Regular service will resume later

Today is a confluence of many holy days, Greek, Roman, and Antinoan. Principally, it is the day of the Megala Antinoeia, the sacred games which Hadrian established in his beloved’s honor, and the day the Ekklesia observes the syncretism of Antinous and Eros.

It also happens, sadly, to be the day that the world lost a shining purple flame, Prince Rogers Nelson, a man whose outstanding musicianship was sometimes overshadowed by his equally outstanding charisma and flamboyant personality. His music exemplifies many things I regard as blessings of Antinous, Eros, and Dionysus: The affirmation of sexuality, the joy of dance, a fierce passion for justice and liberation. May his passage be easy, and may there be consolation for his family, friends, and many, many fans around the world.

I am a little short of creative energy and focus tonight, and the prayers I had planned to write for the festival will have to come later. But I will say this:

Let us participate in the great sacred game of life.

Let us participate joyfully in the great sacred game of love and sexuality and erotic play.

Let us participate in the great sacred game of friendship and friendly rivalry.

Let us participate in the great sacred game of song and dance and theatre and music.

Let us participate in the great sacred game of making art, of all the arts.

Every one of us will die someday. So make art, now. Make love, now.

And in the spirit of Prince’s song “Baltimore”, written for my hometown, make justice now, so that there may be peace now. No justice, no peace.

If Prince’s work, or David Bowie’s, or any other artist’s work, has helped you and inspired you, carry that energy into action and make art of your own.

Participate well in the great sacred game of life, and may Antinous give you the red lotus crown hereafter.


A disturbance in the Force

I have never been a fan of David Bowie, although I have long had a great respect for him as an artist. But his death feels like a body blow nevertheless.

I think he can probably gain access to any afterlife he pleases, purely on his own recognizance. But I will remember him as a spiritual ancestor, someone who belonged to the people of the Tetrad++ even before they were born.

Knowing where you come from: In memoriam Margot Adler

Margot Adler died of cancer a year ago today. I count Adler among my ancestors in spirit for her book Drawing Down the Moon, her seminal book on neo-paganism and the Craft in all their forms. If Starhawk excited me by showing in The Spiral Dance that paganism was alive and magic was afoot, Adler spurred me on by showing me wider possibilities. It’s been decades since I read the book, but I do remember her discussing Hellenic, Heathen, and Egyptian pagans along with Wiccans and witches.

It’s hard to go forward without a lineage at your back, without having a place and a people that you come from. As I was doing my dishes just now, I thought of my grandmother, my great-aunt, and my father, all of whom assumed the job of household dishwasher in my childhood home at one time or another. When my mother cooked, my grandmother washed up; when my grandmother died, my dad or my aunt washed up. I wash dishes and think of generations of women doing the daily household tasks.

Knowing where I come from, who I come from as a polytheist and pagan is more challenging. But I grew up in a church that paid some attention to the saints, so I haven’t any scruples about adopting people as ancestors. When I sang in a church choir, every boy soprano who ever put on a cassock and surplice became my ancestor as I wore those vestments and sang music written for boys’ voices. The composers whose music I love are my ancestors, and there are musicians living whom I will honor as part of my lineage when they pass on. I know where my roots are as a writer; Lewis and Tolkien, Lloyd Alexander and Evangeline Walton, formed my ideas of fantasy and story. I like to describe myself as the unholy lovechild of Anais Nin and Thomas Merton–one obsessed with sex, the other with religion, and both obsessed with writing about themselves.

Without initiation into a tradition, or joining of an official organization, one may not have a clear sense of my religious lineage these days. That’s why I keep up as much as I can with the calendar of sancti in the Ekklesia Antinoou. PSVL defines the sancti as “people without whom we can not imagine the Ekklesía Antínoou and what we know and do now being in existence”. The list of sancti includes everything from Antinous’ deified contemporaries such as emperors Hadrian and Trajan, women of the Imperial family, and others, through those killed by violence against queer and transgender to people, to poets, novelists, scholars, musicians, and actors who embody an Antinoan spirit. There are Christian saints and Christian heretics on that list, the Sufi poet Rumi, Zen Buddhist Issan Dorsey Roshi, and no doubt many people who defined themselves as atheists. What we celebrate is not where they may reside in their afterlife–you might say that’s their business–but what they created in life.

So I don’t hesitate to claim Margot Adler as ancestor, as I claim Victor and Cora Anderson (because they influenced Starhawk and Thorn Coyle, who have influenced me), or Rumi for his poetry, Coltrane for his music, Frida Kahlo for her painting. I come from a long line of artistic, creative nonconformists, obsessed by religion and sex and making art and finding beauty in the body and in erotic love. They’re standing behind me when I write, just as Mom and Dad and Aunt Margaret are standing behind me as I wash dishes.

Death of Anais Nin, 14 January 1977

Dear Anais,

Your diary inspired me, but your biography appalled me:
A husband on each coast of the United States, a chain of lovers
twined round the globe, seducing and seduced by
your own father. An abortion which you retold as a birth,
never naming which of your men might be the father.
Lover of your father, mother of your brother, you died
this day of a poisoned womb, your body an inhospitable
home for your ardent, airy spirit and your nereid soul.
Still, frail, fallible, and deceptive woman, mermaid,
mirage, deceiver or deluded, you wrote my truth
in your official fiction, “the Diary”, and for that, Anais,
I must love and honor you as my foremother.