The Bees of Delphi…

The Gartan Lullaby…

Sleep, my son, the red bee hums

The silent twilights fall

The lady from the grey rock comes

To wrap the world in thrall

My darling boy, my pride, my joy

My love and hearts desire

The cricket sings his lullaby

Beside the dying fire

Dusk is drawn and the green mans thorn

Is wrapped in wreaths of fog

The fairies sail their boat till dawn

Across the starry bog

My darling son, the pearl-white moon

Has drained her cup of dew

And weeps to hear the sad, sweet song

I sing, my love, to you

Saturday… The Green and Tumbling World hurdles towards the Equinox, preceeded by the Perseids… Today we have a crowd of Rowan’s friends over for a celebration of the 16th year he has spent on this orb. So far it looks like the season of silly gifts; Tiara, matching Earrings… and more of the same.

Big Thanks to all who have helped out with EarthRites Radio. I think we have achieved our goal, now to see what the procedures are to bring the Beast back alive. So, stay tuned (sorreee) to what is looming on the Radio event horizon.

Well, have a pleasant one, and may this find you in a good place.




On the Grill:

The Links

Invocation: Robin Williamson (Thanks Lois!)

The Delphic Bee – Jonathan Ott

Poetry Robin Williamson



Evangelicals urge museum to hide man’s ancestors

George Galloway Eats Skyy Reporter Alive

Winged Beauty…!

Sky-watchers await celestial show


From Lois in W.VA.. a reminder from Robin Williamson

you that create the diversity of the forms, open to my words

you that divide and multiply it, hear my sounds

I make yield league to you, ancient associates and fellow wanderers

you that move the heart in fur and scale, I join with you

you that sing bright and subtle making shapes that my throat cannot

tell you that harden the horn and make quick the eye

you that run the fast fox and the zigzag fly

you sizeless makers of the mole and whale

aid me and I will aid you

I make a blood pact with you,

you that lift the blossom and the green branch

you who make symmetries more true,

you who consider the angle of your limbs

who dance in slower time, who watch the patterns

you rough coated who eat water, who stretch deep and high

with your green blood my red blood let it be mingled

aid me and I will aid you

I call upon you, you who are unconfined

who have no shape, who are not seen but only in your action

I call upon you, you who have no depth but choose direction

who bring what is willed

that you blow love upon the summers of my loved ones

that you blow summers upon those loves of my love

aid me and I will aid you

I make pact with you, you who are the liquidness of the waters

and the spark of the flame, I call upon you

you who make fertile the soft earth

and guard the growth of the growing things

I make peace with you, you who are the blueness of the blue sky

and the wrath of the storm, I take the cup of deepness with you


and with you the sharp and the hollow hills,

I make reverence to you round wakefulness we call the earth

I make wide eyes to you, you who are awake

every created thing both solid and sleepy or airy light

I weave colours round you

you who will come with me

I will consider it beauty

I will consider it beauty


By Robin Williamson


The Delphic Bee: Bees and toxic honeys as pointers to psychoactive and other medicinal plants. – Jonathan Ott

Economic Botany 52(3):260 -266,1998.

Herein a brief review, with 49 references, of the history and phytochemistry of toxic honeys, in which bees have sequestered secondary compounds naturally occurring in plant nectars (floral and extrafloral). It is hypothesised that such toxic honeys could have served as pointers to psychoactive and other medicinal plants for human beings exploring novel ecosystems, causing such plants to stand out, even against a background of extreme biodiversity. After reviewing various ethnomedicinal uses of toxic honeys, the author suggests that pre-Columbian Yucatecan Mayans intentionally produced a psychactive honey from the shamanic inebriant Turbin corymbosa as a visionary substrate for manufacture of their ritual metheglin, balché.

Tradition holds the famous Delphic Oracle was revealed by a swarm of bees, and the Pythia or divinatory priestesses in Delphi’s temple of Apollo were affectionately called ‘Delphic Bees’, while virgin priestesses of Greek Goddesses like Rhea and Demeter were called melissai, ‘bees’; the hierophants essenes,’king bees’. Great musicians and poets like Pindar were inspired by the Muses, who bestowed the sacred enthusiasm of the logos, sending bees to anoint the poets’ lips with honey (Ransome 1937). Some hold the vatic revelations of the Pythia were stimulated by inhaling visionary vapours of henbane, Hycscyamus niger L., issuing from a fumarole over which the Delphic Bees were suspended, and into which the plant had been cast (Ratsch 1987). The primordial Eurasian entheogenic plant soma/haoma, known in the Vedas as amrta, the potion of immortality, was called ambrosia by the Greeks, and with nektar, the other sustenance of the Immortals, was associated with bees and honey (Roscher 1883). This curious lore may represent a sort of mythological fossil, concealing a hitherto overlooked mechanism of drug discovery. I suggest that immemorial pursuit of wild honey, the only concentrated sweet which occurs naturally, could have led inexorably to the discovery of psychoactive and other toxic honeys, while subsequent observation of bees’ foraging habits could easily have led preliterate shamans/pharmacognosists to single out toxic plant species, even against a background of extreme biodiversity, as in Amazonia.

Xenophon’s 4th century BC Anabasis (IV,VII,20) described psychoactive honey poisoning during the ‘Retreat of the Ten Thousand’ in the ill-starred expedition of Cyprus. Countless soldiers in the greek army encamped near Trebizonde in Asia Minor, ate liberally of honey found there, “lost their senses and vomited” and “resembled drunken persons.” Pliny (XXI,XLV) described madness-inducing honey from this area as meli mœnomenon (‘mad honey’) and also mentioned (XXI,XLVI) a medicinal honey from Crete, miraculum mellis or ‘wondrous honey’ (Halliday 1922; Ransome 1937). The 6th-8th century BC Homeric Hymn to Hermes referred to melissae or bee oracles from Delphi’s Mount Parnassos, who could prophesy only after ingesting meli chloron or ‘green honey’, perhaps a reference to Pliny’s ‘mad honey’. It was conjectured that these bee-oracles were the Pythia, hence psychotropic honey could have been a catalyst for the mantic utterances of the Delphic Bees (Mayor 1995). It is thought the source of meli mœnomenon was Rhodeodendron ponticum L., which contains toxic glucosides called andromedotoxins or grayanotoxins (Krause 1926; Plugge 1891; Wood, et al. 1954) found in other species of Ericaceae, notably Kalmia latifolia L., another plant whose honey has provoked poisonings (Howes 1949; Jones 1947). Grayanotoxins occur in North American toxic honeys, presumably from K.latifolia (Scott, Coldwell, and Wiberg 1971). Frequent honey poisonings in Japan (Kohanawa 1957; Tokuda and Sumita 1925) were traced to ericaceous Tripetalieia paniculata Sieb. Et Zucc., and grayanotoxins were found in these honeys (Tsuchiya et al. 1977). Another toxic glucoside, ericolin, is known from ericaceous Ledum palustre L., and from honeys derived from this plant, which caused human poisonings (Koslova 1957; Palmer-Jones 1965). Both L.palustre and L.hypoleucum Kam. are used as shamanic inebriants by Tungusic tribes of Siberia (Brekhman and Sam 1967); while ‘Labrador Tea’, L. groenlandicum Oeder of the Kwakiutl Indians is said to have narcotic properties (Turner and Bell 1973), pointing to possible content of ericolin and grayanotoxins.

An ‘epidemic’ of honey poisoning in New Zealand was traced to honeydew or excrement of Scolypopa australis Walker, which had fed on leaves of tutu, Coriaria arborea Lindsay, Coriariaceae (Palmer-Jones 1947; Palmer-Jones 1965; Palmer-Jones and White 1949). ‘Mellitoxin’ isolated from the honey was identical to hyaenanchin from euphorbiaceous Hyœnanche globosa Lamb; and a second honey toxin, tutin, is found in C arborea (Clinch and Turner 1968; Palmer-Jones 1965). This leaf-hopper had transformed tutin from tutu leaves into hyænanchin during digestion; the bees making honey from its excrement. Symptoms of this honey poisoning included giddiness, delirium, excitement, suggesting a toxicological relationship to the Ecuadorian shamanic inebriant C.thymifolia Humb. Et Bonpl.ex Willd., shanshi, used to induce sensations of flight (Naranjo 1969). Preliminary investigations of shanshi suggested presence of a toxic glucoside (Naranjo and Naranjo 1961).

Solanaceæ are known both for shamanic inebriants and toxic honeys. Human honey poisonings in Hungary were traced to Atropa Belladonna L. or Datura metel L., and symptoms resembled those of tropane alkaloids scopolomine and hyoscyamine found in both (Hazslinszky 1956). Polish honey poisonings were traced to D. inoxia Miller (=D.meteloides DC.ex Dunal ), and scopolomine found in the honey (Lutomski, Debska and Gorecka 1972). Both scopolomine and atropine were detected in toxic honey from Colombia, of unknown provenience (Barragan de Dominguez 1973). Perhaps Brugmansia species were involved – these Andean shamanic inebriants (Ott 1993) yield toxic honeys (Lockwood 1979). Indole alkaloid gelsemine could account for honey poisoning from loganiaceous Gelsemium sempervirens (L.) Aiton in 19th century South Carolina – symptoms also included giddiness (Kebler 1896).

Brasilian inebriating honey from stingless bee Trigona recurva Smith is called feiticeira (‘sorceress’) or vamo-nos-embora (‘let’s go!’) in “allusion to the reeling, half drunken condition in which one falls after partaking of this honey” (Ihering 1903(4)). Mombuca, Argentine stingless bee (Melipona sp.) honey had “inebriating effects owing to the fact that the little bees harvest it from some flowers with narcotic properties” (Spegazzini 1909). Toxic honeys oreceroch and overecepes occur in Chiquitos, Bolivia; also a delicious honey, omocayoch, said to be as inebriating as liquor (D’Orbigny 1839); while a Paraguayan honey was characterized “as intoxicating as aqua vita” (Schwarz 1948).

So at least three categories of psychoactive phytotoxins-indole and tropane alkaloids and glucosides-occur in toxic honeys, and likewise in nectars from which such are made (Vide: reviews of non-sugar floral-nectar chemistry: Baker 1977; Baker and Baker 1983). Psychoactive cannabinoids occur in bee pollen of marijuana, cannibinaceous Cannabis Sativa L. ( Paris, Boucher and Cosson 1975). Pollen toxins could be sequestered by bees in honeys, as are nectar or honeydew toxins. Cannabis nectar likely also contains cannibinoids, explaining a common belief of marijuana growers, that marijuana honeys are psychotropic.

One of the more recondite Mesoamerican inebriants is the Mayan metheglin balché, a mead of stingless-bee honey, water and bark of leguminous balché, Lonchocarpus violaceus (Jaquin) DC. (Goncalves de Lima, et al. 1977). L. violaceus is psychoactive, owing to content of longistylines (Delle Monache, et al. 1977) or piscicidal rotenone, and Mayaist C. Ratsch proposed other shamanic inebriants, like psilocybin musrooms and ololiuhqui (Turbina corymbosa (L.) Rafinesque. Xtabentún in Mayan) were once added to balché (Ratsch 1992). Ratsch thought feasible my suggestion that xtabentun may have been a balché ingredient, as honey rich in psychotropics ergoline alkaloids of this Convolvulaceæ (Hofmann 1963) – noting that the Lacandon Indians, avid balché consumers know of inebriating honeys. Contemporary shamanic use of T. corymbosa has not been documented among the Mayans, but is all but universal among indigenous groups in Oaxaca, and occurs elsewhere in Mexico (Lipp 1991; Wasson 1963). Besides psychoactivity, ergolines have potent uterotonic effects, and seeds of ololiuhqui/ Xtabentún are also used as ecbolics/oxytocics (to precipitate childbirth) by indigenous groups in Oaxaca (Browner 1985; Ortiz de Montellano and Browner 1985). ‘Virgin honey’ of stingless bees (Trigona sp.) is used in ethnogynecology, noting of Tabentun (Xtabentún, identified as convolvulaceous):”the aromatic honey from its flower is said to be the source of a potent drink” (Roys 1931). Oaxacan Mixe use T.Corymbosa as a shamanic inebriant, and also employ “special honey” from Trigona sp. As an ethnogynacological remedy (Lipp 1991). Clavigero highly praised estabentun honey (Clavigero 1780); entomologist H.F Schwarz attributed xtabentún honey to Melipona beecheii Bennett, noting it was still produced in Yucutan in the 1940′s, being the most esteemed of many ethnomedicinal Mexican honeys (Schwarz 1948). An article on Mayan apiculture described situating hives near natural strands of xtabentún, noting “all their honey comes from this flower. No other is allowed to prosper in the immediate vicinity” (Mediz Bolio 1974). These clues suggest colecab (M.beecheii). T.corymbosa honeys were produced intentionally and much esteemed for constituent ergoline alkaloids conferring uterotonic and psychoactive properties. Such honeys may have been exploited by the Mayans in fabrication of their ritual metheglin balché, endowing the sacred inebriant with the plants legendary and chemically-verified entheogenic properties.

Field work in Yucutan and Quintana Roo revealed xtabentún honey was no longer of economic importance, and traditional Mayan hollow-log apiculture was found sadly degenerated. We failed to obtain samples of xtabentún honey for bioassay and chemical analysis, but attempts to produce it are underway. In Merida and Vallodolid, Yucutan, there survives production of a distilled liqueur from fermented honey, and known as xtabentún! A modern liqueur named for a pre-colombia entheogen, is yet another clue pointing to existence of inebriating T. corymbosa honey, and its probable use as traditional fermentation substrate for the sacred Mayan metheglin balché.

Xtabentún liqueur and conjectured use of psychoactive honey in balché have parallels in the classical and modern worlds. Pliny noted meli mænomenon of Asia Minor was made into a mead or metheglin, and toxic Ericaceæ honey was traditionally added to alcholic beverages in the Caucasus, to enhance their inebriating properties; while such toxic honey, deli bal, is taken in Turkey as a tonic in milk. Deli bal was an important export from this region in the 18th century, widely used to potentiate liquors in Europe – called miel fou, ‘crazy honey’ in France (Mayor 1995). “very intoxicating” honey, likely from spp. (mountain laurel) was used in 18th century New Jersey to ‘spike’ liquor sold under the appropriate trade name ‘Metheglin’ (Jomes 1947;Kebler 1896)

Toxic honeys are not unusual (I have intentionally ignored the literature on non-psychoactive plant (and industrial) toxins sequestered in honeys), nor are accidental inebriations by psychoactive honeys exceptional. In satisfying the universal human “sweet tooth” during human explorations of any given ecosystems, foragers would encounter psychoactive and other toxic honeys. Having consumed such honeys and experienced psychoactive or other medicinal properties of their contained alkaloids and allied phytochemicals, it would require no special technology nor great imagination to follow the bees to the nectar source, thereby easily finding valuable plants. It has been suggested that ethnomedicinal and culinary plants were discovered by a systematic process of ingesting all species, in the eternal search for food. Some have questioned whether such an extensive bioassay program were feasible in areas of extraordinarily high biodiversity, such as Amazonia, thought to be home to at least 80 000 species of higher plants (Schultes 1988)! Apart from observation of the effects of bioactive plants on domestic wild animals, serendipitous encounters with phytotoxins in honeys could have served as highly specific and efficient pointers to medicinal, especially psychoactive, plants, which would thus stand out in deep relief, even against a backdrop of extreme biodiversity.

There is evidence that in the case of T.corymbosa among the Yucatecan Mayans, a toxic honey may have attained exalted status as a preferred method of ingesting a psychoactive plant, even being produced intentionally. These Mayans came to worship bee-gods like Ah-Muzen-Cab,’Great Lord Bee’, who can be seen descending even today above the entrances to pyramid-top temples at Tulúm and Coba, his ancestral home. Much as we sweeten our bitter medicines with sugary syrups, bees collecting toxic nectars from flowers might naturally have prepared and concentrated a sweetened drug for the delectation of awed human votaries of Ah-Muzen-Cab and his industrious, heavenly host.


Lyrics/Poetry: Robin Williamson

Strings in the earth and the air

make music sweet

strings by the river

where the willows meet

there’s music along the river

for love wanders there

pale flowers on his mantle

dark leaves on his hair

all softly straying

with head to the music bent

and fingers playing

upon an instrument

twilight turns from amethyst

to deep and deeper blue

lamps light with a pale green glow

the trees of the avenue

the old piano plays an air

sedate and slow and gay

she bends upon the yellow keys

her head inclines this way

shy thoughts and grave wide eyes

and hands that wander as they list

twilight turns a darker blue

with lights of amethyst.


The Dancing of the Lord of Weir

In the third part of the year

when men begin to gather fuel against the

coming cold

hear hoover ring hard on frosty ground

begins our song

for centuries we lived alone high on the moors

herding the deer for milk and cheese for leather

and horn

humans came seldom nigh

for we with our spells held them at bay

and they with gifts of wine and grain did

honour us

returning at evening from the great mountains

out red hoods ring with bells lightly we run

until before our own green hill

there we did stand

she is stolen

she is snatched away

through watery meads straying our lovely


she of the wild eyes

she of the wild hair

snatched up to the saddle of the lord of Weir

who has his castle high upon a crag

a league away

upon the horse of air at once we rode

to where Weir’s castle lifts like a crippled claw

into the moon

and taking form of minstrels brightly clad

we paced upon white ponies to the gate

and rang thereon

“we come to sing unto my lord of Weir

a merry song.”

into his sorry hall we stepped

where was our daughter bound near his chair

“come play a measure!”

“sir at once we will!”

and we began to sing and play

to lightly dance in rings and faster turn

no man within that hall could keep his seat

but needs must dance and leap

against his will

this was the way we danced them to the door

and sent them on their way into the world

where they will leap amain

till they think one kind thought

for all I know they may be dancing still

while we returned with our own

into our hall

and entering in

made fast

the grassy door.


The Water Song

Water, water

See the water flow

Glancing, dancing

See the water flow

Wizard of changes

Teach me the lesson of flowing

Dark and silvery

Mother of life

Water. water

Holy mystery

Heavens daughter

Wizard of changes

Teach me the lesson of flowing

God made a song

When the world was new

Waters laughter

Sings it through

Wizard of changes

Water. water, water


Queen of Love

A strong power calls from the left hand

Across the waters deep

a strong power calls from the left hand

let all things sleep or weep

oh the queen of love, you have unwove my eyes

and my heart will not sleep

the eye would sleep but the mind would rise

I must needs walk down God’s eyebrows

and along the street of his eyes

look for me and you will see me in my red cloak

swimming determined

as God’s blood flows

creatures of grief you beg from the thief

I will not carry home your sacks of sorrow

but I will pay the fiddler good silver if he smiles

pray God he see tomorrow

and the fine fine girls that are into it

and my eyes with salt water swim

and we disputing with a brittle gaiety

upon the world’s rim

if I sought to love you with my body

it would be with a bent back

unto the day of doom

Oh the Queen of Love

I am in her heart

she is in my room

and together alone we clasp hands

and in each other’s eyes walk the endless shore

and below I have my duty to perform in the song

and that that I was

you will see it no more

the snow is on the hills of my heart

and to speak is to die

the men at arms do seek to mark me

and the monks raise hue and cry

seek me in vain on Golgotha

or in fear’s hollow

for the way I take today

only the true may follow

the ancestors in stone armour

calling for loyalty untrue

seek to make a zigzag of the arrow’s flight

it is so swaddled in the bands of form

but I am girdled with the storm

and cloaked with the night

I am not to be seen or found

save only in what I cause

standing outside on the inside outside

perfectingness and flaws

how will I say where I end

or where you begin

how will I say, what shall I play

shall it be you or the wild wind

as Pan with the unsane eyes

or with the wild horns

or when I am crowned with the paper crown

or with the crown of thorns

a strong power compels distortion from the right hand

fleece to the grey wolves

fangs to the grey sheep

but the Queen of Love she strokes

my body alive, that I do not sleep.

The doctor brews potions and pills

to open his own front door

and the locksmith makes strong bolts

to bar his gates to every new breeze that blows

shall I now put lion’s ears upon my ears

hear every sound as a roar

shall I now put mouse’s eyes upon my eyes

gauge the moon for size against my paw

while the Queen of Love

she sings to me

from above and beyond the world

and I observe my mind

it is playing ignorant boy

while at her feet I am curled

and I remember all female movements so well

of such a form to bring much joy and ease much care

to perfume and let fall the coloured gown

and to let down the curling hair.

But now I play seed thrower

and I will play three-legged man

I will play dream weaver and day bringer

and catch as catch can

While the Queen of Love

she swims like a silver dove in my mind’s room

and my body sleepwalks down the road

in a warm dark swoon…


A Blessing on your day!