Who would have thought a bee sting could be healing?
Just recently my family and I vacationed to some sites up north, one of them being the Indian mounds in Aztalan, Wisconsin. While the kids were off playing in the woods my wife and I sat on top of the largest of the mounds, a stepped ziggurat which operated as the tribe’s prime ceremonial center. Yet, I was feeling frustrated.
Earlier, I had some not-so-perfect moments with my kids and I was having a hard time letting go. When that happens, I have a habit of letting my grievance fester inside me, like a pot of stew ready to boil over. I berate myself for my imperfections. I over-analyze the things I could have done better. At the root of that frustration is my inability to change what happened.
I become bitter. Everyone around me suffers for it. I suffer for it.
So, there I sat, atop a pristine ceremonial waka (sacred site) . . . festering.
Then, a bee fluttered by. It grazed my hand and continued its flight to a flower nearby.
Without hesitation, my wife turned to me and stated pointedly, “It’s reminding you of Peru.” And I was taken back to a time we shared many months ago.
We were in the Sacred Valley of Peru, participating in a medicine ceremony with a curandera named doña Viviana. It took place in a private casa in Urubamba, at the foot of the sacred mountain Apu Pumahuanca. Even though my wife and I were married in the States, the goal of this ritual was to have a second wedding in the Andes that was more intimate and spiritual than our public wedding. It was only the two of us, doña Viviana, and her auxillio (assistant).
The ceremony began with us working at the mesa, where doña Viviana revealed to us that we would use this medicine journey to remove psychological obstacles that prevent our being able to not only love fully, but to receive love. I understood everything she was telling me throughout the ceremony, but was mildly disappointed in not having anything major come up for myself. I wanted to find the muck inside of me, confront it, and remove it so that I would be a good husband and father. Alas, for the first few hours we worked at the mesa, I found no struggles.
Next, doña Viviana allowed my wife and I some time in the gardens of the casa’s courtyard. The sun was at its zenith, unveiling a multitude of flowers blossoming in a rainbow of colors. Hummingbirds whirred all around.
“Play,” doña Viviana urged, “like children. Roll around. Skip, jump. Be free.”
We did just that. We frolicked like little kids; it was like we were ten years old! We laughed, slap-happy, tumbling through the grass and playing with the auxillio’s dogs.
Then I felt a prick on my foot. What began as a tiny tingle grew quickly into a throbbing sting. Before I knew it, I was on the ground, unable to walk. My entire foot had gone numb with pain. I looked up and saw a throng of bees whizzing in figure-eight formations around me.
“I think I’ve been stung,” I told my wife. Seeing I couldn’t put any weight on my foot, she called for doña Viviana and the auxillio to assist me to a platform for examination. Doña Viviana applied a healing salve, and then locked onto my eyes with a mesmerizing gaze.
“Do you know what this means?” she asked, though she did not expect an answer. “It means that you already do enough to yourself, you punish yourself enough. The bee harvests honey, which is sweet. You need to remember to drink from your own sweetness.”
I looked away, not really convinced that my soul was made of the nectar she was trying to relate it to. With her hand on my chin she pulled my eyes back to hers.
“Honor that you have that sweetness inside you. Your wife, your family, all these people around you can see this sweetness inside you . . . it’s there while you frolic in the grass, why can’t you see it inside you? Why can’t you see that you have it? See and drink of your own honey. That is all you really need to do to move forward.”
And that was it. That was the extent of my medicine journey. Coming back from Peru, my brain felt cheated; I was let down by the experience. I didn’t feel some great spiritual awakening or see God, or anything like that. All I came home with was a bee sting and this lady telling me that I was sweet like honey (which I didn’t believe).
So, since Peru, that feeling of being cheated had persisted inside me. I wanted more from my experience, more out of myself, as a father, as a husband. The bitterness was coming out of me even during our vacation. This was our time to relax and enjoy each other, but instead, I was sour, hostile. I was no fun to be around.
There atop the Aztalan mound, recollecting my Peru experience shifted something for me. I thought about a book written by one of my teachers, Karrie Marie Baxley, based upon her adventures as a beekeeper, a spiritual memoir called Dancing with a Thousand Bees.
I recalled a passage where Karrie talks about learning to commune with the honeybee. She explains that to build a relationship with the bee, she had to learn not only to still her body, but still her mind as well. Only then did the bee begin its dance of communication with her. From that experience, she writes:
“Resistance is not the way to win over a bee, or anything else in life for that matter. While learning to talk intimately with the bees, I find my impulse to resist fading away. Opposition is the normal reaction when a bee or insect comes to visit or attack. We instinctually swat it, kill it, or fear it. With honeybees the reaction must be calm or the bees become even more aggressive, almost as if they feed off fear. All my fears, confusion, haste, all the things that stop me from being fully present are not the way of the bee. I’ve come to see these distractions as illusions created by my mind. Now I enjoy the peaceful feeling that the honeybee insists upon.” (p.130)
Remembering that paragraph turned a page inside of me. By holding on to my past mistakes I was creating my own resistance: resisting what had happened, resisting that I could not change it. And, if I kept resisting it, the pain of the sting would swell, get bigger, and eventually overcome all my actions. Again, everyone around me would suffer. I would suffer.
The honeybee does insist upon peace. A flower doesn’t lash out at the bee, otherwise the bee would never be able to harvest its nectar. I understood that to let go of my disappointment in the interactions I had earlier, I had to insist upon an environment in which I could harvest my own nectar.
Peace doesn’t just come of its own accord. Sometimes you must insist upon it. Trust that Mother Nature has your back, that a little coincidence like a bee grazing your hand will show you the way. Sometimes you must be patient and allow medicine its own percolation.
So, within minutes, my wife found me with the kids out in the grass, rolling down the hill in little races to see who could reach the bottom first. Laughing, frolicking, doing the things kids do. I had insisted on my own sweetness. I claimed it. The bitterness was gone, and I had the sting of the bee to thank for that.
Book cover and other paintings by Karrie Marie Baxley
About the Author
Pachakuti Mesa Tradition Teachers
Daniel Moler is a writer, artist, educator, philosopher, esotericist, and all-round student of life. Daniel has published fiction and nonfiction works around the world in magazines, journals, gaming modules, online, and is the author of Machine Elves 101 and Red Mass, as well as a contributor to Ross Heaven’s book Cactus of Mystery. Among being trained in a variety of alternative spiritual arts, including the Holy Qabalah, Daniel is a sanctioned teacher of the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition, a form of Peruvian shamanism brought to the U.S. by respected curandero don Oscar Miro-Quesada.