The Ancient Celts…of Druids & Bees:
In Scotland’s western isles, people once talked of ‘the secret knowledge of the bees,’ for these tiny creatures were thought to embody the ancient wisdom of the Druids.
So what did the Druids know? Bees have long been considered divine messengers from the gods. And until quite recently in the Highlands and Islands, people thought that, when in sleep, trance or death, the soul left the body in the form of a bee – a belief that has clear druidic origins. Druids were trained in the art of the ‘soul-flight,’ by which they could journey to the Otherworld for knowledge from the spirits. They would probably have endorsed the tenet beloved of the mystery schools of the Near East: Si sapis, sis apis! – If you would be wise, be a bee!
Perhaps they also carried forth the tradition of the Great Goddess, for bees, whose lives are organised entirely around a single queen, have been sacred to the Divine Feminine for thousands of years, in ancient civilizations from Babylon to Rome. Bees were revered for their ability to pollinate flowers and crops, increasing the abundance of the Earth. The cultivation of honey was regarded as a sacred charge carried out with great reverence and ritual for it was seen as a precious gift from the Mother herself.
Bees were considered so important to early Irish society that there were special bee laws designed to protect them, called the ‘bech bretha.’ A 7th century holy woman called Gobnait, who founded a women’s community in southwest Ireland, had a close relationship with bees and used their honey for healing illnesses and treating wounds. She was said to be one of three sisters who had power over fire, and is clearly a Christianised version of the triple fire-goddess, Brighid, with whom she shares the same feast-day in early February.
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