Posted by: aediculaantinoi | October 20, 2014

Seattle-area folks… (And a further note)

As many of you know, the Sacred Nights of Antinous begin later this week, on October 24th, and run through November 1st. Foundation Day is October 30th, our holiest and most important sacred festival.

Often, I’ve been able to celebrate this occasion in Seattle with some of the Ekklesía Antínoou’s members from the surrounding areas. This year, that’s pretty much not going to be possible, so instead I’m going to hold a festival at my house, at my home shrine, as it was meant to be used. I’d happily have anyone from Seattle and surrounding areas, however, and as they are able, who would like to come up for it do so. We’ll likely start the ritual around 6:30 PM at my house in Anacortes; write to me privately if you need directions or the address.

BUT, it is important for those of you in the Seattle area, and further afield, to still DO SOMETHING for this occasion. Get together with others if you can, as there is no better time to be doing ritual with actual human beings in the room with you than Foundation Day. And, bring any and all of your gods to join in the fun as well, because there’s nothing like a good ol’ fashioned God-Party on Foundation Day!

And, perhaps just as important as “DOING SOMETHING” is for a devoted religious practice, TELLING EVERYONE ABOUT IT is likewise essential for the building of a religious community, which is ultimately what we’re trying to do here. The Ekklesía Antínoou “tradition” isn’t one unless there are many people participating in it, sharing ideas, and discussing things together; by doing this, it is not just a tradition, it’s also a community. So, I highly encourage people to do that…not only around the matter of celebrating festivals (and especially Foundation Day), but also in general.

There are a variety of venues in which to do that (and maybe some of you who do the BaceFook ones can provide links in the comments to this post), including the Yahoo!Group for the Ekklesía Antínoou, but you can also do it here in the comments to these various entries–and in fact, it would help me a great deal if you did so. I can only give you things that are useful to you here if you let me know what would be useful; otherwise, while I do try to write things here that I think would be useful for you (and for the general reader), I’m shooting in the dark without your feedback and am mostly writing what interests me (which may not be of interest or utility to you), and lately I’ve been feeling the strain of this more acutely than usual…to the point that I’m seriously considering giving up blogging here entirely and just writing books, as well as doing my devotions to Antinous privately (outside of some activities with the Mystai and the upcoming PantheaCon).

It’s actually very painful and difficult for me to be admitting that at present, but there we are. I don’t like how things are going, and I would love for them to go better; but I am at my own wits’ end (which should tell you how small those wits are, I think!) as to how to move forward in any useful manner.

And, just so you know: I’m not begging for appreciation here, and please don’t comment below if the only thing you want to do is show your appreciation for me (because I’m not that deserving of it) or my efforts (because they’re obviously not that great, either). I actually appreciate it when people genuinely and sincerely do that, but what I’m looking to get is participation (and the lack of this is why I think my efforts have sucked and I’m not deserving of appreciation), which makes me even more appreciative of others.

I had better try and get some sleep now, as there is a lot to do today…

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | October 20, 2014

Spirit Day 2014*

lgbt-youth-bullying

There Is No God…

There is no god for bullies–
no deity is pleased by those
who think that other’s features,
whether real or imagined,
are reasons to taunt them,
to torture them, to kill them.

Set spits on the idea of bullying,
and even Typhon in his raging
thinks bullies are as hateful
as the chains that restrain him.

But, there are some who think
their god is the god of bullies,
who thinks any other gods don’t exist,
who commands his people to treat anyone
that is not the right kind of woman
or man (forgetting all other genders)
or who worships the wrong gods
or the right gods the wrong way
or any number of other “sins”
real or imagined earn one hell…

And yet, the god Iao Sabaoth
welcomes the stranger and implores
his people to do the same,
and the good rabbi Yeshua
did not suffer the mobs
to stone women, even if they thought
their act to be lawful.
They have built golden calves
of these bullying gods,
and have ignored how their actions
make the crucified god
out of their intended victims.

There is no heaven for bullies,
but neither is there a hell for them.
Those whose mortal lives made no profit
other than to treat others poorly
are simply given instructions
by the white cypress tree:
drink, for you are thirsty.
They forget their crimes,
and they forget themselves.

Through the blood and broken bones
and the cracks of broken spirits
a light can come forth
that brings remembrance, a refinement
of the lead of human existence
into the gold of spiritual delight.

If you would use the smith’s hammer
to temper your spirit with diligence,
and not to destroy your opponents,
then Antinous will hand it to you.

*****

In the memory of all those who have been lost from the menace of bullying:
Ignis Corporis Infirmat; Ignis sed Animae Perstat.

[*: Though I know some others celebrated Spirit Day last Thursdat the 16th, we keep it in the Ekklesía Antínoou on the 20th, as this was the day it first occurred in 2010, and there are so many other significant days in our calendar in October that it has been felt more prudent to keep it on a regular date than on a particular Thursday, etc., that varies from year to year.]

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | October 19, 2014

Armilustrium 2014

Ares_Mars_Greek_God_Statue_01

Take Up Arms

The shields are purified and stored away,
the doors of Ianus’ temple are shut,
and Mars is sated in love of strife for another year.

But, this is not a day to go off guard,
to lay down one’s arms,
to no longer be vigilant in the struggle.

The fight is not a bloody one
waged on battlefields with ranks of soldiers,
it is a fight around the hearth fire,

the struggle inside the hearts and minds
enacted in front of shrines in homes
and before the altars of the gods

(for true temples have been a casualty
in the long war, and few remain)
for the prize of the soul of devotion.

Disciplina will need to stand with us
as much as Mars, Minerva, or Hercules,
the Hirpi, the Salii, or the Luperci.

It is not the fast-footed dance of war
but a slow dance, even when steps falter,
that is never ended nor begun,

but only paused and resumed from time to time–
though none are excused from the floor
to sit one out for any length of time.

The shields are raised, the pikes at the ready,
the long lines of warriors arranged in ranks–
you are not to join them,

you are to give the signal for their advance
when you kneel and bow in prayer
and offer to the gods in sacrifice of yourself.

The holy tides are approaching:
they will wash over and defeat you
if you do not stand ready for them.

*****

Hail to Mars, Minerva, Hercules, and Ianus!
Hail to Disciplina!
Hail to all of the Gods, Goddesses, and Divine Beings!

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | October 17, 2014

BNP Inoculations…BUT–!?!

The following will be a kind of odd post (really? HERE?!?–Never!): both a film review as well as a further reflection upon the matters raised by that film.

The film in question is Kumaré, which I’ve known about for a while (Chas Clifton has mentioned it several times); you can also look at the film’s website, and here is the trailer.

Further, Kumaré himself has a website, and here’s one of the (very catchy!) kirtans used in his tradition.

Now, I know you might be a bit confused at this point: “PSVL, don’t we know that he’s a fake? Doesn’t he pretty much declare that up-front? So, why are you then going on to show us his website and talking about his kirtans as if they are real?” Why indeed! ;)

Firstly, let me speak a bit more about the film. I’ll be up-front and say that I highly enjoyed it and would recommend that EVERYONE see it, and I mean that with complete sincerity. As indicated by my subject line above, I think seeing this film and taking it to heart is a very good inoculation against certain excesses of the BNP (“Big-Name Pagan”–though Rhyd Wildermuth has done a nice variation on this in calling such individuals “Brand-Name Pagans” as well–!) persona, lifestyle, and (dare I say it?) egregore, which may be more pervasive than something simply found amongst pagans.

There are two levels to the genius of the film, in my view. On the one hand is the obvious one that I suspect most people (including the filmmaker) set out to do and amply demonstrated, which is to expose the artificiality of the “guru” and “spiritual teacher” schtick that is perpetrated by a lot of people, including some of the very real and detrimental excesses of that. With my own contact with gurus in HInduism, as well as with some other (usually self-proclaimed) spiritual authorities who have attracted followers, I have found many of these same critiques to be valid, and I fully endorse the viewpoint which is suspicious of them and actively seeks to demonstrate how destructive and even offensive to the ideals they purport to espouse they often are.

On the other hand, though, Kumaré does something that it is also clear to me the filmmaker never thought would be possible. He actually reached people, and impacted them on a spiritual level, including himself. And in this way, it’s almost as if the methods adopted by Vikram Gandhi to become Kumaré were a kind of Dionysian take on general Hinduism which, in fact, supports the basic viewpoints and aims of HInduism just as well as anything else does. (Keeping in mind, of course, that there is no religion more diverse in terms of being an “umbrella term” than Hinduism, not merely because of the hundreds of millions of followers that it has.) The notion that everything is maya, “illusion,” can be demonstrated in no better fashion than by using that illusion (wow…I almost quoted Guns’n’Roses there!) to prove how even illusory the very category of “illusion” is. What is most illusory about Kumaré is his status as a guru, and yet it’s also the most real and wonderful and impactful thing about him (in certain respects). There is a thing within many of the doctrines that arise from dharmic faiths that is this (in my view) necessary self-short-circuiting effect they have if really taken seriously and comprehensively: the radial detachment in Zen, for example, must include being detached from the idea of radical detachment itself, I think. So, too, with maya–why wouldn’t whatever is “true” and “good” in a tradition that sees maya as pervasive be, in and of itself, “true” or “good” over and above anything else, or more authentic and less-illusory? There’s no real way to judge that, and what gets substituted for those necessary exercises of discernment is the authority of a tradition, a textual interpretation, or a guru or some other figurehead of a tradition.

It’s a question that gets raised when dealing with a deity like Glykon as well: do people know he’s a puppet? And, even if he is a puppet, does that really impact the matter of whether he’s “only a puppet,” and may in fact be a god that exists but has taken the form of a puppet snake oracle in one time and place, but exists independently of that? I think it’s a valid comparison, especially when one looks at how people were actually getting healed as a result of their contact with Glykon, no matter how many potentially unsatisfied customers (including emperors!) Lukian of Samosata may have reported on afterwards.

I do think Vikram Gandhi and this film has a very good and important point to make, though, perhaps not in relation to Hinduism in general but to Hinduism and “Eastern spiritualities” in relation to people in the United States–Gandhi is of Indian ancestry, certainly, and was a practicing Hindu in his youth with his family, but grew up in the United States and is therefore just as American as anyone else who was born and grew up in the United States–which is that guru culture is rather inappropriate for Western folks in various ways. To be a “guru” is not simply to be an honored and respected teacher (despite the colloquial usage of the term to indicate that amongst people in the U.S. and other Anglophone countries). To be a guru is, in essence, to be the person who is doing the real and definite spiritual work on behalf of other people, and thus one doesn’t need to do that work oneself, but instead only has to put their trust and faith and (often) material support behind that guru to reap the benefits of their spiritual realizations. As popular as this is and has been, and as effective as it can be in certain cases, at the same time it’s something that many of us are rightly suspicious of, as it makes of these various (often still-living) persons the carriers of ideals of spiritual enlightenment that cannot always be sustained by their realities as incarnate beings. In this view, it is much more accurate to say that Jesus, from a Hindu perspective, was (and still is treated as) not an avatara of the Hebrew god, but instead he was a guru in whom millions of people still put their faith for salvation–they don’t have to do anything other than do that, and all shall be well, which is exactly what some modern Hindu gurus say in their propaganda campaignsliterature.

In essence, even as a “fake” guru, Kumaré says all of that exactly and plainly, and tells people that they need to become their own gurus in order to dispense with external gurus. That is a really important and powerful teaching to take on-board for people. Too many people define themselves as “seekers” who can’t figure things out for themselves or have no power or spiritual authority, and that automatically places them in a position that is bound to be exploited by certain people. As Robert Anton Wilson said, “There’s a seeker born every minute.” There was an element of this in the film at one point that I observed as very intriguing, which was actually in one of the deleted scenes. Kumaré goes to a number of other spiritual teachers, and even to some mainstream religious leaders, and speaks with them. All of them treat him respectfully, but also give a picture of their own intentions and traditions that is consistent with their (public) teachings and character, without much attention to the personalities involved. Some of these are somewhat strange, to say the least (the “audio theology” guy with his fuzzy sander thing, shown in the trailer above, was one such). But the one in the deleted scenes that was most interesting to me was the Christian minister at some (I got the sense it was Evangelical, possibly mega-) church in Arizona, who when interviewed singly for the piece said that he saw Kumaré as someone who was a seeker who was open to the truth that he (the minister) was teaching about Jesus. Not only was this disrespectful to even the facade of Kumaré, but it shows something very interesting, I think: many Christian ministers of the evangelical variety are just as adept at “reading” people and taking advantage of exploiting their weaknesses and managing to pervert their genuine and innocent yearnings into profit for themselves and their organizations. That almost everyone else who Kumaré met projected their ideals of spirituality and enlightenment onto him and then had them reflected back, but this Christian minister who had no concept of nor context for those things or interest in them instead saw beneath his facade to the genuine curiosity and desire to find spiritual consolation in him exposed that predatory spiritual impulse in the minister, I think. I wonder if this might be why that scene was deleted…I don’t know.

So, I would highly recommend the film to everyone, and especially to people who are or who might wish to be BNPs, to take a step back and see if one is doing it for the right reasons, and if one has ever done something that interferes with the ability of people to be as self-actualized in their own spiritual search as they can possibly be, no matter what that spiritual path of theirs and their particular work of the gods might be.

However, there are some “BUT”s in this picture as well, which are particularly the case for polytheists, but for pagans more widely speaking as well. And, these don’t often get paid attention to either, and quite often get treated in a similar fashion to the main take-away of “guru skepticism” mentioned above, but in ways that might not actually be useful or helpful. Let me explain.

First off, if one reads “guru” as a “spiritual leader,” then that’s a problem, because there are many people who are simply not meant to be leaders of various types. I am a relatively effective teacher, and a decent-enough ritualist, and a pretty good poet; but that doesn’t mean I’m cut out for organizational leadership (and that phrase actually makes me gag a little) or for being adept at motivating even small groups of people toward common causes, even though I realize both of those things, and many others that are outside of my own skillset, are useful and necessary and probably even more important to an endeavor like the Ekklesía Antínoou than the skills that i have. But, the important thing to realize in this “but” is that one doesn’t have to be a “spiritual leader,” or any kind of leader, to have authority over one’s own spiritual life and goals and one’s place in the cosmos and with the deities and other divine beings. You don’t have to have deep and penetrating insights into all of the universe to be secure on your path; you just have to have enough perception to see where you’re at, find out what you can do best and what might be the most useful to your gods and your communities, and then put forth enough effort to accomplish those things well and completely in the time you have left. No, you don’t need to change the world or do any of the things that you’re expected to in every video game in terms of “saving the world” and “beating the boss” and “completing all the levels” and so forth; you just have to be the best damn whatever-it-is-you-are that you can be under the circumstances. And, that’s not only enough, it’s more-than-enough and in fact everything.

Which brings us to the second “but”: you, personally (and no one who is reading this is an exception) can’t do everything or be everything, and furthermore you shouldn’t try to, either. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have ambitions, or wish to improve, or shouldn’t try new things, or shouldn’t enjoy certain hobbies that you may not be fantastic at but which bring you some joy or contentment in at least trying to do them. Heavens know that I am awful at bowling, but that doesn’t stop me from giving it a go a few times a year just because it’s a fun night out! However, the notion that you should be your own spiritual authority also means that you should be your own priest, your own diviner, your own textual scholar and exegete, your own oracle, your own prayer-writer, and anything else does not necessarily follow. Many of those matters are skilled, lineaged, and properly-speaking professional vocations, not all of which everyone is going to have the time or talent for, and that’s okay. No, that doesn’t mean you should then have to make do with whatever the local diviners or oracles or priests or prayer-writers create (or those further afield) if it doesn’t feel right based on your own sense of spiritual authority and appropriateness, but likewise it also doesn’t mean that you have to “put off” doing certain things until you can become adept in any or all of those fields yourself in this “D.I.Y. or DIE trying” ethic that seems to also be somewhat pervasive amongst modern pagans. (On which, more in a moment.) It was one of the biggest reliefs of my life, but also one of the biggest frustrations, to really deal with a particular message I got via an oracle from Antinous a few years ago. While I have done some possessory trance-work (on a few occasions, not intentionally) in the past, it’s not something I’m properly trained in, nor is it really something that I should be doing in my won spiritual life, despite what some rather presumptuous and inappropriate people had suggested to me. Antinous pretty much told me that it wasn’t my path with him to be doing those things, but that meant that I should then seek someone out who could do those things in a dedicated fashion for him so I could be in more regular contact with him. Do you see what that does? It makes me dependent on other people…in other words, on community…to get some of my needs met in a spiritual sense. And, that’s not a bad thing! That is why community is good and necessary, because then we can benefit from one another’s strengths rather than trying to rely solely on the combination of our own strengths and weaknesses to accomplish anything and everything.

And this brings me back to the last (at least for now) “BUT” of this discussion: the notion that “I can do this for you, but you should learn to do it yourself” approach that takes place in so much modern paganism is, to put it bluntly, about as emphatic a “NO!” as I can muster. That notion does two things, in my view (at very least): first, it makes people feel bad that something which should be in their power to do isn’t already and therefore they have to rely on someone else, and thus their having to rely on someone else is understood as a failure or laziness of some sort; and second, it puts a totally unrealistic burden on people to then have to get training and put forth effort into something else before they feel they might be able to make progress on whatever-it-is they might need at that point and for which they’re seeking the services or advice of another. First off, even though it is completely contrary to the American self-reliant rugged individualist ideals of our (U.S.) overculture, it is never a failure to ask for help, or to seek the services of someone outside of ourselves (as long as one isn’t a monist, which is yet another reason why monist thinking when taken to its logical conclusions is an impediment rather than an aid to spiritual progress). Indeed, in a polytheistic theological framework, even the gods don’t expect to be able to “do everything” themselves, though they might theoretically be able to do so in ways humans cannot, which is why they have friendships and family relationships and other interactions with a wide variety of other deities and divine beings in their respective mythologies. But to the second point: if a village shaman told every person that came to them that they should learn to do these things for themselves, they’d soon be out of a job. But that applies to many other things: when you go to the pharmacist, the doctor, the accountant, or the plumber, they never say “Okay, so I’ll take care of this matter you’ve brought to my attention, but you should learn to do this yourself in the future,” and they’re not just withholding such advice because they want repeat customers in the future, it’s because they know you can’t possibly master what their field is with the busy life you lead and the things that you have to do otherwise. Why it is, therefore, that so many people who are in the practices of modern alternative spiritualities seem to think this is “how it should be” is a mystery to me…unless it is because they have had to learn their skills amidst also having jobs and families, often without any pay or a formally-recognize course of training and a title attached to it that is admired and respected in the community, and thus they end up denigrating the tradition and the technique and their own expertise with it because of that lack of the overculture’s societal support and recognition of it.

The fact is, there has never been any religion in the history of the world where everyone was their own self-contained “expert” in every aspect of its practice and theory; there are always people who are specialists (for various reasons–a vocation directly from the deities or an intense interest in certain aspects of it and the training and skills necessary to do those aspects well), and those who are a part of the tradition but may not know as much or do as much as others, along a full set of spectra for each of those possibilities, from the spiritworkers who don’t go an hour without a god in their ear (or eyes, or whatever) to the festival priest who does one ritual for one minor hero or land-spirit once a year for an hour, and from the most fervent lay attendee of rituals who has a five-times daily devotion to their particular gods at their home and work to the busy executive who can only manage to attend one ritual a year and otherwise reads up on things and makes donations to their favored practitioners in other ways several times a year…and many other possibilities between and beyond any of these. As with everything in a polytheistic framework, the “many” Is emphasized and respected for what it is, and variation is prized rather than denigrated, along every possible axis.

So, while I think the lessons of Kumaré (and Kumaré himself!) are good ones, and that the reliance upon gurus to do the work of “spiritually saving” people, at least in the U.S., is not a good thing and should be challenged and deconstructed (including in the ways he has), even when these then inadvertently prove the tenets of one of the religions under scrutiny, at the same time, spiritual authority and spiritual techniques and the expertise in the latter are not the same thing, and so availing ourselves of the services of specialists in these areas should be no cause for shame or worry, and in fact would help to build the communities we are trying to create much more effectively than might be realized. No, pagans–including Big/Brand-Name Pagans–are not and should not aspire to be gurus in the true sense; but, that doesn’t mean that your local diviner might not be able to help you with your problems far better than you’d be able to after studying tarot for ten years.

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | October 16, 2014

“Omnitheism”–?!?

The present rather short post is a follow-on from something that happened months ago, if not at some stage last year…it’s been so long I’ve forgotten! ;)

A while back, Theanox Thrax my Anomalous Thracian colleague and I were kicking around what some particular theological terms might signify (all of which he suggested and introduced to the conversation), and I do hope that at some stage he’ll follow-up on them and discuss them in some section of his internet presence. But, one in particular was especially interesting to me, because it probably describes the type of polytheist that I am more than perhaps any other term.

“Polytheism,” essentially, means “many gods.” However, someone who is a polytheist doesn’t necessarily acknowledge all the gods, just “more-than-one,” whether that is two or twelve or twenty or two-hundred-thousand. To get a Greek “-theism” term which would mean that someone acknowledges “all the gods” would then yield “pantheism,” but that term is already taken and means something else (or, in many modern usages both scholarly and popular, it doesn’t really mean anything theistic a lot of the time). So, instead, the Thracian was suggesting that “omnitheism” might be a better term for a person who acknowledges the existence of all (or, at least, as many as possible of) the gods in one’s own main pantheons as well as those of any and all other pantheons and religions.

Whether this, too, is just being “a polytheist” on a comprehensive level is something that we can debate another time; whether such artificial divisions as “(national/cultural) pantheons” has any real meaning, especially in some contexts (e.g. the late antique Mediterranean and Europe), is not up for debate at present; whether those who have ancestries rooted in a variety of cultures and religions and thus has a consequent connection to a variety of possible different religious traditions and their attendant deities is interesting, but not necessarily of major concern for the moment.

But, what might be an interesting thing to consider is whether there is a precedent for this sort of omnitheism. And, from what I understand of Proclus (though Edward Butler will have to correct me if I am mistaken, which I’d appreciate!), he would have been an omnitheist himself.

Every month he [Proclus] sanctified himself according to the rites devoted to the Mother of the Gods [Cybele] by the Romans, and before them by the Phrygians; he observed the holy days observed among the Egyptians even more strictly than did they themselves; and especially he fasted on certain days, quite openly. During the first day of the lunar month he remained without food, without even having eaten the night before; and he likewise celebrated the New Moon in great solemnity, and with much sanctity. He regularly observed the great festivals of all peoples, so to speak, and the religious ceremonies peculiar to each people or country.

Nor did he, like so many others, make this the pretext of a distraction, or of a debauch of food, but on the contrary they were occasions of prayer meetings that lasted all night, without sleep, with songs, hymns and similar devotions. Of this we see the proof in the composition of his hymns, which contain homage and praises not only of the gods adored among the Greeks, but where you also see worship of the god Marnas of Gaza, Asklepius Leontuchus of Ascalon, Thyandrites who is much worshipped among the Arabs, the Isis who has a temple at Philae, and indeed all other divinities. It was a phrase he much used, and that was very familiar to him, that a philosopher should watch over the salvation of not only a city, nor over the national customs of a few people, but that he should be the hierophant of the whole world in common.

– Marinus of Samaria, from The Life of Proclus, or, Concerning Happiness (translated by Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie)

So, I wonder if this is something that is intrinsice to polytheism, or is only found in some people working within polytheistic frameworks. Does that, then, make of those who aren’t omnitheists and who only stick with one particular pantheon sort of “multiple henotheists” or “pantheonic henotheists”? Hmm…I suppose that’s another can of worms that should be opened if and when desired.

But, I think these things are interesting to consider. How about you?

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | October 15, 2014

Polytheism and Textual Relations (!?!)

First, I must admit that the above subject line causes me, at very least, an internal chuckle…let me explain.

Back when I was in the late sixth and early seventh grade, George Michael was very popular. He had three songs that got a lot of radio play (depending on where you were), which occurred in a row on his album: “Faith” (which was actually kind of vapid and ridiculous), “Father Figure” (which is actually quite disgusting for a thousand reasons), and “I Want Your Sex” (which wasn’t very musically or lyrically appealing to me then…and still isn’t–a lot of things that set out to be “sexy” just seem cheezy and wrong to me, though, so take that for what you will). My older brother would always stop the cassette tape (yes, we had those then!) in the car when we were with our mom just after “Father Figure” ended, even though there wasn’t more of a millisecond of separation between it and the beginning of “I Want Your Sex,” because one might not want one’s mother to confiscate one’s favorite tape (as it was his at the time) because it might be objectionable. So, in order to be able to refer to that song “in polite company,” we made up this story about how it is actually called “I Want Your Text” and was all about wanting to do homework with one’s friends after school. Sounds reasonable, dunnit? Unfortunately, we were right, and my mother and stepfather never suspected a thing. So, for years after that, my brother would say “text” when he really meant “sex,” or there would be (for us) an amusing double-meaning whenever someone else said “text.” It’s a think that teenagers and kids do in every generation, I suspect, to pull one over on the adults; and, it made being in graduate school for me later, where we were always talking about “textual transmission problems” and the like, internally chuckle-worthy on a constant basis for me. ;)

But, in the present instance, I don’t mean “text” as anything other than what it has traditionally meant for people who weren’t looking to create double-speak to disguise explicit lyrics (that weren’t at all!) in a George Michael song from their disapproving parents.

There were some good posts today by Galina Krasskova at Polytheist.com (and also in brief at her own blog) and by Sannion on his blog which had to do (partially in the case of Galina’s polytheist.com column) with the relationship people in modern polytheism have to textual sources, a.k.a. “The Lore.” As some modern pagans have said, modern paganism is not “a religion of the book” (which is a specifically Muslim term, incidentally!), it’s “a religion of the library.” While that may be debatable, it kind of gets away from the main point they were making, i.e. the relationship of modern polytheists and pagans to textual sources is one of information and inspiration, but not without a great deal of contextual understanding, critical reasoning, and discerning investigation…ideally. (But how often do ideals actually materialize, alas?) This is very different to the “faith” which must be “placed” in the textual authorities of various sacred scriptures in hegemonic monotheistic religions.

However, later on Wyrd Ways Radio, Rev. Tamara L. Siuda called in and added to the discussion on the matter of how texts are used in the Kemetic tradition, and how they memorialize ritual and procedure and practice, and thus one is not advised to memorize texts, because one will inadvertently slip-up, add-on, or in other ways “make the text one’s own,” which is NOT what a lineaged tradition is actually going for which uses such texts. My computer then cut out and I didn’t hear the end of that part of the conversation, but she began asking if other traditions have a similar relationship to textual sources. And, of course, my answer is an enthused YES! For one, Shinto doesn’t seem to memorize its norito (prayers) and ritual texts for the most part, they are instead recited from a written script each time. Likewise, in the Ekklesía Antínoou, certain texts (especially the Obelisk of Antinous–an Egyptian text, thus!) are always read from a script rather than memorized, though I’m beginning to think almost all of them should be read, after the disaster at last year’s PantheaCon with me forgetting the “Prayer Against Persecution” (which I say more often than almost any other prayer or text!).

As many of you know as well, I have a very close textual (*ahem*) relationship with certain books, but not because of some manner via which the various texts written in that book are in some way infallible and eternal representations of Antinous’ divinity and have implications that are universally applicable to his presence in each devotee’s life, or even my own life. No, not at all; but that isn’t to say that the texts contained therein aren’t powerful, revelatory, and superlatively inspiring if read and understood in the right light. The special nature of my relationship with that book in my devotional life is that it is, itself, an enspirited or ensouled object, a powerful ritual tool and a portable shrine where Antinous and several other gods alight if not indwelling within it at all times. However, I know of very few people who have that kind of relationship or practice with particular books, so this is by no means to be taken as the “norm” for the Ekklesía Antínoou, or indeed any other polytheistic religion; it’s something that has evolved in my own practice over many years of engagement, and I expect it will continue to develop in further unexpected fashions in the future.

In any case, those are just some matters to take to your own thoughts, practices, and considerations, and to see how appealing those kinds of textual relations might be for you. (Ha, ha, ha.) ;)

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | October 13, 2014

Indigenous Peoples’ Day

In the city of Seattle, today is Indigenous Peoples’ Day, rather than another date that many in the U.S., in good ol’ U.S.-an fashion, are spending by taking the day off and getting sales on their favorite things at retail stores.

Given that the city of Seattle is named after Chief Seattle, one of the great indigenous voices whose words (to some extent) have been preserved–:

We will ponder your proposition and when we decide we will let you know. But should we accept it, I here and now make this condition that we will not be denied the privilege without molestation of visiting at any time the tombs of our ancestors, friends, and children. Every part of this soil is sacred in the estimation of my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove, has been hallowed by some sad or happy event in days long vanished. Even the rocks, which seem to be dumb and dead as the swelter in the sun along the silent shore, thrill with memories of stirring events connected with the lives of my people, and the very dust upon which you now stand responds more lovingly to their footsteps than yours, because it is rich with the blood of our ancestors, and our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch. Our departed braves, fond mothers, glad, happy hearted maidens, and even the little children who lived here and rejoiced here for a brief season, will love these somber solitudes and at eventide they greet shadowy returning spirits. And when the last Red Man shall have perished, and the memory of my tribe shall have become a myth among the White Men, these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe, and when your children’s children think themselves alone in the field, the store, the shop, upon the highway, or in the silence of the pathless woods, they will not be alone. In all the earth there is no place dedicated to solitude. At night when the streets of your cities and villages are silent and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land. The White Man will never be alone.

Let him be just and deal kindly with my people, for the dead are not powerless. Dead, did I say? There is no death, only a change of worlds.

–it seems entirely apt that the city would (finally!) make that move. I hope the rest of our state does likewise in the near future.

May Chief Seattle and his people, and all of the other indigenous peoples of North and South America, never be forgotten, and may their spirits who live on in the landscape be recognized and praised once again!

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | October 12, 2014

A Mixed Bag of Mixiness…

I had meant to post yesterday, but didn’t get a chance to…and, the backlog of work I still have to catch up on at present is formidable, therefore this will be a relatively drive-by post just detailing a few things. On with it, then…

–Yesterday, by the Ekklesía Antínoou calendar, was Coming Out to Ancestors Day, to coincide with the secular occasion of International Coming Out Day. I’m eager to begin doing some particular ancestral work in the near future, and during the course of the day, I got some insights into what this will look like in a specifically Antinoan context, and how Antinous and friends will help with it via a few specific techniques. But, I think there’s something really important to discuss with this, which was raised in a post or two here several months back. If ancestors are properly elevated (i.e. they’re dead relatives that we should be interacting with), then even though coming out to them is a good and useful thing to do, it’s not necessary, because they will not in any way be homophobic or have any enmity for us as whatever variety of queer person we happen to be. “Getting over” such petty attitudes is part of what is perfected about elevated ancestors as a result of the elevation process. Thus, the notion that our ancestors may not want our veneration or will resent us for being queer is flawed and incomplete, to say the least; those ancestors we have that are not elevated and who strongly evince these kinds of attitudes are probably not elevated, and thus will not deserve our veneration, nor are we required to provide it for them. It’s important to remember that.

–And speaking of homophobia and the venerable dead: today is the 16th anniversary of the death of our beloved Sanctus, Matthew Shepard. I think it is well worth remembering how, sixteen years ago, the headlines involving him were one of the first high-profile occasions of fatal homophobic violence (though there were many more before and have been many others since, and some have been even worse), and the world has been quite different in the aftermath in so many ways in relation to LGBTQIA people. So, not unlike Protesilaos, Matthew Shepard stands at the head of a modern heroic (in the true and proper sense) tradition of “death amidst the struggle” that has finally started to have some positive tangible results legally and socially that were nearly unthinkable only sixteen short years ago. Let us, therefore, remember him and honor him today in particular. Ignis Corporis Infirmat; Ignis sed Animae Perstat!

–Today was also the Shyuki Taisai at the Tsubaki Grand SHrine of America, the “Great Fall Ceremony.” This is one of the statelier rituals of their sacred year, in which the various food offerings and music are presented to the kami, for whom the inner doors of the Shrine are opened (one of only two brief occasions during the entire year on which this happens). Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto, according to the commentary of the guji after the ceremony, was especially impressed and pleased with the musical offerings this year, as it featured two traditional Japanese women singing and playing banjo-like stringed instruments, and was redolent with “female power” (!?!). A few things were somewhat different or odd about this ceremony (a missing saisyu ippai at the beginning of the ritual after purification, and rather than the panoply of the cavalcade of food offerings being given by a shrine assistant to the priest and then the reverse later during those parts of the ceremony, the priest did it all himself this time, which made it feel less formal, stately, and communal, for good or ill–and didn’t actually save too much time in what is usually among the lengthier ceremonies of the year), and attendance was somewhat poor for such a major seasonal festival (certainly less than 50 people, and possibly less than 40), nonetheless it was well worth the time and effort to travel that distance to be present for it, as it always is.

–In “calls for submissions” news: various lovely folks from Come As You Are Coven (our allies through Communalia) are doing a regular ‘zine called Crowned by Star and Sky, which has had its first issue, and focuses on goddesses who fall under (or perhaps “hover above”?!?) the “Queen of Heaven” moniker. Issue #2’s deadline for submissions is October 24th, and the following issue’s deadline is in late December. I’ll probably be submitting a poem for this next issue, a future sampling of my poetry book For the Queens of Heaven, which I hope will be out next year at some point.

There will be other things to discuss in the near future (I hope!), and soon some of the most important holy days of our year will be taking place, about which I still have some uncertainties for this year…but, all shall reveal itself in time.

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | October 10, 2014

But, would you drink out of it?

I have to admit, one of the things that initially appealed to me about Wicca when I first heard of it back when I was first getting into paganism and polytheism was the symbolism of the chalice, and in particular its (potential) connections to the grail mythos, which was HUGE for me in my late teenage years, since I’d had several visions and other experiences of something grail-esque before that, and before I even knew the (Christian) stories of the grail and its connection to King Arthur and so forth.

While a large part of that was a literary mystery that seemed inexhaustible, and was going to potentially be a subject for my own poetic explorations at some point, the literary mystery is pretty much solved as a result of John Carey’s work, and you need read only one book on the subject for all of the answers, full-stop.

However, the visual connections to chalices and other attractive, potentially magical drinking vessels, persists for me, I must say, and I have a few different vessels of various sorts that I use in rituals from time to time, and more in storage. But, at some point in the future, I’d love to add replicas of the following to my collection–but, would the replicas be something to drink out of, even in ritual, I wonder? Let’s see the examples first.

ardagh-chalice

Since I spoke of the grail above, I must name this one first: the Ardagh Chalice, which is one of the treasures of Ireland that can be seen at the National Museum (for free!). I have spent several hours looking at it in there, and some of the other objects in that section of the museum known as the “Treasury.” Though it is a Christian object, it’s also a great example of high-status “Celtic” metalwork of the early middle ages, and one need not pay attention to the names of the saints on it or the cross in order to use it, I don’t think. Perhaps in important CR rituals, it could have both symbolic as well as practical usages. But, not unlike the medieval Irish, one might also have to provide a “liturgical straw” for it, so that people do not commit the “sin” of biting the rim of the cup while drinking from it (and no, that’s not a joke–they actually had such straws to prevent such sins!).

warren cup

Then there’s this one, an object from the British Museum that I shall always connect with Antinous for various reasons, namely the Warren Cup, named for its first known owner, Edward Perry “Ned” warren (a Sanctus of the Ekklesía Antínoou), which was only acquired by the British Museum about fifteen years ago after languishing in obscurity in storerooms and such of museums too embarrassed to display it for decades. Ned Warren did write poems mentioning Antinous during his teenage years, it turns out (which I’d love to see!), and certainly would have known his story and appreciated his image greatly during his life and as he toured Europe and increased his own collections of ancient Greek and Roman art. The reason the Warren Cup and Antinous are connected for me, though, has to do with the British Museum–or, rather, the British Museum Store, specifically the one which used to be in terminal 4 of Heathrow Airport, where I spent a lot of time when I was going back and forth between the U.S. and Ireland from 2000 to 2006. I had not yet visited the British Museum itself when I went into the store and saw two different things: the Warren Cup replica they sold, and an Antinous bust they also sold (my first one, actually, which they now admit is really Hermes!). Little did I know at the time that Ned Warren and Antinous had other connections. In any case, it might be interesting to use in rituals for hero cultus and other events associated with the liturgical life of the Ekklesía Antínoou and modern Antinoan devotion.

What do you think? Replicas of these items are not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, so it’s not as if I’ll be going right out to get these, even if I did have the money (there are other greater priorities meanwhile when funds become available), but if you had such objects, would you simply display them–whether on a shrine of a deity, tradition, or pantheon or otherwise–or would you actively use them for offerings to the deities concerned and other such uses? I’d be interested in your thoughts on these matters!

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | October 9, 2014

Sometimes, I forget…

…just how many damn things I’ve written.

I was reminded of two such things a week or so ago when I received the Disciplina prayer-cards in the mail from Galina Krasskova. I had ordered a few others as well, and among them were Sulis and Minerva, and I had forgotten that I wrote the prayers on the back of those cards, too!

So, if you are interested in the full range of prayer cards that Galina has available at present, the ones of Disciplina, Bes, Sulis, and Minerva all have prayers by me. The Sulis and Minerva (and Disciplina, too!) have images by Grace Palmer, and I think you’ll agree they’re lovely!

[And, as I've been to Sulis' shrine at Bath, I appreciate the attention to architectural accuracy there, as well as the general beauty and tastefulness of the image! Very well done yet again, Grace!]

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