I began keeping bees about three years ago. My first two years were unsuccessful. But last year, bees I obtained from my bee mentor, Mike, were strong and vibrant. They provided me with my first honey harvest, wintered well, and come spring were out and about pollinating the neighborhood.
On a Sunday in the middle of April, I knew it was beyond time to open the hive to see what the bees needed. As Mike was very busy with other bee issues, his work, and his life, I decided to go it alone. Though I felt a bit of trepidation since I’d never performed this task before.
While working the hive one bee got up inside my veil. This is where my inexperience kicked in and instead of simply killing that one bee, I ended up taking off the veil. The bees went at my head, getting into my hair. Trying to remain calm I used my gloved hands to comb them out of my hair. By this point I was getting stung repeatedly. Finally I got them all off, went inside, showered and pulled out the stingers I could find.
Having been stung before I didn’t think I was in danger of anything besides a number of hurting swollen spots. But my body responded differently to around 20 stings. Not long after my heart was racing, my face was beet red, my chest hurt and I felt my throat closing up.
I tend to think I’m invincible but at my son’s insistence I went to the ER. They fixed me up with their drugs.
Still I am dealing with the systemic problem of the toxins in my body and feel quite strange – from first coughing, weak, nauseous, tired and a seriously non-functioning brain to now mainly a lack of brain function and being tired.
Then on the following Friday I learned that my sister had a freak bike accident on that Thursday. She ran into a garbage can, fell and broke her hip. She ended up in surgery with a total hip replacement. Needless to say I was very upset and worried by this.
As it turns out recovery from hip replacement is very good and most people can return to a normal life maintaining activities such as low impact sports like hiking, biking and swimming.
Being forced to slow down has made me reevaluate the way I live. The attempt to create my income from my art has set me on a path of perpetual motion – creating a life seriously out of balance. The Celtic Dark Goddess, The Morrigan, comes to mind. She is a complex and difficult goddess who reminds me that chaos and darkness are part of the flux and flow of life. For something to come together, something must fall apart. This confrontation with mortality opens a door to a transformation of consciousness.
These experiences have given me new eyes with which to see the world. All seems to shimmer around me now – the beautiful turquoise sky, the crystal clear mountains, and the blossoming trees and flowers glow in sharp relief. While at the same time the sterile techno world of gains and acquisitions, the extreme separation from nature, and the frenetic speed of freeways and byways seem ever more unreal.
Any petty hurts or sadnesses I have nursed retreat to the realm of the absurd, chased away by love and gratitude for the gift of life. Tears well up in my eyes for no real reason as I feel the sweetness of life and the love of a billion hearts.
Judith Shaw, a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, has been interested in myth, culture and mystical studies all her life. Not long after graduating from SFAI, while living in Greece, Judith began exploring the Goddess in her artwork. She continues to be inspired by the Divine Feminine in all of Her manifestations. Originally from New Orleans, Judith now makes her home in New Mexico where she paints and teaches part-time. She is currently hard at work on a deck of Goddess cards. Her work, which expresses her belief in the interconnectedness of all life, can be seen on her website.