I didn’t expect to be writing this particular post; but, I’m happy to say I’m doing so very happily, as the occasion for it is one that I consider positive and potentially productive.
I was reading the Pantheon Blog at Patheos.com’s Pagan Portal (written by the wonderful Star Foster) a little earlier tonight, and saw this recent post, which mentioned the Ekklesía Antínoou several times, particularly in the context of future PantheaCons. We have been at PantheaCon since 2007, and I plan to be there every year for the rest of my life (or the rest of the time PantheaCon exists) if at all possible. Star mentioned us in the context of inclusivity at our rituals and such, and that is a very large commitment that I personally have, and that I know many of my colleagues and co-religionists within the Ekklesía Antínoou–as well as many of our Communalia allies–all hold very dearly and highly in our personal practices and comportment.
The subject line above is one that is important to me on many different levels, and I’ll tell you why. It’s a Latin phrase that literally means “for all” or “for everyone.” And, very interestingly, the second word of the phrase is one that came into wider usage in the late 1800s, with the invention of public transportation in major metropolitan locations: the Omnibus was “for all,” and was something that anyone regardless of their economic status could ride. That word “Omnibus” eventually got shortened to “bus,” and so all of the bus systems that now exist ultimately arise out of that desire to provide a mode of transportation that was accessible to everyone and for everyone.
Where I grew up, on Whidbey Island (immediately to the south of where I live now), we did not have a public bus system until I was in about the fifth grade or so. But, once it came in, it never cost anyone a dime or even a nickel to ride it (though part of the county taxes did fund it, of course). To this day, that’s still the case, and I have used the Island Transit bus system very constantly for commuting over the last five years. In fact, if one has the time and the scheduling wherewithal, one can take free buses from Everett all the way to Whidbey Island (or Camano Island), down the island to the ferry, and across (again, for free in the direction of Whidbey/Clinton to Mukilteo), and not have to reach for one’s wallet once. Further, the drivers are extremely accommodating to everyone who rides; they’ll hold buses for riders who are approaching on other bus lines or other buses within their system, they’ll stop at places they don’t usually stop along their routes, and sometimes they’ll even drive a bit off the route to get people where they’re going. It’s one of the best bus systems I’ve ever encountered of its kind. And, I think that kind of thinking and that truly pro omnibus spirit is something that has rubbed off on me over the years, to an even greater extent than it may have done independent of my use of that bus system.
[Some other time, I'll tell you about how buses have, in various other ways, impacted my spiritual life, and how a major project I'm doing is intimately connected with them!]
I’ve sometimes described the Ekklesía Antínoou as “this ship of fools”, but sometimes I think we might be even better described as “this bus of dreams.” No, buses don’t seem as glamorous or exotic as ships, but they’ll get you where you want to go, and everyone is welcome on this bus.
There’s only one kind of event that we put on as a group that is not absolutely open to anyone and everyone, and that’s the Antinoan Mysteries. However, absolutely anyone and everyone can potentially take part in those Mysteries, it just has to be arranged and negotiated ahead of time. The ritual itself is only open to those who are approved to be at it on a given occasion; but, anyone can potentially be approved to be at it.
As for PantheaCon 2013, I know there will be at least three different rituals that the Ekklesía Antínoou proposes for it: the Communalia ritual, the Lupercalia ritual, and a ritual/workshop/session called “Trans Deities For Everyone” that will focus on the Tetrad–who, though they are trans and gender-variant deities themselves, are not just for trans or gender-variant people. We need not attempt to make our rituals or our dealings with them into “mysteries” to justify excluding anyone from them, and the deities themselves have indicated that they are not at all limited in who they might relate to–the only limitation that exists are the ones we put on them, and so for my part, I will put none on them, nor on anyone else’s access to them.
So, if you happen to be at PantheaCon, and have a slot in your provisional schedule open, and you see one of our rituals listed in it, don’t ever hesitate to come and join in the action–while I can’t say that all of what we do will cater to or be of interest to anyone and everyone, no matter what we’ll be welcoming and accepting of anyone and everyone insofar as it is possible for us to be. (If you come in shouting, drunk, and disrespectful, that would not work…but, failing that, and other obviously disruptive behaviors, all else is fine!)
Thank you, Star, for recognizing our attempt to be as inclusive as possible! I shall do all in my power to make sure we remain so, at PantheaCon and elsewhere, for as long as it is in my ability to do so!