Tag Archives: Ekklesia Antinoou

A is for Antinous

*tap* *tap* *tap*

Is this thing on?

I haven’t been very good about keeping up with this blog.  I could go into a long list of excuses about why that is, but really, it is what it is.  But here we are in a new year with new opportunities!  One of my intentions this year is to focus on my spiritual writing, and the primary place I am going to be doing that is here.  My intention is to post here 2-3 times a week.  And one of the ways I am going to be keeping on track with that is to participate in the Pagan Blog Project, which has participants blog on topics as we work our way through the alphabet throughout the year.  As you might be able to guess, we’ll be starting with A.  So get yourself strapped in.  I hope you’ll enjoy the ride.

letterAA is for Antinous

Of course I have to start with Antinous.  Back in October of 2011 I wrote a blog post called Spiritualty Squared where I described 4 different aspects of my spirituality.  One of those aspects was my devotion to the god Antinous.  I’m a Mystes Antínoou, who has been initiated into the Antinoan Mysteries and a participating member of the Ekklesia Antinoou (“Citizenry of Antinous”), a queer, Graeco-Roman-Egyptian syncretist reconstructionist polytheist form of mystical religion devoted to Antinous.  of course, I realize that most of that just sounds like gobbledygook to those who have never heard of Antinous before and have no idea what kind of god he is.

Antinous was a young man born sometime between the years 110 CE to 112 CE in the Roman province of Bythinia, which is now modern day Turkey.  During one of his tours of the Eastern Empire, the Roman Emperor Hadrian took the boy into his company.  Antinous became Hadrian’s companion, lover, and imperial favorite.  In October 130 CE Antinous drowned in the Nile.  The circumstances around his drowning are not known.  Many have speculated that it was an accident, or that it was suicide, possibly murder, or even a voluntary religious sacrifice. Personally, I think the most likely cause was that it was simply an accident.  However it happened, the end result is the same: Antinous died. But the story doesn’t end there. The Nile was considered a sacred river by the Egyptians. By Egyptian custom, anyone who had drowned in the holy waters was considered deified, syncretized to Osiris, and given a minor cult.  Due to his death in the Nile, Antinous was proclaimed a god.  For the Romans the erastes-eremenos relationship ( a socially acknowledged erotic relationship between an adult male and a younger male) was not unusual, but the intensity with which Hadrian mourned the death of Antinous and promoted his cultus was without precedent.  Hadrian founded a city in Egypt in honor of Antinous, Antinoöpolis, which became the seat of his cult.  Temples were built for his worship in Bithynia, Mantineia in Arcadia, and Athens.  Festivals were celebrated in his honor and oracles delivered in his name.   In the year after Antinous‘ death, and after a drought that had lasted several years, the Nile flooded its banks.  This was acknowledged as a miracle and attributed to Antinous.  A new star in the constellation of Aquila was discovered.  it was pointed out to Hadrian and stated to be the soul of Antinous in the heavens.  The cult of Antinous thrived for several centuries, and he was syncretized to many gods in various locations, including Osiris, Dionysus, Apollo, Hermes, Pan, Adonis, Eros and others.

Great.  That’s a history lesson.  I think the more important question is, what does Antinous mean to me?  What is it that drew me to Antinous?  The thing that first drew me to Antinous was his homoerotic relationship with Hadrian.  As a man who loves men, I saw in that relationship between Hadrian and Antinous something I could identify with.  Ironically, I’m not among the camp of those who are devoted to Antinous who identify him as the “gay god” or the “god of gays.”  I find that kind of designation to be shallow and historically inaccurate.  Antinous is no more a gay god than Dionysos or Zues or other deities who have had homoerotic relationships or flings.  We don’t refer to them as gay gods.  Granted, Antinous, before he was deified, was  a real person, and the only known erotic relationship that he had was a homoerotic one.  I can understand why some tend to label him as gay.  However, the relationship he was involved in was part of what was accepted as the cultural norm in that society.  Many, many men were involved in the erastes-eremenos relationship and then went on have heterosexual relationships.  We don’t label all of them as gay.  I don’t see why we should shove that modern label onto Antinous.  However, regardless of whether I like the label or not, the relationship Antinous had with Hadrian was a homoerotic one.

Like many people, my first introduction to modern paganism was through Wicca.  I had been a minister in a conservative Christian church for several years, before I fled Christianity because I had a crisis over who I was as a sexual being.  That crisis led me to throw Christianity completely out the window (at least temporarily).  It was only a few months later that I was introduced to Wicca.  One of the things that I immediately found appealing was this idea of balance.  It wasn’t just the male identified, masculine God, but it was balanced with the feminine side of the Divine in the Goddess.  Here was a view of the Holy that wasn’t one or the other, but a balance of both, both God and Goddess together.  One without the other was imbalanced.  I still appreciate that about the Wiccan tradition that I am a part of.  At the time that I first discovered Antinous, I had been participating in Wicca for a few years.  I had also been an out gay man and living in a relationship for a few years.  While I appreciated the balance of God and Goddess that Wicca presented compared to the unbalanced presentation of a sole masculine God that I had experienced in Christianity, I had also began to wonder if this heterosexual  male/female expression of the Divine was all there was.   In walked Antinous.  Here was a god that I related to.  Like me, he had been in love with a man and experienced an erotic relationship with a man.  In the relationship of Antinous and Hadrian I found a view of the Divine that wasn’t based on a model of heterosexual union and procreation.  It was a new concept of Deity that I felt could have a place in my devotional life.

I still practice Wicca and I still actively work with the God and Goddess in my spiritual life.  That view of balance and polarity is still a view that I find worthwhile.  But one of the cool things about being a practicing polytheist is that we don’t have to limit ourselves to one concept of God.. or even two concepts.  There are a multiplicity of gods and goddesses out there that reveal to us a fuller expression of the Divine.  So in addition to my view of God as a God/Goddess pair, I added a god that I could relate to who  had experience same-sex love and a homoerotic relationship just like I had.

Antinous_Osiris_Louvre_Ma433Another aspect of devotion to Antinous that I immediately found appealing was the way that he has been syncretized with other gods.  For some, these syncretisms make Antinous less appealing.  Why not just worship Ganymede?  Why not just worship Dionysos?  Why not just worship Hermes?  And to that, I say, why not?  If that’s what appeals to you and you want to do that, then do it!  For me, however, I’ve always found the idea of the syncretisms of Antinous to be appealing.  While I wouldn’t describe Antinous as a gateway god, for me, his syncretisms with other gods have certainly acted as a portal or way to access that other god.  Antinous has introduced me to a plethora of other gods that have since become important to me in their own right.  Hermes, Dionysos, Osiris, Eros, and Pan are all gods I initially met through Antinous.  Even my interactions with Aphrodite are heavily colored by my devotion to Antinous/Eros.  In some ways, it’s like I’m at a big cocktail party and Antinous is my host.  he has graciously taken me around the room and said, “Lazarus, I’d like to introduce you to Silvanus.  I think you two might have a few things in common.  Cheers!”

Lastly, I’ve always felt there was something profound about the fact that Antinous was an actual human being who became a god.  Again, this is another point where some have issues with Antinous.  It’s perhaps a little too “Jesus-like” to have been a human being who died and then raised to godhood.  For those in pagandom who have issues with Christianity, this surface level similarity to Jesus puts some people off.  In theology, this idea that a human can achieve divine status is called apotheosis.  I plan to post a more detailed blog post about this soon, but for now, I feel that Antinous’ very real death and deification points to our own Divine nature and ability to become gods ourselves.  That’s a deep mystery, and I will leave it at that for now.

For those interested in devotion to Antinous, there are a few resources I suggest you check out:

Aedicula Antinoi: A Small Shrine of Antinous: The personal blog of P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, founder of the Ekklesia Antinoou and author of several books on devotion to Antinous.  If you’re at all interested in Antinous, Lupus blogs about Antinous and Antinoan practice several times a week.

Ekklesia Antinoi Yahoo Group : The Ekklesia Antinoou is a queer, Graeco-Roman-Egyptian syncretist reconstructionist polytheist form of mystical religion. The group is the forum for discussion of issues, whether of worship or theology, myth or meditation, surrounding the worship of Antinous, the Divinized Boy of Bithynia, his historical cult and continuing scholarship about it, and his relevance to queer people in particular.

Via Antinoi – The Way of Antinous on Facebook :  The Facebook page of which I am one of the administrators.  It’s not updated as often as I would like to, but if you’re on facebook, give us a like for occasional Antinous related content on your newsfeed.

The Via Antinoi Liturgical Calndars: A page connected to this blog.  It contains two calendars.  The first is a calendar of festivals and observances, and the second is of many saints in the Ekklesia.  I plan to eventually host these on their own site, but for now, they are here.  If you’re at all interested in following the Antinoan devotional year, this is an easy way to start.

While you’re at it, head over to the Pagan Blog Project and check out what other topics others have been blogging about!

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Filed under Antinous, Christianity, New Year, Paganism, Queer Spirituality, Wicca

Late to the Party – New Year, New You

 

I’m a little late to this party.  But what fun would a party be without a few grand entrances once the music has started?  In this case, the party started a few weeks ago.  That just means I’m really fashionably late.

Early in December, the Charmed… I’m Sure blog posted this call to an “experiment in magical, radical, transformation”:

So, you’re supposed to be, like, magicians, occultists, witches in the woods and the kitchen and on the soccer field, right?  Workers of wonder.  Dream weavers.  People who get shit done.  Isn’t this the year to make your own luck?  You’re feeling especially awful with the nights that never end and run over by the holidaze and you can’t drink joie forever before needing a meeting.  So now’s the fucking time.  Don’t wait until that stupid glitter ball drops and you’re already making drunk and/or sentimental mistakes, start now.  Start now when it’s hardest.  Start now when you feel so weighed down with emotions better left to glittery and not so glittery vampires and when you feel like you could sleep forever.  Now is the time you need to wake up.  Get up, get up!  Don’t miss this moment.  Create magics great and small, mundane and mystical.  Find everything you’ve been looking for, mysteries revealed in every form of divination and song and when you fuck it up, when you are too tired to try, bring each other up from bloodied knees to get back up smiling.  You are all made of stars and you have stardust in your veins.  Do something about it.

Can I get a hell yeah?!

A few of my friends picked up the call.  Both Michael Sebastian Lux and Msgr. Scott Rassbach posted their replies to the challenge.  Now it’s my turn.

Actually, my work on this has already started.  On Sunday evening, January 1st, I did a ritual for the Festival of Janus, calling on Janus, Antinous in his lunar aspect, and Helios/Sol.  As the Roman god of doorways, beginnings and endings, and the past and the future, Janus is the perfect god to work with on New Year’s Day.  As part of the ritual, I worked with Antinous as the moon to determine and meditate on the things in my life that I wanted to leave behind in the past.  I particularly meditated on the things that would keep me from becoming fully mature as an individual.

I also worked with Helios as the sun to determine and meditate on the things in my life that I want to bring into manifestation in 2012.  These are more than just resolutions, more than just goals.  This is about working will.  This is about transformation.  This is about magic!

What I share here are the intentions that I am going to be putting energy into during the coming months.  This is where I will be working my will.  This is where I get down and dirty and “do something about it.”

The Physical

  • I intend to inhabit a healthier body by the end of the 2012.  This does not translate into a weight loss goal.  I’m a bear.  I’m happy being a bear.  I have a tummy, and I get plenty of attention with a tummy, thank you.  However, a little over a year ago I had surgery on a torn quadriceps tendon.  My right knee/leg is still healing.   I intend to help that healing along, and bring a healthier body along with it.

The Emotional

  • I intend to build and nurture intimate relationships with those whom I can share my spirituality and participate in magical practice with.  I did a similar ritual last year to the one that I just did a few days ago.  In that ritual I asked for a sexual and romantic partner to come into my life that I could share my magical practice with.  That request was fulfilled… although not quite in the way I expected.  I thought of asking for the same thing this year, but I realized that I didn’t need to ask for what I already have.  I do however, need to build and nurture what already exists, while still being open to new things that may come.  Oh, yeah, and I also asked for more sex, because, you know, who doesn’t want more of that?

The Spiritual

  • I intend to help build and nurture the Gnostic and Antinoan spiritual communities in Portland.  The Gnostics already have a presence here in Portland.  Queen of Heaven Gnostic Church has been established for ages.  I’d love to see Queen of Heaven continue to grow, but my main focus of energy with the Gnostics will be in assisting Msgr. Scott Rossbach in the establishment and growth of Rose Cross Community AJC.  As far as the Antinoan community goes, The Ekklesia Antinoou does not currently have a presence in Portland.  I intend to change that.


Other Goals 

  • To enter into a discernment process to determine if I wish to pursue ordination in one of the spiritual traditions I am a part of.
  • To consistently update this blog 3 times a week and develop my skills as a spiritual writer.

There you have it.  Only 4 days into the new year and it’s a new dawn, a new day, a new me, and I’m feeling good.  No, really.  I’m feeling good.  2012 is the year to get shit done.  I’ll be using this space over the next few days to get caught up on the New Year, New You challenge.  After that?  Who knows.  I’m made of stars and have stardust in my veins.  Now that the party has started I’m ready to get out on the dance floor and live the dance.  Let’s party.

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Filed under Antinous, Gnosticism, New You