MINOAN BEE GODDESS
Minoan Bee Goddess Pendant
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.
Dating back to the Bronze Age, to the Protopalatial Period (1800 -1700 BC) 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.
Valencia Spain Cave Painting 13,000 bc
Archaeological evidence from almost every corner of the world demonstrates that bees and the hive life were powerful symbols of community, continuance, regeneration and a connection to the otherworld of our ancestors. As the source of honey, they also represented sweetness, healing and magic.
Many scholars believe early cultures of the Mediterranean region worshiped a mother goddess. These cultures offer us our earliest archaeological evidence of organized apiculture (bee keeping)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 Knossis, 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 honey.
Egyptian Bee Heiroglyph
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
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. Visit the 'Lithuanian Museum of Ancient Beekeeping' if yu ever visit. 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.