The Way of the Bees

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The Northern Lights were in the past used to explain how the spirits of the dead traveled to the Sun to be purified, before they were sent back again. Just like impure ore can be purified by fire and turned into pure metals, the Sun could purify the spirits of the dead. The purer the ore is, the more pure metal will be left after this process, but all ore will be purified by this and leave only pure metal.

Ukrainian Pagans jumping through fire to purify themselves.


The European idea is that in life we can grow or whither, we can become stronger or weaker than we were, and we can remain pure or fail to do so. In the end though, the Sky God weighs us in his hands (the Sun and the Moon) on the sky and if we are found too heavy (dishonour is heavy to carry) we cease to be (i. e. no punishment, no torture, no Hell!). If we are found light enough we are purified and sent back to life free of all dishonour.


The more honour we gained in life, the closer to the divine we start the next time we are born. To reach the divine we need to be honourable to start with, and to continue to gain honour for generations, without falling into the many pits life leads us past.

Always do the honourable thing. HailaR TîwaR!

Related post here.


51 thoughts on “The Way of the Bees

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  3. Going to go a bit abstract as I always do…

    Negative energy cannot simply cease to be. It must be used for something; perhaps it is used as a power source for something. The sun?(A sun powered by negative energy, a black sun perhaps?). And while I hate to go into the linear/Christian line of thought following this reasoning the sun would go poof once there was nothing left to purify. Hence the end of the world and whatever the ‘next step’ is. Just a theory… and I’m not sure what to think of it. A shiver just ran down my spine.

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  6. Polish Pagans jump the fire each year at Kupala as well, it is practiced by all Slavs, though I must admit Ukraine is probably the strongest in cultivating tradition, the center of Paganism in the East of Europe.

    • We do the same in Norway, on Summer Solstice. (Although I don’t really know if we all do… we used to though).

      • I guess we can’t find a place where ALL people do it. By “all Slavs” I meant all the peoples stemming from the Slavic branch, not for example all people in Poland (UNFORTUNATELY!).
        My family had always observed this tradition, so I have done it since early childhood, and I know Norwegians do too, as a countryman of yours in Canada, was absolutely thrilled when my parents invited him over for the occasion and he joyfully joined in!
        Our families became very close after that, even though they fought fiercely over politics – he did believe in communism, at the same time being otherwise a very traditional man, who always dressed in Norwegian patterns, loved to show us old Norwegian ways, tell sagas and treat us to gjetost.

  7. Are the stories of Uranos’ castration and Tyr’s bitten hand related? An loss of masculine power perhaps, but the story developed differently in two different cultures.

    • Tyr’s loss of a hand is related to the Sunset and the lunar eclipse. The Sun and the Moon are seen as his palms on the Sky. He himself IS the Sky. He is a descendant of a giantess with “thousands” of eyes (= stars) and a giant possessing a huge cauldron (=the firmament).

      The two, Uranos and Tyr, are not really the exact same either. The Greek and the Scandinavian pantheon are the same, but still different, so Uranos would be also inn, and inn would in turn be Hermes, but so would Loki, and Loki would also be the same as Hephaistos, so it is a bit complicated.

      Uranos’ severed testicles (severed by a sickle, a Moon symbol, wielded by Cronos [=time]) might be related to this, of course. Yes.

      I don’t think it has anything to do with the actual loss of anything at all though. There are no permanent losses in the mythology; only eternally repeating processes.

      • Yes, it is always complicated. Yes originally Tyr has literally been the Sky. ( As a side note I think the modern Finnish word “taivas” might be a Germanic loan word.)

        The theory of losing something is just something came into my mind when a wrote the comment not really througly thought.

        And while we are on the subject isn’t Heimdallr basically the same as Prometheus? Is there anything in the scandinavian mythology that separates the older Aesir from the younger, like the titans and the olympian gods?

        As a different topic. Do you think that the Religion maybe actually developed in some cases in different times over and over again. From the same traditions and ideals, and that’s why we have such different versions of the myth like the Finnish version where the Deities often are just named spirits and only a very few of them actully even have names.

        • Yes, Taivas might well be a loan word.

          Heimdallr = Cronos Loki = Prometheus.

          No, nothing like Titans and Olympians in Scandinavian mythology. They are all just sir, and the most beautiful of these sir are called Vanir (=”beautiful”, from the same word Venus derives from). See SRAS.

          What has been suggested (by Sir James Frazer I think) was that the religion developed, then some moved away, then the religion continued to develop, and then the different groups met again, and instead of “joining” the religions again they “added” them, put them together, so e. g. the Lunar deities, that were originally the same, became two different Lunar deities, worshiped alongside each other. So the Greeks had Hecate, Artemis AND Selene, all Lunar deities, and all probably originally the exact same Lunar deity… that had just been given slightly different attributes and names, because different European tribes had lived a long time away from each other.

    • I think that those stories are not really related. The Myth about the dethronement of Uranos can have more meanings. It can be related with the victory of a new May King during the annual contest and the death of his predecessor but also with the eternal cycles and eras of the Universe.

      Numerous Euroasian and Native American Myths and tales talks about a “war” between some forces, often representing the elements of nature (giants, titans, animals etc. representing the Earth i.e. the Solar System) and the forces of the Sky i.e. the North of the Celestial Sphere, often gods or similar. In these tales and myths there is always a pillar, an axis, a tree (as Yggdrasil), a scale (used to reach the Sky) that at the end is ultimately destroyed…these elements represents the Axis of the Universe, the North Pole of the Celestial Sphere around which eternally rotates the bodies of the Solar System and the Sphere of the fixed stars. Exactly as the axis of a mill. When, thanks to the Precession of the Eqinooxes, at the Spring Equinox the Sun rises with at his back a new Constellation of the Zodiac a new cycle begins, a new ages of the Universe ond of the Existence in our planet. When this happens the pillar of the Sky – the Celestial North Pole – collapses because a new cycle needs a new pillar, as it needs a new Sun, a new Moon and a new version of everything. The eternal turn of the wheel that we know well, our ancestors were aware of the Precession of the Equinoxes.

      Not only all the tales and myths that talks about a pillar, an axis, a tree etc. that is destroyed, but also many others have their meaning in the Precession of the Eqinoxes. Often the same myths have also other meanings, as we know.

      • It reminds me more about the sword dance where they every year cut down Freyr (=the crops), by the way, than the eating of Tyr’s hand.

  8. Interesting post Varg, but i have a question about the picture which are two Ukrainian girls jumping through the fire, Is there any connection between that and the Iranians also jump through fire in the last Wednesday of every year before the spring shall return and starting a new persian year : which they celebrate the new year for 12 days and they believe that the last day of celebration 13 they must going to the nature to throw out the unlucky day so to speak: , so you think in general the Zoroastrian traditions are also like Abrahamic poisons or not?
    I would be glad if you svar mig

  9. It is interesting to note that throughout the world fire is often seen as a cleansing thing. I wonder if the Native American use of smoke to cleanse is related?

    I remember learning about the picture depicted on Egyptian papyrus that you posted. Like you said about being weighed and evaluated(This is more for the people who aren’t familiar with this since you obviously put the picture there to support your explanation), the ancient Egyptians believed that, after death, one’s heart was weighed on a scale against(If I remember correctly) a feather or feathers. As you said, if it the heart was lighter then the being lived on. If the heart was heavier then the being ceased to exist, although in school it was taught incorrectly as a Christianized idea- if the heart was lighter you went to heaven but if the heart was heavier then you went to hell- which is obviously incorrect.

    And of course I see Tyr at the bottom of the post!

    • Against the feather of the Goddess Maat. The theonym is translated as “truth,” but Maat is actually a wider concept of justice and harmony that prevailed in the country through the Gods’ presence, expressed also in a righteous pharaoh’s rule.

      • Thanks. It’s nice to hear that part explained; I wasn’t clear on why they were feathers. Against the feather of the Goddess Maat… makes sense now.

  10. Varg,
    Im sorry to ask this question here but I thought it would be easiest. There is a post you have that involves cultivating the deities in each of us, could you lead me there please. Thank you very much.

  11. at least that’s what you think about scandinavians / slavs, and peoples i dont know much. But Gauls had a paradise, as well as Hell, and they knew what kind of Hell it was, pretty close to the Assyrian conception of Hell : a place of boredom and mourning, cold as ice.
    Still today, christian paganism in Bretagne speaks for these long-ago concepts of Hell : “marv a barn a ifern ien, pa o soign denn, a tle creña”.
    This shows the presence of paganism in Breton christianism.

      • read Anatole le Braz to understand interpenetration of breton and celt cultures.
        As for the “paradise” of the Gauls, Strabo in his depicting writings (and not the judging ones) relates the Gaulish people promising others money they owe them in another world.
        Albert Grenier and Jullian largely contributed understanding Gauls’ underworld.

        Assyrian inferno : depicted in poetry known as “Ishtar’s Descent to the Underworld” and “Inanna and Dumuzi”. Largely studied by Jean Bottéro, Georges Roux, Noah Kramer.

        • They promised to pay back debt in the NEXT life HERE ON EARTH. Big difference. They too believed in reincarnation. That is THE European faith.

          • please list your sources.
            I never stated that they did not believe in reincarnation. In a personnal point of view i think their belief was not precise about this. they believed in both eternal death and both rebirth.
            I know you will bend the facts to help your argumentation, but i will anyway tell these three facts (that ARE REAL facts, and not only MY point of view).

            In “Diaoulagan Gwenc’hlann”, the bard explains the soul shall wander in the gardens of eternity after 3 lifes, and not be reincarnated for ever.
            In “Combat des Arbres”, Taliesin sings having had “several different forms before having my definitiv nature”.
            In Bretagne, several old toponyms are related to an underworld (sometimes named as Sidh in Ireland). These beliefs were SYSTEMATICALLY fought by the Church, even though they referred for these places as christian names. For example : Yeun Elez (the gate to hell) swamp. The name sounds christian, but the church fought it with bare materialism “this is not the hell, this is just a swamp”. This can only be explained by remaining beliefs that holes, gaps, and swamps lead to hell, AT LEAST IN BRETAGNE.

            You know, Bretons, as soon as the 5th and 6th century, did not consider themselves as “Gallaoued”, or French, or Gauls. A Breton is defintly offensed when referred to as a Celt, since Celts are often related to Gauls.
            Please, do not melt some European peoples which have only 30 thousands year old genes in common, when it comes to folklore. Scandinavia MAY BE a place of melted origins, but do you know what it takes to be a Breton??? Renaissance old noble families are still considered as French whereas peasant breton families are more influent.
            i believe in the old “Folkloric Common Inheritance” but i most of all believe in the fact that we are talking about peasants, landmen. Not intellectuals. The beliefs are not attached to their genes, or blood, but really, to the environment they have to face. Leaving in the Loire plains is not as hard as living in the far north coast of Bretagne. that made Michelet give to us the best depiction of the French races, and most of all, the most beautiful description of Breton mind.
            “On these hard lands, men are raw, men are rude. Real Cain’s child, his personality is hard and his speech is harsh. How could he forgive God? Nature never forgave him.”

            • “Hell” is a Norse word and it means “complete”, “luck”.

              Your sources are from Christian times.

              • haha, well sorry, i have not enough good memory to remind my previous lives. And i don’t think i was able to read pre-christian studies.
                Gwenc’hlan, Strabo were all but christians.

                If my sources were from the Christian time would it be THAT bad?

                Your book was written, as well as mine, during the Jewish time. Does it make any of our own studies sound false?

    • Well there are 4 quadrants in the swastika and other ancient symbols. Birth, life, death, …

      I don’t believe that we are reborn as soon as we die, and I have had strong thoughts of the kind of ‘hell’ you describe though I see it as a place meant to purify the soul for the next life rather than a punishment. It’s a place that teaches patience and resilience in my eyes. I haven’t a clue on the paradise, personally when I die I hope to go to the hell if it exists. It seems like a good way to test yourself, but I’m just weird like that. Life itself is all the reward I need. 😉

      • ‘A Journey to the Stars’ was playing while I typed that btw. Haven’t listened to the original album in.. maybe half a year? Very good timing for it to be played I must say.

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  13. It’s still celebrated here a June/July festival with typical food and dance around the bonfire and people jump across it. The catholic church related this date to one of their “saints” although nobody really cares about the generic christian meaning in it. 😛
    That was interesting to know because nobody has given it a meaning at all, people just celebrate it…

    • Not catholic church, but Eastern Orthodox and Greek Catholic (which is closer to orthodox than to catholic church). They name this day after John the Baptist “Ivana Predtechi”, but funny that the common name of the celebration is “Ivana Kupala”, Kupala being its original pagan name.

      The church replaced the pantheon of pagan gods with its own (Jehova, Jesus and Mary), but left almost untouched a horde of smaller deities and demons, and beliefs of them exist untill now (of course, they now extinct along with villages).

      • I don’t see any relation between the jewish god with the pantheon ones. Jehovah lacks their elements and it’s also as old as the european gods. They were not replaced, the european people were just converted into another one through christianity.

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