It has been said that the Cretan/Phoenician mathematicain and father of philosophy, Pythagoras was one of the most famous wise men, sages and in the secret mysteries of various secret societies such as Freemasonry, he is venerated as one of the most important adepts who has ever lived.
What many people do not know is that Pythagoras had a a strict code of conduct when it came to the edible seed known as been. It was said that he would not eat or be near beans, and his initiates known as the Pythagoreans were also prohibited from eating beans. This rule and some could say a law that the tiny vegetable was never to be eaten and avoided at all costs were passed down to us by second hand accounts from his followers and authors.
But why would the Pythagoras not eat beans?
Pythagoras was initiated into the secret mysteries of both his people of the Phoenicians in Crete and the ancient Egyptians. The Egyptians had held the bean as a symbol of the generative principle and the bean to have a phallic meaning, for which reason they might not eat it. One of the stories is that they had abstained from beans lest they might deny an ancestor his chance at reincarnation.
Therefore, they were prohibited from the diet of the ancient Egyptian priest and the Grecian philosopher. Plutarch had said that beans were offered to the gods in ancient Egypt. This may be the reason why Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans would not eat or go near beans and why they became such an important symbol in many ancient occult myths and rites.
Aristotle is one of the first author to pass down to us the mystical reason why the Pythagoreans abstained from beans. For he says, “ that Pythagoras considered beans‘as a symbol of generation of the whole of visible and corporeal nature, which subsists according to a right line, and is ,without inflection; because a bean alone of almost all spermatic plants, .is’ perforated through the whole of it, and is not obstrthted by any intervening joints.” ‘Hencevhe adds, “ it resembles the gates of Hades.”(1)
Lucian of Samosata regards them as erotics; thus Pythagoras would not touch beans, because of their shape—regarded as phallik. He had written in a second exchange that beans were akin to genitals (The Works of Lucian: From the Greek, Volume 1)
PYTHAGORAS – I eat no animal food; but abstain from nothing else, except Beans.
BIDDER – And why do you hate beans?
PYTHAGORAS – They are sacred, and their nature is marvellous: in the first place, they are all over genitals: take a young bean, and strip the skin off, and you will find it an exact representation of the virile member and its appurtenances. Moreover, if you leave it in the open air for a certain number of moonlight nights, it will turn to blood. And what is more, the * Athenian law enjoins that their magistrates ihall be chosen by a ballot of beans.
BIDDER – Wonderful is all thou hast said, and worthy of a sacred character: but strip, for I must see you naked, O Hercules! he has got a f golden thigh: surely he is no mortal, but a J god. I must buy him by all means. What do you value him at?
Pliny (Hist. Nat., iv. 448) says that beans cured diseases of the organs of generation. Bean soup, according to Pliny, was used at the funeral banquets, and Parentalia. One Christian mystic asserted that the Holy Ghost entered the Virgin’s womb as a bean (see many other curious legends in the Mythology of Plants, by Prof. A. di Gubernatis, French edition, vol. ii, article “Fdve “). The terms “fare la fica e la fava,” among Italians, refer to gestures with phallik meaning.
According to Jewish and Christian legends Seth received a bean from an angel guarding the gates of Paradise, and put it in the mouth of the dead Adam; from it sprang a “Tree of Life,” that grew up out of his tomb. This tree (famous in the Gospel of Nicodemus, and other mediaeval works) defied the Flood, was cut down for a bridge to the Temple, and furnished the wood for the cross.
The Scandinavians, Celts, Russians, and Italians, used to place beans inside their cakes or buns at Yule-tide, or at Epiphany. In Tuscany the holy fire of St John’s Day can only be lighted in a bean field. The Sicilian still eats beans for superstitious reasons, and especially at weddings and funerals. He who received the bean, when the cake was cut, became the most honored guest or the king of the “bean-feast.” The Romans flung black beans on altar fires, and gave doles of them for their May festivals, as also at funerals, in order to propitiate, or to drive away, the dreaded larvae or ghosts.
The Shrine of the Bean Man
A small shrine built along the road is called the shrine of the Bean man near the Bean Market, adjacent to Theodectes’ tomb, in the suburban deme of Laciadae: Lake Copais, into which flowed the River Kephisos. * i.e., belonging to Mount Ida in Crete.
I am not sure whether he was the first to grow beans, or they simple named a hero like that because the discovery of beans cannot be traced to Demeter. Those who know the Mystery at Eleusis and those who have read Orpheus will know what I am talking about.
The taboo on the planting of beans by men seems to have survived later than that on grain, because of the close connection between beans and ghosts. In Rome beans were thrown to ghosts at the All Souls festival, and if a plant grew from one of these, and a woman ate its beans, she would be impregnated by a ghost. Hence the Pythagoreans abstained from beans lest they might deny an ancestor his chance at reincarnation.
To those Phoenicians who received her with hospitality into their homes the goddess gave all sorts of pulse save the bean only. There is a sacred story to explain why the bean in their eyes is an impure kind of pulse. (2)
1. Iamblichus. Life of Pythagoras, or Pythagoric life. Accompanied by fragments .
2. Faiths of Man: A Cyclopædia of Religions, Volume 1 By James George Roche Forlong
3. Guide to Greece: Central Greece – Pausinas