Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 21, 2014

Antinous and Hadrian in Eleusis, 2014

In the Rharian Field

They had come with the thousands from the Telesterion,
they had done things, seen things, said things,
and now it was time, after the bull sacrifice,
for dancing and rejoicing the entire night through.

It had only been a flash, he thought, perhaps
some confusion in the dazzling aurora of the holy fire,
a trick played on his mind by frail materiality
and not what it had seemed to be by his insight:

the dead, who had been initiated at Eleusis,
passing back for a hundred generations,
all massed before him, even larger in number
than all those gathered there multiplied by a thousand.

They did not appear dazzled, as did his fellows
still shrouded (or burdened, some might say) with skin,
but instead silent, joyous, peaceful, and hopeful,
yet still expectant…and, so it seemed, armed.

It was a legion multiplied a hundredfold,
none of them wearing an obol’s worth of armor,
none of them wearied like the shades of death
were supposed to be, their gaze fixed on Her–

and he turned for a moment to see the Goddess
Herself, Demeter, in all her glory,
holding a sheaf of wheat…no, a spear
that was wheat flattened and sharpened to a point

grasped in the jaws of a straightened serpent,
a spear-shaft more sturdy than iron-shod ash,
lowered, but about to be raised at any moment
to signal the forward advance of her army…

But one thing was lacking: a standard-bearer.
Triptolemus was at her side, and Demophoön
(no longer a child in arms), and Iasion,
but the standard was not given to them

to lead the formation of those in their charge.
The standard was indescribable, the lightning
of the earth, a torch, a secret sacred flame
that waved like a banner in an unfelt wind

and it was as if the Erinyes themselves screamed
around the edges of it, where it singed the fabric
of the visible cosmos in Antinous’ eyes.
“Iakkhos,” the Goddess said, and looked at him,

tossed the standard through the air like a javelin
for him to catch and carry aloft in the march.
He hesitated, raised his arm, opened his hand,
and leapt aloft to catch the divine object…

and Hadrian said to him, “The leaping comes later
when we get to the dance in the Rharian Field, my love.
Quell your eagerness until then, and we shall dance together
that dance that only the initiates have seen!”

Several hours later, he saw the Epoptai
teaching the newer Mystai how to do it,
and Hadrian, as nimble as ever, with laughter
showed him the most basic step, and the grand leap

that signaled the end of the sequence,
of which he said, “The Goddess Below exults
when the leap is carried out–so make yours
worth her praise, Antinous! The Kore relies upon you!”

He smiled, and shuddered in the roots of his soul
to know why She would rejoice such at it,
and the pleased Goddess who would lead them into battle.
He was not ready to dance, just yet.

*****

Hail to the Great Goddess Demeter!
Hail to the Goddesses Below!
Hail to Iakkhos!
Hail to Hadrian and Antinous!

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 20, 2014

DRUIDS ON PARADE!!!

DruidsNix0006

Well, not really…but, I’ve always loved the idea of something called that, based on Weird Al Yankovic’s film UHF. ;)

In actuality, I’m going down to Seattle shortly, with Amaranthia L.V. Cunicula at the helm, to see Disirdottir, Faoladh, and Rhyd Wildermuth, and hang out a bit. As all of those four individuals, as well as myself, are or have been connected to CR or CR-related practices in various ways over the years, it’s kind of funny to call this little gathering “Druids On Parade!” Or, at least I think it is. Two have been involved as Assistai in the Antinoan Mysteries, too, and perhaps one of the others may be initiated eventually (Antinous hopes!), so we’ll see how that all pans out in the future…

But even apart from that, things are extremely busy, and thus I’ve been much more quiet here this week than usual. Oh well…that’s what happens when the quarter at college is about to start again. I hope to respond to some e-mails several of you have sent in the next few days, even despite everything, but I think tomorrow and Monday are going to be difficult at best…

I hope everyone’s weekend turns out well!

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 19, 2014

Eunostos and Antinous 2014

From the Grove at Tanagra

From the sacred grove at Tanagra in Boeotia
Eunostos and Antinous went to the sea
to bathe on the occasion of Eunostos’ hero-feast.

Said Antinous to Eunostos, “Your name is famous,
and held by so many–the harbor at Alexandria;
the god of good yields at the mill with Promylaia;
the brother of Pythagoras; and the Cypriot king
who was the son-in-law of Thaïs, husband of Eirene.
And yet you are none of these, and distinct from all,
as I am from the Antinous who besieged Penelope.”

Eunostos answered, “Would that more amongst mortals
thought as you did, Antinous, for the hero who willingly died
that ships might come in safe to Alexandria
has often been thought to be me, though my death
was far more cruel and had nothing of virtue in it.”

“But you are a hero, as I am, and how can virtue
be absent from the life of any hero?”

“If by virtue you simply mean the vigor
expected of all men in difficulties and trials,
then I had it no more than any other;
if by virtue you mean the steadfastness
which is expected of women in their chastity,
then I had it far more than most men,
though it was for propriety’s sake that I demonstrated it–
and it was for that very virtue that my spirit was restless,
deprived of justice and wronged by treachery,
which does not allow one’s shade to be at rest.
For that betrayal of what was right, I raged
like a storm at sea and the shuddering of the earth,
and for this I was given the honors of a hero.”

“I am reminded, my friend, for some strange reason,
of the Phoenician Echmoun, who is himself,
and not Dionysos nor Asklepios nor Lykeian Apollon–
though in your own case, our votary shares the mantle
of our Arcadian tradition from Lykeios himself
in the running of the Luperci in Rome.”

“Indeed–and how strange it is that women
were not allowed among their ranks in those times,
just as women were prevented from entry
into my grove in Tanagra for fear
that it might cause me to become angry
and ravage my own home territory!”

“This has always puzzled me, Eunostos:
did you truly hate women with such fervor
because of your cousin’s treachery?”

“No and never–what virtue of any sort
is found in the hatred of women?
That custom was only the bias of fools
who assumed that blame would pass to all
of a particular gender in my name,
rather than honestly admitting the fault
for exclusion of women was their own.
Eunosta, the nymph who nurtured me,
was as good a mother as one could hope for,
and proof against ever impugning
the entirety of the feminine populace.
It was Myrtis of Anthedon, a great poetess,
who first gave voice to my story,
not any poet of men, thus I owe
a debt to women yet again because of her.
Though it was Ochne’s conniving
that brought about my death, was it not
her brothers who themselves killed me,
and yet I bear no ill-will toward men
as a general species–why, therefore, women?”

“A most sensible set of conclusions,
Eunostos, and an end to questions on this matter.”

“And the sea is calm and clear, Antinous–
let us enjoy this purification at present.”

*****

Khaire Eunoste! Khaire Khaire Antinoe!

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 15, 2014

Disciplina Now Has A Face…

Normally, for a matter of this nature, I wait until I “have the thing in my hand” before posting about it…but, this is just way too important to keep under wraps meanwhile.

We are a bit spoiled for visual imagery in the cultus of Antinous, because there are more surviving images of him than anyone else from the ancient world with two exceptions, one of which is his lover Hadrian. And, Polydeukion is the person with the most surviving images from the entire span of ancient Greek history that was not a politician or ruler of some sort. Even though Antinous and Polydeukion are by no means “household names” (except in certain awesome households!), nonetheless, there is this visual feast to be had for both of them, even though some of us might wish that feast to be richer than it is…

However, we cannot say the same thing for the goddess Disciplina. There are dedications to DISCIPLINA AUGUSTA and such in a variety of places, but none (to my knowledge) had images attached to them or accompanying statuary. When she is named on coin reverses with Hadrian, the usual picture accompanying it is of a legionary formation with their standard in the front.

And yet, when I have thought of her for the past number of years that I have done cultus to her, I’ve always had a pretty clear picture of her…which I described to Galina Krasskova recently, and which Grace Palmer then rendered into a stunning visual image.

Disciplina by Grace Palmer

Is she not glorious?

I cannot thank Galina enough for commissioning the prayer card of Disciplina, which has a prayer by me on the back; and I also cannot thank Grace enough for such a superb rendering of this most important but so often neglected goddess.

Ave Disciplina!

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 14, 2014

Against Built-In Obsolescence

I am always interested in what Rhyd Wildermuth is writing, and it was good to see him the day before the EBC started last weekend. While what I’m about to write about here is a minor concern within his overall framework and lines of argumentation–and, though I may not be correct on this, I don’t know if he has addressed this matter directly thus far–nonetheless, I’m in a situation at present which makes it pertinent to discuss the following.

Something that I have hated since the 1990s is the way in which some aspects of modern technology have built-in obsolescence. I suspect that if I got into the attic and dug out the Commodore 64 that we bought used back in the 1980s (if, indeed, it is still there to be found, which I suspect it isn’t), it would probably work just as well as it did back then, with its slow loading times and its 8 baud modem and so forth (although the latter would not be able to do anything with the modern internet!). I also have two 8-bit Nintendo systems in my storage unit somewhere, and I’m sure those would work fine, too.

But, since 1998, I’ve had five computers, of both the desktop and laptop variety. At the moment, only two of those are in my possession, and only one of them (the laptop I’m writing this on at present) is functional. I was working on some essays last night on the desktop, since it is the only computer I have which has Word on it, and luckily, before I decided to restart it and see if I might get better performance out of it, I sent myself the five files I had open as backups. When I restarted the computer, it wouldn’t get past the initial white Apple screen. After letting it try to restart for about a half hour, I turned it off entirely, and hoped that when I tried it again today, it might work. When I turned it on today, it came up with the same screen, but then after about two minutes, it simply shut off with no further notice or activity. I tried that again, and had the same result. It’s pretty much dead, thus, but I’m hoping that the data can be recovered from it, because there’s A TON there (all of the books I’ve written, for starters…). While this is a monumental inconvenience for me, and could be very potentially disastrous if I can’t recover the files there at all, the most infuriating aspect of this is that the computer is only six years old. However, by many estimates, having it for six years would be considered “a good run.”

What the fucking fuck?

Here’s something that never ever happens (or, when it does, it’s because of neglect and stupidity): you buy a book, and then in six years it can no longer be read just because you read it a few times before, and maybe read one particular chapter multiple times and kept referring back to the same ten pages on many occasions. That would never happen, unless someone had the worst possible book etiquette imaginable, set and spilled drinks on it, never washed their hands and kept touching it, dog-eared all of the pages, broke the spine, and so forth. (And one of the reasons I don’t allow people to borrow books any longer is because people treat them like that, and then get mad at me when I express annoyance or disappointment in them when they return them to me trashed…if they return them at all, which is also a problem.)

At PantheaCon a few years ago (2009, in fact), on the final morning, when I was carrying all of my luggage, I accidentally dropped one of my bags while crossing the street to the Double Tree, which happened to have a can of soda in it. Had it been any other can of soda, it would have been fine, but that one had a structural flaw in it, and so it sprang a leak and got all over everything in the bag, and I didn’t realize this until several minutes later. (Thank all the gods that this was pre-Book of Books…!) Someone that I was acquainted with very kindly helped me to clean up and salvage what was possible, which was luckily almost everything (though some smaller loose pieces of paper didn’t make it), but one of the things that occurred during this process pissed me off to no end. I was speaking with someone who was in one of the sessions in the few days before when I realized what had happened, and he was singularly unhelpful during the process, other than to say “That’s too bad.” During the clean-up with assistance by my good acquaintance, I expressed some worry that a new book I had just purchased the day before might be severely damaged or ruined; luckily, it wasn’t ruined, but it does have stains on many of the pages’ tops as a result. The unhelpful jerk offered the following bit of sage advice when it came to the possibly damaged book: “You know, you could try to clean it up as best you can; or, you could always just buy another one.” I wanted to comment on what an overprivileged cock-bag he was, but I was too preoccupied with trying to save my book. The book was relatively rare, and somewhat expensive ($55), and at that point, it was my one purchase for the entire convention, which meant that on several fronts, I couldn’t “always just buy another one.” The jerk who was saying these things was clearly well-off financially, but what really amazed me was his throwaway attitude, especially considering that he was (at least) in his 60s at the time. I thought such attitudes characterized younger generations much more, for all sorts of reasons, but with that particular individual, I was sadly mistaken.

Reader, I killed him, skinned him, and made a new version of the book out of that, then had a nice meal with what remained. I have not run across that individual ever since, and I don’t really think that’s a bad thing.

As an animist, of course I don’t think that “things are just things,” EVER, and thus when I buy something, I consider that I’m making a life commitment to it. I do tend to get more upset over things like clothes and shoes wearing out over time than many people do, and I especially get upset if I have to replace certain items that ought to be longer-lasting, in my view. So, the matter of computers really gets me very upset where built-in obsolescence is concerned. With cell phones, it’s the same thing; I’ve managed to only own three cell phones in my life thus far. The first was in Ireland, and it was given to me in early 2001 after someone who was only there for a semester headed home. That lasted me for several years, and then I had to get a new one in 2003, I think, which lasted for the rest of the time I was living there, and the few trips I made back in 2006 as well. (I still have it, I suspect, in a box somewhere in the storage unit.) The third phone is a flip phone, which I call a “dumb phone,” which doesn’t have a camera and can’t do most things that people associate with cell phones these days other than make calls or text (and I use it as an alarm clock and occasional calculator as well), and I got it in 2007. It is also pre-paid (which all of the ones I had in Ireland were as well), so I end up spending about $35 on credit for it once every two months at very most these days. It still works nearly as good as it always has, and I don’t plan on getting a different one, not only because I am against the ways in which cell phones have eroded social life and culture tremendously, but also because I can’t afford a data plan these days with all of the other bills I have to keep up with (i.e. mostly student loans). Since I have also never driven nor owned a car, that is a big savings overall, but it’s another area in which I can “opt out” of the consumerist, capitalism-based phenomenon of built-in obsolescence. It’s amazing that the standard now is “make a decent-enough product that wears out ofter three years in order to have repeat customers” rather than “make a high-quality product that will last a very long time if cared for properly, and get the esteem of your customers so that they’ll recommend you to others and will likewise buy other products in your range.”

The other item that most infuriates me as far as built-in obsolescence goes is the insulin pump that keeps me alive. I’ve had four of them in the 22 years I’ve had insulin pumps, which is actually quite good as far as a track-record goes (I should be on my fifth now, by most standards). When I got the first one in 1992, I was told they last 10 years or so. Mine only lasted about seven, and it turned out that the one I had was registered to someone else, and had been partially-second-hand when I was told it was in fact new. I got a replacement that was a refurbished one of the same model, which was only supposed to last five years, and it ended up lasting about six. I then got an older model refurbished one for a lot less, which lasted me close to five years. I’ve had the present one since mid-2009, and I’m a bit worried about it. When this one dies, it will be $5,000 to get a new one, and even though I do have insurance coverage at present, they can be remarkably crappy about these matters and approving them in a timely fashion, which leaves me holding a very big bill meanwhile (more than a third to around a half of my annual income for the past several years). That this is the “norm” for these things is appalling to me, especially because this is a matter of quality-of-life, if not life-and-death, for someone with a serious ongoing disability, and the upkeep on the insulin pump supplies otherwise costs about $1600 a year, not counting insulin.

Apart from all of the above being an extended whinge on my part, what point am I trying to make here? I’m reminded of what someone I knew said to me in 2003 when I discussed my worship of Antinous. “Oh, that’s like worshipping Isis–it’s old hat and so 200 BCE.” Given that Antinous is a “new” god by the standards of most historians of religion, of course that’s an extremely jaded and incorrect viewpoint (no matter how much “for the laughs” it was stated), but the bigger question to me is: so, does “new is better” also apply to deities? And, who was my friend proposing would have been better or more appropriate to worship in 2003?

This does bring something up, however, that I worry about when it comes to trying to get younger people involved in polytheism. They are used to built-in obsolescence as the default condition of their lives; they don’t get overly attached to their iPods, computers, or cell phones because even teenagers have already had several, even if they’ve managed not to lose or damage them. What is “really old” in the views of many 15-25 year-olds I’ve met is anything older than 10 years. How, then, does one make things from 1000-2500 years ago appealing to that demographic, when they can barely imagine life before the internet and near-universal cell phone ownership? People can’t generally practice reconstructionism on an old computer or cell phone these days; how, then, can they be expected to do it with ancient religions? While there have always been some teenagers (including myself) who were interested in matters from the past no matter what, they’re in the vast minority. It will be interesting to see how this aspect of engaging with the younger generations might work in the near future.

Meanwhile, I have to see if I can work on those things (all Antinous- or polytheism-related) that I luckily backed up before I foolishly tried to restart my computer earlier today…

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 13, 2014

Graeco-Egyptian Magic, Modern Magic, and Words: Where’s the Power At?

While there are continuities and commonalities between many ancient magical practices and more modern ones, there is one matter in particular that has been on my mind lately, which I think is a case of “ne’er the twain shall meet,” and it’s a rather important one.

In brief, it has to do with “verbal magic,” and where in a word the power seems to be.

In ancient Graeco-Egyptian magic as reflected in the Greek Magical Papyri, and the related practices of Hermeticism, theurgy, in addition to some parts of the Chaldean Oracles and so forth from the Hellenistic to the late antique periods, there are specific things known as the voces magicae. Some of these are actual names or words in foreign languages; some of them don’t seem to be from particular languages, but they form words or names nonetheless; and some of them are simply long strings of vowels with the occasional consonant. I also think of the Ephesia Grammata in this regard, since they occasionally appear as voces magicae. As the Chaldean Oracles urges, however, one is not to translate, change, or omit the “barbarous names.” A very important part of this, then, which seems to be inherited from Egyptian practice (or at least it appears to), is the vowels. It is the seven vowels which is where the power is at when it comes to these ancient magical traditions.

However, one of the most common modern magical word-workings, particularly with the making of sigils (at least according to Austin Osman Spare, and pretty much everyone who has followed in his footsteps, which means “practically everyone”!), one takes the words of an intention, removes all the vowels, and then combines and stylizes the remaining consonants into a sigil, which is then charged (and if one believes many magicians on this matter, it’s pretty much “the power of wanking” that makes it work). This is the exact opposite of the ancient traditions, it seems: even if the power isn’t in the consonants themselves, it’s the consonants that give the shape and form to the magical operation.

Ultimately, I think this is a matter of “you pays your money and you takes your choice,” perhaps, but I can report on what I know about from my own experience. The vowel-based ancient magical systems seem to work better with so-called “high magic,” magika hiera, theurgy, and things that we might put more in the realm of religion and of the mode of devotion rather than results-based magic. The consonant-heavy forms of modern sigil magic tends to be results-oriented, “low magic,” thaumaturgy, and so forth. I have a decided talent for the former, and an extremely inadequate track record with the latter. In all of my experiments with sigils in the modern sense, they have not worked. In the cases where I’ve tried making sigils for high magical purposes, they have always included the vowels, and they have always worked. So, in my own experience, I think you can guess which methodology I prefer.

For me, I suppose you could say the soul of the words (perhaps not dissimilar from what Shinto calls kototama), is in the vowels.

What about your own experiences? Are you a vowel-magic person or a consonant-magic person?

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 12, 2014

The Hidden Library

I was going to call this “The Vanished Library,” after the excellent book of the same name by Luciano Canfora, which concerns the Library of Alexandria. Take no substitutes on that particular history, folks–almost everyone who talks about the destruction of the library, whether by Julius Caesar or Christians or others, is wrong, and that book will explain why.

Thank all the gods, my own library is (currently, at least!) in no danger of vanishing, but most of it is quite literally “occulted” at present, unfortunately, hence the title above. But, libraries are on my mind, as I kind of live in a small one now, and have lived in a larger one previously (belonging to Erynn Rowan Laurie). I’m heavily involved in Bibliotheca Alexandrina‘s publications, and likewise have my own line of books, The Red Lotus Library (which, funnily enough, is a “lotus” removed from Scarlet Imprint‘s paperback line, Bibliotheque Rouge!).

neil gaiman's library

While my own library is not as large (though it likely ranges in the 3,000-6,000 range or so, but I couldn’t usefully estimate at present), elaborate, or beautiful as that of Neil Gaiman (shown above), I was in some of the darker recesses of it, so to speak (or at least their nearer dark recesses!), earlier today, when I took a trip out to my secret lab storage unit to put some things out there I won’t be needing for a while, and then look for some others that I will need or wanted soon, or in one case, have been looking for whenever convenient and when I’d come across it again, which has not happened in the last four years at this stage.

The things I was looking for in particular (and managed to find!) were:

1) Tulsi Das’ Ramacharitamanasa, not only to start reading it, but also to read up on the uses of the text for bibliomancy (as there’s an appendix on that subject in the version I have).

2) Two of the Harry Potter books (though I found them all–the other six were in a different box…and I did the math right there, because there are eight official ones in canon, not just seven!) and some things on Chaucer, plus a plethora of photocopied articles and bits of books, for an academic article I’ll be writing.

3) Patricia Lysaght’s The Banshee, for another article I hope to write eventually.

4) Geraldine Pinch’s Magic in Ancient Egypt, which I’ve had since about ’03, but have not seen for the last four years or so, which has some things on Antinous in it. (And, luckily, with the photocopies mentioned above, a bit of a book on Egyptian magic was also found, luckily!) It was in the same box, and within a few books in the stack, of item #3, thankfully! ;)

A few further things turned up that seemed sensible to grab while they were in front of me, and I also have a notion about where some other things might have escaped to, if I don’t find them around here in the near future. But, some other things I’ve been seeking every time I’ve been out there yet elude me…they must be in there somewhere–or at least I hope so–but they’re not proving very easy to find, alas. (A blue file box with several photocopied books in it about Roman Britain, amongst other things…)

After returning, I was thinking about what we know about libraries generally, and about ones from the ancient world that have been lost. Based on what we know of medieval Ireland, and the book lists and such that (still) exist for various medieval Irish collections at particular monasteries, etc., we have about 80-85% of what likely ever existed, according to the most recently academic estimates I’ve heard. I wonder how much there ever was, and which has been lost, relating to Antinous. We know of at least four major literary sources (Pancrates/Pachrates, Numenios, Mesomedes, and Hadrian’s original memoir) that had “something” about him or were solely dedicated to him; I suspect there were others, possibly by Phlegon of Tralles, Herodes Attikos, Arrian of Nikomedia, and perhaps even Suetonius, that would have been roughly contemporary. And, while a profusion of images and coins have survived (though I suspect we’re in better shape with having “all the coins” that concerned Antinous, most likely), think of how many must have been destroyed as well, or how many inscriptions accompanying them were also lost…it’s beyond estimation. It’s a small library, or at least a section of one, in itself that has been lost to the ages, and while I’m doing what I can to not only rebuild it but also add considerably to it, still, it’s not something I can do alone, and I hope that many of you reading this might be doing something to rectify this situation, or are planning to do so eventually…!

I look at my library in almost eschatological terms, I have to admit. Not unlike the notion of “religion in exile,” I have kind of felt like I’ve been in personal exile since 1996, when my library (much smaller at the time) was last all in one place openly displayed. Since then, the entirety of it has never been out of boxes and accessible at one time. When I do finally get my own place where I have complete say over how every room is arranged and what it is used for, there will most certainly be books almost everywhere. There will be a small shrine-related library in the shrine room, certainly, but the rest is going to be on shelves in the main living areas, etc. I’ll try to keep it out of the bedroom, simply because I think bedrooms are best kept for sleeping and other activities (or, at least, in a well-ordered house, they are!), and there’s nothing I am looking forward to more than having a room specifically for sleeping rather than the room I’m currently in being a catch-all living, working, storing, and worshipping space, which simply isn’t working very well. While I do have this singular life and I’m a singular person who happens to be involved in all of these things, nonetheless this is one of those areas where the general modus operandi of polytheism is a good one to apply thoroughly: a bedroom should be for bedding (!?!), an office for working, a shrine room for devotional activities, and so forth. I’ll be happy to cede the “living space” to books and office accoutrements if I’m only in a position to have a two-bedroom, because the second bedroom will be the shrine room.

But this is all very hypothetical until I get an actual full-time contract on a full-time job, where I’m guaranteed to have a regular income such that I’ll be able to afford regular rent, rather than the haphazard situation I’m in now (and have been in for most of the last nine years). Let’s hope, with Antinous’ help, that this will all be occurring, perhaps even by this time next year, if not sooner! ;)

And meanwhile, may Antinous, Thoth, Seshat, Ganesha, Saraswati, Hanuman, Brigid the Poet, Hermes Trismegistus, and all of the other deities of libraries and of books watch over and bless the libraries of all who read this, and the librarians–amateur and professional alike–who care for them!

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 11, 2014

Antínoos Epichórios Theós

This will be relatively short, though it is a HUGE topic…!?!

In Bithynion-Claudiopolis, where Antinous was born, coins were eventually issued referring to him as the EPICHÓRIOS THEÓS. “Epichórios” means “from/of the country,” and when combined with theós, it essentially means “the local god,” which is to say, an indigenous deity. Likewise, inscriptions in Mantineia in Arcadia–the place from which his ancestors came–likewise calls him the epichórios theós. Both of these give us an idea of what his various cultists thought of his ethnic and cultural origins, certainly, and how they connect in particular to two different geographic locations that are linked by the colonial actions of the people of Mantineia in the Thraco-Bithynian areas of Asia Minor.

But, what about us? What good does it do us to say that Antinous is native or indigenous to such far-off places as an extinct Arcadian city-state or the town of Bolu in modern Turkey?

I’ve discussed on a few previous occasions Jonathan Z. Smith’s idea of “here,” “there,” and “anywhere” religions. “Here” are domestic in focus; “there” are communal and temple-based; and “anywhere” can be taken wherever the devotees of those religions end up traveling. The indication of Antinous in the previously mentioned coins and inscriptions makes his religion a “there” religion in those cases, even though he was far more widely worshipped in other “there” locations as well that did not recognize him as a local god.

The challenge for modern polytheists, no matter which deities they worship, is to translate all of these ancient and indigenous “there” religions into “here” religions that can thus also potentially be “anywhere” religions. This would go a long way in making our own religious practices somewhat diasporic even though they’re not indigenous to wherever-we-are now, but it would also make it possible to have our religious practices no longer be “religion in exile” as well, which (despite the useful and even transgressive dimensions the latter can create) would be a very positive and useful development, too.

So the question becomes: how do you make Antinous your own “local god,” wherever it is you live?

It’s not just a rhetorical question, either–I’d be very interested in hearing how you might bring this about, wherever you are and however you decide to do it. (Or, for your own deities, no matter where they came from in the first place.)

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 10, 2014

Alan Moore’s The Mirror of Love

In my poking about last night, I found the following from last year: Alan Moore reading The Mirror of Love in 2013 at Northampton College for an LGBTQ week of events.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, The Mirror of Love was something originally written for AARGH!, a one-off comic for charity in the 1980s that stood for Artists Against Rampant Government Homophobia, which was done in response to Margaret Thatcher’s Clause 28 legislation (which, Moore notes, was only repealed in 2010). The actual AARGH! volume is hard to get these days (though I have a copy!), but The Mirror of Love, re-illustrated by José Villarubia, is available here at the special price of $3!

I do wish that more than Alexander the Great and Sappho get name-checked in it, though. What about Hadrian and Antinous? But, of course, I’d say that…

Moore does also speak above about some future project–which, on further digging turns out is called Providence and will be coming out next year from Avatar Press in a 12-issue comic, which is a kind of sequel/prequel to Neonomicon, which itself was an expansion of The Courtyard–having to do with H.P. Lovecraft meeting someone who was gay and Jewish, and considering what a racist, anti-Semite and homophobe Lovecraft was, that would have been something…!?! I’ll be curious to know what exactly that project is, though…

And, I’ll likely have one more thing on Moore in the not-too-distant future, too, so stay tuned for that!

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | September 9, 2014

“Let the dead bury their dead”

The above subject line is a catchy one, I hope, even though it’s by the Jesus of the gospel-writers…

I’d like to talk in this post about something brought up a while back in comments to another post here, relating to ancestor veneration. But, several other matters also remind me of it.

First, Honoring the Ancestors: A Basic Guide by Galina Krasskova just arrived in the mail today, and I’m looking forward to digging into it in the coming weeks, if all goes well.

Second, my mother’s husband’s mother just died a few weeks ago, and I have been consistently appalled by how he and his family have treated her death. No matter what troubles they had with her in life, the fact is, she was 94 years old, and as she lay dead in her room, they were cleaning it out before her body had even been removed as if she wasn’t there and they were just cleaning up after a mess of hers (and it isn’t as if they didn’t have several weeks left on that month’s rent for the place). When I expressed my condolences to him a few hours later, he said “Oh, it’s all right–she was old.” And, they weren’t even going to have a funeral for her, they were just going to have a family picnic sometime this month when it wasn’t too inconvenient for some of the family to get to it. After some stern encouragement via my mother that this wasn’t respectful, they changed their views on several of these things, and even though she was cremated (which lifelong Catholics like her aren’t supposed to do, but what do they care?), they will be having her funeral this coming weekend. And people wonder why it’s hard to have ancestral cultus that actually works in the modern period…many of our dead relatives don’t even get the chance to become ancestors properly because of disrespect and neglect of this nature.

But, the main prompt on this matter is something that Aine Llewellyn discussed briefly with me in the comments to my blog post from a few weeks ago: namely, what is the situation as far as ancestor veneration goes when a person is already dead?

That probably takes a little bit of explaining, so here’s my attempt.

During my teenage years, there were several occasions on which I ended up dying. Of course, because I came back, those would instead qualify as “near-death experiences,” and not actual death; and yet, in at least two of the three cases, I was dead to the point that by modern paramedic protocols, they shouldn’t have even attempted to revive me because I would supposedly have irreparable brain damage…and, while I can’t say I’m in any way “perfect” in the aftermath of these things, I don’t have any of the problems in that sense that many people who weren’t as lucky as me have in many cases.

I’m also reminded of something said on Sunday at the Esoteric Book Conference having to do with alchemy and Hermeticism: that something has to “descend” three times before it can “ascend.” And, I’ve had three of these “clinically dead” experiences, but have never been that badly off health-wise (though it has been no picnic) since then, and the thing that emerged at the other end of those experiences sophomore year of high school was the roots of my polytheistic cultic practice.

The results of all this had me thinking, at the time (because better resources weren’t available to me) that I might be “a shaman,” because near-death experiences and such similar phenomena, often as results of childhood or adolescent illnesses, are pretty common occurrences for shamans in various indigenous cultures. At that point, the spirits come into their life and can no longer be ignored and are the pillar of support for their continued existence. While I think some of these things apply to my own situation, vaguely, I am pretty certainly not a shaman, at least in any traditional sense.

While it may seem trite to some to do so, I have a strange sympathy with Buffy the Vampire Slayer on some of this. When she died briefly, the “slayer signal” went out to the next person who was going to become a Slayer, and then when Kendra died later, the same thing happened, which then activated Faith. But when Buffy died again at the end of season 5, another Slayer wasn’t activated; and then at the end of season 7, magic was performed to activate all of the potential Slayers when they were most needed. In any case…

It is not-at-all comparable point-by-point to that matter, but I wonder if there is an analogy that can be drawn here. What if ancestor cultus really only works for those who are “alive” in the sense that they’ve never died, even if they only died briefly? In premodern eras, if the same thing happened to me, I would have been dead permanently on each of those occasions (most likely), and then I’d have been whatever-it-is-I’d-end-up-being after dying, which would mean the time for honoring the ancestors for me would be over, and for potentially being one would have started. I kind of wonder if something like that is another one of the reasons why the ancestors don’t seem to be that involved with me, nor that effective in terms of what practices I’ve attempted to do with them thus far. Yes, the Sancta/e/i of the Ekklesía Antínoou are important to me and seem to be in good relationship with me, as well as Antinous, Polydeukion, and several other formerly-mortal people are the cornerstones of my practice, who are heroes or gods, and who seem to respond pretty well to me…and yet, there are many people these days (some of whom have given out to me on this) who would not consider Antinous or Polydeukion to be gods or heroes, but instead “just ancestors.” My weaknesses where ancestral connections are concerned, and the resulting difficulties I’ve had with health, relationships, and prosperity (all areas the ancestors tend to be concerned with far more than the gods, and with which ancestors are far more effective in addressing difficulties within than the gods tend to be) would all seem to “make sense” in light of this…

In any case, it’s something I’ve been thinking about, and have been wondering whether there are any established traditions or protocols around. What are the responsibilities of those who are “walking dead” to the ancestors, and does that status change one’s relationship to them, or to the gods? I’d be very interested in hearing anyone’s thoughts on the matter.

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