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THE BEANS AND OTHER ROMAN RITUALS

THE BEANS AND OTHER ROMAN RITUALS

7TH/8 PART “THE BLACK LIST OF FORBIDDEN PLANTS”

There are other rituals of Ancient Rome that refer to beans and therefore to their affinity relationship with the deceased.

A very curious one was performed in the nuptial rites , when a marriage was celebrated. It consisted of providing beans believing that each one would become a future male child in which an ancestor would be reincarnated , thus the family offspring would be perpetuated.

THE MANES

demon monsters THE BEANS AND OTHER ROMAN RITUALS

We have mentioned them before, their holiday, is celebrated on February 21 , the day of the dead , coinciding with the commemoration of the goddess Tacita .

Mania was a dark divinity of Sabine origin , who ended up being considered the mother of the Manes . She was a very feared goddess since she was believed to be chasing children stalking them during sleep to seize their guts.

Mania was the goddess of death originally in Etruscan mythology , later it was also assimilated by the Roman . In archaic times , human sacrifices were offered , generally free children of slaves and slaves themselves. Later the ritual replaced the offering with 20 wool dolls that replaced the archaic human sacrifices .

demon monster freak

Like his mother Mania , Manes were very feared , they were ghosts and evil spirits that wandered in the night with an appearance veiled by darkness .

In ancient times Manes were the souls or “shadows” of the wandering dead . They were considered gods and were also revered in Persia, Egypt, Phenicia and Syria . Orpheus was the one who introduced in Greece the custom of evoking Manes.

Obviously there was a widespread fear of the dead and the evil they could cause, so they performed these rituals to placate the wrath of these disturbed wandering dead .

In archaic times , child sacrifices were offered and bronze statues were erected in front of which every year, animal sacrifices were also offered, especially bulls .

JUNE: THE GODDESS OF THE “CALENDS OF THE BEANS”

june juno goddless
“June” goddless

Coinciding with the month of the harvest of the beans , June , another festival called precisely the “calends of the beans” or kalendae fabariae became popular . It was celebrated on the same day as Carnaria, on June 1 .

Juno was an ancient and important Roman goddess , sister and wife of the god Jupiter, protector of the vital organs of men, their development and special protection of children .

June was the sixth month and was named for being dedicated to this goddess and youth (junior). In particular, it focused on the maturity of fruits and fattening of the animals.

It coincided with the festivity of the calends of June 1, also dedicated as we have mentioned to the lesser goddess Carna and the “ ludi fabarici” , dedicated to memory of the dead .

This holiday in honor of Juno was oriented to get a good harvest .

BEANS: CONSECRATED TO THE DEAD

cypress

The cypress was the tree consecrated to the gods Manes . Even today it is considered a funerary tree, so it is common to find them in cemeteries .

The number 9 was also chosen as a symbol of the dead. The last number that symbolizes the end of life and as we say beans , were linked to the dead . Hence the custom that there are still in some places to throw them in burials .

cypress
“Cypress”

It was said that the sound of bronze and iron was not pleasing to evil spirits , so they used it to scare away the infernal “shadows.”

Fire however, in general liked all the deceased so in Italy the custom spread of putting a lamp that should always be lit next to the polls and graves .

light cementery THE BEANS AND OTHER ROMAN RITUALS

For this maintenance work they employed slaves and there were punishments for those who dared to turn off the lamp of a deceased.

tombstones inscription old THE BEANS AND OTHER ROMAN RITUALS

Another custom acquired was to inscribe on the tombstones the letters “DM” ( Dis Manibus ) which meant “dedicated to the gods Manes .”

tombstones inscription old THE BEANS AND OTHER ROMAN RITUALS

BEANS: CULTURAL CONSIDERATIONS

The link of beans with death is not exclusive to Roman culture , also in Greece and in Egypt we find many myths and beliefs related to this legume.

BEANS AND THE WORLD OF AFTERLIFE

egyptian ka god

In Egyptian mythology , the body was composed of several elements , among them “ka” was the one that possessed the vital energy that accompanied the deceased until resurrection. It is the case that in Egypt it was believed that the place where “ka” resided while waiting for resurrection , was precisely a field of beans .

It is not surprising, therefore, that beans as a sacred and feared element that contained the mystery of life , were forbidden for Egyptian and Greek priests , as well as for the famous priest Flamen Dial of Ancient Rome .

statua roman

In Greece and in particular the priest of Jupiter and his wife, they could not eat, touch, see or name objects and beings related to death .

They couldn’t see any corpse, even if it was his own wife’s. In the same way he could not be exposed to leather, blood, raw meat and animals like dog, goat , because they were considered a hellish nature.

priest minister flamen dial  relief THE BEANS AND OTHER ROMAN RITUALS

For all the aforementioned, of course beans have been included in the “list of cursed foods”, because they are related to the world of afterlife .

Even Festo , said that in its flower is “read letters of death” and Pliny commented that Varro and Didymus said that Pythagoras was refrained from eating them for this reason .

Plutarch also associated death with beans , but also all legumes in general . So the habit of throwing beans as an offering to graves that began with this association . But Plutarch also made a series of medical considerations regarding the digestive inconvenience caused by beans, and therefore to a state of impurity .

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THE BEANS AND OTHER ROMAN RITUALS THE BEANS AND OTHER ROMAN RITUALS

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