As August 21st brings us to the end of the astrological cycle of the Zodiac sign of Leo, it also brings us to the end of another lion – the one hunted by Antinous and Hadrian during the last year of Hadrian’s life. While we know that the lion they hunted was eventually vanquished, that victory is celebrated tomorrow in the Festival of the Red Lotus. Today, our attention stays with the first part of the story, where Antinous failed to kill the lion and was almost killed by it instead. In the world of polytheism, our gods are not always without failure themselves. As Erynn Rowan Laurie says in the ritual she wrote for the Lion Hunt,
Even the eternal gods are not perfection. Even the eternal gods may fail. Divine Antinous, when he hunted the Mauretanian lion, fell before the creature, his pride and eagerness making him careless. It was only the hand of the Divine Hadrian that saved the Bithynian, he who is enthroned with the Gods of Egypt.
Remembering that even the gods may fail, today we acknowledge our own failures and places where we have missed the mark, and were maybe even wounded as a result. This isn’t a call to wallow in shame and guilt. Rather, a stark but honest assessment of the ways in which we could have done better. What hasn’t worked? What needs to change for you to find victory? Who are the friends, community, and loved ones that might be able to support you? The Festival of the Lion Hunt isn’t about blame or damaging our self-worth. You are not an awful evil person. But all of us slip up and sometimes fall short of our potential. The Lion Hunt is about acknowledging that life is dangerous and sometimes wounds us. And while the Festival of the Red Lotus, where we will celebrate victory, is just a day away, today I will look inside myself and take responsibility for my own actions and mistakes, and look outwards to see those who are standing next to me, ready to defend me.
- Ritual for the Festival of the Lion Hunt by Erynn Rowan Laurie (Many thanks to her for graciously allowing us to share this ritual with you)