Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Why Bees?

People have been asking me, why bees? What's my plan? Why do I want to become a beekeeper? Let's start there. I don't want to become a beekeeper. While frequent slips of the tongue may be misleading, I am not interested in keeping bees. Nor am I interested, at this time, in selling honey, propolis, pollen, tinctures, candles or any other bee product, no matter how yummy the prospects. I am interested in Living with Bees. Or, to sound all the more professional, Apiculture.

Apiculture is derived from the Latin word for bee, apis. For some, it may just seem like a fancy name for beekeeping, but I see a subtle, yet significant difference. There is a great deal of power held in a word. Words carry a resonance, a history, an intention, a charge. Words spoken from one pair of lips, can easily be received with a completely different meaning by another pair of ears. If everything I do must be done with intention, then I need to set the record straight on this whole Beekeeper concept. As so many beekeepers are apt to say, I don't keep bees, the bees keep me.

My path to bees was such a strange, labyrinthian unfolding. It began with a broken heart and a book. I was living in San Francisco in December of 2007, miserable. Unbenounced to my sorry self, I had just dovetailed into a good old-fashioned Dark Night of the Soul. I hated the city. Don't get me wrong, San Francisco is an incredible city. It's my city. Most of the time I love it. However, as a broken-hearted, job-hunting, rent-paying, tree-climbing, river-swimming nature girl, I was drowning in concrete. I cursed the number 27 bus that e-braked outside my widow all night long. I cursed the pink, starless skies. I cursed my inability to embrace the city and just get over myself. I aliviated this daily horror with three things: self-toucher via romantic comedies, self-care via solo dates at the wine and dessert bar, and escapism via the golden gate bridge toward the eternal hills of mystic Middle-Earth (what regular folk know as West Marin).

At some hazy point in January, a dear friend gave me the book The Shamanic Way of the Bee by Simon Buxton. I knew very little about bees. Most of my life (this is a serious confession) I didn't even like honey. But my spirit was hurting, so I opened the pages to see what they might reveal. I devoured the book. I got lost in the apiaries of Britain, Vitamin Pan, the Serpent Flight, Nightshade Isle, the honey liquor of Lithuaian, and of course, The Melissae. The book was feeding me like fresh sap to a brittle tree. It spoke to me. It actually spooked me out. On the day I heard the exact words the author would write before even turning the page, I took the book and chucked it across the room. Seriously, a full on Bastien moment from the end of "The Never Ending Story". I left the book crumpled on the floor and drove straight to Marin. I parked on Bolinas ridge and walked out to a cold, rocky perch to watch dusk sea-mist crawl inland over the hills. My breathing calmed, my mind began to slow. A herd of white deer grazed in the distance and everything was rose-colored. In that moment, with the words of the bee shaman reverberating through my mind, I came to a stillness. I became a part of the rose light, the mist path, the mother sea. I felt a radiant beauty descend over me. In the growing night, I drove back to the city, stopping at the Fairfax market for dinner. A well-dressed and unimposing man ran after me as I left the store. "Sorry to disturb you," he said. "I'm not usually like this, but I saw you in the store. Don't worry, I don't need anything from you. I just wanted you to know you're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen, and I wanted to give you this." He handed me a red tulip and walked away before I could even say thank you.

What on earth does any of this have to do with bees? It was the beginning. Not because a man said I was beautiful, but because in that moment, I knew I WAS the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. The book had opened something inside me and I was literally vibrating with Goddess essence. I picked up the thread of my life and was following it out of the labyrinth. I had to know more.

Lucky for me, Simon Buxton had opened the The Sacred Trust, a school teaching courses in Shamanism and the Path of Pollen (an ancient lineage of Bee Shamans). Unlucky for me, the Sacred Trust is in England. Lucky for me, I happened to be going to Italy the next summer (2009). Unlucky for me, the class was already full.

I went to England anyway, to visit Glastonbury for three days before heading to Tuscany. This was my third visit to Glastonbury, home of sacred springs, Glatonbury Tor, thousand year oaks, The Holy Thorn Tree, and a host of other powerful sites. It is the legendary home of the mythic Isle of Avalon (Isle of Apples), and remains one of the places where the veil between this world and the Otherworld remains thinnest. It resonates with the Heart Chakra and is imbued with Goddess energy.

Glastonbury Tor crowned with Michael's Tower.

On the second day, I paid homage to Wearyall Hill and ancient The Holy Thorn Tree. The Holy Thorn is a pilgrimage site for Pagans and Christians alike. It is a direct decedent of a 2,000 non-native Hawthorne tree from the Middle East, which blooms (unusually) twice a year, at Christmas and Easter. The tree is said to have sprouted from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea (Jesus' uncle) upon his arrival to Glastonbury after the Cruxification. It is even rumored that Joseph bore the Holy Grail to England and buried it beneath the sacred springs of Chalice Well. The Divine Feminine aspect of the Holy Grail brought me to Avalon with the intention of paying homage to the land. I gave the tree an ribbon offering and a prayer for the arrival of my future child. When I turned, there sat a tiny cottontail rabbit, not ten feet away, watching me in the evening light.

The ancient oak Magog, over 1000 years old.

Chalice Well

On the last day of my visit, I took an afternoon nap in the low arms of a British Hawthorn tree on the side of Glastonbury Tor, a dominating hill with a 7 circuit earthen labyrinth winding up to a central tower. The Tor is a powerful site where the Michael and Mary Ley Lines cross on their intertwining journey across Europe. You feel a strange pull from these two earth energy lines as you ascend the slope to its visit of the Summer Country. As I slept, I traveled into the Tor and visited the inner labyrinth and underground spring. Each interior level presented a message or vision until I reached the crown and woke with a start into a strange, thick mist. In the half-light, I felt my heart drained of all grief and heartache, and refilled with an overflowing, all-present Love. The energy was deeply feminine; I felt as if the Goddess of the land had restored my heart to fullness and gifted me with the awareness of true Self-Love.

In the morning, as I drove away in the pre-dawn light, Glastonbury Tor rose in my rear-view window and I was filled with a sudden and sure knowing: I would be back within the year. Sacred places do that. They tell you things, if you listen, and The Isle of Avalon told me I would be back next summer. I agreed, but my bank account indicated otherwise.

Fast forward to February 2010. I had recovered from my time in the Shadow Cave and was focusing on the release of my first Album, Waterkeeper. My pilgrimage in 2009 brought me to new heights of spiritual awareness and self-renewal. I had trust again. Trust in the exact and divine timing of all things. I was living back home in the Sierra Foothills and trying to decipher the music industry. One day, out of the blue, I got a call from my close friend, Cheyanna. She was planning a pilgrimage to Europe in the summer and needed advice on pilgrimage sites. Since Cheyanna and I share much of our spiritual work and ritual together, I had passed her The Shamanic Way of The Bee months before, knowing my Mead mistress would love a glimpse into the world of the honey-makers.

Over the phone, I rattled on about Avebury, Avalon, Chartres Cathedral, Stonehenge, Scotland, Ireland and the like, until Cheyanna became quiet and giggly and said "Ari, Ben and I have a proposition for you." ???? "We would like to invite you to join me on part of my trip to Europe and help plan a pilgrimage." Confused, I barked out a strange laugh and began blubbering until she explained. Her husband couldn't go, but he wanted her to have company and a friend who understand the spiritual significance of the trip. He would pay my part in exchange for my help with planning and logistics, as well as some dedicated girlfriend galavanting. And, then they dropped the question that made me set down the phone. Would I also be interested in taking The Way of the Melissa workshop at the Sacred Trust?

England called me back. Just as promised, against all financial obstacles, the land said Yes. We began making plans, pouring over maps of France and England, discussing cream tea, french cafes and driving on the left. Cheyanna signed us up for the Way of the Melissae, but came back with bad news. We were 13th and 14th on the waiting list. I told her, plan our trip as if we were going to the Sacred Trust for a week and have faith that it would happen. I contemplated what to do about this problem and it hit me: go to the bees. I typed in "Melissa California" hoping for some sign in the right direction, and up popped The Melissa Garden, in Healdsberg, CA, just north of Marin. It's a honeybee sactuary full of happy bees and flowers, and they just so happened to be teaching an upcoming Rudolf Steiner inspired class on Connecting to Bees through the Heart.

Photo from the Melissa Garden website

The Melissa Garden is a true jewel. It is one of the most progressive, forward thinking, earth-centered places I've been. They teach from the heart, with great reverence and understanding of the hive. The garden is prolific and filled with bee forage that changes from season to season. The class was held on a warm April day. Michael and Barbara taught using a combination of discussion-based and experiential learning. At the end of class, Michael opened the HangerKorb, or Hanging Basket Hive.

Photo from the Melissa Garden website.

We sat in silence while the bees buzzed all around us, encompassing us within their vibratory field. Then Michael said, "lets make the bees rain" and took the bowl-shaped lid of the hive off the ground and tossed it into the air. All the bees lining the inside of the basket lifted as a clump into the air and started to fall to the ground. At that moment a gust of wind came up and blew the bees two feet to the left where they fell, as one giant clump, all over my body. For 15 minutes I was covered from head to toe in drones and females. I held my arms out so I wouldn't crush them and moved in slow arcs as repeatedly alighted on my skin. I had no concerns. Simply an ecstatic grace, filling my being, erasing all sense of fear.

Photo from the Melissa Garden website.

When I returned home I called Cheyanna and told her we were going to get into the course. I just knew it. Two weeks later she phoned me with the news, the volcanic eruptions in Iceland had effected travel plans for most of the women signed up for the class, and there was suddenly two slots open. It seems the Queen of Synchronicity was a work. The Bees were sending us to England! Not only that, we were going to prepare for the workshop by visiting Glastonbury and the Avebury Henge. We were beside ourselves with joy.

After all the build up around the Sacred Trust and the Way of the Melissa, it would be nice if I could delve into an in-depth description of the course, but the workshop doesn't unfold that way. If you go to the website you will find a vague, enchanting description of the week-long workshop that leaves most asking, "but what is it really about?" Cheyanna and I did not know. Couldn't even guess. We were simply compelled like little honeybees Bee-Lining it home to the hive. The Path of Pollen is a Mystery Tradition. It's work is individual, communal and deeply rewarding. It is not my position to describe the workshop, but I can describe it's effect on me. If you are still curious when you are done, read The Shamanic Way of the Bee, and hopefully my vague references may come into a more refined focus.

The Way of the Melissae was less a workshop and more an introduction and resounding yes to life's calling. I remember having the profound sense that everything I had done in my life had led me to this moment, these women, this land, this lineage. In the same sense that one longs for a soulmate, I had longed for my spiritual home. I did not even know how deeply I longed for it, until I felt those introductory words pour into my ready ears on a cool July day in Devon, England. Within the first three minutes of the course, tears were streaming down my face. The Sacred Trust provided me with a homecoming to a tradition that reside both within and without. Even if I never set another step on the grounds of The Sacred Trust again, I will not have lost my place on Path of Pollen. I wept tears of grief and joy for finding a tradition that spoke to the very core of my being. It was not a religious awakening, but more an embodiment, a return, a discovery of a self long in the making.

We left England for the wine, eclairs and legends of France. We journeyed through late night Paris, the heart of Chartres Labyrinth, enigmatic Rennes-le-Chateau, the burning heat of Carcassonne, and the sanctuary of Rennes-le-Bains. More wonderous experiences unfolded along the way, opening us further to the realm of Mary Magdalene, Divine Union and Self Love. I experienced memory of past lives in the Languedoc region, a complete surrender to the inner beloved in Chartres and a self-knowing that surpassed all other personal awakenings to date.

<------Chartres Cathedral and a Vienna Coffee

Bathing in The Fountain of Love, Renne-les-Bains

Three tiny weeks and I came back utterly changed. So different that I no longer even had the language to speak of it. This is the first time I've even attempted to write of it for others, and still it is only scratching the surface. To help my self reintegrate, I took six days at a beautiful property called The Hinterlands in Mendocino County, CA. There is nothing like the wilderness to bring one back to presence.

I returned to my home on July 22, the Feast Day of Mary Magdalene. In the morning, my mother took me into the backyard of my house. She said they had arrived 2 weeks ago, while I was still in England. She said they had made a home. A colony of honeybees. A swarm of wild bees living in a hole in the side of my house. My mouth fell open in sheer disbelief. Is it possible? Can the world be that synchronistic? That validating? Could they really have moved into my home WHILE I was in England taking my first steps down the Path of Pollen? A July swarm when bees shouldn't be swarming at all? A late swarm that shouldn't even have survived the winter?

So you see, I did not choose the bees, the bees chose me (a common phrase to be sure). I am not a Beekeeper. I am Living with Bees. I speak to them. I hum with them. I cry with them. I love with them. They are woven into my blood and teach me of ancient mystery traditions, deep wisdom, ecstatic joy and the essence of creation. They were there when I conceived my child. They were there when I miscarried. They came when I called. They answered my grief with abundance.

Why Bees? Because bees are living in my heart. Because bees are dying all over the world, and I am choosing to give them a home where they are free. A home where they tell me if and when I can take honey. I am here to watch and listen and be transformed by all the bees have to share. Perhaps they will give me honey, but that is not my goal. My hope is simply to exist with bees and watch the garden bloom around them.

To the ancient and living Bee Priestesses who walk an arcane path on this sacred earth, I honor you. Thank you for holding the thread of tradition alive through the dark times and the light times. I remember you. I remember us.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Typical Mama

Quote of the day: I was busy writing an upcoming bee blog on the patio of a local raw food cafe when one of the owners passed by. I said hello and before I knew it I was showing him bee photos, telling him stories and acting like the mother of a newborn. Keep in mind, a year ago I knew hardly a thing about bees or bee behavior. He I was acting like it was the only thing I do with my life (which is kind of true at the moment). His dad is also a first year beekeeper and talks obsessively about bees as well. They get under your skin. It's ridiculous. I mean, how many people decided to eat breakfast sitting next to their goats or chickens? But eating breakfast with the bees? Simply logic. The owner walked inside and I heard him shout good-naturedly to his sis, with a nod in my direction, "Another bee freak."

Saturday, May 21, 2011

New Rule

Sitting next to entrance of hive and calmly hanging out with bees is good. Digging up an old tree root directly in front of hive in order to plant lavender (bee fav) at full sun hours of the day = bad plan. Not because the bees are angry, but because trying to dig something up in front of their flight path is very disorienting for bees. As a result I received a very disorienting bee sting in the ear. Yes, inside my ear. It has yet to swell up, but should be interesting. It made my whole head feel like it was spiraling outward. Bee medicine in the ear....maybe it will cure my current headaches. New rule: don't garden in front of bee hive entrance at busy bee times of the day.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Here Comes the Sun

Lavender - a bee favorite
(photo by John Daly)

After a plunge back into the stormy depths of winter, the sun has re-emerged and so have the bees! I'm so happy to see the ladies out and about today. They seem busier than ever, reinvigorated by solar warmth and fresh nectar flow. I found this little lady (see below) crawling around the base of the hive and gave her a new surface to explore.

I live in the Sierra Foothills of California, where we are experiencing a particularly late spring. True, mountain weather is unpredictable, but usually by mid-May the grasses begin to hint of summer gold and river swimming appears somewhere on the distant horizon. This year, I will be surprised to see a safe and swimmer-friendly Yuba River before July. The rain has made everything green, green, green, sending an oddly nostalgic feeling of the Englsih Summer Country across my skin. Watching the weather out my back door, as well as the weather across the globe, has helped to illustrated on a physical level that we truly are living in a time of planetary change.
Good morning to me!

I am so glad the bees are coming back to help guide us through this time of uncertainty and opportunity. I know the buzz is all about Colony Collapse and the disappearance of the bees, as it should be, but I think bees are showing up in the mass human psyche for another reason as well. Bee are teaching us a lesson of stewardship, collective consciousness and love. Bees have been dying off at an alarming rate without much explanation or understanding. Scientists and beekeepers alike have jumped to the forefront to discover the cause and the remedy. Their conclusions are as diverse and varied as each honey source, but there are some very convincing arguments that the basic "back to nature" and "listen to the bees" methods are what we and these solar beings are in need of.

Commercial beekeeping is detrimental to the honeybee. The sudden decline in bee hives over the last ten years threatens not only the honeybee, but also 80% of our food source . The little creatures are showing us they can not withstand monocrop culture and pollination. Commercial practices are harsh and taxing on the species, but have become the accepted method for most modern beekeepers, both commercial and backyard. Bees are being carted across the country on semi-trucks, incessantly disturbed through home/hive inspection, forced to accept foreign artificially inseminated queens, forced to build off uniform pre-made plastic comb, made to live without drones (since drones are not profitable) and weakened through over-use of antibiotics and sugar feed.

Some may say I am a neglectful beekeeper for refusing to feed my bees sugar water, but I believe in the rebounding strength of the species. I know what sugar does to my body, why weaken the bee through a sugar diet as well? I listen to my bees and ask them to tell me what they need. Perhaps they wont make it through the winter without antibiotics, sugar or regular hive inspection, but then again, they have already drawn out 11 panels of comb and are near bursting at the seems. I did not feed them when I first caught them, and they are abundantly reproducing, happy and strong.

Honeycomb seen through the window of my hive.
During the last warm spell they finished 3 combs in just 7 days.

It is a true joy to join the explosion of backyard and urban beekeepers across the globe who are choosing to live with bees again. From city rooftops to country gardens bees are humming through our days. What better teacher for Unity, Love and Community than the superorganism known as the honeybee hive? Just look at them!

Who knew a Honeybee had a heart over it's heart?
This is through the glass window viewer. It has a cover to keep in the dark.
When you open it it lets in a lot of light, so I don't open it too often.

Honeybees are completely dependent on one another. Each bee, through various life stages, performs a role. Each bee is needed. The comb becomes their tissue, the hivebox, their skeleton. One can not survive alone, and thus they are truly one being, many cells coming together to create a whole:

1) Queen - Goddess, mother and life source of the hive. She who chooses gender and brood size. She who serves and is served by her hive. There is never a moment that the bees in the hive do not know where the queen is. As the queen moves around the comb, she brushes up against other bees, passing on her scent. These bees in turn, brush up against other bees and within in minutes the entire hive knows not only the location of the queen, but also her health and well-being. She is a teacher of Divine Source, always giving, always protected, always loved.

2) Drones - Necessary for procreation with other queens from other hives. Drones do this amazing thing in the spring and early summer: they congregate. On warm days they fly out to some mysterious aerial location and congregate with other drones from all the nearby hives. They fly around in the sun waiting for a queen to fly by. When a queen bee flies through the congregation the drones take after her like a tiny comet. The queen mates with multiple drones in one afternoon, and after 1 -4 flights she permanently returns to the hive to lay and fertilize eggs for the rest of her life. Some drone congregation sites have been documented with returning drones for the last 200 years. There are many guesses as to why they choose these sites, but the one I resonate with, is the theory that drones congregate around hotspots in the earth's magnetic field.

Returning bee with pollen collected in little sacs on her legs.

3) Female Bee - Popularly known as the Worker Bee, the female has a multitude of tasks. Throughout her lifespan she will build comb, make bee bread, defend the hive, forage for pollen, forage for nectar, nurse the young, make propolis and make honey. Yes, she works hard, but it is not work as we see it, slaving away day in day out. She is a sister of joyful service to her body, her community. After taking classes with Michael Thiele at the Melissa Garden Honeybee Sanctuary, I am more aware than ever, that our language around bees much change. I will write of Michael Thiele and the Melissa Garden in a later blog, but for now, allow me to follow suit by choosing the label "female bee" over "worker bee". In the words of Michael Thiele, “Living with bees is such an opportunity to study our mind and our heart. Once we start down that path, we’ll discover the language we use is such a problem, such a limitation.”

Entrance to the Melissa Garden

Today I sat inches from the hive entrance and took photographs. (Well, just to the left really). The bees buzzed all around me, landing on my hand or head occasionally, but never stinging. For a moment, I took a break from the viewfinder and turned my face out to the bees coming home with pollen or new information to share. Each bee that approached the hive flew directly up to my face, within an inch, giving me a face to face flurry of wings before continuing inside. Perhaps they were assessing whether or not I was a threat. Perhaps that is the proper and scientific way to decipher their actions. But then again, bees can recognize the face of their "keeper". Maybe, just maybe, today, they were simply coming up to say hello.

Oh, how my heart does sing.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Introduction to the Melissae: Simon Buxton and the Sacred Trust

Excerpt from The Shamanic Way of the Bee: Ancient Wisdom and Healing Practices of the Bee Masters

"We moved into the orchard and I closed the gate behind me. This done, I turned to follow the Bee Mistress, and what I witnessed began, I felt, to spin me into a myth. Here and there in the shade-dappled orchard, figures were moving, at work among the hives, figures of women clad in long gowns with either purple or crimson borders. All of them wore the protective black bee veils, thus I could hazard only the dimmest guess at the faces beneath them, although I though I recognized the Melissa who had surprised me that day and then disappeared as swiftly as she had appeared. An occasional ripple of laughter broke the busy silence and the Melissa nearest to me - young and of a delicate prettiness, I could have sworn, although her veil disclosed provokingly little - was singing the sweetest of seductive Siren chants as she stooped over an open hive and lifted out a crowded honeycomb. I hoped it was sung for my benefit.

The taste of honey is on your lips,
my darling, your tongue is milk and honey for me.
I have entered my garden,
my sweetheart, my bride.
I am gathering my spices and myrrh,
I am eating my honey and honeycomb,
I am drinking my wind and milk.
Eat, lovers, and drink
until you are drunk with love..."

- Simon Buxton

Meet the Melissae. Women descended from an ancient European tradition called The Path of Pollen. When writing and reading of the Melissae we cross into the lands where history and myth intertwine. There are few in-depth accounts of the Melissae for they are a veiled tradition, steeped in the mysteries of the feminine.

The Melissae Priestesses trace back to the oracular traditions of ancient Greece. Melissae comes from the Greek word for "honeybee". The Bee Priestesses at Eleusis were called Melissae and lead the initiatory rites of passage at Eleusis known as the Eleusinian Mysteries. The Priestesses of Demeter, Aphrodite and Persephone among other goddesses were all known as Melissae, as were many of the ancient Pythias or Oracles. It is even said that the oracles ate honey as one of the means to induce "truth-speaking".

The grounds of the Sacred Trust
Taken from the Galley on their website.

In the excerpt above, Simon Buxton writes of his first encounter with the Melissae in a summer garden in England where he is initiated onto the Path of Pollen by Bee Master Bid Ben Bid Bont. Through his experience, Simon goes on to create the Sacred Trust in Dorset, England, where he and a group of incredible staff offer workshops in Shamanism and The Path of Pollen. Through a series of deeply synchronistic events (more later!), I was gifted with the opportunity to attend one of these workshops last July. The workshop was called the Way of the Melissae and lasted a week. It was a women-only class, taught, priestessed and held by the incredible Kate Shela and Naomi Lewis, for whom I am forever grateful. They call it a workshop, but it is so much more. It irrevocably altered the path of my life. I have little else to say about the teachings, for it is not mine to teach. However, if there is some deep stirring within you as you read this, I suggest a trip to the Sacred Trust website to see where the threads take you.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dear Baby Girl

Dear Baby Girl,

Exactly one month ago yesterday it snowed. The moon was waxing, lilac blooming and somewhere, the world's oldest man was preparing to die. It was also the day you left my body. April 13, 2011 we went into surgery together. I was bleeding. They were afraid you might be in my tubes. They said there was no baby. There was no heartbeat. But we went into surgery together anyway. You, like a blanket of white light, covering me. Me, a mama, holding her baby. I heard you then, as I was wheeled down the hall toward the OR. I heard you say, "Everything is exactly right." I heard you remind me, "Everything is in Divine Timing. Trust Your Source."

Daughter, you gifted me with transcendence. You and I filled my being with so much trust and so much love, that I no longer felt the loss of you, simply the wholeness of you. I was standing within the stillness of Creation and Creation was Love.

When I woke I cried. You were still there. You showed me things. The way it used to be. The way you want to be born. We spoke. I went home, surrounded by women and family, your papa and good hearts. We put me in the downstairs guest room so I wouldn't have to walk up stairs. I was so pale. There were flowers everywhere. I slept. I couldn't feel you anymore. I felt hollow, confused. Every time I woke, I had to rediscover you were no longer inside me. Cole held me. I cried. I was getting smaller.

We slept with your jacket. The tiny blue down jacket Katy bought for our camping-with-baby adventures. We watched Lord of the Rings. Seren left. Nick and Nick made us breakfast. Cole helped me walk. Joanna made me laugh. I still couldn't feel you. The day Mistery and Maroo stopped by, it started to warm up. Through the window, little bee after little bee went flying by. Maroo exclaimed, "It looks like the bees are flying out of your heart!" I was sitting propped against the same wall of the house where the wild bees made their home in the wall of my house almost a year ago. I realized, every night, I had been sleeping with my head less than 4 feet away for a vibrating hive. And there it was. The story weaving me back into its folds. The simple thread connecting each moment to the next. The bees, the heart, the womb. I could feel you.

Exactly one month ago yesterday, I had a miscarriage and you left. You did not leave me. You left my body. And when it is time, you will come back to finish the work we started. "Do not be confused by the physical aspect," you said. "This is not a death." So it is, that yesterday, May 13, 2011, my moon cycle began again. Blood to mark the passing. Blood to mark the beginning. Completion.

Daughter, thank you for the time shared. Thank you for choosing my womb to do your sacred work, for however brief that time may have been. Thank you for chosing your Papa and trusting the Love we share. Thank you for gifting me with a level of wisdom that encompasses such depths of grief and joy. Thank you for bringing me the bee swarm. Today they have completed drawing out their comb. Eleven perfect white honeycombs, vibrating with the essence of unity and love. Somewhere in the heart of the hive is a brood nest, where baby bees emerge into that sacred darkness.

You are a part of this world, baby girl. There is a yogic practice called Bhamari, which facilitates opening of the heart chakra through a vibrational humming. The Sanskrit name for the heart chakra is Anahata, meaning "The Unstruck Sound", or the sound of creation/the cosmic realms. It is a sound that can not be heard with the human ear, but is considered most akin to the hum of the bee. Bhramari Pranayam is the yogic bee humming practice developed to access this sound and is used by pregnant women to vibrate the brain, reduce anxiety, regulate hormones and the nervous system, shorten labor, connect to ecstatic states and help prevent miscarriage. It is the hum behind all reality. So, sweet one, on dark nights and the brightest of days, I hum for you. I hum our song. Listen, and I will hum you into being.


Me at 9 weeks, just starting to show.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Here, Have Mine

Honeybees are adventurous sorts. They fly from flower to flower filling their bellies with sweet nectar or their legs with fuzzy pollen. To fill up completely before returning to the hive, they must visit approximately 1500 flowers.

Foraging bees begin their life outside the hive 3 - 4 weeks into their lifespan. When a nectar-collecting bee comes back to the hive, she finds a younger home bee. The younger bee, living in the darkness of the hive, extends her proboscis, and in a life affirming kiss, sucks the nectar out of her foraging sister. Next she takes it to the prepared hex-shaped empty comb to begin the ripening process.

Bee feeding each other from Beekeeping Pictures

On Monday I turned 30. It was a simple affair involving Indian take-out, fudgey chocolate cake, family and a few friends. Among them was my oldest friend of 30 years, Katy. In some ways, Katy and I are near opposites. As babies she was nut-brown with adorable dark curls. I was blonde, nearly hairless, and looked like a boy. I became the fairy princess and sports failure, she became a basketball star. I'm a musician with long dark hair. She's a scientist with short, cropped hair. But.... we get each other. We have emergency coffee dates in the morning by the river. We go to the farmers market and buy flowers and peaches. We make fun of our families together.

Last month Katy bought a cookie for my partner, Cole. Cole was late. Katy decided to eat this one, and buy him another. I had just eaten, but being pregnant at the time meant that cookie looked awfully necessary in my belly. She shared. She always shares. Then she told me a story. She had run into Sharon, our old pre-school teacher the other day. If you're lucky, most times you run into Sharon, she has some little piece of memory you've forgotten about those precious years of 3 and 4. This time it was phrases. Apparently Sharon and her aid used to pick out phrases that belonged to each kid. The type of thing that defined the child, and was heard often, such as "More juice" or "Superwow." In all the years of Stepping Stones Pre-School, there was only one circumstance where two children had the same catch phrase. It was Katy and I, naturally. Katy and I shared two imaginary friend brothers, so why not our catch phrase? I asked Katy what the famous words might be, and she responded: "Here, have mine!"

We bought another cookie for Cole. We shared that one too.

Today a friend told me that when a honeybee travels too far and has become depleted, another bee from the hive may come to her aid. First, the lively bee assesses whether or not the tired bee is in the natural process of dying from old age. If not, the helper bee will actually feed her sister some of her own nectar so that she may regain the strength to return to the hive. I couldn't help but think of Katy.

So, in the nature of Honey-Nectar and 30 years of sharing: Here, Have Mine.