Hunting Lions & Slaying Serpents

In a few short days, the Festival of the Lion Hunt will be upon us. This is the time when we observe the historical hunt that Hadrian and Antinous took part in the months leading up to Antinous’ drowning in the Nile. Our Beautiful Boy nearly died himself that day as Hadrian tried his mettle, but he managed to wound the beast, whose blood fed the rich earth and became the lovely red lotus which is now a primary symbol of Antinous. Traditionally in the modern cultus, this would be a time that we meditate upon our failures, how we had not accomplished that we have set out to do, or have not lived up to our ideals and been the type of people we want to see in the world. It’s important to take stock, and to allow those failures to act as fertilizer for the growth of the red lotus in our own spirits and lives. However, this year we would like to propose an additional focus for our rites, to coincide with a remarkable astronomical event.

For those living in the continental United States, the morning of August 21st will hold a solar eclipse, only the second to grace these shores in nearly a century. This synchronisity provides a unique opportunity for those in this tradition. A number of us have been deepening our relationship to Antinous’ Egyptian/Kemetic roots, as Egypt was the land that first recognized Antinous’ divinity and still remains one of the greatest sources of information regarding his historical cultus. As many may know, the sun played a particularly important role in Kemetic religious traditions, as Ra on his solar barque represented the life and potency of the cosmos. Each day his return from his nocturnal journey in the netherworld, or Duat, would be celebrated, and each evening during that journey heka, or magic, would be wielded on his behalf against his enemy, the serpent Apep, a primordial, anti-cosmic being who seeks to swallow the sun and destroy the cosmos. In myth, Ra’s boat would be protected by a number of divine beings, including Set, Isis, and Bast, each wielding a spear or knife to slay the serpent each and every day, maintaining the balance of Ma’at.

Set & Apep

It was not only the gods, however, that took part in the slaying of Apep. There were numerous spells that humans could perform to aid the gods in restoring balance to Ma’at, including from The Book of Overthrowing Apep. These spells were performed daily in many temples and were accompanied by the smashing of red clay pots. These were performed every day (sometimes multiple times a day), because it was known that the forces of chaos represented by Apep were always resurgent. The continuation of life and creation was never certain, and the forces that would swallow the world in darkness had to be constantly kept at bay. In modern terms, this is known as an execration rite. These rituals were utilized to protect the pharaoh, the kingdom, and the greater created world in unity with the gods. This can also be practiced as a Kemetic way of cleansing one’s life of unwanted influences, a cathartic experience to bring our lives back into balance so that the life-giving blessings of the gods can flow more readily to us. I recommend both, which brings us back to the solar eclipse.

I haven’t been able to find much information on ancient Egyptian views of solar eclipses, but I can’t imagine they were good. When day turns into night, as the stars appear in the sky as the sun darkens, I can only imagine it was seen as a bad omen, of the serpent Apep nearly succeeding in his goal of swallowing the source of life and uncreating existence. What greater opportunity to fight back and slay that serpent? To smash its image, to spit upon it, burn it, and stab it, to take away its power and bring back the light. With Antinous-Osiris the Justified by our sides, who perfected the art of hunting when he became a god, what lions could we not hunt, what serpents could we not slay?

Antinous Execration Pot 2 Antinous Execration Pot

There are many forces that need slaying, many forces that have disrupted the balance of Ma’at. In Charlottsville, VA this past weekend we have witnessed an escalation of white nationalism, fascism, and Nazi forces, whose clashes with counterprotesters and anti-fascists in the community resulted in a death. And this is just the culmination of months and years of fascism, racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, Islamophobia, and many other forces that are tearing this country and world apart. Many pagans and polytheists, witches and magicians, that I know will be taking part in religio-magical acts in the lead-up to and during the eclipse to push back against these forces and protect those in our disparate communities that are most vulnerable. We of the Naos Antinoou invite you to join us in this work,  our contribution to this movement.

The folks at The Twisted Rope wrote up a very nice description of the process for creating and performing an execration rite that they did for Wep Ronpet (Egyptian New Year) a few years ago. What we would add is that you may want to add an image like the one above of the Apep serpent being slain (by Antinous, perhaps, or other deities known for protecting Ra’s solar barge). Then, inscribe the names of individuals and forces you wish whose power and influence you wish to see lessened and destroyed, those individuals and powers that would swallow us whole. Once your tablet or pot is filled, speak your intention, recite some hymns and pray. The Litany for Antinous the Liberator is quite appropriate for this rite, as is Merri-Todd Webster’s Panthea offering, which calls upon all the goddesses for justice. There is also this spell, adapted somewhat from The Book of Overthrowing Apep for just this occasion.

Antinous, mighty hunter, slayer of lions, favored companion of Diana – Attend!

Antinous-Osiris the Justified, red lotus, glorious jewel of the Nile – Attend!

Antinous, beloved son of Ra-Horakhty, guardian of the solar barque – Attend!

Attend! Attend! Attend!

Day turns into night, the stars shine in the heavens, as the moon occludes the sun – Attend!

Forces of darkness gather, the prowling lion in the desert, the writhing coils of Apep – Attend!

Torches are raised, weapons are drawn, chants of hatred and bigotry cry loud in the city square – Attend!

Attend! Attend! Attend!

Antinous Liberator, breaker of bonds and chains – Attend to us!

Antinous Navigator, guide who shows us the path to freedom and liberation – Attend to us!

Antinous Lover, through whose love we become beautiful and good – Attend to us!

Turn your spear tipped with adamant to the approaching foe, Antinous, and free us from this blight upon the land and the community!

[addressing the clay pot or tablet]

Taste you death, O Apep, get you back!

Retreat, O enemy of Ra!

Fall down, be repulsed, get back and retreat!

I have driven you back, and I have smashed you into pieces.

Ra triumphs over Apep at dawn – Taste you death, Apep!

Ra triumphs over Apep at noon – Taste you death, Apep!

Ra triumphs over Apep at eventide – Taste you death, Apep!

Ra triumphs over Apep at midnight – Taste you death, Apep!

Back, Fiend, an end to you!

Therefore have I inscribed your many names and broken you into rubble.

I break your will, Apep!

I break your power, Apep!

I break your hatred, Apep!

I break your strife, Apep!

You are tiny, Apep. I can see the whole of time and space, every single atom of your existence, and I break them.


In the name of Ra!

In the name of Horus!

In the name of Set!

In the name of Isis!

In the name of Bast!

In the name of he at whose name the gates of the underworld tremble!


[Destroy clay pot and tablet as you see fit. When complete, say:]

You shall never rise again.

Ave Antinoe!

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