“Of bees especially the proverb holds good, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”
- Hilda Ransome
The first of our two primary totem inspirations for our candle brand is the zombie. The zombie originally found its way into American pop culture during the U.S Army occupation of Haiti (1915-1934). American servicemen returned from the Caribbean with incredible accounts of the Haitian practice of voodoo [or, vodou, literally meaning spirit]. They told tales of the "zombi" as a person who is raised from the dead to do the bidding of the person responsible for reviving it. These stories were serialized, novelized and also inevitably made into films typically set on plantations and starring horror greats like Bela Lugosi (King of the Zombies, Revolt of the Zombies, White Zombie).
The popularity of zombie subject matter faded from the national consciousness abruptly in the early 1940's and in a manner contrary to their very folklore nature they died...only to rise again. They were revived in what we consider their ultimate incarnation; George A. Romero's 1968 masterpiece, Night of the Living Dead. Romero combined the religious tradition and lore of the voodoo zombie with the strong taboo against cannibalism to create a true and lasting icon of horror. Wishing to pay homage in choosing our name we combined this icon, our favorite harbinger of death, with our original mascot and second totem, the bee; dubbing our creations Zombee Candles.
Some of the oldest literature in the world, including Sumerian and Babylonian cuneiform writings make mention of bees and honey. Even the Vedas, sacred Indian texts and ancient Egypt papyrus describe the bee as a symbol for their culture. Egyptians believed these insects to be the tears of their sun god Ra and they were often used as symbols of royalty.
The bee also represents feminine energy and life. Bees were connected in Greek mythology to the Queen of the netherworld, Persephone and to Rhea, mother of Zeus. At the altar of Black Demeter they “sacrificed no victim to the goddess, such being the custom of the natives; instead they bring the fruit of the vine and other cultivated trees, and also honeycombs.” [-from The Sacred Bee by Ransome]
One of our favorite quotes about bees explains ...
“The bees are of particular interest to women for several reasons; if she likes good housekeeping, then the bee is a model; if she likes a woman of business, again the bee is a shining light; if she is interested in the care of the young, then is the bee nurse and example of perfection; if she believes in the political rights of woman, she will find the highest feminine political wisdom in the constitution of the bee commune.”
- from The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture by Amos Ives Root
This is the drama of our two totems: the bee, known to the Egyptians, who valued the afterlife above all else, and the zombie, who is the antithesis of the afterlife, a being that remains animated on earth with no soul. We have drawn on our love of the undead paired with our infatuation with bees to define the iconography of our brand. We are currently creating some limited edition beeswax candles as well as Sacred Zombee candles that will each have their own unique story to go along with them.
- Kate Rhea, 2008