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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31 Days of Devotion, day 31

Any suggestions for others just starting to learn about this deity?

antinousportraitThere are two good ways of getting to know Antinous better–or getting to know any god better, for that matter. One is to do some research. Antinous is a historical figure as well as a divine person; books and articles on Hadrian and the Antonine emperors are going to include some information about him. The Aedicula Antinoi has an excellent bibliography on the site, as well as a list of PSVL’s own books and articles on Antinous, from the point of view of someone who is both a scholar and a devotee.

The other way of getting to know him is simply to light a candle, pour out a cup of cool clean water or some wine, perhaps burn some incense, and address the god directly. It helps to have an image of Antinous; if you have money to spend, you can find reproduction statuary, but it’s not necessary to do that right away. There are an abundance of images online which can be printed out and framed or used as wallpaper on your devices. (The god graces my smartphone and my laptop, and sometimes my tablet, too.) Place the image where you can gaze on it, place your offerings before him, and recite a prayer, even if all you say is, “Ave, Antinoe!” Approach him, and see what happens.

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 30

Do you have any interesting or unusual UPG to share?

“UPG”, in case you were wondering, is not a defunct television network, but rather a shorthand in polytheist circles for “unverified personal gnosis”. “Gnosis” means, in this context, knowledge gained by direct contact with spiritual reality rather than by rational means; “personal” means peculiar to one individual; and “unverified” means that it has not been corroborated by textual or artifactual evidence. There is always the possibility, however, that such evidence may come to light and verify the individual’s experience, and/or that other individuals may come to share this gnosis based on their own experience and thus confirm it.

I myself came by a particular piece of UPG in a curious way. I write not only poetry and essays but fiction, and since 1998 I have been an active reader and writer of fanfiction. I’ve written stories based in The X-Files, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Leverage, among others. So it was no great leap for me to begin one day to write a fanfic about the gods. I began with a simple idea: What if, while Persephone was with her mother, lonely husband Hades was visited by another deity of the dead–specifically, Hel, goddess of the northern dead. A simple scenario of an unexpected visit leading to friendship between two underworld deities became a story about the conception of Melinoe, who according to Orphic traditions was fathered on Persephone by Zeus in disguise as Hades. At the end of my story, little Melinoe was sent by her parents to live as a foster daughter with Hel.

I wrote this story over the course of several weeks and posted it to my blog scene by scene as it was constructed. I had no plan; I simply followed what I knew of Greek mythology and what the emotional logic of the story dictated. Soon after finishing it, I wanted to write more about Melinoe, so that I could know more about her. I soon conceived the idea that when Melinoe was to return home to her parents, she would be escorted by Antinous in his Boat of Millions of Years.

This story has proven to be far more difficult to write; what I have produced so far probably amounts to no more than a prologue and first chapter. But it didn’t take me long to realize that the endgame of the story, the pairing, as we say in fandom, was that Melinoe would wed Antinous.

I spent a little while blinking about this. Because my sense was that this was a true thing which I had been vouchsafed, which no one else knew as yet. I talked it over extensively with PSVL, who also divined for me concerning it, and my UPG became a Shared Personal Gnosis or Peer-Corroborated Personal Gnosis, confirmed by eir divination.

I am a poor diviner, especially since I find that systems of divination, such as Tarot, seem actually to interfere with my own intuition; they get in the way rather than opening things up. What I have concluded, tentatively, is that for me, writing itself can be a form of divination or oracular work. The imagination is a door that swings in both directions; it can create things to go out into the world, but it can also receive things coming in from a different world.

31 Days of Devotion, Day 29

What is something you wish you knew about this deity but don’t yet?

Unfortunately, one of the things that many of us in devotion to Antinous wish we knew about him is something that we’ll likely never know, not with any certainty at least, namely, what were the circumstances of his death? There has been speculation about this since his death and deification, but nothing we can say for certain to be true. There were only a couple of references even then, and they swiftly became outrageous with each telling.

“During a journey on the Nile he lost Antinous, his favourite, and for this youth he wept like a woman. Concerning this incident there are varying rumours; for some claim that he had devoted himself to death for Hadrian, and others — what both his beauty and Hadrian’s sensuality suggest.” Augusta Historia Hadrian (14.5-6):

“Antinous was from Bithynium, a city of Bithynia, which we also call Claudiopolis; he had been a favourite of the emperor and had died in Egypt, either by falling into the Nile, as Hadrian writes, or, as the truth is, by being offered in sacrifice. For Hadrian, as I have stated, was always very curious and employed divinations and incantations of all kinds. Accordingly, he honoured. Antinous, either because of his love for him or because the youth had voluntarily undertaken to die (it being necessary that a life should be surrendered freely for the accomplishment of the ends Hadrian had in view), by building a city on the spot where he had suffered this fate and naming it after him; and he also set up statues, or rather sacred images, of him, practically all over the world.” Dio Cassius (69.11)

He either fell into the Nile and drowned, as Hadrian was said to believe, or he had devoted himself to death and was offered in sacrifice for the sake of Hadrian’s health or the health of the empire (i.e. so that the inundation of the Nile could come and bring fertility to the land). Or, as was insinuated in the Augusta Historia (‘what both his beauty and Hadrian’s sensuality suggest’), Antinous killed himself because his station in life as the emperor’s favorite was due to end, as his youth and beauty faded.

Now, there are some things that I would prefer to believe about his death, that it was simply a tragic accident, and not some grisly sacrifice or despairing suicide. Would knowing the true circumstances change my devotion to him? That’s hard to say. So much of what I know and love about Antinous is from what occurred after his death, so perhaps it doesn’t matter. But, it would be nice to know regardless, for every bit of knowledge increases our understanding and appreciation of our god. In this matter, though, the world may never know.

We shall never know.  His death, as his life, was his own, and all that we can know is that darkness took him, and that he ceased.

31 Days of Devotion, day 28

What is the worst misconception about this deity that you have encountered?

As today is the observance of Antinous’ death, I will keep my remarks brief, especially since my answer involves topics that have already been covered in other posts. The worst misconception about Antinous is that he was deified by the will of Hadrian, and thus, by extension, is not really a god. Today we commemorate the encounter with the Nile waters that meant the end of his mortal life and the beginning of his godhood.

Tied with this notion, which appears in supposedly authoritative sources about the ancient world, is the misperception that he is a god of gayness, as if most of the male gods of Greece (and many other cultures) were not queer or bisexual in 21st-century terms. Antinous is a god, truly; he was and is the lover of Hadrian, but Hadrian is not his only beloved, nor are they all male.