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!

An Ancestor Ritual at PantheaCon 2017

The Naos Antinoou will be hosting a ritual at PantheaCon this weekend at San Jose, and we encourage you all come stop by! We will be offering a ritual to celebrate our various ancestors. Some ancestors are connected to us by blood. Some through various spiritual traditions. Some are linked by “tribes” we feel a kinship with. The traditional Roman festival of Parentalia was a 9 day festival held each February to honor family ancestors. Naos Antinoou invites you to honor all these different types of ancestors with us in a modern Antinoan celebration of the ancient Roman Parentalia festival where we will invite attendees to participate in a devotional ritual that honors Antinous and the diversity and variety of our ancestors of all kinds.

Attendees are welcome and encouraged to bring images and mementos of their Beloved and Mighty Dead, as well whatever offerings they deem appropriate. Offerings of art, song, poetry, and story are particularly welcome – these are our queer ancestors, after all, and they deserve to be celebrated in style and beauty. Doors will close at start of ritual.

Date: Saturday, February 18th
Time: 11:00 p.m.
Location: San Juan/San Carlos room at PantheaCon

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A Garland & an Inauguration

A Garland & an Inauguration

Greetings, fellow devotees. We pray that the wintertides have been treating you well, though we know that for many here in the States, as well as for our fellows abroad, today was something of a somber day, to say the least.  Inauguration Day. From the Latin root meaning “augur” and “augury”, in ancient Rome this referred to the practice of consecrating or installing something or someone when the omens were favorable from the gods. In practice this meant taking omens from flights of birds, or perhaps the Etruscan practice of haruspicy, inspecting the entrails of a sacrificial animal for messages from the gods. In these less civilized times, it is up to each of us to seek omens as we will from our various gods, guides, and spirits, though one does wonder what the omens are saying today in Washington, D.C.

All that we can say at this point is that last night the sun set on this country’s first Black president, and now the sun shines upon the presidency of a racist demagogue. And many of our friends and family are angry and frightened: frightened that their healthcare will be taken away; frightened that their marriages will be annulled, their families broken up; frightened that their famlies, friends, and community members may face deportation because they are Latino or Muslim; frightened that hate crimes against our trans* and nonbinary friend and family, against those who are people of color, and those who are of Jewish ancestry will continue to rise from the fascists that our now-president has inspired and emboldened; frightened of the looming prospect of continued warfare, this time of a particularly nuclear variety. And, of course, let us not forget the damage our planet continues to face under the threat of climate change, which our current president denies to be a real problem.

If there’s one thing that is for certain, though, it is that these are uncertain times. If even half of what this president has promised comes to pass, it won’t bode well for our various peoples. But, these things have not yet come to pass, and in uncertainty there is possiblity. That’s why it is more important than ever in these times to be clear in our intentions, to work our magic, and to say our prayers – and then do what we can to ensure these things comes to pass. In that spirit, we’d like to present this offering of a spiritual tool, a rosary for Antinous:

A rosary is an ancient and traditional practice found in Christian and Buddhist communities alike that involves the use of beads to count prayers. You can create a string made of knots or semi-precious stones, or perhaps a simple bowl filled with river or sea stones, one for each prayer. Whatever best fits your means and circumstances. With this Antinoan rosary practice, we recommend three sets of 28 stones, plus four larger stones to stand as ‘spacers’ between each set of prayers as well as an introductory/closing prayer. The 28 beads make up the bulk of the practice, and in number represent the days that make up the lunar cycle, the Moon being particularly associated with Antinous among the heavenly spheres. If one has the means, we might recommend that they be made of lapis lazuli, a stone precious to the land of Antinous’ birth and as blue as the Nile waters. Each of the three spacer beads represents one of the three faces or aspects of Antinous – the Liberator, the Navigator, and the Lover – and the color should reflect that as best as possible. In modern Antinoan cultus, red has represented the Liberator, white the Navigator, and black the Lover, though do feel free to use colors that seem appropriate. A number of us in Naos Antinoou, for instance, have found blue to work quite well for the Lover, making for an unintentionally patriotic look. And then there’s the introductory bead, which begins and closes the full set of prayers – this can be of any color suitable for your rosary.

Once you have your beads assembled into a rosary, you are ready to begin. This practice can be integrated into your regular daily, weekly, or monthly devotionals, or whenever you deem appropriate as circumstances demand. To begin, set your intention: what do you need? What does your family need? Your community? What are you praying for? Once this is clear in your mind and clearly stated before Antinous – he hears the prayers of those who call upon him! – hold that in your prayer and channel it into this rosary.

Intro & Closing

Behold, the Beautiful Boy rises in the East

Ave Ave Antinoe

Ave Ave Antinoe

Haec est unde, haec est unde,

Haec est unde vita venit

[Repeat Latin text 3x]

Chant (28 beads between each spacer)

Beautiful, Just, Benevolent one

Guide and liberate us through your love

Liberator (1st spacer – red stone)

Antinous Liberator

At whose name the gates of the underworld tremble

Free us from our fetters, free us from our chains

Banish all that would bind, constrict, and poison us

Ave Antinoe

Navigator (2nd spacer – white stone)

Antinous Navigator

Triumphant you will pass over the sky

Help us to ascend to our divine stature, to shine as your star shines amongst the heavens

Guide us, so that we might join you on the Boat of Millions of Years

Ave Antinoe

Lover (3rd spacer – blue or black stone)

Antinous Lover

Beloved who dwells in the limits of the earth

Descend as a dove from the heavens and crown us with your grace

Ensoul our bodies with your love so that we may take on every shape that our heart desires

May your love and beauty pour forth upon the earth and bless all beings who dwell upon Her.

Ave Antinoe

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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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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.