Monday, 12 March 2007

Melissa, Queen Bee...

Continuing the theme of the previous post, we can at last solve the enduring mystery of Francis Dashwood and his eccentric mausoleum. Long-term readers of this blog will know that the famous structure- sited a few yards outside the ancient earthworks of West Wycombe Hill, Buckinghamshire- is famously hexagonal. You will also know that Dashwood himself, notorious rake and incomparable bon vivant, was an unlikely proto-feminist in his then unfashionable championing of the Venusian mysteries. And of the cult of Melissa, a form of Aphrodite, we read:

'[Melissae, the 'bees'] was the title given Aphrodite's high priestesses at the honeycomb-shrine of Mount Eryx... Pythagoreans perceived the hexagon as an expression of the spirit of Aphrodite whose sacred number was six. [The members of her cult] worshipped bees as her sacred creatures because they understood how to create perfect hexagons in their honeycomb... It seemed to them a revelation of the underlying symmetry of the cosmos.'

So now we know what (and who) was being evoked via Dashwood's perennial design; perfectly fitting, it must be observed, for a place with the name of Wy-combe: the honey-coated domain of the Goddess Herself.

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