A History of Bee Worship
Minoan Bee Goddess
The MINOAN BEE PENDANT was found in the Old Palace cemetery at Chrysolakkos,
outside the palace of Malia, the third largest Minoan palace on the island of
Crete, in Greece.
The MINOAN BEE PENDANT dates back to the Bronze Age, to the Protopalatial Period
(1800 -1700 BC) and it's a wonderful, very detailed representation of two bees.
Are they carrying a drop of honey to their honeycomb? Are they eating pollen
together in an intimate ritual or "bee dance"?
The MINOAN BEE PENDANT is perhaps an example of the height of the metalsmith's
mastery of an ancient era - mastery in the process of granulation or faience,
during which - tiny beads are adhered to the surface of the background metal.
It is one of the most famous exhibits in the Heraklion Museum.
We bring you this wonderful ancient design in our modern reproduction as exactly
to the original as possible (we designed the 22kt gold plate version for
authentic color and feel)
History of Bee Worship
Since at least the times when humans scratched on rocks to create images, the
bee and the beehive have played central roles in human spiritual interest and
worship. Bees and honey are present in the creation myths, cosmologies and
sacred places of many diverse ancient cultures. African, Australian, South
American, European, and Hindu-Indian creation myths and sacred stories feature
the bee as a symbol of reverence. Archaeological evidence from almost every
corner of the world demonstrates this. Bees and the hive life were powerful
symbols of community, continuance, regeneration and a connection to the
otherworld for our ancestors. As the source of honey, they also represented
sweetness, healing and magic.
Valencia Spain Cave Painting 13,000 bc
Many scholars believe early cultures of the Mediterranean region worshiped a
mother goddess. These cultures offer us our earliest archaeological evidence of
organized apiculture centers. Central religious themes of these regions often
depict the bull, the bee and goddess imagery. This triad of themes is believed
to have centered around concepts of birth, death and rebirth; the ultimate
mysteries of our human lives and those of the natural world around us,
regardless of our time in human history. The works of Marija Gimbutas are a rich
source for these interpretations.
Ancient Image Knossos Crete
Minoan culture, of the Neolithic period around Crete, depicted some of it's many
goddess images with bee-like stripes, wings and antennae. Apiculture was a
prominent part of the Minoan culture, and bee- hives and other bee images
feature prominently in it's engraved imagery. Later Egyptian, Greek and Roman
cultures inherited these patterns and beliefs and transmuted them into their own
later myths and legends.
Honey and the bee were also prominent in the cosmology of the early Egyptians.
They were principles of the Egyptian diet, medicine and ritual magic. The
typical black and gold striping and winged insect imagery seen on many Egyptian
god and goddess figures, sarcophagi and other engraved imagery also referenced
the bee. The Egyptian Sun God, Ra, cried tears that became bees that then
created honey in the world. The Egyptian God, Apis, took the form of a Sacred
Bull. The Latin name for our modern day honey-bee is Apis Mellifera. King Menes
of Egypt was referred to as 'The Beekeeper' and his domain in Lower Egypt was
known as the 'Place of the Bee'. The Great Mother Goddess Neith, was worshiped
at Sais and her temple was called 'The House of the Bee'.
Turkish Bee Goddess 8000 bc
Some of my favorite bee lore is found in Greek and Roman mythology. Before
Dionysus was torn to pieces and returned as a bee, he was in the form of a bull.
His worshipers, called Maenad's, were often depicted as frenziedly dancing
females with wings. It's now believed early Greek and Roman cultures actually
drank mead as their chosen beverage, probably what's now called pyment, a honey
wine made with grapes. Pan, the Greek God commonly associated with the wild and
sexuality, was also the God of Beekeeping.
The most important oracular site of ancient Greece, Delphi, was said to have
been constructed by bees. The oracle of the temple itself was an object called
an Omphalos, a carved stone, shaped like a beehive, and covered in bee-like
images linked in a beautiful pattern. Phythia, the chief priestess at Delphi,
was called 'The Delphic Bee'. Priestesses of Greece were called Queen Bees. It
was believed they entered states of spiritual trance that involved the use of
Ancient Egyptian Heirglyph
The bee was one of it's central mythic
creatures and as such was considered sacred. Bees could not be bought or sold,
because of their revered status, and this practice is still a tradition in parts
of rural Lithuania today. In medieval times families were known to leave their
homes to follow local bees when they swarmed, relocating where the bees
established their new hive. Once this happened, the family of human followers
were believed to have earned a special grace and protection that could never be
taken away from them, or their offspring, that also made them related to other
humans that shared this form of bee-blessing in a sacred form of kinship.
Sumerian Bee Goddess
Interestingly, Lithuania is also known to have the longest living path of Pagan
worship, called Romuva. As one of the last western countries to experience the
spread and acceptance of Christianity, it's folk traditions remained uniquely
intact and were never completely wiped out. Austeja is their bee goddess. It's
also one of the most popular names given to Lithuanian girls today. If I'm ever
able to get there, I look forward to visiting the 'Lithuanian Museum of Ancient
There, one can see examples of the
intricately carved logs traditionally used for hives by beekeepers deep in the
forest. Some of these logs represented gods and goddesses and elemental forest
spirits. Others logs were left in a more natural state and were chosen because
of the power of a particular tree in it's place in the forest, and the belief
that it would go on to bless the bees within it and bring it's good ju-ju to all
that resided near it's place. Movements are underway today to bring back this
form of log beekeeping and it's currently being practiced again.
from Bee Haven Honey Farm