Posted by: aediculaantinoi | June 30, 2015

“Gender and Syncretism” at Polytheist.com!

And, one in the final moments of the month…!

My latest post at Polytheist.com, “Gender and Syncretism: Rarely the Twain Doth Meet,” is now up. I am really happy this one got in just under the wire, as I have not had a post there since late April, which (despite how busy I’ve been for the last two months) I look upon as a personal failing. In any case, the article itself is about how, despite there being many syncretized forms of deities, rarely do deities of different genders get syncretized with one another. I talk about five examples I know of where different genders do come together: Ardhnarishvara, Harihara, Kwan Yin, Inari-Okami, and Hermekate, and why Hermaphroditos doesn’t exactly count in that regard.

I also ask for further examples if people know of them…I am now thinking there were a few deities that were linked with one another between Greece and Rome that were interpreted as different genders, but I can’t now recall who, exactly…

So, if you’d like to comment, or have further examples to suggest, please feel free to comment there or here as you’d prefer!

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | June 30, 2015

An Unexpected Day…

This will be a slightly-rambling post to round out the month. I am finding that my vision difficulties have motivated me to do more posting and to take advantage of what sight I still do have, and I am hoping that will translate into doing some other sorts of writing in the immediate future as well.

The last few days have not gone entirely to plan in many different ways, or sometimes they have not gone according to desire.

One such area of disappointment was that on Sunday, the Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America had their mid-year purification ceremony in the late morning. I was not able to get a ride–four different options that I tried failed to pan out for a number of different reasons–and thus was not able to attend, and it’s one that can’t really be attended “at-a-distance” very effectively, and I didn’t have the means to do so anyway. So, that was a let-down, especially because it is great to do that ceremony just after the quarter has ended, and also after something like my surgery has taken place.

But, I did get the following link courtesy of Sr. Krissy Fiction, so I thank Sr. Krissy deeply for this: there’s a new cat goddess–or rather, cat-kami, in Japan now! Shinto is wonderful for this sort of thing, and it demonstrates that not only humans can undergo apotheosis in living indigenous polytheist/animist spiritual traditions.

Then yesterday, I ended up posting five things, which is quite unusual for me these days…and one conversation based on this post took a turn for the intriguing, I thought, via a discussion on the comments (and I thank Disirdottir for the inspiration behind my further thoughts there!), which I’ll give here.

I think it is pretty clear that the Gods (and heroes and ancestors and land spirits and Sancta/e/i and all of the many different classes of divine being) are not the only ones “up there” in those worlds they inhabit, there are countless scores of others…the “everyday people,” if you like, of the divine worlds. Sometimes, one of them comes forward and we only hear one tiny scrap of a story about them, or they have one minor shrine somewhere, and so forth.

Essentially, then, perhaps all of the Gods of whom we are aware and who are able to receive cultus (the latter being essential) are actually “human-workers,” and all of those we don’t know and haven’t heard of and may never see while alive (or possibly ever, depending on what happens to which bits of us after we die) are in essence “the laity”–though, given the flipped roles here, I’m almost tempted to call them “the deity.” (Which may actually kind of fucking work…perhaps that monistic undifferentiated *Divine* that some experience is actually just the bustling mass of those undifferentiated deity…?!?)

In Irish terms, this might actually be what “the Gods and the Non-Gods” refers to: not that the “Non-Gods” are nature deities, land spirits, and the husbandmen of the Gods, but instead that they are the “non-professionals” (which is actually what the texts themselves on this say!), i.e. those with no specialized vocation, so to speak, to receive human prayers or engage with humans directly, but who are still acknowledged.

To say that this changes everything would be a profound understatement…And here I was hoping to ask some questions that might distinguish Paneros in a kind of specialized role, but the course of the conversation has lead to that variety of role being generalized to all of the Deities whose names we know and who have ever had a cultus, but has likewise opened up that world even more widely and diversely than it may ever have been imagined before.

Perhaps, instead of monists experiencing the human totem as “The All,” then, it might be this *divine laity*/deity (which my linguistic and puny tendencies relishes too heavily to possibly resist!) that they are experiencing. If, as the monists often assert, that the individual deities we know come from this “source” (which, technically, they would, i.e. they emerge with their divine vocations from that population), and it can’t be described or fully encompassed by human thought (though possibly because the beings on the receiving end simply aren’t equipped, prepared, or even willing to interact in any further ways with those who are able to contact them), and they understand this totality to be the “ground of being” and in essence the reality behind *The One God* (which is technically correct, in that humanity is the ground of being of each individual human, and this one divine population that can’t really communicate back encompasses that whole string of non-dualities/totalities often ascribed to such a being, and if we pun with it as “deity” then it actually could be “Deity” as well!), but it is also what the individual deities are subsumed in (which they technically would be!), then that would actually fit all of the characteristics often ascribed to *The One* by these type of monists.

It’s something to think with, anyway…

But it was great today to not only think about these things, but also to think with other people–namely Jaina Bee of Beyond the Binary (a tradition within Come As You Are Coven), who came by with eir (hilarious!) significant other, and we had a lovely and healthy picnic atop Mt. Erie on a spot I am now going to refer to as “Tetrad++ Hill” (or perhaps “Tetrad++ Mound”). We talked about all sorts of things, including possible PantheaCon ritual plans for next year, and that a great and not-too-difficult-to-find symbol for the Tetrad++ which reflects their multi-dimensionality could be the merkaba:

I LOVE that idea…and they have amethyst ones, which would be perfect for Paneros (and then I’m sure ones with other stones identified with the Tetrad++ could be obtained as well), so that is cool!

While we were up there, I was going to try and collect some dirt to take to Many Gods West, and we were going to the old “heart of the mountain,” but it seems even more trees have fallen within it…I got the immediate feeling that they were specifically there as obstacles and to make that area inaccessible, so I respected that feeling, and concluded that I might try again later/in the next few weeks, perhaps in a different part of the mountain. I may no longer have access to that part of the mountain…I’ll have to see.

It was a beautiful day spent in the company of lovely people and spiritual colleagues, and I’m looking forward to seeing Jaina again–hopefully soon!–and doing much work with eir and with Beyond the Binary in the future in order to bring the Tetrad++ more fully into our world, where they are so deeply needed at the moment.

I have a few more things to take care of tonight, and then in the morning, I will have a follow-up appointment on my eye, and with any luck will get some answers on how long I might be in this half-blind state, and what the likelihood of full recovery will be. I have no idea how that will go, but I am hoping for good news.

Bring on the month of July, which will have lots of wonderful things in it, I’m sure! :)

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | June 29, 2015

Ever The Gods Are Overflowing With Surprises…!?!

…Though, perhaps not just the gods, but other varieties of divine beings as well.

So, earlier today, I had a short dream, in which I was writing an installment of my syncretistic aretalogy for Antinous. There were other things in that dream I cannot now recall, but what really stood out to me was that it seemed that I was getting prompted to write a portion of the syncretistic aretalogy of Antinous that linked him to our hero of the day today–Spartacus!?!–and my statue of Lucius Marius Vitalis was also in the dream.

I woke up from this dream (because of a spam text message, unfortunately), and thought about this for a while. I went and added something to a piece on Lucius Marius Vitalis that will be presented to all of you in just over two months. I had my latest dose of eyedrops, and then ate some food. I looked at some e-mail and did a few other things.

Then I went to do divination with the Ephesia Grammata to see if this is what Antinous really wanted me to do, and if I was parsing it right.

So, I asked him if I should write an installment of that aretalogy for today. KATASKION–not no, but not yes either.

I asked if I should not write it. ENDASION–hairy, so not exactly a yes or a no either, just “that’s tough.”

I then asked if Antinous and Spartacus agreed to be syncretized in that fashion, and thus should have the piece written. KATASKION again.

I can’t now remember what I asked that got the answer of ASKION, i.e. “absolutely not.”

I then asked if I needed to bring in outside assistance to settle this matter. TETRAX–eventually, maybe.

As I was putting away the Ephesian Letters, I then got an odd thought, and opened them again.

“Does Antinous think Lucius Marius Vitalis should be syncretized with Spartacus?”

DAMNAMENEUS–FUCK YEAH.

It appears that young Lucius’ status in the divine world is being upgraded, in some sense, that he can now syncretize with other divine beings…possibly even deities, eventually. As the first permutation of the Serpent Path has always included him (with Antinous and Polydeukion as the Treískouroi), certain syncretists have always suggested themselves in my previous practice and interactions…but, this was completely unexpected. I am awed at this possibility…

And now I’m trying to figure out how exactly to reflect this development, and even how to parse it, in relation to Lucius Marius Vitalis–a young clerical student attached to Hadrian’s court in his travels, and a friend of Antinous who died before him and is now Prince of the Sancta/e/i–and Spartacus–a hardened Thracian veteran, gladiator, and leader of the last and most successful of the slave uprisings that were referred to as the Servile Wars almost two centuries before Lucius Marius Vitalis lived.

Spartacus’ hero-cultus did not, to my knowledge, exist in the past, so it is even stranger…

…And yet, here we are.

This is how the Gods and other divine beings work.

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | June 29, 2015

Do The Gods Have “Human-Workers”?

This rather diffuse and speculative post begins with a very simple question: If humans have spirit-workers, do the gods have “human-workers”?

I don’t think it’s as odd a question as it may seem, but I think it bears some further thought and exposition.

The reason that I began to reflect on this is because of the nature of Paneros as a metagender deity. While metagender is a type of non-binary gender identity (as well as sexual orientation), it is also a specifically gender-variant spiritual role, which is a type of role found in many different cultures. As the modern U.S., post-Christian European-derived culture(s) do not have such a recognized identity at this point, metagender is one attempt to try and create and innovate it without being culturally-appropriative of any indigenous or premodern cultures with which I have no direct lineage nor temporal continuity. For me, at least, the gender categorization and the spiritual role cannot be separated, and thus I wondered if the same is true of Paneros. Of the various members of the Tetrad++, Paneros does seem to be the one who is reaching out to humans the most, and is being venerated the most ardently by several humans in turn.

I have also emphasized several times that the various members of the Tetrad++ are not just divine representatives of their gender identities, they are much more than that and have roles far beyond that somewhat limited (though certainly important) divine function. Finding out more of what those roles will involve is an ongoing process with those of us who are devoted to the Tetrad++, but the possibility that Paneros is a kind of spirit-worker would make sense…

But, Paneros doesn’t need to intercede for eir fellow divine beings with other types of divine being, which kind of makes the entire category of “spirit-worker” rather redundant and meaningless. So, what does that mean and what does that leave?

However, it should be noted before speculating further that a kind of spirit-worker analogy amongst deities is very definitely attested in a variety of different polytheistic cultures. Hermes innovates sacrifice to the gods, for example, when he stole Apollon’s cattle and then built the first altar to sacrifice to the Olympians, including himself amongst them. Hermes, interestingly enough, is a deity who seems to be exceptionally close to humans as well as being a kind of exemplar of devotion and piety for the gods (no matter how self-serving it might seem, from certain viewpoints).

Hindu deities seem to especially abound in this sort of phenomenon, though: they are often devotees of one another, and engage in cultus to each other. Narad is a devotee of Vishnu, for example. Shiva is said to be the devotee of his own devotees, as well as exemplifying various forms of yogic practice (if the deities have to do yoga as well, that has very interesting implications, eh?). The story of Indra slaying Vritra also has the added detail of the fact that, despite being a demon, Vritra is a brahmin, and Indra must pay the penalty for slaying a brahmin in having killed him even though it was a positive and heroic thing to have killed Vritra. That there are spiritual roles comparable to human ones amongst the gods in Hinduism is a very intriguing phenomenon for those who think of the gods as being entirely beyond certain human limitations, including religion itself.

So, if Hermes and Shiva are both deities who have comparable spiritual roles to humans, and likewise are very close to humans, then perhaps the same is true of Paneros.

Which then brings up the question: are the roles that these (and many other) deities have in relation to the other gods entirely comparable to human spirit-worker roles and practices, or are they of an entirely different character? And, does being especially close to humans likewise have a role associated with it on the part of some deities that is inversely parallel, so to speak, to being a human spirit-worker? In other words, can we describe this as a divine “human-worker” role?

I’d be interested in hearing people’s thoughts on this matter. ;)

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | June 29, 2015

Updates: “The Better”!

I truly wish I could now post in this particular blog entry that my eye is doing much better, but the fact is, it’s not, and while I am in occasional pain and am really struggling with adapting to my half-blind situation (and I won’t know until Wednesday what the prognosis is), nonetheless, I’m finding that trying to get as much writing done as possible is actually taking my mind off it somewhat, even though I can’t exactly ignore it in the process of doing so. In any case…

You know who else was often blind but got wonderful skills of eloquence for it? Irish Poets!

Which brings me to announcement #1: there’s still time to sign up for the Poetic Ways course, taught by me and offered through Coru Cathubodua (and hosted online through the resources of Solar Cross Temple/Morningstar Mystery School). This will be a several-months long course covering the basics of filidecht, the Irish poet-seer tradition, and will feature live online lectures and chats as well as the “usual” material in online courses (e.g. readings and activities), and it should be a whole pile of fun as well!

And speaking of piles of fun, and some of the people involved in the Coru: a whole big polytheist people pile will be converging on Olympia, WA for Many Gods West at the end of next month (I can’t believe it’s already here!). The block of rooms in the hotel allotted for the conference is now FULL, which is great; but, the hotel has been kind enough to offer whatever rooms remain outside of the block allotted for us to anyone who is attending the conference at the same rate, as long as you book your reservation by the end of this month (June), which means you have tonight and tomorrow. So, if you were wondering whether you’d attend or not, now would be a good time to give your *final answer,* so to speak. :)

So, that’s my “good news” post…it’s much shorter than the last one. Why it takes so many more words to castigate and execrate dominionist fundie Christians talk about bad news than good, I don’t know, but there we are. ;) (That emoticon’s an actual, accurate self-portrait, by the way.)

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | June 29, 2015

Updates: “The Bad”

Following on from my post the other day, there’s a few little news items I’d like to note, as well as another issue that is an old one, but that I just was able to properly investigate over the last few days.

So, a bunch of dumb-shit fundie Christians (and the state governments attached to them, in several cases) have their cocks in a knot over the fact that same-sex marriage is legal in the U.S. now, with a load of garbage rhetoric that includes such idiotic notions as “we use to be a nation of laws; now we’re a nation of man” and other crap. In this, I include the dissenting opinion of the Justice Scaley-Ass, who had a bunch of arse-gravy to spread in terms of the (presumably) Christian god being “my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast.” Sorry, Justice Scaley-Ass, that’s three-hundred nineteen-million nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand nine-hundred and ninety-nine, and that’s not counting all of my polytheist friends and co-religionists, and people of many other religions in the U.S., as well as people of no religion at all (you Dominionism-wishing sack of bile). Mike Fucked-he-d-be also said an immense pool of arse-gravy on these matters as well, appropriating Black civil rights leaders and their causes in this new notion of civil disobedience they’re attempting to wage.

But the biggest bag of week-old smegma to have made any comments on these matters is this walking parody, who–despite being a major fundie biblical literalist, now is taking back what he said as only figurative, since he stated that he’d set himself on fire to protest the Supreme Court decision if it went the way he feared. Why are they only ever literal when they’re telling other people what to do, rather than applying such things to themselves? If any of you would like to send this aborted bonfire a box of matches, a can of lighter fluid, a small bundle of firewood, or anything else of that sort, you certainly can: here is his address.

Pastor Rick Scarborough
C/O Vision America
P.O. Box 10
Lufkin, TX 75902

I already know some people who have, so if you’d like to join their ranks, be my guest. :) If he has any sense whatsoever, he’ll donate any such items to poor people in need or relief efforts later in the year, so all you have to lose is a bit of time, money, and effort if you decide to go that route. I suspect if he did carry through on his promise, there’d be a very long line of people with marshmallows at the ready.

[Something amusing: every time I type “fundie” in my post here, WordPress tries to autocorrect it to “fun die.” If only more of them would!]

In less-belligerent news, I’ve been hearing for years now (and more than a decade from some quarters) that I really need to join BaceFook. If I ever do that, you’ll know that I’ve either been possessed by Scientologists assimilationist aliens from another planet who don’t know who they’ve interfered with, or that some more benevolent aliens have offered to take me and several friends away on a spaceship to avoid the destruction of the earth, and I only have a short time to be able to get a hold of them…both of which are pretty remotely possible matters, needless to say. One thing that has been advocated, however, in the last attempts to get me to join the mindless horde of zombies (no offense, incidentally, to anyone who does use BaceFook–but the peer pressure and group-think mentality that makes it into a *necessity* for people still astonishes and dismays me…and, please, no self-defenses or justifications for why you’re on BaceFook, because I understand some people have good reasons to, but I don’t really care and it’s none of my business what others do anyway in this regard) is that they have all of these options for gender. After seeing a link on Gods and Radicals for this article, though, and being utterly horrified that such is the case, I went and found a list of the “custom gender” options that people can choose, which numbers to 58 possibilities (or, rather, the article says that, but only 56 are given in the list).

Most people can’t even name three genders (or nine), much less fifty-six, so I thought “Wow!” I met a woman in Manchester in the U.K. (at my first International Bisexual Conference) back in August of ’00 who said she had made a list of something like 83 or 87 different and distinct genders, and I really wish I could have asked her for the list (maybe I could look her up on BaceFook!) to compare it to this one and see how much crossover they have. But, on further inspection, several of the items on the list are synonymous, so the actual number of distinct genders is–by my count, twenty-one.

Here’s how I’d break them down:

1) Agender
2) Androgyne, Androgynous
3) Bigender
4) Cis Female, Cis Woman, Cisgender Female, Cisgender Woman
5) Cis Male, Cis Man, Cisgender Male, Cisgender Man
6) Female to Male, FTM, Trans Male, Trans* Male, Trans Man, Trans* Man, Transmasculine, Transgender Man, Transgender Man, Transsexual Man, Transsexual Man
7) Gender Fluid
8) Gender Nonconforming
9) Gender Questioning
10) Gender Variant
11) Genderqueer
12) Intersex
13) Male to Female, MTF, Trans Female, Trans* Female, Trans Woman, Trans* Woman, Transfeminine, Transgender Female, Transgender Woman, Transsexual Female, Transsexual Woman
14) Neither
15) Neutrois
16) Non-binary
17) Other
18) Pangender
19) Two-Spirit

My classifications above certainly are arguable: some categories might usefully merge, while others might usefully be further differentiated. These days, is there a difference between “transgender” and “transsexual,” for example, might be a hotly-debated question in some circles; when I was in college and doing student activism and such, I heard a trans* individual (though we didn’t know they were trans* at the time) differentiate the two as “pre-op” (transgender) and “post-op” (transsexual), but that would be very clearly politically incorrect now to suggest. I hear “transsexual” less and less, myself, and “transgender” more and more, and it seems to be older trans* people (and, very sadly, non-trans* people who are ignorant and often bigoted), who tend to use the former rather than the latter. To what extent a trans* female and a transgender woman are different, for example, is a lingering question: yes, different expressions and wordings for one’s identity that some might prefer over other options (and those are only two of the eleven options within that general category), and thus very valid options to have, but are they “different genders,” strictly speaking?

There are also two categories that are given that are rather non-specific (especially in the case of #21–I know of exactly no one who identifies that way without further modifiers):

20) Cis, Cisgender
21) Trans, Trans*, Trans Person, Trans* Person, Transgender, Transgender Person, Transsexual, Transsexual Person

There are some from the earlier list (e.g. intersex) that can refer to a variety of different physical possibilities…though I do think a limited number of people do identify with just “trans*” do exist as well, which is fair enough.

Of course, metagender isn’t on there, but I know of at least five other people (besides myself) who have identified their gender by that name, either in the past or more recently, so it’s not like we’re unheard of (but since BaceFook hasn’t heard of us, we may as well not exist, I suppose).

HOWEVER, that list also brings up another question: should all the variations of “male/man” and “female/woman” all be considered one gender (each), since a really important message that has often been lost in the process the last few years (and certainly on the part of some very ignorant and bigoted pagans, particularly of the TERF variety) been that “trans* women are women”? That would then mean that the list above shrinks to a mere nineteen genders, with just that many more options for how to identify within the two dominant, binary genders.

So, independent of not remotely swaying my opinion toward wanting to join BaceFook, this list only brings up many more questions. This idea that there are fifty-six gender options to choose from doesn’t really play out on closer inspection, at least in my view. It’s like saying that someone has 60 different types of soda to choose from, but in reality, it’s three different brands with a range of options (including diet, caffeine free, and caffeine free diet) of about five different distinct flavors (cola, lemon-lime, orange, that weird flavor of Dr. Pecker and Mr. Pube, and *something else*–?!?)…and, really, I have never once seen “caffeine free diet orange” of any variety of soda. But anyway…

Thus, that’s my “bad” report for the moment. I will be following up with a “good” one soon, and then one or perhaps two more posts today, at least, of a more substantial/theological nature.

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | June 29, 2015

Hero-Feast of Spartacus 2015

spartacus2

Another morning had come in the ludus, and the gladiator commonly known as Spartacus awoke in a sweat. His wife was not at his side, and he sat for a few moments confused before she entered his small cell with a bowl of water.

“Here,” she said to him, and he took the water, sipped it, and then washed his face with the remainder.

“I had the strangest dream,” he said.

“I know,” she replied.

“How do you know?”

“The Gods reveal things to me,” she said in the most cryptic tone she could manage, and then smiled. “Also, you were speaking in your sleep.”

“I do think the Gods may have spoken to me in this dream,” he continued, “and I would appreciate your insight.”

“Tell me more about it.”

“Let me see if I can remember all of it,” he began, and rubbed his hands on his forehead as he attempted to clear his mind. His wife sat next to him on the bed and put her arm around his shoulders, gently patting him. He took a few moments to resume his words.

“There was a mountain with a cave in it,” he started, “I think it was in Thrace. There was smoke coming from the cave, as if the entire mountain was consumed with fire. Soon, from the cave, a number of serpents emerged.”

“Serpents? How many?” his wife probed.

“There were so many…I think about twenty-eight of them.”

“Continue, husband.”

“As one of them passed me, it bit my toe, but rather than its bite inflaming me with poison, instead it seemed to unleash a fury within me.”

“And what happened then?”

“I remember picking up what was close at hand and then attacking the rudis, and then the summa rudis, and then the lanista.”

“What did you use as your weapon?”

“I think it was…a very large ladle.”

“A ladle?”

“Yes–an ordinary implement, not a weapon at all. But, I had no difficulty defeating the rudis, or the others.”

“And by ‘defeat,’ what do you mean?”

“I left them bloody, gasping for breath, on the edge of death.”

“Was the ladle sharpened at all?”

“What sort of a question is that?”

“I’m just trying to determine if it was somehow able to wound with slices rather than simply being a blunt instrument.”

“But whoever has heard of a sharpened ladle?”

“You never heard the fable about the stingy host and the sharpened ladle?”

“No?!? Should I have heard it?”

“Oh, I forget, you Maedi didn’t always have such fine tales as we did!”

“Odrysian fools!” His wife smacked him gently on the cheek. “But no, it was not a sharpened ladle. What good is a sharpened ladle, even in a fable?”

“When the stingy host would invite his guests to taste the stew he made, they would cut their tongues on the sharpened ladle, and he would remove them and add them to the stew, and they would go away unable to speak of what had happened. That is, until the Hero came and challenged him.”

“What did he do? Simply kill him like he killed the great dragon?”

“No, he did what none of the others who came to the stingy host’s house did, and said ‘As you are my host, please take the first taste for yourself.’ When the stingy host was stalling, and at last tried to attack the Hero with the sharpened ladle, the Hero then tossed him into his own stew-pot, and burned his house to the ground.”

“So, then I suppose you must wonder if I am the stingy host, or the Hero?”

“I don’t think either of those things, husband.”

“Oh? And why not?” The gladiator was on the verge of being offended that his wife did not think of him as her own Thracian Hero.

“Because the ladle wasn’t a sharpened ladle, silly! Of course you’re not the Hero, or the stingy host!”

His wife was now laughing at him, and he eventually relented and laughed at himself and his own delusions of grandeur.

“But, there is a great deal here,” his wife at last returned to the subject of his dream, “and I think I might have an idea of what may be going on. I just need to do some divination.”

The divination method the gladiator’s wife used was far more crude and humble than what they may have used in Thrace, but at the same time, no less effective. She had a small collection of stones in a pouch, of different colors and shapes, and she shook them and poured them out on the sandy floor of the cell.

“You see here?” she pointed to the overall shape of the way the stones fell, which definitely formed the outline of a great serpent. “And the number twenty-eight again.”

“What?!? There are only eight stones there, how can it be twenty-eight.”

“No–there are seven stones, and this eighth one,” she indicated a light blue stone which was at the head of the serpent shape, “is the equivalent of four.”

“How many stones are in the pouch?”

“It is not for you to know, but the result here is clear.”

“So, what does it mean?”

“Our God wishes us to overthrow our captors, and we will not do it alone–other slaves will join us, both gladiator and domestic slave alike.”

“How do you know that?”

“The ladle, of course.”

“Oh,” the gladiator was too confused and impressed to inquire on that further.

“We must begin to make plans for this, for it will happen in one turning of the moon.”

“But who will join us?”

“Oenomaus, Crixus, perhaps even Gannicus,” his wife replied.

“What common cause have the Gauls with us?”

“Do you think they enjoy being at the mercy of rich men’s pleasures, to be wounded or killed at their whim? Appeal to their desire for freedom, and you will have fast allies in them, and in many others.”

“Will it be that easy? Will we see the sunrise upon the banks of the Strymon again, the two of us?”

“No, it will not be easy, but when has that ever stopped a good Thracian?”

“The Greeks say that King Strymon drowned in the river named after him.”

“And all of us may yet drown in the river of blood we are about to unleash,” his wife said, with no hint of irony in her voice, nor fear or trepidation–there was almost a cold fatalism to it, and the gladiator understood it in the marrows of his bones.

“Where shall we draw our strength?”

“From a mountain…”

“But the mountains of Thrace are far from us.”

“No, a closer mountain…Vesuvius. It was the mountain in your dream.”

“How do you know?”

“The Gods reveal things to me.”

This time, her statement was not a joke.

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | June 28, 2015

Serapeia 2015–Other Devotions

[April 25th]

Hermes arrived in the conference room long before anyone else, and looking around, he was both confused and somewhat excited. There was the central table surrounded in chairs–as anyone would have expected there to be at such a gathering of the Gods–and around the edges of the room, there were couches…not the kind for sitting, reclining at a symposium sipping wine, but for sleeping, or more likely, for leisurely afternoon sex.

The Gods started to come in, and Hermes recognized many of them: Osiris, Apis, Ptah, Isis, Anubis, Thoth, some naked quiet boy, someone else he couldn’t quite make out, and finally a ridiculously-bearded figure with a modius on his head. Following these were the usual–and a few unusual–Greek suspects: Zeus, Dionysos, Eos, and…Hades.

Hades, Hermes thought. This will be interesting.

There was a sound–something between a shout and a mournful song–from outside for a few moments, and then Memnon came in and sat by his mother’s side.

As everyone looked around, the figure that Hermes could not quite make out began to speak, his voice low and gravelly and almost a whisper, but it could be heard in the divine marrows of each deity’s bones.

“It has come to our attention that our plans to unite the peoples of Egypt and Greece more closely are not proceeding as quickly as we had intended,” the hidden figure said.

“And we in Egypt are accustomed to waiting a great deal of time for things to progress,” the starry-eyed Ptah said.

“What concern is this of ours?” Zeus replied rather imperiously.

Ptah continued. “Much good will occur in the world if Egypt and Greece are able to unite; it will not always be an easy road, by any means, but with the innovative spirit of the Greeks and the time-honored traditionalism of the Egyptians, surely great accomplishments will follow when these two cultures are allowed to more freely mingle.”

“Have our efforts failed thus far?” Eos looked at her son.

“They have not failed,” Ptah resumed, “they are simply not moving fast enough. Memnon’s birth, life, and cultus has been positive, but limited in its scope. Naukratis’ foundation has been a boon, but it is one city between two continents. Much more needs to happen.”

“What do you propose?” Zeus asked impatiently.

“Wait! An oracle comes,” Ptah interrupted.

Into the room came a figure with ram’s horns on his head, looking somewhat like Zeus. Zeus rolled his eyes, and a distant peal of thunder was heard as he did so. The hard-to-make-out figure brightened somewhat.

“I am Zeus-Ammon, and I have come to portend our future course.”

Hermes listened in to his father’s thoughts for a moment.

I don’t know if I regret that particular divine fling or not…Ammon is no Ganymede.

“A child of many Gods is upon the earth, about to unite three continents of the world in a way that Memnon could only dream about…”

“Hey!” Memnon objected. “I’m only a demigod, what did you expect?”

“As he is a child of many Gods, this will also be the work of many Gods.”

Now Zeus’ patience was exhausted. “Enough of this idle vagary and vagueness! Speak clearly, oracle, or do not speak further at all!”

Zeus-Ammon retreated from the group, and Zeus rolled his eyes again, a faint electric arc sparking from his eyebrows to his hair.

“It is true,” Osiris began, “there has not been as strong a connection between Africa and Europe as is needed.”

“And what about Asia?” Zeus added, simply to nip at the Egyptians’ heels a bit.

“Asia has been in close contact with Africa for long before Europe was even a glimmer in Ptah’s eye.

“Ha!” Zeus spat.

“As I was saying,” Osiris continued, “it is time to move this process more quickly and with more dynamism. If we do not act decisively, then Alexander’s conquests will have little benefit for humanity, and our own fortunes may diminish. Thus, we have a plan. Everyone, meet Osorapis.”

The figure with the modius on his head stood up, somewhat timidly.

“He has existed in the shadows for a long time,” the hidden figure said.

“A minor part in our cast of thousands,” Ptah said, “sprung from my colleague Osiris and my herald Apis.” Both Osiris and Apis looked at Osorapis and grinned as widely and proudly as they could manage, which to Hermes still looked like little more than a slightly curved line.

“And what do you expect of him?” Zeus demanded.

“He will be the bearer of the image of many different Gods, and will spread out from Egypt to eventually reach Asia, Greece, and even Rome and the reaches north and west of it, into Germania and even Britannia.”

“Obscure forests and backwater islands–what concern is this of ours?” Zeus objected.

At last, Isis spoke. “If you wish to go to those places in your own time, Zeus, you may do so; however, given your reluctance, doesn’t it make more sense to send someone else to do it?”

Whether it was the good sense of her statement, or simply the fact that Zeus had not yet had sex with Isis and thought this might be a good in-road, he began to come around. “Hmm…I see what you mean.”

“Do you agree, then?” Isis asked, somewhat more seductively than she had intended.

“Of course!” Zeus thundered.

“Then sign here, please,” Thoth–who had been carefully recording the entire proceeding–offered a papyrus scroll and a quill. Zeus flicked it away, and sent a small lightning bolt out of his finger, burning his name into the papyrus. Thoth began laughing in a shrill and high-pitched fashion, and Hermes knew immediately what was afoot.

“I shall begin collecting my tributes from the Goddesses of Greece immediately,” Isis said.

“What do you mean?” Zeus asked.

“Our pantheons are to unite, not just under Osorapis, but under myself as well. All of the Greek Goddesses, and many others, will fall under my mantle, and their attributes will be my own. I shall spread from Egypt to the isles, to Asia, to Greece, to Rome, and further afield without difficulty nor opposition. I shall be the Goddess pre-eminent amongst Goddesses for centuries to come!”

“I did not agree to this!” Zeus protested.

“Actually,” Hermes began, “you just signed an agreement saying exactly all of that, and more.”

“More? What more?” There was a note of fear in Zeus’ voice.

“More deities are to be made, and others will be branching out,” Hermes reported. “That naked child there will go with his father and mother, Isis and Osorapis, and will do outside of Egypt what Horus–both Elder and Younger–did within it. And there’s still yet more,” Hermes said.

“Does it involve me?” Zeus asked.

“Other than granting some of your gifts to Osorapis, no. But, two new deities must also come forth to bridge my roles with the Egyptians: Hermes Trismegistos, born of myself and Thoth, and Hermanubis, born of myself and Anubis.”

“Aah,” Zeus said, somewhat relieved. That’s what the couches are for. He remembered back to the creation of Zeus-Ammon, and though he was somewhat annoyed with the results, the process of creation was not without its pleasures, even though Ganymede’s were more exquisite.

Hermes moved toward one of the couches, and Anubis did likewise. Anubis began sniffing at Hermes’ crotch, while Thoth simply stood back, wrote, and laughed.

“You’re next, smiley-bird,” Hermes said, equally jocular as well as vicious.

“And what about me?” Hades spoke, at last.

“There is a dream that will be sent to Ptolemy, with your image in it,” Ptah said. “Ptolemy will send to Sinope to appropriate a statue of you for use as one of the first images of Osorapis. Do you consent to this?”

“What if I do not?” Hades asked provocatively.

“Then there will be other options,” Osiris said.

“Like what?”

“There is an image of Endovellicus amongst the Celtiberians that might be suitable,” Thoth offered in between recording every groan of pleasure and bark from Hermes and Anubis.

“Or perhaps the Phoenician Melqart, now called Herakles of Gades,” Ptah suggested.

“In fact, I think I like those ideas better,” Osorapis spoke up, timidly.

“No, no, NO!” Hades said. “Fine, I consent–have my image and my attributes, and bring my presence more fully into the light of day from its hiddenness.”

“Very well,” Osiris concluded.

The Greeks rose to leave, except for Hermes–still wrestling with Anubis–and Dionysos, who had been lounging languidly, not really paying attention, in a gentle semi-inebriated stupor.

“Do you require something of me?” Dionysos asked.

“Only that you give your gifts to Osorapis,” Ptah said.

“Okay…but I want to do it THAT WAY,” Dionysos exclaimed, pointing to Hermes and Anubis on the couch.

“Very well,” Isis agreed, and shoved Osorapis toward another couch, where Dionysos gladly stretched himself out and smiled.

“One final thing,” Memnon said, as the Greek party was nearly out of the chamber.

“What is that?” Osiris asked.

“The name, ‘Osorapis,’ doesn’t exactly roll off the Greek tongue.”

“What?” Osiris was shocked.

“No, it’s true,” Memnon continued. “Don’t underestimate the power of names.”

“He’s right,” Isis agreed. Osiris looked equally shocked again at his wife’s words.

“Then…” Osiris mustered himself at this affront to his name, “what do you propose?”

“How about…” Memnon paused.

“SERAPIS!” shouted Hermes in the throes of passion with Anubis.

“Serapis…Serapis…SERAPIS!” the former Osorapis said with glee, as Dionysos licked his lips and invited him closer.

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | June 27, 2015

Stonewall/LGBTQIA+ Pride 2015

It seemed like another hot, sweltering June Sunday night in New Orleans in 1973. Some of the old genteel southern queens were making jokes about “the vapors” and the like, for they had seemed to be seeing images, suddenly feeling very hot and faint, and then the feeling subsided.

They were too busy enjoying each other’s company to notice that the UpStairs Lounge was somehow different now, and they couldn’t fathom how or why. Only a small number of patrons were now in it suddenly–about thirty-two–whereas there had been closer to a hundred only a short while before.

A young attractive man walked in with curly hair. Some of the patrons’ heads turned to look at him, and some thought he looked familiar, but none had seem in the flesh before, and certainly not in the UpStairs Lounge before.

Reverend Bill Larson approached the young man.

“Good evening. You in town for Pride?”

“Not exactly.”

“Well, you’re welcome here anyway. It was a fine weekend. Too bad you missed the piano music earlier.”

“I would have loved that.”

“A music fan, are you?”

“Yes.”

“Well, you’ve come to the right town! You from around here?”

“No–out east.”

“Wherabouts?”

“Small town, you wouldn’t have heard of it.” The young man smiled.

“Maybe you’ve been to New York, or to the Stonewall Inn itself, but I assure you, we’re no slouch down here in the Big Easy.”

The young man just smiled and was quiet. The Reverend wasn’t sure that he’d made quite the right impression with his last remark.

“Oh!” Reverend Larson clutched his chest and took a step back. “Forgive my impertinent questions! I have been very rude. Let me introduce myself: Reverend Bill Larson.”

“Reverend?”

“Yes, I am pleased to serve the Metropolitan Community Church here in New Orleans.”

“Oh, yes, I’ve heard of you.”

“Of me, or of the Church?”

“Both, in a way.”

“The arsons in Los Angeles and Nashville were a bit disturbing, to say the least.”

“Yes, and unfortunately, there have been others.”

“Others?” The Reverend took the young man’s words as ominous. “What others?”

“There was one in New Orleans as well.”

Now their conversation had the attention of several other patrons of the bar. George “Mitch” Mitchell and Louis Broussard clutched each other’s hands tightly as they inched closer to listen to the discussion.

“In New Orleans? When?!? Tonight? Why haven’t we heard?”

“It’s going to come as a bit of a shock.”

The entire bar was quiet now, and all eyes were fixed on the young man.

“I hate to have to tell you all of this.”

“Nothing like bad news to endear yourself to new friends!” the Reverend joked, attempting to lighten the mood. There were a few muffled laughs, and the young man smiled.

“I’ve been very rude as well. My name is Antinous.”

“Oh! Like the lover of the Emperor Hadrian, right?” the Reverend asked.

“Exactly.”

“Did your parents know what they were getting you into when they named you after him?”

“No–they named me after one of my ancestors, and they had no idea I’d ever meet the Emperor.”

“The…’Emperor,’ did you say?” Louis asked.

“Yes.”

“What ‘Emperor’ is that?” Mitch asked.

“The Emperor Hadrian, of course.”

Now everyone was laughing.

“And here we were thinking this was Pride weekend, but you come in thinking it’s Mardi Gras!”

“No, I’m not joking, and this is no masquerade.” The tight tan bell bottomed trousers and t-shirt slipped off the young man, and he was standing in a purple chlamys, ivy-crowned and bearing a falx in his right hand and a thyrsus in his left. The jaws of everyone dropped, more at the sudden wardrobe change than the fact that the extremely attractive young man was now mostly nude in front of them.

“Wait–you’re telling us you are actually that Antinous?” the Reverend clarified.

“Yes, exactly.”

“Then that means…”

“Yes, I’m sorry to say it, but you’re all dead.”

“What happened to us?”

“Like I said: a fire, here in the UpStairs Lounge. Many escaped, but all of you died.”

Flashes of remembrance came back to them as they suddenly realized what had happened.

“But…where are we? Is this Heaven or Hell?”

“Look around you. When you were on earth, was this place your hell or your heaven?”

“It was heaven,” Louis said as he looked at Mitch.

“With a bit of hell on occasion,” Mitch continued.

“It isn’t just people who go to their afterlives, gentlemen, it’s places. The UpStairs Lounge will be no more, unfortunately, but it will live on here for millions of millions of years.”

“And where, exactly, is ‘here’?” the Reverend asked.

“A boat–my boat, which is now your boat as well, if you want it to be.”

“I hate to keep asking so many questions, but what boat?” the Reverend continued.

“THE LOVE BOAT!”

Suddenly, a whole chorus of exquisitely undressed go-go dancers and a hunky be-coiffed singer came forward and began singing:

Love, exciting and new
Come aboard, we’re expecting you!

While many of the UpStairs Lounge’s patrons enjoyed the number, none of them recognized it, and soon Antinous was waving his thyrsus to the dancers and the singers, the lights stopped, the music ceased, and they left the room.

“Sorry–a little after your time, I’m afraid. But to answer your question, this is the Boat of Millions of Years. It is a way-station for some, a means of conveyance for others, and a final destination for still yet others. It’s your choice what it will be for you, but as far as the UpStairs Lounge is concerned, it will always be here, available for you and others to visit, as long as any of you wish it to be, and as long as it is remembered by people on the earth.”

“But will they remember us?”

“Some always will–those who escaped with their lives will never forget. Others will learn and remember in time.”

“Well, now that we’re dead, I suppose anything is possible, right?” Louis said.

“If so, then can we get married?” Mitch asked.

“Can I perform the ceremony?” the Reverend asked.

“We’d want no one else to do it,” Mitch responded.

“Of course. You may be interested to know that forty-two years and two days after all of you died, gay marriage was made legal in all fifty states of the U.S.”

“Well, then, I guess it’s a good thing we went when we did,” Louis said.

“Why would you say that?” Mitch demanded.

“In forty-two years, can you imagine how ugly our asses would be? I wouldn’t want to marry you if you were the last bum on the planet!”

Mitch mouthed the word “bitch” before he kissed Louis.

*****

And for more information on this, see Upstairs Inferno as well as this article.

Posted by: aediculaantinoi | June 26, 2015

Bringing Thrace to Olympus…

…or, perhaps more accurately, a Thracian to Olympia, WA. ;)

My Anomalous Thracian colleague is having a fundraiser to cover travel expenses for Many Gods West. So, if you can spare a few shekels to send his way, that would be most appreciated.

I may have more later, depending on how badly my eye is hurting.

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