Austeja : Queen Bee
Austeja, the Bee Goddess, is the ultimate queen bee. Austeja has dominion over bees, hives, honey, and the flowers needed to make honey. She also cares for people, promoting and protecting abundance, fertility, and growth. She offers special protection to brides, pregnant women, and beekeepers, too. Austeja serves as guardian of the family but is also the one true mother of the bees. Lithuanian hives were kept high within trees partially to keep bees close to their mother.
Austeja, a primordial deity, was actively venerated until the sixteenth century. (The Baltic was the last stronghold of European Paganism.) Austeja is simultaneously a bee and a woman. Before gathering honey, it’s traditional to make offerings to Austeja combined with prayer and petition. Honey had tremendous spiritual value in the Baltic homeland: it was once forbidden to buy or sell it as it was a sacred gift. That said, Lithuania was once Europe’s top exporter of honey and beeswax, thanks to Austeja.
Wooden images are in Lithuania’s Ancient Beekeeping Museum.
Her festival, Zoline, is celebrated in mid-August, when bees are especially active. They dance with Austeja and her celebrants.
Trees in which bees build hives are sacred to Austeja.
Traditional beekeepers offered Austeja honey and beeswax. She accepts spring water and mead: instead of pouring libations on the ground, toss them into the air; also offer images of bees; become a beekeeper or plant a garden with the flowers bees love.
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.