…But, in case you were worried, no, this won’t be long, nor very contentious. ;)

I just read an interesting article by Kadmus called “Towards a Pagan Politics” over on Gods & Radicals, and it’s quite worthwhile to have a look at–so, go and do that! A variety of things, including the trial of Orestes with Apollon, Athena, and the Erinyes, as well as the communitarian models of the Akan people, are all discussed there.

What follows here from me is a vague set of somewhat unrelated matters, one of which is a re-hash from several years back, while the other is something I don’t think I’ve shared yet that happened earlier this year.

The “re-hash” mentioned above is something I’d like to give here again, which I talked about in 2011, having to do with Herodes Attikos and the Occupy movement. However, the comments concerned, from Philostratus’ Lives of the Sophists, can apply to really any political system, and to the responsibility of those who are wealthy to those who are not (and even phrasing it in that fashion would outrage many people–likely the wealthy ones!–today, at least in ideal.

No man employed his wealth to better purpose. And this we must not reckon a thing easy to achieve, but very difficult and arduous. For men who are intoxicated with wealth are wont to let loose a flood of insults on their fellow-men. And moreover they bring this reproach on Ploutos that he is blind: but even if at all other times he appeared to be blind, yet in the case of Herodes he recovered his sight. For he had eyes for his friends, he had eyes for cities, he had eyes for whole nations, since the man watched over them all, and laid up the treasures of his riches in the hearts of those who shared them with him. For indeed he used to say that he who would use his wealth aright ought to give to the needy that they might cease to be in need, and to those that needed it not, lest they should fall into need; and he used to call riches that did not circulate and were tied up by parsimony “dead riches,” and the treasure-chambers in which some men hoard their money “prison-houses of wealth”; and those who thought they must actually sacrifice to their hoarded money he nicknamed “Aloadae,” for they sacrificed to Ares after they had imprisoned him.

There can be wealth without capitalism–and Herodes would have been the first to denounce even the greatest philanthropists of the modern world who yet have billions sitting in the bank as “dead riches.”

I only have one other short matter to discuss at present. It’s not directly about polytheism (though it does fall within that category), nor is it directly about politics; but, there is a “pol-” involved: namely, Polydeukion! ;) Given that the views on wealth mentioned above in relation to Herodes via Philostratus, one would wonder how these notions would have played out amongst his foster-children, and I got a sense of that earlier this year.

I did not mention this matter, I don’t think, on the blog here. In the week before PantheaCon, I made a few Ephesia Grammata sets to take with me. One of them was going to be a prize in an agon, which (for various reasons) did not happen, and it was specifically made to be an instrument for doing divination directly with Polydeukion; the recipient of it would be, in essence, the de facto oracle of Polydeukion. This, in itself, was a great surprise to me, but it made total sense in the context. I won’t tell you how or why all of that then didn’t happen at PantheaCon, but suffice it to say, that’s what occurred, and so that particular set of Ephesia Grammata is still in my possession, waiting to be given to the person who will be so marked as the oracle of Polydeukion for these purposes.

I made a second set, though, and thought that it too might have a similar usage, and could also be given to one of the victors or runner-ups in the agon. When I completed the set, though, and was doing the final divinations to make sure it was to the satisfaction of the deities, to the Ephesia Grammata themselves, and so forth, I ran into a problem. Polydeukion, who is normally quite pleasant and even-tempered, was not at all happy with them, and not due to any defects in their creation or constitution, nor their viability, validity, or usability. He pretty much decided that the set I’d made earlier was his “one-and-only,” and that no others could ever be up to the same level that those were. That having occurred, I then wondered what to do with that other set, and before I could even ask, he gave me his answer, which was–again–totally unexpected.

Sell it.

But, those words don’t quite convey what he was saying properly.

He wasn’t telling me that I could use that set to make some small financial gain for my trouble, or that the set was suitable for public access and were not specifically dedicated, etc. He was saying it with a contempt that is impossible to convey with those words alone. While he wasn’t by any means saying that money or financial gain for services and products purchased are worthless, what came across was that he was saying that no relationships are created by selling things between people–an exchange occurs, but no ongoing relationship is necessarily implied nor made a requirement through buying and selling. A relationship with him–or any deity or hero or divine being–was not going to be a requirement with that particular set, and thus it could simply be sold as if it is just a block of cheese, a bottle of wine, or anything else that can go to anyone for any reasons. It was as if he was saying “Gifts between friends and prizes that are blessings from the gods and heroes are beyond price; things which can be quantified by price are that and only that, and should never be confused with one another.” It was an amazing moment for me, both in terms of my ongoing interactions with him, the emergence of his own personality at much greater lengths and with more openness and ease as we have been interacting cultically with one other for the past several years, and also a profound insight into how someone who grew up in the most privileged household of the second century CE viewed money and economic exchanges.

What ultimately happened with that set of Ephesia Grammata? I gave them as a gift to a very good and dear friend, and Polydeukion (and Antinous, and various others!) seemed to think this was a better outcome for them, and for me, than it would have been to sell them. Even though no divine relationship was necessitated by that giving of the gift, it was something that helped to strengthen and show appreciation for an existing relationship I have with another human that I hope to foster and nurture in the years to come.

Magic, religion, politics, and devotion cannot really be easily separated, at least in my experience, and this was a profound moment for me in illustrating how that is the case, certainly where the deities and heroes and other divine beings with whom I have relationships are concerned.

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | April 26, 2015

Pagan Musings Podcast on Bringing Race to the Table

Apart from trying to write a bit on some of my various overdue projects (and succeeding somewhat!), my day today was most eventfully focused on the Pagan Musings Podcast this evening, where RevKess and KaliSara’s guests were a selection of the editors and contributors to the Immanion/Megalithica anthology Bringing Race to the Table. The editors were Crystal Blanton and Taylor Ellwood, and the contributors were Lilith Dorsey, Lydia Crabtree, Janet Callahan, and myself.

Not surprisingly, I spoke about Memnon, since he is the main focus of my piece in the book…and, I probably spoke a bit too much, which I hope didn’t detract from the proceedings. But, it was an honor to be on the podcast panel amongst these excellent editors and contributors, and I’m happy to have been a part of the proceedings!

You can listen to it here.

Thanks to RevKess, KaliSara, Crystal, Taylor, Lilith, Lydia, and Janet for doing this and being kind enough to include me! :)

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | April 25, 2015

Serapeia 2015

On many fronts, things have not exactly gone to plan this week.

While I did manage to get the syncretistic hymn for the day done, I have not been able to do much for Robigalia, nor for Serapeia itself today, I’m afraid.

However, I have decided I will use this occasion to do something else which I did earlier this month as well, which is to let you all in on a little bit of my future plans for the syncretistic aretalogy book. Even though you’ll have read all (or most) of the syncretistic hymns for that by the end of 2015, you’ll not have seen all of them that will be in the book, and many of the ones you’ll not have seen will be of several different types:

1) Hymns to goddesses, in which Antinous praises them and then they bless him, of which this (to/from Cybele/Magna Mater) was the first.

2) Hymns in which Antinous blesses someone else (hint: people who became divine after he did, usually!).

3) Hymns in which he entreats male deities who then bless him in some fashion or other, of which this will be the first one that I share today, now.

So, here’s that hint for you! ;)

Antinous to Serapis: Hail and praises to you, O Serapis,
Great God of the Two Lands in Memphis, worshipped by Egyptians and Greeks alike–
I entreat you for the blessings of your divine station.

Serapis to Antinous: Antinous, I grant you the power
to be the meeting-place of many gods,
for you are as a grandson to me.

Antinous: Hail and thanks to you, O Serapis,
worshipped by the Ptolemies of Greece and Egypt
and the Emperors of Rome!

Because of you, I have been made in the images
and with the attributes of many gods.
Because of you, I have been hailed and celebrated
in lands beyond Egypt and Greece and Rome.
Because of you, I have been given the power
to heal mortals who are in need in their dreams.
Because of you, I have been in the place of the aegis
on the lorica of the Emperor of Rome.

Hail I say, and Praises I give, and Thanks I express and proclaim
to you, Serapis, the meeting-place of many gods!

Serapis (and all): Hail and Praise to you, Antinous!

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | April 25, 2015

Apis and Antinous 2015

Apis to Antinous: I give you the white hide and horns of bovine form, to be the living embodiment of the herald of Ptah in Memphis.

Antinous: Hail and thanks to you, Apis, bull of the balance of the Two Lands!

Because of you, I will be the star-crowned pride of all the cattle in Egypt!

I will be tied to the kingship of the great rulers in Egypt and in other lands.
I will be mourned and mummified as Osiris at the time of my death.
I will be the center of temple precincts at which libraries are collected.
I will be the living oracle in front of whom potsherds are cast for divination.
I will be the presence who visits dreamers in incubation chambers in my temples.
I will be hailed above all animals on the earth as an incarnate deity.
I will be the fountain of tears universally acknowledged when the land is in desolation.
I will be the guardian of the flood-gates and the overseer of the inundation plain of the Nile.
I will be the surety and the guarantee of the currency in lands far and near.
I will be in a two-headed form with you, like Ianus Bifrons, rising from the lotus.

Hail and thanks to you, Apis!

Hail and thanks to you, Antinous!

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | April 24, 2015

Something Fun (or not–?!?) for Friday: On Being Flirt-Blind

I have several further posts I’d like to write that are of a topical nature, and often of an “I’ve seen/heard this idea out there, but do we really need to think of it in that way?” nature. These posts often directly result from seeing something by someone speaking or commenting on a particular topic, and so it might feel like my discussion of their comments is singling people out. I assure you it is never done in that fashion on my part; it’s always “let’s play with this idea” rather than “this person is an idiot.” (And if I actually do say someone is an idiot, then that’s what I mean, but it doesn’t happen often; if I just question their ideas, though, that’s something else entirely.) But, that distinction is often not well-understood nor appreciated by many people…it doesn’t matter, however, because today we’re not going to go down that road at all!

Instead, I’d like to write on something I’ve been considering writing about since PantheaCon or so. It is based directly on an experience that occurred there this year, but also hearkens back to other such experiences I’ve had there (with other people), and likewise with other situations in my life.

A part of me wants to just do what I’ve been able to do with certain terms I’ve coined, like “sci-fi bi” (which, if I were to say that so-and-so, often a female, is a “sci-fi bi,” you’d immediately know what I was talking about without further need of description or definition), and just say the term rather than spending a lot of time defining it, because it becomes obvious very rapidly what it means. However, such a methodology in which one does not define one’s terms, especially if they are new, is not the best thing to assume everyone can cope with, nor is it generally good practice–and probably especially so for one such as myself who does place great emphasis on clarity of language for ease of communication. So, in this instance, rather than defining the term, I’ll instead paint you a picture–or I’ll attempt to anyway–which illustrates why I think the “diagnosis” which I’m going to suggest naturally follows. You can turn it into a hashtag or a Wikipedia or whatever-else entry on your own time afterwards, eh? ;)

So, there I was at PantheaCon 2015 getting ready for one of the events I was responsible for putting on. When I am in the mode of organizing a session–especially if it is a ritual–I’m often not in the best of headspaces beforehand, not in any way that is negative or poorly-disposed (so long as no one is annoying me, logistically everything is in order, and no major problems are expected), and I always try not to be these things toward individuals or groups, in any case; no matter how stressed I am, I try to be courteous, thankful, and hospitable, and I usually succeed. The difficulty for me in these situations is that I’m attempting to focus on my role in what is about to happen, and I’m no longer the social, casual, everyday P.S.V.L that you’ve all come to know and despise. This is, I suspect, exactly the sort of thing which probably should happen to those of us who are about to be taking a sacerdotal role in our various religious practices for public and larger, more-than-myself-or-a-small-group rituals. (It’s as good a reason as any that, for example, Catholics have a sacristy where the priest and others hang out before mass; no matter how casual their conversations at that point are, no one random is going to be introducing anything to the conversation they’re not expecting or to some extent can’t regulate.) Unfortunately, because many modern pagans do not understand, and in fact often actively resist, things which might indicate such a hierarchy of function, that they don’t know how to interact with others in this role, or as they’re getting into this role, and so they continue to act in ways that would be perfectly permissible for casual conversations on the street and elsewhere but may actually not be useful or appropriate in that pre-ritual mindset to the actual ritualists. I don’t “blame” them for doing this, by any means, but it just isn’t the best thing to be doing when someone is in one of those transitional states, and it probably is something that we should develop vocabulary around, and perhaps even practices, so that people don’t interfere with the process.

Regardless, there I was getting ready for a ritual (I won’t say which), and someone that I quite like (I won’t say who) then happened to choose that moment to say something which–despite following on from something I asked someone to do in order to prepare for the ritual, and sort of being funny in the process–still kind of struck me as very odd, not because it was casually social, but because I think I have problems around this particular issue. Saying what this individual said would potentially reveal too much about what the situation is, and then it might be possible to narrow down who it was, and I don’t want to potentially expose them in this fashion, even though there’s nothing “bad” about what they did. Nonetheless…

What was the content of what they were saying, though? And why was I having difficulty with it?

To put it bluntly, they *might* have been flirting with me…but I’m not sure, because to be honest, I’ve never really been clear on what this situation of flirting is, what it entails, or how it works and in what ways one is supposed to respond. This is all the more odd because it happened on the exact opposite end to me, at PantheaCon 2009, when I was in the awful headspace of having to come down from one ritual, pack everything up and clean up and get out of the room where it was occurring, and then go directly to another session where I’d be portraying a deity in a performance ritual. Ugh. As it happened, I thought the things the person was saying were rather odd, and then someone else (their partner, in fact!) then remarked that the individual was, indeed, flirting with me, and that it was rare for them to do so, and therefore I should be complimented. Not only was I not quite in the right situation to be able to process that type of information, but I still wondered above and beyond it: what is this “flirting” of which you speak?

[A complicating factor, which may be the fodder for another blog post at some stage, was something which has been discussed a bit over the last year in terms of the possibility of pagan leaders abusing their positions or influences to have sex with people who may be under their sway in various ways. This has caused some people to suggest that those in leadership positions should never have relationships with anyone who may in some way be “subordinate” to them in their groups or works. This then means that those of us who find ourselves in these positions, if we are to be as ethical as possible, might have as our only options for relationships either people who are non-pagan, or at least pagans who aren’t in our own groups, and possibly thus only other pagans who may be “peers” in terms of their positions of authority. This is something that I do think should be discussed, especially because the ideal situation, from my viewpoint, would be to have a relationship in which the other people involved would understand the nature of my deities and my commitments to them, and there are TONS of pagans and even other non-Antinoan polytheists who don’t understand the particularities of that in my own situation, so another Antinoan would probably be best…but we’re a rather rare breed, as it happens. Nonetheless, the individuals in the situations I’ve vaguely outlined above were both non-Antinoans, and are outside of my group, and thus could have been considered “fair game,” so to speak, in terms of relationship opportunities that are not at risk of abusing one’s position as any sort of leader or authority…which is good–I guess?!?–but that doesn’t in itself mean that it was *right*, *desirable*, or even *useful* to have pursued these things, if indeed it would have been possible or appropriate to have done so. And, though I’ve mentioned no names or anything else of the other people involved in each case, know that it isn’t any insult to those individuals that I did nothing, nor is it any lack of esteem for them on my part which motivated me to act, or not act, in these ways…But that’s another set of issues altogether! Suffice it to say, it puts one in a quandary if one is “single but looking (actively or passively)” as a pagan or polytheist person in any position of leadership, authority, or stature, I think, and it is something that we should talk about at some stage, I suspect, as I’d really love to hear other ideas on this matter.]

Jumping back to my first year of college, I remember having a conversation with my very fabulous roommate one night about what “flirting” is and means. My roommate is very intelligent, creative, charming, and deeply spiritual (though not “officially” pagan or anything else), and he could also be extremely frustrating in how idiosyncratically he’d explain certain things. (I have always been told that one should not use a word when defining a word, and thus when all of his examples and explanations of “flirting” tended to include the phrase “flirt with,” it confused the hell out of me.) This was one of the occasions on which I felt that I was less clear on the matter afterwards than I was before having asked, and I don’t know if that is because of some in-built flaw or defect in me, or simply because he didn’t explain himself very well.

But, this–and the experiences above, and many others–have combined to suggest to me that I’m what you might call “flirt-blind.” And there you have the term (though you’ve had it since the subject line above!) and some of the background for what it means, which should otherwise be rather obvious. (And, note, I am not using this term to in any way belittle nor disrespect those who are actually blind in various ways; as I may end up joining their ranks eventually due to my own encroaching health complications, the last thing I’d ever want to do is disrespect those who are visually-impaired.)

I think one can have two types of flirt-blindness. There are those who can’t seem to parse when others are flirting with them, for whatever reasons (on which more in a moment). There are also those who may not realize that they’re doing what could be interpreted as flirting with others. In my own case, I do have a good bit of both.

I have actually spoken to many people who seem to be flirt-blind on the receiving end, and a good many of them happen to be women, and in particular queer women (of many different stripes). I recall one queer woman of color I knew very casually in college who was describing her own flirt-blindness (though she did not use the term) in this regard, and was essentially giving a narrative of how she was practically being molested by another woman and yet still didn’t realize the other woman was flirting with her. (The matter of “flirting” in queer subcultures often involving what elsewhere might be considered “sexual assault” is yet another matter we’ll have to leave for another time at present.) I wonder if this kind of flirt-blindness, especially when it occurs with queer people, might be equal parts at least two different factors. Firstly, ours is a culture that doesn’t have entirely well-known or established norms for how to interact romantically in the genders we are in and then find ourselves attracted to; a teenage boy’s father might tell him how to “be a gentleman” and interact with young women, and so forth, but few (if any) of our parents–through no fault of their own–have instructed us queer folks how best to interact with those for whom we might feel attraction. Another part that may be at stake, not only for queer people but for many of us who find we are flirt-blind on the receiving end, might be a matter of insecurities, self-esteem, and lack of confidence–in other words, “Why is this person flirting with ME?!? Do I deserve this person’s attention–or anyone’s attention at all?” I’m sure there are other factors at play in these situations as well, but those are the ones that I think might often be at stake, and which have played some role in my own struggles with this issue.

But, as I mentioned, I have problems on the other end as well, and while they’ve generally not landed me in any major difficulties, giving people “the wrong idea” is something that has and can be said to people who might be flirt-blind in the other direction. I am happy, with almost anyone, to talk about any subject, no matter how taboo or risqué or unusual or even uncomfortable it might be, and this extends to sexual matters. I have noticed that oftentimes, people are eager to discuss these things casually and would love to have a sympathetic ear on them (not to mention an articulate discussion to follow!), but are afraid to do so, and the best thing to do in situations like that (at least from my viewpoint) is to actually talk about them and try to model good behavior and intelligent discourse in doing so. I’ve had more than one conversation in my life with people, whether my own age or slightly older or slightly younger, in which they’ve said afterwards “I’ve never had a conversation like that before with anyone, not even my significant other(s), much less someone I hardly know, but it was nice to do that!” I think that’s a really good thing, and thus I encourage it in others, too! :) But, it seems that some people get “the wrong idea” when these kinds of conversation occur, and assume it means that the other person is being suggestive towards them. How can it be “suggestive” if it is being stated outright and is really declarative? And, more often than not, what I’m stating outright is not “I’d like to do the following things with you,” but instead “This is what I’ve heard about this” or “I’ve had experience with this” or “I was reading a book that told about this,” etc. The mis-reading going on there is not mis-stating things on my part, I don’t think, it’s an active choice on their part to hear what they’d like in what I’m saying, which is not always accurate.

Much of this has to do with interpretation and the reading of inference, and as we should all be aware in this very broken and confused overculture in which we live, people mis-read things all the time, and what are interpreted to be sexual signals are among the most confusing and confounding for many people. (And I don’t know that we can reduce all of these things to flirt-blindness in such cases–probably not, in fact.) The entire defense of “she wanted it” in the justifications rapists often give, or the “just look at how she was dressed” and so forth is another species of this, I think, and is something to be worried about a great deal. People making such claims have tended not to place as much emphasis, in these situations, on their own active choices of interpretation in these matters. Perhaps this person who smiled at you was just being cheerful and wasn’t asking you to do anything with or to them; perhaps this person who is dressed in a provocative fashion is dressed in that way because it makes them feel good and attractive, and they’re not doing so as an invitation to you and you alone, much though you might wish it was the case; and so on and so forth. People shouldn’t have to apologize for or explain the actions that they take, whether in a perfunctory fashion or deliberately, which are then mis-interpreted by other people, particularly when those actions are mis-interpeted as sexually suggestive. (Yes, rape culture is a thing, and this is a very big part of it.) So, some people have had conversations with me and have thought I was coming on to them or flirting with them when I wasn’t intending to do such; and as I said, generally it hasn’t resulted in anything other than a bit of awkwardness or embarrassment for either myself or the other person, thankfully.

So, here’s a few further, non-pagan situations with potential examples of flirt-blindness in my own life.

There was a situation which happened a few years ago that comes to mind, and sticks out all the more to me because, if indeed the other person was flirting with me, it was a major compliment because he was extremely attractive (he looked like Talbot from True Blood!). I was at a queer milonga, a night of tango dancing, where we first learned how to do it for an hour or two before the event proper began, and as I’d never done that form of dancing before, I really needed that extra time beforehand. As we were learning how to do it, the instructor–the attractive individual I mentioned–was coming around telling people how to improve their technique in various ways. I was dancing with a partner I’d never met before, and the attractive instructor came around to me and put his hands on me and showed me how to have slightly better posture and an easier stance with one of the positions we had learned, and I was pretty sure he kind of did it slightly over one shoulder with perhaps some winking involved at one point. Later on, I asked my friend that I had come with what she knew about this individual, and whether or not he was flirting with me at that point. According to her, he was, and I kicked myself that I didn’t try and do anything about it (later), as it would have perhaps ended up being an interesting situation for me, at very least. Oh well. “Take it as a compliment, keep it as a memory,” as a friend of mine has often advised.

At this stage, I’m reminded of another situation from when I was an undergraduate. I became highly infatuated with a bisexual guy a few years older than me, and he worked the night shift on Thursdays at the college’s coffee house (which was called the Coffeehaus!), which was open from 9 PM until 5 AM. Being more than a bit of a night-owl myself, I thought this was a really good opportunity for me to spend time with him and perhaps eventually muster the guts to tell him how I felt. However, I took the long-game approach on this, and likewise the “so subtle it’s almost subliminal” flirting approach, it turns out–me attempting to be as open and direct about flirting as possible seemed to be indistinguishable from how I’d interact with this individual, and any other he’d seen me interact with, under ordinary circumstances, it appears.

My plan was that I’d show up at the coffee house not long after his shift began (around 1 AM), and then I’d just talk with him for as long as possible about whatever came up. Oftentimes, I didn’t even order anything from him, given that I didn’t always have pocket change to be doing that with, but when I did, I would always tip him really well, which felt a little bit dishonest and weird, but nonetheless if it made it more likely that he’d be well-disposed toward me, why not (especially if it was a slow night and the tips were thin on the ground)? So, for about a month and a half, I did this every week when he worked, showing up at about 1:30 or 2 AM, hanging out until 5 AM when he closed. Then, because he lived near me on campus, it didn’t make any sense for me to just disappear when he was closing up, so I’d ask if he wanted me to hang around while he closed and then we’d walk back toward our respective residences together, and he always said “Sure!” I always hoped that the little practical matter involved there might end up turning out to be advantageous at some point–“Well, would you mind taking a slight detour and coming to my room with me instead of going back to yours?”

I did this for that long to establish a pattern–“Another night at work this week, and another night of P.S.V.L. turning up and walking back with me”–or, at least, that was my plan. Then, I decided very deliberately to break that pattern by not turning up, which–if my plan worked–would have then caused him to ask himself “I wonder where P.S.V.L. is tonight” (and, if all worked REALLY WELL, he might think, “Gosh, I miss P.S.V.L.”), and perhaps be thinking about me in my absence. Then, instead of turning up like usual, I went out and sat on a rock near the path where we walked home when he was likely to come by on his way back, and my plan was to then tell him what my nefarious plan had been (!?!), how I’d been building up to this for those past several weeks, and then if all went really well, we’d end up going back to one of our rooms with one another. Sounds reasonable, right? Perhaps a bit creepy (on further consideration)?–yeah, probably. But, that was my plan, and I stuck to it.

What I didn’t realize, of course, is that we always walked on the path that we did together because my house was one way and his was the other, and we’d part ways at the last reasonable point where it made sense to diverge considering our separate destinations. It was on the rock at that divergence in the path that I sat awaiting my crush, thinking he’d come by there in a short while. I had not taken into account that if he was by himself, he might not take that same path since he didn’t have to consider another person’s separate destination. So, what eventually happened, after I had been waiting there for twenty or thirty minutes (it took him longer to close, it seemed, when there wasn’t someone standing by waiting), was he finally appeared on the horizon and he came over the hill on the path, only to then cut across the lawn and not go on the path at all, and head toward his house. I was so excited when I finally saw him appear that my heart caught in my throat; and I was so surprised when he didn’t walk on that same path we would usually walk on, and he didn’t look ahead to see me (it wasn’t “he didn’t notice me,” which is what I thought at the time), that I was then too stunned and was feeling so foolish that I couldn’t bear to yell out at him to stop, as it would have been embarrassing to both of us, I suspected, and weird and possibly disturbing to do so at 5:30 AM. Oh well.

So, after going over all of this in as painstaking detail as I’ve given above (and worse!) with a few of my friends, I decided I’d just do it the “right way” the next week. I went to the Coffeehaus later than I would usually, had my chat and my hot chocolate with him, and then waited as he closed up, and we walked back in the dim light of the approaching dawn. When we got to the usual path divergence spot, I paused for a moment, and asked him, “Do you think there’s a reason that I come to the Coffeehaus and then walk back with you when you’re working?” He said, “To hang out and chat.” I replied, “Well, yes, but do you think there might be other reasons as well?” (Ever the Socratic, me, always asking questions and hoping to draw things out of people!) His answer was then, “What–ulterior motives?” I believe I smiled and raised my eyebrow at this stage, and he continued, “Oh…Ooooohhh.” I then followed up with something like, “Now do you see what I was getting at?” What then followed is something I’d heard, almost word-for-word, innumerable times before and since, “Well, that’s very flattering, and thank you so much, but it isn’t really right in my life right now.” No happy ending for the creepy situation in this particular story, folks, so I’m sorry to disappoint you.

But, I think there might have been a bit of flirt-blindness on both of our parts then, made no easier nor less complicated by the fact that I was perhaps rather awkwardly and weirdly (and even creepily) trying to deliberately and overtly flirt with this individual. Needless to say, I have not since then (and this is 20 years ago now, I just realized!) done anything like that with people I have liked, and am well aware that what I was doing then, in that totally naïve and foolish way, could have been interpreted as “stalking”–the only reason it wasn’t is because this guy actually did like me as a friend and found me an interesting conversationalist and not some awkward annoyance (even though I often feel like I am that when in the presence of people I like). Though, like it usually did in situations of this sort, the “I think we should just be friends” statement on his part meant, and in my experience generally means, “The less I see you in the future, the better.” I don’t think he avoided me actively, on further reflection–I hardly saw him outside of the Coffeehaus, actually–but we just didn’t see a lot of each other after that before he graduated and school was over for the summer since there was no longer any point for me to keep going on those late nights and potentially causing more oddness with my presence.

Gosh, I had planned this to be a relatively short exploration of a little personal issue I’ve always had, and after dredging up a story I was not expecting to tell (and have actually not thought about in many years!), now here we are edging over 4,600 words! Crikey! Thank you for keeping on and reading all of this, in any case, if you have read all of it and still are reading! :)

I wonder if others have any insights on these matters. Do you find yourself being flirt-blind on the receiving end or the giving end? What do you think causes it? Are certain situations where it has occurred to you problematic for reasons apart from the difficulties created by the simple existence of this phenomenon? If one ever has to ask oneself aloud, or must inquire of another, “Was that person flirting with me?” does that mean one is flirt-blind, or is this simply what one is always supposed to ask if someone else is flirting with oneself? There are certainly many people who seem to get when others are flirting with them, and I envy them. My skills at telepathy are just not that good.

I look forward to hearing more on this from any of you who cares to comment and discuss below.

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | April 23, 2015

Further Poems from Conrad Aiken’s Preludes for Memnon

So, I’ve managed to read the poetry books I mentioned on Memnon’s feast day, and I have good news to report with one of them, and not-so-good news with the other. The latter first.

Ray Di Palma’s The Jukebox of Memnon did not have a single poem in 105 pages (each poem no longer than a page, and often considerably less than “no longer than”) which mentioned Memnon. It is in a style that I am not particularly fond of: extremely spare, completely without form or meter or anything else, and in many places not even quite stream-of-consciousness in style…really, not my bag. It is especially bad when one can look at a word and go “I think that’s the wrong ‘its’ he’s used there” and yet think it likely that the poet himself doesn’t know whether it was the right one to have used. Oh well…you can’t win ’em all.

On the other hand, Conrad Aiken’s Preludes for Memnon did have one further poem that mentions Memnon toward the end, and then a further poem that I’d also like to share. First, the Memnon one, namely XLIV.

When you have done your murder, and the word
Lies bleeding, and the hangman’s noose
Coils like a snake and hisses against your neck–
When the beloved, the adored, the word
Brought from the sunrise at the rainbow’s foot
Lies dead, the first of all things now the last–

Rejoice, gay fool, laugh at the pit’s edge, now
Heaven is come again, you are yourself
As once you were, the sunrise word has gone
Into the heart again, all’s well with you,
Now for an instant’s rapture you are only
The sunrise word, naught else, and you have wings
Lost from your second day.

Wisdom of wings,
Angelic power, divinity, destruction
Perfect in itself–the sword is heart shaped,
The word is bloodshed, the flower is a coffin,
The world is everlasting–

But for a moment only,
The sunrise sunset moment at the pit’s edge,
The night in day, timeless for a time;
Childhood is old age, youth is maturity,
Simplicity is power, the single heart
Cries like Memnon for the sun, his giant hand
Lifting the sun from the eastern hill, and then
Handing it to the west–

And in that moment
All known, all good, all beautiful; the child
Ruling his god, as god intends he should.

So, that’s not a bad poem! ;)

What little further I have found on Aiken and this collection in particular is intriguing to me, mostly in terms of how utterly ignorant the commentators/reviewers of it have been. One (on a website) says that Memnon is a pillar in Alexandria that cries out in the sunlight…uhh, no, not even close. Another (in a newspaper review that was in the pages of the book itself for so long it has stained the pages by its mere presence, and it may be nearly as old as the book itself!) says that Memnon is an Egyptian god…uhh, again, no, not quite…Yes, he was deified by Zeus as a result of Eos’ mourning, but that’s a bit different than “an Egyptian god,” strictly speaking. (Then again, Antinous is also an “Egyptian god” by a slightly different definition…it’s a complex matter, in any case!) What I also find interesting about the review/newspaper clipping is that the only poem it excerpts a few lines from (and the clipping itself is incomplete, it just cuts off in the middle of one line inexplicably) is the other poem I wanted to give here, which when I read it I immediately thought that with a few small detail changes, or particular semantic matters in mind, it could easily be about Antinous. Have a look at it–it’s XVIII–and tell me what you think.

In the beginning, nothing; and in the end,
Nothing; and in between these useless nothings,
Brightness, music, God, one’s self….My love,–
Heart that beats for my heart, breast on which I sleep,–
Be brightness, music, God, my self, for me.

In the beginning, silence; and in the end
Silence; and in between these silences,
The sound of one white flower, opening closing.
My love, my love, be that white flower for me:
Open and close: that sound will be my world.

In the beginning, chaos, and in the end
Chaos; and the vast wonder come between,–
Glory, bewilderment, all sense of brightness,
Love, be that glory and that sense of brightness.
Your are what chaos yielded. Be my star.

Is that not quite nice? And, apart from the color and specified type of the opening-and-closing flower, and that “God” here could mean not a monotheistic deity but instead one particular deity, it’s pretty close to being something that someone might say about Antinous, particularly in that final verse where nothing really needs to be shifted at all.

Can I say I like Conrad Aiken? Yeah, he’s not bad, though I don’t know that I’ll seek out his other poetry necessarily; I certainly did enjoy several poems in the collection besides the three I shared. I can’t say the same for Ray Di Palma. Oh well.

Speaking of other poetry, Lorna Smithers’ Enchanting the Shadowlands was just reviewed by Rhyd Wildermuth. I likewise read that collection recently, and enjoyed it very much (a lot more than Aiken, actually, and orders of magnitude more than Di Palma!). So, I’d suggest checking that one out, too! (And at the price it is going for, how can you really say “no”?!?) Polytheist poetry for actual polytheists–who’d have guessed I’d like that the best? ;)

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | April 23, 2015

An Earth Day Later…

Loads going on today…my eye is slightly better, thank all the gods (and especially Antinous and Qadesh!), and thank all of you for your prayers and good thoughts as well.

And, unfortunately, both on this blog and in my physical life, I’ve been hearing a great deal of garbage from Christians, not only against my religion, but also against “homosexuality.” Quite frankly, I’m sick of it.

So, let me tell you about how Earth Day went for me yesterday.

On my way in to my office, I saw a sign saying that there was an Earth Day poetry contest, and to enter in the library. So, I wrote this:

Hymn to the Earth

I sing a song of praise to you, O Gaia,
Great in your beauty, awesome in your majesty:

From the tops of the snow-capped mountains
To the mountains which no longer have tops,
Taken from them to mine coal and in the process
To pollute everything below them with waste;

From the shores of the white foamy seas
To those shores forever scarred by spilled oil,
Daily washing up on them the corpses of seabirds,
Of dolphins, turtles, and animals far less popular;

From the pristine wilderness of national parks
To those lands similar but not so protected,
Where the possibility of oil causes deforestation,
Where pipelines create veins slowly pumping poison;

I sing of the hurricanes and the tornadoes,
The earthquakes and the volcanoes,
The tsunamis and the El Nino storms,
And your terrors in all their forms.

Reducing will not bring back the rain forests;
Reusing will not revive the extinct species;
Recycling will not make the deserts run with water;
And yet, they are our small votives to you.

Every car on the road is a papercut, but we are beyond
The death of a thousand by millions now;
Every iPhone is a mutant cell within the grand body
Which no chemotherapy or radiation will ever cure.

And we, stupid children, have eaten all the other children,
Have thought the toys you created were only for us;
The wind sings a song that lulls all to sleep at night
When, if heard properly, is a cry of pain and terror, never-ceasing.

I sing a song of praise to you, O Gaia,
While I, only human, have yet a voice to sing.

The one person who heard the poem yesterday loved it, and asked for a copy. The rules were to write a poem based on/inspired by Earth Day, and while I didn’t read the other four entries that were there when I went to enter (since I didn’t have time), I suspect none of them were in any way polytheistic, nor as realistic as this.

Our college also had an Earth Day fair, and as the advisor to the Pagan Student Union, I was present at a table–unfortunately, the hours it was held meant that none of the actual students in the group were able to be there (though one was for about a half hour, after all!), which meant I was the one who was on the table for it. When I arrived, after getting our materials ready, and printing up a sign which read as follows–

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
If it is to be more than a catchy mantra,
It must be something that everyone does
Without thought of inconvenience,
Without thinking you’re doing something important or significant and earth-changing,
Without wanting to be congratulated for it…
It’s what everyone should be doing anyway.
And,
it isn’t enough.

For more information,
See Alley Valkyrie and Rhyd Wildermuth’s
A Pagan Anti-Capitalist Primer

I then went to see where our table was. It turned out, they didn’t have a table for us. (Huh–I wonder why…!?!) So, they managed to get one, after I went and ran to the library to enter the poetry contest–and I set up with signs for our group, the signs above, and 31 copies of Alley and Rhyd’s A Pagan Anti-Capitalist Primer, of which we ended up giving out 10 (mostly to people I knew, and about 40% of them were pagan or at least pagan-friendly). Various people came and spoke with me at the booth, including current and former students, faculty, and members of the public; some of them had good information, some of them were trading in conspiracy theories pretty heavily. Oh well…But, one in particular, who is connected with the Unitarian church, expressed interest in coming to our group, so that was cool! :) There was someone collecting signatures about various initiatives that might be on the ballot later this year, and he saw our sign and said “Oh nice! I was telling the kids at the school I spoke to this morning about how important ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ is to the environment! I’m glad someone else has got the message here!” And then I think he read down the sign a bit further…and then he didn’t say anything else to me. Huh.

Food was provided free at the event, which was also good–or, so I thought. The food provided was a natural, renewable/sustainably-produced organic salad. We had to fill out a full-page form for what we wanted in our salad (in order to avoid food allergies and needless waste), but I don’t know if those forms got recycled afterwards. The container our salads were given in were recyclable, but only if they didn’t have food residue in them, so that meant they weren’t recyclable; and they were also supposed to be compostable, but of course our college has no bins for compost, so all of them got thrown out. The cutlery provided was not plastic forks and knives in a big bin to grab, but instead individually-platic-wrapped ones with napkins included, and of course those plastic wrappers couldn’t be recycled either. Salad dressing was also provided in small plastic tubs…which, again, couldn’t be recycled if they contained food reside, so I’m guessing 99% of those got tossed, too, because people are very averse to doing this kind of stuff if they have to rinse it out, etc. And, we were provided with free refillable water bottles…which were made in China.

I can’t help but think that they lost the thread a little bit with all of this.

As clubs, we were asked to do something or have an activity for people at our tables if we had them. The suggestion was to get [insert name of mass-produced plastic junk that will be used once and then thrown out eventually], which I said was kind of missing the theme, and so I suggested we try to educate people to the root of the problems in all of this, which is why I instead said we should offer Alley and Rhyd’s booklet.

And, one of the biggest booths at the Earth Day fair was one by Puget Sound Energy. Uhh…again, I can’t help but think that this kind of misses the point a bit.

So, yeah, that was my Earth Day.

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | April 22, 2015

Quickly…

Sorry I’m getting to this so late…

I have a lot I’d like to say today: Some thoughts on Earth Day and my experiences with it at college today; more poems by Aiken (Conrad, not Clay!) on Memnon and unspecified others who could easily be Antinous…and, so much more.

But, as it happens, I’m having a bleed in my eye (the one that has been giving me trouble since December). I’ve spoken to the doctor, and he said to monitor it closely over the next few days, and if it gets worse/intolerable, I’ll have to get surgery next week. So, here’s hoping it doesn’t get worse…

Meanwhile, look at all of the Megala Antinoeia entries here, as they’re all in and registered at this point. It appears we shall have a tactile/physically-created things and a written contest this year–hurrah!

Send me prayers if you can meanwhile–I’d appreciate it! I must sign off now.

In addition to all of the other various things which today is (and, indeed, it’s a rather formidable list!), it is the day on which Antinous the Lover–the aspect of Antinous which reigns for the majority of the year–is inaugurated and welcomed in the Ekklesía Antínoou. I’ve already written the syncretistic aretalogy bits for Eros and Antinous the Lover today, but I am still feeling in the mood for more poetry, despite my desire and resolve to do devotional fiction on as many of our holidays this year as possible–alas, whether one likes it or not, poetry is the language of love, whereas fiction is not (no matter how hot or desire-filled it might be!).

So, in an ideal world, I might have a fiction piece or two for this day, not only for Hadrian, Venus and Roma, Parilia and Natalis Urbis, and the Megala Antinoeia and Antinous, but also possibly for Scáthach, whose Heroine Feast is today as well. I may well yet get those done later this week or month, depending on a few things…in the meantime, I have had an exhausting couple of days with little to no sleep.

However, after having worked on the present piece for the last two months or so, I got a bit of further inspiration for it while walking around last Friday, and continued to refine bits of it up to today, and I think it is at last ready to share. There’s even a tune you can sing it to, which is included at the end of this post. But meanwhile, here it is as something that you can read, recite, sing, and enjoy (and even modify if you’d like to!). I’d like to take a moment to dedicate it, even though it is to Hadrian and Antinous (and it is in the voice of Hadrian), to both Merri-Todd and Amaranthia L.V. Cunicula, who each provided some inspiration for it in various ways. ;)

My lover’s not human
Been divine since his funeral
Despite the Senate’s disapproval
Egypt’s custom over-rule

And when the Gods below do speak
He’s their latest mouthpiece…
Every year I’m getting more weak,
My life is past its peak…

I am heart-sick–
I need not say it.

This God offers no absolutes
Except that Beauty is Truth;
The only Mysteries I’ve been through
Have been right alongside you

I am heart-sick–
But I love him…
And now sing with me, “Hail!”

Ave, Ave, Ave, Ave…

Back to the Nile
I’m drownin’ like a rat in the flood of my tears
I’ll sing you your praise and then I’ll cling to my fears
Offer me your breath in death
On your Boat of Millions of Years!
Back to the Nile
I’m drownin’ like a rat in the flood of my tears
I’ll sing you your praise and then I’ll cling to my fears
Offer me your breath in death
On your Boat of Millions of Years!

If I’m the Sovereign of the Empire
This God is my hearth-fire
Keep my lover at my side–
Nile demands a sacrifice

I searched the whole land,
Got someone quite grand…

Someone beautiful and not coarse,
Rides like Castor on a fine horse,
Hunts and fights like a fable,
He’s a joy at every table…

I took his cold hand…
It’s not what I planned–
This is heavy work!

Back to the Nile
I’m drownin’ like a rat in the flood of my tears
I’ll sing you your praise and then I’ll cling to my fears
Offer me your breath in death
On your Boat of Millions of Years!
Back to the Nile
I’m drownin’ like a rat in the flood of my tears
I’ll sing you your praise and then I’ll cling to my fears
Offer me your breath in death
On your Boat of Millions of Years!

No Emperors or Kings
When the Mysteries begin
There is no sweeter death on earth
Than His gentle grin;

In the madness and toil
Of that sweet godly scene–
Only then was I human,
Only then was I clean.

Ave, Ave, Ave, Ave…

Back to the Nile
I’m drownin’ like a rat in the flood of my tears
I’ll sing you your praise and then I’ll cling to my fears
Offer me your breath in death
On your Boat of Millions of Years!
Back to the Nile
I’m drownin’ like a rat in the flood of my tears
I’ll sing you your praise and then I’ll cling to my fears
Offer me your breath in death
On your Boat of Millions of Years!

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | April 21, 2015

Antinous and Eros/Antinous the Lover 2015

antinousfarnesesuperb

Aphrodite Ourania to Antinous: I give you the River Nile in divine flood upon the earth and amongst the celestial heavens, that your love may inundate all in equal measure.

Antinous: Blessed be you, Aphrodite Ourania, who have given me this blessing, and blessings on all of the race of the Titanes from which you were sprung, O daughter of Ouranos!

As I am numbered among the gods, so too will I be born from the waters.
As I am enumerated with the heroes, so too will rivers surge at my name.

I will flourish in the produce of the fields which yield joyous feasts of thanksgiving.
I will be another divine being who rises from the waters in my birth.
I will be a tributary of the vast Okeanos overflowing with purification.
I will hear sweet music played upon flutes and the kithara.
I will join my blood to the fresh water and to the briny seas in passion.
I will give my blessings in the rush of heat in the bodiess of mortals.
I will guard them in custom and law and in the public declaration of their desires.

Every prayer to me is a tree planted and a parcel tended in the Garden of the Erotes.
Every offering to me is a feast of ambrosia in the Paradise of Delights.

In my flood, in fertilizing and in laying waste, may I give to mortals every pleasure of beauty!

Blessed be you, O Aphrodite Ourania, daughter of Ouranos!

Blessed be you, Antinous the Lover!

eros

Eros to Antinous: I give you the winged form of the heavens sprung from Chronos and Ananke eternally, and the bow and arrows with which to bestow the passions upon Gods and mortals.

Antinous: Hail and thanks to you, Eros, both child of Aphrodite and ever-born, ever-becoming!

Because of you, I will be the force which binds all beings and brings movement to the cosmos!

I will be the mystery born from love and strife.
I will be lamented in my absence as equally as feared in my presence.
I will play at dice with Ganymede–-reducing him to ash in the fires of love.
I will be the piercing missile in the hearts of millions upon the earth.
I will be seen fleetingly in the chance meeting of the eyes.
I will be felt stirring in the bodies of all who draw breath.
I will be the god to whom even Hades must submit in my wiles.
I will be the eternal mate of Psyche, everywhere in all those wherein she dwells.
I will be the grandfather of Paneros, who will unchain me though I did not know I was chained.
I will be the merciful sanctuary as equally as the relentless adversary.

Hail and thanks to you, Eros!

Hail and thanks to you, Antinous!

800px-Hadrian_and_Antinous_bust_British_Museum

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