What are your nine powers? Name them… seven…

sea-bean: nameless one of the deep

I arise today through

The depth of the sea

nearly 100 million years ago

pockets of gold

music to stir your soul

food for your senses

curled up


in your hand

tiny umbilical cord

i keep you

as you keep me



Bean, you are soul. Faba. Your family name is fabaceae or leguminosae. Even your name sounds fabulous and luminous. We couldn’t have evolved without you. And we didn’t! Our destiny is entwined with yours. Even though you are older and wiser than us by about a mere 80 million years… or so…

You have been a staple food for humans and other species for millennia. You are still 27% of our crops now and half of our diet. You also give us oils, fibre, fuel, fertilisers, timber, medicine and chemicals. You are entwined symbiotically with the rhizobial bacteria that clings to your roots, bringing nitrogen to the thirsty soil. You come in 40,000 varieties. In Rajshahi, Bangladesh alone, 32 of your species are used by local healers to treat asthma, colds, dysentery, skin diseases and leprosy. You can do more or less everything for us – from anti-bacterial to oestrogenic. You truly are multitudes. Pythagorus didn’t know what he was missing, when he refused to eat you.

You are one of the three sisters cultivation systems, described so beautifully by Robin Wall-Kimmerer. Maize standing tall, squash spreading out, and bean climbing up the maize.

Sicilians have a special place in their hearts for you… after fervent prayers to St. Joseph in a Medieval drought, it finally rained. The fava beans were the only survivors. Saving many lives in the process. To this day, Sicilians place them on alters on the Saint’s day. They are sown on All Souls Day, when fava shaped cakes are baked in their honour. Beans of the Dead, “fave dei morti”.

Beans really are magical. Just ask Jack and the beanstalk that grows overnight. You are never really poor with a handful of seeds. “Sow beans in the mud and they’ll come up like trees.” So says an old English proverb. Respectful relationship with that which feeds us is part of seed stewardship and sovereignty. Seed rematriation is the future… as Rowen White explains in the link below… so mote it be…

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