Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Tending The Bees

For the last few weeks we've been spending happy hours cleaning and flaming old bee boxes and assembling extra frames of foundation for our Hives.  There are two of them, 'Wild Hive' and 'The Hive of Transition'.

The last year has seen me working harder than ever before whilst distracted by illness (not mine but one beloved and close) and also made timid around the bees by discovering that I am in fact allergic to bee sting. I now have to carry two epi-pens with me everywhere.  I have not been a good bee-keeper and I have been full of grief, berating myself instead of acting and dithering uncertainly on the edge of multiples of possibilities about what it might all 'mean'. I am initiate of The Path of Pollen, an ancient form of Shamanism that has at it's heart the Honey Bee and The Hive.  How can I be allergic to bee sting?

It was late in the year for these activities - they would have been better done in early spring.  In every moment is the opportunity for being totally here, totally alive to the moment - this is the only place where anything is truly happening. So I let go of all the beratings and inner torment and instead stepped forward into "what is needed now?"  I met the milk of kindness to humans within the hive; there is nothing to fear, there is only love, get on with the work.

To some extent I have been spectator more than participant - Fergus being the one who opens the hives - but placing my attention exactly where it should be (at a moment before the moment that is 'too late') has been balm to my grief.  The Hive of Transition has a new queen (it was briefly queenless and full of drones - not good), she is mated and happily laying comb after comb of healthy brood.  Wild Hive has all the space it needs to make more precious, nourishing, honey. The workers pour in and out of both in golden lines of busyness bringing pollen and nectar for their common good.

Apis Mellifera is a generous Mistress and both hives are now thriving.

If you love Bees, or indeed if you just love exceptional writing, I encourage you to read 'The Bees' by Laline Paull.  It's an extraordinary book and reading it is quite possibly one of the most accessible ways I can think of to understanding some of the practicalities of what goes on inside a hive.  I've made it sound dry - and it is anything but that.

If you are curious about The Path of Pollen read 'The Shamanic Way Of The Bee' by Simon Buxton. It has much to teach you, carefully hidden in eloquent prose and a beautiful story.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Past, Present and Future

May grabbed me by the tail and swung me up high into the branches, then pulled me through the great green-ness and fragrant wildness of the flowers, jiggled me about a bit and tossed me into June where I landed in a field of bluebells. I have bobbed up - not gasping for air exactly - but a little goggle-eyed and breathless.

Here are a few pictures from Beltane - I know that's over a month ago but this year there was even more celebration than usual so I thought I'd share before the whirlwind that is this year takes me so far away from them they have no relevance at all.  First there was the rooted beauty that is the crowning of the May Queen and maypole dancing in Lustleigh.

The usual blissful walk home up the  hill, sniffing the air as we go and occasionally stopping simply to wallow in how delicious it all is at this time of year.

Then some friends and I concocted the first ever Jack In The Green procession to be held in Chagford. It was mostly the magical child of Andy Letcher and Nomi McCloud and it was fun and potent. Those that were there agreed that there was an authenticity to this, a raw wildness that overtook the participants and created something much more than spectacle; something ancient came along with us.

Jack in the Green is the moving shrub above, his companion is the Obby Oss.  They danced the length and breadth of the village, gathering in the magic of the moment and a merry band of followers as they processed to the sound of pipes and drum.  We stopped in all four of the local pubs to charge our glasses and then the dance danced on, ending with  Jack being stripped of his leaves in the central square to release the spirit of summer. Hopefully we'll do it again next year and it will take on a life of it's own and be done ever more.

The Jack needed much more work than we were able to put into him, he was a triumph of hope and last minute exertion.  Time will improve him.  

May rushed on; I saw beautiful butterflies mating in the garden, I saw a fresh born fawn in the woods (this is her mother - seeing me see her) and our bees swarmed.

Woven in among all this life, the upthrust of spring and the great inexorable turning of the wheel of the year, there has been a part of my life that has come shudderingly to a halt.  I am a woman of 'a certain age', I've been expecting the flames of the fires that sometimes burn inside me to die down, I thought I knew what was headed my way, but was unprepared for the sudden onslaught of aches and pains and emotional ups and downs that seem to be associated with menopause and they piled in on me this spring.  I love change, but I prefer it to be for the better.  So I did that thing that wise women do - I complained to a friend.  I am very fortunate in my friends, this one is the Homeopath - Sandra Joyce.  I encourage you to make homeopathy your friend too if you are 'suffering' from menopause. I would like to talk more about this in a future blog but for now I will recommend you a book.  If you are heading towards that time (that wonderful un-tamed time), or even in the midst of it, then I heartily recommend 'Passage to Power' by Lesley Kenton.  It's 20 years old but has aged very gracefully and is still totally relevant.