Day Three – Khutroi
the Day of Pots
The Day of Pots was devoted to appeasing the dead. Vegetables, beans, and seeds were cooked together in one pot and left outside the house for any spirits wandering the night. Offering were also given to Hermes Khthonios, the Pyskhopomp, who guides souls to the Underworld. Presumably it is His job to round up the spirits and return them to Haides after the festival is finished. Because the spirits involved could be either friendly or maleficent, people took precautions. Doors were smeared with pitch, ropes tied around the temples, and hawthorn chewed like gum.
The recipe I use to cook the food for the dead includes copious amounts of olive oil and honey, which fills the house with an odd smell, alluring and almost sickly sweet, exotic and eerie. My recipe changes slightly each year, as I tend to throw in bits of whatever veggies I happen to have lying around the house. What is absolutely essential, however, is rice, olive oil, honey, and some type of beans, preferably more then one kind. I always use black beans, the small kind used often in Mexican food. When boiled they secrete a substance that turns the rest of the food into a oozing purplish-black, a most noticeable effect on the white rice, especially. Seeds were also traditional as well. I like to use shelled sunflower seeds, as this plant is sacred to Helios, and His power is increasing with spring.
You can add slices of whatever vegetables you have, but remember: no wine. Offering wine to the deceased is an insult. And no matter how tempting, DON’T take a bite! This is food for the dead. None of the living may taste of it, lest they follow the spirits back to the Underworld.
To the Spirits, on the third day of Anthesteria
Spirits and souls, ghosts of old
Wandering the earth this night of Khutroi
Shadowy denizens of Haides
Loosened two days ago,
On wine-soaked Pithoigia
The first day of Anthesteria
I offer this sustenance
To those who have no substance
That you might eat, and enjoy
And leave my home in peace, when the time comes
This early morn, for Hermes Khthonios
To lead to you back home
I feed you
That you may feed
The crops and vegetative growth
That feeds me.