While we saw the above image a few weeks ago due to its frequent confusion with Asklepios, today we celebrate it as the image was intended: as an image of Antinous syncretized to the Agathos Daimon. We celebrate it today due to an Alexandrian feast for the Agathos Daimon that took place on this day during Roman times.
While the Agathos Daimon was the tutelary deity of Alexandria, an individual agathos daimon was like an individual’s “guardian angel,” to some extent, or their personal (in Roman terms) genius, the latter of which was often portrayed in serpentine form. Thus, the connection of the agathos daimon, both personally and as a deity, to snakes makes a lot of sense, and it is thus that the Agathos Daimon (in both divine and personal senses) forms the “base” of the Serpent Path “snake side” glyph (and if you want to know more about that, you might have to buy the book on it!).
So, being I’m a syncretist at the best of times, and almost at all times if and when possible (!?!), I’m in a particular mind about a few things I said in relation to the Serpent Path. I remarked that when the topic of “mysticism” and Antinous comes up, there is an important and crucial difference in this polytheistic system and the (generally) monotheistic or monistic views of other religions. When one grows in love and devotion to Antinous, one does not ever “become” Antinous, nor become “united” to him (except for in temporary erotic moments, which do not equate to “true” union, but only the feeling of dissolved boundaries that many people experience when in erotic bliss with their partner/s); instead, one becomes divine oneself…eventually. While Antinous himself had his first syncretism with Osiris, and became Osirantinous or Antinosiris–in good and standard Egyptian justified and/or deified dead tradition–we should understand that as a situation of syncretism rather than of union or complete identification. So, in becoming better and better, and more evolved and developed, along the path of deification, I may eventually be “Lupus-Antinous” (or even “Antinolupus”!).
It’s not a situation of me being his “vessel,” in the way that many of those who have mediumistic or oracular practices attempt to have in the service of their gods; nor is it the “failed” or partial and incomplete overshadowing of one’s own personality by a deity, which often leads to the phenomenon of “horse-talk” and other such potential abuses of this sort of practice and the theological bases for it. Instead, syncretism is understood to be a structural part of this theology, and a form of mysticism in itself–not only amongst the gods and other divine beings (who syncretize with each other quite freely and happily), but also syncretism between oneself and various divine beings. I suspect this happens an awful lot more than we realize, with many gods and our ancestors, totem spirits, land spirits, archetypes, and other varieties of divine being, particularly when we are “at our best” in given endeavors. I’m sure you can name moments that didn’t involve “fully trancing” a deity or other divine being in which you felt a profound presence of a divine being influencing or guiding your actions; or, sometimes, we’re not even aware of it, and instead someone else points it out to us afterwards. I think those “moments of inspiration” might be, on occasion, far more than that–they are moments of syncretism, which can become more and more permanent and long-standing as they continue to occur, almost to the point of near-full identification. (Jim Morrison and Dionysos come to mind here…)
So, in a further procedural (rather than theological) syncretistic approach, you get my post title here, adapted from the Hindu tradition of greeting others with hands clasped together, a small bow of reverence, and saying Namaste, which is often translated as “the god in me greets the god in you” (though with an assumption of “God” often being implicit in such statements–but, again, I’m not a monist, I’m a polytheist [!], and any number of such gods might have been or could be with any given individual at any moment they happen to be greeting someone else). For our purposes, thus, it might be more appropriate for us to say, in honoring our own agathos daimon as well as the possibility that we may all become syncretisms of Antinous at some future point, “The Antinous in me greets the Antinous in you.” My Antinous is not the same as yours, but that’s all right, because none of them are…
And, that inward turn might in fact be a very appropriate and important one at the moment, as we are in the last stages of the transformation of Antinous the Liberator into Antinous the Navigator–the form of Antinous that is sometimes the most outwardly-focused, the fighter, the activist, becoming the most inscrutable but influential and guiding form of Antinous that watches from a distance and gently nudges or points the way here and there. It is a move from focusing on the outward expression of energy toward the inner, the move from changing one’s external circumstances to changing oneself. It’s not an excuse for radical solipsism or navel-gazing, by any stretch of the imagination: outward things are still important, and will always be, but inward transformation is equally important even alongside transforming the outward.
In speaking of syncretism, snakes, Agathos Daimon and Osiris and Dionysos, and so forth (!?!), of course I can’t help but be reminded of Antinous’ elder colleague in super-syncretism: Serapis. Here, we see him syncretized to the Agathos Daimon as well, and perhaps that’s a way we can think of ourselves in relation to all of this: a snake body with our own head…or, Antinous body (or head) with our own head (or body)…and rejoice or lament as you may see fit with such an image! 😉
But, of course, mention of Serapis, and of Osiris, brings into focus the “missing term” in those syncretisms as well: Apis, who is also syncretized to Antinous. Apart from his bovine form with which we’re all familiar, Apis was also the herald of Ptah, and it’s also appropriate to turn our attention to him as well today…
…Because in Neos Alexandria, as well as here at the Ekklesía Antínoou, it is the Festival of Ptah Protecting the Winged Golden Disc. [Incidentally, I love this image of Ptah…and if anyone can make me that outfit, I shall be forever grateful!…though I’d have to lose some weight in order to fit in it, probably…] While phrasing the name of the festival that way makes me think of the Aten, the visible solar disk so beloved of Akhenaten, of course we can think of it as Re, or as any other solar deity that we may prefer. In the description of the festival from Neos Alexandria’s calendar:
Offerings are made to Ptah and Re-Herakhti. A winged disk symbol is created, blessed in the name of the gods, and set up over one’s door to give protection for the year to come.
In the midst of all this, I am also reminded of how important Ptah was, apparently, to Hadrian, as there are many statues of Ptah which came from Hadrian’s Villa. While some of them may or may not have been found in close association to the Antinoeion (and, despite arguments to the contrary, I still find it compelling that the area identified as such over the last decade is, in fact, the Antinoeion), nonetheless, the web of associations between these other deities and Antinous, and these statues of Ptah from Hadrian’s Villa, compel me to see more of a connection between Antinous and Ptah (and, as the Obelisk of Antinous says, Antinous’ adopted divine father, Re-Harakhte), with Ptah being the protector of Re and thus the “grandfather-protector” of Antinous, for the present purposes. Therefore, hail to them all!
Khaire Agathe Daimon!
Khaire Khaire Antinoe!