Bee imagery has been around in my work for a while. In my play, “Pure Gold Baby”, I named the main character Melissa after the Mythological princess of Crete transformed to a bee after learning to collect honey. I was also inspired by the rural bee priestesses in Starhawk’s gorgeous dystopian novel “The Fifth Sacred Thing”. I loved their earthy magic and willingness to submit to the poison of the bee’s venom in exchange for wisdom. I’m finding that a lot of the work I do is about this kind of transmutation. Set in a strip club, Pure Gold Baby was an invitation into a world of both sexuality and industry; a feminine world; a sisterhood. Melissa, as the novice dancer, functioned as an initiate.
In my novel “All of Us With Wings”, the bee imagery is more overt. It began to appear of its own accord, tied to my main character’s experiences of attraction and intuition. After a master class with Ruth Ozeki, I began to work with the bees in earnest. Ruth described an image of a fish in the belly of her character Nao that unlocked Nao’s emotional world. I began to see the bees as both a device and a guide. I researched bee symbolism and found that bees are both a symbol of sexuality and collective responsibility, a huge conflict for my main character, Xochi, as she comes of age–something I wasn’t able to articulate until I dug deeper into the power of the symbol.