Lilla, C. (2022). Tasting eden: An organic enquiry into the human relationship with bees [Unpublished Master’s thesis]. Alef Trust & Middlesex University.

The human relationship with honeybees has existed for at least ten thousand years, as evidenced by cave paintings in Spain. It seems as if the evolution and fate of our two species is interwoven, a view offered by such visionaries as Rudolph Steiner (1923). I embarked on an organic research project to investigate the nature of this relationship through the lens of transpersonal psychology. A group of five apiculturists and one practitioner of bee shamanism shared their stories about their relationships with honeybees. The emergent thematic patterns from these conversations merged with insights from the liminal realm cultivated by the methodology of an organic enquiry, resulting in rich individual vignettes, composite depictions and a final creative synthesis. The experiences of the participants revealed the way in which we project much of ourselves onto another species and romanticise the nature of the relationship to validate our use of them for our own ends. The organic qualities of the unfolding inquiry meant that certain meanings were shaped by a transpersonal intelligence, emphasising trends in our behaviour such as sensual greed and anthropomorphic fascination. Following several months of intensive research, I came to conclude that if we are able to transform our consumer desires and tendency to possess what we idolise, we may find the true gift in our relationship to honeybees: not the physical products of the hive, but the means to shift into an elevated and more connected state of consciousness in their presence.

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