Ancient Greek Panspermia

Ancient Greek Panspermia


Vegan recipes: Learn to make Panspermia, a multi-grain soupoffered to Hermes Chthonius and the dead in the ancient Greek spring festival of Anthesteria.

For Greeks, the gate to spring has been the Athenian festival of Anthesteria that was held for three days in the month of Anthesterion (February-March). Anthesteria is the ritual rite of the journey from winter to spring, from death to life. During the third day of the festival, the Greeks made panspermia. Panspermia is a multi-grain soup, which was offered to Hermes Chthonius and the dead.

Panspermia, an ancient Greek ritual

Hermes Chthonius is a god associated with the earth and underworld. He is the god who presides over passages between this world and the underworld, and thus he is considered a psychopomp, a deity who helps guide the souls of the deceased to the afterlife. During the third day of Anthesteria known as Chytroi — the name derives from the cooking pots chytrai — the Greeks made panspermia.

Panspermia makes for an atmosphere of mystery and timelessness. Not only has this recipe been passed down from the times of ancient Greece but it is still very popular among the Mediterraneans. The Spring Equinox marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. This is the perfect time to perform renewal rituals and get ready for a new cycle of growth. Preparing panspermia is a ritual that can help us mark a rebirth as nature reawakens. The grain, a symbol of Mother Earth and the bounty of harvest, is the main ritualistic ingredient in panspermia and relates to nature as we place our trust in this new cycle of growth.

Food is about history, culture, and rituals. Especially in Greece, people still perform this ritual by enjoying this soup with their families, feeding their domestic animals with panspermia and even leaving bowls of panspermia for stray and wild animals.

Ancient Greek Panspermia Ingredients

  • 1 cup of dried chickpeas
  • 1 cup of dried butter beans
  • 1 cup of wheat grains (wheat berries)
  • 1 cup of Le Puy green lentils
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • ½ cup of Greek extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon (freshly juiced)
  • 8 sprigs of fresh oregano
  • 2 diced scallions

How to make Ancient Greek Panspermia

  • Preparation Time: 12 hours
  • Cook Time: 1 hour

In a large bowl, cover the chickpeas with cold water and soak overnight. The next day, drain and rinse well. Follow the same process with the butter beans and wheat grains.

Tip them in a large pan set on medium-high heat and cover with fresh cold water. Bring to the boil, then leave to simmer for 40’.

Add the lentils and leave the grains to simmer together for 20’, until they are tender.

Season the soup with salt and pepper.

Pour the olive oil and immediately remove from the heat.

When you are ready to serve the panspermia, add a splash of fresh lemon juice to flavour and garnish with fresh oregano and diced scallions.

Spring is a time of renewal; ancient Greeks understood that, so let’s energise our bodies with a nourishing dish!