Bees and Bears
If I asked you to call to mind a modern bear with an obsession for honey, would you name? For me, it would have to be Winnie the Pooh. I remember reading his adventures with “hunny pots”, and sticky paws coupled with guilty looks. If I asked you to call to mind a modern bear with an obsession for honey, who would you name? For me, it would have to be Winnie the Pooh. I remember reading his adventures with “ I think A.A. Milne incorporated this lovely little nod to history on purpose. Or perhaps it is simply because Christopher Robin though all bears like honey — hence Winnie would LOVE honey.
A Finnish creation myth I love to tell is of Mielikki, the Forest Goddess. In her stories, it is often mentioned she held the keys to a chest of honey. Honey has been a highly valued substance often denoting wealth. In this case, I think it has many meanings as she has a chest of honey. As a creator figure in Finish mythology, she would be in touch with the Divine. Honey and the Bee have been associated with the divine in our oldest esoteric teachings.
According to the legend, Mielikki played a major role in the creation of Bear, Otho. Otho was born and raised in regions of the moon and the sun, in the land of the stars, in the arms of Ottawa (the great bear). The Sky let fall the wool woven by Stars and fine gold hair given by the Sun, into the Rivers below.
Mikelikki gathered the sacred gifts, carried by the wind and gorged with mist and brought by the waves to the banks of the flower islands, to the promontory where the bees seek their nectar. Mielikki, the placed the wool and hair in a small silver basket, inside a golden cradle, and she hung it from the highest branch on the highest tree in the entire forest. She then gently rocked her beloved Otho. She gave many gifts to the Otho, but the very last one was honey on his lips. She rubbed honey on his lips to remind him to taste the sweetness of life. She rubbed honey on his lips because he was divine. She rubbed honey on his lips so his first taste of life would be sweet.
Bears; like bees, are revered by our Ancestors. Bears are givers of life. The bee gives to itself first in service to the Queen Bee, and in return, the bounty of the hive gives to the rest of the world — the ultimate altruists. We have worshipped the bee since our ancestor’s ancestors. Bears have been venerated, even worshipped through most of the circumpolar regions for over 35,000 years. I give the strong esoteric connotations to bear, and I most certainly revere Bear.
Great Bear can refer to the constellation of Orion; a series of stars depicting a hunter fighting Apis. Apis is the bull who embodied eternity itself and the harmonious balance of the universe. When Apis is killed however, reincarnation and eternity were passed on by the birth of 1000 bees. Which reminds me of Buddism and the 1000 leaf lotus, the symbol for the Crown chakra (closest to the divine).
The Honey Bees are definitely teachers of harmony and balance. And we are well aware our world is severely out of balance. Our relationship to honey is a most precious gift, often perilous to gather. Its value has become a huge industry, which unfortunately has quietly put to sleep that relationship with the sacred.
Ursus Major often comes to earth in the form of great shamans, leaders, and carriers of ancient wisdom. From the bear, Orion killing the bull Apis comes the creation of the divine bees. The Divine Bee, the irresistible sweet gift of honey, a taste Otho will always crave.
Tangent: What if the number 1000 was; for our ancestors, a number equivalent to infinite? Perhaps we are too literal believing it was exactly 1000 bees. Perhaps our ancestor’s an
cestors had no relationship to 1000. If that is so, how does that change our modern relationship to this myth?
Other resources you may enjoy:
- Our podcast episodes on Bear and another on Bee.
- Our articles on Bear and on Bear Medicine.
- Waking the Bear — a spring equinox ritual and its related podcast episode.
- Free shamanic music and drumming.
- Or if you’re new to journey work and wish to develop your own relationship with spirit, get started with journey work here.
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Originally published at Shamans Way.