What is Honey Magic?
Honey is a traditional offering for inhabitants of the Otherworld, like Gods, Faeries, Ancestors, and other spirits. Although this is common knowledge, the question of why we offer honey has not fully been explored. I used this question as a guidepost to explore the magic of honey, and the honey-makers, the bees.
Why is Honey Magical?
Honey is a gift from the Bee nation. Many animals and insects enjoy it. The golden liquid not only tastes delightful, but it also has many health properties. People have used this sweet elixir for magic since the dawn of humankind. It has been both food and medicine since ancient times.
Honey represents the unbreakable link across the plant and animal kingdoms. It has been named food of the Gods, a healing powerhouse, and the best gift for the Faerie Queen. Some ancient cultures believed that honey represented a link between life and death or between our world and the world of the Gods and other divine beings.
A Honeyed History
Our human ties to honey and bees have gone on for eons. We have evidence suggesting people have foraged for honey since at least eight thousand years ago.
Honeybees were sacred to numerous ancient civilizations, including ancient Greece, Egypt, and the Celtic peoples. It’s an Ancestral food across many cultures the world over.
Since at least the Neolithic period, we have been gathering wild honey, as evidenced by cave art from southern Spain that is 15,000 years old, representing a woman climbing a tree to gather the precious liquid.
Archaeologists found the oldest known honey remains in Georgia, dating between 4,700 and 5,500 years old. It was found on the inner surface of clay vessels unearthed in an ancient tomb, and still perfectly edible.
Why Do We Offer Honey to the Faery Folk?
A simple internet search will not answer this question. There is a strong correlation between fairies and honey and has been since people started writing down folk traditions (meaning surely even longer than that). There are honey recipes galore that crop up during Beltane, including one of my own, for Honey Cakes.
I came up with my own belief based on my own relationship and understanding of the fairies, the Otherworld, and their messengers in this world, the bees.
In researching this topic, it is impossible not to touch upon the central importance of bees in many cultures the world over. I believe the practice of leaving honey as offerings to the Fairy Folk stems from the importance of the honey makers themselves and the important status that the ancients gave to bees. That reverence shouldn’t be too surprising since bees are some of the most important pollinators the world over, which means simply that without them, humans and other animals would have a difficult time finding food. Here’s a staggering statistic – bees pollinate 70 of the 100 crop species that feed 90% of the world.
In many European cultures, people have seen bees as liminal creatures who connect the Earth and the divine.
Due to their life-giving presence, people from many cultures throughout history believed bees to be divine messengers, able to cross the threshold between the realms of humankind and those of the Gods. Others take it a step further and believe that bees are the avatars of the Gods themselves.
Since bees produce the golden honey if they are Gods or related to the mystic realms, an undeniable otherworldly link to this golden elixir is forged.
Bees were believed to have knowledge of the Otherworld. This is evidenced by the Scottish saying, “ask the wild bee for what the druid knew.”
In fact, bees were so important to the Celts that they had certain laws to protect them. In Ireland during the early medieval period, beekeeping played such an essential role in society that there was a complete list of laws dedicated to its practice. Bech breatha (Bee judgments) were part of the complex set of Irish laws called the Brehon Laws.
Sacred Foods: Honey Magic Booklet
You can learn some of the specifics of the Celtic Bee Judgements in my booklet, Sacred Foods: Honey Magic. It also includes sections on Greek, Celtic, Early American, and Ukrainian bee lore, like specific funerary practices, including a wonderful custom called “telling the bees” and the stories of various cultures’ conception of the Otherworld. All of these examples illustrate the connection between bees, honey, Ancestors, and the Otherworld.
Honey as Medicine
Humans have used honey as a medicine since the earliest times. Modern research has clearly shown that many of the most strongly advocated anecdotal and folk medicine uses throughout history are valid. Honey is an incredible powerhouse of health and healing.
Honey contains everything you need to sustain life– carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and water. It also contains essential vitamins and minerals like magnesium, zinc, calcium, vitamins B, and niacin.
Honey can do the work of antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, cholesterol-reducing, and anti-arrhythmic drugs (among others) without resistance or side effects. I discuss the numerous healing properties and medical applications for honey in Sacred Foods: Honey Magic.
If you are especially interested in all the amazing ways honey can help the human body, I really recommend reading Traditional and Modern Uses of Natural Honey in Human Diseases. I referenced the study several times in the booklet, and it really will blow your mind.
With all its various health properties, plus healing modalities and its infinite shelf-stability, it is safe to say, without a doubt, that honey is pure magic. However, what makes it so incredible is that it is created by bees who create daily magic not only in creating a golden elixir but also through their important work as pollinators.
Honey is an important cross-cultural Ancestral food. Not only have many of our own ancestors used it in their lifetimes for healing, food, and adding sweetness to their own lives, but many also used it in funerary rites. So, honey is a great tool to use in your ceremonies to honor the dead, calling on the bee as a mediator between your own spirit and those who have passed.
We’ve seen the many ways that honey acts as a bridge from our plane of existence to the Otherworld. In some stories, it literally flows in rivers that act as a boundary between the two worlds.
Honey is sweet, sticky, purifying, and long-lasting. These qualities make it very well suited to spellwork that addresses love, binding, health and longevity, fertility, or protection.
Honey is also highly appropriate when working with the divine feminine in any capacity. The hive is a potent symbol of connection, cooperation, and community, all for the sake of the queen. Honey, therefore, can help spiritually to promote empowerment in addition to women’s health and healing.
In the booklet, Sacred Foods: Honey Magic, there is a ritual recipe piece where we combine what we learned about honey, bees, and the Old Powers by infusing honey with our own magic, then travel to liminal space together in the bodies of bees to seek messages from the divine!
✨? ✨ If that sounds like your idea of fun, then this booklet is definitely for you!