“On Antinous will be repeated every ritual of the hours of Osiris together with each of his ceremonies in secret. His teachings will be spread to the whole country, helpful in the instruction and effective in the expression. Nothing comparable has been done for the earlier ancestors until today.”– Obelisk of Antinous
Since you found yourself at Naós Antínoou you might be wondering, “What do these people do and where do I start?” Well, those are very good questions. Members of Ekklesía Antínoou tend to be a very diverse bunch of people. Some of us approach our devotions very loosely, often lighting a candle, burning some incense and saying a prayer while others make their devotions a high liturgical affair informed by historical worship in Ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt complete smells, bells and ornate iconography. There’s no one right or wrong way, necessarily, to establish a devotional relationship with Antinous, but for those who want some direction this guide should be of some assistance.
Before we get started, let’s look at some defining characteristics of Ekklesía Antínoou. As a Graeco-Roman-Egyptian syncretist reconstructionist polytheist group, much of the modern worship of Antinous is informed by reconstructing elements of ancient cult practices of these civilizations. We do know that the Emperor Hadrian was a Hellenophile and likely very much influenced by Greek devotional practices in addition to leading Roman state ceremonies, so we can conjecture that when he established the cult of the beautiful Bythinian boy, these would have been the modalities through which he and others would initially give cultus to Antinous. In the above quote from the Obelisk of Antinous which was located at Hadrian’s villa, we can also see that Antinous’ cult was immediately syncretized with that of the established cult of Osiris meaning that these temples would have approached Antinous’ worship in a way familiar to that of Egyptian temples. For our purposes, then, we can take what we know from each of these different practices and reconstruct a form of personal devotion drawing on elements of the past and apply them to our present day circumstances.
Getting started you will need at minimum an image of Antinous, a candle, an offering bowl (optional), incense burner, a bowl of clean water, a smaller bowl for salt and either a sprig of dried rosemary or a bay leaf. Arrange a clean space with the image in a central position. If it’s a picture, it should ideally be framed – numerous images can be found online and printed out or you can make your own as a personal devotional offering. Once everything is prepared, spend some time centering yourself and aligning your mind and intentions toward communicating with Antinous. Once you feel sufficiently centered, light the candles and incense and wash your hands and face lightly with the water declaring yourself to be pure. From here a simple prayer to Antinous and offerings may be made. The importance here is to foster communication and devotion. Take your time and be attentive. Here is a simple liturgy that can be done once a week or more as you start exploring your relationship with Antinous.
A Weekly Antinoan Devotional
Pour clean water into a bowl and add a pinch of salt to the water. Optionally, light a bay leaf or sprig of rosemary and extinguish it into the water, saying:
Wash yourself with the water, touching the appropriate parts of your body, and say:
May I be pure in thought. (forehead)
May I be pure in speech. (tongue)
May I be pure in heart. (chest)
May I be pure in action. (palms of hands)
Next, sprinkle some of the water around your devotional space, saying:
Even at the ends of the earth, you are here, great gods.
Light the candle or lamp to Antinous, burn incense and, optionally make other offerings, saying:
Thus praying always to the Divine Boy,
the Arcadian Greek of Bythinia,
I am made more like you, the lover of Hadrian –
Emperor of the World of Peace;
Defeat every enemy of love
O victorious son of Hermes – may all rejoice! –
And turn the heart of the hateful one
Into a sensible peacemaker.
We pray this through Hadrian, and Sabina, and you.[i]
Here you may ask Antinous to bestow blessings on Ekklesía Antínoou, ask for any personal blessings or perform some devotional activity such as reciting a personal prayer, conversation, poetry, story, or perform other devotional activities.
If inspired you may also perform divination at this time such as Ephesia Grammata [ii] or some other familiar form of divination.
In closing, stand before your shrine and say:
Our time here now has come to its end. To this god Antinous, I give my prayers, supplication and thanks. May all be blessed by he who is beautiful, just and benevolent. Ave, vive Antinoe.
As you can see, starting a devotional practice doesn’t need to be an overly ornate affair, rather one that is heart-felt and intentional. As you deepen your relationship with Antinous and the related divine figures of Ekklesía Antínoou, you may modify the above ritual to also include their commemoration as well. Establishing a devotional practice can likewise be taken into other realms of activities. For example, as Antinous is a god of love (not just same-sex love!), one may dedicate dating activities or working for marriage equality to him; alternately, as a god of beauty, one may dedicate art, poetry and songs to him; as a god of athleticism and sport, swimming or other athletic activities may be an offering[iii]; . The possibilities are near endless.
Establishing a regular devotional practice is a powerful way to deepen your relationship with Antinous or any god or divine power. Over time it facilitates a process of reciprocity and focus allowing us to become more like the gods and powers that we serve and have them assist us in our daily lives. Hopefully this short essay will help you in becoming closer to the beautiful Bythinian boy.
Otter (Seattle) is a spiritual worker, artist, and writer, mystes of Ekklesía Antínoou since 2009, and student of the Anderson Faery tradition. He hosts regular Antinoan celebrations on a monthly basis as well as holy days sacred to Antinous, and works behind the scenes as an Antinoan liturgist and dedicated Lupercus.
[i] P. 56-57. P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, Devotio Antinoo: The Doctor’s Notes, Volume One (Anacortes: The Red Lotus Library, 2011).
[ii] P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, Ephesia Grammata: Ancient History and Modern Practice. (Anacortes: The Red Lotus Library, 2014)
[iii] I often say a quick prayer before going to the gym asking Antinous to bless my focus and efforts and spill some water from my bottle outside.