Yesterday, for the first time in history, same-sex marriage was legal in the state of Washington. After a multi-year process that involved failed attempts at constitutionality rulings in the state Supreme Court, a successful state legislative campaign that won both houses and was signed by the governor, and then a failed attempt to quash the legality of the new law by conservative religious groups via an initiative, the forces of progressivism edged out those of discrimination by a wide enough margin (though still not that wide) in order to pass the initiative and make same-sex marriage legal in the state. I wrote about some possible implications of this late last month, but in the meantime, over 600 couples filed the paperwork for same-sex marriage licenses yesterday in the state, which is much higher than the usual daily number of such filings. It’s clear that this is something that many people do want and have wanted for a long time.
As far as the current blog is concerned, and the particular form of the modern cultus of Antinous known as the Ekklesía Antínoou, I’ve somewhat joked for a number of years now that we’ve been “recognizing same-sex marriage since 123 CE.” While that’s a huge exaggeration, and in fact muddies the waters considerably on a number of historicity issues that I’ve otherwise been quite averse to, nonetheless, I look forward to the time when members of our group will seek same-sex marriages, and have rituals within our spiritual tradition to celebrate those occasions in which Antinous and Hadrian might actually bless the couple’s union (along with many other gods as well).
But this brings me to a larger point. Modern forms of paganism are relatively good with seasonal celebrations and the usual “wheel of the year” dates. Some forms of modern polytheism do a pretty good job of celebrating particularly important festivals in honor of certain deities–some get far more attention than others, but at least these things are going on generally. And while there are various “rites of passage” that are marked almost universally in most religious traditions and cultures worldwide, and there have been some deliberate attempts within paganism to standardize or at least recognize the need for these, on the whole it’s an area of relative weakness and absence in many cases.
Birth of children, puberty rites, coming of age/adulthood, marriage, and death are the rituals that pretty much everyone for much of history has at least had some need for in most cases–no, not everyone gets married, nor does everyone properly come of age, but the other three are pretty necessary and inevitable, as long as one lives long enough for them to happen. The rites involved in puberty and coming of age are ones that are, I think, the most sadly lacking in modern paganism and polytheism. I have yet to hear of any pagan friends of mine who have children having such a ritual at any stage, nor do I know anyone who has ever attended or helped at one; I know that they have existed for some people, but I’ve never been to one, nor have I been asked to help put one on. I’ve also never been asked to do child blessings after birth, marriages, or funerals outside of my own family (and in those cases, my performance in those roles has not been one that has been “fully polytheist,” for lack of a more accurate term, due to the attendees or the individuals involved not being of that type of religion, etc.). I look forward to the day when people in the Ekklesía Antínoou might be having children (whether they have them themselves or adopt them, etc.), and having those children be raised in our tradition; and while I hope the first occasion of such is a long way off, I know there will come a time when some of our older (or even younger) members die, some of them will have wanted an Ekklesía Antínoou-specific death ritual. Of the various rituals mentioned here, the only one I can really say I’ve thought about at any great length and could, if pressed in the next hour, come up with a basic rubric for by tomorrow morning would be a funeral. Death is inevitable, but most of the other things listed here are not…
That having been said, I wonder if a “coming out” ritual would be useful either, especially for some younger potential members of the Ekklesía Antínoou, or for those who would like to honor Antinous but are in some other pagan or polytheist tradition, or their parents are pagans or polytheists and they’d like to mark that occasion for the sacred and important matter that it is. I look forward to consulting on that in the future as well, and to performing or facilitating such a ritual on some occasion.
And, I also look forward to a day when a polytheist marriage might involve Antinous, no matter what the gender or sexual orientations of the couple happen to be, and that it will be more than the usual run-of-the-mill “handfasting” that a number of married pagans (but by no means all…for whatever strange reason…?!?) have had.
What are your thoughts on these matters?