Posted by: aediculaantinoi | February 23, 2014

PantheaCon 2014: Lupercalia

There’s nothing like blogging for “productive procrastination purposes,” eh? ;)

So, I’ve discussed a variety of things from PantheaCon thus far that went well, or were important; there’s still some others that are in those categories that I have yet to discuss. But, there was one event that didn’t quite go to plan, for a variety of reasons, and yet it still also was okay in the end, and did what it set out to do. That was Lupercalia on Saturday afternoon.

It really began on Saturday morning, as I debated about what to do with my logistical situation. On the one hand, I was over in the Fairfield Inn and Suites, which is a nice hotel to stay in for a variety of reasons; on the other, because I was that far away, that meant that planning what I’d be carrying with me at any given time was a major concern and involved more planning than I would have preferred. (In fact, this has been a problem for several years now, and one that I think the PantheaCon staff–for all the wonderful and difficult work they do–should take into account in the future: it would be far easier on their presenters if they had a space in the Double Tree hotel guaranteed if they are presenting, especially if they have multiple rituals, and some of those rituals are at 9 AM.)

This is also one of the reasons that Inundation didn’t happen at all last year, and only once this year: it’s a lot harder to get that in order, especially for me (as I have some physical limitations that mean I can’t just go from a dip in the pool or hot tub to “ready for action!” afterwards with the mere intervention of a towel and a change of clothes), if I am not in the Double Tree and have ready access to a (non-outdoor) shower and other facilities afterwards. So, this year, we did Inundation once, on Saturday morning. I got ready at my hotel, then came over for this. Only Tristissima showed up for it, though as we were about to “do the dunking,” so to speak, our Anomalous Thracian colleague happened to come by and sat by the poolside for a moment. It was good to do it again, and I hope it can be a part of things next year and in future years as well once again and in a more reliable fashion than in the last few years.

So, after that, I made my way around the vendor’s room quickly, and decided to forego the 11 AM workshop slot (as much as I wanted to attend a certain session) in order to then go back to the room, change clothes, re-consolidate some of my items, and then be ready for the rest of the day. If I had not made that trip back, I would have had to carry two changes of clothes with me, in addition to all of the ritual items for Lupercalia later, which would have involved me carrying as many bags and suitcases as I had arrived with the day before…so, I’m glad this all worked out.

I had a quick lunch at Starbuck’s near my hotel. It just so happened that two of our Mystai were in there, and didn’t see me. I decided to be sneaky, and phoned them to perhaps surprise them with being in the same building when they answered, and neither of them took my calls. So, I then went over to them, and they sort of snarked at me for not coming over to say hello, and I said “Well, I did call.” As they had never been to a PantheaCon before, and thus not to a Lupercalia ritual, I was hoping they’d come for it, so they could meet some of the other Mystai of Antinous that they’ve never been able to meet previously. They said “We’re considering it.”

They didn’t come.

This doesn’t please me.

But, that’s a matter for another occasion, perhaps. Maybe some people find it odd that I expect Mystai of Antinous to hold our events and devotional opportunities for him in rather high regard, and that I’d think they would prioritize taking part in our events. Apparently, I’m insane to think that.

Anyway…

I was in the room for Lupercalia an hour before it was meant to start, and began setting up the space. Others didn’t end up joining me until about 1 PM, and as is often the case, some of them kept going “Can I help? How can I help?” in ways that weren’t as helpful as they could have been. Certain things, in a devotional ritual, can only be done by the lead ritualist, while others (which I had taken care of before) could have been done by anyone. It’s never quite as easy as I hope it will be to set things up at PantheaCon, but we were doing all right, generally…

Except.

For whatever reason, almost all of our requests as far as tables and such didn’t go through as expected. We asked for a microphone and a stand (which we didn’t end up using), but the stand wouldn’t hold the microphone. The table I used for our main altar was one that was already in the room, and I moved it into position myself and set things up on it. However, I was waiting for four small circular tables for shrines to set up around the room, and they didn’t arrive…until about five minutes after our session officially started…and, they were the wrong-sized tables…and, the hotel personnel who came in with them sort of charged in in a way that would have entirely disrupted the ritual had it been going the way it was supposed to be going at that stage. While this didn’t entirely “ruin” the ritual, by any stretch of the imagination, it certainly put limits on how things could proceed after that.

As a result, I had to cut out a number of things: the procession, and the Obelisk of Antinous in particular. Though we finished the ritual with a few minutes to spare, these would have made things run over, so I’m glad I decided to cut them. As the Lupercalia has to do with liminality in various ways, it seemed appropriate to remove the Obelisk of Antinous under the circumstances, as he would be amply represented in other ways in most of the rest of the ritual.

We did the opening prayers to Wepwawet, Hekate, and Ianus (with the help of Finnchuill), and then a few Antinoan hymns, followed by the Prayer Against Persecution. In the latter, which I and many others pray frequently, I actually forgot it entirely in the middle of it, and had to stop and look it up, but then remembered it; I took this as a bit of a hint that what was being prayed should not just be gone through in a rote fashion, and that every word of it was a kind of vow to be upheld in what would follow at the con’ (and I’m glad of that reminder). We did the Antinoan Petition, and then the total of five Antinoan shrines set up around the room received prayers from individuals as we sang Dona Nobis Pacem. We then did an observance of Parentalia in which people could offer water to the ancestors and the Sancta/e/i at the shrines around the room as well while we sang Ignis Corporis Infirmat; Ignis sed Animae Perstat. Some quick divination, because I felt something was “not quite right,” revealed that the Sancta/e/i needed more offerings, and so once the main part of that was over, I went around with the alcohol to all of their temporary shrines and libated some of “the good stuff” for them in addition to the water which they received.

The canvas banners that I had made for PantheaCon this year kept falling down at various points (of which three were used in this ritual: Antinous, Hadrian, and Polydeukion), and at last I asked Duffi simply to hold one of them up for the rest of the ritual, from which she got the title “Antinopher.” That shall be solemnized amongst her other titles soon! ;)

We had the initial part of the Lupercalia rite at this point, and our Luperci this year were Xochiquetzal Duti Odinsdottir as Lupercum Primum, Signy Ragnvaldsdottir as Luperca Prima, and Jeff Cullen as Lupercus Tertius. More on this in a moment…

During the ritual laughter, I decided we should honor Hadrian, who always loved a good laugh. So, for that, I did the song “Hadriane,” which you may remember from here. People eventually joined in, which was great, and some who did it in the original 2011 performance (e.g. Xochiquetzal Duti) remembered it very quickly, too!

It came time to send Xochi around to do the flogging, and then for Jeff and Signy to do the race. This they did, and just like the first time we did Lupercalia at PantheaCon in 2007 (in this exact same room, I think), Signy tripped on the second lap. This meant that Jeff ended up winning the race. Almost every year we’ve had it, the cisgender male running the race wins it…and this kind of upsets and disturbs me for a variety of reasons (none of which involve “Come on, you should be able to win this race, non-cisgender males who are running it!”). As much as I think that the Ekklesía Antínoou’s choice to have women as Lupercae every year is now a requirement is a good thing for the modern world, at the same time, we’ve got centuries of tradition (though interrupted) when the Lupercalia was a “boys’ club.” Signy is an Army veteran, and thus is as worthy as anyone to be running in this as a returning warrior…and yet, something tells me that Trajan or someone like that who is honored amongst us is not happy with this turn of events. That isn’t to say that we *should* then change our policies, because Antinous (under whose auspices we are doing this ritual) wants to include everyone, and he’s a god whereas they are Divi, but at the same time, it’s noteworthy and it’s something to consider in the future. Perhaps, we should have all women as Lupercae one year…that may give them a run for their money, so to speak!

After the race, the white team went around and gave the blessings of the victory to everyone, and the red team then went around and took defeat from the ritual attendees in whatever way they might have experienced it. This was a good and cleansing and purifying ritual, and it’s ultimately the reason that we present this at PantheaCon whenever we can, because it does benefit the community and the people present who attend it (as do the prayers and the opportunity to honor one’s ancestors as well).

We did the final blessings, and then sent everyone on their way. In the aftermath, I spoke with a few people, including a fellow from Ireland originally who said that some of the Latin and Catholic-like elements (e.g. a prayer litany) put him off slightly, but that because his son had committed suicide a few years ago, he really felt it was good that such was being acknowledged and honored in our ritual. And, that reassures me that what we are doing, even if it only deeply touches one or two people out of all those who attend, is very worthwhile and important.

I’ve been thinking about Lupercalia in various ways over the last week, and over the last few hours, and am debating some revisions to it in the future; but, I’m also inclined at present to keep it how it is, because it seems to be going pretty well and doing what it is meant to do each year for those who attend it. Perhaps another entirely different ritual will be offered in the future, not in place of Lupercalia, but in addition to it…we shall see.

In any case, I hope the blessings of Mars and Venus, Ianus and Quirinus, Faunus, Silvanus, Vesta, the Lupa, and Antinous Lupercus are with all of you for the remainder of this month and for the year to come!


Responses

  1. Glad to have lent a hand! The words certainly did come back. But the milk bath my glasses took… Well, they’ll recover. I love my picture for the shrine!

    • Glad to hear it! And thank you again for this, and for all else you did over the weekend! (I have yet to talk about the panel appearance you had after this, too!)

      Also: I’m still wiping off the aftermath of Lupercalia from my glasses, too…! ;)

  2. Super sorry to have missed this, as it has been something of a tradition when I am at Pantheacon. Unfortunately, I had something of a family obligation this year and I didn’t have a lot of flexibility with the time. That’s one of the reasons I was glad I got to experience the raising of the obelisk and some Antinous related devotional time at the beard blessing. And alas, I also missed the sainting on Friday night. I had known about the various Ekklesia related stuff that was in the program but somehow missed the post where you announced the sainting, so I didn’t hear about it until afterwards. I’m planning on studying with the Unnamed Path also, so it would have been particularly nice to be present for the sainting of that path’s founder. But what I have learned about Pantheacon is that in some zen-like way you just have to surrender to the idea that you’re going to miss things you wish you hadn’t.

    • No worries! You’d let me know about that multiple times before the ritual, so while it would have been nice if it had worked out, I totally understand. The folks I am most disappointed in are not named above, but I’m sure you can guess who I mean.

  3. […] this year’s expression was not lacking in potent deliverance. PSVL recounts the ritual here, and eir frustration at the logistics is clear, but I will say this: when the footrace came to a […]

  4. […] I woke up early, had a shower and then breakfast, and got ready for Inundation; I went over to do that, strolled around the vendors’ room, and went back again to change clothes and re-group for events later in the day, which included immediately after that Lupercalia, as I’ve already written. […]

  5. […] we’d be able to, thankfully, but things were somewhat abbreviated as a result. (Not unlike Lupercalia at PantheaCon, things didn’t quite go to plan, […]

  6. […] Finnchuill has his own reflections on our Lupercalia at PantheaCon (amongst other things) available at his […]

  7. […] and Hyperion The Sanctification according to Anomalous Thracian The Rest of Friday and Saturday Lupercalia 2014 Lupercalia (and other things) according to Anomalous Thracian “Pagans and Privilege” […]

  8. Greetings. I am one of the mystai you are writing about from the coffee shop. I am surprised to read that you would blog about the experience instead of having a direct and frank discussion with me to bring about resolution. I just saw you in person recently. I only now found about this blog post second hand.

    I did not see you in the coffee shop. I was talking and visiting with a group of friends. I did see your telephone call. No, I did not take it. I consider it rude to interrupt a live conversation to take a telephone call over the breakfast table. Instead I expected you to leave a message and I would return the call. You came over to the table, upset that we did not take your call. And I said then, which you leave out of your blog post, that I would not take a call when I was engaged in a live conversation. Your reaction to the situation was off-putting to me because it came across as quite self-absorbed.

    So let me be clear: I did not attend the Lupercalia specifically because I was not at peace with you personally in that moment. I found your reaction emotionally immature and given the passive-aggressive blog post here, I stand by that assertion. I apologize for this hurting your feelings. That was not my intention. I chose the course of action I found the most appropriate for the circumstance.

    I suggest you revisit your own words above. My worship of Antinous is not a subject for your evaluation to be pleased about or not. What I find very unfortunate is your ego-centrism and resulting poor judgement of someone else’s devotion to deity

    • I’ve thought about your response here all night, and think I can say a few words about it here; I specifically left your name (and one other) out of the situation specifically because it didn’t then have to directly implicate you (or anyone else), but since you likewise have chosen to respond to this here in public, I will do likewise.

      Read what I wrote again:

      I had a quick lunch at Starbuck’s near my hotel. It just so happened that two of our Mystai were in there, and didn’t see me. I decided to be sneaky, and phoned them to perhaps surprise them with being in the same building when they answered, and neither of them took my calls. So, I then went over to them, and they sort of snarked at me for not coming over to say hello, and I said “Well, I did call.” As they had never been to a PantheaCon before, and thus not to a Lupercalia ritual, I was hoping they’d come for it, so they could meet some of the other Mystai of Antinous that they’ve never been able to meet previously. They said “We’re considering it.”

      They didn’t come.

      This doesn’t please me.

      But, that’s a matter for another occasion, perhaps.

      It’s true, I have seen you in-person since this event occurred (over two months ago, I’d note), and I didn’t mention anything at that point because I was mostly over any resentments about the situation, but also because I had another job to do on that occasion (i.e. presenting another ritual and lecture), and I was happy to see you. Indeed, I’m always pleased to see you, and any of the Mystai, whenever it can happen, because as Mystai you have–by definition–stepped up to the plate and made a commitment to these matters above and beyond that of anyone else involved with Antinous under our auspices. There are expectations involved in that, which have nothing to do with obedience to me, but instead with loyalty to the tradition and responsibilities held within it.

      Note, again, in my narrative of the above situation that we had talked on repeated occasions over the last few years about your attendance at PantheaCon, and it was always floated as a possibility, and one that didn’t come to fruition until this last February. I had no notification from you (or others) that you’d be there until, literally, mere minutes before I saw you, and that was not from you or the others concerned, it was second-hand. People who are initiates of a given tradition tend to attend the events that are given by their tradition, or (in the event that there are several such events) at least some of them…or, failing that (and there are many valid reasons why one might not go), at least giving an account of why one won’t be there, as Sr. Krissy did on that occasion at Starbuck’s…and the day before…and also several weeks before when I got an e-mail explaining the situation. After having spoken about your possible attendance for several years, it would have been nice to at least be informed that you would be able to attend PantheaCon in general. When you then said “We’re considering it” about Lupercalia, you also could have made an effort to come to a better understanding with me over the situation, and you didn’t. Your choice…and the consequences are that I wasn’t happy, and I’m entirely allowed to have those reactions, no matter what your own (very dismissive) thoughts of them might be.

      EA is a very small group, and the Mystai within it is an even smaller group. At big events like this, every bit of assistance I can get is useful and appreciated (particularly when it went as horribly as it did logistically this year), if for no other reason so that I can look around the room and see people that I know and who are supportive. We always need Mystai to say prayers at the beginning (that’s something only Mystai and certain very limited others are able to do), and because you weren’t there, that added element of the shared tradition and experience was missing. Further, there are other Mystai that you have not met, and did not meet on this occasion because you didn’t attend. These things did not, and still do not, make me feel content.

      And as for your worship of Antinous not being a subject for my evaluation, and it not being my place to judge someone else’s devotion? I’m sorry, but you’re entirely incorrect on that. I am THE elder of this tradition, the person who initiated you and everyone else who is a Mystes in this tradition. In most of the situations where we have been in each other’s physical presence, we are friends; in some of them, where Antinoan ritual is involved, I think I’ve been respectful of you, but I’m not your friend first and foremost in those situations, I’m your elder; you do not have to bow-and-scrape before me because of that, by any stretch of the imagination, but I do expect there to be enthusiastic presence and clear communication in line with what you have done as a Mystes and the relationship with Antinous which being a Mystes implies that you honor and hold as sacred and significant. This is how it works in every other tradition worth its name, and it should work no differently with us than it does in those other traditions.

      As it stands, there are Mystai who can’t be bothered to show up to our events; how can I expect anyone who isn’t a Mystes to show up if our own Mystai won’t? As it stands, there are also Mystai (more than half of them) who don’t even publicly identify as being in any way involved with our group–and that includes some other individuals (not named here) who even when questioned directly about our group, will not and have not identified as being in any way involved with us. Why? While these are both problems far larger than just you, at the same time, for the viability of the tradition and for having future large involvements at events like PantheaCon, these are crucial questions that I have to ask, particularly in light of other elements within the pagan community who are questioning the place, the worth and validity, and the contribution of groups like ours to the overall community at all. If our own Mystai won’t even show up to events, then their critiques are valid, and I have to legitimately question not only whether or not the Mystai involved are as dedicated as they ought to be, but also whether or not I’ve made an error in even allowing them to be Mystai because they weren’t dedicated enough in the first place. If the latter is the case, then it is my fault, and I’m fine with that, and take responsibility for it, but it does likewise reflect on the people who I allowed in because I thought they were serious and they might not take these things as seriously as would be warranted. Thus, I must re-assess the role those people play in what we do in the future.

      You are and have been an elder in other traditions, so you know what this involves. When I have interacted with other people who are part of lineaged traditions with elders, and their elder calls them, no matter how important what it is we’re doing happens to be, they drop everything and take that call, and I understand and respect that without question. I will say this: when a Mystes (or anyone else deeply involved in this group) contacts me, I drop everything and pay attention; when that happens in a situation like PantheaCon (which, despite being a social event for many people, is mostly a ritual/tradition event for me), that is the case even more so. If your own understandings of these things suggests that your own priorities are (and perhaps should be, and in your view would rightly be) different, then that’s fine, and it’s good for me to know this, so that I won’t actually have any expectations of you in the future.

      I will end with saying that no decisions have been made, and no actions will be taken at this point, but I do think it is good and useful to have discussions like this (even when they are difficult), so that you can understand my viewpoint better, and so that I can understand your own motivations better. The entire day on Saturday at PantheaCon was emotionally fraught, and while that is in no way a valid excuse for what has occurred, now or then, perhaps you can understand why it would be especially hurtful to me in a situation like that to have two people who are Mystai and to whom I was looking for assistance say “We’ll consider it” with smiles on their faces and then not show up…and how that situation goes far beyond “hurting my feelings” because of what it says about how seriously (or not) people actually take this tradition that they’ve initiated into. No, I’m not entirely happy about how this has gone, but I’m also very open to things going better and working out in more positive ways after this.


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