How did you become first aware of this deity?
Anyone with any interest in ancient Rome has probably heard of Antinous. The phrase “Hadrian and Antinous” is like “bread and butter”. One of Adrienne Rich’s early poems concerns Antinous and his relationship to the Emperor. I’ve been interested in ancient Rome since I was a child; it must be decades since I first heard of Antinous.
It was not until fairly recently, though, that I heard of him as a god, a being who had been worshipped following his early death and was being worshipped again today. Between 2002 and 2012, I was pretty active on Livejournal, with connections to both fannish and pagan/polytheist communities. Somewhere during that time, I made a connection with P. Sufenas Virius Lupus on LJ and began to read eir WordPress blog, the Aedicula Antinoi, back when it was still new.
Antinous seems to me to be a god who is active through social media, who has no qualms about using it to reach his people and bring them together. I once had a Facebook chat with two other Antinoans who were twelve hours apart in time zones; I was six hours behind one and six hours ahead of the other, exactly in between.
PSVL once pointed out in an interview (and maybe more than once–I’m not sure I can identify which interview it was) that while Antinous is well known as a minor figure of ancient history, Roman history, queer history, he is not well known as a god. One of my aims as a blogger is to make the Bithynian Boy better known for the divinity he is.
How did you, dear readers, discover Antinous as the Beautiful God?
While I’ve had an interest in Greek and Roman history all of my life, and in my Pagan and Polytheist practice have developed devotions to numerous Hellenic divinities, I can’t say that I had ever heard of Antinous except in the context of him being a god. I had heard of Hadrian, of course (he built a wall, I hear, in the Scotland area), but did not know much of his exploits, and hadn’t heard that he was queer in any way. That all changed about eight years ago during my first journey to ‘Eleusis’ through the Spring Mysteries Festival, a reconstruction of the Eleusinian Mysteries held annually in Washington State. I was chatting with a nice gentleman I would come to know as Sister Krissy Fiction after a powerful skyclad ceremony, talking about our various interests, when he happened to mention that he was a fanboy of Hadrian’s boyfriend, Antinous. A) I didn’t realize that an emperor of Rome had anything that could be referred to as a ‘boyfriend’ and B) I had no idea that he had died young and been divinized and worshipped throughout the ancient world, and even by some today. Needless to say, I was intrigued! He related to me some of the modern history of Antinous’ cultus, particularly which yahoo groups to avoid if you have an affinity for reconstructionist practice. Oh, and also there’s a few people who practice locally in Seattle, so you should totally check them out! And I did. Within a month of being introduced to Antinous was the Megala Antinoea festival, an observance of which was being held at the local occult shop Edge of the Circle Books. There I met PSVL and Erynn Rowan Laurie and was introduced to Antinous properly through his devotion. And, it was beautiful. A simple ceremony held in a humble environment, but that place came alive with his spirit through our chanting and bell-ringing. I still remember the flavor of the naan that was offered to him, as well as the gorgeous pictures that were offered to him for the artistic agon. And, I remember the first offering I made to him, a favored song of mine from a particular vampire television musical that came to me in that moment and which seemed quite a propos.
Antinous has the power to inspire, and through his story and visage, both beautiful and radiant, he has the power to awaken and empower what’s within. I had an inkling of that upon first meeting him, and his worship is one that I have stuck with ever since.