BEES, DREAMS & MEDICINE:
CREATING CULTURE FOR AN INSPIRED FUTURE
Inspired by the scholarship and leadership of the Melissae
(ancient bee priestesses and oracles), we invite you to meet select
luminaries and international thought leaders, who share insights, visions,
and dreams for a new tomorrow.
During this yearlong online series, we meander through a labyrinth of Science,
Sacred, His-/Herstory, Mystery, Art/Medicine, and Activism — the pillars that
comprise the College of the Melissae.
Amid troubled times, together we ask: Who are we?
Where did we come from? And how can we recreate our cosmology?
Video recordings will be available to view on-demand without limit.
Some speakers offer supplemental materials (readings/videos) to enrich your learning experience.
BIPoC: we value your presence and welcome you into this community! Contact us for a special rate.
Have you experienced financial hardship due to COVID, wildfires, or other scenarios?
We are here for you! We have reserved a limited number of partial scholarships. Contact us for details.
2021 Online Speakers Series
To learn more about a speaker and their presentation, simply click on their photo.
The Nature of Bees:
How Not to Step on Their Toes While You Dance
When we “keep” bees, we often make decisions that affect their biological vitality without realizing it. From hive designs and how we move around a vulnerable open beehive to objects in your surroundings that can minimize mutual frustration (such as cedar tree bark), you can care for bees calmly, inexpensively, and without having to introduce toxic materials into their home. This is natural beekeeping, and it can help control diseases, wax moths, beetles, and mites.
When we learn to calm our relationship with bees, we begin to notice little personal things that we can do to infuse that relationship with love and respect, which amazing creatures like ants, wasps, and bees deserve.
Les Crowder began keeping bees (he often states that they began keeping him) in Bernalillo, New Mexico, 40+ years ago. He began looking for ways to raise bees without antibiotics in his teenage years and has been breeding honey bees for disease- and parasite-resistance ever since. In 2012 he wrote the book Top-Bar Beekeeping, published by Chelsea Green and soon to be translated into Spanish. He has an interest in the consciousness of Nature, and nowadays continues to teach and advocate nontoxic management of beehives around Austin, Texas.
Rabbi Dahlia Shaham
Devorah and the Bees:
The Historic Fall and Contemporary Rise
of Spiritual Feminism
A queen bee dwells within the Hebrew Bible (Book of Judges, ch. 4–5). She is a prophetess, a priestess, a judge. For more than 2,000 years she had kept nearly silent, humming gently through the grapevines of mystic prayer. Now, her voice is heard in song and battle cry.
This is the story of what Rabbi Dahlia learned during her rabbinical studies about a woman named Bee (Devorah in Hebrew), who brought peace to the Land of Milk and Honey.
About Rabbi Dahlia
Born and raised in Haifa, Israel, Rabbi Dahlia Shaham holds an LL.B in Law and Latin American studies from the Hebrew University (2003), an M.A. of Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University (2009), and Rabbinic Ordination from the Hebrew Union College (2019). She has worked in translation (Hebrew/English/Arabic) and policy research and advocacy in NGOs, working for sustainability and peace in Israel and the Middle East. She embarked on the rabbinic path in 2015, wishing to integrate her motivation for peace among nations, genders, and species, with a passion for music and prayer, and a deep-rooted connection to the Hebrew language and the Holy Land. She currently serves as Rabbi of Or Hadash, a progressive Jewish congregation in Haifa.
Marla Bull Bear
Our Winged Relatives and Activism
within a Lakota Bee Experience
The Lakota people revere all expressions of nature, animate and inanimate, whether earth, sky, animals, plants, ancestors, spirits. This interconnectivity is imbued throughout their culture and even extends to life forms introduced to the landscape, such as the European honey bee.
Aiming to cultivate Lakota heritage among its youth, the Honey Lodge program immerses participants in beekeeping, animism, cultural heritage, community development, entrepreneurship, and personal leadership. Marla Bull Bear shares insights on how to motivate the next generation and spark activism where you live.
Marla C. Bull Bear is Sicangu (Burnt Thigh in English) Lakota, and has been sharing traditional knowledge with youth for more than 30 years. She is the founding Executive Director of Lakota Youth Development, whose mission is to reclaim Lakota language, culture, and spirituality by promoting education and healthy lifestyles to youth through culturally based strategies.
Marla received a Master's in Community Counseling from a tribal university located on the Rosebud Reservation, and administers culturally specific prevention services to tribal members, teaches equine-assisted life skills, and practices auricular acupuncture. She is a registered trainer for auricular acupuncture and also a trainer of Native American Substance Abuse Prevention Skills. Her most recent passion is youth development through apprenticeships and beekeeping.
Bee Goddesses, Melissae & the Oracular in Ancient Crete and Beyond
Max Dashu takes us on a visual journey through the ages and across continents, beginning with the ceremonies of Cretan and Mycenaean bee-women and how they related to sacred dance, shape-shifting, and Ariadne’s labyrinth. In Hellenic tradition, milk and honey were offered to goddesses, and bees were said to circle stone honeypots in the Cave of the Nymphs, where they wove life itself. Melissae was the title conferred on Delphic oracles and Eleusinian priestesses of Demeter, and bees were a primary symbol of Artemis of Ephesus in what is now present-day Turkey. Across the Mediterranean in Egypt, the temple of Neith was called "House of the Bee." Up north, Finnish healer Ilmatar sent her bee helper to bring resurrecting vitality from the sun in the Kalevala. And in India, the bee goddess Bhramari evokes the vibrational hum of the cosmos.
Max Dashu founded the Suppressed Histories Archives in 1970 to research women in the global cultural record. From her collection of some 50,000 images, she has created and presented hundreds of slideshows at universities, conferences, festivals, community centers, bookstores, schools, and libraries internationally. She is the author of Witches and Pagans: Women in European Folk Religion and Pythias, Melissae and Pharmakides: Women in Hellenic Culture. She also publishes videos, such as Woman Shaman: the Ancients and Women’s Power in Global Perspective, as well as the Deasophy Coloring Book. She teaches with images via her online courses, webcasts, the SHA Facebook page, and stream-on-demand videos (Suppressed Histories Portal on Teachable).
The Fall of the Masculine Idols
C. G. Jung believed that we need to understand ourselves within the living cultural story of our time. He saw our era as characterized by the end of a Masculine zeitgeist, an axial moment when a new spiritual and psychological factor was emergent. He believed that the triumph of our technology over Nature has left us inflated and in danger of destroying ourselves. By more accurately naming the psychological narrative that drives us, we begin to imagine better pathways through what lies ahead. In honestly facing our cultural shadow and opening to emergent healing voices, we reveal unexpected possibilities of creative reunion with the Feminine inside ourselves and in the world, and invite the possibility of genuine personal meaning-making.
Gary S. Bobroff is the founder of both Jungian Online, which has been connecting clients with Jungian analysts via live video since 2011, and the developer and facilitator of Archetypal Nature, a Jungian personality system rooted in the work of Toni Wolff. He is the author of Knowledge in a Nutshell: Carl Jung (2020) and Crop Circles, Jung & the Reemergence of the Archetypal Feminine (2014). He has an M.A. in Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute and a B.A. from the University of British Columbia, Canada.
The Mayan Melipona
in History and Ceremony
Valerie Solheim will initiate us into the Ix (“spirit”) of the Mayan Melipona Sisterhood. Her story started in Boulder, Colorado, when, by phone, Doña Anselma and the Melipona Grandmother invited her to visit them in Xcunyá, Mexico on the Yucatán Peninsula. Unlike any other honey bee, the stingless Mayan Melipona has been in uninterrupted spiritual communion with the Ix of the Mayan people for eons.
Valerie sought to capture the frequency of that spiritual communion between and among the Melipona bee and Mayan celebrant when recording Melipona hives. This intention was blessed beyond her imagination. In her talk, Valerie will recount her journey and, along the way, introduce us to the Mayan Melipona in history and ceremony.
With a PhD in Jungian psychology, for 40 years Valerie Solheim’s focus has been to quiet her mind to attend to the Voice that guides her. She was guided to the bees and instructed to record them inside their hives at designated times. Naively, she understood that recorded inner hive frequencies, played to other hives, would strengthen the recipient hives. However, she learned much more…that those frequencies not only heal bees but also all sentient beings. As she listened over time, more healings and spiritual experiences occurred both from the recordings and from those who opened their hives to her.
The Gifts of
Communicating with Bees
Interspecies communicator Anna Breytenbach shares the benefits of direct telepathic connection with bees. As a beautiful bridge between the natural and human worlds, bees have much to show us. But how can we also help them?
Through practical insights and stories, Anna shows us the gifts of intuitive communication and how self, other, and the greater good are served with heart-based connection. She will also share techniques for accessing the individual and collective consciousness of bees and all beings, so that we may enjoy a greater ability to dance with the circle of life.
Anna Breytenbach is a professional animal communicator who has received advanced training through the Assisi International Animal Institute in California, U.S. She has been practicing with domestic and wild animals for 18 years in America, Europe, and South Africa. Her goal is to raise awareness and advance the relationships among human and nonhuman animals on both the personal and spiritual levels.
Ancient Drums of the Melissae:
A Sacred Tool Reclaimed in Modern Times
Layne Redmond, a pioneer in the world of frame drumming through her work and book, When the Drummers Were the Women, has inspired thousands to drum. The women frame drummers of ancient times were priestesses in service to a goddess, and were referred to as melissae, which means “bee” in Greek. They held all life sacred, and the drum was central to their religious functions.
One of many who have reclaimed this drum as a sacred tool, Miranda Rondeau will share her journey with the drum. Her presentation will be partially participatory. You are invited to drum and sing along.
Miranda Rondeau is an internationally recognized devotional singer, musician, and frame drum artist. She has been teaching the craft since 1999, as encouraged by her late teacher Layne Redmond, author of the seminal book, When the Drummers Were Women. Miranda has created and teaches a repertoire of frame drum circle songs as a way of sacred remembrance. She performs in a ceremonial context, playing for rites of passage and communal bonding, as well as hosts “The Frame Drum and Beeloved Portal,” an online collaboration that highlights drumming and bees. She also created and maintains the online presence for “Women Frame Drumming,” dedicated to Layne Redmond.
Cybele: The (Bee) Goddess
Who Fell to Earth
Ancient Rome was a pagan nation that venerated many arcane goddesses and gods. Incredibly, one of the most noteworthy was a stone from heaven, revered as the mother goddess, which quite literally became the queen bee of all deities, a bee goddess known as Cybele aka the Magna Mater or “Great Mother.”
Andrew recounts his travels through ancient Anatolia and Rome, and retraces the origins of what is arguably the most adorned goddess in history. Controversially, Andrew will present evidence that the meteorite famously worshipped as Cybele is one and the same as both the Holy Grail and the black stone of Mecca, the most exalted object on earth.
Andrew Gough is a researcher, writer, and contributor to history and mystery television shows, such as Forbidden History, NASA’s Unexplained Mysteries, What on Earth, Mysteries of the Abandoned, and numerous others. He has published more than 40 articles on his website and is the Editor-in-Chief of The Heretic Magazine. Andrew studied with a German Cabalist in Catalonia, Spain, who mentored Jean Cocteau and Salvador Dalí. There, he learned of the esoteric history of the sacred bee and began his spiritual journey of discovery regarding its many sacred traditions. He has travelled extensively in his support of bee research and has written expansively on the subject. Andrew hails from Chicago and has lived and worked in London for the last 20 years.
Rituals & Practices of
the College of the Melissae
The College of the Melissae priestesses and priests, students, and community have developed meaningful practices and rituals that honor the bee and our special relationships with Nature. Inspired by ancient Iatromantists (dream doctors), ancestral pagan cultures, and sacred experiences, we have created powerful ceremonies, rites of passage, and specialized rituals that celebrate the bee, ourselves, and each other.
We will describe certain protocols we use when working with bees, with the warm invitation that we all relate with these important teachers with the reverence they deserve.
More from The Melissae
Laura Bee, Founding Director of the College of the Melissae, will share potent centering meditations, animal communication skills and stories, and hive-approach protocols.
Rebecca Ann Robertson, Rahibe (College alumna and leader), will share an honoring ceremony that was performed when a Melissa "Crossed the Veil" into the great void.
Dr. Gabrielle Francis
Illumination to Honor
Pachamama and the Wisdom Keepers of the High Andes
The Q’ero, a Quechua community in Peru who are direct descendants of the Inca, honor Mother Earth (Pachamama) and the mountain deities (Apus) as their sources of ancient wisdom. After centuries of isolation, these shamans have begun to descend from the top of the world to share their knowledge for the benefit of the planet and our healing. As Wisdom Keepers, they teach us how to live our lives in the moment, full of spirit, and how to shed a life bound by stress and “dis-ease.” They understand that surrounding each of us is a luminous energy that holds a record of our emotional, physical, and spiritual traumas, a blueprint that determines how we will live, heal, and even how we might die. As shamans, they work to bring balance to these fields.
During her talk, Dr. G will teach us an Illumination, or Chakra Cleansing Ritual, which she learned from her Q’ero elders.
About Dr. G
Dr. Gabrielle Francis has been practicing holistic medicine for more than 35 years. She is a naturopathic doctor, chiropractor, acupuncturist, and massage therapist, and also has extensive training in alternative cancer therapies, environmental medicine, functional medicine, mind-body medicine, and bio-identical hormone therapies.
Following her formal education, Gabrielle travelled extensively through Asia, South and Central America, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, studying medicine with indigenous healers. She currently practices in New York City as The Herban Alchemist, and operates Backstage Alternative, which provides natural medicine to performing artists on tour. She is the author of The Rockstar Remedy: A rock ‘n’ roll doctor’s prescription for living a long healthy life, published by Harper Collins.
Michael Joshin Thiele
The Apian Ecology of Selves:
Who Is We?
The Cartesian belief in otherness and the loss of connection to earth’s cycles and diverse life forms led to illusionary thinking of human independence, soul-blindness, and a self incapable of recognizing agency and sentience within the entire range of co-constituents of the web of life.
Now we find ourselves at a moment in time where we may ask how to re-enter the world of intimacy, this inner landscape of belonging and nexus of communication.
Apian consciousness opens. It opens hearts and vantages. The associated climate is one of stillness and gratitude. To surrender means to listen and to become oracle. How can we enter the wisdom of apian inter-coherence as a tissue-like gathering of “individuals”? And how can the apian ecology of selves be a gateway into a “kin-centric landscape of being”? Who is We?
Michael Joshin Thiele’s pioneering approach to apiculture as a platform for global renewal has appeared in national and international magazines, books, and films. He has presented his work at Harvard University, New York University, and consulted for the USDA. In 2006 he founded Gaia Bees to advance biodynamic practices in apiculture, then in 2017 created Apis Arborea, a platform for a multidisciplinary approach towards rewilding, conservation, and protection of honey bees during The Anthropocene. Michael received lay-ordination within the Zen Buddhist tradition and pursues apiculture within a socio-cultural and spiritual dimension. He is an edge-walker within the biodynamic and holistic apicultural field.