You may well consume more honey this week than ever before, possibly presented in some unique ways. It is therefore only fitting for us, as your Nectar & Ambrosia Tour hosts, to provide some background on this major Greek Nectar embedded in our name.
Honey is a natural product woven into the global fabric of mythology and mysticism, and is a pretty sexy story for an insect byproduct. You see, wild bees were associated with the notion of nymphs in Ancient Greece, as they inhabited caves and hollow tree trunks – the same places it was believed that wild, lively, amorous, fun-loving nymphs had taken residence. This attribute earned bees a sanctioned association with Demetra, goddess of agriculture, who proudly enjoyed her title as “Pure Mother Bee.”
Honey’s special value to Greeks is demonstrated by its mythological selection as a food – or Ambrosia – for the gods on Mount Olympus. Further, bee honey was believed to “magically” assume the taste of the species of flora it pollenated, taking on a mystical, symbiotic relationship. While it was food for the gods, honey was approved for mortals as well, strongly suggesting a mystical, perhaps divine intervention, and a gift from the gods for man to enjoy.
“Honey history” is sticky with female, Greek, mythological protagonists. Many people know that Aphrodite was goddess of love and beauty, but only the most astute are aware that her official symbol was a representation of a geometric honeycomb. Many ancient pagan priests believed bees were actually souls of priestesses who served a goddess in their previous form. These Priestesses were known as “Melissae,” while the Greek word for honey is “Meli.” Lore has it that a nymph named Melissa discovered the honeycomb elixir. She then mixed it with a little water and served it as a seductive beverage to her suitors. Is it any wonder that Melissa is the Greek word for bee?
You may want to think about all this the next time you refer to your mate as “honey.”