Demeter – Mother of Bees


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Demeter is  the Greek goddess of the harvest, agriculture, and fertility. She plays a significant role in Greek mythology, associated with the growth of crops and the changing seasons, particularly the cycle of planting and harvesting grains. 

“Demeter epitomises the fertility of the earth, the lush green plants, and the subsequent golden harvests.  Her daughter represents the seed, the new birth, the corn maiden.  An annual cycle of re-birth and the one who turns the seasons, and Hades, for all his bad reputation, represents the rich, dark earth which provides the right environment that enables the seed to grow.” excerpt from ‘Demeter and Persephone’ by Wyn Abbot

Although Demeter is primarily known as the Greek goddess of the harvest, agriculture, and fertility, there is also another connection between her and bees, which I wanted to explore further and is why I chose to call this piece ‘Mother of Bees’. 

Bees played a role in the myth of Demeter and her daughter Persephone. According to some, when Persephone was abducted by Hades and taken to the underworld, Demeter deep in mourning searched for her relentlessly. During her search, she was welcomed by the people of Eleusis, and to show her gratitude, she taught them the art of agriculture, including beekeeping. 

So, while Demeter is not exclusively known as the goddess of bees, she is associated with them in the context of her role in teaching agricultural practices to humanity, practices which have been abandoned in the present day. I believe Demeter in her aspect of Mother of Bees teaches us the lesson of how we can nurture our food crops in synch with the natural world, not against it. Bees are an excellent example of symbiotic survival. Through the process of pollination, they nurture other species in order to preserve their own. The aim of our own lives should be the same, to live in harmony with and have respect for all other forms of life on our planet, so all can thrive and grow. 

This is a much needed lesson as we continue to plummet into the 6th known extinction event of this planet. Presently we are taught to dominate and mold the environment to our specific use. This is evident in the bio diverse deserts of industrial mono crop farming dependent on pesticides and fertilisers to gain better yields and large scale factory animal husbandry practices which desiccate the earth and pollute water sources. This approach to feeding ourselves as a species at the cost of all other life will after only a few cycles  collapse the whole food chain and all life will suffer. The humble Bee shows us another way to live, in symbiosis with the wider living world, so all will thrive and grow.

Demeter is more than the goddess of the grain and bounty of the harvest to me. As Mother 0f Bees she is a lesson on life and how to live it. Her bees teach us that by valuing and protecting all life you in turn protect your own life, we do not live in isolation, everything is interconnected and interdependent. 

This painting was commissioned by Wyn Abbot for her book ‘Persephone and Demeter’ which I thoroughly recommend for a deeper more nuanced exploration into the story of these two goddesses, as well as their connection with the divine feminine. 


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A3, A4, A5 Altar Card, A6 Mediation Card