Tag Archives: bees

Seeking A Balance – Darkness and Light

“Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.” – Theodore Roethke

“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Golden-Bee-Light- painting-by-Judith-Shaw

Golden Bee Light, oil on canvas, 16X 20″

I began my latest post on the Feminism and Religion Blog with these two quotes.

King’s quote expresses how out of balance we were and still are.  Roethke expresses the truth the our world, when at it’s best, maintains a balance of the light and the dark.

In this post I explore my journey through darkness brought on by the recent increase in and acceptance of bigotry and hate to an attitude which embraces the light that shines in the darkness even more fiercely than before.  You can read it here. 



The Day After and Beyond

I am writing this on the day after (Nov. 10), the day after (Nov. 9) of the 2016 U.S. presidential election on November 8.
I woke up at 3:30am on Nov 9, checked online to find the election results, only to discover the nightmare of a possible Trump presidency was now a reality.  Nausea and fear set in immediately and I was up for the day.  My first reaction was to do what many did – search the internet for possible escape routes.  But where can one really run when a man with the temperament of a 13 year old bully (I taught in middle school so I know that m.o. well) has his finger on THE button.
I reeled around all day trying to get some work done on my computer but was lacking focus or the ability to think much.  I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach knowing that the leader of our country, a country who for so long has been trying to live up to its own values, is a man who jokes about sexual assault and how easy it is for him to force himself on women, a man who belittles disabled people, a man who calls a whole nation a bunch of rapist (could that have been projection), a man who calls for increased and more horrible methods of torture…. I could go on but we’ve all heard it and we know who he is.

Painting after Trump elected by Judith Shaw

Light in the Darkness – work in progress by Judith Shaw

Finally I took refuge in my studio with paint brush and canvas.  I had a canvas already prepared with a glaze of alizarin crimson on which I intended to paint something related to bees.  At first I could do nothing but apply dark, dark colors with no form.  I thought that I’d have to let the “bee” concept go and just delve into the darkness I was feeling about the state of America and the consciousness of her citizens.  But oddly enough as I worked the feeling lifted a little and I started to feel a glimmer of light.   The painting is not finished but here it is for you to see.  It’s dark but the bees have come back and they bring a bit of light with them.

A week has passed and it’s still hard for me to find the light in this darkness.  Guess I’ll just have to focus on the bees and the sweetness and light they bring to the world.  And I plan to get much more active than I have been.  We must stand up now and let the voices of love and compassion be heard loudly and clearly.

The Gift of Life

Life – a precious gift I so often take for granted.  Events of the past week have turned that blatant disregard into profound gratitude.

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.

Brigid's Garden, painting by Judith ShawTwo Sundays ago 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 even 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. Instead of simply killing that one bee, I ended up taking off the veil.  The bees went at my head, getting into my hair and buzzing all around.  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 have felt quite strange since the event – coughing, weak, nauseous, tired and a seriously non-functioning brain.

Then on the following Friday I learned that  my sister had a freak bicycle 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.  Life was seeming very precarious.

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.

The Morrigan, Celtic Dark Goddess, painting by Judith ShawBeing to forced to slow down has made me reevaluate the way I live.  My worry about money sets me on a course of constant doing – striving to create income from my art – 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. When facing overwhelming challenges The Morrigan with Her power of life and death guides us  to our own inner strength. Another world, another way is possible

Sunflower Spiral, painting by Judith ShawThese 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.


A Love Affair With Bees

Brigid's Garden, painting by Judith ShawI have fallen in love with bees. I must admit that I didn’t really think much about bees until the collapse and disappearance of bee colonies began in 2006.   That was the beginning of my journey into the secret life of the hive.

In typical fashion for an artist I began reading about bees and creating art about bees, while toying with the idea of becoming a beekeeper. Finally in 2012 I took the plunge, built a topbar hive, got a swarm, and began the adventure of living with bees.

Though my two years of beekeeping have not been successful I plan to continue. The first year my hive got infected with wax moth worms which slowly destroyed the hive despite my best efforts to get rid of them without using chemicals. But even though the colony did not make it, while they were living and working they pollinated the veggies I had planted in my small backyard garden, giving me the best yield I’d ever had.

My bees from last summer were much stronger than the first hive but did not make it through the winter. I was so sad in February when I realized that the guard bees were gone and the bees flying in and out of the hive were robber bees from elsewhere. Checking the hive, I discovered that all the bees were dead.

It seems a bit odd to feel affection for these tiny little flying insects that sting but I have gotten attached to having them close by. I just love watching them fly around the hive in late afternoon when the sun glistens on their fluttering wings. They look like golden flying jewels. I love the sound of their buzzing and the smell of the hive. I love watching them stumble around the flowers likes drunken sailors, their little legs laden with heavy loads of yellow pollen. I love opening the hive and seeing their amazing organization and cooperation as they create and work their honey combs. And of course I love the sweet honey that they make, which hopefully one day I will be able to harvest.

You can read more about bees and our long relationship with bees and Bee Goddesses on my recent post on the Feminism and Religion blog site.