Posted by: aediculaantinoi | July 5, 2015

Commissioned Poetry: “Gwyn ap Nudd and Cyledr Wyllt”

Back when I was raising funds earlier this year to attend PantheaCon, I received a very generous commission from sidhebecomesknight for a poem. I was given several choices for shorter poems, or a longer poem, on a subject that has always been of interest to me from the Middle Welsh Culhwch ac Olwen. As often occurs, soon inspiration (or, awen, even, perhaps!) took over, and I wrote far over the suggested length, and the result can be found below.

And, if you like what I came up with, just think: if you sponsor me now for the World Parliament of Religions in a few months, something wonderful like this can also be attributed to your generosity for generations to come! Look for new perks listed on there in the coming days!

And now, the poetry…Thank you once again, sidhebecomesknight, for being an awesome individual and a true inspiration to my own work! :)

From Pennick and Jackson's The Celtic Oracle, which was my first divination deck back in 1994!

From Pennick and Jackson’s The Celtic Oracle, which was my first divination deck back in 1994!

Gwyn ap Nudd and Cyledr Wyllt

Gwythyr ap Greidawl’s attack
by Gwyn ap Nudd beaten back
left men imprisoned inside
Caer Ynys Glas—the bright pride
of Annwfyn’s fortresses—
all for the fragrant tresses
of Creiddylad, fair daughter
of Lludd, sister of slaughter.

Gwythyr son of the great king—
Greidawl Galldonyd, bards sing—
in northern Prydain’s green lands
from dark peaks to white cliffs’ sands;
other kings his retinue
filled fine ranks the battle through:
Nwython grandson of Yrp, knight
and Alt Clut’s king waged the fight.

Nwython was taken in turn;
his freedom he could not earn
without son Cyledr’s gain
since they shared one binding chain;
royal hostages enjoy
what’s denied the low envoy,
and so Cyledr asked Gwyn
how awen in mind begins.

“Sit for a feast,” Gwyn replied,
and a cauldron the son spied;
it bubbled and sputtered foul—
whether cooking flesh or fowl—
and winds stirred it without spoons
the length of the waxing moon…
but at last smoked black but sweet,
and from it three bits of meat.

“Now eat the fine feast,” Gwyn said
to Cyledr, without bread,
“and three drops of wisdom pure
you may gain from it as cure
to all troubles, and captive
no more—liberty I give
to you and your father dear,
if you eat and are made seer.”

Cyledr picked at the flesh
that might make his mind refresh,
and chewed it three times, spitting
it from his mouth while sitting.
“It is well,” Gwyn said, laughing,
a servant his hall staffing
came and collected the meat
and placed it beneath his seat.

“It was not the heart of truth
you ate—and I am uncouth,
for it was the flesh of dog—
Dormarch his name—which would clog
your mind with words made of wind,
and all would say I have sinned
in withholding awen’s sweet
savor with such unfit meat.”

Yes, that's an actual drawing from a Welsh manuscript that seems meant to depict Dormarch, Dormach, Dormarth…or however his name is spelled!

Yes, that’s an actual drawing from a Welsh manuscript that seems meant to depict Dormarch, Dormach, Dormarth…or however his name is spelled!

And white-bodied, and red-eared
the hound from beneath then peered,
and barked and howled, then he fled
where as feast he’d not be fed.
“But eat again, Cyledr,
you’ll like the next bit better,”
and two morsels on the plate
held Cyledr’s awen-fate.

He touched the next boiled morsel,
his mind not yet awen-full,
and took it to his lips and teeth
and tasted the scent of heath,
of acorn-rooting, truffles
hidden in leaf-fall shuffles…
but choked, regurgitated
the meat, still left unsated.

The servant took the sick-wad
and said the name of some God,
and placed it before the door
as it seethed with bile and gore.
“And yet, again, this feast wastes
young Cyledr’s refined tastes!
For it is the meat of boar
Twrch Trwyth, prince of the moor!”

From Miranda Gray's Beasts of Albion cards

From Miranda Gray’s Beasts of Albion cards

And the boar’s full bulk filled hall
with four legs, old oak-trunk tall,
with two tusks lance-length and sharp
and bristles like strings of harp;
and a comb and silver shears
were nestled between its ears…
it bounded from the hall, quick,
sprung up from the ball of sick.

“There is one piece left, poor boy,
and no more will my feast toy
with your awen-seeking wish:
bright wisdom is now your dish.”
And Cyledr ate the meat,
red and bloody after heat
of cauldron drew its juices
from it…no more excuses.

It was hard, but was not tough,
this meat of awen’s sweet stuff,
and it was sour, but not quite
a stomach-turning food-spite;
it opened his mind chewing
from the cauldron’s strange brewing
and at last, he swallowed down
the fruit of awen’s brew-drown.

He felt in his limbs the wind
of a forest’s boughs, now thinned,
the Caledonian wood
no longer grew as it should,
cut down and made into groves
as it was plundered in troves,
its very heart in Strathclyde
sold off like un-bride-priced bride.

firewood processors

He could cry in every breath
the ten thousand pains of death
of animals and tall trees,
birds and fish in Autumn sprees,
of shrubs and herbs and the stones
and bees, from queens down to drones,
and the ants, and the lands’ names
now lost to unrightful claims.

And he screamed, like a flesh-fork
took him for a side of pork
and pried out heart from his chest…
and the feast was his detest.
“You are wise now, Cyledr,
and all the voices you hear
are as much from greatest Gods
as from the earth’s greenest sods.”

“But what was the meat I ate?”
Cyledr looked at his plate
and saw a bloody-red stain
as his mind was wracked with pain.
“You know the answer well, boy,
and will soon see through my ploy.”
But the truth still eluded,
his mind now fear-polluted.

“Your father is an ally
to my rival of blue sky,
the ‘Victor’ of bright summers,
by the words of harp-strummers;
from Greidawl Galldonyd’s wood
your fair father’s right rule could
marshal a host to defeat
my own, the struggle complete.”

“But now why is it I hear
the cries of ten-thousand deer,
the death-howls of wolves from glen
from wood Caledonian?”
And Gwyn laughed and near fell flat
from the question phrased like that,
and the truth dawned soon enough
to Cyledr’s senses’ rebuff.

“You have seen not the present,
but what will be unpleasant
when, in future times, small men
will do—again and again—
to the Old North and Logres
all in the name of ‘progress,’
to land and people and Gods…
what such a small man applauds…

“It will be such detriment
that few fears minds can invent
will compare to the horror…
hard work for the restorer!
But as king is tied to land
with a Goddess’ sacred hand,
so, too, in gaining your art,
you’ve eaten your father’s heart!”

And a groan from depths hellish,
which Gwyn did not much relish
erupted from Cyledr,
and shattered every fetter
upon him—every captive
to freedom was adaptive
and fled the Caer Ynys Glas
to deep wood and mountain pass.

wildman-with-greyhound

Cyledr, out of his head,
did not know that not yet dead
was his father, like the hound
or the boar hunted and found;
still, he raved in northern wastes
as his price for awen’s tastes,
for death or poems or madness
is the fee for heart’s sadness.

And Cyledr was the third
of the Three—each like a bird—
of the Gwyllt in the north’s woods,
shunning people and their goods:
Myrddin Emrys the wild man,
known across Prydain’s wide span;
and Llew of the Skillful Hand
when Goronwy’s plot was planned.

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | July 5, 2015

Quasi-Dindshenchas of the Cliffs of Moher

After my earlier post, I’m planning two for tomorrow (one for the feast-day itself, and another that is a make-up post from last month), and likewise am working on a poem that has kind of consumed me for a bit…so, only a short further news post for today that is not about my own particular work directly.

My recent article in Walking the Worlds 1.2 discusses the Irish tradition of dindshenchas quite a bit. It’s a topic I’m always interested in seeing more about, and integrating into my practices whenever possible, and gathering knowledge in relation to whenever possible.

So, today, I saw an article on Irish Central that discussed some tales associated with the Cliffs of Moher, one of the most iconic sites (and sights!) of natural beauty in Ireland. I was able to visit the Cliffs of Moher back in 2000 with an archaeology field trip during my first year of doctoral studies in Ireland (despite it not being so much an archaeological site as a geological one!). As you can see from the photo above, the phrase from the “capstone” of the Obelisk of Antinous, “Every angle is a holy icon,” applies quite well to the Cliffs of Moher, and when I was there, I kept walking ten more feet and going “Oh, this is too beautiful a sight not to take another photo of”…and that was in my pre-digital camera days, so I was really running low on film by the time we were done! But, in my class on that occasion, as well as later on in my doctoral education and my specific work on placenames (both in my own research and as part of the LOCUS project), there had never been any indication of tales associated with it in what was made available to me in the obvious places and sources. Likewise, in all of my reading, I don’t recall anything of this nature attached to the site…but, the expanse of Irish folkloric tradition is far greater than what my own reading has been able to turn up.

It turns out there are stories of the site which associate it with Cú Chulainn, the warriors of Finn mac Cumhaill, a selkie-like story, a corpse-eating eel (a potential Morrígan connection?) and various saints as well; and, there’s also a story (pretty common in the Insular Celtic worlds) of a submerged city, perhaps a distant cousin of the Breton City of Ys.

The article would be better, of course, if it included some references to where these tales can be consulted outside of their summaries, but hey, it’s better than nothing. ;)

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | July 5, 2015

Ambarvalia 2015

[May 29th]

When Arcadius Augustus and Rufinus were Consuls, L. Fabius Tranquillus Antinous–who had been called “Antinous” since his youth because of his good looks and luxurious mane–thought to himself that he was probably the very last of the Fratres Arvales in existence. The others had been either coerced by the Theodosian decrees to become Christians, or had lapsed into an indifferent and uninvolved lack of cultus at all. He knew that merely breathing a word of “sacrifice” would be anathema now, and he was angry at the way that the Christians had changed the word from its intended meaning to something unprecedented and illogical. “You Pagani do not own the meaning of the word!” he heard the vituperative Rufinus once say when he was in Rome many years ago. The Christianity of the Emperor, and the Consuls, disgusted him.

The temple of Dea Dia had been closed for a few years, and the sacred groves had all been purposefully razed to the ground–not even the courtesy of invoking Adolenda before their burning, nor to Commolenda, Deferunda, and Coinquenda for destroying them…even though very few of the Arval Brethren had remembered their names twenty years before. The Christians were so hateful of the sacred groves that they did not deign to cut them down for use in making the boards above latrines, they instead thought only burning would remove the “demonic taint”–whatever that meant–from their wood. Fabius Antinous thought there was something inadvertently right about that, for not unlike cremation, and the pyres of imperial apotheosis, burning put the things of the Gods back into their divine hands.

But, the Gods do not cease in their existence simply because human opinion changes, and Fabius Antinous knew that the ritual of the Ambarvalia needed to be carried out–Rome still needed food, and if Ceres was not generous with the abundance of the fields, Christian and “pagan” alike would starve. Perhaps a bit of starvation would turn the ignorant back to the Gods, Fabius Antinous thought in his uncharitable moments, but times had been slim enough for him in the past few years that he wished destitution and starvation on no one.

He began the hymn as it was taught to him:

enos Lases iuvate
enos Lases iuvate
enos Lases iuvate

neue lue rue Marmar sins incurrere in pleores
neue lue rue Marmar sins incurrere in pleores
neue lue rue Marmar sins incurrere in pleores

As he came to the further verses, he thought of Mars, and of plague-aversion, but he could not keep his mind from foul thoughts as he did so.

satur fu, fere Mars, limen sali, sta berber
satur fu, fere Mars, limen sali, sta berber
satur fu, fere Mars, limen sali, sta berber

He wished that Mars would visit a plague or death upon the Emperor and the Consuls–especially Rufinus.

semunis alternei advocapit conctos
semunis alternei advocapit conctos
semunis alternei advocapit conctos

He then thought of the Semones, and how in some sense both the God of his nickname, Antinous, and the God of the Christians, Jesus, could be considered in some sense semi humanes, like all of the Semones were to some extent.

enos Marmor iuvato
enos Marmor iuvato
enos Marmor iuvato

triumpe triumpe triumpe triumpe triumpe

As he finished his prayer, he then had a strange notion: perhaps Antinous himself would intervene on their behalf to destroy Theodosius and Rufinus. It was a strange notion, and he took out his contorniate medallion showing Antinous-Pan on one side and the winged Victoria on the other.

He could not be seen doing a public blood sacrifice, and a private one was out of the question with his means and his small room in the insula, so something else had to be done in its place. He had saved his money for weeks to buy three small pieces of meat: a piece of pork, a piece of mutton, and a piece of beef. He had fashioned out of a light bread dough the vague shape of a pig, a sheep, and a bull, and placed the pieces of meat inside each one. The oven had browned them attractively while he was completing his hymn, and he took them out and kindled a sacred flame in his hearth from wood he had secretly scrounged from the grove near the closed temple of the Vestal Virgins. As he hailed Vesta for her presence, he then said:

“If I have offended any of the Gods with the humility of my rites and my offerings, I apologize; if I have ever pleased the Gods in the past with my words, my deeds, or my offerings, may they look favorably upon my prayers on this day. May Mars drive away all plagues, may Ceres provide the fields with great abundance of crops…”

Fabius Antinous paused for a moment and gathered his strength and his anger.

“And, may Antinous the Victorious drive Theodosius and Rufinus from the earth!”

He then placed the three animal-shaped meat cakes into the fire and watched them burn, the savory scent of the burning meat filling the room with a flavor he had not smelled in a long time. The fire seemed to rise in its intensity for a moment as it devoured the offerings, and Fabius Antinous–though still disappointed that he was now cowering in a closed room performing his rituals rather than doing it in public and sharing a feast with everyone–felt he had accomplished his task for the day.

In less than two years, Theodosius died in Milan after a long illness.

And later that same year, on the birthdate of the divine Antinous, Rufinus was assassinated by Gothic mercenaries.

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | July 4, 2015

Birth of Matidia 2015

It was a warm day in Dacia when Matidia joined her mother, aunt, and daughters in their tent–a bit more lavish than the others, but still somewhat spare like those of the soldiers–to await her uncle’s announcement.

The young Hadrian–several years her junior–soon arrived as well, and began speaking with Plotina, who was his mother in all but name and official titulature. They enjoyed speaking of philosophy, and Matidia likewise found the new quaestor most agreeable, and even charming. She had essentially been raised with him, after all, and had seen him mature from a precocious but rambunctious youth into a vigorous young man, accomplished in his military roles. One day, perhaps he’d become Consul, she thought.

Hadrian, on the other hand, had thoughts in an entirely different direction. He had a network of spies and informers that kept him apprised of Trajan’s thoughts and likely courses of action, and if Trajan knew of these informers, he would have been thoroughly unimpressed, and would have shown his disdain with a few exemplary executions, no doubt. But, nonetheless, that network of spies had accomplished what Hadrian had intended, on this occasion and many others: to keep him informed just in advance enough to gather his thoughts on any given matter. Nine tenths of wit is improvisation, he often thought, and the key to improvisation is to have had the forethought to anticipate any outcome, whether a clever quip in conversation or a strategic military maneuver.

Marriage, Hadrian knew would be the subject of this particular meeting. It was Matidia’s natal day, and there would already be a small feast planned for it; but, he had reasoned, he might find out that Matidia would be his betrothed soon.

She was ideal, in so many ways, he thought. They were of like minds, she was a handsome woman, they would have no difficulty living together–for they already had for many years–and she was as familiar as anyone in their household. She already had three children, and had outlived three previous husbands; while another child would be possible–a son, perhaps?–it would not be unreasonable instead to marry one of her daughters to a good prospect for some future position. Of course, Hadrian was putting the legion far in front of the standard-bearer on this, as he had done with nearly everything, in thinking that perhaps he would one day become Emperor after his surrogate father’s death; but, he had planned far grander schemes when mere introductions had not yet been made between him and others before, and whether they came to pass or not was nowhere near as important as being ready for the possibility in as far an advance as possible.

“Felicitations on your natal day!” Hadrian said to Matidia.

“Thank you! I would be quite fortunate indeed if the only such blessings I enjoyed was the presence of yourself and the rest of my family,” she replied.

Hadrian was blushing slightly–he took public acclamations almost stoically in his composure, but was not used to private and personal compliments, she noticed–and lowered his eyes from her as he smiled. She knew her uncle would scold him for such coquettish behavior, but he had not yet arrived.

“Incidentally, I’m truly sorry to hear of Frugi’s death–he was a good man.”

“I thank you,” Matidia continued, “but after his final speech, the Senate did not think so.”

“The Senate is not always correct in its opinions,” Hadrian said.

“Nonetheless, I do feel his loss. He was not a warm man, but he was my husband longer than the other two husbands combined; I cannot say otherwise than that I will miss his presence, even at a distance.”

“Does it feel strange to outlive so many husbands?” Hadrian asked, genuinely curious.

“Is ‘three’ truly so many?” Matidia retorted.

“No, I didn’t mean…” Hadrian was now flustered–something that didn’t happen very often.

“It’s all right; I was only jesting,” Matidia reassured him. “In truth, I had wondered if my first two husband’s deaths were some curse that I brought upon them, to die so soon after having their only issue be daughters.”

“The women in our family are strong, Matidia,” Hadrian commented, “and are the bedrock upon which all our successes have been built. Your daughters will be the same, mothers to Emperors, no doubt!”

“Or perhaps Empresses?” Matidia prodded.

“Yes, Empresses, surely,” Hadrian said with a laugh. “I do not doubt it.”

“Hadrian, Matidia,” Plotina said, “my husband will be arriving in a few moments. I believe he has some announcement, but I cannot say on what–he would not make his mind known to me on this matter, no matter how I cajoled him.”

“The Emperor has his own mind,” Hadrian observed, “and it is often as inscrutable as the God of the Jews with his unsayable ‘Name.'”

“Is that how it is for the Jews?” Plotina asked. “It’s never ranked high in what I have found useful to know.”

“The Gods of every people are essential to know in understanding the people who worship them,” Hadrian mused.

“Do you expect trouble from the Jews, then?” Matidia pressed with a smile.

“One does not do well to ‘expect'; but, in preparing for every contingency, one cannot be taken by surprise,” Hadrian stated.

“It is true,” Plotina said, “but what might be occurring today none of us can say.”

“Indeed,” Hadrian replied, lying completely.

The Emperor entered their tent without fanfare or notice just then, in his full ceremonial armor. His personal guards assumed their positions at the flap of the tent, not able to keep up with him as they should have. One of them began to announce his presence, but Trajan waved his hand and stopped him, giving him a sidelong glance of disdain.

“I have very little time for formalities today,” Trajan clipped, “and I will keep my statements to all of you brief.”

“Can you not stay at least for Matidia’s natal day feast?” Plotina implored.

“I may join you for that later, but in the meantime, there are several preparations to be made. I am considering establishing a capital for the province near our current location.”

“But the campaign is not yet won!” Marciana, the Emperor’s sister, offered.

“The Dacians will be defeated, make no mistake,” Trajan continued, “it is merely a matter of persistence. Do you find the name ‘Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa’ agreeable?”

“But the Dacian’s city is far from here,” Matidia said.

“It will not be the Dacian’s city, it will be a Roman city amongst the Dacians. Their own center will never be a place where Roman allegiance can be rallied, and thus we must forge our own path.”

“Is that what you have asked us to gather for? Is that your announcement?” Plotina asked.

“No, that is mere logistics. I have gathered you to inform you of my decision on a marriage arrangement.”

“For whom?” Plotina inquired further.

“For Hadrian, of course,” Trajan said, almost smirking.

“And who will be his bride?” Plotina nearly demanded, both excited but also beginning to be annoyed, even though there was little suspense or delay in her husband’s decisions.

“Vibia Sabina,” Trajan said.

The young woman was not even paying attention at first, giggling with her younger sisters until her name was mentioned.

“I…” Hadrian began, “would like to thank you for this arrangement,” he paused, gathering his resolve, “but I wonder if it is not a mistake.”

“A ‘mistake’?” The Emperor was angry. “What do you take me for?”

Plotina approached her husband, attempting to calm him down. “No, hear the young man out.”

“It is not a foolish decision, by any means,” Hadrian continued, “but are there not more suitable prospects?”

“Did you have someone in particular in mind?” Trajan demanded.

“Well, what about Matidia?”

Matidia, Plotina, and Trajan were surprised at the suggestion.

“She is three-times married and a mother, Hadrian,” Trajan spat.

“She is older than you–that would never do,” Plotina tutted.

“And, I do not wish you to succumb to the curse I seem to have in marrying men and their deaths,” Matidia said, genuinely concerned.

“So, there you have it: Vibia Sabina will be your wife,” Trajan concluded.

“But…she’s so young!” Hadrian protested.

“All the more likely, then, to produce an heir for you,” Trajan said. Sabina was embarrassed that they were already speaking of her having sexual relations with Hadrian, someone she was familiar with but felt she hardly knew. But Trajan continued, “And if she had been a boy, you would not object that she is too youthful, you’d say she was too old!”

Hadrian was crimson in his embarrassment, and could not reply.

“That is settled, and there will be no more discussion of the matter. Make the arrangements,” Trajan eyed his sister, wife, and Matidia, and began to leave the tent, taking his guard with him, but motioning toward a young clerk.

“Who is he?” Matidia asked.

“That’s Vitalis,” Hadrian continued.

“How do you know him?” Plotina asked.

Hadrian inhaled noticeably before replying. “I saw him and found him comely, but the Emperor decided he was more to his tastes than mine, and left me no decision on the matter…a hint at what was to come, apparently.”

“Did you seriously think Matidia would be a good match for you?” Plotina asked, a bit too imploringly.

“Yes, I did,” Hadrian said, and left it at that.

Matidia was surprised, and flattered, but also confused and embarrassed on behalf of her eldest daughter. “I thank you for the flattery of your thoughts, Hadrian, but what my uncle has decreed truly is the best option.”

“Then on this, our opinions will always differ,” Hadrian said, “but in time, I suppose I will get used to considering you an additional mother rather than a sister, or anything else.”

Vitalis cleared his throat, somewhat embarrassed to have seen so intimately into the doings of the Imperial Family, and not entirely clear on what his role in the gathering should be.

“Oh, yes, young man, please take notes on the preparations which will be needed,” Plotina said.

Matidia felt genuinely sad and concerned for Hadrian, and tried to distract him. “There will be time enough for that, Vitalis; tell us more about yourself.”

“I come from a strange family,” the boy said.

“How strange?” Matidia asked.

“My grandfather and great-grandfather were Christians,” Vitalis continued.

“And what about yourself?” Matidia continued to inquire.

“No, my mother would not allow it, and my mother was a bastard anyway that my grandfather never acknowledged before he was executed with his twin brother for disloyalty by Nero. But I bear the name of my great-grandfather.”

“And what of your father?” Plotina asked.

“Lucius Marius of the gens Maria,” Vitalis said.

“A good and ancient name,” Marciana observed.

“Yes; perhaps one day, you shall have a good marriage,” Matidia said.

“When the Emperor is done with you!” Hadrian sneered. Vitalis only lowered his head.

“Now, there’s no call to be rude,” Matidia said.

“Yes…I’m sorry, Vitalis,” Hadrian caressed his face slightly. “This marriage business is difficult, and I hope one day you’ll have a good one, with children who will make you proud.”

“I wish the same for you, Quaestor, and happiness in your own marriage,” Vitalis said.

“Then tonight, we shall feast my daughter’s natal day,” Marciana said, “and my granddaughter’s impending marriage to a man I could think no more highly of, and no better prospect for her!”

“I throughly agree,” Matidia said, placing a hand on Hadrian’s shoulder.

“Then, so it will be,” Hadrian concluded, and left their tent.

Sabina said to her mother, “So, Hadrian will be my husband?”

“Yes, my dear,” Matidia replied.

“I had hoped to be like Sappho with my own train of devotees of Venus,” Sabina said.

“Marrying Hadrian will be no impediment to that, I assure you,” Matidia said, “and you’ll be even more like Sappho in having a man to love as much as anyone else you might wish.”

*****

Ave Diva Matidia Augusta!

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | July 3, 2015

An Excellent Video on Allyship; and Signal-Boosting…

Have a look at this very interesting poetic piece, where Darius Simpson and Scout Bostley trade voices, so to speak, and in the process highlight how speaking for others is problematic as a methodology of alliance (or, at least that’s one way to interpret it).

*****

Also, our friend, colleague and co-religionist Merri-Todd needs some emergency assistance for rent, and has a GoFundMe campaign here for that purpose. If you can help out an awesome person, please do!

*****

And finally, two really interesting articles from The New Republic, one by Alexander Chee, and another compiled by him of various voices within the LGBT movements, on the topic of what the future will look like for queer people. While many of the opinions given in the latter piece are ones I second, and would be entirely appropriate for a venue like Gods and Radicals, I suspect the reality for most queer folks today is not to be this forward-thinking, alas. (And even the people interviewed don’t seem to understand gender diversity outside of the trans* category too much, unfortunately.)

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | July 3, 2015

Hero-Feast of Orpheus 2015

orpheus&beasts

Sir Orfeo and the Parlement of Foules

Hereinn bygynneth the Boke of the tales of Sir Orfeo.

Whan that Julye, with hise droghtes drie,
The rainnes of Mai hath drainned till thaie die
And blaisted every streame to bonnes and duste,
Of which the herte is lakinnge all the luste;
Whan Eurus eek alacke with his rughe breeth
Inspired hath in ech the herbes their deeth
The tendre croppes, and the manne Sol
Hath yet in Leon his hottre cours withal,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen in the daye with reverie
So maken to al lyfe impediment–
Thanne with Orfeo they made parlement.

Sir Orfeo satten doune with a smal parlement of foules: Rayven, Wagg-taile and Grousse, Owele and Bleu Herrne, and the sillye Gousse-Gousse.

Saith Sir Orfeo, “For hwat do wee sitte in parlement todaye?”

Saith the Grousse, “To talk of theologie.”

Saith Sir Orfeo, “What doen ich parlement of foules knowen of theologie? Hath they seen the Gaytes of Haydes thro the stringen of a Lire? Hath they felte the breeth of Cerberus on their faices?”

Saith the Owele, “Somme een have. Mayhappe we may spaken of Platon?”

Saith the sillye Gousse-Gousse, “Oo! He that hath writenn that the Oon is above al the Goddes?”

Saith the Rayven, “No, for the Goddes are manie.”

Saith the Wagg-taile, “And manie is the herte of the wyne’s licor, hwat maken Manne to go madde with the manie of Backus! Io Io Backus!”

Saith the Grousse, “And Woden, too, bringeth furie into the bloode!”

Saith the Owele, “Mayhappe the furie and the manie is a fonctionne of the Goddes, qua Goddes, to mingele with mortaill mindes.”

Saith the sillye Gouss-Gousse, “But een if Ich have seyne the Gaytes of Haydes or anie of the Goddes, still, the Oon is above al the Goddes…and Ich have felte itt! But noone can saie anythinnge of itt, for the Oon is above al, een woordes.”

Saith the Bleu Hernne, “Thann howe have youe knowen it is the Oon?”

Saith the sillye Gousse-Gousse, “Stoppen movinge the Gool-Poostes, Hernne! Ich wytte youe do not reade verie weel!”

Saith the Grousse, “Oo, focken oof, Gousse-Gousse!”

Saith the Wagg-taile, “Ywit, focken oof!”

Saith the sillye Gousse-Gousse, “But ye do not owne the woorde ‘polietheeiste,’ so Ich doe notte have to focken oof.”

Saith the Rayven, “You are a focken oafe, and canne focken oof! ‘Polie’ means ‘manie,’ and woordes meanne thinnges!”

The Rayven stukke his beakke in the fleyshe of the sillye Gousse-Gousse, and hit was roassten over a fyre for al to eatte. And Sir Orfeo plaied a melodie for theim on the Lire.

Finit. Deibus gratias.

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | July 2, 2015

The Ekklesía Antínoou at the World Parliament of Religions!

Several months back, I submitted three proposals to the World Parliament of Religions. I seriously hoped they would take two of them: a devotional ritual for Antinous and other members of the Antinoan pantheon; and a session which will be a presentation and discussion (on which more in a moment). They originally extended their deadline for proposals, but then they received so many that their May 1st date of contacting everyone with their decisions was extended…and extended…and extended again.

I was beginning to give up when I heard that a few other people and groups I know will be attending…and then I was contacted today with the news that they accepted one of my proposals! Unfortunately, it wasn’t the ritual, but I suspect what I will be doing there will be much more effective and impactful, no matter how few people decide to attend it. (And, likely as not, I will work in some of my own devotional practices into the presentation, e.g. I will open with prayers to Antinous and Polydeukion, and likely will end with a prayer as well.)

The proposal they accepted has the following description/abstract and title (and all of the information below was included under different sections of the proposal form, asking for likely audience, purpose, how it fits into the Parliament’s main theme and subthemes, etc.; it’s not just extremely wordy because P.S.V.L. has written it!):

Religion, Youth, and Gender/Sexuality: Towards Collaborative Solutions to a Simple Problem

While young people in the U.S. have been more prone to suicide due to bullying over a variety of issues in recent years, young queer people (from the LGBTQIA+ demographics) have been particularly prone to suicide. The primary reason why LGBTQIA+ people are still persecuted is due to negative messages from religions; no reputable scientific organization (that isn’t bankrolled by a religious group) suggests that these identities are anything other than an expectable and natural biological variation that can exist amongst humans, and exists in huge numbers of other animal species as well. Being that this apparently complex issue is, ultimately, this simple, in what ways can religious groups address the root problems which lead to these attitudes of exclusion and condemnation, and work towards solutions that are rooted in the justice-making and human dignity-respecting traditions of their respective practices?

Respect for human diversity in gender and sexuality is a cornerstone of modern (secular) understandings of human rights. Thus, discussion of this issue supports the religious values at the center of the 2015 World Parliament of Religions’ theme. Compassion is needed for true respect of all people to occur. Peace can be achieved, and can be increased amongst people, by erasure of resentment and hatred between diverse groups of people based on gender diversity or sexual orientation differences. Justice is at the heart of this issue, since LGBTQIA+ people are often denied justice and basic human rights due to their identities. Sustainability is also key to this issue, because if the next generations, in all their gender- and sexually-diverse manifestations, are not respected and empowered, religious traditions will become more and more moribund in their eyes and will be abandoned in favor of other alternatives.

This program is primarily concerned with one aspect of the “Wars, terrorism, and hate speech” subtheme, since hate speech–often of a religious nature–is frequently employed against people of LGBTQIA+ identities, and is a mainstay of the language used to bully and harass young people. It can also relate to parts of the “Care for creation and climate change” theme, since LGBTQIA+ people are as much a part of creation as any other human, and the increasing legal and social viability of gender- and sexually-diverse people might be a useful and indeed needed antidote to human overpopulation, which is a major contributor to climate change and general environmental pressures worldwide.

Anyone wishing to attend, but particularly: youth; people within any religious tradition that are concerned over issues of gender and sexual diversity; youth ministers; and people open-minded enough to consider these issues seriously.

The main theme of this event is the impact of these issues on youth, and how the changing nature of these issues amongst younger generations should inform and instruct–and, indeed, revise–the viewpoints of religions worldwide. As LGBTQIA+ peoples are marginalized the world over, and are actively persecuted, incarcerated, and even executed in some countries due to negative religious messages, considering the impact of religion generally on creating this negative atmosphere is necessary and desirable in the context of the World Parliament of Religions.

[The above information is as it was given in the proposal application; published information from the Parliament may edit or alter some of the material above; from what I gather, the main thing they’ll include in the program is the first paragraph to give attendees an idea of what to expect.]

As you can see, this might be a rather contentious session…but it is all the more important, therefore, to have it be done, and to go there representing Antinous and the general cause and viability of modern polytheism, I think.

The World Parliament of Religions 2015 is happening in Salt Lake City, Utah, from October 15th through 19th. That is in the first full month of Fall quarter for my collegiate teaching, and I’ll have to take a few days of “leave without pay” in order to attend. I’ll also be moving in the next month or two (from now, i.e. in July or August), and I’ve also had a lot of medical bills lately due to my eye surgery and such. Thus, I’m going to need some financial assistance in order to make this a reality.

Thus, I’ve started an Indiegogo campaign in order to raise the funds to be able to go. The campaign is lasting for the next 60 days, and anything that you can contribute toward that end will be most appreciated. Everyone who contributes will have their name listed on a benefactors page for the next three books published by The Red Lotus Library; and there are also perks for anyone who contributes at higher than the $50 level.

If you would, spread the word on this matter far and wide, and hopefully, with the help of the Deities and all of you, we’ll make my presence there a reality! :)

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | July 2, 2015

Rosmertalia 2015

[July 1st; for more on this festival, see the following!]

To Rosmerta

Holy and hospitable Rosmerta:

If Mercury brings us gifts,
you have provided them;

If Mercury has told good news,
it is of your abundance;

If Mercury has guided us on roads,
our destination has been your house;

If Mercury has protected us,
it is under your direction;

If Mercury has blessed us with profit,
you are the one who invested in us.

May the wings of Mercury
always be accompanied
by the wings of Rosmerta.

May the herald’s rod of Mercury
always be carried as well
by the good hands of Rosmerta.

May the horn of plenty
beyond reckoning in its size
be carried together by Rosmerta and Mercury.

*****

Ave Mercurie! Ave Ave Rosmerta!

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | July 1, 2015

Walking the Worlds Volume 1.2 is out now!

As is my custom, I would like to let all of you know that Walking the Worlds volume 1.2 is out now! It is available for purchase here, and you can have a look at the table of contents here. The theme of this issue is “Building Regional Cultus,” and it’s a stellar cast of contributors!

My own contributions, in addition to being on the editorial board, were threefold in this issue.

First, a short “Errata” statement on my piece from the first issue.

Second, an article called “Books Written on Soil: Developing an Irish-Based Practice of Inhabiting Sacred Landscapes,” which focuses on the Irish practice of Isidorean etymologizing and the dindshenchas (“lore of sacred/famous places”) traditions, and concludes with a poem connected with Manannán and dealing with inhabiting sacred spaces outside of Ireland in an equitable, non-culturally-appropriative or colonialist-hegemonizing manner (!?!). So, quite light reading. ;)

Third and finally, I also have an article called “Syncretism as Methodology of Localization: A Short Note on Antinoan Cultus in Antiquity and in the Syncretistic Present,” which does exactly what it says on the tin, but in thousands more words. ;)

ALSO, AN ANNOUNCEMENT: There will be a special issue of Walking the Worlds which will be a anthological miscellany of proceedings from last year’s Polytheist Leadership Conference, New York Regional Diviners Conference, and this summer’s (upcoming!) Many Gods West conference. If you were at either of last year’s conferences, presented at them, or have discussions or reactions that you’ve written (or intend to write), OR you are going to be a presenter at Many Gods West and envision that you can write up your presentation in some form afterwards, and would like these to be published, please send your submissions to our editrix-in-chief, Galina Krasskova, at krasskova (at) gmail (dot) com no later than September 30th of this year. The special proceedings volume will come out shortly thereafter, if all goes well.

And, further, if you are attending Many Gods West, and would like to meet many of the contributors to volume 1.2 (as well as a few from volume 1.1, too!), I’d advise getting a copy beforehand to take with you, so that you can have contributors sign it as a kind of “yearbook” and lovely commemorative piece for the event!

Go on, then! ;)

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | July 1, 2015

Disciplina 2015

The courts of the Muses and the Graces, the gatherings of the nymphs, the dances of the Kouretes, and even the crowds of the Erinyes and the Keres are extensive and expansive in comparison to the council surrounding the Goddess Disciplina. Nonetheless, it was not a faceless mass of divine personages who clung to her or followed her every word, it was a venerable group of deified or divinized mortals.

They met daily for a short time–for it was often all they needed–but they did so diligently for centuries out of the timeless eternity of the divine realms. On a few times yearly, they would meet for longer and discuss the wider arc of Disciplina’s purposes.

“Has all discipline left the earth?” she questioned to begin one of their meetings.

“How do you mean?” Hadrian asked.

“Students–discipula/e/i–should be the very embodiment of discipline; and yet, now, to be a student is synonymous with procrastination, lack of seriousness, directionlessness, and uncertainty, lacking all conviction for many but the most elite few.”

“Is it so?” Antinous asked in return. “Lucius Marius Vitalis will be most disturbed to hear this…He sends his regrets, by the way, that he cannot be here today. Spartacus was insistent on a meeting with him.”

Disciplina nodded, but slightly rolled her eyes as she blinked–an expression she did more frequently these days than she would have preferred–and knew in her heart that in the divine realms, the boundlessness of time should not prevent anyone resident in them from seeing many beings at once; it was only mortal habit–even if centuries old due to the length of time since their deaths–which prolonged such lack of ability to adjust to the role of divinity. Even the most dedicated students fail these days, she thought, and slightly shuddered.

“I have noticed this as well,” Julia Balbilla spoke up. “There are many who claim the title of ‘poet,’ for example, who do not write more than a poem a month at most.”

“And yet there is always time for devoting one’s full attention to sipping an overpriced cup of coffee!” Disciplina nearly snorted in her scoffing. She did not like that she was visibly losing patience amongst the few members of her council.

“What can be done, though?” Sabina asked.

“The Muses do not favor me with answers on this, nor the Fates, or any oracles held in esteem amongst the Gods,” Disciplina lamented.

“And what about me?” Antinous asked.

“Oh, I apologize, my son,” Disciplina said. “I did not mean to exclude you, nor minimize your role in oracular matters.”

“It is not anything to fret over,” Antinous replied amiably, “and…yet…”

“What is it?” Hadrian asked of his lover.

“I wonder…”

“Out with it, boy!” Julia Balbilla said, losing all decorum in her desperation for answers.

“It may only be a passing thought, a fleeting fancy, but I wonder if there is something in what our dear Goddess has just done from which we, and mortals still upon the earth, may learn.”

“If such a thing exists, then say more of it!” Sabina demanded.

“Disciplina was venting her frustrations in an emotional fashion, which is understandable and entirely appropriate under the circumstances. Mortals take deified abstractions as the lightest of divine beings, the most removed and ethereal, and often not to be taken with the seriousness of Gods or ancestors. Disciplina has perhaps fared even worse than many due to her late elucidation by Hadrian.”

“Yes, we know this, Antinous, but do go on!” Hadrian said with a too-wide smile of veiled anxiety.

“In her frustration, and being swept with emotions, she did not think, did not fully consider those amongst her.”

“And I apologize again for doing so,” Disciplina said, thinking Antinous’ words were a goad toward a greater show of contrition (they were not).

“It was fortunate that you did so, Disciplina, for it illustrates something that has been lost amongst humans.”

“What is that?” Hadrian inquired.

“In order to do anything, one must try. Even in trying, there can be failure; but what is failure if not a spur toward further practice, toward meeting a standard when one has fallen short of it?”

“Even a fool knows that,” Julia Balbilla snarked.

“Perhaps; and yet, fear of failure has created a notion that failure in itself is not to do or to try or to practice, it is simply the worst possible outcome and to be avoided at all costs.”

“A trophy for everyone that is the same as the true victors,” Disciplina tutted.

“It is that, and so many other things, which are symptoms of this failure of discipline to take hold in the world. Failure has been re-inscribed as a lesser victory rather than then truth of the matter; and yet, both true and admitted failure as well as its redefined form have been moved outside of the realm of doing, trying, or practicing. Failure has been equated to inaction, to indolence, and because of the fear of ridicule, indolence and inaction have been chosen more frequently than actually attempting to do, try, or practice.”

“I suspect I see where you are going with this now,” Disciplina began to say, nodding slightly.

“Yes–then you know what must be done.”

“Am I to understand that I must now speak–”

“Of failing *GRANDLY*!”

Hadrian, Julia Balbilla, and Sabina were shocked, but Disciplina was now smiling.

“Failure produces the greatest learning in humans, and yet they fear doing it more than almost anything else.”

“True, Antinous,” Hadrian said, “as you know better than most.”

“Certainly! I have been syncretized with Poseidon not because of Corinthian local idiosyncrasies, but because after my drowning–no matter how fruitful its results were–I pushed myself to become as great as any God of the oceans when it came to swimming afterwards.”

“It also helps that you no longer have the burden of breathing,” Julia Balbilla reminded Antinous with a grin.

“Of course, you are right; but, nonetheless, I believe the point stands,” Antinous nodded while returning her smile.

“Will humans misunderstand and take pride–even excessively–at such grand failures?” Sabina wondered.

“Perhaps some will; but, failures are not to be understood as a point of pride so much as the mark of an energized and diligent practice, of always trying and always doing rather than allowing the inertia of complacency, fear, and laziness to prevail.”

“I like this idea!” Disciplina said, holding her banner more firmly and straightly.

“Will it work?” Hadrian asked the group.

“Only the Gods know,” Antinous replied.

“So, what do you two think?” Hadrian responded.

“It is not for me nor Antinous to know; it is only for us to inspire this in others.”

*****

Ave Antinoe! Ave Hadriane!
Ave Diva Sabina! Ave Julia Balbilla!
Ave Ave Ave Disciplina!

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