Antinous for Everybody

I worship a dead gay teenager and you can too

Archive for the tag “antinous”

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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Sacred Nights: Foundation Day

Today the body of Antinous is found on the banks of the Nile, yielded up by the sacred river near the town which is called Hir-Wer and Besa.

Today Hadrian weeps openly like a woman and vows to found a city in honor of Antinous on that spot.

Today Antinous is revealed as a hero who has walked with knowledge into the underworld.

… As a daimon who quickens the earth to life and causes the river to rise and fructify the land.

… As a god, one with Osiris, enthroned with the gods of Egypt.

Today the gods of Kemet, Hellas, and Roma welcome him into their company, as Hadrian, Pharaoh and Emperor, bewails his death aloud and his mortal remains are preserved with the honors once bestowed only on kings.

Today the Naos Antinoou celebrates its first anniversary as a queer, Graeco-Roman-Egyptian polytheist community dedicated to Antinous, the Beautiful Boy of Bithynia, the son of Mantinoe, the beloved of Hadrian.

Dua Antnus! Khaire Antinoos! Ave Antinous! Hail, most beloved god! Once again, with gratitude for all your blessings, with praise for all your worthiness, I dedicate myself to your worship and service.

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Sacred Nights: Death of Antinous

No words today. No music.

Only grief.

The Beautiful Boy is dead.

Sacred Nights: Osiris and Antinous

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POEM: The Green Man

I am Osiris. I am the Green Man.

I was the first Green Man, Asar, Au Sar, Wesir.

Green like the papyrus growing by the Nile.

Green like the barley growing in the fields.

Green like the leaves that support the sweet lotus.

Sometimes I am black like the soil,

The rich fertile flooded soil of Kemet, eponymous soil.

I am the Green Man of the Black Land.

The first to die becomes the god of the dead.

That is I. First to know death, first to go west,

Killed by my brother, sought by my sisters,

Resurrected by my wife. She fashioned the part

That was missing. I am moonlight and moondark,

Black earth and green plant, a missing phallus

And an upright wand. Come to me, Antinous,

Child of Bithynia, beloved of Pharaoh,

And I will teach you how to be a god.

An Invocation to Antinous Bakkheios

O Antinous Dionysus!

Your votaries call out to you, for we are tired.

We are weary. We are thirsty. Our limbs are heavy.

Our hearts are heavier. Our spirits sink.

We labor and we struggle, we sleep

and wake unrefreshed to labor and struggle more.

O Antinous Dionysus, Antinous Epiphanes,

Come to us now! Come to us, Antinous Bakkheios!

We are parched and in need of refreshment.

Come and bring us the wine of your joy,

The joy of living, the zest for life!

Come and loosen our limbs for the dance,

Straighten our backs that have been bent in our labors,

Widen our shoulders that have hunched over computers,

Free our hips and our asses that our minds may follow.

Come and dance with us, bring us the blessing

Of fellowship, the mood of the party,

The lubrication of intoxication. Join hands with us

That we may join hands with one another

And celebrate all that is good, all beauty

And pleasure, tastes and scents, the body

And the earth, that which grows and dies

And lives again, the tenacious vine and

The sleek, ravenous animal in ourselves

And in the world, all of your blessings,

Antinous, Antinous Dionysus, Antinous Bakkheios!

IO EVOHE!

(Written for the Bakkheion in honor of Antinous at Many Gods West 2017, at the request of Jay Logan.)

The Declaration of Antinous the Justified

I am Antinous. I am Osiris. I am Antinous the Justified.

 

I am the one who was lost and found himself.

I am the one who was drowned and breathed again.

I am the one whom Hapi took and Isis gave back again.

Where the red lotus bloomed, I have died,

And now I live again for ever.

 

I have not done the things which ought not to be done.

My heart has been weighed in the hall of Ma’at and pronounced pure.

Anubis has justified me. The forty-two judges have justified me.

Osiris has justified me and given me his crook and flail.

 

I have passed by the white cypress tree and the spring that flows beneath it.

Child of earth and heaven, I have drunk from the water of Memory,

And I know my true name, which is

ASKION KATASKION LIX TETRAX

DAMNAMENEUS AISIA ENDASION.

I have the favor of Persephone, the dread queen,

And with Hades’ blessing I walk in the groves of Elysium.

With the wings and the staff of Hermes,

The Messenger, the Guide of the Dead,

I come and go as I please.

 

Like a kid I have fallen into milk.

Like grapes I have been crushed and fermented and poured into wine.

Like a goat I have been torn apart and devoured

And discovered and assembled anew.

I have found myself and lost myself in the dance.

I bear the thyrsus of Dionysus and wear his ivy crown and leopard pelt.

 

I have ascended on high from the deepest depth.

I have vanquished the archons and mounted the heights

In the Boat of Millions of Years.

I have adorned Aquarius and the stars of the Eagle.

I have shone my light in healing and prophecy like Apollon.

He has given me his lyre that I may play for the Muses.

With Orion and his hounds I have hunted the heavens,

The earth, and the underworld. I am welcome in every place.

 

I have passed the seven gates of Ereshkigal

And returned to shine with the dawn.

I was in the tomb of Jesus and at the banquet of his consummation.

I have entered the domain of Hel and brought forth my bride Melinoe.

There is no place where I have not been welcomed

And no place where my star cannot guide.

I am Antinous Osiris the Justified, Antinous Hermes

The Guide, Antinous Dionysus and Antinous Apollon,

Child of earth and starry heaven,

Beautiful, just, benevolent.

(This was written for the rites held for Antinous at Many Gods West 2017, at the request of Jay Logan.)

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: 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.

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.

In the world but not of it

I don’t talk about politics much. It’s not interesting to me as a topic, unlike religion, or space exploration, or birds. That doesn’t meant it’s not important to me, however. After yesterday’s election here in the United States, I am dismayed, I am angry, and I am afraid, not so much for myself as for friends who are more obviously not the white cis hetero norm than I am.

What has dominated my thoughts this morning, oddly enough, is a phrase from my Christian background, the phrase I chose for my title: In the world but not of it. By “the world” Christian theology properly means not nature, the created world, the cosmos, but the human-created world, society and its distorted values. Early Christians lived in a society that cherished very different values from their own, so much so that they were identified as atheists, dissidents, terrorists. A good deal of the ethical teaching in Paul’s letters is his reminding his audience of that, mixed with a certain amount of respectability politics.

The first two or three generations of Christians refused to identify themselves as Jews or Gentiles, slaves or masters, citizens or subjects of Rome. They called themselves citizens of that kingdom of heaven that Jesus had said was within each person; they imagined a new Jerusalem, a perfect city, an ideal community where their values were the norm.

That’s how I’m feeling this morning. I am in this nation, but not of it. I do not belong here. My black friends, my gay and lesbian friends, my queer and trans friends, my Jewish and polytheist and pagan friends don’t belong here. That’s what the election results say to me. Never mind that the very real problems of our country were caused not by any of them, not by Mexicans or Muslims, but by rich and still greedy white men like the one who was just elected, men who have nothing but contempt for women, for people of color, for people without wealth. We are in this nation, but not of it; our true citizenship is somewhere else, someplace we imagined was implied in the founding documents of the United States, however little the Founding Fathers may have realized it. Perhaps someday we can build our city here; I have not entirely given up hope.

In the meantime, I see my job as a writer as imagining alternatives. Other people can write the dystopias that now look like prophecies; my work will continue to celebrate possibilities. I’m calling my new Jerusalem, my kingdom of heaven, my true citizenship, Antinoopolis, the city that Hadrian built at the place where Antinous’ body was found. I am no longer pledging my allegiance to a divided nation where liberty and justice are available only to those who have the right gender, the right color of skin, and the requisite bank balance. I pledge my allegiance to Antinous and to the city where he is worshipped, a city open to all races, colors, creeds, genders, and sexualities where love, friendship, wisdom, and creative endeavor are cherished.

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