Tori's eighth solo album, The Beekeeper, was released on February 22, 2005. It was produced by Tori Amos and recorded in 2004 at Martian Engineering in Cornwall, England.
Tori describes the album in the context of her feminine spirituality: in ancient times, bees were associated with goddesses and the feminine. Tori says, "The Beekeeper is musically inspired by the fact that the piano has realized that she has an organ - with my right hand on her organ and my left hand on her piano keys, I have been changed by the relationship between these two beautiful creatures, the Bösendorfer piano and the B3 Hammond organ."
The Special Edition with Bonus DVD includes The Beekeeper: A Walk Through the Gardens, over 25 minutes of interview footage as Tori talks about the songs and their origins as well as a unique glimpse behind the scenes at the photo shoot for The Beekeeper. The Bonus DVD also features the bonus track "Garlands" set to exclusive content from Tori's book, Piece by Piece, including photographs and text.
The limited edition package groups the 19 songs into 6 different gardens: Roses and Thorns, Herbs and Elixers, The Desert Garden, The Greenhouse, The Orchard and The Rock Garden. The Special Packaging also includes a seed packet with a wild flower mix prepared especially for The Beekeeper, to compliment this garden theme.
The Beekeeper: A Walk through the Gardens
Tori talks about The Beekeeper
I've noticed that you've used the word "bees" in many of your songs. What is the significance of all these bees?
"I've always been drawn to beekeeping, the culture of honey, the sensuality of how it is created. If I see bee-keepers, I pull over." [Q magazine - January 2004]
"The Beekeeper really explores the story from the Creative Mother's perspective because we know from the bible the Creative Father's perspective. And in this garden, we do not call this the garden of original sin, we call this the garden of Original Sinsuality. You will see when you open up the album itself of The Beekeeper, which songs live in which gardens and you can take a journey with them. They're their own Garden of Eden. They're their own shape. It's a sonic shape, so it's not a physical space. This is a place where male or female may enter, it's not just emotions of a woman. We all experience disappointment and we all experience transformation and we all experience passion. Even if it's not passion for another human being, but passion is an essence in itself." [The Beekeeper DVD - 2005]
What inspired your new album? Is the title a reference to Sylvia Plath's The Beekeeper's Daughter?
"That's one seed of many. I also wanted to bring in the biblical symbolism. Religious texts have been used a lot in the recent elections and in arguments in favor of war. They were used on all sides to make young men and women believe that they were confronted with a religious war. I wanted to make a different use of them." [ExBerliner - February 2005]
"I approached the last record [Scarlet's Walk] from the Native American part of my bloodline," she says. For this album, she realized that "the only way to address the severing that was happening in America itself was to go into myself as a Christian woman. If Jesus' teachings are being hijacked and manipulated by politicians, then I must therefore go back as a daughter of the Christian church into that system and that symbolism and those allegories."
Beginning with Elaine Pagels' The Gnostic Gospels, Amos found herself wondering, "What if we're all being led a merry dance away from the truth and sincere Christ consciousness" She was particularly intrigued by the notion that Jesus' teachings had been edited down to favor the church fathers over the church mothers, diminishing the role of women and almost writing Mary Magdalene out of the story altogether. "The more I researched it, the more I realized that there were women prophets, women writing their own works. The Gospel of Mary Magdalene was attributed to her, meaning her point of view, whoever the scribe was.
"But what fascinated me was that there were people of the time no different than we have today, like an FCC deciding what gospels we would hear and not hear. So the majority in America hasn't been exposed to this information, because people 1700 years ago didn't think that women should be talking. Jesus didn't know these people." She laughs. "It's like somebody coming in and messing with Jimi Hendrix's catalog -- 'Let's take all the guitars off.'"
"I'm not writing The DaVinci Code," she adds. Indeed, years of learning and research have gone into weaving the broad, rich tapestry presented here. "There are a lot of mythic archetypes that I'm playing with within The Beekeeper. Different queen bees of different mythologies, whether it's Sekhmet or Kuan-Yin or Freya or Queen Maeve."
Tori learned more about beekeeping from Simon Buxton's The Shamanic Way of the Bee: Ancient Wisdom and Healing Practices of the Bee Masters. In it, Buxton describes initiation rituals that were used to guide aspiring beekeepers. "He began to understand the balance between nature itself, and that the bees were holding this sacred space of sexuality, procreation that goes on in the garden. Reading the bee master's account, I began to see the beekeeper as this creative force, this neutral force in our story."Not a force to be worshiped or obeyed, mind, but one whose guidance is meant only to illuminate, to inform, to recognize the interlocking importance of all the players in the cycle of life.
The Beekeeper starts, as did another famous garden allegory, with the heroine confronted by a piece of fruit. But inspired by The Secret Book of John, Amos doesn't have a stern father commanding Thou Shalt Not; instead, a wise woman named Sophia urges her to eat. "By eating from the tree of knowledge, our female character starts to experience all these things: Passion. Betrayal. All the emotions you could possibly feel in a relationship. Some I've put more emphasis on than others, but they're all covered. And we developed the six gardens, number 6 being a reflection of the hexagon shape of the cells in the Beehive and of course the 6 days that it took the God in Genesis to create the world. Biblical mythology and the ancient feminine mysteries are joined together. As I began to realize that the gardens personified the different relationships a woman could have, the songs started coming and coming. At a certain point I was taking dictation. I had to stand back and let them show me the shape they were creating." [ThePop.de - February 2005]