A daily prayer to Antinous

antinous_pio-clementino_inv256_n2With Antinous the Liberator may I stand firm
against every kind of inhibition, oppression, and exploitation.

 

 

 

 

 

image005With Antinous the Navigator may I be guided
by my true desires and highest values.

 

 

 

 

 

9e847b085dc8494226401cc0a20b9226With 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!
Ave, vive, Antinoe!
Ave, ave, Antinoe!
Haec est unde vita venit!

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Natalis Dianae Lanuviensis

 

Hail, Diana, great goddess!
Hail, Diana of Lanuvium!
Hail, Diana Nemorensis!
Hail, goddess of the groves!
Hail, queen to the sacred king!
Hail, protectress of the golden bough!
Hail, companion of Antinous Master of Hounds!
Hail, goddess of the wilderness!
Hail, huntress par excellence!
Hail, mistress of the hounds and the deer!
Hail, protectress of women!
Hail, deliverer of women in labor!
Hail, guardian of the infant and the mother!
Hail, bright shining lady!
Hail, sister of the Lightbearer!
Hail, mother of Aradia!
Hail, mother of witches!
Hail, companion of Hecate!
Hail, Diana Trivia!
Hail, goddess who belongs only to herself!

 

diane_de_versailles_leochares_2
Hail, on this your natal day!

One of many, really, just a particular one

This Sunday I had the pleasure of entertaining a friend in my new apartment for a couple of hours. In the course of our conversation, my friend, who is a polytheist like myself and, in addition, a former Catholic, asked me how I was handling returning to regular (Episcopal) church attendance, as a polytheist devoted to Antinous. Was it strange or difficult, she wondered, getting involved with Jesus again?

The question proved surprisingly easy to answer, or maybe not surprisingly, given that I had been thinking about it anyway. And given that I know of more than one pagan or polytheist who is a member of an Episcopal or Unitarian church, I thought my answers would be worth sharing.

First of all, being in church does not necessarily involve a devotional relationship with Jesus, if by “devotional” you mean having a lot of feelings. I have a lot of feelings for Antinous, and I pay him cultus every day; I don’t have the same feelings for, say, Mars or Minerva, but I still pay them respectful cultus at certain times. Sunday is a day when I pay cultus to Jesus, his Father, and the Holy Spirit, in a gathering with other people.

Second, being in church is mostly about the other people. It’s about community and communion with the people sitting in the pews with me, and with the people who came before us in the tradition. It’s about pre-Reformation saints like Benedict, the father of Western Christian monasticism, Hildegard of Bingen, and Julian of Norwich; it’s about specifically Anglican forebears like John Donne, George Herbert, Dorothy Sayers, C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle. And it’s about my childhood, the Book of Common Prayer and the Hymnal, a body of literature that includes but is far from exclusive to the Bible. The luminaries of the Anglican spiritual tradition are also leading lights of English literature. Being in church, thus, is as much ancestor worship as anything else.

It’s true that the Christian liturgy, no matter how progressive or in what denomination, assumes a theology of monotheism and, ultimately, the superiority of Christianity over other religions. However, there is a lot of ancient religious literature, including a good chunk of the Hebrew Scriptures, that assumes polytheism, but still addresses a particular deity as The Greatest of All Time. Many of the deities of Egypt were hymned as creator, all-giver, supreme on earth and in heaven, all-wise, all-powerful, and so forth–while twenty miles away, another deity entirely was praised in the same way. The fancy word for this is henotheism, which Wikipedia defines as “the worship of a single god while not denying the existence or possible existence of other deities.” In ancient Thebes, you called Amun the supreme god; in Rome, Jupiter was the all-ruler; in Athens, it was Zeus, but the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians did not argue woh was *really* the supreme deity. While I’m in church, the Christian Trinity is the One God (even if I think they are actually three).

Antinoan scholar P. Sufenas Virius Lupus once said to me, “Jesus and Antinous have been friends for a long time.” This seemed self-evidently true to me at the time, and still does. PSVL also once wrote about looking at the gods as individuals who hold certain values, rather than as bureaucrats with certain functions. For example, Antinous is not really The Gay God (a lot of the gods are pretty gay by our standards) or a god of gayness, sitting behind a lavender desk in a celestial bureaucracy and signing forms pertaining to gay people with a purple pen. Rather, he is a god who values gay and lesbian, bisexual, queer, and trans people, along with prophecy, healing, poetry, hunting, theatre, and introducing mortals and immortals to one another at parties. Jesus is a god who values the poor, the marginalized, the excluded, the Othered, which means that in our culture right now, he and Antinous are concerned about a lot of the same people. And Jesus also likes parties with plenty of wine.

From a Christian point of view, I suppose, I am a contumacious heretic, but from a polytheist point of view, Jesus is one of many gods and it’s up to me, or any individual, whether I want to worship him. Ask me about my heresies, and I’ll gladly explain them to you.

Current round-up

Reading:

  • Doreen Valiente, Witch by Peter Heselton, a biography of the great foremother of contemporary witchcraft; still in progress
  • Sacred Band, a novel with queer superheroes that I plan to review soon
  • Humans Wanted, an anthology of science fiction short stories inspired by a discussion on Tumblr, which I also plan to review soon

Writing:

  • The Naos Antinoou is in the midst of celebrating the Sacred Nights of Antinous’ death and deification, and I’ve been posting poems for the holy days at Antinous for Everybody.
  • I’m working on a new piece of fanfic, have completed a short original story, and am contemplating a novel related to the short story.
  • Have you read my mythfic about Hades, Hel, and Persephone, “A distinguished visitor from the north”?

Listening:

  • The Sacred Nights have a lot of musical associations for me: To begin with, Hedwig & the Angry Inch
  • the music of Dead Can Dance, particularly their album Spiritchaser
  • I was also listening to the masterful jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery; my father introduced me to his album A Day in the Life, which opens with a cover of the Beatles song, when I was a teenager

Viewing:

I finally got around to watching two movies on my list, Rogue One, the Star Wars prequel, and Ant-Man, part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I enjoyed both of them; Ant-Man, in particular, was a better movie than I expected, which subverted a good many superhero tropes. Rogue One was, in a lot of ways, the Star Wars prequel I wanted and didn’t get when the first prequel movie was released; it gave me characters I could care about and led directly into the events of the first film.