Today I learned that apparently you can use beans to trick vampires. By some sort of leguminous magic, vampires are prone to mistaking beans for pregnant women (and possibly other kinds of humans). Who knew?
This tidbit may or may not be related to my previous post about commodity items as media of exchange. Time will tell.
Also, leguminous is an adjective meaning “relating to or denoting plants of the pea family” (including beans).
Is this a possible reason why magic beans were thought to help a woman in childbirth?
Beans are a symbol of fertility in several cultures. After all, they’re just really big seeds. You might say they’re “pregnant” in that they contain life within them that will, under the proper conditions, burst forth. I’m sure that has some bearing on the idea of women holding a bean and saying a prayer to ease their childbirth.
There are also a lot of associations of beans with death, especially in the Classical world. Beans and other legumes were often funerary offerings, and Pythagoras taught that beans contained the souls of the departed, and thus were not to be eaten!
So the vampire thing, at the intersection of fertility and death, makes a bit of sense.