Circumambulating the Centre: The Symbolism of the Bees, the Honey, and the Hive

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Circumambulating the Centre: The Symbolism of the Bees, the Honey, and the Hive

A presentation by Frith Luton

Thursday, September 5, 2013 7.30pm - 9.30pm
Venue: The Quaker House, 10 Hampson St, Kelvin Grove
Admission: Members & Concession: $10 • Non-members: $15


The symbolism of the bee, honey and the hive intertwine but at the core is the imagery of the circumambulation of the centre—for bees, this is a dynamic in the service of the queen bee and the preservation of the hive; in depth psychological terms, circumambulation is linked with mandala symbolism or the archetype of inner order: an archetype that Jung said was perhaps the most important.

This centre- or inner-directed focus, a dynamic of movement (circulation or rotation) around a centre, not only is fundamental to the human religious instinct but also is quintessential in what CG Jung expresses, in descriptions rich in alchemical imagery, of the psychological individuation process in which the centre is named the Self or inner god-image.

This lecture involves an approach to the alchemical union of opposites through symbolism related to the life and nature of the bee. Some particular opposites associated with the bee, honey and the hive include those of love and war, sweetness and bitterness, the individual and multiplicity, light and dark, order and chaos, industry and laziness, earth and heaven/the sky, sun and moon, spirit and matter, fertility and sterility, regeneration and death. This lecture will explore some of these as Frith brings together her practical experience as a beekeeper and insights gained in her work in Depth psychology.

Bees have been of high value and fascination to humans for millennia—venerated, yet feared. The way a hive of bees lives and works tirelessly in the service of its queen and to produce honey, a marvellous golden substance, is a living mystery. As honey producers and crucial pollinators of the plants that provide food for humankind, bees are like the saviours of the macrocosm, mentioned in alchemy. (Frith Luton, 2007)

Frith completed her analyst training in Zurich. Her passionate interest in nature, literature and the symbolic life has been strong since childhood. Frith has been a professional book editor for 25 years and holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in History and a Diploma of Education from the University of Melbourne, a Graduate Diploma in Editing and Publishing (RMIT) and a Master of Analytical Psychology (UWS). Her book Bees, Honey and the Hive: Circumambulating the Centre was published by Inner City Books in 2011.