by Veronica Goodchild, PhD
From earliest times bees have been approached with reverence and awe, and used for religious and magical purposes. Bees are the great pollinators. Honey was the earliest sweetener and a fermented drink could be made from it – mead. Honey, like water, was seen as a “giver of life” and necessary to existence. “Honey hunting or gathering” can be seen in rock paintings in Spain and south-west France going back 15,000 years or more. Bees were mysterious and associated with birth, death, and reincarnation in folktales and myths from many different cultures around the world. They are associated with the Great Mother Goddess and with bull worship which was also dedicated to the Great Mother. The ritual of “Telling the bees” stories of their owner’s family has been a long held custom which suggests bees were approached as having supernatural powers and early on were associated with oracular and other ritual traditions.