Not unlike my Foundation Day this year, I wasn’t able to do much with my Natalis Antinoi–I had to work, and I wasn’t able to get together with any of my friends or community to celebrate properly. Not unlike many religions, polytheism is meant to be a community religion, and thus the lack of in-person community that I have in my life, despite living somewhat near to a number of co-religionists (but far enough to make getting into one another’s physical presence a problem, especially since many of us are transportation-challenged), makes it difficult to really do what is meant to be done in these spiritual practices. A feast isn’t really a feast even if it is just oneself and one’s gods, unfortunately.
That having been said, I spent several hours of the day–the first ones of the day, in fact–writing the poem I posted earlier, and I hoped it would bring on a dream of Antinous. It didn’t, but I think some deities were sort of reaching out in it–Ethiopian/Nubian ones, and not even the ones I wrote about!–but nonetheless, there we are.
Of course, I had to work, and I was able to revisit a practice that has become very important to me over the last five years now, which arose in relation to the class I was teaching at the time, and which I had the opportunity to revisit again today: the “Prayer Against Persecution.” That was written originally after the first (and only) time I read the Qu’ran, and was first recited by me several times before I taught the class on Islam that year. As Islam was the topic in class again today, I made sure to recite the prayer during our break halfway through the class in a private moment. On Foundation Day, four weeks ago, polytheism was the topic of the day (amongst a few others), and I was actually able to mention Antinous during class when we were talking about the thin line between humans and deities in many polytheistic or animistic cultures. For Natalis Antinoi, I was unfortunately not able to talk about him again with any direct relevance to class, but it was interesting that things worked out how they did and gave me the opportunity to take part in a practice that I dearly love and get a great deal out of (and have done for the past few years), while also having it be relevant to my own history and context and the origins of the prayer and the practice.
I would have loved to have had the feast, the horse rites, and the bath, but there simply wasn’t the means nor the additional participation necessary for any of these. I had to make do with cereal and a granola bar in the god’s presence earlier in the day, and two fillets o’ fish (which one of my students was gracious enough to pick up for me on break) and a prayer in the evening. Is it enough? Not by any means. But was it at least something? Most certainly–and that’s always the most important thing in practice. Even if one can’t bring all of one’s faculties and abilities into a given practice or holy day, at least doing what is possible under one’s own circumstances (with time, money, and participation always being factors which must be considered) should always be the concern–anything is always truly orders of magnitude superior to nothing.