Antinous for Everybody

I worship a dead gay teenager and you can too

Archive for the tag “tetrad++”

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.


POEM: The marriage of opposites?

Let me not to the marriage of true minds–
“Oh, not that old thing again!” Paneris
snatches the book out of my hands
and throws it away. “And what’s this?
A cup? A ritual dagger?” They pick up
knife, cup, plate, wand, book, a stray kitten
and juggle the lot like Crowley’s Magician.
“The blade is to the serpent as the cup is
to the fox?” “–Paneris, stop being an asshole.”
Paneros folds eir arms. “You love my asshole,”
and Paneris fires the book, wand, plate, cup,
and knife at their lover, who catches them one
by one and puts them back on the altar, or
table, or a coffin where someone is about
to get sawn in two, possibly your humble
poet. The kitten stays with Paneris,
draped about their neck. “Do genitals matter?”
Paneros hands me a pen, a knife. “Where
does sex take place?” And a smartphone,
and a pillow. “Who gets to define gender?”
A cup of tea and a cookie.”What does it mean
to live happily ever after?” “Oh, don’t be pedantic,”
says Paneris, winding their arms and legs around
their lover. “It’s the eighteenth. Give me a kiss.”
“I’ll give you more than that–” The kitten lands
on its feet and I come out of the coffin in one piece.

POEM: For Panpsyche and Panhyle, their union

965287ebd106e0557b8fbc7efdf389c2The soul in the body and the body in the soul
The masculine within the feminine but
the feminine within the masculine
Transcending gender, transcending unity or disunity
The butterfly and the bull, the axe and the bow,
the sister and brother whose erotic union
is not transgression but consummation, All-Love:
Hail Panpsyche! Hail Panhyle! Hail Panpsyche and Panhyle!


POEM: The Blessing of the Tetrad++

This is a variation on my own Lorica of the Tetrad++. I offer this blessing for all people of color, all African-Americans, all Native Americans, all women, all sexual minorities, gay and lesbian and bisexual, queer and genderqueer, transgender and intersex, all people anywhere who are oppressed. You are Antinous’s people. You are the Tetrad’s people. You are my people.

May Panpsyche guard you with the eagle’s wings
and by ASKION bless your soul with freedom.
May Panprosdexia guard you with the raven’s cunning
and by KATASKION guide you through the dark places.
May Panhyle guard you with the bull’s determination
and by LIX bless your body with health and strength.
May Pancrates guard you with the lion’s roar
and by TETRAX burn away your fears.
May Paneros guard you with the serpent’s wisdom
and by DAMNAMENEUS heal your heart’s wounds.
May Paneris guard you with the fox’s swiftness
and by AISIA defend you in conflict and strife.
May Panpsyche and Panhyle protect your souls and bodies.
May Paneros and Paneris protect your hearts and minds
both in love and in strife.
May Pancrates all-powerfully protect you, and
may Panprosdexia bring you home to the light.


A new poem for Panprosdexia, on the sixth of the month

I cannot see, for my eyes are covered by the dark.
I cannot hear, for my ears are muffled by the dark.
I cannot smell, except for my own fear.
I cannot taste, except for my own death.

Reach out, says Panprosdexia, and take my hand.

A new poem for Paneris, on the fifth day of the month

It all comes down to this, doesn’t it,
Paneris: That you are neither male
nor female, neither god nor goddess,
not one thing or the other, but
anything when it pleases you, a fox,
a hen, a cloak, a mask, a naked body,
a sleeping child, a mischievous lover,
a provoker of strife, the devil’s advocate
where there is no devil, the prosecuting
attorney when we accuse ourselves,
all this and the one most beloved
of All-Love, the liberator of Eros:
Hail, Paneris! Liberator, challenger,
trickster, I praise and honor you.

Birth of Pancrates 2016: A prayer

Child of air and earth and water
Child of peace and truth and beauty
Child of eagle and bull and serpent
O fiery one, O most powerful, O leaping lion:
Hail, Pancrates!
On this day celebrating your birth
I breathe deep
and plant my feet wide
and feel the tides surging
I call on the height of the eagle
the steadfastness of the bull
the suppleness of the serpent
I open my mouth to speak
of peace and truth and beauty
and in your name I roar
I leap
I breathe fire

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.

Doing the will of the gods

I’ve seen a lot of discussion lately in the polytheist blogosphere regarding obedience to the gods. A lot of that discussion has revolved around disobedience: Can we ever say no to the gods? Should we ever say no, if a god asks something of us? How heavily do our personal ethics or cultural mores weigh against what we understand to be the will of the gods?

I’m not going to offer any opinions on that issue, mainly because it’s not a problem I have ever had. I can tell you damned straight that if a deity wanted me to harm or even give up my bird companion Rembrandt, I would tell that deity to fuck off with as much strength as I could muster. I find myself having sort of the opposite problem, however; the gods seem not to want to tell me what to do.

I’m not a priest or priestess. Until very recently, I had no special relationship to Antinous or his pantheon; I was simply an enthusiastic devotee. Being a Magistrate of the Ekklesia Antinoou is not especially a spiritual role, but an administrative one, though informed by my devotion and subject to correction by divination. The council of Magistrates exists not so much for the benefit of the gods as for that of the worshippers, in my opinion. So I would still say I’m not particularly special, except that I’ve been entrusted by my god to work for and with a particular group of his people.

The first time I participated in the Elevation of Trans Ancestors, I encountered the Tetrad++; they likewise encountered me and identified me as one of theirs. Since that occasion, about fourteen months ago now, I have repeatedly asked of them, and of Antinous, what do you want of me? What can I do for you? How can I best serve you? What is your will?

I’ve prayed about it, written privately about it, used several forms of divination. What is your will? Should I pursue another master’s degree? Should I take this or that course of magical training? Should I make my devotions like so, or some other way? And it has frustrated me to no end that my gods don’t, perhaps won’t tell me exactly what to do. I get inspirations, and occasionally what one might call assignments. I am assigned to participate in the Elevation of Trans Ancestors for the foreseeable future. But unlike with some people, they don’t seem concerned with what my day job is or what sort of magical training I have. Despite my complaining, there’s one thing the Tetrad++ in particular has definitely asked of me that I haven’t done, and nobody has smitten me for it yet. They want me to do some sort of regular dance or physical exercise, as an offering to them and as part of my self-care. Directions about self-care were in the first, most direct communication they gave me, and I resisted them for over a year. I’ve been diagnosed with diabetes… and it’s more important than ever now that I get regular exercise.

The other day I finally turned a corner on this issue. If my day job is acceptable, and if my writing is accepted by my gods as a form of service to them, perhaps what I do for my spiritual practice is up to me, because it’s primarily for my benefit. So I asked myself what I need, on a regular basis, to feel like I have a proper spiritual practice. That question turned out to be easy enough to answer.

First of all, I prefer to do some kind of devotions both in the morning and in the evening. Years of praying the Daily Office as an Episcopalian have accustomed me to having a set of regular, repeating texts for prayer; I’ve been slowly writing those prayers for myself, to accompany simple daily offerings of milk, water, incense, candles.

Second, I need some sort of daily spiritual reading, preferably in small chunks. This has ranged from reading and re-reading PSVL’s books to the Rule of St. Benedict to books by Julia Cameron that have a short entry for each day.

Third, I need to write. For several years now I have used as my home base for a daily writing practice. Prayers, hymns, poems, stories, blog entries, and journal-ish blather all land there, with the goal of amassing at least 750 words per day.

Fourth, I need some sort of practice of self-development. For some time I have thought of this as pursuing some magical training, but I believe I need to cast my net more widely than that. Various forms of inner work, magical work, self-help might qualify and satisfy my urge to work on myself.

Fifth, and last but not least, I need a community. Finding a community is often an impossible task for a pagan or polytheist; I know very well that there is one other Antinoan active in my state, and indeed on this coast, while most of the others are on the West Coast. So I cheated: I went back to the Episcopal church I began attending a couple of years ago.

The great secret of the Episcopal Church is that it really is orthopractic. True, the Sunday Eucharist calls for the recitation of the Nicene Creed, but nobody really cares if you don’t bother to say it, or if you mumble it with reservations. No one is going to ask you to explain the difference between homoousios and homoiousios, or defend the filioque clause, or even affirm your belief in a literal Virgin Birth, before you are allowed to take communion. (Although you may run into a few theology geeks who can explain what difference the iota makes, and they might attack the filioque clause and/or defend the Immaculate Conception, considering how much alcohol has been consumed.) If you behave decorously, put something in the offering plate, and contribute to the congregation, nobody much cares whether you “believe in it” at all.

The pastor who was in charge when I started going there has left, in somewhat uproarious circumstances; however, I didn’t go back there because of him. I went back to hear good music sung, and to sing familiar hymns with other people, and to be with people who are kind and supportive and who care about things I care about, like liturgy and music and good art and social justice and peace. And those people, who had not seen me in over a year, were happy to see me again and to have me among them.

Perhaps I am not special enough to get individual marching orders from my gods. That’s okay; I’m not sure I want to live surrounded by prescriptions and proscriptions like some people do. But I know that I share my gods’ values, and vice versa, and that if I’m acting in accordance with those shared values, I’m doing the will of the gods.

Looking for religion in all the wrong places

Lately I’ve found myself looking at my Christian background a lot. I’ve been re-reading the Rule of St. Benedict, the foundation document of Western Christian monasticism; I’ve been thinking about Hildegard of Bingen, whose feast day was in mid-September, and about Therese of Liseux, who is commemorated today, and her big sister Teresa of Avila, whose feast comes up in mid-October. And I’ve never really stopped missing the Daily Office, which probably explains my penchant for writing prayers to be said every day, on a schedule.

In the past, being interested in Christian texts and Christian saints again would have got me thinking that I was in the wrong religion; that Christianity is obviously my True Path and I should go back to it. But I’m not thinking that right now. I’m not neglecting my daily offerings to Antinous, the Tetrad++, and the gods, ancestors, and spirits generally. I’m still slowly reading anthologies about Demeter and Persephone; these two books are great collections of material, but an anthology doesn’t sweep you away the way that a good novel or even a tightly-structured work of nonfiction will.

So I ask myself, why am I not panicking and thinking I should change religions, the way I would have five years ago? I think the answer to that question is: Polytheism.

There are many things about Anglican Christianity that I love and miss: the Daily Office, Anglican choral music, the many poets and writers whom it shaped. I miss having a regular time of worship with a local community. But taken all together, it was the system I loved, not Jesus or his Father. To be honest, there are quite a few saints I love far more than I ever loved Jesus; Julian of Norwich would head that list.

Being an Episcopalian was about inhabiting a comfortable and beautiful system that provided me with a lot of resources of wisdom. But being a polytheist, it turns out, is about having direct, enlivening relationships with deities. And my deities, at least, seem not to mind where I seek for wisdom, as long as I maintain relationships with them.

*holds breath and waits ten seconds in case of divine smiting*

I am worshipping Antinous and a lot of associated gods in a particular modern tradition that draws from Greek, Roman, and Egyptian sources. I am technically a member of the Ekklesia Antinoou, “a queer, Graeco-Roman-Egyptian syncretist reconstructionist polytheist group dedicated to Antinous, the deified lover of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, and related deities and divine figures”–to quote the official description. But the Ekklesia doesn’t feel to me like a system. A system, perhaps I should say an institution, requires you to sign on the dotted line, stay within the grounds, make your bed a certain way. The Ekklesia is more like a bunch of houses and workshops built around the remains of a temple that is slowly being rebuilt; the goal is to make the temple look like its ancient self but also contain indoor plumbing, accessible entrances, and internet access.

I don’t feel like any source of wisdom is off-limits as long as I maintain my primary relationships with the holy powers. And those relationships have been so satisfying that I don’t want to abandon them to return to a system. All this time I thought I was looking for the right religion, the right system, when actually, I was waiting to meet the right god.

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