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11 the Honey Bee

hexagram-11-honey-bee‘WHEN A BEE comes to your house, let her have beer: you may wish to repay
the compliment one day.’ (Congolese proverb)

Outer workers shiver their wings to heat the ball; inner and outer swap in
shifts. The queen winters in the middle. Between combs is a patented bee
space, just letting two bees pass each other. The prize is a jar of balsam
honey, born of seeds washed out of French and Spanish fleeces and swept
downstream to found a colony of flowers on the bonny banks of the Tyne.

1st – The Hieroglyphic Bee
From his box of instruments he extracts a beeswax crocodile and slips
it into the water where his wife’s lover is bathing. Coming to life and
growing big, it drags him down to the Nile’s depths. The bee and the
sedge: this dual key is the life force, nestled within the title of the king.

2nd – The Procreative Bee
The swarm was men, searching for ten nests in a wood of five hundred
trees. One in a thousand died, falling. So now you’ll find sections of trunk
on the ground, as hives, and these have received our myths, of men and
bears. The hole below the belt is a two-way portal of the vital spirit.

3rd – The Enlightened Bee
A well-hung monarchy needs its bee books – spate of good works, noble
inventions. Queen Henrietta Maria, dedicatee of dozens, took one with
her when she fled the falling shadow of the axe, re-inscribing it to her
protectors. Its final sanctuary was Napoleon’s cabinet of curiosities.

4th – The Aggressive Bee
That waft of banana attracts more bees to the sting, till the hapless mink
is mobbed. Sacs pump away like severed heads revising their last menu.
Trouble’s in the air. A queen stings rival queens. A wasp is balled –
overheated in the bees’ clump and fumed with their carbon dioxide.

5th – The Frontier Bee
Honey bees glimpsed at the edges of confusion. Westwards they drive
the tribes and the buffalo – hostile air force of the paleskin robbers, their
hum the death rattle of sacred silence. The shaman warns, ‘We will learn
the shrunken sweetness, the subjection of animals living like themselves.’

6th – The Bee Beard
Bee beards are temporary exhibitions. A swarm will cluster around a
queen, even one kept in a cage in a person’s mouth or under their chin.
Records are kept by weight, since numbers are hard to count for boys
who can’t yet spell. Be our guest at the all-body bee pelt wedding.

All six – The Sacred Bee
Flowers open like hearts to receive ambassadors amidst the buzz of
protocol – angels in priestly work attire. The cup is full to overflowing:
a still precision is the devil’s mischief. Candles at mass are the bee’s
pledge, exhaustion of the soul in service. The hive will never die.

Introduction to Six-Way Mirror | The Index of Hexagrams and Cantos


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