Commentary on Hymn XIII: To Antinous-Hermes, Navigator

No one knows the pathways better than you, O Antinous Hermes:
The broad roads and the hidden trails, the crossroads
and the market places, the inns where a traveler may rest,
the springs that are pure and the springs that are poison.
You guide the living and the dead, the mortal and immortal,
whispering the passwords that open all doors. See me safely
through this life, Antinous Hermes, and see me safely
into the next, the life without ending; guide me on all
the highways and by-ways, in all my perplexities,
and let me not venture forth alone, leave me not unprotected,
but always, always, gracious god, bring me home.

This somewhat short hymn does exactly what it says on the tin, really; it is a prayer for guidance directed to a god known as a guide. Hermes, guide of travellers and of souls, merged with Antinous, the Navigator of the Boat of Millions of Years, is available to guide us in our present life and afterward, in this world and through other worlds. My mention of springs and passwords hints at the famous Orphic tablets that gave instructions to the dead for passing into the underworld without loss of memory and identity.

What prompts me to dig a little deeper is the final request to be brought home. Where, then, is home? For me, as his devotee, to be with Antinous is home. He has had a place in my home, a shrine of some kind, for most of the past seven years. My initiation into his Mysteries promises me a place with him in the afterlife, whether in a part of the underworld ruled by him or on his celestial barque. I don’t believe that there’s one single process for every human in the afterlife or one moral choice or one (or two destinations); I believe that happiness with the god of one’s heart, rebirth, punishment, and even extinction are possibilities, as well as others I haven’t imagined or heard of, no doubt. To come home to Antinous is to be true to my values in this life, because the god and I share many of them, and to be with him in the afterlife as a beloved friend.

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