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Honey In Rituals And Myths:
Honey Used In Death Rituals
Honey Used In Birth Rituals
Honey In Traditions, Customs And Superstitions
Honey In The Bible
Honey Used In Wedding Ceremonies
Honey And Bees Documented In Exultet Rolls
Honey In Religion
Honey And Miscellaneous Proverbs Myths
Honey In Poetry, Symblolism, Expressions And Names
Honey And Creation Of The Dog
Honey Myth - The Saving Of The Cattle
Honey Myth - The Reanimation Of The Dead
Honey Myth - The Production Of Steel
Honey Myth - The Origin Of Beer
Honey Myth - The Kalevala
Honey In Mythologies
American Honey Folklore
Honey - Birth
The use of honey was only rarely omitted during birth-rites. Among Babylonians, Iranians, Egyptians and Hebrews, honey and milk was the first nutriment which touched the lips of a new-born. Calvin mentions in Isaiah, Ch. IX, that, "the Jews to this day, give their infants a taste of honey and butter before they suck." The Galician Jews put a piece of honeycomb into the cradle before the infant is placed in it. During Hindu birth ceremonies, after a male infant is born and the umbilical cord is severed, the father touches the lips of the son with honey taken from a golden vessel and applies it with a golden spoon, at the same time giving the child its name. The Hindus hang a branch of the sacred tree, smeared with honey, over their doors with the invocation: "The young child cries to it; the cow that has a young calf shall low to it." Amongst the Mohammedans in the Province of Punjab (N. W. India) the most respected member of the family puts ghutti (made of honey) into the mouth of the infant as its first food and holds honey over its head to ward off evil spirits.
There were similar customs among the Greek, Roman, Slavic and all Anglo-Saxon races. The Scotch Highlanders, soon after the birth of a child, take a fresh branch of ash (melia, mel honey) which secretes a sweet manna-like juice, burn it at one end and after smearing some honey on the other end, they daub with it the lips of the infant. The Scotch believe that honey, being a sacred substance, should be the first food to touch the palate of the new-born. An identical ceremony prevails in Finland and in the Caucasus. During birth ceremonies in modern Greece a chosen child smears honey on the lips of the infant with the prayer: "Be thou as sweet as this honey." To give honey to an infant as its first food was also a heathen Germanic custom.
If honey were placed on the lips of an infant by some miraculous means, it was believed that the act bestowed the gift of poetic inspiration and eloquence or that the child would become a saint. Cicero described how Plato, yet an infant, was taken by his father to Mount Hymettus to offer sacrifices to the Muses. The child was laid in a thicket and while he slept a . swarm of bees built a honeycomb in his mouth which presaged the singular sweetness of his discourses and his future eloquence. The same miracle happened to Xenophon, Sophocles, Pindar, Virgil, Lucanus, St. Ambrose, St. John Chrysostomus, St. Dominic, St. Isidor and many others. Among the Mohammedans, there is a superstition that if one dreams of a bee he will become a great singer. The bee was a symbol of the Koran. In Hungary the population believed that when a son was born to the King, the bees put honey on his lips for good luck. Homer was nursed by priestesses whose breasts distilled honey. Zeus, the god of Mount Olympus, was nursed on honey. The Greeks and Teutons believed that honey conferred immortality.
(Thomas Huxley, the famous biologist, humorously referred in his biography to the magic power of honey to endow mellifluous eloquence. He deplored his lack of oratorical talent, because the power of speech gains higher places in Church and State than worth, ability or honest work. Huxley blamed his incompetency in this respect on a lamentable incident: "A neighboring beehive emitted a swarm and the new colony, pitching on the window sill, was making its way into the room when a horrified servant shut down the sash. If that well-meaning woman had sustained from her ill-timed interference the swarm might have settled on my lips and I should have been endowed with eloquence.")
Once honey had touched the lips of an infant, the act was sup-posed to confer on it a certain magic spell. According to the ancient laws of Friesland, a father was permitted to expose an infant to its doom, but after the child had tasted honey and milk its life had to be spared. Hieron II as an infant was exposed in the fields by his father Hierocles, because the child was born to him by one of his servants. The bees cared for the foundling and fed him on honey. When the father learned of the miracle his attitude toward his son changed. The child was raised with great solicitude and received a liberal education. Hieron subsequently became a noted patron of literature and chief of the army, and as such won the battle of Mylae (296 B.C.). After the victory he became king of Syracuse.
When the Pharaoh of Egypt gave the order that all male Hebrew children should be destroyed by drowning them in the Nile, Jewish mothers were constrained to give birth to their children in the fields. The mother of Moses kept the future Prophet concealed for three months, and it would not be surprising if he also were brought up on honey. This might account for his wis dom, eloquence and prophetic powers. According to the Biblical legend (Exod. R. 23: 8), the exposed children were given two pebbles, from one of which they obtained oil, and from the other, honey.