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Chile Peppers in Legend and Lore

By Dave DeWitt

The ritual uses of the genus Capsicum range from the innocuous to the murderous, but the fiery pods are always powerful. In astrology, Capsicums fall under the dominion of Mars, ancient god of war, so that should be some indication of respect. Fuentes y Guzmán wrote in 1690 that those who frequently ate red pepper were protected against poison, while the Incas prohibited the use chile of chiles at initiation and funeral rites. We do not know why the pods were precluded by the Incas but we console ourselves with the knowledge that Capsicums were associated with lightning bolt in Incan mythology–that we can easily understand.

One of the commonest household uses of chile peppers in cultures all over the world is burning them as a fumigant for vermin ranging from bedbugs to rats. Since fumigation in ancient times was also believed to be protection against vampires and werewolves, we have a good introduction to the concept of the magical powers of peppers.

Read the original article at: Fiery Food Mythology

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