Two poems and a flower crown

Colors for Antinous the Lover

Black

Like the fertile earth wet

With heaven’s rain, seed of Zeus,

Black like the noonday shade beneath

The cypress tree where lovers lie between

Its roots, black like the depth of night in which

True knowledge is gained, not by sight

But by taste and touch

Blue

As the Nile lotus, the ornament of

The Pharaohs, blue as the summer sky,

As the precious lapis lazuli inlaid in a collar,

Blue as the flame of desire in lapis eyes,

As the shadows cast on the afternoon wall

By lovers coupling

Purple

For the hyacinth, a fragrant life

Struck down, for the amethyst and its

Purity, purple for bruises and for sorrows,

Purple that is neither red nor blue nor pink,

A flame of the soul and the spirit of a body,

Purple for the drag queens and purple for the dandies,

Purple for the leather daddies and the lipstick lesbians,

Purple for Marsha and all her trans siblings,

Purple for our queerness, our sovereignty, our royalty,

Purple for all who worship the catamite who became a god,

The unconquerable Antinous, the Lover of body and soul

Andrew Hozier-Byrne in a flower crown

Colors for Melinoe

Melinoe, black

As Egypt, black

As Nebthet, mistress of

Wesir, mistress of the temple, black

As the vulture’s wing, the jackal’s eye:

Guide me on my journey through the Duat.

Melinoe, white

As Selene, white

as salt, white as snow,

White as old bones stripped

By vulture beaks and scoured by the rain:

Shine on my road in the night.

Melinoe, red

As Sekhmet, red

As bloody jaws, red as rage, red

As the sunset spreading over

The desert, red land west of the Nile:

Burn me clean with your passion.

Melinoe, golden

Lady, saffron-gowned, golden

As the autumn leaves, as the sandaled feet

Of Ariadne dancing the labyrinth

In the stars, golden as honey:

Turn wisdom to sweetness in my heart.

Fanfic for cooler weather

The Happy Hedgehog (1272 words) by MToddWebster
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Andrew Hozier-Byrne (Musician)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Andrew Hozier-Byrne/You
Additional Tags: Coffee Shops, Pastries, Autumn, Kissing, Holding Hands, Dating, Warm and Fuzzy Feelings, Genderqueer Character, Ambiguous Gender
Series: Part 6 of Your Shape in the Doorway
Summary:
You and Andrew enjoy a coffee shop date on an autumn day.

Commentary on Hymn XXXI: To Antinous, My God

I will wear a garland of red lotus in your honor, Antinous.
I will put my hands to work and write hymns in your honor, O Bithynian.
I will dance because your body is beautiful, most beautiful god,
that my body also may become beautiful.
All my pleasures will be yours, offered on your altar, O most lovable god,
like flowers, like incense, like chocolates, like wine, like kisses.
When I look up at the stars, I will look for your star, Navigator.
When I see the moon, Antinous, I will remember you are beloved of Selene, like Endymion.
The light of the sun is your light to me, Antinous Apollon.
The fragrance of the greening earth after rain is your fragrance, Antinous Dionysus.
The life that wells up again and again in me in spite of all defeats is your life, Antinous Osiris.
I will wear a garland of red lotus in your honor, Deus Frugiferus, Deus Amabilis,
Homo Deus, Hero, Daimon, sweet thing, I will wear a garland of red lotus
in your honor, and I will sing, I will dance, I will sing.

In 2015 when I first wrote these hymns, I had about two years of devotion behind me. I had also been listening to Irish singer-songwriter Hozier for about that long, finding performances on YouTube as well as listening to his debut album and two EPs. (There was a long gap between his first and second albums. Very long.) I think I must have discovered his cover of Van Morrison’s “Sweet Thing” shortly before I came to write this hymn. It was, frankly, the inspiration for it, metrically and in spirit. I wanted the rhythm, the candor, the intimacy of Hozier’s cover in a hymn that would reiterate the titles of the god and the themes of the preceding hymns as much as possible and make them personal.

I came to Antinous, attracted by his beauty and his goodness, and he accepted me. I didn’t have to be called or chosen or special; I could just show up. In a relationship with the god begun hopefully and tentatively, I found help, support, inspiration, and meaning. I found a door into relationships with other deities through Antinous and a mystery initiation that changed my life. In writing these hymns and now in writing their commentary, I hoped to do honor to the god of my choice and to help those who wish to know him better or who already love him and wish to praise him. May this offering fulfill my intentions, O Antinous, Beautiful, Just, Benevolent!

Commentary on Hymn XIV: To Antinous-Hermes, Lover

You are not known for your loves, Antinous Hermes,
but you have not lacked them. Among the goddesses
you dallied with Aphrodite, Brimo, and Daeira,
sought Persephone, and called Peitho your wife.
Amongst the nymphs Penelopeia bore you
the great god Pan, and Carmentis went to Latium
with Evander, her son, the seed of a future empire.
Many were the mortal women whom you found desirable,
and there were men, too, especially Krokos, flower-lad.
You are he who woos with wit, who persuades with suasion,
who seduces with banter, who charms with speech,
lover of the mind and the mind’s lover, who shows us
how to join sense, sensibility, and sensuality, and
for this we praise you, Antinous Hermes.

The Antinoopolitan Lovers

Hermes, like his brother Apollon and others of the younger Olympians, is a deity who remained unmarried and dallied with a good many lovers, both males and females, deities and mortals. He was sometimes called the husband of Peitho, a goddess whose name means “persuasion” or even “seduction”, but who seems to have been worshiped in conjunction with Aphrodite or with the Charites (the Graces) more often than with the messenger god.

In writing this hymn I ran with the idea of the god as a lover of the mind, as someone who could find a way to one’s heart (and/or one’s loins) through the head. While there is not much hint of this in the myths, it is certainly a way of courting that works for me. I am not alone in being a fan of fictional couples who woo and wed with witty banter; it’s a trope that’s been popular at least since Shakespeare gave us Much Ado about Nothing and has fueled such diverse tv shows as Moonlighting, The X-Files, and (a personal favorite) Remington Steele. As it happens, my still-favorite musician, Hozier, included a song on his last album that perfectly embodies what I had in mind, and the lyrics are complete with mythological references.

FANFIC: Swimming at Lúnasa

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Swimming at Lúnasa (1216 words) by MToddWebster
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Andrew Hozier-Byrne (Musician)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Andrew Hozier-Byrne/Original Character(s), Andrew Hozier-Byrne/You
Additional Tags: Swimming, Irish Language, Irish Mythology – Freeform, Gender Ambiguity, unspecified gender, Kissing, Tea
Summary:

Wind on sea and wave on ocean… and tea and kissing.

(Image by Sandra Moreno from Pixabay)

 

FIC: “Be like the Rose”

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Image by Josch13 from Pixabay

Be like the Rose (3903 words) by MToddWebster
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Andrew Hozier-Byrne (Musician)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: OMC/OFC, The Musician/The Lady of the Roses
Additional Tags: Inspired by Music, Fairy Tale Elements, Fairy Tale Style, Roses, Apocalypse, Musicians
Summary:

“Be there just as you stand, or be like the rose that you hold in your hand, that will grow bold in a barren and desolate land, and lover, be good to me.” –Hozier, “Be” from his album Wasteland, Baby!

 

Fuck subtlety: A look at Hozier’s “Jack Boot Jump”

First of all, this is a jack boot.

Image result for jackboot

Second, this is a jump.

Third, this is a jack boot on your face.

(Content warning for violence/brutality)

I was privileged to see Hozier live in Washington, D.C., and to hear “Jack Boot Jump” two days before it was released. Introducing the song, he talked about Woody Guthrie, protest songs, and deciding to “fuck subtlety” and write the song that wanted to be written.

As lyrics go, “Jack Boot Jump” is about as sophisticated as a jump-rope rhyme. That doesn’t matter; “We Shall Overcome” is not a masterpiece of poetic complexity, either, but it carried people through a lot of trials during the Civil Rights Movement. I think “Jack Boot Jump” is here to carry us through our civil rights movements, our climate change protests, our resistance to oppressive governments, and I think it’ll do the job well.

The lyrics name Standing Rock here in the United States, Moscow, and Hong Kong as places of resistance, places where the jack boot jump is also taking place. It’s the stomping of capitalist and governmental forces on resistance to oppression, the increase of police and military brutality against “people standing up”. Hozier also quoted the famous and not at all outdated line from Orwell’s 1984, about the future imagined as a boot stepping on a human face. The Beijing government, the Putin regime in Russia, the Trump administration are all alike pushing back against demands for freedom, justice, equality, a response to the catastrophic climate changes taking place.

The most important verse is the last:
All around the world
You’d think that things were looking rough
But the jackboot only jumps down
On people standing up
So you know good things are happening
When the jackboot needs to jump
Here’s the good news Hozier is trying to give us: Repressive governments only crack down when there’s resistance. Cops beating up protestors means the protestors are right. It’s the same principle that there were no laws against same-sex marriage until same-sex couples began demanding marriage for themselves; it was so unimaginable to most people that there was no need to forbid it, until it became imaginable and therefore possible.

What makes this song so good is the music. Hozier looked at his influences, at the history of protest music, and made an unusual choice: He grabbed the blues. Not spirituals, not white folk, but blues, and dirty blues at that. Seen live, “Jack Boot Jump” is electrifying, a virtuoso dialogue between Hozier’s guitar (and he really does underplay his guitar skills) and Rory Doyle’s consummate drumming. It’s a song that’s not for marching in the streets so much as running, dancing, and possibly fucking, because standing up and dancing is a perfectly legit way to fight back against the jack boot jump.

Prayer and contemplation: Hozier’s “Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue)”

“Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue)” is an unabashedly raunchy song. (Do people still use the word “raunchy”? It’s the word that comes to mind when I think about these lyrics.) In case anyone missed it, Hozier himself has kindly informed us that it is, indeed, a song about oral sex (and you can watch this and treat yourselves to the sight and sound of Hozier saying “oral sex”). It is, specifically, a song sung by a man about receiving oral sex–to put it bluntly, it’s about getting a blowjob. It’s also an elaborately worded, punning plea to consider the possibility of equality in sexual dynamics.

Hozier begins with an oblique evocation of a world in turmoil:

When stunted hand earns place with man by mere monstrosity

Alarms are struck and shore is shook by sheer atrocity

(Is it stretching a point to think that the “stunted hand” refers to a certain American President and the mockery of his small and pudgy hands?) The next two lines detail the singer’s response to a world of monstrosity and atrocity:

A cure I know that soothes the soul, does so impossibly

A moment’s silence when my baby puts the mouth on

Hozier teasingly trails off here, letting his voice slide immediately into the next line, but the meaning is clear enough: When the world is too much with us, oral intimacy is the cure. Note that, yes, “the mouth” is what the official lyrics say (although he has clearly sung it as “their mouth” in concerts), and that the soothing of the soul comes through something that happens *to the body*.

So “my baby puts the mouth” on segues into:

Me and my babe relax and catch the manic rhapsody

All reason flown, as God looks on in abject apathy

“Manic rhapsody” is a delightful phrase just because of the internal rhyme; I am reminded of the line “electing strange perfections in any stranger I choose” from “Someone New” on his debut album. More important, however, is the declaration that “God looks on in abject apathy”. The singer and his baby are having sex, specifically non-reproductive sex, and God simply doesn’t care. In a Catholic culture like Ireland’s, sex that doesn’t lead to babies, even or perhaps especially between a man and a woman, is a definite no. Hozier carefully doesn’t specify his lover’s gender, but either way, they are defying churchly rules and God doesn’t care.

A squall, and all of me is a prayer in perfect piety

A moment’s silence when my baby puts the mouth on me

Hozier follows this utterly blasphemous statement with an unabashed blues wail that, heard live, will make your hair stand on end. (My hair remembers vividly.) His nonverbal outcry in response to receiving oral sex is called “a prayer in perfect piety”, which is also a “moment’s silence”. The silence, one supposes, is mutual: He’s nonverbal with “manic rhapsody”, and his baby can’t talk because their mouth is full. The lyrics hint that, as in his signature tune “Take Me to Church”, it is his lover he worships, no more, no less.

Internal rhymes and end-rhymes both veil the explicitness of these lyrics. The chorus offers us a deadpan pun:

When the meaning is gone

There is clarity

And the reason comes on the common tongue of your loving me

I am entirely certain that “common tongue” is a deliberate pun on “come on tongue”. Hozier did say the song was about oral sex, and I did warn my readers that it is raunchy. But it also evokes the act of oral sex as an act that all gender/sexuality combinations have in common. That brazen pun is coupled with a description of the act as love. Here’s where things begin to get really interesting. In a moment of silence that transcends meaning with clarity–which might be a description of contemplative prayer–the singer understands “the reason” through an act of sex that’s also an act of love. If “Take Me to Church” borrowed the imagery of formal worship for its lovers’ intimacy, “Moment’s Silence” is riffing on the idea of contemplation, of a silent kind of prayer motivated by adoration and love.

The second verse of the song is Hozier’s call out of people with a quite different approach to giving and receiving oral sex:

What yields the need for those who lead us oh so morally

Those that would view the same we do through their deformity

The moral leaders no doubt include politicians and other authority figures as well as authorities within the Church. What is the deformity to which he refers?

Who view the deed as power’s creed, as pure authority

This moment’s silence when my baby puts the mouth on me

Pardon me for being blunt here. Andrew Hozier-Byrne is a 29-year-old man living in the age of free porn on the Internet. It hardly seems possible to me that he has not seen oral sex scenes in porn, that he is not referring here to the kneeling woman servicing with her mouth the man looming over her, often gripping her hair or holding her head between his hands. And it hardly seems possible to conclude that the pleasure of receiving such sexual services is less in the physical sensations than in the emotional charge of using, even forcing another person to provide them, in a humiliating way.

These lyrics seem to me to be looking at that dynamic and rejecting it as a deformity, a distortion of what is a potentially loving and even contemplative act. The remainder of the lyrics reiterate the possibility of sex as an expression of love rather than power, while the music, a simple but powerful blues riff, increases in intensity. Hozier sings four couplets over the frenzied accompaniment:

Since it all begun

To its reckoning

There the reason comes on the common tongue of your loving me

First, he links reason to love: reason meaning the motivation or justification for the act of love.

Be thankful some know it lovingly

There the reason comes in the common tongue of your loving me

Here he insists the most forcefully and unambiguously that for some people, the act of oral sex is not about power but about love.

Like a heathen clung to the homily

Let the reason come on the common tongue of your loving me

At that point he shifts from the indicative “there” to the imperative “let”. In the simplest terms, he’s asking permission to orgasm, but I think there’s also a hint of “reason” as a synonym for “knowledge”. In Biblical Hebrew, “knowledge” is a synonym for sexual experience, and in Catholic theology, the fullness of knowledge can only be experienced through love.

So summon on the pearl rosary

Let the reason come on the common tongue of your loving me

Hozier ends with an image that is at once explicitly religious and explicitly erotic, even pornographic, as the pearls of the rosary are slang for drops of semen splashed on skin.

“Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue)” is a fusion of the erotic, the religious, and the blasphemous even more explicit and potent than “Take Me to Church”, with an irresistible blues melody that can make the tiredest feet get up and dance (if those feet are mine, at any rate). If he keeps writing music like this, I will assuredly keep listening, dancing, singing along when I’m alone, and writing elaborate analyses like this one.

FIC: A new Forest God story

The Witch in the Woods (3124 words) by MToddWebster
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Andrew Hozier-Byrne (Musician)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Graphic Depictions Of Violence
Characters: the forest god, OFC
Additional Tags: forest god, Forests, Puritans, Witches, Witchcraft, Witch Hunts, Sacrifice, Human Sacrifice, Wendigo, European settlers misunderstanding indigenous American spirit lore
Series: Part 4 of Tales of the Forest God
Summary:

The witch must be sacrificed to the god she worships. So the Puritans think, but the Forest God has other ideas when he finds a helpless girl in his woods.

 

FIC: “The Poisoned Gift”

The Poisoned Gift (6492 words) by MToddWebster
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Andrew Hozier-Byrne (Musician), Schneewittchen | Snow White (Fairy Tale), Fairy Tales & Related Fandoms, Den lille Havfrue | The Little Mermaid – Hans Christian Andersen
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Major Character Death
Relationships: OMC/OMC
Additional Tags: background M/M relationship, Poisoning, Attempted Murder, Magic, Dark Magic, Horror, Musicians, Academia, True Love’s Kiss, POV Outsider
Summary:

In which Hozier takes the role of the Evil Queen, so to speak. A shrewd bystander notices something wrong with the relationship between a teacher and a student at a music conservatory, and it’s not what you might think. Who has the fairest voice?

 

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Photo by Bruno Scramgnon on Pexels.com

A tweet from Hozier inspired me and two friends of mine who are as mad about the Irish musician as I am to write three variations on the tale of Snow White, casting Hozier in the three principal roles: Snow White, her prince, and her evil stepmother the Queen. The lot of evil stepmother (?) Hozier fell to me, and this is what I made of it. I urge you to read not only my story but my collaborators’ (theirs are far more romantic).

FIC: The Feast of Saint Hubert

The Feast of Saint Hubert (3695 words) by MToddWebster
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Andrew Hozier-Byrne (Musician)
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: OMC/OMC
Additional Tags: Forest Sex, gay forest sex, pansexual forest god, Bisexual Male Character, The Forest God – Freeform, Hunters & Hunting, Deer, Animal Death, Animal Transformation, Sacrifice, Self-Sacrifice
Series: Part 3 of Tales of the Forest God
Summary:

(The Forest God speaks) I have had one true bride over many centuries, yet I have also had many lovers, in different times and places. And I have lived many lives, and also died many deaths. Here is the tale of one of them….