Posted by: aediculaantinoi | March 10, 2014

Antinous as an Answer to Prayers…

At this event on Saturday, I talked about two things which I often talk about when I discuss both the history of the ancient cultus of Antinous and what can be known of Antinous’ life in relation to Hadrian, and also my own history with the Ekklesía Antínoou and modern Antinoan devotion. And the thread which connects them is the thread of Antinous being an answer to someone’s prayers.

Let’s go in chronological order.

The first entry of Antinous into history, I think, is evidenced by the poetic inscription which Hadrian left at the temple of Aphrodite Ourania in Thespiae, wishing for her charis in granting him a youthful lover. It was right about that time that he likely met Antinous, in c. 123-124 CE. Hadrian prayed for the love of a youth, and he got it in the form of Antinous. Antinous, literally, was an answer to his prayer.

Back in 2002, when I was in Ireland, I was rapidly becoming disillusioned (again!) with modern paganism, and wanted something that was more genuinely polytheistic in my practice. I wanted something that hearkened back to antiquity and had a definite lineage which could be recovered and reconstructed, but which was also in touch with the modern world and its very real and significant concerns and culture. I wanted something that was open to syncretism, but which was also firmly established within its own cultural tradition or traditions. And I also wanted something that wasn’t simply queer-friendly, but was as much as possible queer-based to counter the blatant heterosexism of so much modern pagan practice. Within a few months of forumlating this as a wish and a prayer to the wider universe, I was re-introduced to Antinous, not merely as an historical footnote, but as a deity and as a divine cultic tradition from the ancient world that was waiting to be refashioned for the modern world. My own introduction to Antinoan spirituality and to Antinous was an answer to my prayers…Antinous himself, literally, was an answer to my prayers, and was pretty much (and remains) exactly what I wanted in terms of a spiritual practice and a spiritual being with whom to be in devoted service.

[And yet, he’s also so much MORE than what I wanted, and is never predictable nor controllable…and this is the element that I think too many people who question or critique polytheism don’t ever take into account: our experiences with deities as polytheists are not just wish-fulfillment, or “if you believe in it hard enough, it will happen,” because they rarely go as we hope or assume they might, and on a variety of occasions the gods do not show up nor grant every wish or prayer we might have, even if all we want is their divine presence, because they do have minds of their own, and just as a friend of mine can say “No” and not show up when I want to hang out with them for any number of legitimate reasons, so too with the gods…but in any case…!?!]

While I suppose it isn’t unheard-of for such things to occur, nonetheless, it’s good to remind myself from time to time that Antinous has been the answer to my prayers quite directly on at least one occasion, and indeed he seems to have a track-record of being such with others in history as well! 😉

What is, perhaps, even more difficult to accept, and which may be edging toward hubris in the mind of some people, is that I, too, might have been an answer to someone’s prayers for certain purposes or occasions…perhaps even the prayers of a god, for they too pray (especially when we remember that “pray” simply means “humbly ask for something,” ultimately).

It might be a good question to ask oneself in both direction: what gods have been the answers to your own prayers; and, how have we each individually been the answers to the prayers of others?

Sit with that one for a while, and I’ll be interested in knowing what your own answers on this are–please feel free to share them in the comments below!


  1. Okay, I’ll bite. I think I actually shared this story with you at Pantheacon, but since you mentioned above that Antinous can be seen as an answer to prayer for Hadrian, I have an experience that directly ties into that.

    Back in 2011, I was just getting over a difficult breakup with an ex-partner. The breakup had actually happened a few years before that, but it really impacted me for several years and I had a very difficult time getting over it and moving on. I went through a period where I only casually dated, if that. By the beginning of 2011 I decided that I had reached a point where I wanted to move on and I was ready to seriously date someone again. On Valentine’s Day of that year, I spent the evening at home and set up a ritual/feast for Aphrodite and Antinous. I know Valentine’s Day is more of a modern holiday American holiday, but it’s part of our culture and very hard to ignore. So I decided that a feast for Aphrodite and Antinous celebrating love would be a good way for me to spend my evening. So just as Hadrian asked for a kharis from Aphrodite, I spent some time asking both Aphrodite and Antinous for a kharis of my own. He came into my life in October of that year. And I really do view my current partner as an answer to prayer and a kharis (gift) sent directly to me from Antinous and Aphrodite. I’ve even adopted Valentine’s Day as my own Antinoan Festival of Aphrodite’s Kharis, celebrating the gifts that love brings into my life, whether it be the romantic gift of love, or the gifts that take other forms. It reminds me of how Antinous and Aphrodite directly answered my prayer, it allows me to celebrate love in a parallel way that the rest of the culture is celebrating it, and it allows me to cultivate thankfulness.

    • Yes, you’ve mentioned that before, but thanks for mentioning it here again! 😉

  2. Thank you, Antinous, for your kindness. Ave Antinoe.

    I have to say, I hope without sounding disrespectful or as though I think he’s a slot machine (by no means!), that Bragi has come through for me in spades, on more than one occasion. He is very kind to performing artists, although you do have to keep up your end of the bargain! (Hail Bragi!)

    • I don’t know Bragi too well at this point, but I do like what I’ve heard/known, and I hope he likes what I’ve written for him! 😉

  3. Like sisterkrissy, I also found true love in answer to a prayer. (I wonder if there is anything else that humans pray for more commonly, or with greater assiduity?) The addressee in my case was actually Mercury, less because we normally think of him as a matchmaker and more because being in love was just something I felt particularly ready for at that juncture of my life journey. (Travel metaphor, get it?) Okay, real reason: since Mercury’s my patron, I tend to look to him for things that are especially important to me. I have sometimes wondered what kind of partner Venus would have dished up for me, had I addressed my prayer to her, or if everything would have gone the same. In any case, the prayer was answered with unmistakeable éclat within the week.

    • Good ol’ Hermes: he works fast. 😉

      • Haha! True dat.🙂

  4. I am pretty convinced that it was Antinous who suggested I give a particular Episcopal church in my neighborhood another try–and I discovered it was blissfully different from my husband’s dysfunctional workplace and both gave me what I needed and needed something I could give to the parish. The rector there, incidentally, is openly gay and monogamously married, and it is a total non-issue. Gratias ago, Antinoe, for taking care of a wayward Anglican!

    • You wouldn’t be the only one who has done something Anglican-related after Antinoan interactions, by any means…Two of our Mystai got involved in that church after initiation, and one of them still is today!

      • That is very interesting! Of course, Hadrian and Antinous would not be at all out of place in your average Episcopal congregation. *g*

        It’s been over a year since I made regular devotions to Antinous, and I find I am missing Him. I hope Jesus won’t mind if I make the Bithynian boy an occasional offering.

      • Antinous and Jesus have been friends for a long time: I don’t think either one minds. 😉

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