Fair Flowers

It was not the divine will of Flora
to bestow a blessing upon two ladies
who were the finest flowers of womanhood
under Trajan and Hadrian’s principates.

There is no beautiful bloom for Marciana,
the mother who was sister to Trajan,
the deliverer of finest offspring
and an Augusta like her sister-in-law.

There is no fair flower for Matidia,
mother of Sabina, mother-in-law of Hadrian,
whose mind was as serious and sharp
as a gladius in expert hands.

Sprung from a fine divine root, both,
bringing forth dazzling displays in life,
but never sullied with blood
or the fallen petals of unrightful death.

The two women, mother and daughter,
sprouted on the highest peaks of Rome
to become Divae in time,
a distinction few women ever attained.

A crown of bright blossoms for each,
a token of their achievements and distinctions
for two women, foremost of the Romans,
Diva Marciana Augusta and Diva Matidia Augusta!

Ave Diva Marciana Augusta!
Ave Diva Matidia Augusta!

*****

And this today, dear readers, is my 1900th blog post! I was very busy the last two days, and was considering doing another post, but I wanted it to be something “special” for this momentous occasion, and I couldn’t think of anything that really merited being ahead of today’s festival. This does mean that I’ll be up to 2000 by the end of the year, and I suspect I’ll aim for it to be either on Foundation Day (which would mean 2+ entries a day in September and October), or on Natalis Antinoi in November (which would be more manageable). We shall see…

In the meantime, I also finished the Jai Hanuman series last night, after my last day of teaching for the quarter (though grading still needs to be done…!?!), and amongst the other interesting things that happened was the full deification of Hanuman–who though divine and powerful as a Rudra of Shiva, wasn’t fully a “god” yet (despite having some temples), and was actually not too keen on the matter and would rather just be a devotee of Ram and Shiva, but was told that it’s not his choice, it’s the devotees’ choice. There was also a moment where he revealed how he felt, and that he was upset that Ram, and then (at that moment) Tulsi Das were leaving him, in a kind of “dark night” of a deity rather than of a devotee; but then Tulsi Das revealed once he died that he would never be apart from Hanuman because he is in his heart, just like Ram and Sita and Lakshman are. It was a rather beautiful moment and one I hadn’t ever thought about, to be honest. What are the gods’ feelings about particularly ardent or important human devotees? Contrary to all of those who think that the gods are distant and rather uncaring toward humans (and I’ve had a lot of comments here over the last few days, amongst which some people were suggesting that), there are some deities in particular pantheons that seem to get very close indeed to their human devotees and to become very involved in their lives. Anyone who knows history, mythology, and their own experiences in this regard doesn’t need me to tell them that, but anyway, it was rather interesting and beautiful to watch it unfold on the television like that in the “tail end” (ha!) of this epic of Hanuman.

So, I should be updating further over the weekend, but in the meantime, there’s a lot of other stuff to take care of, so I must get back to it!

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | August 25, 2014

The Challenge of Ancestor Veneration

This isn’t going to be a lengthy reflection; this is simply a matter that I’m notiicng as a trend, and I’d be interested in hearing anyone’s thoughts on the subject.

Sannion and Galina commented on Wyrd Ways Radio last week that ancestor veneration has become a much more important and public aspect of people’s practice of modern polytheism and/or animism in the last five years or so, even though there aren’t too many books out there on the subject at this point (though several will be out soon!), and a great many areas have not been fully recognized or explored just yet.

I have spoken (including recently) on how my own ancestor practice has often faltered or been a non-starter for me, and I’m beginning to wonder if some suspicions I’ve had all along are actually “true” in relation to these matters in ways that the “Everyone Must Revere Their Ancestors!” practitioners might not be comfortable admitting, based on some long-held intutions I’ve had, some things revealed in divination a few years ago, and some words that Sannion said in relation to himself on the radio show last week. Perhaps more on that another time…

But, I’ve heard/read some further discussions of ancestor practice amongst the wider community in the last few weeks, and when I commented on one of them, and ended up discussing some particular points with a few interlocutors, at a certain point the issue of “But this is all a matter of belief” was raised, as if to say that if someone doesn’t believe a particular thing about ancestor practice, then it doesn’t apply, and because ancestor veneration in general involves enacting certain rituals in response to the standing of certain individuals in a specific variety of afterlife, it therefore is “just a matter of belief” and therefore is kind of arbitrary and likely to be wrong, etc. Lest I perhaps impugn the people involved, I will not mention their names or give links at present, not because their words were deserving of derision, but because I wouldn’t want this one conversation to make people think badly of the individual involved.

The reason I’m noting this, though, is because I think this matter is one of those make-or-break moments for anyone involved in modern polytheism, animism, or other spiritual traditions and practices which involve ancestor veneration.

One can’t really do this type of practice as a humanist realistically, because for it to be effective, it’s a two-way interaction: the living humans venerate their ancestors, remember them, and make regular offerings and honor them in particular fashions, and then the ancestors work behind-the-scenes to make one’s life better, to facilitate the connections one has to others, and so forth (often with motives entirely their own that are not revealed to the living humans involved). One can’t be equivocal about this: it’s either true that the ancestors in question still exist and are around and accessible to living humans, and thus one’s practices are effective, or one doesn’t believe that and thinks it’s all arbitrary speculation about the afterlife and therefore does nothing, or one thinks that the ancestors don’t and can’t exist, and one does nothing. Both of the latter viewpoints amount to the same thing (i.e. doing nothing), and thus I don’t really think there is much of a distinction between “ancestor agnostics” and “ancestor atheists” on this point.

And yet, the technologies for ancestor veneration across cultures and historical periods are remarkably similar, as are many of the beliefs which accompany, explain, support, and suggest those technological processes. I think this is one of those matters where taking it as “up-for-grabs” and arbitrary and “just about beliefs” pretty much invalidates the possibility of someone participating in the practice fully, and thus it is something of a “requirement” of belief (leading to practice) on the part of the people involved. Raising the question of belief when discussing ancestor veneration practices, therefore, is a dead-end and a derailing strategy, which gets employed for all sorts of reasons, including “Heavens forfend that pagans ever have an actual belief about something!” and all of the fear around doing that, as if one single thing like this will inevitably lead in a “slippery slope” to the excesses of enforced hegemonic creedal monotheism (which it won’t!). It is almost, on this score, as if monotheism has created a perfect storm such that under it, ancestor veneration can’t take place (other than venerating saints in some traditions), and for those who might be thinking of doing it under some other theological system, fear of becoming a monotheist due to having a definite belief about the afterlife results in a situation exactly the same as what monotheism would prefer. It’s a kind of catch-22, and it fuckin’ sucks…

So, what do you all think? Am I on to something here, or is this just nonsense?

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | August 24, 2014

Jai Hanuman

Avid readers of this blog know that I really like Hanuman–in fact, I worship him, and he’s one of the deities that I make sure to “have with me” in the form of sacred objects that I carry every day.

While I have studied texts about Hanuman, and read some of his myths, and have also learned a few practices associated with him (including chanting the Hanuman Chalisa), one of the other things I’ve done is something that exists in Indian culture and which ought to exist in ours as well: watched a soap opera about him that is both entertaining AND devotional. It’s called Jai Hanuman, and one of the things I love about it is how cheezy it is (or, since it’s Indian, “lots of paneer”!), in special effects (especially!) and in some of the acting and costumes and other things (e.g. lots of use of stock footage in between and even during scenes); I think part of Hanuman’s teaching has to do with humor and fun, so it fits in that regard, in my view. But, it also crosses over into the genuinely beautiful and deeply devotional at various points.

And, the music is great, too. Here’s the theme song, followed by one of the (solo) musical numbers from one of the episodes, featuring Shiva and Hanuman. The same actor–Raj Premi–plays both Shiva and Hanuman, since in this version, Hanuman is considered the incarnation of Shiva’s Rudra. The first part of the themesong–before the “Sitar Hero” interlude!–is an actual Hanuman mantra, which is much more entertainingly performed in the themesong than it would be in most ritual settings, I think.

Doesn’t that make you want to go out and watch the whole 108 hours of the series? ;)

Well, I’m nearly there, after about six years, as I only have two of the 3-hour DVDs (of the 36 DVD set) to go.

The last few DVDs have been about Tulsi Das, the writer of the Ramacharitamanasa (and purportedly of the Hanuman Chalisa as well), who is the reincarnation of Valmiki, the writer of the original Ramayana. They have been full of insight into the life of a sacred poet, but also of a devotee in general; and, it is also shown how Tulsi Das’ work was used for bibliomancy! But, perhaps the most moving thing in this last episode I watched was how Tulsi Das is in, essentially, a “dark night” experience, and Hanuman and Ram and Lakshman and Sita come to help him out of it…and, he fails the first time to realize it is them, but then gets a second chance. (One would hope no less from Ram, who is superlatively wise, but still couldn’t distinguish Bali from Sugriv the first time!)

Episodes can be viewed on YouTube, and it can also be obtained from Netflix. Not to be missed in the show also is Narad (played by former Indian child star “Master” Raju Shrestha), who is always hilarious in his appearances and his making of “Narayan! Narayan!” into the best all-purpose phrase ever! ;)

Shri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram! Shri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram!
Jai Bajrangbalii Hanuman! Jai Sankatamochan Hanuman!

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | August 23, 2014

Stuff about reading (sort of)…

In an effort to make good on repairing one of my failures which I mentioned the other day (specifically, #6, exacerbated by #3), I have been doing a great deal of re-arranging my room today, mostly in the books department. I can’t wait until I have a larger space for these sorts of things (once I have a full-time job/wage), because then I can have the shelf that has nothing but Galina Krasskova, Sannion, Dver, Raven Kaldera, and Erynn Rowan Laurie’s books (plus a few other co-religionists’ books, too!) on it, rather than two stacks of them in front of one another on a larger shelf due to space limitations at present…bleh. It’s an “organize your life and thoughts by organizing your space, but mostly your books” exercise, which often makes me feel better, to some extent.

However, in the meantime, here’s a few things about books (sort of) that might interest you, possibly. Alas, this is all I have time to post for today.

First, Lambda Literary talks about Valancourt Press and interviews the very cute James Jenkins, which is publishing a number of “gay classics,” including many of interest to folks in the Ekklesía Antínoou due to them being by various Sancti, including Oscar Wilde, Forrest Reid, Walter Pater, and others. Check out their website for further details!

Second and finally for today, I’ve posted before about Game of Thrones, and while there are a million blog posts, news stories, and webpages out there about the books, the show, and everything in between, this one caught my eye especially. It is in relation to George R. R. Martin explaining why there aren’t queer things in the books, but there are in the show (which makes sense, but might still be a bit of a cop-out), and at the end of the article, he talks about how Hadrian’s Wall was the inspiration for The Wall in Westeros (obviously!).

Okay…back to it, and a few other things that will hopefully chip away at that list of failures…

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | August 22, 2014

Flower Heroes and Antinous, 2014

The Red Lotus Roots Itself In The Nile

As he bathed himself in the Nile once again–
a yearly occurrence, even though he bathed often,
for the gods of all nations enjoy the pleasures of the bath–

Antinous emerged and saw a crowd of heroes and gods
gathered near him, of many genders from many lands.
“It is time that you felt rooted,” Hylas said,

and Antinous could proceed no further out of the river
for the throng of the divine ones crowded on the shore.
“What do you mean, brother?” Antinous asked.

“The red Nile lotus named for you was sprung
not from your own blood, Antinous, but from the lion’s.
Your blood mixed in your wounding together,

“but his body, nor yours, truly became part of the earth,
rooted into it through air or water. This must change.”
The words of Nefertem the Egyptian god hung in the air.

Antinous gazed around at all of the divine faces
gathered before him–in addition to Hylas
and Nefertem, the god Osiris was also present,

and Hyakinthos and Karneios, the beloveds of Apollon,
the divine Narcissos who gazed in Zagreus’ mirror,
and Ampelos, the vine who was object of Dionysos’ affection.

Kyparissos and Krokus were there as well,
and there were no shortage of heroines either,
for Lotos and Daphne were present,

and Minthe, turned sweet-smelling by Persephone,
and countless others who had been the beneficiaries
of the blessings of Flora, who likewise stood near.

“Very well, then, friends, I shall do as you have asked,
said Antinous, who was still thigh-deep in the Nile,
for the inundation had not occurred for many years.

Pachrates, who some Greeks knew as Pancrates,
came forward and recited the lines from his poem
and words in Egyptian all present there knew,

and like the magic that it most certainly was,
Antinous began to change slowly from human to flower.
His locks of hair became wilder, but redder,

as each of them became a lion’s mane of petals
surrounding his fairest of faces, which also changed,
his features erasing slowly to be replaced in time.

His body became the sturdy lotus stalk
likened to a spear’s shaft by poets of old,
and his hands became green leaves upon stems

which had once been his arms, now thin and short,
which were beautiful as the floated on river’s surface,
but which were even more stunning below the water.

His penis became even stranger still, separating
into filaments that migrated to his former face,
and becoming stamens, and additionally carpels

grew where nothing had been before, his face
now the center of a flower with two sexes–
he thought to the stories of his youth

about drinking the crushed essence of lotuses
in vinegar for ten days as a boy would change
the male into a eunuch, and while not so,

and he/she was no eunuch now either,
his flourishing mind in the sun’s splendor
understood how sexual combination

was mistaken for sexual lack by the uninformed.
A season of flowering, a closing and opening
of petals at day and at night, the gentle surge

of waves on the river’s surface…a season,
and then what seemed death but was not,
and then a flowering forth once more.

A year as a flower taught Antinous more
about life and death, rebirth and deification
than a thousand years as a god.

Hail to the Flower Heroes! Hail, Hail Antinous!

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | August 22, 2014

Festival of the Red Lotus, 2014

imagesCA2RM9O1

Nine Questions

II. Phlegon of Tralles to Hadrian on the Red Lotus

P: Was it the virtue of your rightful kingship?
H: No, for only Zeus imparts such virtue,
and I am a low exemplar of the Olympian.

P: Was it the favor of the land of Egypt?
H: No, for Neilos is the father of such favor,
and he has held it back for several years.

P: Was it because you saved Antinous in trouble?
H: No, for even Osiris rose after his slaying,
and Antinous was never in such grave danger.

P: Then was it your knowledge of magic?
H: What I know compares not with Flora’s way
of turning disaster and death into beauty.

P: Perhaps, then, your knowledge and skill at the hunt?
H: What of skill is in my hand is nothing
next to falx-wielding Silvanus’ skirting of the bounds.

P: Your javelin toss, surely, was beyond reproach?
H: Not nearly as much as those of Artemis,
and may she ever-nourish the youths before me.

P: Then was it from a spell by night with Pachrates?
H: Selene above, though cloaked in day, watches
and thinks foolish anyone who would suggest such.

P: A reward was it, then, for your manly vigor?
H: If Herakles were here, my beard would be a blush,
and every sinew of my body like a limp string.

P: Was it all, then, from the favor of the gods?
H: You have it at last, Phlegon, and have spoken true–
this is a miracle not of a man, but of gods.

800px-Hadrian_and_Antinous_bust_British_Museum

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | August 21, 2014

And, speaking of failures…

And now for something completely different…and unexpected…and deeply upsetting.

Someone in the U.S. Congress has been editing Wikipedia pages about trans actress Laverne Cox to be completely offensive, denying the legitimacy of her gender, which is the height of transphobia.

Well done, Wikipedia, for putting Congress on notice and not allowing them to edit any more pages at present.

But, Congress members (and their staff): really?!? I mean, REALLY???!!!??? This is scumminess of the highest order, and while many would say that one shouldn’t therefore be surprised that it is coming from Congress, at the same time, surely we can (and should!) do better than that with our representatives and their conduct.

Total fail, Congress. Too bad Antinous doesn’t forgive those sorts of failures–you should be eaten by lions.

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | August 21, 2014

Not “Ritual Failure,” but “A Ritual of Failure”…!?!

So, as mentioned in the last post, here’s an account (with photos) of the most surreal Lion Hunt ritual I’ve yet had. I texted my Anomalous Thracian colleague afterwards and said that we had a ritual of failure, and he texted back saying “Oh, I’m sorry,” and then I had to respond, “No–it was supposed to be like that, the theme of the ritual is failure!” He then remembered…but, in its own way, there were also some “failures” in certain respects in parts of it.

While I knew we would be doing the candle-lighting ritual I’ve done for the last 6-ish years which Erynn Rowan Laurie wrote (and which can be found in Devotio Antinoo), I wasn’t exactly sure where it would be or how it would go, or if anything else would be done with it. I visited the dollar store yesterday to get the candles, and I ended up getting a variety of other necessary and convenient things for the household as well, but then thought again today about the red flower-shaped tea light/small candle holders I saw there yesterday. I have four (nice) plastic ones that look like red lotuses, which many of you might have seen in in-person rituals or on some photos here, but they had five of them at the dollar store yesterday. One is supposed to light nine (if possible red) candles for the ritual, and so I got the five glass ones at the dollar store, plus four blue ones (as I didn’t want to risk getting wax on wherever we ended up doing the ritual), and I’ll put the ones I already had in the blue ones tomorrow for our Red Nile Lotus ritual.

Then I had this further wacky idea before we got there: I wanted to buy “a lion,” whether it was a cheap plastic figurine, or a stuffed animal, or something else, and actually have a proper “hunt” for it in some fashion. If we just hid such a symbolic lion somewhere and then looked for it, that didn’t quite seem up to the theme of the festival, so I got this other random and wacky idea: get some kid’s golf clubs or similar items, and have a kind of game of hitting the lion repeatedly with said implements until some goal or other was reached. So, after dithering about, and finding a lion (a small stuffed animal…which was very hard to locate in the large bin and only came about when Amaranthia stumbled upon it…we were worried we might have to substitute a lion-colored-bear for it, possibly!), and then deciding to get both a baseball bat and a golf club (in kid versions, of course), we gathered our purchases and paid, and proceeded to Smith Park.

Also, the following conversation did actually happen:

PSVL: Do you have a lighter for the candles?
ALVC: No, but there’s one right there that you could get, like the one I have at home for my candles.
PSVL: Oh, okay. How much does it cost?
ALVC: Are you fucking serious?

[Reader, I was...I have a Ph.D.]

In my never-ending quest to make reconstructionist rituals as silly and white-trashy as possible, I think we hit a new high today. But, it was hilariously fun! There was the serious part first, of course, but after that, mayhem ensued.

So, here’s some photos, and further narrative.

the shrine

Here’s the lion, and then the candles around it. When we got to the specific prayer of “When we fall to illusion, Antinous-Dionysos, Navigator, clear the mists for us,” we were suddenly no longer able to keep the candles lit, and after many attempts to re-light them, we decided to just proceed onwards. Make of that what you will…but I had forgotten how difficult it can be to keep candles lit in outdoor rituals, even when there was not a great deal of wind to speak of. Strange…

But, once we completed that part of the ritual, and said a few more off-the-cuff words, and Amaranthia did some further stone-work, we then decided it was time for the “hunt” itself. Just as Hadrian and Antinous set off, intrepid, on horseback, so too did we have a cavalcade of our anticipated success to begin.

the outset

Of course, turtles aren’t as fast as horses, so we had to abandon the pursuit of the lion thus mounted and continued on foot.

As it turned out, we decided to “chase” the lion with our various implements from the gazebo near the center of the park to a rock formation on the edge of the park, which ended up having us pursue the lion westwards, just like Hadrian and Antinous went west from Alexandria all those years ago on their hunting expedition…that was not done intentionally, it just happened, and happened to make sense. (Hurrah unintentional ritual non-fails!)

With my golf club as weapon-of-choice, I stood ready to wound the beast.

the swing

With such a heroic and even Herculean effort, what could the result be other than this?

the result

And that was pretty much par for the course, as it were, for me for the entirety of the hunt: as much as perhaps six feet of progress on my best swings, and as little as less than a foot on more than a few.

Amaranthia, a far more experienced warrior-hunter than I, fared much better. Here she gathers her strength and meditates upon her technique before the lethal strike…

gathering

…and here she is mid-swing.

the strike

She sent the lion tumbling up to thirty feet at a time. Had we just been playing with golf clubs, we would have been there all night, but the bat–as some of my other colleagues have said over the years–is truly mightier than the club.

Eventually, she sent the lion to within mere feet of its final rocky destination. It would have been a very long shot for me to succeed, but easy for her to slay it on the next turn, but by a miracle I will happily attribute to none other than the Beautiful Bithynian Boy Antinous, I was able to pull victory from the jaws of defeat, and triumph in the face of failure, by dashing the diminutive beast against the rocks for the win with my final strike!

triumph

Defeated soundly and decisively, despite her superior skills, strength, beauty, intelligence, dress sense, driving ability, annual income, youth, good hair, impressive orthodontics, good hygiene,
anf social networking savvy, Amaranthia admitted defeat in the best traditions of her druidic lineage, hearkening back to “The Dying Gaul” in her moment of loss, and yet with no small amount of Irish or Scottish expressive hand gesturing as a final spit in the face of disaster.

the dying huntress

Throughout, I wondered, based on our performances, which of us was Antinous and which of us was Hadrian…I had been losing all along, so I might have been Antinous, until I turned into Hadrian at the last second, and the exact reverse for my hunting companion…but, I’ll let you–and them!–be the judge on that particular score.

Yeah…so, that happened. ;)

How did each of you celebrate this occasion? And how will you do so tomorrow?

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | August 21, 2014

An Honest Accounting

Just a short while ago, I had the usual first installment of the Lion Hunt ritual, written by Erynn Rowan Laurie several years back (involving nine red candles, and prayers to Antinous the Lover, Antinous the Liberator, and Antinous the Navigator as well as Apollon, Dionysos, and Hermes in syncretized forms), along with Amaranthia L. V. Cunicula in what was likely the most surreal Lion Hunt ritual I’ve ever yet had (which will be detailed further in a subsequent post); we had hoped to be joined by others, but in the general “theme” of this festival being failure, that didn’t quite go to plan, alas…

I’ve described today’s holiday to some people who don’t know much about Antinous as the “Antinoan Yom Kippur,” not in the sense that it is the holiest day of our ritual year (that would be Foundation Day!), but because it is the day on which we honestly confront all of the things in our life that would qualify as failures. As important as it is to acknowledge and celebrate our successes, we likewise do need to honestly call “failure” what it is likewise when it has occurred, and not seek to redefine “success” entirely to make every learning experience (and nothing teaches one more poignantly nor deeply than colossal failure!) that comes with pain and discomfort and disaster as equally as when they come easily or pleasurably. (Is it possible to have “pleasurable failure”?–I wonder…) We do this in order to, hopefully, generate enough good fertilizer (Hail Sterculinus!) to lay as silt at the bottom of the deifying Nile to then generate the Red Nile Lotus flower tomorrow. But we must first call a spade a spade, and own up to all of the honest failures that we make in our lives…the thousands of them (or more) that we might have, and that I know I certainly have.

And, I feel, I need to do this publicly, because I am a sacred functionary in the Ekklesía Antínoou, and thus I am accountable to the people in that community–and, whether you are a member of our e-mail list or not, whether you consider yourself a member or not, whether you’ve been to our rituals or not, if you are a regular reader of this blog and think there is anything at all useful in it, then you are part of my extended community and therefore, I am accountable to you, dear reader! (Whether you like it or not!) I am not someone who, in the way-too-American (and often excessive and harmful) trend of rugged individualism that all too often permeates modern American paganism, is in favor of a reduced sense of accountability, because any reduction of that sense means that I am less responsible, and just as much as I serve the many gods (but particularly Antinous and friends) and am thus accountable to them, likewise the readership of this blog, my other writings, my books, and the groups I am involved with are likewise people to whom I am accountable. I may not always measure up to their expectations, nor in some cases can I even contemplate fulfilling them, nor is it my primary goal to “please everyone” nor to be “all things to all people” (especially since both are impossible!), but nonetheless I do recognize that, as someone who is a (reluctant) leader, there are some expectations and responsibilities for accepting and pursuing that role. You have been kind enough to consider my random writings and thoughts about Antinous (or other deities and divine powers) useful in your own spiritual path and practice, and this is an inestimable honor and blessing and compliment which I can never properly repay, but it is likewise a tremendous responsibility and a serious consideration for me at all times to represent Antinous as faithfully, beautifully, joyously, generously, and gladly as possible. Thus, this yearly public accounting is a necessity, in my view, and an apt one to do at this time for all sorts of reasons.

I’ve just looked over last year’s post of this nature, and I’m dismayed to see there are still some similar (or exact) things yet left undone from that list here…damn. Multiply all of what you see below by about 20, and you’ll get a notion of what my daily “to-do” list includes, and no matter how high my standards are nor how lofty the expectations are that I set for myself (and thus, more often than not, fail at) happen to be, nonetheless these are worthy things to aspire toward, in my view, and I genuinely do want to commit to getting them done, sooner rather than later if at all possible.

[And, lest anyone get the wrong idea: Antinous requires almost none of what I will list below; these are all things I have taken on voluntarily out of love and devotion for him because of the joy it gives him, and me. Yes, Antinous is just that cool times a billion!]

Thus, here’s a list of nine (amongst the many further!) things I’ve screwed up with this year and have failed to do (we won’t even start with all of the things that I’ve failed to do right…!?!).

1) In this past year, I have not always been as attentive to students (both in Academia Antinoi and at my collegiate job) and to general correspondents (friends, casual contacts, or spiritual colleagues) as I should have been–and, what’s more, I thoroughly enjoy the sorts of contact and interaction I get in most of these situations, and would always like to do more of it.

2) I deeply regret not being as attentive to the Ekklesía Antínoou list or to the Mystai Antínoou list, as there are important discussions which need to take place on the latter in particular, but my reluctance to do so, and my increasing aversion to certain forms of social media (made all the more unappealing by the ways in which those media have been revised to be less useful than they were before) has made my desire to reach out on one of those lists in particular far less than it ought to be for someone who is ostensibly in a role of leadership. No one has suggested deposing me thus far, but perhaps they should…?!?

3) I acknowledge that my own severe case of bibliophilia has (more often than not, alas) overwhelmed my practical senses too often over the last year. I hope to be more disciplined about this in the future.

4) I have had a number of failures in terms of working on (and preferably completing!) devotional projects, some of which will be mentioned below. The things I’m thinking of specifically are: further verses on a song for Bendis and the Thracian deities (in Greek); the dance for Quinquatrus and other occasions for Mars, Minerva, and Hercules; the new set of Apollonian Ephesia Grammata that I owe Antinous; the votive stele depicting Pancrates/Pachrates of Heliopolis; the proper dedication of my medical I.D. bracelet to the gods; dedication of some item to Paneros to add to the things I carry with me daily, and further Tetrad++ work; and, trying in general to do “more doing” and making of things rather than having all of my creative and artistic energies being devoted to writing.

5) That having been said, I have also failed to complete (or, in some cases, start) a huge number of devotional writing projects or editing projects. These include: the second volume of The Doctor’s Notes, which will have as its main title Studium Antinoi (since the first volume came out in 2011, we’re going on three years of unfinished business there!), a short piece on Scáthach, the completion of For the Queens of Heaven, and likewise the two further Tetrad++ books, some translations from Latin that I’ve wanted to do for–on a few occasions–more than a decade, and the editing projects on the cynocephali devotional and the queer magic anthology. This list is VERY far from exhaustive.

6) I have been very aware that my living space needs to be much cleaner, because it is intended to be not just my living, studying, and working space, but also a sanctuary for myself and others in terms of its functionality as a shrine to various gods where rituals can be held. I’ve resolved over the last month to get it done by August 1, then by August 13, and then by today…but, I’m really hoping it will actually be done by tomorrow, and that my failures today can lead to an increased resolve to get that taken care of…because it will help immeasurably in all sorts of other ways, too.

7) Speaking of shrines, I have wanted to create some virtual shrines here on the blog for the entire Antinoan pantheon (and perhaps some other friends/guests, too), but have not yet done so. I hope that may change by Foundation Day, if not sooner.

8) I continue in the very bad habit of not taking as good of care with my health as I (still) could, now that I have (some) insurance and can more easily defray the costs involved. I hope to be doing more regular exercise this coming quarter of college teaching.

9) And finally (for here and now), I have a ton to do with developing and further pursuing veneration of and contact with my genetic ancestors. There are a TON of problems there, and I suspect for a variety of reasons that my inherent lacks in that area may have been, and in fact existentially are, compensated for by my divine connections and my easier connections to the Ekklesía Antínoou’s Sancta/e/i as our lineal and group ancestors. That having been said, I need to get some divination and professional work done on this, I suspect, and so I need to put some money aside and belly up to the bar, so to speak, and get this done sooner rather than later, if possible…

So, those are the things I am most troubled by at present, and which I will be working the hardest to improve upon in the immediate future–I know I can make some headway on several of them with a little bit of elbow grease and the help of Disciplina, but others may take longer and more effort…Oh well, I’m willing to work at it!

I have more to write in a few moments…but, that part of my observance of the festival of the Lion Hunt is now complete. If this gives you insight into what my goals are, or just presents an occasion for schadenfreude for you: hey, then it’s been worth it. ;)

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | August 21, 2014

Herakles and Antinous 2014

The Hidden Labor of Herakles

“Tell me, O Herakles, slayer of the Nemean Lion,
what happened when you went down to Hades’ realm
in pursuit of Cerberus of the three-heads.”

“I shall not stint in detailing my travails
to you, Antinous, when I went on that errand,
the last of my many labors for Eurystheus.

“Through the nekuomanteion hard by the Euxine
I descended to the land of the shades,
and was able to pass by Charon without word or fee–

“It was a trick I had learned from my shipmate,
Orpheus, which he had told to me in my mourning
for Hylas, in order to retrieve his soul from death–

“And I found the throne-room of the dread lord
with his wolf-skin cap, and at his side the beautiful
Lady, the Maiden, Queen of the just and unjust dead.

“I saw the feast set forth for Theseus,
and laughed at his fate, full of more hubris
than Aktaion had with one thought of Artemis.

“‘State your business, O son of Zeus,’
my uncle beckoned to me upon my arrival,
his Lady quiet at his side, looking down.

“‘I come to take Cerberus to the face of Gaia,
and I intend to do so without weapons, uncle,’
I answered him, without a breath of pause.

“‘It is only without weapons he can be taken,’
Hades answered me back, and saw me smirk,
and then paused for a moment before continuing:

“‘But it is not wrestling that you will have
with the three-headed hound of Hades, Herakles.
You cannot rely on the strength of your body.’

“This was unexpected, to say the least,
and I felt my entrails tighten within me
at what Hades might suggest instead of strength.

“‘My Lady and Queen will put this test before you,’
he finished, and the Lady rose and walked, wordless,
and I was barely able to keep up in following.

“She floated, ethereal, as if her feet were of the air
across the colorless plains and the barren fields,
the countless fruitless orchards of barbed branches.

“We came to the vestibule of Hades, a spot
on the far side of Styx, but not beyond the gate
which Cerberus guards, restless, without sleeping.

“There before me were creatures I had seen before:
two serpents I had strangled in my cradle,
the Nemean Lion, skinless, writhing on the ground,

“The Hydra’s severed heads and its blood-drained body,
Geryon of the triple heads and triple bodies with an arrow
through each forehead, and Orthrus lifeless at his feet,

“Eurytion the monstrous herdsman likewise in torpor,
and the dragon Ladon in pieces twined on tree limbs,
an innumerable flock of bruised bronze Stymphalian birds,

“And the strangled giant Cacus, deprived of air
when I crushed his throat and the fires within
could no longer lash out and bring calamity to men.

“Monsters all, the work of my labors eleven and beyond,
gathered as shades, no longer alive but not fully dead
and without a place in Hades or elsewhere.

“‘Your works, Herakles,’ the Lady said to me,
words that chilled my soul to its core
and made my limbs shiver in anguish.

“Even the lowliest shades in Hades, whose descendants
have never offered them sacrifice or libation
nor had their names sung or their bodies buried or burned

“Would not linger in such misery for all eternity,
until the pillar of Atlas is cut down from the heavens
and all the Gigantes rage across the earth.

“She said not a word further, and this confused me,
for I was no seer like Tiresias, no oracle or exegete
who could see what it was I was tasked with at the time.

“It then occurred to me that my works were not complete,
that though I had killed these formidable adversaries
and had rid the world of terrors it was happy to see go,

“I had not done what was really required:
monsters are not troubling because of the havoc they cause,
they are simply creatures out-of-place with their surroundings,

“And these ones, even in Hades, had no place–
my role was not to slay them, but instead
to put them in their proper place…which wasn’t Hades.

“There are several paths which the three-headed hound
guards on the far shore of the Styx:
the wide path to Hades itself, traveled by many,

“A narrower path that few are able to tread,
and a dark path that leads immeasurably beyond
deep into the realm of Tartaros far below.

“I would lead them there, not for punishment,
nor for their condemnation, but because that place
of such sublime ferocity and incalculable power

“Is the only rightful home for such a brood
of creatures that no mere mortal could dispatch,
that no god would come to reclaim in their deaths.

“But Cerberus himself would not let me pass,
his three maws foaming as he spat ear-breaking barks
and threatened to snap my head off my shoulders.

“I brought the body of Orthrus, two-headed, in my arms
and set him before Cerberus, his litter-mate,
and the three-headed hound whimpered his lament.

“A breath not of life returned to the dead dog,
and he stood on his own four feet, beckoning
his fellow monstrosities to follow him forward.

“I lead them as far as I could go into Tartaros,
and saw things it is not proper to speak
and met beings whose names cannot form words.

“When I returned to Cerberus’ side, he was as tame
as the friendliest lap-dog raised for the queens of Thebes.
On his back, the shade of Hylas rode, joyless.

“‘Take your reward, hero, and go swiftly to the surface,
but do not look forward where the hound and the shade lead you.’
A strange order, for certain, but I kept it in mind.

“I walked backwards, like the cattle under Hermes’ watch,
and felt Cerberus’ serpentine tail behind me,
wagging madly, a moving leash leading me upwards.

“But when I thought the first glimpses of light
across the Euxine sea on the horizon
gleamed on the walls of the cavern as we emerged,

“I looked forward to what I hoped was a new day
on which young Hylas would be with me again
and I would see him grow to manhood with honor.

“It was not to be, for as soon as I saw him
and thought for a moment of the future,
his form faded before me, not to be seen again…

“Until many years later, on the Isle of the Blessed,
for it was only the shade of his bodily form
that occupied the lifeless plains of Hades.

“The three-headed hound remained, however,
and I brought him, docile, to kneel before Eurystheus
and complete the labors he imposed upon me.

“At Eleusis, I came for purification,
but was refused entry into the Mysteries
by a surly torch-bearer with his snide responses.

“I had seen mysteries far greater already,
in the darkness of Holy Nyx in Tartaros,
had seen a flame more brilliant than Hekate’s torches,

“And I had seen the Maiden herself, the Queen below.
The torchbearer could not resist my response,
and the purifications were given to me

“Even despite the blood on my hands
from monsters or centaurs or my own children.
That is my tale for you today, Antinous.”

“And may all the gods above and below
honor you for the telling of it, Herakles,
greatest amongs the heroes who walked the earth.”

*****

Hail to Herakles! Hail, Hail Antinous!

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