What quality or qualities of Antinous do you most admire?
Greetings! This is Christodelphia Mythistórima, aka Sister Krissy Fiction. I’m one of the Magistrates of the Ekklesía Antínoou, and I’m excited to be able to finally have the opportunity to contribute to this series of blog posts. I’ve actually been off gallivanting around on a cruise to the Mexican Riviera for my honeymoon, so I guess I have an excuse, but I’m still happy to be able to be able to contribute here as we move towards the Sacred Nights of Antinous together.
Today’s topic is about the qualities of Antinous that I admire most. This might be something of an indirect answer, but the best way I can think of answering this is by talking about what it was that drew me to Antinous in the first place. That initial pull did come from my interest in his homoerotic relationship as companion and lover to the Roman Emperor, Hadrian. As a gay man who was exploring Paganism, most of the gods I was becoming familiar with were introduced to me though a standard Neopagan or Wiccan format. That is to say, I was familiar with a Pagan paradigm that was mostly heteronormative, dualistic, and fertility focused. To be sure, I was always made to feel welcome as a gay man within that paradigm, but there was always an adjustment in how I had to relate to the gods I was encountering. One common suggestion was to relate to the God and the Goddess as the unity of masculine and feminine within myself. That works well for lots of people, but as a man who loves men, when I first learned about Antinous I resonated with seeing a similar type of relationship to the kinds of relationships I experience reflected in the relationship between Hadrian and Antinous. For many people, this might be all they know abut Antinous. And indeed, this was also what initially drew me in. However, that homoerotic relationship is not that totality of who Antinous is, and there were other aspects and qualities that soon drew me into deeper devotion to him
A second quality that to this day I still find to be one of the most profound aspects of devotion to Antinous and a great Mystery, is that Antinous was an historical human being who experienced apotheosis and became a god. Antinous drowned in the Nile River and by nature of the Nile’s status as a holy river, he was divinized. Ironically, this is sometimes mentioned as a negative by critics. “Antinous isn’t a real god because he used to be a normal human being.” However, I think his apotheosis is a profound truth that points to our own divinity and ability to transcend our material world and is definitely one the qualities of Antinous that I have a deep appreciation for.
Truth be told, I could continue to list many different qualities of Antinous and why I find meaning in those qualities. I find that the longer I practice devotion to the God, the more I learn about him and the more there is to delve into. However, I’ll finish with one more quality, and that is the nature of Antinous as a syncretic god. From the moment Antinous became a god, syncretism played an important part of who he is. After deification, Antinous was syncretized with and depicted as the god Osiris, Dionysos, Hermes, as well as many, many others. One of my favorite parts of many of the public rituals that have been hosted by the Ekklesía Antínoou over the years is a section that has been called the “Opening of the Pantheon”. We sometimes have lightheartedly called it the “God Party”. It’s the part of the ritual where we invite any gods from other pantheons that might be present to be welcome at the ritual. This points back to the nature of Antinous being syncretized with different gods from different cultural backgrounds, but also to Hadrian and Antinous’ fondness for spiritual pursuits and their openness to gods and goddesses from many different places. It’s a quality that I feel carries over into the respect that the Ekklesía Antínoou has for polytheism as a whole, and for individual traditions regardless of where their historical origin is.
What calls you to Antinous?