Who were the Bee Goddesses and Bee Priestesses of the Ancient World?

By Krista Holland

Time and again we see priestesses and goddesses of the ancient world referred to as bee priestesses and bee goddesses. Many goddesses of old have their names and titles in someway mythologically or etymologically connected to the words for bees and or honey. As we dig through the remnants of the bee-venerating cultures the world over there is still much to be understood.

The ancient cultures that honored the bee goddesses may have left precious secrets and ephemeral treasures in their myths, allegories and symbols. There are some who claim there is an unbroken, hidden lineage and shamanic line of bee priestesses that profess their origins to have begun long, long ago in the archaic cultures of ancient times. We do know that there has been a trail of symbols and signs left in the ruins and artifacts of the ancient world that point strongly to the deep ties and tangible relationships that women and honeybees have forged and nurtured in each other over vast periods time.

Crete in particular is resplendent with images of women tending to honey bees and with sacred symbols of hybrid creatures that are half female - ¬ half Hymenoptera. The ancient medallions, coins, jewelry, insignia and art are evocative of the rich attendant gifts and medicine that come along with stewarding the bounty and buzzing beauty of a hive.

In our time together on Crete during the Eleusinian Mystery Field School, we will be just dipping a finger into the mysteries of the bee priestesses so as to enjoy but a sweet taste of the subtle essence of what these myths and symbols might nourish in us archetypally, metaphorically and culturally. When we apprentice to the awe inspiring depth and breadth of the Divine Feminine it is helpful to remember that She is the “One who Desires to Become Many” and is multifarious by nature. She expresses herself in a multitude of dimensions, expressions and through many different symbolic and embodied manifestations and incarnations.

She is the maiden of the caves and caverns. The progenitor of the sacred springs, rivers, grottos and all water. She is the mistress of the beasts and snakes. She is the lady of the mountains and Queen of the Honey Bees. She is Rhea, Demeter and Aphrodite, Potnia and Cybele. She is the oracle of Delphi. She is the power of prophecy and ecstasy that animates the mystai, the muses and the melissae. She is the keeper of cyclical time and shamaness of the sacred drum. She is the orchestrator of seasonal rhythms and ceremonial rites. She is the moon, the womb, the circle, the web weaver, the labyrinth walker, the ritualistic dancer, the mead maker and the initiator of the sacred mysteries. She is pure feminine power and manifest energy. She is life giver, sustainer, destroyer, and rebirther. She is the co-creatrix of all Life.

There is deep territory to discover when approaching any shamanic tradition. We are each encouraged to trust the perfect timing of the Divine Feminine in her guidance and to relax into the flow of transmission with a sense of ease in the unfolding mysteries, by simply opening, to Her grace.

Krista Holland is a yogini, frame drummer, multifaceted teacher and Renaissance woman. Krista’s work and teaching draws from her in-depth practice and studies of yoga, Ayurveda, Tantrik philosophy, sacred drumming and permaculture. Krista was first introduced to Eastern philosophy, mysticism and various practices of meditation at an ashram in India at the age of twelve. Krista is a devoted practitioner and teacher of the essence of non-dual tantra yoga. She is known for her gift of weaving the ancient wisdom of yogic philosophy through the embodied practice of full spectrum yoga and Embodied Life Coaching. Krista is a faculty member of the College of the Melissae - Center for Sacred Beekeeping where she teaches on the Mythology, Symbol Systems and Sacred Drumming connected to the ancient Bee Priestess traditions. She is also the co-founder of Gaia Women Global. The synthesis of her multidisciplinary career and dharma is brought together in her body of work called Yoga and Living Arts, where she offers a rich mandala of teachings and private coaching dedicated to personal and planetary healing, spiritual awakening and the full flowering of embodied life mastery.  kristaholland.com