Posted by: aediculaantinoi | July 27, 2014

“I Have Seen The Maiden”

If you would permit me to do a Sannion-esque “Circles, folks, fucking circles” sort of brief reasoning out below…

[And even if you wouldn't: too bad, this is my blog and I write what I want to!]

Some of you may recognize the subject line here as the title of an essay I wrote for the Bibliotheca Alexandrina anthology for Persephone a few years ago. The line comes from the Tebtynis Papyrus–which contains some interesting information on Antinous, amongst other things–which tells of Herakles’ response to the torchbearer when he went to the Eleusinian Mysteries and was refused entry. The later part of his answer, “I have seen the Maiden” (i.e. Kore), and his other remarks therein, has been seen by Kerényi and others to perhaps contain some element of the “actual” content of the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Whether or not this is true (though I, personally, am attracted to it being so), it brings up something else.

There have been various other figures in Greek mythology who have “seen the Maiden,” even if the “Maiden” in question is not Kore-Persephone herself.


One that I’ve often spoken about in Antinoan contexts is Aktaion, who saw the maiden Artemis bathing, and paid for it with his life.

Another is Tiresias, who is said in one instance to have seen Athena bathing, and likewise was struck blind, but given his prophetic ability because of it.

I wonder if there is more to these kinds of “seeing the Maiden” than merely this…and, I further wonder if there is an implied nudity involved in the case of Herakles seeing Persephone, then, or something else that might be considered seeing into a mystery that mortals are not meant to see…

In any case, it’s something I’ve been wondering about for a few days.

What do you think?

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | July 26, 2014

The Lack of Greek Eschatology

This has been a post long-in-coming…since the beginning of the year, in fact, and even before that, when I read (and reviewed) the new edition of The Orphic Hymns last year. I don’t think I can–nor do I want to–put it off any longer, as this is some very important shit, in my opinion.


When we think of “eschatology” (if, indeed, any given “we” ever does!), “the theological study of last things,” it can have two different realms of relevance. First, there is what one might call the “personal” realm of it, i.e. the “end of things” in terms of human life and ultimate destiny, which is usually in relation to beliefs about the afterlife and the fate of the human soul/spirit after death. I’ve written a bit on this before. I’m also reminded of this usage because of Sannion’s mentioning of it in a post earlier today. That is a good and proper understanding of the term, and I have no problem with it, and in fact will potentially be looping back around to it later in the present post.

But what I’m most concerned with in the present post is the “other” meaning of eschatology, as an “apocalypse” (which pretty much means “revelation,” as a certain book of Christian scripture is called, and as many other non-canonical books from within that tradition are likewise called), in the sense in which that word is most commonly understood, i.e. a world’s-end sort of situation. How does the cosmos draw the curtain down? How does this grand stage show have its wrap-party? If a given religious cosmology has a story of creation, then it seems the logical counterpoint to such a narrative.

And yet, many people have emphasized how often we get this kind of idea not because it truly is “logical” or “naturally follows,” but instead because the religious cosmologies that have been inculcated into us have included them, and therefore we think them necessary in any religious framework. While I agree that this is a concern, and something that often doesn’t get paid attention to closely enough in terms of theological reasoning, at the same time, I don’t think we can say that this is a strictly “Christian” concern. In some cases, there might have been some influence in the narratives we have toward those ends, e.g. the Ragnarok story, since we have no pre-Christian records of it. In other cases, though, we are on more firm ground, e.g. the Hindu story of the four ages culminating in the Kali Yuga.


What both of those examples show, however, is that the creation, destruction, and regeneration of the cosmos is cyclical rather than singular and linear and final as it is portrayed in the Christian conception. Just as there are many deities in polytheism, there are many universes, many possible afterlives, and so forth. I’m also reminded in this regard of some comments by Strabo in his Geography 4.4.4. regarding the Celtic (more specifically Gaulish) belief, which he and other readers on the Celts of his time would have compared to Pythagoreanism:

Both these men [the learned classes amongst the Gauls] aver that men’s souls and the universe are imperishable, although both fire and water will at some times prevail over them.

Fire and water, indeed, are features of many world-ending myths, or occasionally myths in which the end of the world is nearly-averted. However, any narratives including a succession of ages likewise tend to point toward an eschatological framework of some sort, and Greek myth has this in the various ages–Golden, Silver, Bronze, Heroic (this one sometimes being optional), and Iron (the latter being our age)–as outlined in Hesiod, Plato, Ovid, and others. What the end of the Iron Age will be is not generally stated, although it is pretty universally regarded as “worse” simply by its very nature than all of the ones which came before, and this tends to be the viewpoint of many cultures which have these successive age models.

While we could speculate further on these matters, what I’d like to focus the present post on is a number of different events in Greek mythology which hint toward the possibility of an eschatological situation, and “what happens next” in each of them. The reason that I called this present examination “The Lack of Greek Eschatology” is a bit deceptive, I suppose, because the successive ages do indicate this kind of schemata at least in theory; but what we never get is any in-depth prophecy about what will happen and how this present degraded age will then become a new age. In every case where it seems a “new order” might come about, it is thwarted. (I’m leaving out several stories below which “could” be included, like the flood of Deucalion, and the Gigantomachy, as those are rather large issues on their own.) Let’s look at several examples.

birth of athena

1. Zeus and Metis. According to Hesiod and Pseudo-Apollodorus, Zeus was once married to the titaness Metis, but when he found out that after bearing Athena, she would subsequently bear a son that would overthrow Zeus and his rule, he swallowed her, thus necessitating the birth of Athena from Zeus’ skull via the hammer of Hephaistos (or, sometimes, Prometheus). That such a son could come about is interesting enough, but that it was averted by Zeus’ swallowing of Metis is likewise intriguing. Who is to say if she cannot be further impregnated while still inside Zeus–after all, she would have access to his reproductive bits from the inside, then, right? Hmm…

Thetis dipping Achilleus

2. The Son of Thetis. The titaness Themis, who was also once married to Zeus, counsels him to marry off the titaness Thetis to a mortal, because if she were to bear offspring to either Zeus or Poseidon, that child would overthrow Zeus and the order of the gods. This is in Pindar, and likewise, in Aeschylus; and in the lost epic known as the Kypria, Zeus and Themis plot the Trojan War in order to reduce the population of the earth. It is interesting, then, that Thetis’ marriage to Peleus starts off the Trojan War with Eris and the judgement of Paris incident, and then the offspring of their union is Achilleus. The destructiveness of the Trojan War, and likewise the power of Achilleus, pales in comparison to what could have happened if Thetis had a child by Poseidon or Zeus; while the Trojan War was not eschatological, per se, nonetheless it was a world-altering event, and not only for Greek tradition generally. this is from Percy Jackson...but, it's hard to find images of the necessary deities!

Okay…so this is from Percy Jackson…but, it’s hard to find images of the necessary deities!

3. The attempted coup. The following is an incident I have rarely, if ever, seen discussed amongst modern polytheists. Homer’s Iliad I.396-406 and 14.271-279 relates an attempted coup on the rule of Zeus enacted by Poseidon, Athena, and Hera, which was thwarted by Thetis and her bringing up of one of the Hekatoncheires. The story is mentioned in a few other places as well, but is never really fleshed out much more than this. This would have effectively ended the reign of Zeus, just as Ouranos’ and Kronos’ reigns were also ended, though who would have assumed the mantle of kingship at that point is not necessarily clear.

While the previous three examples all involve narratives of averted shifts in the rulership of the gods, the three which follow also have eschatological implications for the souls of humans.

zeus and persephone

4. Zagreus/Dionysos. According to Diodorus Siculus, the Orphic Hymns, Clement of Alexandria, and most at length in Nonnos of Panopolis, Zagreus was the “first-born Dionysos,” begotten by Zeus upon Persephone. According to Nonnos, it was Zeus’ intention that Zagreus inherit the kingship of the gods, and thus be the sovereign of the next stage of the cosmos, so it would seem; but this plan was thwarted when Hera hired the Titans to beguile Zagreus and then slay him. While the variations on what happened next abound, and tend to feed into the Orphic Mysteries in various ways, nonetheless this potential further stage of cosmic progression being obstructed by Hera and the Titans is an interesting variation on what we’ve seen before this (i.e. Zeus obstructing the “next generation,” usually by disposing of the mother in some fashion or other).


5. The Isle of the Blessed. According to Hesiod, Pindar, and Plato, Kronos was not simply sent to Tartaros forever-and-ever by Zeus after the Titanomachy, but instead was sent to the Isles of the Blessed to rule over a new Golden Age with the departed heroes of great renown. Plutarch also describes this in both “On the Face in the Moon” and “On the Obsolescence of Oracles,” and says that it is the island of Ogygia. Why are they sent there? Is it perhaps some sort of Valhalla-like situation, when the heroes at one time will be called again into action against some unknown foe in a final apocalyptic battle? Who is to say…certainly none of the sources mentioning it indicate this.

Demeter and Demophoön

6. Demeter and Demophoön. In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, an incident that is often forgotten, and which has profound implications if it is taken seriously, as I have shared before, and as I have written in a forthcoming essay in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina anthology for Demeter, is the incident of Demophoön. The death of plant life that occurs as a result of Demeter’s grief is not at the initial loss of Persephone to Hades with Zeus’ permission, but instead it follows the (likely) death of Demophoön. Various scholars have suggested that this is because Demeter’s plans were thwarted at this stage, to raise Demophoön as the first of a breed of new immortals that could then challenge the supremacy of Zeus. Instead of that coming about, we got the Eleusinian Mysteries.

While there are a huge variety of other incidents which could (and should!) be discussed in this regard, I have chosen those above because they each illustrate some important points that are often ignored, and which in juxtaposition with one another illustrate some consistent themes. Among these are:

A.) The involvement of the Titans, or of one or two Titans (often Titanesses) in the proceedings.
B.) The involvement of Athena (in the coup, and in being the sister of the forthcoming son).
C.) The involvement of Poseidon (as the potential father by Thetis of the overthrower, or in the coup).
D.) The involvement of Hera (in the coup, or in inciting the Titans to destroy Zagreus).
E.) The involvement of heroes or some other special class of dead or immortals in the afterlife.
F.) And in almost every case, Zeus averts the potential eschatological situation, or in two cases (Kronos’ rule over the Isle of the Blessed, or Zeus’ giving of Persephone to Hades) he sort of “causes” its potential outcome.

For my own part, the Tetrad++’s myths have had their own role to play in all of this, and while I’d expand upon that here further, I don’t feel it is quite appropriate, given that those myths are not universally regarded as a part of Greek (or other worldwide) mythology at this point; nonetheless, I never considered when I was involved in writing those that they would have eschatological implications. Given the involvement of both the Orphic and Eleusinian Mysteries in the above situations, and my own further involvement in the Antinoan Mysteries and in the general cultus of Antinous (which has both Orphic and Eleusinian connections), this is of both profound and imperative concern to explore some of these matters at further length, I think.

So, while this post has attempted to be somewhat comprehensive (though I don’t have the leisure to do full footnotes at present), this is just scratching the surface of the matter at hand. I’d be very interested in hearing any of your own thoughts on these matters; if you are a modern polytheist in any tradition, and especially if you have any Hellenic connections, this is pretty damned important stuff to consider.

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | July 25, 2014

Hermanubis, the Dog Days, Et Al. 2014

Street art in Kioni, Ithaka, Greece; photo by Erynn Rowan Laurie

A Summer’s Tale

Helios, the sun, like a merciless cyclops
looks down on the earth with its one eye
scorching the land, burning it with flames
and the people cry out for rain.

Aristaios taught the people
how to propitiate Zeus and call upon Herakles
for the offenses against Dionysos,
for relief from the heat of the dog-days.

Adonis, at the tusks of a boar,
met his end, his short beautiful flowering
brought low by jealousy in these days,
his lament never-ending afterwards.

Hermanubis, son of Serapis
and of Isis-Sothis, in these days
brings Sirius to align with the sun
and herald the inundation of the Nile.

And in a far-off island of the North
the people look to the sky and see
the eye of Loki looking down
upon them, his intentions inscrutable.

But what of Antinous? What does he
in his beauty and his divinity do on this day?
He teaches devotion, the heart missing
from Aristaios’ ritual and the offenses to Dionysos.

He teaches perception, of nature
and the way the animals move as equally
as the stars in the night’s sky
as they appear on the horizon at dawn.

He teaches the hardest lesson of all:
no matter what is known, what is unknown
looms large, and can hold the worst of luck,
which must be endured to be overcome.

For no one would wish even a cyclops
to be blind if it would make life easier
for millions on the face of the earth–
the gods’ eyes are not our own.


Hail to Aristaios! Hail to Adonis!
Hail to Zeus, Herakles, and Dionysos!
Hail to Hermanubis, Isis, and Serapis!
Hail to Loki! Hail to Helios!
Hail, Hail, Hail Antinous!

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | July 24, 2014

PantheaCon 2015 Wish List?

So, PantheaCon is already accepting session proposals…and, for the first time in many years, I have no fucking idea what I might propose.

It looks like Sunday would be Lupercalia, and I’d like to propose that again therefore…

But beyond that, no clue. I have some vague ideas, but nothing very definite or that is sticking out to me as “necessary” and “must absolutely do,” apart from perhaps an extended Antinoan devotional ritual that is pretty much just prayer and hymn and song after prayer and hymn and song…which may not end up being that popular, but perhaps part of it can also be a divination session…we shall see.

Thus, I’m interested in hearing what you, the readers and PantheaCon attendees (if possible) might like to see the Ekklesía Antínoou, and/or just me, offer at PantheaCon in terms of Antinous, syncretist, reconstructionist, polytheist, queer, and Celtic content.

I’m all ears!

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | July 24, 2014

What do PSVL’s daily practices look like?

A while back (probably a month or more now), MT asked me about my daily practices, and if I could describe them. This is one of many posts I’ve been meaning to write if and when there is time, but I have to admit to some reluctance in doing so, not because I don’t want to share this or anything, but because what I do on a daily basis is really simple, basic, and doesn’t involve anything very fancy, nor is it (despite what you might suspect from this blog and if you know me otherwise!) very wordy at all…in fact, almost all of it is wordless, with a few exceptions. It will take a lot longer to explain what I do than it actually does to do any of it, which I find to be problematic…and yet, appropriate.

Some of the topics I mention here will be getting their own posts as well in the near future, so be ye warned…

When I get up in the morning (or the afternoon, depending on the day involved, what’s going on, how long–if at all–I’ve slept, etc.), I take care of my physical necessities before doing anything, which would include eating breakfast, washing, and getting dressed; sometimes, this takes longer than expected, or gets put off for a while for various reasons, but when I am ready to do my morning practices which officially declare that this is the beginning of the day, I proceed…

What it involves currently is an “around the world” circumambulation, to a certain extent, between five separate shrines I have in my room. I start with my main shrine, which is primarily Antinoan, and thus Graeco-Roman-Egyptian, hosting (almost exclusively) deities who are from or were honored in those cultures, with Antinous dominating the center of it (as seen above, which is how it appeared in early January of this year–there are small variations in it periodically).

The first thing I do when I approach the shrine is to take the Antinous pin that I wear on my outermost garments every day and put that on; it goes over my heart, so that periodically throughout the day I can look at it, but also feel it on my skin at various points. This is who I am representing in the world, and I keep that in mind throughout the day.

Then I collect the various small amulets and tokens that I leave on Sabazios’ offering tile during the night. These include the following things: an amber and wolf-bone bracelet that was a gift from Anomalous Thracian (I carry this for all sorts of reasons that I’m sure avid readers will be able to guess!); a pouch I was given by Lupa after the Bear shamanic healing ceremony she did at PantheaCon in 2010, which I carry to remember my physical health, and because my surname at birth has “bear” as a part of it (so it’s a kind of “ancestral totem” connection, if that makes any sense; a small green hardened wax (I think) image of the ancient Nilotic goddess, which I got as a “free sample” at PantheaCon handed out by some random pagan tchotchkes vendor during another person’s workshop (on amulets, it turned out!), and despite its mass-produced-ness, I cannot bear to discard such a thing, so I have used it ever since as an amulet for Hathor, who is one of the goddesses to whom I am closest, and who has been with me for the longest on a personal level (since 1994, in fact!); and, a pocket knife that belonged to my maternal grandfather, in an effort to remember my ancestors (though that is an area of my practice that is still “under construction,” and I’m just beginning to sort out some of the problems I’ve been having with it). A few other deity-specific amulets are nearby, and if it is appropriate to bring them with me on a given day, I do add them to the mix at that point.

Next, I take up most of the various coins, which I usually kiss before I put them in their pouch. (I also kiss the knife and the Hathor token when I take them up or put them down.) The first I always pick up is the Antinous medallion made by Shawn Postoff and sent to me in 2010 when I was in Michigan–obtaining that piece really set in motion the form of daily practice that I have adopted ever since, and added to gradually as materials and necessity resulted. I usually place this medallion on the lips of Antinous’ main icon (bust) on my shrine before kissing it myself. The coin right beneath it which gets added next, and both sides are kissed, is a replica coin from Alexandria, showing a bust of Antinous on one side, and the syncretized horseback-riding form of Antinous-Hermes on the reverse, which also brings Hermes into the overall constellation of the divine presences I carry with me each day. Next is the first of three Hadrian coins I carry, which has Hadrian on the obverse and an inscription to Disciplina on the reverse, both sides of which I kiss; as she is a goddess that I attempt to honor every day with my disciplined actions, that is very important. Next is a larger Hadrian replica gold coin, from Britannia, which I obtained in Newcastle-upon-Tyne during my pilgrimage in 2003, and I also add a further one that I likewise obtained there after that. The first two of these then each are placed so that their obverse faces (with Hadrian on them) are facing the obverses of the Antinous coins in the pouch; the third one is placed first in anticipation of who is about to join it, i.e. Diva Sabina Augusta, whose coin rests on a small stack of Divae on one part of my shrine. The various coins that are Antinous or any of the deified emperors or empresses rest in front of a replica of Hadrian’s Gate in Athens that is toward the front of my shrine, while the Hadrian coins themselves rest in the “gateway” of it. If there are other Divi or Divae honored on a given day whose coin images I have, I add them to the pouch as well at this stage, before proceeding to the next phase.

The next shrine I visit is my Indian shrine, where I obtain a small box showing the Drona-Mountain-carrying Hanuman on it (which I described recently and alluded to before that), which was a gift from Erynn Rowan Laurie sometime between 2008 and 2009. When I pick this up, I first praise Ram (Jai Shri Ram, Jai Shri Ram!) before kissing the box and praising Hanuman (Jai Hanuman! Jai Hanuman!). As Hanuman is the one who has taught me more about devotion than any other being, divine or living, this is important; and, Hanuman has often been the most helpful deity to me when I’ve been traveling, so that’s often a concern as well.

The next shrine I visit is my newest, which has six deities on it, but the specific one I am concerned with here is Artemis of Ephesus/Upis, from whose feet I obtain the Ephesia Grammata, and I speak their names as I pick up the leather pouch containing them, I shake the bag, and I put it in my pocket. This is for protective purposes mainly, but also serves as my primary divination system if and when needed later in the day. I’ve written a book about it, you know. ;)

The next shrine that I visit is the “Celtic” shrine–and while I am usually the first person to point out that not all Celtic cultures are the same, and they should be distinguished in various ways so as not to give the misinformed picture that they are “the same” any further purchase, the simple fact is I don’t have enough shrine space at present to give the three (and, I hope eventually, five) cultures whose deities or ancestors are honored on it their own individual spaces. From here, I collect the last of the coins to add to my coin pouch, which is the coin of Cú Chulainn. I kiss this, and once it is added to the pouch, I close it up and put it in my pocket.

The final shrine I visit in the morning is my guerilla Shinto shrine–it’s not a kamidana, by any means, but it is kind of the place-holder for one until I am in a position to get one. I put a variety of Shinto-related things there, including ema images of Sarutahiko-no-Okami and Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto, the zodiac year ema from the last few years, the zodiac year bells for the past few years, a white kitsune image representing the Inari which I was given a few years ago, and some wheat stalks from the Shinto shrine. I leave my omamori there, if I have one (which I do at the moment), and likewise any ofuda I might have are placed there. I do the Ni Rei Ni Hakushu Ippai (2 bows, 2 claps, 1 bow) before picking up the omamori and pray as I do so, and then once I’ve picked it up and properly greeted it, I then do the Ni Rei Ni Hakushu Ippai again.

But, that’s not the end of it!

I then return to the main Antinoan/Graeco-Roman-Egyptian shrine, and I kiss four of the images on it: Palaimon/Melkiertes, Bes, Polydeukion, and the main Antinous image. I have a specific pattern of doing the latter, which I won’t detail further here, but suffice it to say, it’s not just a single kiss. I touch the image, and if possible (which it usually is, but I sometimes get momentarily side-tracked), I have my right hand immediately go into the first part of the Ephesia Grammata protection ritual that I do each day, for my own protection as well as that of my shrine in my absence (if, indeed, I am going to be leaving the house that day). A few further gestures and short breathing exercises follow the Ephesia Grammata ritual.

And then I’m ready to go!

If there are offerings to be made on a given day (I only do food offerings on major festival days–even though there’s a lot of those for us, it’s not every single day, e.g. today there weren’t any), I do them after the completion of these basic everyday practices. If there are prayers to be said for a given occasion, I’d also do them after that; but if it is not a major festival, then I don’t do them; occasionally, I do them in a later dedicated ritual period on the holy day in question.

If I am leaving the island for work or some other activity, then the Book of Books must come with me, and it cannot be further than 10′ from me when I do (with some exceptions, which will be getting their own post soon). If I come into work, the first thing I do after I set my things down and take my coat and hat off is kiss my Antinous image at work, and then I say a few lines from “Ave Ave Antinoe” in praise of the Three Aspects of Antinous. If it is the first class of the quarter, or if I expect the subject matter or discussion may be difficult, or if I simply feel I need and/or want to, I do the “Prayer Against Persecution” as well. When I enter and leave the office for any period of time, or when I leave for the day, I also likewise kiss the Antinous image I have therein before going.

If there is a major festival of the day, at some stage I’ll write a new poem/hymn/prayer for it, as I have been doing very consistently (with some exceptions) at least for the current calendar year, which I then share here. They get used later, too, in actual rituals. Because we have so many festivals, this happens a lot, but not necessarily every single day.

At the end of the day, when I am getting ready for bed and know I won’t be going out any more in a given day/night, I do the reverse, visiting the Shinto shrine first, then the Celtic, then Artemis of Ephesus, then India, then the Antinoan shrine I replace everything in a similar fashion to how I obtained them, but in reverse order. If there are food offerings to “revert” at that point, I do; I usually try to leave them until just after midnight, at very least, unless divination otherwise confirms that I can remove them earlier. I may be awake for any number of further hours, and might be doing things on the internet, but I don’t usually leave my room after that other than to use the facilities or get some water or a snack, etc.

I am hoping to do more and better for my ancestors soon, so that will take some further integrating; and likewise, though I often look at Paneros’ image (two tiers above Artemis of Ephesus/Upis), I have not yet found the best way to honor the Tetrad++ Group in this mix on a daily basis yet; my personal hardbound copy of All-Soul, All-Body, All-Love, All-Power: A TransMythology comes with me in the same bundle as the Book of Books; though it is very sacred to me, it’s not quite on the same level as the Book of Books itself–yet–but may get there eventually.

Really, when you get down to it, all of the above takes only ten to twenty minutes a day (though sometimes prayers, rituals, or writing takes anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 hours longer), but because of the very physical nature of these practices, and the fact that I’m literally carrying something of weight and value on my person as a result of them, I am constantly reminded of the presence of these deities when I feel an amulet jangle in my pocket, when one of the drawstrings from the hoodie I’m wearing clinks lightly against the Antinous pin I wear over my heart, or when I am constantly checking to make sure that the Book of Books (in the Bag of Bags!) is where it should be, etc. Far more than praying or meditating every day, having these physical reminders of the presence of my deities is exactly that: having a physical reminder of them, to make it plain that these beings are not only in my head and only present for me when I’m focusing my attention specifically on them. How these things then impact my day-to-day activities is a concern, and not just when I have to go through TSA at the airport: am I changing clothes at some point during the day, and where do the coins and amulets go during that? How am I sitting on this bus, and is it uncomfortable to do so in this position because of this pocket full of amulets and coins? These kinds of questions come up much more often than one might at first realize, as I have come to find and to expect over the last four years since my practice has been of this sort. It also requires whatever clothes I wear to have certain requirements, including the need for a separate pocket that is only used for all of these sacred items–which is why I prefer cargo trousers, but hoodies with securable pockets can also work in a pinch, as can certain other things (but I, thankfully, don’t have to wear those kinds of things as often).

So, there you go: more than 2600 words on what my daily practices involve, in fairly specific (though by no means complete) detail. If this much attention can be paid to what may appear to some folks to simply be minutiae, then imagine what kind of attention I also devote to full-on ritual, and the preparations for it…! ;) I’d be happy to answer any questions on the above folks may have, and to discuss any of it…however, if the force of your discussion amounts to “You don’t really need to do that” or if you are asking “Why do that” in a way that shows you have no respect for my reasons for doing something, I will kindly hand your question back to you with your arse attached. Most of you who read these things are pretty well-behaved, so I shouldn’t have to say that; but, one never knows who might be dropping by to be a putz, either.

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | July 23, 2014

Poseidon and Antinous 2014

Old Sailor, New Sailor

Two men stand on the deck.

One has salt-flecked hair older than time,
tangled from winds long since abated.

The other has curls like ten thousand tentacles
of all the molluscs of the Mediterranean.

One has seen oceans overrun every land,
and make small isles out of mountain peaks.

The other brought the bounty of a mountain
to an entire river valley, all the way to the sea.

One had received the bodies of the drowned
and turned some into heroes and even gods.

The other did not taste the salty brine
when he took his last breaths and sank.

“I have seen things in my life, boy,
that you cannot possibly imagine for aeons.”

“And I, old man, have seen likewise,
even though my age is a fraction of yours.”

Even an old sailor can learn something from a new.


Hail Poseidon! Hail, Hail Antinous!

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | July 22, 2014

Larry Kramer’s “The Normal Heart” on HBO

When I did another film review recently, I alluded to their being another in the near future. This is not that one, but instead an entirely other one, after having seen a different film last night. It is the recent film version of Larry Kramer’s play “The Normal Heart,” which was made for and shown on HBO back in May. I was only able to see it at last yesterday, and I wasn’t disappointed.


I should say at the outset that this is not a film that I recommend that absolutely anyone and everyone see. It’s not because there is any objectionable content (at least in my opinion–I know others would not remotely agree), but instead because it is what some might consider to be a “depressing” film. Unless you’re feeling really good about your life and are in a secure and emotionally stable position, I’d suggest watching something else, unless you really know the subject, which is the emergence of the AIDS crisis in New York city in the early 1980s. And if you don’t know who Larry Kramer is, this is a start in terms of discussing what his importance is to the modern world in the last 35-ish years.

It’s hard to know where to begin with discussing this film, so I’ll just kind of go scatter-shot in what follows–the somewhat unstrutured and haphazard quality of organization in what follows is not intentional, it’s simply a result of my mental state at present.

In the interests of “full disclosure,” I’ll let you all know that this play is based on my life I was an extra in it–remember that drag queen getting off the boat in the very first scene whose face you never see? I was an historical advisor on it back when I was in Oxford in 1997, I was going to be in an excerpt from the play that was going to be part of a larger LGBT performance night. I had not read the entire play at that stage (that didn’t occur until around 1998-1999), and didn’t know as much about it other than Larry Kramer’s name and a bit of what he did. I was cast as Hiram Keebler (who, though he is referred to a few times later in the play, is only in one scene on-stage), and so I was really curious to see who would end up playing him in this…and I was not disappointed. It was Denis O’Hare, who is best known to modern television-watchers for his role as Russell Edgington in True Blood, which is about as good bona fides as is possible these days.

On some of the other cast members, I have to say that while I thought Mark Ruffalo as Ned Weeks did a pretty good job (with a few bits that I thought could have been done better by him), I have had an aversion to him for a while, pretty much since he was in The Kids Are All Right a few years ago as the straight guy who kind of breaks up a long-term lesbian partnership…and my inability to separate him from his role in that case has made me a bit annoyed at him whenever he appears. (Which is really weird, because I’m usually the first person to point out that actors are separate from their roles…at least in most cases…!?!) I could watch Matt Bomer (who plays Felix, Ned’s boyfriend) do pretty much anything all-the-damn-day and be happy, and he did not disappoint in this; he even managed to make dying of AIDS still “look good,” which I realize it most certainly never does. I have not seen Taylor Kitsch in anything else (though I know of the various films he’s been in over the last few years, I just have not been able to see some of them yet), but he did good in this, and was as nice to look at in actuality as his character was supposed to have been.

tommy boatwright

And while Jim Parsons as Tommy Boatwright was not in this film (nor the play) as much as I might have liked–he is an interesting and strangely full and familiar, likeable character for as little screen time as he has–he did a very good job, I thought. And Alfred Molina, who is always an excellent actor, did a wonderful turn as Ben Weeks, Ned’s (somewhat homophobic) older brother, on which more later. The film has earned ten Emmy nominations, including for all of the previously-mentioned actors (and several more), and for directing and writing.

Something I realized rather oddly during the film is that, because I have a good memory back to 1980 (and a little before), and my impressions of the world were really shaped in the early 1980s, and this film was definitely a “period piece” for that timeframe, nonetheless it felt–if I may use the term from the title–normal and not like what a film that took place 30+ years before the present “ought” to feel like in most cases. THe clothes and hairstyles and such were all things that would not be out-of-place now, I felt, and were appealing all around. The look of the thing was quite good, which is always important in my opinion, so well done to Ryan Murphy (the director and producer) and the rest of the production crew!

What scenes did I like best? Here’s a few:

–One that was oddly poignant to me was when Estelle, a lesbian who ends up working on the GMHC hotline, shows up for the first time and volunteers to help with the effort, the day after her friend Harvey died. There was a nod to the fact that lesbians and gay men have not always gotten along very well (which was especially true at that point), and Tommy Boatwright welcomes her into the proceedings. I think this was probably my favorite scene, and one that I felt especially emotional about, given some of my own interests and wider concerns.

ned and felix

–The first time that Ned and Felix had sex, and the flashbacks that happen before it, was also tastefully done: just enough nudity to make it hot, but not excessive or pornographic (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I don’t think one’s drama should be porny when there’s porn for that!). Before they got down to it, Felix also observes that “men don’t naturally not love,” the way that gay relationships (and any relationships involving men, for that matter!) have often been portrayed.

–The scene when Ned’s brother–a lawyer–meets Felix and says, “I wish I would have met you sooner,” which is pretty much the turning-point for that character. What follows shortly after this is the very best and most moving wedding scene in a film I’ve ever seen, I think.

–The very brief moment when Tommy Boatwright punches a protestor in front of their office…as he should have!

–There’s a scene, which I don’t remember from the play (though it’s been a long time since I read it–although given that Larry Kramer did write the screenplay, this may have been added, as I don’t know that some of this was as known then as it is now), in which Ned Weeks talks about some of the “fighters” amongst the historical gay community (though I do have some problems as a social constructionist with such essentializing), and he names Alexander the Great (whose birth we just celebrated!), but then goes on a bit more about how, basically, Alan Turing was the reason the Allies won World War II. While that might be a bit of an overstatement, his overall point is really good, that “if more people knew this, then young gay men wouldn’t be afraid or ashamed.”

There’s a great deal more that this film made me think of, or made me realize. One of the major conflicts that takes place between the prominent members of the GMHC is that many of them had been advocates for gay rights, and for the right to be open sexually (however one might wish to define that), and that because AIDS is (not only) sexually-transmitted, they might have contributed to its spread, and how devastating this was for them to contemplate, amidst people shouting that if they couldn’t have sex they may as well be dead and so forth. It also highlights (though not directly or in specific statements) how very often it was white and privileged gay men (initially without lesbian involvement) who were doing a lot of this early AIDS activism work; there were lines in the original play about that, which didn’t make it to the screen in my recollection.

Something else that I think might make this an interesting film to consider from a polytheist viewpoint is that it discusses leadership and how difficult it is, and how often trying to make things egalitarian or by committee isn’t always effective, and that politics are extremely complex. There is a kind of confrontation that takes place eventually on whether or not one wants powerful advocates and speakers in positions of leadership who happen to be assholes, or if the fact that some might think such individuals may make the whole movement “look bad” has to trump the effectiveness of such leaders in getting the desired message out there effectively and directly. These are questions that our own polytheist movement is currently debating amongst its leadership, even when not doing so directly or explicitly, and that PR issue is being constantly addressed in a great deal of the discussions that have taken place over the internet in recent months and years. Food for thought, certainly.

So, while I’m sure there is a great deal more that could be said about the film–and most of what I’ve said here is “good,” I think–I’ll leave it at that for the moment. I thought it was great, and was glad I finally got to see it; however, if you’re not in the right sort of mood for it, and are not prepared to get angry right alongside all of the characters in it amidst a paralyzing tide of fear, death, lack of information, and frustration, then I’d suggest putting it off for another day.

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | July 21, 2014

Confirmation of the Tetrad++, 2014

The trans* and gender-variant dead speak, and call forth their names:

Panpsyche, All-Soul, the first to come to birth;
Panhyle, All-Body, co-existent with the first;
Paneros, All-Love, to conquer all bodies and souls;
Pancrates, All-Power, to realize love in all places;
Paneris, All-Strife, to create change where it is needed;
Panprosdexia, All-Acceptance, to fight the hard battle of reconciliation.

The gods have given them birth and being;
the ancestors have cried out for them to come forth;
the world needs them now more than ever it has.

The Tetrad++ are confirmed among the holy powers.


Just yesterday, Sannion alerted me to a passage from Irenaeus of Lyons’ Adversus Haeresis in which he discusses the Marcosians, a post-Valentinian Gnostic group of the second century CE founded by one “Marcus” who was a contemporary of Irenaeus, which talks of a Tetrad (and the term “Tetrad” appears throughout Book I in the dicussion of the Valentinians as well):


1. This Marcus(2) then, declaring that he alone was the matrix and receptacle of the Sige of Colorbasus, inasmuch as he was only-begotten, has brought to the birth in some such way as follows that which was committed to him of the defective Euthymesis. He declares that the infinitely exalted Tetrad descended upon him from the invisible and indescribable places in the form of a woman (for the world could not have borne it coming in its male form), and expounded to him alone its own nature, and the origin of all things, which it had never before revealed to any one either of gods or men. This was done in the following terms: When first the unoriginated, inconceivable Father, who is without material substance,(3) and is neither male nor female, willed to bring forth that which is ineffable to Him, and to endow with form that which is invisible, He opened His mouth, and sent forth the Word similar to Himself, who, standing near, showed Him what He Himself was, inasmuch as He had been manifested in the form of that which was invisible. Moreover, the pronunciation of His name took place as follows:–He spoke the first word of it, which was the beginning(4) [of all the rest], and that utterance consisted of four letters. He added the second, and this also consisted of four letters. Next He uttered the third, and this again embraced ten letters. Finally, He pronounced the fourth, which was composed of twelve letters. Thus took place the enunciation of the whole name, consisting of thirty letters, and four distinct utterances. Each of these elements has its own peculiar letters, and character, and pronunciation, and forms, and images, and there is not one of them that perceives the shape of that [utterance] of which it is an element. Neither does any one know(5) itself, nor is it acquainted with the pronunciation of its neighbour, but each one imagines that by its own utterance it does in fact name the whole. For while every one of them is a part of the whole, it imagines its own sound to be the whole name, and does not leave off sounding until, by its own utterance, it has reached the last letter of each of the elements. This teacher declares that the restitution of all things will take place, when all these, mixing into one letter, shall utter one and the same sound. He imagines that the emblem of this utterance is found in Amen, which we pronounce in concert.(6) The diverse sounds (he adds) are those which give form to that AEon who is without material substance and unbegotten, and these, again, are the forms which the Lord has called angels, who continually behold the face of the Father.(7)

Part of this Tetrad’s number is a person called Aletheia, “truth,” which is part of one of the names of Pancrates of the Tetrad++, interestingly enough!

So much more could be said; however, what I’m far more interested in is how the Tetrad++ may have been appearing in your own lives. Please tell me about any and all of your experiences with them recently in the comments below, and how you might plan to celebrate them today!

Hail to Panpsyche and Panhyle!
Hail to Paneros and Paneris!
Hail to Pancrates and Panprosdexia!

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | July 20, 2014

At Sixes and Sevens: Further Thoughts on the Ephesia Grammata…

There is a kind of “Murphy’s Law” phenomenon that I have observed in relation to a great deal of my published writings: some intriguing insight, further research, or other such revelation often comes after the completion of a given piece of writing, thus making the published piece, to some extent or another, obsolete. It is a difficulty which many writers face, the notion that one can endlessly revise any given piece of writing to infinity, and thus one might never feel it is ready for a wider audience in published form. Such a notion has occasionally plagued me, but I have been very good at overcoming it generally speaking. But since it has been almost two years since I had a complete monograph released (despite working on several meanwhile!), it seems that perhaps the time has come to have a particularly bad case of those post-publication reservations with my latest book, Ephesia Grammata: Ancient History and Modern Practice.

In the immediate aftermath, as well as the next several weeks, after finishing this text, I have been able to give voice to some of these new insights in various poems (here and here, for starters–and others will be forthcoming, either on this blog or in print elsewhere in both fiction and poetic forms). The phenomenon that I had not remotely considered, though, and which I am very foolish for having not realized as a possibility, was the excellent conversations that would result from my presentation on the Ephesia Grammata at the Polytheist Leadership Conference in Fishkill, NY from July 11th-13th, 2014. While I have had some discussions of this material with colleagues over the years via e-mail and blog post comments, and on a few occasions during in-person meetings, and likewise I gained some very useful insights from my presentation on this same topic at PantheaCon in 2014, I had not considered that some of the useful discussions which would follow on this most recent occasion might yield results that should be codified, so to speak, in a publication accompanying the book I recently completed. While a “second edition” might be possible in the future, I would like to refrain from doing that at present for a variety of reasons, and instead share these insights here (and likely in a slightly-altered from the present form in another publication to follow in the near future).

I would like to group my new insights on these matters arising from the discussion during my presentation into three groups, based on three particular questions or comments that followed from it, attributed individually below as they are discussed. The three insights were on the issue of the numbers six and seven as witnessed in different sets of the “canonical” Ephesia Grammata, the correlation of the set of six to two (and possibly three) Antinoan Triads, and the connection of the statue of Artemis of Ephesus to a description of Hekate in the Chaldean Oracles. These intriguing discussions were from people that I have known and associated with regularly for the past several years in-person, from people that I had not met in-person until the conference itself despite a multiple-year correspondence on blogs and e-mail, and from one person that I had never met nor heard of previous to the conference.

2011 Pirelli Calendar - Apollo and Artemis

The individual I had not met previously, nor was even aware of until meeting her at the conference, was Jessica Orlando. There was a discussion going on regarding why the number six–the “canonical” number of the letters in the Ephesia Grammata–might have been associated with it, and if this number had anything to do with their knowledge amongst late antique rabbis with esoteric interests. Jessica then suggested that because six is a number associated with Artemis as the day of her birth, and on which she was celebrated in the months of both Boedromion and Thargelion (Noel Robertson, Religion and Reconciliation in Greek Cities: The Sacred Laws of Selinus and Cyrene [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009], p. 336). The following day, the seventh, is sacred to Apollon, as outlined as early as Hesiod’s Works and Days (line 771; p. 86 of Athanassakis’ translation). While the six canonical Ephesia Grammata are said to be written on Artemis of Ephesus’ cult image, very interestingly the inscriptions which give seven letters are invariably connected to Apollon rather than Artemis in any direct fashion; it was the protective capacity of these amulets and spells, and the attribution of the Ephesia Grammata’s protection of Croesus and the involvement of Apollon in this, which comes to the fore in the instances where the seventh letter is included amongst the set of the canonical six. Perhaps the numerical associations of these deities with six and seven, respectively, is what created their association with Artemis and with Apollon. This is a keen and important insight, and one that would not have come about without the attentive knowledge and appreciated contributions of Jessica Orlando, for which I am most grateful.

At the beginning of my presentation, as I often do, I set up a temporary shrine to a number of important deities and other divine beings with whom I am in devotional relationships, which consisted mostly of six 2′ x 2′ banners depicting one or more ancient images of the divine beings involved. Then, I began my official presentation by singing them two of our common prayers from Ekklesía Antínoou practice. Interestingly, these were not either Artemis of Ephesus nor Apollon, but instead were Antinous, Hadrian, and Sabina, and then also the Trophimoi of Herodes Attikos–Polydeukion, Memnon, and Achilles. While the prayers were mainly dedicated to Antinous and Polydeukion, Divus Hadrianus and Diva Sabina are mentioned as well in the Antinous prayer, and likewise Achilles and Memnon are mentioned in the Polydeukion prayer.

I was later asked by Amaranthia L.V. Cunicula during the discussion, as a result of the six images of the six heroes, Divi, and deity being before everyone if there was a correlation between the Ephesia Grammata and the six divine beings. Strangely enough, I had not ever considered this, and it was somewhat by fortuitous happenstance that these six images were the ones that accompanied me to the conference: I had intended to bring them specifically, but had not realized that the six of them might relate to the six letters. I wrote in the book about the correlation between the Tetrad++ Group and the Ephesia Grammata, and likewise suggested that each of the letters might likewise correspond to a number of different deities, and in a list given in the book, I connected Antinous specifically to DAMNAMENEUS. I am quite certain that such a correlation exists now, and I have pursued it further in various ways since the conference.

The associations that I have ascertained are as follows:

ASKION: Diva Sabina
KATASKION: Divus Hadrianus
LIX: Memnon
TETRAX: Achilles
AISIA: Polydeukion

Interestingly, these are two of the most important triads in Ekklesía Antínoou practice, only one of which has been fully detailed previously. However, what might one use if one includes the seventh letter, ENDASION? Two possibilities suggest themselves:

ENDASION: Herodes Attikos; Lucius Marius Vitalis

Why these two? In the prayer to Polydeukion, Herodes Attikos is also mentioned. Apart from Hadrian, he is the only other person in these groupings who has a beard, and thus the meaning of ENDASION as “hairy” would be most appropriate to him. Lucius Marius Vitalis’ inclusion would then make a third Triad appear amidst these other two, in that together with Antinous and Polydeukion, he is the third member of the Treískouroi. His life is even less well-understood than that of Polydeukion or Antinous, and thus his is the most “difficult” of this Triad, and thus the sense of ENDASION as “hairy” in the modern sense of “difficult” would likewise be appropriate. The further thought on these matters which has resulted from Cunicula’s question is most appreciated.

“Chaldean Oracles Hekate” by Jane Estelle Trombley

Finally, one fascinating suggestion was made by Dr. Edward P. Butler, based on the remarks by Pausanias the Lexicographer that the Ephesia Grammata were written on the crown, girdle, and feet of the statue of Artemis of Ephesus. He likewise mentioned that he had recently written an article (“The Henadic Origin of Procession in Damascius,” Dionysius 31 (December 2013), pp. 79-100 at 90-92) which referred to a passage from Damascius discussing the crown and girdle of Hekate from a likely fragment of the Chaldean Oracles (though I cannot locate the fragment in Ruth Majercik’s edition of the fragmentary text at present). The passage from Damascius reads:

the partition [merismos] of the many internal parts of each perfect-whole [holotelous] source that are partitioning themselves [merizomenôn] is anticipated by the partial sources subsisting externally around the universal sources. For the cosmos surrounding the parts corresponds [analogei] to the parts organized [kosmoumenois] by the very divine shape; the Girdle corresponds to the Goddess’ girdled flanks, the Crown to the temples and the front of the divine head. In turn, this division into parts of the Goddess, being horizontal and a series from the emanation of the hebdomad, is anticipated vertically in the monad, united [sunênôtai] in the impartible and whole (DP III 39.1-11).

In Dr. Butler’s words:

I discuss a pretty enigmatic passage where Damascius works with a Chaldean Oracle fragment about the cosmogonic function of Hekate’s crown and girdle. I think that some of what I say in the article about divine “equipment” becoming autonomous and generating spaces of intelligibility could be applied very profitably to the Ephesia Grammata.

In the context of the discussion during the presentation at the Polytheist Leadership Conference, Dr. Butler then asked, if one were to ascribe the six words to the specific parts of Artemis of Ephesus’ cult image outlined by Pausanias the Lexicographer, which would go where? The answer I came up with on the spot, and which I still agree with, would be that ASKION KATASKION should be on the feet or sandals of the image; LIX TETRAX should be on the girdle; and DAMNAMENEUS AISIA should be on the crown. I arrived at the middle of these three by the matter that LIX TETRAX seems, in origin, to go back to verses having to do with goats, and Sarah Morris has suggested that the distinctive “multi-breasted” imagery of Artemis of Ephesus in fact is a localized Anatolian counterpart to such familiar Greek images as the aigis or the Golden Fleece, and thus it would make the most sense for these to be at the level of the goddess’ girdle. Because DAMNAMENEUS is associated with the sun, and AISIA with voice and words, these seemed obvious as the letters most appropriate for the goddess’ head. And thus, ASKION KATASKION suggested itself by process of elimination. I think this is a viable suggestion for the present, and I plan to write each of these pairs of the canonical six letters on ribbons, which I will then tie around the appropriate parts of the image of Artemis of Ephesus which I have in my home shrine, and where I place my own Ephesia Grammata set each night when I sleep.

artemis of ephesus

While I am still somewhat ambivalent about my failure to include some of these matters in the published book, and am feeling rather foolish for not having asked some of these questions or pursued a few of these matters earlier, at the same time, it is infinitely better to add these things in than to simply ignore them or marginalize their importance by not sharing them publicly. The matter of “six” was particularly important to all of these three further questions and discussions, but of course the subject of “seven” also came into the first of them. It seems almost a bit too perfect that the phrase “either at sixes or at sevens” is a phrase in British slang that goes all the way back to Chaucer, and has been likewise used in Shakespeare, Gilbert & Sullivan, and Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musical Evita, reflects not only my own confusion and disarray and ambivalence for not having considered these matters, but also quite literally describes several of the matters themselves. With any luck, the present discussion will do something to alleviate some of that uneasiness–I know it has done so for me, certainly. I thank Jessica, Cunicula, and Dr. Butler very much indeed for providing the prompts for these further insights!

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | July 20, 2014

Birth of Alexander the Great, 2014


While The Temple Burned

Fire struck the temple of Artemis in Ephesus,
and the people of that city cried out in fear:
their matron had deserted them, it seemed.

But Apollon asked his sister directly,
as she flew from Ionia to Macedon,
“What errand takes you away from Ephesus?”

“It is the birth of one of our brothers,
a son of Zeus, that I must now assist,
just as I assisted with your own birth.”

“Your temple, sister, will be in ruins,
and what salvation will you then offer
to the people there who worshipped you?”

“My wooden image may be destroyed,
but its silhouette in their minds
cannot be forgotten, will be made again…”

“And yet, even in stone, what protection
will it have from fire or flood,
or the clubs of barbarian attackers?”

“On the sandals, ASKION, KATASKION;
on the girdle, LIX, TETRAX,
and on the crown, DAMNAMENEUS, AISIA.”

“But yet, it had those before, and now see,
the fire has not avoided it. The vain pride
of Herostratus in arson, not Zeus’ bolts, have brought it low.”

“The birth of our brother will see it built again,
even though the Ephesians will not allow him
to shoulder the cost of it alone, after his death.

“And even greater still, the image will go out
to other lands across the seas, to new temples,
to places it has never been before.

“All this because our brother, a new Dionysos,
will carry our traditions to the furthest lands
and bring a new era of prosperity to the gods.”

“If this is your choice, sister, then I give you
the seventh letter of protection for your statue:
ENDASION, to be written secretly across your heart.”

“Your word brought salvation to Croesus,
the pyres extinguished, his daughters with him
taken to better lands in Hyperborea.

“May your word, too, protect our new brother
in his travels to lands as distant and rich
to the east and to the south in his short life.”

“It will be as you have said, sister.
The fool who set the fire has made occasion
for a holocaust of a temple to be received

“by gods who will honor such a sacrifice
in ways that the arsonist cannot imagine:
he will be cursed, while our brother will be blessed.”



Hail Artemis of Ephesus! Hail Apollon! Hail to Alexander the Great!

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