Antinous for Everybody

Archive for the category “Holy Days”

POEM: The Eagle’s Star

Antinous rises tonight
Tonight he bestrides the constellations,
bridging Aquarius and Aquila
Heralded by Muses and poets,
he ascends the heavens
to claim the Boat of Millions of Years
The archons of the underworld are defeated
Their perversions no match for his terrible beauty
Fear and hatred, greed and lust
flee from the light of his countenance
Hail, Antinous! Star of beauty in the night sky!
Hail, Antinous! Navigator of the celestial Barque!
Hail, Antinous! You are the journey, you are the guide,
you yourself are the destination!
Hail, Antinous! The beautiful boy rises in the east!

POEM: To Tolkien on his birthday

You wandered among the trees, pipe gripped
between your teeth, dreaming of elder days,
when you might have been a poet singing
in a firelit hall. Instead you wandered among
the trees and told your tales to friends in pubs
and wandered back to dreary students
grubbing at the ancient roots of language.
Every language a mythology, every mythology
a universe: Your languages, your mythology,
your universe endure, your memory enshrined
along with Homer, Virgil, Dante, Amergin
and Taliesin and the lost poets of the North,
Ent-namer, mythmaker, word-lover, Elf-friend.

The reason for the season

So many holy days in so many traditions cluster around the point of the winter solstice. Jesus shares his birthday with Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Son. Yuletide gave us decorated trees, flaming logs, and a night-riding gift-giver in furs who might be Odin. Hanukkah, as one Tumblr user wittily put it, celebrates an actual war on Hanukkah–the Jews won. Kwanzaa, too, has the symbolism of abundant light and abundant food.

The days will get longer now, but the weather will only get colder. In my neck of the woods, it might well be the spring equinox, another cluster point for feasts, before it truly starts to warm up. I’m not looking forward to standing at the bus stop on weekday afternoons, in the dark, perhaps in ankle-deep or deeper snow.

Why are we celebrating right now when things are only going to get worse? I think I figured it out. A Jewish friend of mine posted Christmas greetings to Christian friends on Facebook, with a picture of herself wearing antlers. I commented, “Hospitality: The real reason for the season,” and then I thought, Holy shit, it’s time for a blog post.

Hospitality. It’s cold and it’s dark, and it’s going to get brighter yet colder. The ground will be hard and the winds will cut. So we create light and color with our decorations, we create warmth with Yule logs and fires lit and ovens baking warm food. We have a surplus and so we share it. We invite friends and family over, make donations and volunteer to help strangers. We do these things, ultimately, because it’s cold and it’s dark and we’re not going to make it through alone. We share hospitality because we need it.

I’m divorced and I’m alone this Christmas morning, except for my bird, who appreciates his millet treat even if he doesn’t understand why he’s getting it. This is not my first Christmas on my own, but I’m seeing a lot of my friends who are isolated and suffering right now. I did have a party invitation I was eager to accept, but unfortunately, I picked up a cold at my workplace and decided not to go share it with my friends and their friends.

If you are enjoying a holiday with friends and family, food and gifts, lights and warmth today, take a moment to think of friends who might be alone. Call them, text them, invite them in. Show hospitality, because that, not axial tilt nor any one holy day, is the real reason for the season.

Saturnalia: To the Mothers

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Mother is a place to rest, a warmth, a tuneless song.
Mother is a voice that cuts.
Mother is a lady in a blue veil, a blue robe.
Mother is a lady with a baby in her arms.
Mother is a grandmother fixing hot tea and cold cereal on a school morning
Mother is a grandmother putting my clothes near the radiator
Mother is a woman who sleeps late while I rise early
Mother is a woman who smokes and drinks coffee
Mother is a May Day procession dressed in white
Mother is an ivory statue of the Virgin and Child with a Gothic sway
Mother is a possibly heretical vierge ouvrante
Mother is the goddess Isis with baby Horus on her lap
Mother is an icon with stars on the Virgin’s brow and shoulders
Mother is a Middle Eastern woman wrapped in layers of veils and shawls
carrying her child away from danger, shielding it with her body
Mother is my mother’s mother’s mother, who died when I was one
Mother is my mother’s father’s mother, was her name Louisa?
Mother is my father’s mother Grace, his adoptive mother,
and his mother Clara, his birth mother, whose last name was Gunsales
Mother is the woman who bore my husband a child
who bore her second husband a child
Mother is my sister, who bore my niece
Mother is my niece, who has borne a son
Mother is a link in a chain, a cell in the umbilical cord
Mother is the land I walk on, the nourishing earth, the turning planet
Mother is the night sky, spangled with stars
the brightness of the stars
and the darkness between
the beginning
and the end

POEM: A hymn for the winter solstice

The longest night, the shortest day
Each year it comes and goes its way
The bleak midwinter blest with feasts
To joy the greatest and the least

The newborn light becomes a boy
His mother’s pride, the whole world’s joy
The gods immortal come to earth
In mortal flesh for mortal mirth

Here Jesus sleeps with ox and ass
As one by one the shepherds pass
To worship him the angels sang
On whom the coming centuries hang

Antinous puts on the crown
That Dionysus handed down
Of ivy, grape, and fragrant pine
And bids us to the feast with wine

While Hercules, the victor strong,
Cries, “Io, Io!” with the throng
And Angerona has the right
To keep us silent for a night

So let us keep our flames alight
Through shortest day and longest night
And hold each other, heart and hand,
Till spring spreads forth throughout the land.

Saturnalia II: Eponalia

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All in grey my love comes riding
Lady goddess, mare and queen
Bird and hound and hare and horses
In her sacred train are seen

Now a woman sadly weeping
Now a stamping heated mare
Life and death are in her keeping
Sack and keys are in her care

Grain she gives to those who hunger
Guidance gives to those who stray
Wise are those who fear her anger
Happy those who bid her stay

Ave, Epona Regina
Rigantona, Mari Llwyd,
Macha, Demeter Despoina,
May we all your wrath avoid

Saturnalia I

saturnaliaPOEM: To Saturn on Saturnalia
Old father, world father, crowned with rings,
time father, food father, father of kings,
fructifier of Ops, begetter of Jove,
grandfather who rules from beyond, not above,
Saturn, we hail thee as we exchange gifts,
whose name in this darkening season uplifts
for those who remember the peace of your reign:
May justice with kindness and peace come again
as we await the conquering Child
whose aeon, like yours, will be gentle and mild.
Ave, Saturne! Io, Saturnalia!

POEM: To Bona Dea on her feast

O Bona Dea, good goddess,
your name and your secrets have been lost.
Men who were writers speculated,
but women, your worshippers, neither spoke nor wrote.
Were you a chaste virgin goddess
assaulted by reckless Faunus?
Or were you his drunken slut wife,
whipped to death for your vice?
Vestals and matrons, patricians
and slaves and freedwomen, all alike
gathered for your rites, closed the doors,
and said nothing afterward to their men.
Bona Dea, good goddess, I pray you
protect all women, married or unmarried,
rich or poor, lovers of men or women
or both or neither, ignorant or learned,
hale or ill, cis or trans, all women, all of us
alike belonging to you, welcome to you.

The Visit to the Colossoi of Memnon, Day 1

Disappointment

On this day the colossoi do not speak.
The voice does not resound.
We came to hear the gods,
and the gods were silent.
Only the river continues to run, as ever.
Sometimes the oracle does not answer,
the gods do not speak,
the wisdom of the past
has nothing to say to us.
Sometimes we wait for a sign
that does not come, a feeling
that is not felt, a moment
that never ripens. And yet,
the only solution is to try
again: To remain faithful
to the tradition, to wait
with patience for the answer,
to come again tomorrow
and hope the ancient statues
will sing.

The Opening of the Mundus on Election Day

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In the name of Ceres,
goddess of the grain, giver of food,
protector of the poor,
defender of the rights of the plebes in Rome,
in the name of Ceres,
let the mundus be opened.
Let all the spirits fly out.
Let the dead come forth and have their say.
Let the privileged and the disenfranchised,
the rulers and the oppressed, speak their words today.
I call out the Founding Fathers,
Washington and Adams, Jefferson and Hamilton,
Franklin and Madison, and all the rest,
whose words carried greater ideals than they could embody.
I call out with them their wives and their daughters,
the black men and women they enslaved,
Abigail Adams side by side with Martha Washington
and with them Sally Hemings, equally our ancestors.
I call out the native peoples of this land
who saw guns and pestilence,
gifts given and treaties broken,
whose sons and daughters hold the line
against greed and lies to this very day.
I call out the Africans brought here as slaves,
worked to death with less care than animals,
raped and tortured, their sons and daughters
still walking in danger every day.
I call out the Chinese immigrants
who helped build the railroads,
the Irish and Italians who shaped New York,
the Jews who fled pogroms in Russia and
fled again when Hitler came to power.
I call on all the immigrants who came
to this continent looking for freedom,
whether they found misery or success.
I call on all whose labor made money
for greedy men. I call on the children
who worked in factories, losing limbs
and losing life. I call on the women
who held hands and leaped from the Triangle
building to escape the fires, because
the doors were locked to prevent them from stealing.
I call on the women who built guns and bombs
and cars and trucks while the men were at war,
who crunched the numbers and broke the codes
only to be shooed away into the kitchen
when the men came home from war.
I call on Martin and Malcolm and Muhammad Ali
and those who stood with them and marched with them.
Now at last let the disenfranchised dead have their say.
Now at last let them speak against the oppressor.
Now at last let their deaths be seen for what they were,
the spending of human lives to make money,
more for those who have much already,
profit for those whose greed knows no slaking,
power for those whose contempt makes them ugly.
Let the mundus be opened, let the dead come forth,
let the spirits speak freely, and let justice be done:
Let us atone for our past with a better future
where Ceres and Jove together bless the people
with good harvests, clean water, good weather,
abundant food and drink, where Minerva and
Apollo bless education and medicine for all,
where Mercury distributes information and goods
wherever they are needed, where Bacchus
is welcome and Antinous is lauded,
where all gods are honored, but no cult is privileged.
To these blessings I pledge my vote,
I ask the help of the gods, I ask the help of the dead,
I ask the help of the land itself on this Election Day.

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