Sacred Nights: Antinous Triumphantus
My beloved god has triumphed, but I myself am feeling anything but triumphant tonight. After a demanding though shortened work-week of occupying our new office space, overlapping with the Sacred Nights and my desire to observe them, I am tired despite extra sleep and surrounded by things I have failed to do. My attempt to do laundry was thwarted by an uncooperative machine for the second week in a row; there’s only one washer and one dryer in the building, and not one laundromat within walking distance. And I don’t drive.
Dirty laundry, dirty dishes, and an intense desire to sleep don’t add up to the best conditions for celebrating a holy day. But when I took up devotion to Antinous last year, I made a rule for myself to do *something* rather than nothing, no matter how inadequate the something seemed. So this entry is itself part of my observance and my offering.
The paradox of this day is that we celebrate Antinous’ deification, his triumph over death, yet at the same time acknowledge that becoming a god is only the beginning. Tomorrow we will hail him as the Liberator, and then for ninety days he will do battle with the Archons, the spirits and forces that would keep humanity from its fulfillment. Not until the end of January, at the feast of the Star of Antinous, will he emerge from the underworld and take his place at the helm of his heavenly barque.
I think that in some way, I have always known, even as a child, that the highest destiny of humankind is to become divine. It was in the Greek myths I read as a child; it wove in and out of the Christian theology I read, now more visible, now less; the two strands fused together in C.S. Lewis’ finest novel, Till We Have Faces. “How can we meet the gods face to face till we have faces?” How can we love the gods, how can the gods truly love us, unless and until we become their equals?
I believe we can work toward our deification, our apotheosis. I also believe that it is not merely up to us, that ultimately it is as much a mystery as the death of Antinous–something happens to us, and we rise up from it more than human. And then, when we are gods and fully possessed of ourselves and our powers, then the real work begins. Even as I’m flailing around right now, coping with office relocation and broken washing machines, I’m looking forward to it.