Did you know St. Valentine is considered the patron of beekeeping? In Bulgaria it’s St. Kharlampii, who was a renowned healer who used honey and beeswax extensively in his practice. In Ireland, St. Gobnait, also known outside of Ireland as St. Abigail and St. Deborah, is the patroness of beekeeping. Deborah, as I love to mention, means “bee” in Hebrew. In the ancient Chaldean language the root means both “bee” and “word.” So perhaps that helps explain why I love writing about bees so much.
And perhaps it explains why I can’t let the month pass without mention of my beloved Bees, particularly since September is National Honey Month.
The medicinal and nutritional value of honey has been documented as early as 300 BCE. Honey is used to ease sore throats and coughs, for wounds, for allergies; it’s used in beauty rituals and spiritual rituals as well.
In ancient times honey and salt were the only commonly recognized preservatives, and honey was definitely considered to be connected to rebirth/resurrection magic. There’s evidence that bodies were embalmed in honey between 3500 to 1750 BCE, and honey was definitely a sacred essence to a number of goddesses, including Demeter and Aphrodite.
- I use honey a lot.
- Certainly for sweetness. The flavor, color, and aroma of honey can vary depending on the nectar source of the flowers visited by the bees. And so it’s fun to try different sources.
- In baths. A little bit of honey is a wonderful addition. It’s good for your skin, and it also represents the element of sweetness which may be something you’re invoking with your bath.
- In exfoliating sugar scrubs.
- On altars as offerings.
While honey is literally a source of sweetness, we shouldn’t forget the figurative aspects as well. There are times in life when sweetness is called for. When sweetness isn’t present, you can work with honey as a reminder, invoking that quality, attuning to that vibration. I particularly like this quote attributed to Walter Savage Landor:
“Kindness in ourselves is the honey that blunts the sting of unkindness in another.”
As an aromatherapist and natural perfumer myself, I wear only natural perfumes. Roxana Villa is one of my favorite natural perfumers, and I love and wear a number of her creations. She’s a bee lover as well. To celebrate one of her perfumes To Bee, her husband Greg Spalenka (who is also one of my favorite artists) created this little To Bee Lookbook. Check it out. And on page 21 you can see his Bee Prosperity print, which I have hanging, near my prosperity altar.
We can’t celebrate Honey Month without discussing recipes, can we? Now that the weather is turning a bit cooler, I’m ready to try this Baked Brie with Pears, Almonds, and Wildflower Honey. You might want to poke around the Savannah Bee Company’s website – they have a bunch of fabulous honey recipes.
These early autumn days the bees are busy reveling in my wildly overgrown garden, especially feasting on the goldenrod. I makes my heart happy to watch them. And I can’t help but think of the lines from Mary Oliver’s poem Hum:
“The bees have gone simple, sipping,
that’s all. What did you expect? Sophistication?
They’re small creatures and they are
filling their bodies with sweetness, how could they not
moan in happiness?”
Speaking of moaning in happiness, that’s exactly what I did when I found these fabulous close-ups of bee faces.
I’m not always the most comfortable having my photograph taken, but here’s one I’m happy to share.
Kidding aside, just as I’m passionate about bees and want always to have a National Honey Month to celebrate, it feels imperative to remind everyone that our beloved honeybees are in grave danger. There is definitive evidence that the neonic class of pesticides is linked to the ever-increasing bee die-offs. There is much that needs to be done, on all fronts, and there are many environmental agencies working on the issue. Please do throw your support their way. If you don’t know where to start PAN – Pesticide Action Network is a good place.
Let’s save our bees and savor their honey! Have an apian tale to share, or something you hold as dear as honey? Do tell – you know I love to hear.