Commentary on Hymn III: To Antinous the Navigator

Adrift in the darkness on a sea of confusion,
I look up to you, Antinous.
Lost in the woods in the darkness of a ravine,
I look up to you, Antinous.
Struggling up the mountain toward some better place,
I look up to you, Antinous.
O celestial Navigator,
you are the star that shows the way,
shining amidst the lights of the Eagle,
yet you are also the helmsman
of the Boat of Millions of Years,
steering by the brightness of your star.
You are the one who guides souls in life and after life,
bearer of the herald’s staff, yet you are also the one
who guides gods to meet humanity,
for gods desire what is human no less
than humans desire what is divine.
Guide me, celestial Navigator,
through this life on earth, through its darkness,
through its light, in the valleys, on the peaks,
across the waters, through the forests,
then welcome me, I pray you,
into your Boat of Millions of Years.

navigatormcmillan
Antinous the Navigator by Wayne Macmillan

 

On 29th January, the Naos Antinoou observes the festival of the Stella Antinoi and the incoming of Antinous the Navigator. In the year after the Boy’s death, astrologers observed a new star in or near the constellation of Aquila, the Eagle, associated with Jupiter and the imperial power. Hadrian, a deeply religious man, took this as an omen that his beloved had indeed become a god and was elevated to the heavens.

Antinous as Navigator is a guide, a traveler, and a teacher. In the Naos we believe that Antinous can travel to any afterlife, any otherworld, in his heavenly barque, the Boat of Millions of Years (an ancient Egyptian designation for the barque of Ra). He is thus a psychopomp who can ferry the souls of the dead to their proper destinations, and his barque is itself a desirable afterlife. I personally imagine the Boat of Millions of Years as being like the Doctor’s TARDIS: On the outside it resembles an ancient Egyptian vessel, long and slender, propelled by rowers and steered by a single hand. On the inside, however, it is a luxury cruise ship; my sense of it is a cross between Classical architecture and decoration and the Titanic. *g* On the god’s Boat, however, everyone travels first class, and lifeboats are not needed.

Just as the stars were the principal means of navigation in the ancient world, Antinous as Navigator and Star is a means of personal guidance in daily life. Just about two years ago, I composed the following prayer spontaneously during my morning shower:

With Antinous the Liberator may I stand firm against everything and everyone that would inhibit, oppress, or exploit my fellow human beings.

With Antinous the Navigator may I be guided by my true desires and highest values.

With Antinous the Lover may I seek love, find love, accept love, give love, and walk in love, for love is the path to happiness and beatitude.

Ave, ave, Antinoe! Haec est unde vita venit!

When I turn my mind to the Navigator, I ask myself what are my true desires and highest values? What do I most deeply want? What are my priorities? What is the basis for my choices and actions? I don’t think I am alone among his devotees in saying that freedom, justice, creativity, and the primacy of erotic love and spiritual devotion are among my bedrock values. That includes freedom and justice for all minorities, but especially for queer, trans, bisexual, lesbian, and gay persons, who are always under the god’s protection.

Antinous is also known to his devotees as a “gateway god”, and yes, that’s kind of like a gateway drug. Devotion to him will often put a person into contact with other deities with whom they can have mutually beneficial relationships. He not only guides souls to the afterlife, he guides mortals to gods and gods to mortals. He’s the friend who holds the most marvelous parties where you always meet interesting new people.

Finally, to look at the stars and remember Antinous is to remember that the stars are the pattern of earthly reality: “As above, so below.” For the Boy to be exalted among the stars implies that, like other heroic figures before and since, he has ascended through the spheres assigned to the planets by Ptolemean astronomy and mastered their powers within himself. If there are patterns of oppression, restriction, and exploitation greater than human beings (the archons), there are also patterns of wisdom, power, liberation, and fulfillment–the gods, the planets, daimons, angels, aions. These forces of goodness can be available to us through Antinous when we take him as our Navigator.

 

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