Food and Death in Ritual

The Evils of Beans – Part I

By cabinetofcuriositiespodcast

In the book, Beans, A History, (yes, really), author Ken Albala relates how beans have a history of being regarded as big troublemakers. Aristotle himself spoke out frequently against The Evils Of Beans, writing that these legumes are just like testicles and were indeed the gateway to Hades. His proof? It is the only plant that has no joints. So began the belief that eating a bean would buy your soul a one way ticket to Hades.

It didn’t help matters when Porphyry went around telling everyone about that time Pythagoras did that magic trick where he planted some beans in a pot and ninety days later they looked exactly like a ladies’ downstairs mixup….which then transformed into a human head that was for sure someone’s poor soul caught in transit.

beans

Italian author and historian, Pellegrino Artusi, writes about the history and superstitions regarding the beans in his 1891 book, The Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well:

Fava, especially the black variety, were considered funerary offerings, believed to contain the souls of the departed, and shaped like the doors of hell.

Festus [a roman provincial governor AD 59-62] tells us there’s an unholy symbol hidden in the blossom of the fava bean, and the custom of making offerings of fava beans to the dead is one of the reasons, supposedly, that led Pythagoras to order his followers to avoid them.

Romans believed that the souls of their ancestors resided in fava beans. At funerals, the beans were eaten and at weddings, fava beans were presented to the bride and groom who would eat them in hopes of attracting the souls of male ancestors to carry on the family bloodline.

There are many other wild claims associated with the the poor bean — such as, if you bite a bean and leave it in the sun it will smell exactly like the blood of a murdered person, (there’s a difference?) Or, the belief in it’s magical powers of warding off ghosts. In some places around the time of the winter solstice the male head of household would emerge from the home, barefoot and toss beans around the house while repeating nine times, “Shades of my ancestors, depart.” Meanwhile, the rest of the family banged on pots and pans and stomped on the ground. This was all done to protect the family from ghosts who were there to snatch the souls of the living and bring them back with them to the land of the dead. Since the beans were believed to hold souls they were thrown out as a decoy in hopes that the soul hungry ghosts would be get confused and be sated with the beans and leave the family alone.

It wasn’t only ghosts that were easily confused by the sight of a bean, but another member of Team Undead: the vampire. According to author Colin Dickey’s “Vampires and Beans” piece, vampires could be tricked into thinking the beans were living people or even pregnant women.

Fava dei morti

Modern Italians still practice a form of these traditions. Most popular is the making and consumption of fave dei morte or beans of the dead. Fava dei morti are bean shaped cookies traditionally made for Il Giorno dei Morti on November 2 — All Soul’s Day. Numerous cultures and religions believe that it is on this day the veil between the world of the living and the dead grows thin, allowing the souls of our ancestors to come calling. Italians are no different, and enjoy these little cookies as well as a variety of bean and sausage soup, on this day, carrying on the traditions and beliefs of their ancestors.

Complete Article HERE!

The Life Matters Media Connection — Managing Our Mortality

A new posting for my Managing Our Mortality column on the

Life Matters Media website is now available.

 

Life Matters

 

To find my latest column titled — Is Death The Enemy? look HERE!

Here’s what The Managing Our Mortality column is all about:

We are notorious for ignoring and denying death; we keep death out of sight and out of mind, postponing any serious considerations until death comes knocking at our door. This inevitably leaves us unprepared and frightened as we face our own mortality. We seldom get around to asking ourselves; “Will my death be good? Will it be wise? Will it matter?”

Death is not only a universal fact of life, part of the round of nature; but it’s also a necessary part of what it means to be human. Everything that we value about life and living—its novelties, challenges, opportunities for development—would be impossible without death as the defining boundary of our lives. So planning for the inevitable, especially when death is not imminent, is important work for us all.

Top 10 Unique Ways We Deal With the Dead

Dying is a fact of life, as is the disposal of a body after the fact. You know all about burial and cremation, but here are the other ways people, past and present- have dealt with the departed.

 

10 Mummification
The mummies of ancient Egypt are probably the world’s most famous dead bodies. Reserved for members of the upper classes, mummification anubis_mummificationinvolved the removal of all organs including the brain, which was pulled through the nose by a hook. The body was then stuffed with dry materials like sawdust and wrapped in linens. The Egyptians believed that mummification preserved the soul for its journey into the afterlife.

9 Cryonics
Who’s never heard of Walt Disney’s quest for immortality by having his body frozen? While that was an urban legend, cryonic science is a reality, currently only legal to perform on those who’ve been pronounced dead. Soon after dying, participants are stored in a liquid nitrogen solution to prevent decay until that time when death becomes a reversible phenomenon. Until then, the bodies remain on ice. Shown here is a four-body liquid nitrogen cooler.

8 Balinese Cremation
Contrary to the more somber western funerals, cremation ceremonies among the Hindus of Bali have an almost carnival-like atmosphere. Festive floats parade down local streets accompanying the body to a burning ground, where it is transferred into a ceremonial bull receptacle and set alight.

7 Plastination
Institute for Plastination, Heidelberg, Germany, www.bodyworlds.comSend your corpse on a tour of museums ’round the world with plastination, developed by German scientist Gunther von Hagens. His popular “Body Worlds” exhibits showcase the controversial preservation technique, which involves dissecting the body into bits, embalming it with a hardening fluid and reposing the body into various ‘educational’ positions.

6 Neanderthal Cave Burials
Before they began interring their dead in the ground proper around 100,000 years ago, Neanderthals routinely left the deceased deep inside the caves Neanderthal Cave Burialsof Europe and the Middle East. To Neanderthals, the dark, mysterious recesses of a cave may have seemed like a good place to transfer over to the otherworld, some archaeologists have argued.

5 Bog Bodies
Plenty of travelers perished accidentally crossing the murky bogs of northern Europe, but at least some individuals, especially in the Middle Ages, were buried there carefully and on purpose. Lucky for archaeologists, the chemical make-up of a bog preserves human flesh very well, allowing them to study the unlucky bog bodies closely.

4 Tibetan Sky Burial
Ever wanted to fly? In Tibet, you get to do just that, only after you’re already dead. Instead of trying to bury bodies in the hard, rocky ground, some Tibetans send their loved ones to the top of a mountain and leave them to be eaten by the vultures. The disassembled corpses are even mixed with flour and milk for a tastier treat, to make sure every bit leaves the Earth for good.

3 Viking Ship Burials
Middle Age Vikings lived and literally died by the sea. After death, wealthier Vikings were placed in ships filled with food, jewels, weapons, food and even sometimes servants or animals for their comfort in the afterlife. The boats were interred in the ground, set alight or sent out to sea. The ultimate postmortem destination for Viking warriors was Valhalla, or “Odin’s Hall”, made famous in the Old Norse sagas.

2 Tree Burials
Indigenous tribes in many parts of the world discovered that the best way of disposing the dead was to put them up high, rather than down below. Tree burial of Ogala SiouxGroups in Australia, British Columbia, the American southwest and Siberia were known to practice tree burial, which involved wrapping the body in a shroud or cloth and placing it in a crook to decompose.

1 Towers of Silence
Zoroastrians believe the body is impure and shouldn’t pollute the earth after death through burial or cremation. Instead, the deceased are brought to a ceremonial “tower of silence”, usually located on an elevated mountain plateau, and left exposed to the animals and elements. When the bones have been dried and bleached by the sun, they are gathered and dissolved in lime.

Man’s ashes traveling tropics in bottle after widow sets him to sea

Bottle with ashes, note, money washing up on Florida shores

 

A Tennessee man who loved to travel is having his dreams fulfilled as his ashes make their way through the tropics in a bottle that his widow tossed in the sea.

judi GlunzGordon Scott Smith died at 57 from a sudden brain hemorrhage. Beverly Smith, his wife of 27 years, put some of his ashes in a bottle with $2 and a note.

Images: Loving journey for man’s ashes at sea

She tossed the bottle off Big Pine Key, Fla., in March 2012, hoping the person who found the bottle would call her and tell her where her husband had traveled.

The bottle was found about 50 miles away in Islamorada, Fla., by a man named Ross.

“I called his wife to let her know where her husband was and she was so, so happy. She said the money was for a phone call to let her know where he was,” Ross wrote in his note.

He took his boat out six miles into the ocean amd sent Smith traveling again.

On Sunday, Judi Glunz Sidney, an owner of Glunz Ocean Beach Hotel and Resort in Key Colony Beach, Fla., was picking up debris on the beach when she found the bottle. It had traveled another 28 miles.

“Judi called the wife in Tennessee, who was excited to know of Gordon’s travels! Judi added her note,” the resort posted on its Facebook page. “We put him in a rum bottle (you know, added a little fun to his trip) with the three notes. We added another $1 in case Gordon travels far and a long distance call is needed.”

They tossed the bottle into the waters off Seven Mile Bridge in Marathon, Fla.

“He loved to fish, tell tall stories and make people laugh. He was one of the greatest story tellers I ever met,” Tom Smith, Gordon’s brother, posted.message in a bottle

Sidney was at the resort vacationing with two sisters, who are also owners of the hotel, when she found the bottle.

“We think our mom, who died a few years ago, and Gordon are in cahoots in heaven on this one. They are both from Tennessee, they both loved they keys and spent all of February there each year, and they both drank bourbon,” said Janet Glunz Bischoff, one of the resort owners.

Complete Article HERE!

The Life Matters Media Connection, Part 2

I am delighted to announce that I will be contributing a second monthly column on the prestigious Life Matters Media website.

 

 

Life Matters

 

 

This column will be titled:  Relationships and Intimacy.  Here’s what I have to say about it:

 

The medicalization of dying, in hospitals, in extended care facilities and even in hospice, often leaves little room for the most human of experiences—intimacy. And yet being close to those we love—being able to touch and be touched, as well as having the privacy we need to express our feelings—are essential elements to living a good and wise death.

The sea change taking place in the popular culture, with regards to sexual minorities, people with disabilities, as well as seniors and elders, may not always be reflected in the way we care for those at the end of life. Conscious dying is virtually impossible if those around us are insensitive to our intimacy needs. And the truth is, this is just as pressing a concern for people in traditional relationships as it is for those in non-traditional relationships.

To find the inaugural column, titled — It Never Entered My Mind, look HERE!