Somewhere in my late teens I started signing my name as "jenni b" because there were always multiple Jennies. Due to the pronunciation, that naturally morphed into "jennibee." After I married, my new last name still started with a B, so "Jennibee" remained. When I opened an etsy shop to sell cloth diapers and other baby things, I settled on the name "lilbees," making myself the mama bee. Readers who have been here more than a few months know that for a couple of years my blog title was "Musings of Mommy Bee."
And so the bee became my inadvertent symbol. I wasn't particularly drawn to bees, didn't even particularly like them, but it's what I ended up with. (My sons are the Wolf, Bear, and Eagle, my husband is the Dragon...and I'm a little Bee...yeah...one of these things is not like the others!)
In the Book of Mormon, the honeybee is called "deseret." Before Utah was a state, the mormon settlers named their territory "Deseret" and their motto was (and still is) "industry." In thinking on that, I concluded that, in spite of my 'totem' not fitting in with the rest of my family's, it did seem appropriate for me. A few months ago I was feeling disgruntled about it though, and decided to do a little reading about bee symbolism and meanings.
The Bee is a symbol of the Goddess/Feminine Divine and of female warrior energy.
In addition to industry and productivity, it represents achieving the impossible, making or bringing order, royalty, wisdom, celebration, fertility and the honey of life, sweetness of truth, community, concentration, organization, planning and saving, working with the spirits of the deceased, industry, prosperity, purity, birth, death, resurrection and reincarnation, communication with spirit(s), helping earth-bound spirits move on to their proper place, luck, misfortune and Otherworld wisdom.
The bee is connected to *Bridgid, Ra, Vishnu, Krishna, Indra, Aphrodite, Demeter, Cybele, Artemis, Diana, Rhea, Zeus, Dionysus, Pan and Priapus.
(see The Bee Goddess, The Bee, Wyldcat's Animal Guide, and OneSpiritX) (and if you don't know what all those gods/goddess represent, well, you should study up, some of them are pretty cool. I helped you out--see the end of the post)
Recently I listened to an interview at Daughters of Mormonism, and the interviewee was talking about Hugh Nibley's book Abraham in Egypt and a section called "The Deseret Connection." She explained how the book told of the things the bee symbolized in ancient Egypt: power, life, fertility... it was a symbol of the royal line. When Joseph married Asenath, she (as the daughter of a priest and part of the royal house) brought the bee into union with the House of Israel. Most mormons believe we are part of the house of Ephraim, which means that the bee is part of our birthright.
So I've made friends with my bee self. I've decided I like her after all. In fact, she's pretty much awesome. Which is why on my new charm bracelet (filled with symbols which are meaningful to me), there is a bright, shiny, bee.
*Bridgid--threefold goddess of hearth and fire (Celtic)
Ra--the sun god (Egypt)
Vishnu--preserver of the universe (Hindu)
Krishna--an avatar of Vishnu, the embodiment of love and supreme joy (Hindu)
Indra--lord of heaven, god of war, storms, and rainfall (Hindu)
Aphrodite--goddess of love, beauty, and sexual rapture (Greek)
Demeter--goddess of harvest and growing things (Greek)
Cybele/Sybil / Rhea--earth mother goddess/mother of the gods (Phrygian/Roman)
Artemis / Diana--goddess of nature, wild animals, fertility, and childbirth (Greek)
Zeus--king of the gods, god of sky and thunder (Greek)
Dionysus--god of wine, agriculture, fertility, theater, spiritual intoxication, secret rites (Greek)
Pan--god of nature, shepherds and flocks (Greek)
Priapus--god of gardens and fruitfulness (Greek, imported from Asia Minor)