The Wasp

Yearly Cycle of Power: Summer
Time of Power: Noon
Attributes: Feminine Power, Social Diversity, Creation, Daring, Flamboyance, Vengeance

Ah, the Wasp. Who doesnít know that stinging little annoyance that always invades our summer picnics and spoils our good times. What use is this animal you might think? Well, its not all bad as you will see form this article. There are more than several thousand species of Wasp in the world today including yellowjackets and hornets. Wasps are flying insects (mainly). They have a smooth exoskeleton body (differentiated from a bees more hairy appearance) and a thin waist (Bees are thick waisted). Wasps have transparent wings and strong jaws. There are several species of wasp, like the 'velvet ant' that are flightless, but retain the other attributes of the wasp, including the venom.

The biggest adaptation of the wasp is the ability to make paper. Wasps have the ability to chew wood and plant fibres and produce pulp from it. They use this pulp to build things. Unlike bees, wasps do not have the ability to create wax, so all wasp nests are built out of paper, even the interesting hexagonal cells in their nests. They are quite adaptable at where they make their nests too. A Wasp may make its nest hanging down form a structure, in the ground, under logs, in an old rodent den, inside your walls, basically anywhere. When they needs more space in your house or underground, they dig and excavate more space. Lets see a bee do that! They are very protective of their homes and will defend them vigourously. This brings us to another special adaptation of the Wasp - the stinger. The workers of a wasp colony are sterile females, and these sterile females have a stinger. The stinger is actually an ovipositor, which is a female sex organ on the Wasp (meant for laying eggs). And itís envenomed. And what is distinct from the Bee is that the female Wasp can sting repeatedly with its ovipositor without fear of death. So if you were stung by a Wasp, you know it was a female and you know you just got poked with its envenomed sex organs.

Wasps have varied tastes in food. They are aggressive predators of other bugs: flies, spiders, caterpillars, aphids, etc. Just about every 'pest' species of insect has a species of Wasp that preys upon it. We have the Wasp to thanks for keeping these species numbers down. They generally like things that fall under two categories: Sweet and Meat. This is why they like to frequent summer picnics and barbeques. Kool-Aid, Pop, and Burgers are high on their list of yummy foods. Wasps have even been known to raid bee hives for food. With some wasps, they provide the meat aspect to their young and the young in turn provide sweet secretions for the adults to dine on. They will also dine on nectar from fruit, pollen, or even munch on road kill. Many things prey upon the Wasp in turn including birds, reptiles, skunks, raccoons, amphibians, bears, and spiders. In fact spiders and wasps often prey upon each other. Its an interesting relationship that should be explored if you have either a Spider or a Wasp Totem.

The Life cycle of the Wasp is a fascinating thing. It starts with a queen who has wintered somewhere sheltered. She retains within her the sperm of many males form the previous season. She used this in the spring to generate new Wasps...well Wasp Larvae. These Wasp larvae eventually change into adults. The first offspring are always sterile female workers. Closer to the end of the season, the offspring are drones (males) and several queens (fertile females) to keep the species going. In general, the Drones fertilize a queen from a different colony to ensure genetic variation. The Workers make up the majority of populace, with the queens being the least numerous. The interesting thing is that one queen manages to create colonies of up to 15000 Wasps from herself in one season. This is an extreme example of fertility. 'Queen' may be a misnomer with the Wasp though as this individual does not have an elevated status (as they do with Bees), she is simply the reproductive workforce, the slave, not the master. Not all Wasps are part of this caste system mentality though. Many of them are solitary. It makes for a strange balance, where some are solitary and some are communal. This is quite different from the Bee which is always hive-minded. All adult solitary wasps are fertile, which is different from the caste system of the social wasps. Wasps generally live for about a year. One can understand the agitation of the Wasp. They are quick to sting and defend what is theirs as they have to pack a lifetime into one year. A lot is at stake.

There are several bits of mythology and lore for the Wasp from around the globe. I will relate a few here. One bit of folklore has a Butterfly and a Wasp conversing. The Butterfly is angered that in his previous life he was a noble philosopher and warrior in his previous life and now only gets to be a flitting butterfly while the Wasp was a donkey in a previous life and now gets this magnificent for that can sting whoever and whenever it wishes. The Wasp replies with wisdom 'It doesnít matter what we were, only what we are now'. The story ends there, but I totally imagine the wasp then stinging and eating the arrogant butterfly. There is a Siberian story that is similar to the stories of Asclepius and Orpheus. There was a Siberian shaman that could bring people back from the dead and the god of the dead was angry about this, so he devised a test for the shaman. He trapped a soul in a bottle. The shaman journeyed to the underworld, transformed into a wasp and stung the god on the forehead. The god of the dead was hurt by this, dropped the bottle and the soul was free. There are African myths that tell of the Wasp bringing fire to man much like Prometheus. This one is tough for me to buy...sure their stings burn like fire but I will hardly thank them for that. Finally, there is an Egyptian goddess of chaos, discord, and fear called Ahti which was shown with the head of a Wasp and the body of a hippo. Personally I think the head and jaws of a hippo and body and stinger of a wasp would be more fearful, but I can see why this would be scary in any form. She was said to be a very spiteful goddess and was rarely depicted in art. I can totally see the Wasp being associated with Chaos and the Chaos archetype, but also with Inspiration due to its rapid and impressive fertility.

The Wasp Totem is all about girl power. Even though there are male wasps, they are less populace and really only good for one thing: procreating. The real power lies in the female. She is the one that builds structures, gathers food, and propagates the species. And to any that get in her way - Sting! A person could certainly be male and have a Wasp Totem, but he would probably be an active feminist at heart as well. The fact that a Wasp can be either part of a colony or solitary says a lot about their social life. They could be comfortable at a party amongst a lot of people, or on their own. Either way is no big deal. This is an interesting bit though as there are not many totems like this. Most will be one or the other. They will be independent thinkers who are willing to be quite expressive about their thoughts to others regardless of any hurt or anger they produce. And when called to defend their thoughts, watch out! They hold their ideas and thoughts with real possessiveness so making them defend them may end out in a thorough mocking of your character or even a black eye. Romantically, the Wasp will be quite detached, having a fling here or there but really not committing to any sort of long term relationship. Settling down will all depend on the worth of the person and what they bring to the relationship, it wonít be due to romantic or sexual needs. If you are involved with a Wasp totem, the best advice is to be prepared to let her do her own thing when she wants. Donít get in the way as you are likely either be dumped or feel the sting. Career wise, the Wasp can exist in a variety of settings both independent and in a team. This is a very adaptable way to be. The Wasp is all about creation though so careers that involve creating something, or making the world a better place are the way to go. Construction Worker, Artist, Sculptor, Journalist, Social Activist, Film Maker: these are all careers that are well suited to the Wasp.


Written by RavenDreamer