Antinous for Everybody

I worship a dead gay teenager and you can too

Archive for the category “In Practice”

Our oracular queer death cult of sex and beauty

Almost two years ago, I was voted one of three Magistrates of the Ekklesia Antinoou, a queer polytheist Graeco-Roman-Egyptian group. A year ago, the three Magistrates and the two acting Mystagogues of that group resolved to disband the Ekklesia and re-form as the Naos Antinoou, which one might describe by the phrase I heard a friend use this past weekend: “Our oracular queer death cult of sex and beauty”.

This past weekend, I was in Seattle, Washington, having crossed the North American continent for the first time, to meet our two Mystagogues (i.e., mystery cult initiators), aka my Facebook friends Jay and Otter, in the flesh, also for the first time, and to be initiated into the Mysteries of Antinous the Liberator–or fail in the attempt.

I did not fail in making the journey. I did not fail to meet my friends, and Sister Krissy Fiction of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, another of our three Magistrates, and that alone would have been worth the longest trip I’ve ever made: The joy of hugging someone who heretofore has been only a picture on a website, a portrait made by words on your computer screen, and finding them warm and solid, and having them show you their favorite shops and restaurants and bars. Jay and Otter and their friends made me a very warm welcome despite the trademark clouds, chill, and rain of the Pacific Northwest.

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And I did not fail in achieving the Mysteries. I could have, I was informed afterwards. It is possible to fail an initiation, in our tradition. And I don’t want to contemplate what might be the consequences of such a failure, in this life and hereafter.

I achieved the Mysteries, and I can say without reservation that it was a profoundly life-changing, transformative event. I am grateful to everyone who made my travel and my initiation possible, from my friends and initiators to the friends who took in my beloved bird Rembrandt and took care of him for the better part of five days. (He has forgiven me for my absence, I am happy to say.) I am grateful especially to the God himself, the Beautiful Boy, Antinous.

I was not sworn to any oath of secrecy. Yet the root meaning of the word “mystery” is “mu-“, which means to close the lips. The mystai, the initiated, are those who keep mum and do not speak of what they have experienced, in part because it would not help and might harm those who are initiated later, in part because words cannot convey such experiences accurately. And so I will not say anything further here on this public platform: I only affirm that I have Seen, and now I know.

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Requiem for the trans dead, movement eight

VIII. In paradisum

Imagine there is a city.

Imagine there is a city which is also a garden.

Imagine that trees grow in this city

which flower and fruit at the same time.

Imagine that a river runs

through this city

and four rivers spring out of it

and the waters run out

to the four directions.

Imagine the streets of this city

are broad and clear,

paved with white

or inlaid with mosaic.

Imagine the windows

of the houses are open

to the light and the air,

and the doors

of the houses are open

to visitors and guests.

Imagine that fountains flow

in the parks, and the pigeons

eat from your hand, and the dogs

play without aggression

as the cats look on

from the window sills.

Imagine the people

walking there, walking in

the street, singing

in their doorways,

cooking at their hearths.

Imagine them in all colors,

imagine them in all genders,

imagine them in all races,

imagine them in all sexualities,

imagine them in shining robes,

in glorious hats, in golden shoes,

in jewelled sandals, in shimmering veils.

Imagine that you are welcome there.

Imagine being led into the city

through the gates that are never shut

while trumpets blare on the towers

and flash mobs dance in the streets.

Imagine there is a house for you

and in this house is every thing

you ever wanted and every person

you ever loved knows the address.

Imagine what you would call this city.

Jerusalem? Antinopolis? Alexandria?

New York? Shambala? London?

Imagine that you are going there, now.

Imagine that you are home.

Requiem for the trans dead, movement seven

VII. An ancient dirge

On this night, on this night,
every night and all,
fire and fleet and candlelight,
and gods receive your souls.

If shoes and stockings
were taken away,
at the first gate
put them on

If skirt or trousers
were taken away
at the second gate
put them on

If shirt or blouse
were taken away,
at the third gate
put them on

If hat or wig
were taken away,
at the fourth gate
put them on

If jewels or gauds
were taken away,
at the fifth gate
put them on

If cash and cards
were taken away,
at the sixth gate
take them up

If hungry and thirsty
you may be,
at the seventh gate
there waits for thee

food and drink
fire and friends
light and a guide
on this night

on this night
every night and all
gates stand open
for the trans dead
gods receive your souls

Requiem for the trans dead, movement six

VI. Libera me

O Antinous the Liberator, deliver us.

Deliver the living from transphobia

and the trans dead from their fears.

Deliver the living from the fear of Eros

and the trans dead from their unrequited loves.

Deliver the living from the tyranny of gender roles

and the trans dead from the tyranny of the body.

Deliver the living and the dead alike from all evils

that would harm the body, that would assault

and deform the soul. O Antinous, liberate us!

 

May Panprosdexia free the minds of the living

and the souls of the trans dead.

May Panhyle free the bodies of the living

and the remains of the trans dead.

May Paneros free the hearts of the living

and the hearts of the trans dead.

May Pancrates burn the bonds of the living

and likewise of the trans dead.

May Paneris contest with all hatred among the living

and defend and protect the trans dead.

May Panprosdexia succor the living

and find all the trans dead, wherever they may be,

and lead them home to the light.

Requiem for the Trans Dead, movement five

V. Communion

Lux aeterna
May light eternal shine on the trans dead
and may the light of judgment shine upon their murderers.
May light eternal shine on the path they take
and may the light of condemnation shine upon their bullies.
May light eternal shine for them, a beacon in their darkness,
and may light like a laser search the consciences of the bigots.
Light can be a blessing, sunlight, moonlight,
a candle in the darkness, a string of tiny bulbs,
but light can also be a curse, probing, searing,
burning, cauterizing the wound so it will not bleed.
May the dead walk safely into the light.
May the living walk safely under the light.
May the guilty find no rest, only the torment of light.
When there is justice, then may the trans dead
rest and remain in peace.

Requiem for the Trans Dead, movement four

IV. Offertorium

Domine Jesu Christe, Rex Gloriae

O Antinous, Liberator of souls,

Navigator of the Boat of Millions of Years,

Lover and beloved of the queers, the homos,

the fags, the dykes, the trannies,

the green carnations and the pink stars:

Deliver the souls and spirits, the bones and shades

of the trans dead from the wandering road,

from the unhallowed place.

May Panprosdexia lead them

out of the deepest pit.

May Pancrates rescue them

from the lion’s mouth.

May Paneros draw them

from the bottomless lake.

May Panpsyche guide them

through the restless winds.

May Panhyle protect them

and their bodies’ resting-place.

O Antinous, beautiful, just, benevolent,

gather them aboard

your Boat of Millions of Years

and take them to the afterlife

of their heart’s desire.

 

Hostia et preces

To the gods we offer sacrifice and prayers

on behalf of the trans dead, remembered

and unremembered, to all the gods

in all the heavens, in all the hells,

in every purgatory and limbo, on behalf

of all the souls, male or female or both

or neither, that they may be welcomed

onto the Boat of Millions of Years

and taken to the afterlife

of their hearts desire.

Requiem for the Trans Dead, movement three

III. Sequentia

Dies irae, dies illa
This is the day of my wrath
this is the day of my trembling
this is the day when it all goes to hell
literally
this hell on earth
this man behind the podium
this moment
this is what all the prophets were prophesying
this is the day the oracles feared
this is the day of victory
and defeat
and in silence and trembling
I call on the armies of the dead
to overthrow the rule of the fathers

Confutatis maledictis
Confusion to our enemies, my friends
Confusion to the evildoers
Confusion to the patriarchs and the patriarchy
Confusion to men who think that only they are human
Confusion to men who hate women
Confusion to men who hate men they think are womanly
Confusion to the sexists, confusion to the racists
Confusion to the wealthy, confusion to the greedy
Confusion to the bishops and priests and popes
Confusion to the doctors and lawyers and judges
Confusion to all who harm children
Confusion to those who make of gender a prison
Confusion to our enemies, my ancestors, my children
Let there be an army of the dead
surrounding the towers of the mighty
Let there be a hosting of ghosts
Let this be judgment day

Judicando homo reus
In the name of the dead, I judge you
In the name of the trans women who were murdered
because they were not “real” women
I judge you
In the name of the trans men who were murdered
because they were not “real” men
I judge you
In the name of the dead whose obituaries
printed the name and gender chosen for them by others,
I judge you
In the name of the dead who died nameless,
I judge you
In the name of the suicides
who died to escape the unending bullying,
I judge you
Priests and doctors without discernment
Fathers and mothers without understanding
Demons in human form without empathy, without compassion
In the name of the trans dead
and of the queer dead
and of the dead women
and the dead children
and the extinct animals
and the vanished plants
and the poisoned waters, air, and earth
I judge you
I judge you
I judge you
and I am not the only one

Requiem for the Trans Dead, movement two

II. In memoriam et Absolve Domine

In memoria æterna erit iustus,
ab auditione mala non timebit
The righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance
but you have been forgotten
you have been called unrighteous
iustus, the just man, the righteous man,
iusta, the righteous woman, sancta, the holy,
sanctus, a saint, but you have been called
unrighteous, unholy, unjust, unworthy
in English we must choose our pronouns
gender lies in the body, in the basin of the hips,
at the join of the legs, gender is
at the crotch, the crux, the cross,
chairs and blackboards have no gender,
only men call cars or ships or storms “she”
and the names, the pronouns you gave away
like old clothes no longer suitable
were smeared onto you like excrement
I call you righteous
I call you just
I call you holy
I call you Mothers and Fathers, elders and saints

Absolve, Domine,
animas omnium fidelium defunctorum
ab omni vinculo delictorum
Absolve, dissolve, resolve, O gods
absolve the sins committed against them,
the culpability of the victim, the burden
we make them bear; dissolve
the pains of their last moments,
the agony of crossing over; resolve
the dissonance, resolve the disharmony,
Sing, just men and righteous women
No rest for your voices now
you who have counted measures of silence
and if you cannot sing
shout
if you cannot shout
scream
if you cannot scream
whisper
I am listening for you

(For the Rite of Elevation of the Trans Dead)

Requiem for the Trans Dead, First Movement

I. Requiem
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Rest not, rest not, rest not, but cross over–
cross over, you who have crossed over,
crossed over from gender to gender,
from the false to the true: Rise up,
rest not, there is a light in the darkness
for you,
there is water in the desert
for you,
there are voices calling in the emptiness
for you:
Rise up, cross over, come home.

(For the Rite of Elevation of the Trans Dead)

“I aten’t dead”

I haven’t read a lot of Discworld, but I’ve read enough to use that reference. No, I’m not dead, even though I haven’t really posted here in a month. A whole month. Well.

Since the first of October, I’ve been posting entries for the 31 Days of Devotion meme at the Naos Antinoou. And between September 10th and today, I’ve been deeply involved in plotting a future for the Ekklesia Antinoou, examining and evaluating my personal spiritual practice, and just getting out of bed on increasingly dark mornings and putting one foot in front of the other until I wind up at my desk at work, then coming home to watch Person of Interest (a show I highly recommend, by the way).

Writing for the meme every day has been a challenge. However, after firing off today’s entry early thanks to the national holiday, I realized something good: Doing the 31 Days of Devotion meme is, in fact, rekindling my devotion for the god. It’s reminding me just how much I love the Bithynian Boy and how lovable he is.

9e847b085dc8494226401cc0a20b9226I am shy of talking about this. It’s funny, because I’m not shy of hanging out on Tumblr and expressing my non-religious devotion to Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan, or Michael Emerson (from Person of Interest). I have frequently praised Captain America’s booty, but it is a truth universally acknowledged that my god has the finest booty ever. It deserves to be praised as lavishly as any actor’s, and more so.

It comes, I think, of being an Episcopalian. Episcopalians don’t talk about their faith, as Lutherans do. They don’t gush about how much they love Jesus, like Evangelicals. They might admit to loving Julian of Norwich or some other saint, but mostly they gush about the choir’s offertory anthem. They bitch about tacky vestments. We are aesthetes who like our strong emotions buttoned up in cassocks, sonnets, counterpoint. If we wanted to let our feelings hang out, we’d become Methodists. (To any Methodists who might be reading this: No offense. Love Wesley’s hymns. Thank you for being you.)

So I’ll gush online about my favorite actors, but not about my gods. I see pictures of those actors every day on Tumblr, along with pictures of cockatiels and all sorts of other things I like, but I don’t make an effort to look at pictures of Antinous, and there are plenty of images of him to look at. I recite hymns I have written for the god, but until I started the devotional meme, I was making little effort to write new ones. And my devotion was languishing as a result.

What is devotion? The polytheist blogosphere discusses this a lot. I think devotion is primarily just attention. You pay attention to someone or something because you care about it. The more attention you pay to it, the more you care, the more you appreciate that person, place, thing, topic for its essential nature. It’s true for affectionate devotion to a pet, or romantic devotion to a partner, intellectual devotion to a field of study, or religious devotion to a deity. I am resolving to pay more attention to Antinous, and to my gods in general, by writing new prayers and poems, looking for and at images of them, and making the small offerings I’ve been neglecting. I feel confident that such devotion will bear good fruit in my life.¬†Which, I guess, is having faith.

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