Bean, Broad – Vicia faba

Sacred to: Kyamites. The demi-god of beans whose myth was somehow connected with the Eleusinian mysteries. (Source: Pausanias)


Myth: See stories below


Other Notes: Beans were a prohibited food in the mystery-cult of Demeter.


Jack and The Beanstalk

Jack was a poor boy whose lack of common sense often drove his widowed mother to despair. One day she sent him to the market to sell their last and only possession, a cow, but along the way, Jack met a stranger who offered to trade it for five “magic beans”. Thrilled at the prospect of owning magic beans Jack made the deal without hesitation. Alas his mother turned out to be less than thrilled when he arrived back home. She threw the beans straight out of the window and sent Jack to bed without dinner. Overnight however, the seeds grew into a gigantic beanstalk. It reached so far into heaven that the top went completely out of sight. Eager as the young boy was, Jack immediately decided to climb the plant and arrived in a land high up in the clouds, which was the home of the giant who killed his father. When he broke into his castle, the giant quickly sensed a human was near:

Fee! Fie! Foe! Fum! I smell the blood of an Englishman. Be he ‘live, or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.

However Jack was saved by the giant’s wife, and as he escaped from the palace, he took some gold coins with him. Back home the boy and his mother celebrated their newfound fortune, but their luck did not last, and Jack climbed the beanstalk once more. This time he stole a hen which laid golden eggs. Again he was saved by the giant’s wife. He went down the ladder and showed the chicken

to his mother, and the two lived happily on the proceedings from the hen’s eggs.

Eventually, however, Jack grew bored, and he resolved to climb the beanstalk a third time. This time, he stole from the giant a magical harp that sung to itself. The instrument did not appreciate being stolen, and called out to the giant for help. The giant chased Jack down the beanstalk, but luckily the boy got to the ground before he did. Jack immediately chopped it down with an axe, and the giant fell to earth, hitting the ground so hard that it split, pulling the beanstalk down with him

The Straw, the Coal, and the Bean – Grimm’s Fairy Tale


In a village dwelt a poor old woman, who had gathered together a dish of beans and wanted to cook them. So she made a fire on her hearth, and that it might burn the quicker, she lighted it with a handful of straw. When she was emptying the beans into the pan, one dropped without her observing it, and lay on the ground beside a straw, and soon afterwards a burning coal from the fire leapt down to the two. Then the straw began and said, dear friends, from whence do you come here. The coal replied, I fortunately sprang out of the fire, and if I had not escaped by sheer force, my death would have been certain, I should have been burnt to ashes.


The bean said, I too have escaped with a whole skin, but if the old woman had got me into the pan, I should have been made into broth without any mercy, like my comrades. And would a better fate have fallen to my lot, said the straw. The old woman has destroyed all my brethren in fire and smoke. She seized sixty of them at once, and took their lives. I luckily slipped through her fingers. But what are we to do now, said the coal. I think, answered the bean, that as we have so fortunately escaped death, we should keep together like good companions, and lest a new mischance should overtake us here, we should go away together, and repair to a foreign country. The proposition pleased the two others, and they set out on their way together.


Soon, however, they came to a little brook, and as there was no bridge or foot-plank, they did not know how they were to get over it. The straw hit on a good idea, and said, I will lay myself straight across, and then you can walk over on me as on a bridge. The straw therefore stretched itself from one bank to the other, and the coal, who was of an impetuous disposition, tripped quite boldly on to the newly-built bridge. But when she had reached the middle, and heard the water rushing beneath her, she was, after all, afraid, and stood still, and ventured no farther. The straw, however, began to burn, broke in two pieces, and fell into the stream. The coal slipped after her, hissed when she got into the water, and breathed her last.


The bean, who had prudently stayed behind on the shore, could not but laugh at the event, was unable to stop, and laughed so heartily that she burst. It would have been all over with her, likewise, if, by good fortune, a tailor who was traveling in search of work, had not sat down to rest by the brook. As he had a compassionate heart he pulled out his needle and thread, and sewed her together. The bean thanked him most prettily, but as the tailor used black thread, all beans since then have a black seam.

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