe, it's religion.
If it's what you believe, it's mythology"
remember this old saying? Some believers of some religions (including
ours, however we define it) are so convinced
that their way is the only way that they demonize every other religion.
They turn other religions into mythology and then trivialize the mythology.
They fail to recognize mythological elements in their own foundational
stories, and disregard parallel stories in other or earlier cultures.
is the difference between religion and mythology? If
there is a difference, what is its significance, and to whom is the difference
something else to think about. In the standard-brand religions, they say
that God Created Man In His Own Image. In our religion, we believe that
the Goddess Created Everything In Her Image. Both of these statements
are statements of belief. We do not, however, know if they are statements
of fact. There's no empirical evidence. Neither CNN nor the New York
Times sent reporters to the Creation to watch it happen. Although
physicists believe that it all started with the Big Bang, no one had a
tape recorder there to hear the Bang.
philosophers say that Man Created God In His Image, which may be why the
standard-brand god looks an awful lot like someone's grandfather.
If this is true, that we create our gods, is it also true that Everything
Created the Goddess [in Its Image]?
happen to know something about creating goddesses. My forthcoming book
is about Finding -- or making up -- modern goddesses to deal with issues
the ancients never imagined: cars and freeway traffic, renting an apartment,
taxes, everything about computers, including email and the Web and the
to the Blessed Bees
twinkle, Blessed Bees,
As I ask you, grant it please.
Wisdom, wealth, abundancies,
As I will't, so mote it, Bees.
how pagans go around saying "Blessed be" during rituals? While
I was Finding goddesses (and an occasional god or consort) for my book,
my friend, the novelist Elizabeth Cunningham, suggested the Blessed Bees.
The Bees are our Found Good Neighbors, our power animals. I wrote an invocation
to Them, which I use in rituals and when I need divine assistance.
also invoke Blessed Bees in gift and garden stores. I find Blessed Bee
puppets at toy stores, and last spring I found bee socks at Sears. (I
bought several pairs and sent some to Elizabeth.) Now this isn't just
my little pagan hobby.
are coming into existence. Things are happening that I cannot attribute
to the action of more familiar gods or goddesses. I'm not invoking gods
you join this experiment and invoke the Blessed Bees?
You can change the third line of the invocation to specify what you want.
Rhyme isn't important, but try to maintain the simple rhythm of the invocation.
Invoke the Bees awhile and look for Bee toys and other goodies. Get the
Blessed Bees in your consciousness, in your belief system, in your rituals.
After a month or two, see if you get any results,
and let me know what your results are. Let's see if we can answer that
unanswerable question about who does the creating.
Blessed Bees: Food for Thought
ancient rock paintings and old stories tell us, people have long
been interested in bees. There are rock paintings perhaps 10,000
years old that show people collecting honey, which was probably
used for magic as well as nourishment. An Egyptian myth tells that
when the god Ra wept, his tears turned into bees that produced the
first honey, and it is known that honey was offered to gods and
goddesses in Egypt, Sumer, Babylon, Greece, and Rome. Honey has
been used for food in Central America and Mexico, in India, and
throughout Europe. Scott Cunningham lists the following magical
uses for honey: purification, health and healing, love and sexuality,
happiness, spirituality, wisdom, and weight-loss (as a substitute
for sugar). Other gifts of the bees, from early on until the present
day, are venom, pollen, propolis, beeswax, and royal jelly.
also hear about the Melissa, or bees, who were the priestesses of
Demeter and Artemis. It is said that one Melissa was a Cretan princess
who fed honey to the infant Zeus. When the god grew up, he turned
his nurse into a real bee. Maybe she was already a goddess, for
we can also see little bee-shaped Minoan figures (who have curly
punk haircuts) that date from about 1700 B.C.E. In Lady of the
Beasts, Buffie Johnson says that the work of Arthur Evans and
Marija Gimbutas suggest that "the bee goddess had a place in
ancient Crete" and may have had some connection with Athena.
such tiny insects, bees have carried abundant symbolic burdens.
In Egyptian hieroglyphics, the bee signified royal nomenclature,
partly, J.E. Cirlot writes, "by analogy with the monarchic
organization of these insects, but more especially because of the
ideas of industry, creative activity and wealth which are associated
with the production of honey." In the story of Samson and Delilah
(Judges xiv), the bee also signifies wealth: "Out of the eater
came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness"
(Judges, xiv, 14). Cirlot also tells us that according to a Delphic
tradition, bees built the second temple at Delphi, that in Orphic
teaching souls were symbolized by bees (because they swarm as souls
were believed to swarm from the divine unity), and that in early
Christian symbolism bees symbolized diligence and eloquence.
writers have liked the symbolism of the hive and its government.
Bees work together, ruled by their queen, to produce the wealth
of honey. The French poet and essayist, Guillaume de Salluste (1544-1590),
wrote "For where's the state beneath the firmament/ That doth
excel the bees for government?" and Shakespeare's Henry V observed,
"So work the honeybees, /Creature that by a rule in Nature
teach/ The act of order to a peopled kingdom" (I,ii,187). The
modern philosopher, George Santayana, also compared human society
to the hive: "The human race, in its intellectual life, is
organized like the bees: the masculine soul is a worker, sexually
atrophied, and essentially dedicated to impersonal and universal
arts; the feminine is a queen, infinitely fertile, omnipresent in
its brooding industry, but passive and abounding in intuitions without
method and passions without justice" (from The Life of Reason,
written in 1905).
you want to know more about bees in general, read Laucks wonderful
Joanne Elizabeth Lauck, The Voice of the Infinite in the Small:
Revisioning the Insect-Human Connection (Mill Spring, NC: Swan
Raven & Co., 1998), ch. 10.
+ Honey as food in history: Scott Cunningham, The Magic in Food
(St. Paul: Llewellyn, 1990), 169-72.
+ Melissa: Patricia Monaghan, The New Book of Goddesses &
Heroines (St. Paul: Llewellyn, 1997), 214.
+ Minoan "bee goddess": Buffie Johnson, Lady of the
Beasts (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988), 156-7.
+ Symbolism: J.E. Cirlot, A Dictionary of Symbols, trans.
by Jack Sage (NY: Philosophical Library, 1962), 22-23.
+ The three quotations are taken from Bartletts Familiar
Quotations, 14th edition.
Momma's Worldused with permission.
+ detail, God Punishes the Priest Fiorenzo, Luca Signorelli, courtesy
+ bee on blue ground, courtesy of Free
+ golden bee, courtesy of About
+ bee on flower, courtesy of gloz
+ Bee Goddess, after Buffie Johnson, Lady of the Beasts,
pen on acid-free paper. Copyright ©
2002 Sage Starwalker. All rights
+ bee and purple flowers, courtesy of About