Me, at the age of 2 or 3, standing on a beehive super.
I have always loved bees because, as a little child, I spent a lot of time around my Grandpa Reil who was a beekeeper. I learned as much as a child could about bees and I was comfortable in their presence. Their buzzing as they collect nectar calms me. I remember the day he gave me a whole honeycomb to chew on and I was in bliss. Whenever I need to find balance and center myself, I go back to that moment and call on it.
To me, my Grandpa Reil was bigger than life. He came from Germany in the 1920s. He had gone to listen to a speech Hitler gave in one of the pubs and just knew things were not going to go well. He went home, borrowed money from his older brother, and bought passage to come to Canada. Once here, he was sent to Alberta to work in a logging camp. The details are fuzzy now but, somehow, he wound up in Southern Alberta, started a bee business, and married my grandmother.
As a child I always thought he was so brave. As an adult, I realized the great sacrifice he made to leave everything he ever knew, everything and everyone he ever loved, to come here, as he put it, to a strange land where he didn’t know the language and at a time when communication and mobility were limited. I remember asking him if he wanted to go back and he said, “It’s not my Germany anymore.” I grew up on stories of his Germany and was entranced. He died just a little over a month before his 100th birthday and I thought of all the changes and advances he had seen in his lifetime and in spite of that, he would never see his home as he knew it again. He taught me being fearless isn’t not feeling the fear. It’s feeling the fear and doing it anyway.
Now, I pay tribute to him with a new soap I am creating. I have always loved the smell of orange and patchouli and I made Happie Happie to that end. Than, while I was at the Farmer’s Market selling soap, I saw a table for Tamarack Jack’s Honey and Meadery (I was not asked to endorse) AND it was an Albertan business. I always try to work as close to home as possible and I was excited about the idea of a business collaboration. It had everything to do with honey, and thus bees. I was pumped! Of course, my mind started whirling and I started wondering if I could make a mead soap.
I started trying to evolve Happie Hippie’s orange/patchouli scent into Reil Abundance. After, I believe 3 attempts, I formulated my first soap recipe with goat milk and mead and scented it with ylang ylang, tea tree, and lemon. Ground oatmeal made for an excellent exfoliator. My olive oil was infused with tumeric and I added sunflower oil as a nod to me. In Ancient Greece, mead was referred to as, “the nectar of the gods” since they believed it was dew from the heavens and the bees collected it. Many European cultures believed bees were God’s messengers and thus represented immortality and other divine powers such as strength and wit. The honeybee, as a spirit animal, represents teamwork, community, and to notice the every day miracles we witness in our lives. Honey produced by the bees appears in magic and folklore as sacred to the Ancient Greek goddess Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. Some ancient cultures used honey in their embalming practices. Honey has antioxidants which can lower blood pressure, helps lower cholesterol and aids in heart health, has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties (as does the beeswax) for promoting wound and burn healing, and suppresses coughs in children. Beeswax is also antifungal, moisturizing, and waterproof. It never goes bad. Finally, honey is a humectant (draws in water) and an emollient (keeps water in, protects from the elements, and provides lubrication) all in one. This makes it a perfect ingredient for skin and hair care. As a side note, there is honey in my “GET WILD” for Dry Hair shampoo bar.
This is a lot of abundance available just in the honey bee products. Than there is the goats milk. It’s gentle on the skin and hair, rich in nutrients, moisturizing, an exfoliant, supports a healthy skin microbiome, and may help fight acne. The goat itself is symbolic of abundance and as a spirit animal suggests you need to take a sure footed approach to situations. The female Goat Spirit nurtures you and feeds your soul. Goats as a power animal are called on for situations that require independence and plenty. In Western culture, the Capricorn Zodiac sign is represented by a goat.
As for the scent, ylang ylang, has a soothing effect on the heart rhythm and has anti-spasmadic properties as well as soothing effects for acne and irritated skin. Ylang Ylang symbolizes serenity. Tea Tree is known to help with a variety of skin conditions, sore throats, boils, colds, and flu. Emotionally, it helps with fatigue and lethargy. Finally, lemon is an antioxidant and helps fight infections. It symbolizes longevity and friendship.
My takeaway from my Grandpa Reil and learning about bees and honey, is that the bliss I felt as a child with that honeycomb in my hand and the taste of honey in my mouth is that bliss is abundance. As adults we make it so complicated and we are always chasing our tails for the next best thing or telling ourselves what we should or should not be doing. We forget to do what Joseph Campbell suggested.
And whether or not my Grandpa Reil was aware of it, isn’t bliss bringing in your abundance what he was teaching me all along? Bliss is that place where you feel oneness and connected to all creation. Bliss transcends time and space and it is in that space, anything is possible.