Sometimes a small brooch or a clasp-pin with a bee on it will remind us of the vast world of symbols and meanings associated with this "domesticated" insect.
The bees have so many wonderful and often unusual abilities - organizing themselves in huge but perfectly coordinated communities, building complex structures out of wax, breathing differently from other animals and reproducing differently, too. Bees can hibernate in winter and return to busy life in spring.
On top of it, they make delicious (but also healing) honey... Naturally, all those traits found their way to myths and legends of many nations. The ancient Egyptians regarded the bee as a symbol of diligence and harmonious life. Bee was also one of the symbols for Lower Egypt. Old legends tell us that bees were born from tears of the god Ra and they also came to symbolise the goddess Maat - an embodiment of truth, physical and moral order in the world. The figurines made of beeswax were used in ancient Egypt for a variety of rituals and magic acts.
In ancient India honey was regarded as similar in its effects to "amrita" - immortality drink of the gods; at the same time the process of gathering nectar by the bees was seen as embodiment of spiritual enrichment. A blue bee sitting on a lotus flower depicted the god Vishnu.
The bees in ancient Greece were associated with goddesses Artemis and Demeter. According to Greek mythology, Melissa was a nymph who discovered and taught the use of honey and from whom bees received their name (Gr. "melissa" - bee). As the Greeks believed that souls of the dead can transfer into bees, at times their headstones were shaped as beehives. In Christianity the Church itself and its community of believers are compared to the beehive, while a good christian is sometimes described as a diligent and busy bee, always carrying its basket with pollen.
Christians attribute to the bees diligence, frugality, pursuit of order and tidiness, wisdom and unwavering mutual assistance. Beehive as a model of a harmonious and peaceful society was also popular with many European monarchs. Therefore, bees can be often encountered in heraldry. As one example, bees adorned the coat of arms of Napoleon, representing in this case immortality and resurrection.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Posted by Marianna Paransky at 3:16 PM