In past years I’ve shared performances of madrigals, songs by Loreena McKennitt, covers by Hozier at this time of year, springtime, May-time, the Floralia, the incoming of Antinous the Lover. I’ve had this tab open in my web browser for several days, so I don’t remember who pointed it out to me, but this year’s May music is “The man who sings with nightingales”. Read the article and then help yourself to the embedded tracks on Soundcloud, especially “Singing with nightingales”.
The calendar year kicks off with the observance of the Kalends of Janus on January 1st. The Antinoan year, in my practice, begins with his death and deification just before Samhain, the start of the Neopagan calendar. The Chinese lunar new year always feels like a fresh start to me, perhaps because it occurs in the first house of my natal horoscope. It’s often accompanied by a rush of creativity and the starting of new stories.
But April, Eliot’s cruellest month, is also an Antinoan new year for me. It was in April two years ago that I made the definitive shift from a wayward Anglican to a happy polytheist and from looking at my religion as a system of beliefs, symbols, and ideas to looking at it as network of relationships.
Who do I worship? Who to I pray to? What god do I trust? It turned out that the primary answer to those questions was not Jesus, but Antinous. I made a small offering to Antinous and asked him to guide me to what I loved. He answered that prayer, and the answer to it was himself.
The Serapeia on April 25th and the Floralia, which is held from April 28th to May 3rd, were the first holy days I observed that weren’t strictly for Antinous. In my first year of devotional practice, I made it my rule to observe holy days as they came up, doing background reading, making offerings, reciting and if possible composing prayers and hymns to the gods, without trying to make the acquaintance of all the gods, everywhere, all at once. Antinous’ cult is syncretistic and involves Egyptian, Greek, and Roman elements; I found myself gravitating toward the Roman deities, and not just the Olympians who overlap with the Greek pantheon, but also the lesser-known gods, goddesses, and spirits who are peculiarly Roman.
This will be the third year I’ve celebrated Flora’s festival. I’ve been greeting her for weeks as I walk to work, watching crocus, hyacinth, daffodil, tulip, and rose emerge in turn, watching all the trees flower and then shed their petals like confetti. Ironically, as her jolly, Beltane-like holy days arrive, local temperatures have dropped into the low fifties, and except for the roses, many of the downtown flowers have died off. I still want to write some hymns and make some offerings for her. I am very fond of Dea Flora.
I owe Serapis, too, a belated offering. Of all the gods who have a fatherly, patriarchal, mature male authority figure aspect, Serapis, husband of Isis and father of Hermanubis and Harpocrates, is my favorite. I feel a sense of trust in him that neither Zeus nor Jupiter inspires. Perhaps it’s because he’s really an Underworld god, not a celestial one, a syncretism of Osiris with many other gods both Egyptian and not. Whenever I visit the Walters Art Museum, I pay my respects to Serapis at the fragmentary but still numinous image housed there.
I have a theory, or better, call it a hunch, an intuition, that it was once possible to communicate with Jesus as freely and easily as I do with Antinous and with other gods. (Not that they are always talking to me, but that when I talk to them, I feel some kind of response.) I have a theory that sometime, somewhere, a bunch of would-be authority figures, probably bishops, took the keys, changed the locks, changed the passwords, and made simple, direct communication with Jesus and his Father difficult to impossible. The few who could still get past their firewalls they called “mystics” and described as dangerous, unstable, hysterical, probably demon-possessed. I have never been a mystic, in those terms, and since mysticism became cool in Church circles, I’ve distrusted anyone who identifies as such. But I am an average devotee who does nothing special but write my own devotions to the gods, and I have no trouble connecting with them, even with deities for whom I have respect but little else in the way of feeling.
Last night I offered water and cream to the Muses and prayed to sing well as a substitute alto in my church choir, and that I might be offered a paid position in the choir for the fall. The first part of that prayer was granted. We’ll see if the nine sisters can swing the full-time gig. Polytheism: It works.
Hail, Osiris, whom Isis laments!
Hail, Osiris, whom Set wounded and scattered!
Hail, Osiris, twice dying, twice renewed!
Hail, Osiris, whom the Nile made mortal!
Hail, Osiris, whom the Nile made divine!
Hail, Osiris, opener of the way to the West!
Hail, Osiris, lord of the Am Duat!
Hail, Osiris, green blade that rises!
Hail, Osiris, fruitful father of Horus!
Hail, Osiris, giver of good things!
Hail, Osiris, justified by the judges!
Hail, Osiris, ruler of the dead!
Hail, Osiris, god ever-living!
Hail, Osiris, benevolent and wise!
Hail, Osiris, one with Antinous!
Dua Wesir! Khaire Osiris!
Dua Wesir-Antnus! Khaire Osirantinous!
And because Hozier is a very Antinoan person, to me. *g*
It’s been far too long since I listened to Loreena McKennitt’s The Mask and Mirror. Now it strikes me as deeply Antinoan, a sacred text as PSVL would say. “The Mystic’s Dream” and “The Dark Night of the Soul” are about erotic union with the god; “Marrakesh Night Market” is an evocation of the Mediterranean mix, the Silk Road, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and other influences swirling together atop a pagan substrate; “The Bonny Swans” is a ballad about a drowned girl (dingdingding!) whose recovered body is made into a truth-singing harp. McKennitt also weaves a Gaelic song with one of W.B. Yeats’ poems, telling us,
Beloved, gaze in thine own heart,
The holy tree is growing there.