So at some point, and I really do not know when, the ancient Germanic tribes started using the word for 'bread' to denote life itself, since, obviously, bread sustains life, is a condition of life, and thus, in some primitive way of thinking into which it's not all that hard to work one's way back, is life. The bread/life connection is vividly evoked by Charles Mason Sr. in Thomas Pynchon's Mason & Dixon of 1997, who believes (and here I am not writing from memory, but from the printed page) "that bread is alive, --that the yeast Animalcula may unite into a single purposeful individual,-- that each Loaf is so organized, with the crust, for example, serving as skin or Carapace,-- the small cavities within exhibiting a strange complexity, their pale Walls, to appearance smooth, proving, upon magnification, to be made up of even smaller bubbles, and, one may presume, so forth, down to the Limits of the Invisible. The Loaf, the indispensible point of convergence upon every British table, the solid British Quartern Loaf, is mostly, like the Soul, Emptiness."
A suspicion I have yet to follow up is that Mason Sr. is being made by Pynchon to paraphrase a commonplace of the chemical philosophy of Jean-Baptiste van Helmont, who posited a theory of bullae or bubbles as lying at the origins of the forms and qualities of the diverse things of nature: a sort of inversion of corpuscularianism for which the basic ingredients of nature are not hard, solid, particles, but rather empty spaces. Forms are of course very close to souls or vital principles, and it would be remarkable to learn that someone other than a fictional character could have held that bread is alive in view of its composition out of bullae. More on this soon.
Another common semantic shift occurs not between 'bread' and 'life' but between 'stomach' and 'life'. Thus for example the Russian word for 'stomach', zhivot, is identical to the Czech word for 'life'. Paracelsus believed that the stomach has its own, subordinate soul, the Gastrianax, which takes care of digestion, while a short distance away the Cardianax sees to the beating of the heart. I had not previously noticed that the organs to which the Spagyrite ascribes their own branch-manager souls, and thus the organs that are in their own way alive, are also the organs that consist, like bread, mostly in empty space.