Antinous for Everybody

I worship a dead gay teenager and you can too

Good-bye to all that

I’ve decided I am not going to finish the 30 Days of Polytheism meme. There are only nine more days, but the topics are progressively irrelevant to my practice. There are questions about other paths, faiths, practices I’ve explored, a topic I’ve already covered, and about how “my conversion” has affected my relationships with friends, family, lovers, co-workers. The short answer there is that it wasn’t a conversion, and it hasn’t affected those relationships, except insofar as it has broadened my connections with other polytheists, mostly online.

The notion of conversion implies that you were doing something wrong, and now you’re doing something right. I came to the decision that Christianity was the wrong religion for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s inherently wrong, for everyone, or that it wasn’t right for me at other times in my life. Deciding to worship Antinous did not and does not mean excluding Jesus from reverence, or trading one set of practices for another as you might trade an old uniform for a new one. The inherent nature of polytheism is that no exclusion is necessary. I’ve written Christian religious poetry and druidic religious poetry and now I write devotional religious poetry. I can perform a Green Tara sadhana in Tibetan Buddhist style, pray the Stations of the Cross in Holy Week, and still pray to Antinous and celebrate his holy days with full loyalty and devotion.

What the meme has hightlighted for me, above all, is something I’ve never really understood before: The difference between paganism as a subculture and polytheism as a religion. Please don’t take this to mean that I think anyone who identifies as pagan is not truly religious! I am certain there are many deeply religious people who identify as pagan, not polytheist, or as both. I barely know what’s going on in my own heart and mind, some days, without being able to see into the hearts and minds of others.

But there is a certain aesthetic, a certain ethos, a certain lifestyle which is Pagan, with or without a religious aspect. It’s photos of Glastonbury Tor, not the Parthenon. It’s gauzily clad maidens dancing through lush green forests, not boats gliding along the Nile. It’s Horned Lord and Green Man art, outdoor festivals, folky tunes on the guitar, and crystals, crystals everywhere.

Those things are all lovely, and they can be deeply meaningful. But those things did not help me when I came close to being suicidal. My friends helped me, and my gods helped me–Antinous, and the Tetrad++, and Glykon, the serpent god of prophecy and healing. They saw me through a very difficult time, and for that I am forever grateful.

If there is one misconception about polytheism I would like to clear up, it’s that it must involve having a lifestyle rather than being part of one’s life. I make offerings to my gods and pray to them, and I also hold down a 9-5 job, watch Marvel movies, write fanfic, read about disasters, listen to Baroque music. And if there’s one piece of advice I would give a seeker, it is simply to take the first step. If there is a god or goddess or deity who attracts you, do a bit of research, just so you know who you’re talking to; then wash your hands, make an offering, and introduce yourself. No one refuses clean water or a candle lit in their honor. The gods are always listening for us to speak their names. Speak, and be heard.


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6 thoughts on “Good-bye to all that

  1. Very well stated.

    This is one of the divides, I think, between paganism and the modern polytheist movement, and it may be an insurmountable one. As much as they deride us for being “insistent” on our theology, and as much as they say that a theological position is not a religion, the fact is we actually *do* have a religion, with expectations and (no, say it ain’t so!) beliefs and obligations, and where (horror of horrors!) words have definite and occasionally definitive definitions (which they’re very willing to dismiss, despite claiming no one owns certain words or that interpretations vary), and so on.

    That so many brand-name pagans, elders, and so on insist that they have a spirituality rather than a religion covers a great deal of messiness that, I suspect, most polytheists aren’t interested in. The world as-it-is is messy enough without purposefully looking at what we hope is clear drinking water for our nourishment, wanting to drink it, and then some fools coming along and literally muddying it up and shitting in it, and then if we complain, they say “you don’t own the water” and “but everything is holy!”

    Yes, I do have crystals; they’re mostly amethyst, and it is because Paneros and Antinous both love them. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have lots of crystals and other stones. I have had them for so long it would feel very odd not to have them on my shrine, including the fist-sized amethyst point I’ve had for twenty years that went on Antinous’ shrine as soon as I had one for him.

      I got into an almost-debate with someone on Tumblr because they were talking about Dionysus liking amethyst, and I remarked that it seemed odd for the god of wine to like a stone that was believed to prevent drunkenness. I got a long lecture about how he is so much more than “the god of wine” because, of course, no way I could possibly know that if I just used that phrase as a shorthand for his attributes. I decided to back away slowly.


  2. Well, “Tumblr maenad” was shorter to write than “devotee of Dionysus on Tumblr”. In any case, I was reminded again that there are good reasons not to engage too much with the pagan/occult side of Tumblr.


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