An Agon for Megala Antinoeia 2017

In just 3 weeks, on Friday, April 21st, Naos Antinoou will be celebrating one of the more prominent festivals in our cycle of festivals, The Megala Antinoeia.   In some ways, this single festival is actually a collection of several festivals and observances and draws inspiration from several sources.  Among those observances is the transition of the role of Antinous as Navigator, which he has been in since the Festival of Stella Antinoi in late January, into his role as Lover.  This transition is partly linked to Hadrian’s dedication of a poem found near Thespiae commemorating his slaying of a bear and expressing a wish to the Cyprian Aphrodite Ourania (goddess of homoerotic love) and the archer Eros (connected to homoerotic love of youths) to have a lover granted to him, and which we speculate that soon after Antinous may have come into his life.  Because of this, we observe this day as the Bear Hunt, and also as the Erotikon  – which is especially fun for those of us who find eroticism in bears in the sense of beefy, hairy, gay men.  Oh, the double entendres!

However, the Megala Antinoeia, which is the name we ascribe to the overall festival, is actually the name used in several ancient texts for the sacred games commemorating Antinous, usually participated in by the youths of the community, who were between the ages of about seventeen and twenty-two.  Many athletic competitions were held, including footraces, wrestling and boxing, chariot races, swimming, and rowing.  There were also artistic competitions involving music and poetry, and there might have even been theatrical competitions in the Dionysian tradition in some places. The coveted prize of these games was the Antinoeios, or red-lotus flower garland.  These sacred games began to take place as early as 131, less than a year after the death of Antinous.

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While the Naos Antínoou has not had organized full-scale athletic competitions as part of our own modern observances of this aspect of the festival, we would like to take this opportunity to announce a new competition for the Megala Antinoeia 2017.  This new Agon will officially be open from March 31st until  11:59pm, April 21st, which is the date of the Megala Antinoeia.  Entries can consist of anything artistic that expresses your devotion to Antinous or the gods, goddesses and divine figures related to Antinous.  We will accept poetry, liturgy, hymns, drawings, paintings, photography, music, song, or any other artistic medium you wish to work in. The winner of the Agon will be announced on the Festival of the Boar Hunt, May 1st, and will be awarded $100 and an Antinoan rosary (which is also a type of “garland”) made by Jay Logan, a Mystagogue of the Naos Antinoou.  Submissions can be sent to naosantinoou@gmail.com

May the Beautiful Boy be blessed through all the entries in this competition and may he, in turn, bless all those who participate!

Ave Antinoe!

Opening The Door To 2017

Yesterday, we opened the door to yet another new year, and Naos Antinoou observed the Festival of Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and endings.

There’s been a lot of talk about how awful 2016 has been.  There were several prominent celebrities who passed away – Prince, David Bowie, George Michael – and in the political realm, we have seen an increase in white supremacy and fascism across Europe and in the the United States.  Many LGBT people, women, people of color, and religious minorities feel less safe than ever.  Still, life came into the wold.  For those that died, there were also births.  For those that spewed hate, there were also promises of love.  One of our own Magistrates, Sister Krissy Fiction, was married in October in a fabulous wedding full of fun, laughter, love, and an Antinoan blessing.  The rise of fascism we have seen is alarming, and there is no attempt here to pretend that we shouldn’t be very upset at what we’ve seen in the last year, but we will also add that we have seen renewed commitments to stand together and fight oppression. The year brought us some highs and some very low lows.  So we move into 2017 with some sadness, some apprehension, some fear, some gratitude, some hope, and a lot of devotion to our Gods, primarily Antinous, and all the other Gods associated with Him.  May they look favorably on us as we open the door to this next yet.

On a personal note, the last year saw some big changes in our group as the Ekklesia Antinoou ceased to function and Naos Antinoou was established on Foundation Day.  The Naos is being built from scratch, stone by stone.  We’ll be doing our best over the next year to fill in resources for daily practices and prayers, and also for the primary festivals, but like those contractors you hired to remodel your bathroom, our timetable might go beyond the deadline at times.  Alas, this is one of those times.  Look for an update to the Festival of Janus page sometime later today or tomorrow.  This is technically past the actual festival date on January 1st, but if you want to do something during the first few days of the year, I think we can say we’re still within the “window” of that time.  And, there’s always next year!

This was written last year by one of Magistrates, Merri-Todd Webster.  I think it’s just as fitting, if not more so, this year.

janus-doorOpen the door, I pray you, Father Janus:
Open the door of this year to what is good
but close it to what is ill.
Open the door to friendship and community
but close it against bigotry and hate.
Open the door to prosperity and generosity
but close it against both greed and deprivation.
Open the door to inspiration
but close it against distractions.
Open the door to courage
but close it in protection.
Open the door of this year, Father Janus,
to blessings for me and my beloveds,
and I will return blessing to you
throughout this year.
-Merri-Todd Webster

 

 

A Post-Election Litany for Antinous the Liberator

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A Litany for Antinous the Liberator

In the name of Antinous, the Liberator, the Savior, the Human-God, Victorious One, Emperor of Peace.

From all that oppresses us, Antinous, liberate us.

From all that inhibits us, Antinous, liberate us.

From all that constrains us, whether without or within, Antinous, liberate us.

From racism and all racial prejudice, Antinous, liberate us.

From sexism and all misogyny, Antinous, liberate us.

From disrespect for our elders, Antinous, liberate us.

From disrespect for our youth, Antinous, liberate us.

From homophobia and all hatred of sexual minorities, Antinous, liberate us.

From transphobia and all hatred of gender minorities, Antinous, liberate us.

From all contempt for women and girls and for effeminate men, Antinous, liberate us.

From all injustice, Antinous, liberate us.

From sexual violence, Antinous, liberate us.

From bullying and harassment, Antinous, liberate us.

From depression and melancholy, Antinous, liberate us.

From loneliness and despair, Antinous, liberate us.

From doubt of our own gifts, Antinous, liberate us.

From doubt of our ability to act, Antinous, liberate us.

From the wounds of the past, Antinous, liberate us.

From fear of the future, Antinous, liberate us.

From all our addictions and from contempt for the addicted, Antinous, liberate us.

From poverty and the shaming of the poor, Antinous, liberate us.

From hunger and from greed and grasping, Antinous, liberate us.

From all illness of body, mind, or soul, Antinous, liberate us.

From ignorance, especially willful ignorance, Antinous, liberate us.

From the tyranny of the wealthy and their greed, Antinous, liberate us.

From the tyranny of the bigoted and their fear, Antinous, liberate us.

From the tyranny of the lustful and their self-loathing, Antinous, liberate us.

From every kind of hatred and violence, Antinous, liberate us.

[Additional petitions may be inserted here. ]

Guard and defend us, Antinous, as we struggle to free ourselves; guard and defend us, Antinous, as we strive to liberate others; guard and defend us, Antinous, as we await the rising of your star.

Ave, ave, Antinoe!

Haec est unde vita venit!

– composed by Merri-Todd Webster

Naos Antínoou affirms our commitment to stand beside and fight for social and spiritual justice for the queer community, that is, anyone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, trans-, nonbinary, intersexed, and genderqueer folks.  We believe that Black lives matter and we will stand against White supremacy oppose violence and systematic oppression of people of color. We stand with the immigrant community and condemn islamophobia.  We will stand up for women, stand against violence against women, stand for women’s access to healthcare and reproductive rights. We believe that freedom of religion means all religions and we especially stand with our polytheist and pagan family members, as well as members of other minority religious traditions against the dictates and limitations of rights from the religious elite.

May Anitnous the Lover console all those who are in mourning.  May Antinous the Navigator guide us with wisdom when times seem dark.  May Antinous the Liberator strengthen those who are mobilizing and preparing to do battle.  Naos Antínoou stands with you.

We know that this is a tough time for many people in our various communities.  If you are hurting or need someone to talk to, please reach out to someone. We will get through this together.

List of Suicide Crisis supports in the USA:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1800-273-8255
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Online Chat
Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741-741
The Trevor Project (LBGT+): 1-866-488-7386
Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860

 

Antinous the Liberator

The Sacred Nights of Antinous are what we call the days leading up to, and surrounding, the most important festival day in Naos Antinoou’s ritual year: Foundation Day.  These are the days that we observe the death of Antinous in the Nile river, his deification as a god, and the subsequent establishment of his cultus.  This year, Foundation Day was also important to us because we established Naos Antinoou as a new queer Greco-Roman-Egyptian reconstructionist polytheist community.  Now we find ourselves at the end of the Sacred Nights.  We have observed the Festival of Osiris, celebrated the goddesses and female figures surrounding Antinous, walked the Serpent Path and contemplated both the light and the dark, considered fate and making every day important, mourned the death of Antinous, celebrated his becoming a god and triumph over the Underworld, and established again his city and his temple in our hearts.  This last day of the Sacred Nights now marks the official transition of Antinous into his role as Liberator.

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Technically, we could say that Antinous assumes his role as Liberator on Foundation Day.  After all, his deification was a liberation from the Underworld, and breaking through of that barrier that exists between the human and the divine.    However, today is the day that we officially recognize this role and welcome it in.  In modern Antinoan mythology, Antinous is seen as having triumphed over death through deification, now ascending into the celestial spheres to do battle for 90 days with the various archons who restrict and oppress us in our lives.  The end of that 90 days will take us to the Festival of Stella Antinoi, or the Star of Antinous, where, having defeated the archons that oppress us, Antinous then transitions into his role as Navigator.

As Liberator, the focus is on warrior energy.  This isn’t necessarily that hyper-masculine, super athletic aggressive warrior energy, although it can mean that too.  One of the central stories to our mythology is the account of the Lion hunt, after all, so that hunter imagery is certainly present.  Athletic games held in honor of Antinous were also common, so that image of the sculpted, muscular athlete is also realistic.  However, it should be noted that at those games, there were also competitions for poetry and art.  Physical prowess was not the only focus.  In the same way, we recognize warriors as those who fight against oppression not just physically, but with words  and actions.  It’s supporting justice for all those who have traditionally been oppressed and excluded.  It’s supporting equality for LGBT individuals.  It’s speaking up in support of Black Lives Matter and standing with people of color against a racist system.  It’s standing in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux when the government wants to put a pipeline through their ancestral lands.  It’s supporting the Trans* community against hateful laws.  It’s supporting the rights of women everywhere to autonomy over their own body and the ability to make their own healthcare choices.  And it’s all the things in our lives that we need to change, to conquer, and seek liberation from, whether those things are psychological and emotional issues, life circumstances, or bad habits we are seeking to change. These are all things that Antinous the Liberator cares about and lends his agency to.

Ave Ave Antinoe Liberator!

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Foundation Day 2016: Let the Naos Be Established

On this day, October 30th, at a bend in the Nile river called Hir-Wer, a new city was founded and a new cultus was established. Antinous had plunged beneath the waves of the Sacred Nile as a boy, but had emerged as a god. At that spot, the Emperor Hadrian founded a new city, Antinoopolis, and a new cultus was established to honor the human who had become a god. We, the devotees of the Beautiful Boy from Bithynia, the Beautiful, the Just, the Benevolent, who is our Liberator, our Navigator, and Lover, celebrate this triumph over death and transmutation from the mundane to the divine. On this Foundation Day in 2016, 1886 years after the founding of the original Antinoopolis, we re-found the city of Antinous in our hearts and in the midst of our community as we practice devotion to the god together. We re-establish his cultus as we stand before his altars, each a priest or priestess at their own shrines and in their own home temples.

 
Just as the sacred waters of the Nile worked their transmutation on Antinous, so too, do those waters have their way with the devotees of Antinous and communities that have come together to honor him. We look around and find that everything has changed. The past has died. The waters of the Nile have worked their transmutation. Like Antinous, we emerge from the waves triumphant and move forward as a new body, a new community, establishing a new temple. We move forward with hope and optimism as Naos Antinoou. May we always honor Antinous, the Beautiful, the Just, and the Benevolent. May we always fight for social and political justice for those who are oppressed. May we always look to Antinous to navigate us on a path of integrity, beauty, and compassion. May we always find blessings in our devotion to the Beautiful Boy from Bithynia and joy in our participation in his sacred mysteries.

Let Naos Antinoou be established!

Ave ave Antinoe!

Ave vive Antinoe!

Haec est unde vita venit.

31 Days of Devotion, Day 27

How has your relationship with Antinous changed over time?

I’ve been practicing devotion to Antinous for some time now.  I think I first became aware of him as a god and became interested in him in 2004 or 2005.  I’ve shared before how one of the things that initially appealed to me was his homoerotic relationship with Hadrian.   I think that is initially what my relationship with him was.  I was a gay man practicing devotion to a queer god.  At the time, my theology was definitely more neopagan/wiccan in nature.  “All gods are one god.  All goddesses are one goddess”  I even saw gods a something as embodiments of cosmic forces and of nature.  So I related to Antinous as a god who embodied homosexuality.  I even saw the relationship between Antinous and Hadrian as something of a metaphor of how gay men progress through life.  We all experience the youth and beauty and desirableness that is Antinous and eventually become the Hadrian, who is older, mature, accomplished.

My relationship with Antinous, as well as my theology, have evolved quite a bit over the years.  Just like any person you might spend quite a bit of time with, over the years you are going to come to understand them better and even discover things about them that you had never known before.  As a devotional polytheist who believes that the gods are real, I believe a relationship with a god is similar to one that you might have with a human being.  I’ve spent time with Antinous and I’ve come to see him as more than just a stereotype of a gay god.  There is more to him than just the fact that he had a homoerotic relationship with Hadrian.  He’s not just a god of homosexuality, he’s a god who has a variety of characteristics.  Some of them are quite chthonic and relate to movement through the Underworld.  Some characteristics relate to fertility.  Some characteristics relate to fighting against oppression.  Some relate to beauty.  To justice.  To compassion.  And I’ve found over and over this relationship is built on my willingness to come to him in simple devotion.

31 Days of Devotion, Days 23 & 24

Time to play catch up!  Looks like we missed Days 23 and 24 of 31 Days of Devotion.

Day 23: Share a quote, a poem, or piece of writing that you think resonates strongly with Antinous.

“What is dead may never die” is a common saying in the religion of the Drowned God on the Iron Islands in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series, which many people know through the popular TV show Game of Thrones.  I’ve always thought that Martin’s depiction of the religion of the Drowned God was very interesting, and there are elements that always remind me of Antinous.  Particularly the way in which priests of the Drowned God are “ordained.”   They are drowned in the waters of the sea, and then brought back to life.  This is considered a type of death and resurrection, although some are never revived. This is also how Martin Depicts Euron being crowned as king of the Iron Islands.  It has always evoked that theme of Antinous drowning in the waters of the Nile, and then defeating death through deification.  However, the similarities with the fictional Drowned God in Song of Ice and Fire may end there.  The response to “What is dead may never die” is “But rises again harder and stronger.”  The nature of the rebirth after drowning in Martin’s series is much more focused on the sea bringing hardness and solemnness.  The inhabitants of the Iron Islands are warriors and conquerors.  They are a harsh people.  Antinous seems to have emerged from the waters of the Nile as a god who is much less warlike.  Indeed, we can see a linking of the idea of fertility to Antinous as he is syncretized with Osiris and given credit for a flood shortly after his death and deification that brought relief from a long drought.  However, regardless of the differences, Martin’s initial depiction of drowning and rebirth of the Drowned God in his novels always evoked the death and deification of Antinous.

 

 

Day 24: Share your own art, music, or writing about or for Antinous.

31 Hymns to Antinous

These 31 Hymns to Antinous were written by Merri-Todd Webster, one of our Magistrates,  as a devotional offering in May 2015. They are a wonderful little resource to prayer on a daily basis as you move through the month, or taken individually for use in personal devotions.  Since we’re a day late and should have shared this yesterday, the 24th, I’ll share HYMN XXIV:

To Antinous and Mantinoe

To Mantinoe, mother of Antinous, together with her son, the god,

let us give praise, for his mother’s whole body heals.

Let us honor the womb that bore him, a healthy son,

for his mother’s whole body heals.

Let us honor the breasts that nourished him with the milk of life,

for his mother’s whole body heals.

Let us honor the eyes that watched him with mindful care,

for his mother’s whole body heals.

Let us honor the mouth that kissed him and spoke his name, Antinoos,

for his mother’s whole body heals.

Let us honor the hands that prepared his meals and changed his diapers,

for his mother’s whole body heals.

Let us honor the hips that carried him before he could walk,

for his mother’s whole body heals.

Let us honor the feet that walked for him and to him and with him,

for his mother’s whole body heals.

Let us honor her beauty, her strength, her wisdom, her care,

for like Semele she has been brought out of darkness and oblivion

by her devoted son to shine forever in the stern of the Boat of Millions of Years,

mother to the people of Antinous. Hail, Mantinoe! Hail, Antinous!

The semen of the gods is truly in his body, and his mother’s whole body heals!

 

The Sacred Nights of Antinous 2016

Last night, October 24th, was the first night of the Sacred Nights of Antinous.  These Sacred Nights mark the days leading up to the death of Antinous and his subsequent deification, and are some of the most important days in our ritual year.

October 24th – Festival of Osiris: The theme of Osiris’ death, and his eventual revivification, remains one of the most deeply symbolic and influential myths to have ever emerged from Egypt. Soon Hadrian and Antinous  would be playing out the roles of this myth and the actions of these mysteries in their very own lives, with Antinous becoming the newest Osiris.

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October 25th – The Panthea: The importance of goddesses in the cultus of Antinous is celebrated. Just as Isis was essential to the story of Osiris, so too were various goddesses either paired with considered essential to Antinous’ deification. No matter how much focus there seems to be in the cultus of Antinous on the male figures of Hadrian, Antinous, there are always female goddesses and other figures alongside them.

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October 26th – The Ophidia: The Serpent Path explores all aspect of potential deification, both light and dark, positive and negative, permitted and forbidden.  In many ways this is a day which seeks to honor the opposite of what the rest of the world and its order seems to be saying is good, proper, and right.

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October 27th – Ananke Antínoou: As we move through the Sacred Nights and get ever closer to the death and deification of Antinous,we turn our focus to the role of fate in our lives, and living as if each day matters.

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October 28th – The Death of Antinous:  This day is marked as a day of great solemnity, mourning and sadness. Many devotees of Antinous observe this day by covering or hiding any images of Antinous they might have in their home shrines or altars and leaving them covered until Foundation Day. While prayers can be offered to other gods associated with Antinous, no prayers are said to him directly.

October 29th – Antinous in the Underworld: Antinous enters the Underworld to be reunited with Persephone.  On this day the scales of Ma’at find Antinous just, and his heart is perfectly balanced with Ma’at’s feather. Thoth greets Antinous’ rising in the East, and places Antinous’ face in his own mirror, the Moon.

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October 30th – Foundation Day: Antinous entered the waters of the Nile as a boy but emerged as a god. On this day a city was founded in his name, and his cultus established. This is the most prominent festival day in our ritual year.  It marks the deification of Antinous, as well as the establishment of his ancient cultus.  It’s a day of celebration and devotion.
October 31st – Antinous Triumphantus: While Antinous has conquered death, there is still the anticipation of his battle with the Archons of the universe, who keep all people in bondage. This coming battle is ushered in tomorrow as Antinous assumes his role as Liberator. This day, then, is a day where we continue our celebration, but also look forward with expectation to what is coming.

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November 1st – Antinous the Liberator: The final day of the Sacred Nights celebrates the role of the aspect of Antinous as Antinous the Liberator. Over the next 90 days we see Antinous ascending through the celestial spheres to battle and ultimately conquer the Archons of the universe who keep us all in bondage. We celebrate the warrior energy in Antinous, in others, and in ourselves, especially as it is used to fight against oppression.

During these Sacred Nights, we’ll be focusing on The Death of Antinous on Friday, October 28th, and Foundation Day on Sunday, October 30th, and we’ll also be continuing the 31 days of Devotion we started at the beginning of the month.  We have some announcements coming, and big things planned, and we’re excited for this coming Foundation Day and the changes and opportunities it will bring.  Stay tuned!!

31 Days of Devotion, Day 20

What quality or qualities of Antinous do you find the most troubling?

 

One of the issues that challenges Polytheists who follow a reconstructionist methodology is finding that balance between accurately reconstructing and respecting  ancient practices and putting that devotional practice into use in our modern world and modern culture.  It seems like it’s a natural human tendency to romanticize the past.  Everyone wants to go back to the 1950’s to live in a world like the one depicted in Leave it Beaver, right?  Things were simpler.  People were kinder.  Life was better.  Or was it?  What that rosy nostalgia leaves out is the experience of lots of people who weren’t  straight white men.  Women were the property of men, racism was openly accepted, and gays, lesbians, and trans folk were either closeted or lived in fear of their lives.  Much like that nostalgic view of America in the 1950’s, sometimes Pagans and Polytheists wear those rose colored glasses when looking at ancient religious practices.  We sometimes want to romanticize ancient practices, attitudes, and customs.  However, I believe that society has progressed in some important ways with regards to some things, particularly how we treat women, people of color, children, and the poor.  There are some modern attitudes worth keeping.

Ironically, one of the aspects or qualities that comes into play with Antinous that some might find troubling is connected to one of the aspects I discussed yesterday that first drew me to him: his homoerotic relationship with Hadrian.  While there is much to celebrate in that relationship, by today’s standards, that relationship would be considered illegal, not because the relationship was a romantic or sexual one between two people of the same gender, but rather, because of the age differences between Hadrian and Antinous.  Hadrian would have possibly been around 47 or so when he met Antinous, and was 54 when Antinous died.  It is unclear exactly how old Antinous was, but we know he was in his teens when he became Hadrian’s companion, and possibly  as old as 18 or 19 when he died.  Which means that for most of their relationship Antinous was a teenage boy having a romantic and sexual relationship with a man who was well into adulthood.  To be sure, this erastes/eromenos relationship, which was an erotic relationship between an adult male (the erastes) and a younger male (the eromenos), was not unusual in Classical Greece and Rome, and would not have been considered taboo or inappropriate.   However, it should be pointed out that even within the Greek and Roman cultures where the erastes/eromenos relationship existed, there were complex rules of social and sexual etiquette that defined these relationships.  It simply is not accurate to portray them as the same type of relationships that most modern gay men experience.  If such a relationship existed today,  where a 50 year old man with considerable social and political power were having a sexual relationship with a 16 year old, it would most certainly be universally condemned and labeled as child molestation.  What are we to do with this relationship between Hadrian and Antinous, then?  Are we to denounce it?  Again, within the context of when and where Antinous and Hadrian were living, the erastes/eromenos relationship would not have been considered unusual or unethical.  These two individuals engaged in a relationship that was socially accepted, and even celebrated.  Practices must surely be judged within the time, place, and culture they are a part of.  So we honor their relationship and also celebrate it.  But what about today?  Are we saying that this type of relationship should be perfectly acceptable and practiced today?  Once again, we must look to time, place, and culture.  As I stated earlier, there are some positive ways that society has progressed and changed.  We no longer treat women as property.  We strive to treat people of all races and ethnicities with respect and equality.  And we have come to understand that sexual relationships where there is a power imbalance are often abusive and harmful to those who are in a position of less power.   We also have different ideas of what consent means and even who can give consent.  Can a teenager truly give consent to have a sexual relationship with an adult who stands in a position of power over him?  Most would answer no, and understand that type of sexual relationship to be unethical and improper.  And so, while the Ekklesia Antinoou holds up the historical homoerotic relationship between Hadrian and Antinous and declares it beautiful, we also do not support any type of modern sexual relationships between an adult and a minor child or teenager.

 

31 Days of Devotion, Day 19

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?