The Latest News and Views about ANTINOUS the GAY GOD
Compiled and Updated
Hernestus, Priest of Antinous
The Memoirs of an Ancient Priest of Antinous (NEW)
An 1,800-year-old marble portrait bust of the Deified Antinous sold at auction at Sotheby's in New York yesterday evening for a staggering $23,826,500 — more than 10 times what it had been expected to fetch (officially estimated at $2/3 million), according to a report by ARTDAILY.ORG. The bust led the auction of antiquities from the collection of the late Clarence Day, known as one of the finest private collections of antiquities in the United States.
The "white glove" sale achieved a total of $36,769,250, far exceeding the high estimate of between $6/9 million. Proceeds from the sale will benefit the charitable foundation established by Mr. Day, the online report said.
The marble portrait bust of the Deified Antinous is the only known Classical representation of Antinous, outside of his coin portraits, to be identified by an inscription.
Auctioneer Hugh Hildesley opened the bidding at $900,000 and two clients in the room and one on the phone began to battle.
The winning bidder, a European collector, entered the fray at $6.5 million and prevailed against the three existing bidders as well as another client who only joined the competition at $11.2 million, according to the ARTDAILY report. In all, it took more than eleven minutes for the bust to sell, and when the hammer finally fell the room broke out in applause.
Other highlights included a green porphyry figure of an Egyptian royal sphinx from the 1st Century A.D which sold for $5,234,500 after a contest between five bidders (est. $800,000/1.2 million). The piece is a direct Roman replica of a specific ancient Egyptian sphinx of the New Kingdom that was excavated in the 1850s.
An Egyptian polychrome limestone ushabti of Djehuty-Mose (Tothmes), overseer of the cattle in the Temple Of Amun, 19th Dynasty, 1292-1190 BC, fetched $1,314,500 (est. $200/300,000). Meanwhile, four bidders sought a Greek bronze figure of a horse, 8th Century BC, before it sold for $842,000, well over the high estimate of $150/250,000.
The Sun is aligned with ANTINOUS THE MOON GOD in Sagittarius, and Mars is square Uranus, creating a festive but spooky atmosphere. And that's perfect because today, December 5th, is the day in many parts of Central Europe when Santa's Dark Helpers are honored. Tomorrow, December 6th, is the Feast Day of St. Nicholas and it is the day when kiddies put out shoes or hang up stockings (the traditions vary from country to country) to receive gifts from Old St. Nick. That is when Santa rewards the children who have been nice all year.
In English-speaking countries, prudish Victorians stripped Santa of all his impish devilry. Santa is nice to all and punishes no one. But in Central Europe, Santa's Dark Side still prowls — marches defiantly, in fact. In a way, the Anglo-American Santa Claus was lobotomized by the Victorians so that he is only docile and sweet-humoured. But to understand the REAL Santa Claus, you have to understand his Darker Side. You have to understand where Santa is coming from, literally....
St. Nicholas was born in the Asia Minor port town of Patara (modern Myra, Turkey), which had a renowned oracle at a temple of Apollo which, it is said, Bishop Nicholas tore down and replaced with the church which bears his name today. Patara was also one of the purported birthplaces of Apollo. St. Nicholas was never officially canonized by the Church. He simply usurped the popularity of Apollo and promoted his own reputation for being a protector and a giver of good things.
Throughout Eastern and Central Europe, customs dating back to Antinous/Apollo are mixed with Christian traditions. Cernunnos and Apollo still live in these folk customs. So it is that December 5th is the day when Santa's Dark Helpers roam the streets looking for naughty children who need to be punished.
In the English-speaking countries, we combined Santa and his helpers (the elves and reindeer) into a composite which arrives at Christmas time to stuff the stockings and reward children who have been naughty and nice.
But the pagan history shows that St. Nicholas is a vastly more complex being, stemming from the Temples of Apollo and Artemis in Asia Minor (the birth country of Antinous) which would later be the birthplace of the historical Nicholas.
In many places in the Alps and in Central European countries such as Austria, Hungary, northern Italy, the Czech Republic and Germany, this Yuletide spirit being is a duality. Part of him is the kindly priest in flowing robes and part of him is the fiend with slashing teeth and claws.
Even schoolboys learn early on the fun of dressing up as Krampus. It really is the Central European equivalent of Halloween, and teenage boys "become" demons at this time of year.
On December 5th, it is the Christmas "fiend" or "demon" which prowls streets looking for unwary children to pester. In Holland he is called Svartze Piet (Black Pete or Black Boy) and he has other names in other countries. In Germany he is Knave Ruprecht. Most places he is called Krampus pronounced "KRAHM-POOSE".
And what Krampus does is all kind of a combination of Halloween Trick-'R'-Treat and Christmas caroling — all of which are closely related ancient pagan customs.
In a kind of Yuletide Halloween, young men dress up in Krampus outfits. The costumes vary from one Alpine valley to the next. But generally they consist of fur pelts, Cernunnos-like horns and numerous cow bells, whips and chains. A werewolf-style mask has become popular in recent years, though Krampuses in earlier times made do with sooty faces.
Fueled by alcohol or other "Christmas spirits" (to ward off the cold, you see), these young men magically take on the personality of Krampus — they roam the streets about sundown frightening children and demanding drinks from the neighbors. In larger cities there are proper Krampus parades down the main thoroughfare in the middle of town. But big town or little village, a procession of Krampus kritters is very intimidating even to grownups, not to mention small dogs, like this one in Arnold Schwarzenegger's hometown of Graz, Austria:
Whips, chains, birch switches and cow bells create a cacophany which echoes through the narrow streets. Add to that the aroma of roasted chestnuts and mulled spiced wine and you have a recipe for pagan merriment which bears only a passing resemblance to what most non-Europeans would call Christmas:
Alcoholic beverages, gingerbread, chocolate fondue and all sorts of baked goods are all part of the fun. For people in the Alps, the Yuletide season wouldn't be the same without a chocolate St. Nicholas AND a chocolate Krampus to go with him.
Krampus is a big merchandising gimmick. Alpine bakeries make Krampus turnovers in the shape of a horned demon and which are stuffed with delicious sweet mincemeat filling. Street vendors sell figgy-prune Krampus figures — confections made of dried prunes and figs and nuts which are strung together onto wires so that they stand upright. I've seen some of these figgy-prune Krampus figures that were almost a meter tall (with coconuts for heads) and which were used as window displays in department stores in Austrian cities. A candy Krampus as tall as a man in a confectioner's window in Vienna was made entirely of pink spun sugar.
Later on the evening of December 5th, when all good boys and girls are snug in bed, Krampus and his cohorts go on a drunken rampage of attacking people with burning torches. They run in packs through the streets of small Alpine towns, attacking "naughty" children and any woman who ventures out and of course they really get rough with other males:
Then on December 6th, St. Nicholas takes things firmly in hand and the horned Krampus cohorts serve as his escorts as they go from door to door in small villages playing a kind of Trick-'R'-Treat. Nice children get some candy from St. Nick and naughty children get chased around the living room by Krampus:
In many places, several different aspects of Santa process all together. St. Nicholas is joined by Christkindl (Kriss Kringle in English) who is an androgynous Apollo-like figure wearing snow-white robes and a gold crown — and followed up by Krampus along with various angels and demons.
As Sacred Synchronicity would have it, I got an email asking if it's true that Apollo and Cernunnos and Santa Claus are all related. Oh yes! It's too true!
St. Nicholas was born in the Asia Minor port town of Patara, which had a renowned oracle at a temple of Apollo which alas no trace of which has been found. As I mentioned, Patara was also the birthplace of Apollo, or at least of his son Patarus by a water nymph called Lycia, from whom the whole region got its name — Lycia.
The Patara Oracle was active in winter, when Apollo preferred the climate of the Turquoise Coast. In summer, Apollo moved back to Delphi.
In 245 AD Patara saw the birth of a boy called Nicholas, who anonymously gave his inherited wealth to needy children. St. Nicholas grew up and moved to the nearby town of Myra, which had a curious fish oracle devoted to Apollo.
According to Pliny:
"At Myra in Lycia at the fountain of Apollo whom they call Surius, the fish, summoned three times on a pipe, come to give their augury. If they tear the pieces of meat thrown to them, this is good for the client, if they wave it away with their tails, it is bad."
Atheanaios reports on the ceremony:
"I don't want to ignore the people of Lycia who know the art of the fish oracle. Of them, Polycharmus writes in the second book of his Lycian history. '...when they come to the sea, where is the grove of Apollo by the shore, on which is the whirlpool in the sand, the clients present themselves holding two wooden spits, on each of which are ten pieces of roast meat. The priest takes his seat in silence by the grove, while the client throws the spits into the whirlpool and watches what happens. After the spits are thrown, the pool fills with seawater, and a multitude of fish appear as if by magic, and of a size to cause alarm. The prophet announces the species of the fish and the client accordingly receives his answer from the priest. Among the fish there appear sea bass and bluefish and sometimes whales and sawfish and many strange and unknown kinds."
Plutarch and Artemidorus also offer similar accounts of the fish oracle ceremonies at the Apollo Surius temple.
Apollo's sister Artemis also had a cult center in Myra. Myra's main cult was dedicated to Artemis Eleuthera, a distinctive form of Cybele, the ancient mother-goddess of Anatolia. She had a magnificent temple in Myra.
Unfortunately, St. Nicholas, the bishop of Myra, was zealous in his duties as bishop and took strong measures against paganism. The temple of Artemis and the Apollo oracle were among many other temples in the region that he destroyed. It is said that the very foundations were uprooted from the ground, so complete was its destruction, "and the evil spirits fled howling before him".
St. Nicholas was never officially canonized by the Church. He simply usurped the popularity of Artemis and Apollo and promoted his own reputation for being a protector and a giver of good things. Antinous/Apollo more or less morphed into Old St. Nick, aka Santa Claus, Father Christmas, das Christkind and Kriss Kringle.
Supposedly he saved three young women from having to prostitute themselves by dropping bags of money anonymously through their window while they slept. In another version, three little boys had been killed by a pedophile innkeeper who dismembered their bodies and served them in a stew to his guests. Nicholas stopped by the inn, took one taste of the Three Boy Stew and instantly let out a cry to heaven which caused the boys to be restored to life intact right there on the spot.
There are numerous other stories about fish and boats and children being saved and also about thieves. Like Antinous/Hermes, St. Nicholas is the patron saint of thieves. He is the saint of prisoners, cut-throats and con men because he saved three convicted armed robbers from being executed.
The stories generally involve the number three and miraculous rescues and gifts given surreptitiously after fall of darkness.
So Antinous/Apollo, in the guise of Nicholas, later became Bishop of Myra and was respected for his humane approach to religion and as a protector of children and fishermen. He is still known as St Nick, Santa Claus, Sinter Klaas, das Christkind or Kriss Kringle. And in a lot of places, Santa has several dark and scary sidekicks.
They are all aspects of the composite spirit being who in English-speaking countries is called Santa Claus or Father Christmas. But the deeper you go back into Central Europe, the more differentiated this ancient being becomes so that you see his various component parts — including Antinous-Apollo.
In the Nordic and English version, of course, all that is left of Krampus with his horns and hooves and fur is the reindeer which accompany Santa's sleigh.
Next time you see a department store Santa, just remember you are seeing only a composite being whose multitudinous composite aspects (many of them very dark and spooky) trace their origins back to the beginnings of mankind. If you look very, very carefully, you will see the face of Antinous/Apollo shining through the centuries of folk customs.
The Religion of Antinous has many solemn holidays such as the Death of Antinous. But we also have the Birth of Antinous which we celebrate on November 27 — 1,899 years old and still looks not a day over 21. Preparations are already underway for next year, when he turns 1,900.
November marks the start of the ancient pagan Festive Season, a season which is still full of fabulous party dates -- including Christmas, New Year's Eve, Twelfth Night and of course American Thanksgiving. Dia de los Muertos and Halloween usher in this Festive Season of twinkly lights and over-eating and drinking way too much.
These ancient festivities go back WAAAAY before Christianity, of course. So it's a safe bet that Hadrian and Antinous would recognize many of the features of these festivities
So when you plan your Antinous Birthday Party, you can mix-and-match customs from all sorts of pagan Festive Season holidays, in full knowledge that Hadrian and Antinous would nod in approval.
Here's how I envision the Birthday of Antinous:
It should be celebrated with feasting and drinking and singing and carousing. Pine boughs should decorate the feast room in honour of the pine forests of Bithynia, the highlands of modern-day Turkey where Antinous was born. Electric lights should be turned off in favor of candlelight or at the very least those strings of tiny "fairy lights" which Moslems use during Ramadan and Hindus during Divali and Christians at Christmas
The one really bright spot in the room should be a bust or image of Antinous, which is spotlighted, signifying our belief that Antinous brings light into the world.
The Antinous Red Lotus would be perfect. But since not everyone has access to lotus blossoms in late November, orchids would also be fine. The orchid takes its name from the Greek word "orchis" which means "little boy's testes" for obvious reasons:
Hadrian and Antinous would have known this. Antinous would have seen wild orchids in the piney woods of Bithynia as a boy
Orchids would be lovely as well as being a Hellenistic conversation piece. If they are too pricey, then your favorite seasonal flower will do. Look around and find something that is beautiful and unique to your own locale which you think would be very nice.
The Birthday of Antinous would be a wonderful opportunity for a costume party, also in keeping with the Halloween/Carnaval/Christmas flavor of these ancient pagan holidays. Guests might be encouraged to come as Greco-Romans or Egyptian priests.
The menu could be Mediterranean, with lots of finger foods such as tahini and couscous and humous and pita bread, stuffed olives, eggplant/aubergine, goat's cheese and so on. Refried beans (which the Egyptians call "fuul" and eat for breakfast) would be ideal since the theory goes that the Moors introduced "fuul" to the Spaniards, who introduced it to the New World.
But you should feel free to go local with favorite regional dishes of your home area. There must be lots of good Cajun dishes which would be perfect, or Scottish specialties, or Aussie barbecued prawns or New England pot pies -- good simple "plebeian" food which is festive and spicy and filling.
In keeping with these pagan festivals, foods should represent birth and regeneration: beans, peas, black-eyed peas, pumpkins, squash, nuts, berries.
It doesn't really matter what food is served, of course, as long as it's delicious and plentiful, and as long as there is plenty of drink to wash it down, wine or beer or just good old iced tea.
Beer is quite appropriate, since the Ancient Egyptians were brewing beer thousands of years before Antinous was born. The Egyptians still produce a very nice light lager called Stella beer which has the advantage of having a star on its label reminiscent of the STAR OF ANTINOUS.
Just imagine: Antinous' last meal may have been refried beans and beer and flat bread.
You think I'm joking, but when celebrating the Birth of Antinous, I think we should be creative and try to think of what he would might have enjoyed eating and drinking.
Here's a very good idea, if I do say so:
In a change from holiday cakes and cookies, how about baking Antinous cookies? Bake simple sugar cookies which have been cut out to resemble stars, comets, an imperial crown and Bithynian fir trees and lions and so on and decorate them with Antinoian lettering or symbols.
Instead of gingerbread men, make gingerbread Antinouses. The gingerbread man, after all, is thought to come from pagan rituals for honoring Thor or other gods. Generally, they are sweet dough which is filled with a nut-date-spice filling representing rebirth and spiritual sustenance. You still find them today on St. Nicholas' feast day throughout Europe.
Or how about an Antinous Birthday Cake? Just look at one of Antonyus Subia's medallions and you have the ideal pattern for icing a really wonderful cake.
Whatever you bake, make sure to include a small "surprise" somewhere in the cake or muffin or cookes for some lucky guest to chomp down on. It doesn't have to be a diamond ring, but a trinket of some sort is always fun. And the risk of chipping a tooth or gagging on a sharp object invariably adds to the merriment of the evening. If that is too challenging for your skills as a confectioner, then just an ordinary cake with the letters "A-N-T-I-N-O-U-S" in store-bought candy lettering would do the job just as nicely. Or just a large "A" in icing in the middle of the cake. Even I might be able to manage that.
Another tradition should be oracle games. This is the first major festival of the New Year in the Antinoian liturgical calendar, so oracles are appropriate. Here in Europe (where I now live) there's a lead oracle game which is a tradition on New Year's Eve. It costs very little. You buy a kit with about half a dozen pellets of lead and a cheap spoon.
Everybody is seated around a table in the center of which is a bowl of water. Each party guest gets one lead pellet. One after another, the guests place their pellet in the spoon and hold it over a candle flame until the lead melts. Then the guest pours the molten lead into the water, where it instantly cools in a cloud of fizzing steam.
Afterwards you retrieve the cooled-off clump of lead and attempt to decipher the "occult" meaning in its twisted form.
You can't imagine how thrilling it is to have a bunch of tipsy guests slinging spoonfuls of molten lead around a dinner table decorated with dozens of blazing candles and tinder-dry pine boughs. You don't have to have an oracle to foresee that the evening is fraught with all sorts of possibilities.
You think I'm being sarcastic. I'm not. I sincerely believe the Birthday of Antinous should be a pagan holiday which combines the best pagan traditions for fun and merriment, traditions for sharing food and love.
And when your guests suggest you are robbing traditions from Christian festivals, just look them square in the eye and insist that the Christians stole these wonderful traditions from us pagans because the Christians didn't have any of their own. Where would Christian holidays be without pagan traditions?
Who knows? Perhaps Hadrian and Antinous enjoyed these very same pagan traditions in their Saturnalia revelries.
Oh, one more thing: Mistletoe. Mistletoe is plentiful in the forests of Bithynia. Antinous would be well familiar with mistletoe. I'm sure he would like it as a reminder of his boyhood hikes through the woods of home.
Use your imagination and you'll come up with lots of ideas.
Let the Festive Season Begin with an Antinous Birthday Party!
On October 24th the Religion of Antinous enters the holiest and most mysterious part of our religious year — The Sacred Nights of Antinous, which continue through November 1st.
We are commemorating the tragic death of the Beauteous Boy and his miraculous deification and the glorious founding of his Sacred City of Antinoopolis and the birth of a religion which had (and will have) millions of adherents.
Come with me as we head down the dark stairs beneath the Great Temple of Antinous — down, down, down through musty and dank corridors to the place where, on October 24th, we remember The Passion of Osiris, which is the creation of godhood from death.
These Sacred Nights ceremonies take place in utter darkness in the deepest and most secret part of the Great Temple of Antinoopolis. A few years ago Flamen Antinoalis Antonyus Subia wrote a detailed description of the Great Temple, including the catacombs where these ceremonies take place in the depths of the temple:
"...and then the tunnels wind down past little side chambers dedicated to secret gods with attendant priests to watch over little black covered altars...and at the lowest level is the Chamber of Antinous the Death Prince and Our Lady Death.
"It is a round vaulted room ... with a Romano-Egyptian theme ... in the large main niche is a colossal Antinous-Osiris standing on a golden Nile-barge ... and seated at his feet, on a golden throne, would be a life-size statue of Nuestra Senora La Santissima Muerte, holding her pomegranate.
"The walls of the chamber would be circled by the tombs of the Ancient Priests of Antinous, mummified of course, and encased in standing glass coffins, dressed in golden togas and gold wreaths with their heads turned towards Antinous, so that they can look upon him for eternity.
"And every surface of the walls is covered with thousands of little niches filled with little silver urns holding the ashes of all the believers who had earned the honor to rest, for all time, near the sacred boat of millions of years.
"And in the center of the chamber would stand an image of Hadrian, facing Antinous, dressed as an initiate of the Mysteries of Eleusis. THIS is where the Sacred Nights take place ... in the lowest and most horrifying part of the temple."
Here, in the deepest and darkest and scariest part of the Great Temple, we prepare to commemorate The Sacred Nights, which start with the initiation of Hadrian and Antinous into the Mysteries of Hermes/Thoth in the great city of Hermopolis on the banks of the Nile. It was Hermes/Thoth who imparted the Sacred Words (which is what "hieroglyphs" means) and magical spells to the goddess Isis by which she raised Osiris from the dead to ever-lasting life as a god.
On October 24th Antinous and the Imperial entourage were in the ancient city of Hermopolis, the Sacred City of Thoth/Hermes during the celebration of the Death and Resurrection of Osiris. It is believed that the spiritual forces of this occasion, and the Mysteries divulged to him by the Hermetic priests of the god Thoth, were the inspiration for this ascension into godliness.
The story is that Osiris and Isis ruled Egypt as wise monarchs and that Osiris taught humans how to till the fields and harvest crops by using irigation water from the Nile. Osiris was loved by all mortal humans, which made his brother Set Lord of the Deserts, so envious that he decided to murder Osiris.
He gave a banquet for Osiris and, after getting Osiris very drunk, he suggested a game in which he and his brother would play a kind of hide-and-seek using large ornate boxes — coffins, really. He offered Osiris one box to hide in, but it was too small, so Osiris climbed into another, which was the perfect size. But before he could get out, Set and his henchmen sealed up the box and threw it into the Nile, where it was carried away, off out into the "Great Green" (as the Egyptians called the Mediterranean) and where it washed ashore in a foreign land.
Isis immediately set out, using the magical spells she had learned from Hermes/Thoth. After many adventures, she found the coffin with Osiris inside. Isis returned from Phoenicia (others say Lebanon) with the sarcophagus containing the body of Osiris. With the magical spells of Thoth's Scroll of Life (which features prominently in so many mummy movies), and with the keen senses of her faithful step-son, the jackal-headed Anubis, she embalmed the dead body to a semblance of life.
Set, however discovered that the body of Osiris had returned to Egypt and, together with his seventy-two henchman accomplices, he attacked the body and tore it into pieces, scattering the fragments up and down the valley of the Nile, like the seeds that are scattered over the fields when the Nile recedes.
Isis once again set out in search of the pieces. She found everything except the penis, which had been swallowed by the oxyrhynchos fish, which is why the oxyrhynchos fish has a penis-shaped snout and is why even to this very day Egyptians refuse to eat the flesh of this fish, because it is sacred.
With the skillful hands of Anubis and with the magic spells of Thoth, she was able to restore Osiris to wholeness. She even created a magical phallus which is eternally erect.
Isis is not called the Great Sorceress for nothing!
She transformed herself into a bird and so adeptly stimulated Osiris so that he ejaculated the magical "Semen of the First God" into her — in other words, she could make a dead man come, she was so hot.
Thus, hovering over the body in the form of a bird, she became impregnated with Horus who would avenge his father at the hands of his brother Set.
There are many versions of the Passions of Isis and Osiris. In one version, a version I especially like, Isis leaves the baby Horus in the care of the blessed scorpion goddess Selket, whose attendant scorpions fight off anybody and anything that comes near the baby, while Isis is off raising her husband from the dead so that he will be the Lord Of All Things Which Live and Die and Which Live Again For All Eternity.
The Passions of Isis and Osiris were played out annually in Ancient Egypt and formed the cornerstone of the Egyptian belief system — you could die horribly and tragically and yet you could be revived and restored and in fact you could become a god.
The festival of Osiris celebrated at Hermopolis and observed by Hadrian and Antinous commemorated the rending of the body of Osiris and the searching of Isis for each of the parts.
We believe that something of a cathartic nature happened within the soul of Antinous on October 24th. For it was only a few days later that he plunged into the Nile on the opposite bank across from Hermopolis. We will never know precisely what happened. Did Antinous get a glimpse at the fabled Scroll of Thoth? Did some Egyptian magician-priest teach him a bit about spellcasting? Did Antinous perhaps believe that he could use a spell to prolong Hadrian's life?
The Egyptians believed anyone who drowned in the Nile would become "a deified Osiris". Some Egyptian magical spells call for the magician to "deify a scarab beetle" — which means to drown it in Nile water and thus make it sacred and magical.
We will never know for sure what happened as a result of the ceremonies on October 24th.
Flamen Antinoalis Antonius Subia tells us:
"Like Osiris, Antinous descended into the Nile, and arose to bring the blessing of eternal life to the world. The Religion of Antinous, like the body of Osiris was scattered over the face of the world, and we who worship him, are like Isis, gathering the fragments together again.
"Hermopolis was the last city that Antinous ever saw, and the Passion of Osiris was the last religious ceremony in which he took part. Certainly it was here and at this time that an Awakening occurred, dark in its implications, causing Antinous to relinquish his life.
"But it was of splendid power in that, from the death of the boy, a god emerged. We observe that in Hermopolis, the scattering of the body of Osiris was the moment when the sperm of the blessed one was planted in the immortal spirit of Antinous, Our God."
The Sacred Nights of Antinous continue ....
On this day, October 1st, the beginning of the holy month of the Sacred Nights of Antinous, we venerate Orpheus. Antinous our God was initiated into the cult of Orpheus so that his teachings became part of the Religion of Antinous, and therefore we receive the salvation that Orpheus accomplished through our god Antinous, the New Dionysus.
It is on this date that the Religion of Antinous remembers the blessed heritage of The Orphic Mysteries, into which Hadrian and Antinous were both initiated. The Orphic Mysteries teach that human souls are divine and immortal but doomed to live (for a period) in a "grievous circle" of successive bodily existences through reincarnation. This belief that each of us is divine and immortal — Man-Godliness-Becoming-One — is the mystery which Flamen Antinoalis Antonyus Subia calls HOMOTHEOSIS. By welcoming this divine force instead of rejecting it, we take the first step away from our instinctive animalistic fearful self on the long road to becoming a Shining One of Heaven.
Okay, pupils, get out your Bulfinch's and let's review the story of Orpheus in the Underworld: Orpheus was the son of Apollo and the muse Calliope, and from his father he received the Lyre and the gift of music. So powerful was the music of Orpheus that he could tame the hearts of beasts and birds and his song enchanted even the trees and stones.
He was one of the Argonauts who, together with Jason, retrieved the Golden Fleece. Returning from the journey, he married Euridice, but the marriage was short-lived because while fleeing the Shepherd God Aristaios (ironically also often depicted as a form of Antinous in ancient times), who was attempting to rape her, she was bitten by a snake hidden in the grass and died. Orpheus was so overwhelmed with grief that he used his powers of enchantment to travel to the underworld to bring back his wife.
His music soothed the three-headed dog, and gained his entry into the dark hall of Hades and Persephone. There he sang to the rulers of the underworld, and his song touched the cold heart of the Lady of Death. Persephone decreed that he could lead his wife out of hell provided that he did not turn to see her following.
Orpheus, singing as he went, very nearly succeeded, but at the last moment, at the very gate of darkness, he turned and saw his wife vanish back into oblivion.
Flamen Antinoalis Antonyus tells the rest of the story, and why it is important to us:
"From that moment Orpheus was a changed man, he became a priest of Dionysus, and gave himself over to intoxication, completely shunning the company of women, and separating himself from the customs of the world. Orpheus is said to have been the first to sanctify homosexuality as an indulgence that frees the soul from continued reincarnation through the procreation of the flesh.
"His journey through the underworld gave him a deep detestation of death that he developed into a new philosophy. Orpheus taught that we were all children of the fallen star Dionysus-Zagreus, who had been torn to pieces by the Titans and consumed by them so that his light was mingled throughout their flesh. Zeus struck the Titans down with his lighting and from their ashes arose mankind, fashioned by Prometheus.
"So that we will never suffer the fate of passing into the realm of Hades, Orpheus taught that we must restrain our titanic nature and restore the purity of our godliness, we must become Bachkoi, which is that we must become Dionysus again. A pure life, free from murder, including blood sacrifice and the eating of meat is required, and we must undergo initiation into the blessed rites which he inaugurated.
"Although part of the religion of Dionysus, the Orphic cult was limited to men. Orpheus wrote volumes of sacred poems that comprised the heart of his new religion. The Orphic cult was a combination of the freedom and indulgence of Dionysus, tempered with the high-minded nobility of Apollo.
"The Orphics denied the world and set their minds on the inner light of Dionysus so as to liberate the soul from imprisonment within the flesh."
You can see the parallels between the story of Orpheus and Eurydice and the true-life story of Hadrian and Antinous. The emperor mourned and wept and sought to bring his Beloved Boy back to the world of the living. Hadrian's route through the Underworld was of a purely spiritual nature. He recognized that Antinous had always been Divine — a fact which is a tenet of The Orphic Mysteries. He decided to establish a religion which would enable the followers of Antinous to become aware of their own Divine Nature and to become one with ANTINOUS THE GAY GOD.
It is indeed ironic that this beautiful religion was born out of Hadrian's inconsolable grief. But the divine regenerative sacred force of this phenomenon is the secret behind the Tarot Trump called Death.
Death occurs in so many forms. We experience Death in some form every day of our lives. Loss of job. Loss of a lover. Loss of a friendship. Loss of money or status. Loss of confidence in ourselves ....
When we experience any kind of devastating loss, whether it is the loss of a loved one, a dream, a job, or a relationship, feelings may arise within us that are overwhelming or seemingly impossible to cope with.
And while it may feel like we are caught up in a never-ending spiral of sadness and emptiness, it is important to remember that the grief we are feeling is not a permanent state of being. Rather, grief is part of the process of letting go that in many ways can be a gift, allowing us to go deeper within ourselves to rediscover the light amidst the seeming darkness.
We have to remember Hadrian wading into the waters of the Nile and hoisting the cold and lifeless body of Antinous into his arms and weeping in rage — rage that all of powers could not prevent this tragic loss. He couldn't believe it had happened. Not to Antinous. Not to himself ....
A sense of shock or denial is often the first reaction, to be replaced by anger. Sometimes this anger can be directed at your loved one for "abandoning" you. At other times you may feel outrage toward the universe for what you are enduring.
And while there are stages of grief that people go through — moving from denial to anger to bargaining to depression to acceptance — the cycles of grief often move in spirals, sometimes circling forward and then back again. You may even experience moments of strength, faith, and laughter in between. While these emotions seem to come and go sporadically, it is important to feel them, accept them, and allow them to flow. With time, patience, and compassion, you will eventually find your center again.
As we move through our grief, we may find ourselves reluctant to release our pain, fearing we are letting go of who or what we have lost. We may even regard our movement toward healing as an act of disloyalty or giving up.
But try to remember Hadrian. Try to realize that, while the hurt may fade, the essence of what you had and who you loved will have already transformed you and forever stay with you. If anything, once you are ready for the pain of your loss to subside, their memories can then live more fully within you.
Antinous was only a low-born pleb with no official status or rank. And yet, through his dramatic death, he bound himself to Hadrian forever ....
So when you are in the pit of Orphic despair over a tragic loss — the loss of a good job, or a relationship, or a beloved pet or perhaps the loss of trust in someone or in yourself — try to remember that healing is a part of the spiraling cycles of grief, and that in letting yourself feel restored again, you are surrendering to a natural movement that is part of the dance of life.
Your grief can be the powerful gnosis which makes you remember that you are the musician. You are the dancer. You are that which has died and entered the Underworld. You are also that which rises re-born bright and shining like the dawn sunrise.
It is the process (because it is a process and not a method) which Flamen Antinoalis Antonyus Subia calls HOMOTHEOSIS ... "Gay-Man-God-Becoming-the-Same-As-Gay-Man-God."
On October 28th of the year 130 AD, during an Imperial tour up the Nile, near the village of Hir-wer, the youth Antinous fell into the Sacred River and died. It is said that Hadrian "wept like a woman" and was disconsolate ever after. His health broke and he was a bitter and sick man the remaining eight years of his life.
The Emperor Hadrian was so grief-stricken at the death of his beloved male lover Antinous that he declared Antinous to be a God and founded a city in honor of Antinous — called Antinoopolis — on the shores of the Nile where Antinous died. The city was founded on October 30th, called FOUNDATION DAY in the RELIGION OF ANTINOUS.
The Egyptians syncretized Antinous fully with Osiris. For the Egyptians he was Osiris-Antinous. Like Osiris, Antinous died in the Nile and was transfigured into a deity.
Hadrian reportedly said, "He fell into the Nile." He never elaborated, never said whether it was an accident, never mentioned the circumstances. And he never said whether the body was found. Perhaps he could never bring himself to describe the horrific sight he saw when the body of his Beloved Boy was dredged out of the river, possibly days after he was reported missing.
His perfect beauty was gone. His lovely smooth skin was stretched taught as a drum and bursting in places. Fish had eaten away his eyes and face and extremities. Perhaps crocodiles had torn out his organs.
Or perhaps the body was found quickly and it was mummified. Or the remains were cremated. Whatever happened, the physical beauty and vibrance that had been young Antinous was gone forever. His youthful laughter. The gleam of his eye. The way his hair was tousled by the breeze. The arch of his brow when he looked up at Hadrian. All gone. For ever.
For 1,800 years people have speculated as to what may have happened. There are those who believe that he was murdered, or that he willingly gave himself over to human sacrifice to prolong the life of his beloved Hadrian, or that his death was the suicidal effect of teenage melodrama, or that it was merely an accident, but there is no way to know, no way to be certain.
Hadrian who perhaps knew more than anyone else, simply said, "He fell into the Nile."
Now a new historical novel delves into the mystery of the death of Antinous. Author George Gardiner's THE HADRIAN ENIGMA — A FORBIDDEN HISTORY masterfully recreates that fateful tour up the Nile and the tragic death which changed the course of history. Until the death of Antinous, Hadrian had been renowned as a wise and just ruler. After the Beloved Boy's death, Hadrian became capricious and cruel and waged a prolonged war against rebellious hardline Jews — reverberations of which war continue to rock the Middle East to this very day.
Gardiner's novel is written in the form of a whodunnit with possibly the most original investigator imaginable — the Roman historian Suetonius, who just happens to be along on the Imperial tour. Author of such juicy tomes as De vita Caesarum (commonly known as The Twelve Caesars) and Lives of Famous Whores and other tell-all books, Suetonius has the investigative skill and the jaundiced eye to peer behind the veil of Roman dignity to see the sordidness underneath.
Suetonius and two other Patricians, with Strabo as their forensic stenographer, uncover a tale of sex, intrigue and treason which sends such powerful shock waves through the Imperial coterie that Hadrian is compelled to order a cover-up — hence, the subtitle A Forbidden History. Thus, the official line is Hadrian's pronouncement that "he fell into the Nile" while only Suetonius's secret manuscript reveals the true story — a manuscript "rediscovered" by Gardiner.
The reader sees the case through Suetonius's eyes as he investigates the death, looking for clues. Gardiner superbly describes the elaborate Imperial compound along the banks of the Nile — basically a tent city on a fabulously grand scale, a palace made of fabrics with the entire Imperial court transferred from Rome to this remote stretch of the Nile.
Antinous had shared his quarters with a couple of other "ephebes", though he had a private sleeping area — where only Hadrian had ever been. Suetonius and his Patrician assistants (with Strabo as their scribe), sift through His belongings and interrogate everybody, half of whom are either disconsolate with grief or else they have shifty eyes and their own motives — there are lots of "red herrings" in this book, people who possibly could have done Him in.
Hadrian refuses to allow Suetonius to touch the body, which was found at dawn by fishermen who were trying to net ibises in the reeds for sale during the Festival of Osiris and Isis. They plucked a "silver body" out of the water — Antinous was clad in his Lion Hunt garb which was silver and ivory breast plate and a solid silver mask, and his ornate bow and adamantine-tipped lance .... the fishermen knew He was a God, especially since He drowned on the day of Osiris' Death!
Suetonius wonders why in Hades Antinous was wearing all this ceremonial garb (otherwise worn only during Parades) and also wonders about a cut on the left wrist of Antinous and strange red marks around his throat. But Hadrian refuses to let him touch the body or perform an autopsy, saying His beauty will be preserved by the priests of Egypt through mummification. Indeed, Priest Pachrates is standing in the shadows, with kohl-rimmed eyes, and dripping with amulets and talismans, giving Suetonius the creeps.
Then Hadrian tells Suetonius to get out and find out what happened in 48 hours ... or else! Whereupon Hadrian throws himself over the body of his Beloved, kissing His cold lips and his hollow eyes (the fish have already eaten the eyeballs) and cradling his naked body — all the ceremonial garb is strewn on the floor of the tent. A Nubian slave languidly fans the air through mosquito netting which is continually sprayed with water in a vain attempt to slow down the process of decay.
The author knows his Antinous History and so the reading is deliciously slow-going for any true fan of historical crime novels. The author peppers the text with Greek and Latin terms and names and expressions which cause the reader to go to the book shelf to dust off reference works. The historical details are a delight.
And the characters are outlined in a vivid way which is like meeting old friends. The description of Hadrian is perfect and the author also brings to life flamboyant heir-apparent Lucius, the Empress Sabina, her confidante Julia Balbilla, the Egyptian magician/priest Pachrates and indeed the entire Imperial coterie. Even the Oracle of Siwa Oasis makes a cameo appearance, uttering seemingly incoherent clues which ultimately lead to the unravelment of the mystery.
Gardiner's Antinous is blonde with blue-grey eyes and pale skin. He is left-handed we learn as Suetonius wonders if He had inflicted the slash to his left wrist in an attempt to commit suicide and someone says, but sire, the Boy was left-handed, so it is unlikely he would have held his ceremonial dagger in his right hand to do such a deed. And where is the lapis-lazuli talismanic ring (a magical gift from Hadrian) which Antinous always wore on his finger? The ring was supposed to ensure immortality ....
What was it that caused such passions among all those who encountered Antinous? Suetonius learns the answer to that question from one person who loved Antinous whole-heartedly. What is it, Suetonius demands, which inspires such ardor among the admirers of Antinous? He is told:
"It is beauty, my lord. A beauty of character, a beauty of spirit, a beauty of humanity. Beauty, too, of form and shape, but this was not the primary beauty. It would pass soon into time. Antinous was a beguiling personality whose openness communicated sincerity, security, and wholeheartedness. His spirit was alive to life and love .... Antinous was Apollo incarnate, he was Apollo alive in this world, here, now, with us to see and touch today. He was not distant, out of reach, silent. Old philosophers tell us Greeks how human beauty is a reflection of the divine among us. Yet unlike remote Apollo ... Antinous possessed an emotional warmth no god displays to devotees. For Antinous, LOVE must be tangible and active. In him, it was, generously."
In the end, Suetonius discovers precisely how and why Antinous died. And the discovery is such a devastating blow to the Emperor that he suppresses the investigation findings and forbids any mention of the case under penalty of exile. And that is The Hadrian Enigma — A Forbidden Story.
Physicist Stephen Hawking is all over the headlines again. The occasion is the publication of his new book The Grand Design, in collaboration with Leonard Mlodinow, from Caltech.
The media attention is spurred by Hawking's statement that physics has solved the question of the First Cause, that is, of why there is something rather than nothing and hence that no creator god was necessary.
It seems to be another round in a rather long wrestling match. For years, Hawking has been writing about his efforts to understand "the mind of God" through physics.
Hawking's main idea, which has been known in one form or another since the 1970s, comes from the marriage of relativity and quantum mechanics to explain the origin of the universe — of how something can come out of nothing.
Essentially, the answer comes in two parts. First, that due to the gathering properties of gravity, the universe can be a solution of the cosmological equations with zero total energy — hence the "nothing" where everything comes from.
Second, that because quantum systems are always fluctuating (this is due to the quantum uncertainty), the universe could result from a zero energy spontaneous fluctuation from a soup of cosmoids — the possible universes that coexist in the timeless multiverse.
In more plain English, the idea is that there is a timeless realm which contains all possible universes and that our own is simply one of them, with the right properties for surviving long enough to eventually create atoms, stars and life.
This "timeless realm" forms the basis of the Mystery Teachings of the Religion of Antinous. It is what the Ancient Egyptians called SEP TEPY — literally the "Causal Moment" — the moment when the nameless self-creator (called kheper-djes-ef "the one who comes to existence of himself"), through a masturbatory act of autofellatio, ejaculated into his own mouth and spake the magical words which created the gods and the universe, saying, "Thusly I become and the becoming becomes...." All Egyptian magico-religious thought was focused on returning to SEP TEPY — the moment beyond TIME and the place beyond SPACE in which magical creation occurs.
The Obelisk of Antinous text says Antinous lives in SEP TEPY, the Ancient Egyptian concept of the magical gnosis in which all moments in Time are NOW and all points in Space are HERE.
Indeed, this is another way of saying precisely what Hawking has been saying for years. Antinous exists in what the Ancient Priests called SEP TEPY, which is beyond Time and Space — where all points in Space are NOW and all points in Time are NOW. It is the place which Chaos magicians call "Gnosis".
Each of us can attain SEP TEPY. All you have to do is clear your mind. Clear your heart. Clear your soul. Banish all Doubt and all Fear from your Spiritual Heart — and that includes all pagan-Wiccan fears of inadvertently doing harm. Your Gay Spiritual Heart will do no harm. You must TRUST in your Gay Spiritual Heart! It is distrust which spawns harm for, as any TRUE gay magician knows, when you "inadvertently fear" something — then it must surely come to pass.
Abandon all Fear — Banish all Fear and all Doubt from your Gay Spiritual Heart.
You can choose your focus and how you invest your energy, which gives you the power to design your life to be whatever you choose in each and every moment.
And that is what is meant when the OBELISK OF ANTINOUS speaks of Antinous being full of the "Semen of the First God" which is the creative force of the universe:
He takes every shape that His heart desires,
For the Semen of the First God
Truly is in His body.
Antinous the Gay God invites you to plunge into the waters of the Eternal Present (SEP TEPY) with him and "drown" in the Semen of the First God — so that you too can take every shape your heart desires!
There is no time like the Present.
The sun has risen over our brothers in Cape Town and Kabul (yes, we have group members in Afghanistan). It is the dawning of the 21st of August and the sun is in opposition to dreamy Neptune and is taking its leave of the Sign of Leo.
All around the world worshipers of Antinous will begin commemorations of The Sacred Lion Hunt which climax on Saturday evening with solemn rituals at the Hollywood Temple of Antinous.
Picture it: Egypt, somewhere in the rocky wilderness between the scattered oases south of Alexandria. August of the Year 130. The Sun is exiting the Sign of Leo. The Constellation of Aquila the Eagle is at its zenith in the nighttime sky.
It is the constellation of the Emperor. And the Emperor and his Beloved are touring Egypt when they hear grisly accounts of a man-eating lion marauding the countryside on the edge of the cultivated land. The "Marousian Lion" it was called.
They lead a hunting expedition out into the wilderness. The whole expedition is rife with symbolism from the start since the Sun is in Leo in the daytime skies and the Eagle is soaring in the nighttime skies and the Ancients believed killing lions was tantamount to defeating death itself. Lion hunting was the sport of kings.
When at last the Imperial party flushes out the man-eater, the huntsmen and archers stand back and leave Hadrian to close in on the beast with his steed. Hadrian has just got off an arrow which wounds the animal when, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, young Antinous rides ahead, his reins in his left hand, an adamantine-tipped lance in his upraised right hand.
As the Imperial retinue looks on in horror, the snarling lion charges toward the boy, causing his panicked horse to whinny and wheel about in terror. But Antinous maintains his balance and, instantly judging distance and angle, sends his lance sailing towards the lion as it quickly closed the gap between them.
The lance slams into its rear flank, inflicting a serious but not fatal wound. Enraged even more, the lion uses its fangs to pull out the lance and charges anew against the Boy who is fumbling with his quiver to ready a shot with his bow. But an arrow is already in the air from behind Antinous, and it whizzes past his ear and hit its mark in the throat of the lion.
It has been fired by Hadrian, who is approaching at full gallop and who, even while the first arrow was still in the air, had already readied a second arrow, which this time penetrates both lungs.
The lion spins about and collapses writhing in the dust, rage in its eyes, blood and saliva guttering from its fanged mouth, gasping for breath as it struggles to get to its feet — because Antinous has dismounted and is sprinting toward it with a drawn dagger.
Hadrian draws his steed to a halt and dismounts with an agility and lightness befitting a man half his age, fueled by adrenalin and alarm for his Beloved Boy, who faces imminent peril from the mortally wounded lion, still capable of severing an artery with one swipe of its mighty paw.
Hadrian draws his hunting axe from his belt and holds it high as he lunges onto the lion's back and dispatches the beast with one powerful blow which splits its skull in two with a frightening crack and a spurt of bright red blood which bathes both the older man, now panting and perspiring heavily, and the younger man who still shows no visible expression of concern, just a wild-eyed look of excitement in his eyes, as if he never realized the danger he had been in — as if he thinks he is immortal.
A cheer goes up from the coterie of onlookers when they realize the lion is dead, killed seemingly by a single blow from the Emperor's hand. Courtiers whose eyes are unskilled in the ways of hunting will later claim Hadrian had struck the lion dead with a club.
As soldiers and nervous bodyguards rush forward to make sure everything is all right, the emperor, his adrenalin-strength ebbing as quickly as it came, shakily wraps a blood-spattered arm around Antinous and plants his gilded, spike-soled sandal on the dead animal's neck and nods to Antinous to do the same.
There they stand, bathed in blood and bathed in the adulation of the Imperial coterie, each with one foot on the vanquished man-eater as the animal's blood spreads out and covers the surrounding rocks and sand and a few scrubby wildflowers growing from a crevice in a rock.
Even the flowers are splattered with blood. And these red blossoms will be plucked by members of the entourage to take back as souvenirs to show to envious courtiers who had not been invited along.
THE SACRED LION HUNT was immortalized in poetry and in stone, with Hadrian adding medallions to the Arch of Constantine showing him and Antinous with feet on the lion's neck and also making sacrifice to the great lion-killer Hercules.
Soon legend would have it that scarlet-red lotus blossoms had sprung forth from the pool of the lion's blood, the lion which had been brought down by Antinous and which had been dealt its death blow by Hadrian — the SACRED RED LOTUS.
Under the Sign of Leo. And under the Constellation of the Eagle.
Within a few short weeks, Antinous himself would be dead. The Sacred Lion Hunt is the last recorded event in His short life.
And some time afterward, grieving Hadrian would look up into the nighttime skies with tear-filled eyes and his court astronomers would point out a New Star which had appeared in the southern part of the Constellation of Aquila the Eagle.
The New Star would be interpreted as a celestial sign that Antinous had been raised to the firmament, that the Constellation of the Imperial Eagle had been joined by the CONSTELLATION OF ANTINOUS. It was a sign that Antinous was now a God.
If you go outside tonight and peer out into the darkness with all its deep and hidden dangers, remember Antinous and how he peered out into the barren wilderness with all its deep and hidden dangers. He charged forth, his bridle-reins in his left hand and an adamantine-tipped lance in his right, and he faced death unafraid.
For Antinous knew he was immortal.
The Constellation of Antinous, still under the wing of the Imperial Eagle, will be right directly over your head tonight — shining proof that Antinous is a God and that he is indeed immortal.
Don't look out into the darkness around you and be afraid. Instead, look up and remember the Beloved Boy, who was a fearless hunter, who stalked death itself, and who emerged victorious over it.
On August 20th the Religion of Antinous commemorates the Sacred Band of Thebes, the Army of Gay Lovers whose courage and valour have echoed down through the ages as an inspiration that Gay Love is a magical means of Conquering Fear and Doubt.
The Sacred Band of Thebes, also called The Theban Band, was a battalion composed entirely of homosexual friends and lovers. This military unit, consisting of 150 male couples, was based on the belief that men fighting alongside their lovers would die rather than shame one another.
According to Aristotle, the Army of Lovers were sworn into military service at the Tomb of Iolaus, one of the many male lovers of Hercules. Iolaus had helped the god in the Twelve Herculean Tasks.
He often acted as Hercules' charioteer and companion, and the closeness of their relationship was such that he was known as Heracles' symbomos (altar-sharer), since the two could be honored at one and the same altar — a very rare occurrence in ancient Greece, where each divinity would have his or her own altar.
Iolaus was called the eromenos (beloved boy) of Hercules, and was thus a Sacred Hero of same-sex love in Thebes. Hercules, Iolaus and Eros were often depicted together.
That is probably why the army of gay lovers was called the Sacred Band, since they took their oath of allegiance at the Sacred Tomb of Iolaus, which was at the same time a shared sacred altar to Hercules. In effect, the warriors were swearing that they would fight alongside their comrades the same way Iolaus and Hercules fought together — armed with the arrows of Eros.
You can see the parallels to Hadrian and his beloved boy Antinous, and later this week the parallels become even clearer when we commemorate the SACRED LION HUNT. After that hunt in the Libyan desert in the summer of the year 130 AD, Hadrian and Antinous made sacrifice to the Great Lion Slayer Hercules — thus cementing the identification between Hadrian/Hercules and Antinous/Iolaus — and their affiliation with the Sacred Band of Thebes.
The great Theban general and tactician Epaminondas is generally credited with establishing The Sacred Band, although some sources claim it was his "beloved friend" Pelopidas who was responsible for recruiting them. No matter — they both fought side-by-side at the head of The Sacred Band.
This corps d'elite first took to the battlefield against Sparta, which had dominated Greece since the fall of Athens in 404 BC. The Spartans were confident of victory, as they had never suffered a defeat on the battlefield — never ever.
Deploying the Sacred Band on his front left wing, "Epaminondas made his left wing fifty deep and flung it forward in the attack." The "extra weight" of this wing and the "fanatical bravery of the Sacred Band" broke the Sparta right wing, which contained their best warriors. In the ensuing hand-to-hand combat, the Spartan king was killed and their right gave way.
Witnessing this, the rest of the Spartan forces, who had not yet been engaged, fell back in disarray, running for their lives. Thus, Sparta suffered their first recorded defeat in more than 400 years — at the hands of an Army of Gay Lovers.
But the end came in 338 BC at the battle of Chaeronea when King Phillip II of Macedonia and his son Alexander (later called Alexander the Great) defeated the combined forces of Athens and Thebes-Boetia. Alexander confronted The Sacred Band of Thebes, the elite corps of 300 homosexual lovers who were by that time the most respected soldiers in the world.
But alas! They were no match for the Macedonians under Phillip and Alexander. It was a rout. The Athenian and Theban armies gave way and began retreating from the advancing Macedonians. Only The Sacred Band stood their ground — and died. Only a few were subdued and captured. Of those who died, it was found that not one had been wounded in the back — a sign that they had not turned away from the fight.
Alexander was so moved by their nobility and courage that he asked his father to bury them with honour and raise a monument in the form of a Sacred Lion over their mass grave. In 1881, the shattered fragments of this Lion Tomb were discovered, surrounded by the bones of 254 pairs of men with their weapons, arranged in a phalanx of seven rows, the battle formation of the Sacred Band.
In 1902 the fragments of the Sacred Lion were reconstructed and placed again over the tomb of The Sacred Band (depicted left) by the secret homosexual society known as the Order of Chaeronea, founded by gay-rights pioneer George Cecil Ives.
It reminds us once again of the Sacred Lion Hunt which we celebrate later this week.
So, what has all of this got to do with us in our daily lives? We're not soldiers. We're not brave and courageous. Like Dorothy Gale, we're meek and mild. Timid. We know that if we were on a battlefield, we would turn and run. We would hide and "play dead" and hope nobody found us.
We assume that the Army of Gay Lovers were all fearless. We think they were unafraid. We don't think of them as being saredy-cats like us. We think they didn't mind the prospect of agonizing death. We think they were somehow above such mortal fears and doubts.
That's nonsense, of course. They were scared shitless. We can scarcely imagine how afraid they were. As they stood there alone against the mightiest army in the Ancient World, their emotions shifted beyond the mere terror of possibly being killed, to the actual horror of inescapable agony and death. It is one thing to be terrified — we all know the fears generated by terrorists who fly airliners into buildings.
But the emotions experienced by those trapped in the planes or inside the burning buildings go far beyond mere terror to the actual horror of inescapable agony and death. That is the Mystery of Terror as opposed to the Mystery of Horror. We tend to forget the distinction!
The Army of Gay Lovers were not without fear. On the contrary, they were staring into the horror of impending pain and death. But they did not allow their fear to overwhelm them. Instead, they turned their fear "inside-out" and used it as a magical shield. The barbs of fear were no longer poking inward to themselves, but instead were pointing outward towards their foes.
And that is the Mystery Teaching of the Army of Gay Lovers. It was no doubt part of the initiation which the recruits underwent at the Tomb of Iolaus. They were schooled in magico-religious methods for handling fear. It's about learning to harness Mars energy. Mars is all about the double-edge sword of fear/bravery and how you can learn to wield that Sword of Mars.
It's not about being fearless. It's about being able to transform your fear into a mighty force which wins the battle of life. Mars Warrior Energy is not about death. It is about LIFE. It is about harnessing fear and doubt and turning them into useful energies in your daily life.
By the way, August 20th, 2010, is astrologically significant because Venus aligns with Mars in gentle Libra on this date. And dreamy Aquarius Neptune is in exact opposition to the fiery Leo Sun just hours before the Sun enters Virgo. Astrologically, this Venus/Mars alignment symbolizes the Sacred Band of Warrior Lovers. And anything-goes Aquarius Neptune dissolves all barriers of ego and selfishness, permitting the Leo Sun to shine through your heart with valour and spiritual insight. But when you think about it, this year is not so special. That's what life is all about. Life — from the time you are born until the time you die — life is just one constant battle. And if you give in, then you are lost. And if you give in to the fear and doubt that constantly confront you each and ever day, then you are lost. It's about using selfless love and transcendant awareness to transform fear and doubt into constructive energies which empower you to stand up and wade into the fray of daily life.
The Band of Thebes were initiated into Mystery Teachings which showed them how to transform fear and doubt into a magical force which made them invincible — capable of asserting their will and making their dreams become reality. And the catalyst was male-male love and devotion.
This is one of the deepest and most profound Mystery Teachings of the Religion of Antinous. We are talking about the Mysteries of Antinous-Mars. This is why Flamen Antinoalis Antonius Subia has painted Antinous in the guise of the War God (above left). Antinous is not just about gay male beauty. He is about gay male warrior energy.
Mars is a very important constituent aspect of Antinous. In Fixed Star Astrology, the STAR OF ANTINOUS is characterized by a mixture of Jupiter/Mars energy along with Venus energy — unique among Fixed Stars. To overlook Mars is to overlook a major component of what Antinous is all about.
Mars and his Alchemical Intelligence Graphiel and Daimon Barzabel (Deimos and Phobos) is much misunderstood by philosophers and occultists. The fiery Graphiel/Barzabel energies of the red planet ("terror" Deimos and "horror" Phobos) are often seen as frightful and horrific and destructive and warlike with no other qualities. This is a shallow analysis and one that should be discarded. Understanding your Martial nature — the Antinous-Mars warrior inside you — is essential to your survival and growth as a gay man. Terror and horror accompany us all our lives.
We are all afraid every day. We are all riddled with doubts every day. Look around you — most people are consumed with fear and doubt. Fear fuels their lives! But each of us can learn to turn our fears and doubts "inside-out" so that their barbs no longer point inward towards us, but instead so that these barbs of fear and doubt form a protective shield around us. It girds us with a constructive energy which helps us to advance through the Herculean travails which we face in our daily lives. Instead of being "fearfully" timid, we become "fearsomely" determined not to let life get us down.
Tomorrow, this transformational ability to turn fear "inside-out" will help us to understand how Antinous was able to charge the man-eater during the SACRED LION HUNT.
He must have been terrified. He was young and inexperienced and alone on his steed and armed only with an adamantine-tipped lance.
But through his loving bond with Hadrian/Hercules, Antinous/Iolaus was also magically armed with the "fearsomely strong" energies of the Sacred Band of Thebes.
Flamen Antinoalis Antonius affirms: "We consecrate and honor their memory and call upon their strength and courage in our own hearts, that we may become the New Sacred Band."
On the 13th of August the Religion of Antinous celebrates the Birth of Diana, the Divine Huntress, who was born on this day, according to the Lanuvium inscription which is consecrated to Antinous and Diana.
Traditionally, she is said to be the twin sister of Apollo. But in the Religion of Antinous, our belief is that the virgin huntress is the female Antinous, his twin sister, goddess of lesbian beauty just as Antinous is the god of gay beauty.
Diana and Antinous are deities of the Moon and, because Antinous is often also assimilated to Apollo, he therefore substitutes as the twin of Diana, though he can often be viewed as her male double ... so that Antinous is Diana.
The most splendid and most inspirational sculpture representing this Diana/Apollo/Antinous relationship is located in Sydney, Australia. Right in the middle of this bustling city there is a huge green space called Hyde Park.
Skyscrapers form canyons on all sides of the park, which is shady and leafy-green all-year-round thanks to the eucalyptus gum trees, which never lose their leaves in winter.
The Hyde Park gum trees are enormous and form a canopy over the park, filtering out the sounds of car horns and sirens and jetliners passing over head.
Hyde Park is a magical place. And right in the middle of Hyde Park there is a clearing where a philanthropist back in the 1920s commissioned an exquisite Art Deco fountain, the Archibald Fountain named in the benefactor's honor, which features Apollo, Diana, Pan and other figures.
Diana and her faithful hunting dogs are looking towards her solar twin Antinous/Apollo, who stretches his hand out to her in greeting as rays of sunlight spray out in all directions.
The "rays" are of course water. But when you walk under the dark canopy of the towering gum trees toward the clearing, you can't help but see the solar symbolism.
Theseus and the Minotaur are also depicted under the shower of rays from Antinous/Apollo. It's a bit hard to tell whether Theseus and the Minotaur or engaged in a life-or-death struggle — or whether they are just about to have some really hot sex.
Most tourists are so busy taking photos of these sculptures (Diana/Apollo/Theseus) that they overlook the fourth sculpture, which is Antinous/Pan caressing a goat and a ram.
The plaque avoids any names, only saying the figure represents "the young god of the fields and pastures, of the pleasure of the countryside" — but it is clear that the French sculptor (a life-long bachelor) drew on Antinoian imagery.
Taken altogether, they form a single symbolic Antinous Mystery Teaching.
It is one of the few places in the world where you can sit in the presence of Antinous in several of his many forms — Diana/Apollo/ Pan and even (on a very arcane and esoteric level) Theseus the Bullfighter. The STAR OF ANTINOUS is sometimes associated with the Fifth Tarot Trump, which is assigned to Taurus the Bull and is about the striving to achieve harmony between earthly and spiritual yearnings. We are all bullfighters.
And we are all hunters. And we are all the prey which is hunted by Diana/Antinous. We search and hunt for Antinous but it is Antinous who catches us. We are fooled by his guises and his many names. We are dazzled by his beauty just as a fish is dazzled by an angler's shiny fly bait. We are the hunters and yet we are the prey.
Similarly, the Huntress Diana is also hunting us. Flamen Antinoalis Antonius Subia explains it this way:
"She is Helen of Troy to the Castor and Pollux of Antinous-Apollo. They share not only the attribute of hunters, and of the moon, but also as gods of magic and darkness. Diana is often compared to Hecate, the supreme goddess of Theurgian magicians, who rose to prominence during the reign of Marcus Aurelius. Antinous therefore is the male equivalent of Hecate.
We pray to Diana to guide us in our hunt and to illuminate our nights with the silver light of her sublime power. We recognize that the Moon of Diana is the Moon of Antinous. On this night we venerate the Virgin, she who guides new life into the world, goddess of beasts, the mistress of the hounds, the archeress, the young Great Mother of Ephesus."
Diana is the twin of Antinous. Antinous is Pan. Antinous is Apollo. Antinous is the Bullfighter. And yet Antinous is none of these deities. He is all of them. And he is none of them. The OBELISK OF ANTINOUS says he can assume any form his heart desires because the "Semen of the First God" truly is in his body. Thus he is beyond all forms. Even as he creates all forms. Outside of Time and Space. And yet, within our hearts.
We all know the anguish of worry. One Antinous devotee who lives in Kabul is worried sick about his lover, a botanist on a specimen-gathering expedition to a remote corner of strife-torn Afghanistan. But few of us have to worry about being murdered by rivals — Hadrian spent years in exactly this sort of anguish.
On August 11th, the Religion of Antinous commemorates the accession of Hadrian to the throne as Emperor of Rome, succeeding Trajan.
Hadrian had to wait many years in a very deadly sort of legalistic limbo before he became emperor. Trajan was in no hurry to name him officially as his heir, fearing Hadrian might then bump him off. While they shared many affections — and even shared some young men — they shared little trust in each other.
And so Hadrian was left waiting and wondering and worrying year after year. Wondering when or if he would become Emperor. Worrying what would happen if Trajan were to die suddenly and some rival contender became Emperor — and perhaps murdered Hadrian.
We all know this sort of worry-and-wait situation, albeit on a less history-changing scale. We apply for a job, or we await a loan approval or we await a buyer's final offer on the house or we await confirmation that our lover in Afghanistan is safe and sound — and there is nothing we can do but worry and wait. Hadrian sought out soothsayers, astrologers and magicians to assuage his fears.
Hadrian had been on tenterhooks for years wondering whether Trajan would formally adopt him as his heir. If Trajan died without the issue of succession being settled, it could result in civil war — or at least in the assassination of Hadrian by some other ambitious man.
Then finally, while on campaign in Nikomedia, capital of Bithynia, Hadrian receives word that Trajan unexpectedly died on August 8th. He learns that Trajan's "deathbed will" named him as the emperor's adopted son and successor. It is believed that Trajan's wife, the Empress Plotina (who adored Hadrian), forged the will of her husband, naming Hadrian as successor.
Whatever happened, the Legions proclaimed Hadrian emperor on August 11th. The support of the army insured the validity of our Emperor's claim, ushering in the Sacred and Golden Age of the Antonines, the dynasty of peaceful and wise emperors which would end with Marcus Aurelius.
Our own Flamen Antinoalis Antonius Subia explains what this means to gay men everywhere:
"Hadrian became Emperor over Rome at the pinnacle of her glory. Her boundaries stretched farther than ever before; farther than they ever would again. Millions of people were subject to his authority. As Emperor, Hadrian first made peace with the Parthians, surrendering some of the land that Trajan had occupied, and then began the work of consolidating the Empire from the inside. "We celebrate the Accession of Hadrian as the miracle that might never have been, without which Antinous would never have been known, and our religion would never have been born. Hadrian is Our Father, Our Emperor and Our Capitoline God, we recognize on this day that the beginning of his age is the beginning of our own."
"Hadrian became Emperor over Rome at the pinnacle of her glory. Her boundaries stretched farther than ever before; farther than they ever would again. Millions of people were subject to his authority. As Emperor, Hadrian first made peace with the Parthians, surrendering some of the land that Trajan had occupied, and then began the work of consolidating the Empire from the inside.
"We celebrate the Accession of Hadrian as the miracle that might never have been, without which Antinous would never have been known, and our religion would never have been born. Hadrian is Our Father, Our Emperor and Our Capitoline God, we recognize on this day that the beginning of his age is the beginning of our own."
On August 11th, please take a moment — perhaps at your home in Vancouver, or at your office desk altar in Virginia or at your gin joint in Kabul — to remember the day on which Hadrian's long and heartfelt dreams and ambitions became reality and the path was paved for him to begin work on creating a civilization based on Hellenistic tolerance — and above-all his dream of founding the perfect religion based on love and beauty.
May the Divine Hadrian help us all achieve our heartfelt dreams and ambitions in this regard.
Antinous and all the Graeco-Roman statuary in Berlin's famed Classical Collection are back in the museum which was designed for them nearly two centuries ago in the heart of the German capital. Because of World War II and the Cold War, Berlin's Graeco-Roman collection was divided up and was housed in various museums in East and West Berlin.
Now, for the first time since 1939, Antinous (and all of his Classical contemporaries) have come home to the beautiful Neo-Classical museum which was built specificially for him/them in the 1820s by the famous architect Carl-Friedrich Schinkel.
The museum — called the Altes Museum or Old Museum — was badly damaged in wartime bombing but has been lovingly restored to become the home of the Berlin Classical Collection starting in Summer 2010 — the first time since the outbreak of World War II that Antinous and the others have come "home" to the museum that was custom-built for them.
It truly is a beautiful home, despite still-visible pockmarks from wartime shrapnel on the facade. Built in the Neo-Classical style of an ancient temple, it truly is a fitting home for Greek and Roman Gods.
There is even a Pantheon-like circular, domed chamber in the heart of the museum which houses the primary Classical Gods.
Up until recent months, those Gods had to share the museum with the renowned Berlin Egyptian Collection — but the Egyptians have now moved into their own splendid museum just behind the Altes Museum. Their museum is also fabulous in itself. These museums are all part of a glorious complex called the "Museum Island" (because they are located on an island) in the heart of Berlin.
Actually, renovations are still underway at the Altes Museum, and the ground floor is still closed to the public while curators install exhibits. But the upstairs galleries are mostly finished, and we were among the first visitors to be welcomed through the doors.
Antinous forms the focal point of the new museum. The Berlin collection includes several Antinous statues and busts. The most renowned is the Antinous-Agathodaimon (Antinous Blessed Spirit), shown below against the blue wall. It is the one which Frederick the Great purchased from a dealer in Italy in the 18th Century. You can just imagine lecherous and closeted old Fritz running his aged and trembling hands over the smooth contours of this statue and thinking of Hadrian and the Blessed Boy. Frederick the Great never married ....
It's a little-known fact, but there is some graffiti on the back of the Antinous Agathodaimon's upper left arm. Someone etched the word "LASCIVI" onto his arm. Experts are not certain when this was done — whether it was done in ancient times or in more modern times. The experts say it is unclear whether this was meant as praise or as condemnation since "lascivi" can be a plural noun meaning "the two lascivious ones" or else a singular possessive meaning "of him who is of a lascivious nature". The carving of the letters is expertly done, not hasty. Forensics would be able to date when it was added. But funding shortages mean that research likely will never be done.
If you've never heard of this statue, the reason is simple: It had not been on public view since 1939 until its recent unveiling in Berlin.
No one knows precisely where it came from. All that is known is that it stood in the famous studio of the 18th Century Italian sculptor Baertolomeo Cavaceppi.
There's an old woodcut engraving showing this statue among dozens of others in Cavaceppi's studio. It is unmistakable for the Dionysian cornucopia around which is coiled a large serpent which rears its head over Antinous's left hand.
The statue was acquired by the Prussians in the 1760s and stood in Frederick the Great's magnificent Sanssouci Palace in suburban Potsdam, where no females were permitted entry and where "Old Fritz" devoted his energies to art, music, literature and to writing lascivious verses on the theme of male love.
When Berlin fell to Napoleon in 1806, Antinous was carted off to Paris where he was the centerpiece of an exhibit of "booty art" at the Louvre for about a dozen years before being shipped back to Berlin under terms of the 1815 Treaty of Vienna.
The statue remained on view in Berlin until 1939 when worried museum curators packed it and other priceless treasures and hid them in salt mines and other hiding places out of the range of Allied bombing raids.
The advancing Soviet Red Army found the cache in which the Antinous statue was hidden. Packed in tractor-tire padding, the statue was crated off to Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), where it remained nestled in tires until 1958 when it was sent to communist East Germany, where it was dumped in storage for the duration of the Cold War.
The same fate had befallen collections of all the major museums in Berlin, with some treasures found in salt mines in East Germany and others recovered from hideouts in West Germany. So two sets of museums opened in East and West.
After the Berlin Wall fell and Germany was unified in October 1990, museum directors from both sides began the task of consolidating their collections and renovating the war-battered museum buildings that had been located in East Berlin and had in some cases become weed-overgrown ruins.
That process has taken most of the past 20 years. The restoration of this one Antinous statue alone, Inventory Number 361, took four years and was completed only in 2004.
The art historians who restored the statue faced a daunting task, eradicating the tire marks and erasing an 1889 inventory number from Antinous's right buttock and generally cleaning and patching it up.
They discovered that the statue originally had been made in two parts, with the head done separately and added to the body. As we know, that was common practice in ancient times, and you could commission a good artist to do a finely detailed head portrait and then have it grafted onto a "generic" hero body, saving much time.
In this case, the head originally had inlaid eyes, perhaps ivory for the whites, and obsydian or possibly even rock crystal pupils, all outlined in gold or copper "eyeliner." Clearly, thieves plucked out those valuable materials very early on. We're only lucky that they didn't just smash the head to pieces to get at them — as happened so many times to so many statues.
As it is, Antinous gazes down at the viewer with empty eye sockets.
At some point somebody, possibly Cavaceppi in the 18th Century, did a lot of renovation work on the statue, replacing one or both of the hands and reconfiguring the cornucopia and serpent.
But one thing is for certain: The "LASCIVI" graffiti is not modern. It must have been scratched into the marble at a very early date because the lettering is very worn.
The restorers did a fabulous job, and the marble gleams so much that it almost appears to be transluscent. All the ancient scratches and scuffs and break marks have been sealed over with epoxy resins so that the surface is as smooth as the day it left the sculptor's shop just after Antinous's divination 1,800 years ago.
Though the Antinous-Agathodaimon is the highlight of the Berlin Collection, there are countless other noteworthy pieces, including a life-size marble statue of Antinous as Apollo-Omphalos, a large bust of Antinous and a smaller bronze Antinous statue. There are also breath-taking life-size statues of Marcus Aurelius and Augustus Caesar.
Among the many exquisite busts are portraits of Antinous, Hadrian, his Empress Sabina Augusta, his successors Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Verus and imperial consorts Faustina the Younger and Faustina the Elder. In the photo below, they all flank Augustus Caesar, standing in the middle.
As you leave, your eye comes to rest on a bust of young Polydeukion (above right), who was the beloved pupil of stoic philosopher and millionaire philanthropist Herodes Atticus. He died while still a youth, and his mentor organized a cult in his honor, analogous to that devised by Hadrian for Antinous.
On July 25th the Religion of Antinous joyfully commemorates the First Miracle of Antinous — the Bountiful Inundation of the Nile which ended a drought which had caused food shortages throughout the Empire.
The famine had overshadowed the tour of Egypt by the Imperial entourage in the year 130. The half-starved Egyptians looked to Hadrian, whom they worshipped as pharaoh, to perform a miracle which would end their misery.
But as Hadrian and Antinous traveled up the Nile during the summer and autumn of 130, the Nile once again failed to rise sufficiently to water the fields of Egypt — Rome's "Bread Basket" and chief source of grain and other staple foodstuffs.
It was a humiliating disappointment for the Emperor following the jubilant welcome by peoples during the earlier part of his tour through the Eastern Empire. In Ephesus and other cities he had been welcomed as a living god.
But the Egyptians had given him and his coterie what little they had in the way of food and wine — and he had failed to convince the Inundation Deity Hapi to bless them with bounty. Hapi is one of the most extraordinary deities in the history of religion.
Hapi is special to us especially because Hapi is hermaphroditic. With many other such deities, the gender division is down the middle of the body (like some Hindu deities) or the top half is one gender and the bottom half is the other.
But Hapi is very complex and the genders are mixed throughout his/her body. Male deities invariably have reddish-orange skin in Egyptian Art and female deities have yellowish skin. Hapi has bluish-green skin. Hapi has long hair like a female deity but has a square jaw and a beard. Hapi has broad shoulders yet has pendulous breasts like a nursing mother. Hapi has narrow hips and masculine thighs, but has a pregnant belly. Nobody knows what sort of genitals Hapi has, since they are covered by a strange garment reminiscent of a sumo wrestler's belt.
Hapi is both father and mother to the Egyptians. Hapi provides them with everything necessary for life. As Herodotus wrote, "Egypt is the gift of the Nile". Hapi wears a fabulous headdress of towering water plants and she/he carries enormous offering trays laden with foodstuffs.
The Ancient Egyptians had no problem worshipping a mixed-gender deity. I think it is very important to draw the connection between Hapi and Antinous, especially since the First Miracle that Antinous performed as a god involved Hapi. The Egyptians accepted Antinous into their own belief system immediately and were among the most ardent followers of Antinous.
They had no problem worshipping a gay deity who had united himself with a hermaphroditic deity. It must have seemed very logical and credible to them.
It made sense to them and enriched their belief system, made it more personal since they could identify more easily with a handsome young man than with a hermaphrodite wearing a sumo belt (Hapi forgive me!).
Herodotus also said he once asked a very learned religious man in Egypt what the true source of the Nile was.
The learned man (speaking through an interpreter, since most Greeks never bothered to learn Egyptian) paused and finally told him the true source of the Nile is the thigh of Osiris.
We think of it as a strange answer. We think of the Nile as an "it" and the source as a "geographical location". But the Egyptians thought of the Nile as "us" and its true source as "heka" — the magical semen of the creator.
So a learned Egyptian would have assumed that a learned Greek would understand what was meant: That Hapi is the equivalent of Dionysus, who was "incubated" in the inner thigh of Zeus after his pregnant mortal mother Semele perished when she could not bear the searing sight of her lover Zeus in all his divine panoply.
It's a very poetic way (a very Egyptian way) of saying that the "true source" of the Nile, which is to say Egypt itself, is the magical heka/semen from the loins of the original creator.
We will never know what happened during that journey up the Nile along the drought-parched fields with anxious Egyptian farmers looking to Hadrian for a miracle. All we know is that Antinous "plunged into the Nile" and into the arms of Hapi in late October of the year 130.
And then the following summer, Hapi the Inundation Deity provided a bountiful Nile flood which replenished the food stocks of Egypt — and the Roman Empire.
Our own Flamen Antinoalis Antonius Subia explains the more esoteric aspects of this special Religious Holy Day:
"The Dog Star Sirius appears, and the sacred Star of Antinous begins to approach its zenith in the night sky of the northern hemisphere. The appearance of the Dog Star once announced the rise of the Inundation of the Nile, though it no longer does due to the precession of the Equinox, which is the slight alteration of the position of the stars.
"After the Death and Deification of Antinous, the Nile responded by rising miraculously after two successive years of severe drought. It was on this day, July 25th, in the year 131 that the ancient Egyptians recognized that Antinous was a god, nine months after his death, following their custom of deifying those who drowned in the Nile, whose sacrifice insured the life-giving flood.
"Sirius is the brightest star in the sky, it is part of the constellation Canis Major, or the big dog, which is the hunting dog of Orion. Mystically, Sirius and the constellation Canis Major is Antinous Master of Hounds and Orion is Hadrian the Hunter.
"The position of Orion, along the banks of the Milky Way, our galaxy in relation to Sirius is a mirror image of Pyramids along the bank of the Nile, which is the same relationship as Antinoopolis to the Nile, with the Via Hadriani, the road which Hadrian built across the desert to the East, linking the Nile with the Red Sea — Rome to India.
"We consecrate the beginning of the Dog Days of Summer to the advent of the Egyptian deification of Antinous and the miracle of the Inundation of the Nile."
The First Miracle of Antinous the Gay God is enshrined in the hieroglyphic inscription on the OBELISK OF ANTINOUS which stands in Rome
The East Face of the Obelisk, which is aligned to the rising sun Ra-Herakhte, speaks of the joy that fills the heart of Antinous since having been summoned to meet his heavenly father Ra-Herakhte and to become a god himself.
Then the inscription tells how Antinous intercedes with Ra-Herakhte to shower blessings upon Hadrian and the Empress Sabina Augusta.
And Antinous immediately calls upon Hapi ...
Hapi, progenitor of the gods,
On behalf of Hadrian and Sabina,
Arrange the inundation in fortuitous time
To make fertile and bountiful, the fields
Of Both Upper and Lower Egypt!
We joyfully celebrate this, the First Miracle of Antinous!
On July 11th each year, the Religion of Antinous takes a moment to ponder the esoteric reflections in the Well of Castalia at Delphi. On July 11th 2010, this Sacred Feast coincides with the alignment of the Sun and Moon in conjunction for five minutes and 20 seconds, making it the longest TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE of the decade. Solar Eclipses are always highly dramatic cosmic events, harbingers of catastrophe. But that is not all by any means, because ALL of the major planets on this date are involved in extraordinarily significant aspects which make this date a turning point in history. This is the Second Station of Ten Stations in a tumultuous six months which we call the ANTINOUS COSMIC STAR PILGRIMAGE.
The Delphic Well of Castalia offers insights into how we seize the opportunities that this Sacred Pilgrimage lays before us. If you have ever flicked through the Tarot cards and have been mystified by the symbolism of The Star — one of the mythically most mysteriously obscure cards in the whole pack — then you will be gratified to know that the symbolism has been a source of ineffible mystery since ancient times (Tarot image left).
The Well of Castalia is a fresh-water spring that flows from Mount Parnassus at Dephi, the sanctuary of Apollo. The Castalian Spring is located about 500 yards/meters from the Apollo Sanctuary itself. Busloads of tourists are whisked through the ruins of Delphi, but few ever stray away from their groups to wander off over to the spring site, which makes it an even more secluded and magical and mysterious place. It really is like stepping into the scene pictured on the Tarot card at left.
Today you can still see a rectangular square basin of about 9x3 meters/yards, hewn out in the hard soil. Next to it is a long reservoir which was fed by a small waterfall of spring water which gushed from two rocks known as the Pheriads. The reservoir collected the water before it was fed to seven jets, which had the shape of lion heads. The water was also used to sprinkle the temple of Apollo.
The spring was created when Pegasus, the winged horse, struck his hoof against a rock at the base of Mount Parnassus and water gushed forth, creating a wellspring of divine inspiration for the gods of Olympus.
The name Castalia is derived from a Nymph named Castalia, a daughter of the river Achelous, who, when pursued by Apollo, threw herself in the spring that took her name. It was the most holy spring at Delphi and was said to be the place where Apollo and the Muses bathed.
It was also believed that the God Apollo had once chased the nymph Daphne into the Tempe Canyon, which is the dramatically steep rift between Olympus and Ossa which forms a natural pass between Macedonia and Greece.
But as in mortal dreams, when he was just about to seize her, she transformed herself into a form which defied his amorous desires — a laurel — which Apollo then transplanted from this canyon to the Castalian Spring at the foot of Mount Parnassus.
The sacred tradition of wearing laurel wreaths comes from the tree at the foot of Mount Parnassus. There may indeed have been an ancient cult for a laurel-like tree at the spring. There appears to have been a statue for Ge, Mother Earth, as well.
In other words, it was an incredibly sacred place where you could tap into the magical inspiration of the divine muses of Olympus. After all, Apollo himself bathed here.
Pilgrims washed in the sacred water before visiting the Pythoness at the Delphic Oracle. According to Euripides, washing one's hair was sufficient for the average visitor, but persons who had transgressed more seriously against the Gods (he mentions habitual murderers as an example) had to strip off and wash themselves completely in the purifying waters.
The ancients believed the name Pegasus came from an even more ancient word meaning "wellspring of magical inspiration" and it was said that Pegasus was drinking from the Castalian Pool when Bellerophontes (or in later versions Perseus) sneaked up on him to harness Pegasus to do battle against fearful monsters.
In the Delphic Mystery Teachings, the initiates were called upon to harness the magical inspiration of Pegasus for their own indomitable quest against the inner-demons of darkness towards spiritual enlightenment.
It was also said that the water of Castalia possessed the gift of prophecy, and any man who drank there would derive prophetic vision. Castalia is also a metaphor for the Well of Knowledge, and was said to be the fountain from which wisdom and learning poured from the heart of Apollo.
We know that Hadrian and Antinous visited this spot and it seems certain that Antinous purified himself in these waters — or at least washed his luxuriant hair.
An exquisite statue of Antinous was discovered at Delphi. The forearms had been broken off, but the ancient priests had lovingly buried the statue standing upright — which was the way it was found in the 19th Century, incredibly intact except for the missing forearms.
Alas, Antinous would drown in the similarly magical waters of the River Nile only a few scant months after visiting Delphi, during what we call the imperial "Three-Year Peregrination" — the wondrous and fateful final three-year Eastern Empire travels of Hadrian and Antinous.
Flamen Antinoalis Antonius Subia explains why this special day, July 11th, is venerated by us Antinoians:
"We venerate the wisdom-gushing Well of Castalia on this day, half a year distant from the Well of Juturna, and bathe in preparation for the transition of the Peregrination year. We pray to Castalia to sweeten our tongue, as Antinous once bathed there, exposing the pure beauty of his flesh to the cold, fresh-gushing pool that imparts inspiration of the mind. In reverence of the wisdom and poetic elegance of Antinous, we bathe in our own Fountains of Castalia."
The imagery of this purifying plunge into the magically inspiring waters of the Castalian Well has been used throughout history — even adorning the walls of early Christian churches, as seen in the mosaic (at right) found in Libya.
The imagery lives vibrantly in the XVIIth Greater Trump in the Tarot as The Star.
Right now, ANTINOUS THE MOON GOD is aligned with the Sun during an extraordinarily historic "Astrological Grand Square" of major planets. This eclipse is visible across the South Pacific and South America as ANTINOUS THE MOON GOD merges as one with his heavenly father Ra-Herakhte in the emotionally intuitive, watery depths of the Sign of Cancer. This is The Beauteous Boy's way of inviting you to lift your Inner Eye towards the STAR OF ANTINOUS and open your Mind to the Infinite.
Open your Mind and your Heart to the Mystery Teachings of Delphi. Permit yourself to be carried aloft upon the magical wings of Pegasus, whose name means "wellspring of magical inspiration". Become one with Antinous through the wonder of HOMOTHEOSIS and allow yourself to conquer your demons and to soar to glory amongst the stars.
On July 8th and 9th the Religion of Antinous commemorates the Ascension and Consecration of Hadrian. And on July 10th we commemorate his death and Apotheosis.
Hadrian was declared Emperor by the Legions when Trajan died suddenly while campaigning in Parthia on August 8th, 117. Hadrian had been on tenterhooks for years wondering whether Trajan would formally adopt him as his heir. If Trajan died without the issue of succession being settled, it could result in civil war — or at least in the assassination of Hadrian by some other ambitious man.
It is said that the Divine Empress Plotina forged the will of her husband and gave the throne to Hadrian, who had been her protégé and friend for years.
After assuming power, Hadrian first settled the conflict with the Persian King, signing a peace treaty that was to last through the whole of his reign. As Trajan's military representative in the provinces, he had seen how the empire was beginning to over-reach its resources. So he set about consolidating things in the East, lest his Empire become embroiled in the sort of chronic blood-letting that modern superpowers now seek to extricate themselves from in that same region.
It is also said that he wanted to let the political dust settle back in Rome before returning to a city where his critics were waiting. Many thought him unfit. Hadrian was Hispanic — literally so. He was born in the province of Hispania and spoke Latin with a provincial "Hispanic accent" which was the cause of much derision by high-born Patricians when he was sent to Rome as a boy to be educated. He never liked Rome and, throughout his reign, spent as little time there as possible.
Settling other matters in the East, Hadrian waited a full year before returning to Rome, and on July 9th, 118, he entered the Holy City and was formally and ritually installed as Emperor by the Senate. He was then consecrated as Pontifex Maximus, highest priest of the Roman Religion, and head of all foreign cults.
He inherited from the warrior-king Trajan the largest empire that the western world had ever known — Rome at her greatest size and strength — and he wisely chose not to continue to expand the frontiers, but to turn instead to the development of the interior.
He visited every province, traveling more than any other emperor before or after, dedicating his power to art, literature, legal reform and the promotion of peace, prosperity, and the united religious consciousness of Roman citizenship after his beloved Athenian model.
Flamen Antinoalis Antonius Subia says the following about this Sacred Day in our Liturgical Calendar:
"On this day, Imperator Caesar Traianus Hadrianus Augustus was to assume responsibility as the spiritual leader of the Empire, Father of the Country with a vigor unparalleled by his predecessors, and was to be one of the foremost builders of cities, temples, and public structures world-wide. For his love of Antinous and the extraordinary gesture of deifying our god, we worship and venerate Hadrian as the founder of our faith and as our immortal father, the lover of Antinous."
On July 10th the Religion of Antinous commemorates the Apotheosis of Hadrian. After a prolonged illness, at Baiae, on the Bay of Naples, Hadrian died on July 10, 138. His ashes were placed in the mausoleum on the bank of the Tibur that is now called Castel Sant'Angelo.
After the death of the gentle Antinous, Hadrian became embittered and mistrustful, capricious and cruel. When Hadrian died, the Senate wished to condemn his memory for atrocities committed against them during his final years. But his successor, Antoninus Pius, persuaded them to declare Hadrian a God. A temple was build for him known as the Hadrianeum on the Campus Marius, the remains of which are now part of the Roman Stock Exchange.
Flamen Antinoalis Antonius Subia explains:
"Hadrian the God is venerated as the manifestation of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on Earth, the ruler and guiding force behind the Antonine Dynasty, the most sacred family of emperors, whose reign is the Golden Age of Rome, because of the peace and prosperity that it maintained, which was the result of the wisdom of Hadrian's far-sighted and divine plan stretching out over the world. We worship and adore Hadrian the God, Savior of the Cosmos."
There is an Antinous flower, a red lotus called the Antinoeios. And there is an Antinous tarantula, called Pamphobeteus antinous. There is a Star of Antinous and even an Antinous asteroid.
But only collectors of antique photographic equipment have ever heard of the Antinous remote shutter-release cable for a roller-blind camera.
At the start of the 20th Century the British camera-maker Watson Edwards brought out the "Antinous", a revolutionary new wire-cable which replaced the traditional rubber bulb squeeze release which had been problem-prone. Sometimes when you squeezed the rubber bulb it failed to trigger the shutter. But the "Antinous" always worked. It revolutionized professional photography on the early wooden cameras.
In a classic book on stereoscopic photography for use in "science, industry and education" written prior to 1935, an authority with the Royal College of Science in London laments that most camera shutter release knobs or levers are so badly located that there is a tendency to shake the camera in releasing the shutter. Antinous to the rescue!
"Personally," the expert advises, "the use of the antinous release is preferred for hand work; the release of this can be arranged in any convenient position to suit the operator, and there is no tendency to rock the camera."
The Watson Edwards "Antinous" was displayed in 1905 at the Royal Photographic Society's 50th Annual Exhibition as being practical and handy, since it could roll flat to fit "in the tiniest pocket cameras". Today the "Antinous" shutter release is a prized part of any collection of vintage British photographic equipment.
The June Solstice is one of the most sacred days in the Liturgical Calendar of the Religion of Antinous. It is the day when Ra Herakhte, the heavenly father of Antinous, stands still for a moment. In the Northern Hemisphere it is the Longest Day and from now on the days become shorter and shorter. For our Antinoian brothers in the Southern Hemisphere, this is the Shortest Day and from now on the days become longer and longer.
That is an important aspect to remember about the Religion of Antinous. The Blessed Boy is beyond such constraints as Summer and Winter or even Life and Death. For Antinous, the days are ALWAYS getting longer and the they are ALWAYS getting shorter.
For HE lives in our hearts — wherever we are.
The Solstice occurs before dawn Monday morning (4:28 a.m. California time) or shortly after midday Monday (12:28 p.m. in the UK) or after sunset Monday evening (9:28 p.m. in Sydney where this is the shortest winter day).
It's all the same moment in the dazzling eyes of Antinous, who hovers in our spiritual hearts beyond time and space. But our earthly clocks and calendars show different times and dates and seasons. All moments in time are NOW for Antinous. All points in space are HERE.
The Religion of Antinous celebrates a whole cluster of Sacred Events on this magical day, which we call The Delphinea as a collective term. The Delphinea is the celebration of the beautiful, golden-haired god of light, Apollo, for starters. In antiquity, Antinous was often equated with Apollo.
And then we celebrate the day that Hadrian and Antinous met and fell in love. But on this date we also celebrate the beautiful boy Hyacinthus.
And we celebrate June 21st as the day in the hot summer of the year 130 AD when the Imperial entourage crossed the Sinai desert and entered into Egypt on the final, fateful leg of that final, fateful journey. A year earlier, on this date, they had entered Ephesus in triumph. On June 21st of the year 130 AD, however, they were entering a drought-stricken Egypt (breadbasket of the empire) where the local populace looked to their emperor for a miracle.
That miracle would occur, but at a terrible price. Antinous would plunge into the Nile and drown. The following season, the Nile would inundate the croplands, bringing bounty and abundance once more to Egypt and, as a consequence, to the hungry empire.
The Bountiful Flood of the year 131 is the first of the many miracles attributed to Antinous the Gay God.
And on June 21st of the year 131, Hadrian would commission the OBELISK OF ANTINOUS, the Egyptian hieroglyphic text of which comprises our religion's greatest single document of faith.
But first, back to Apollo and the Solstice! Antinous would be associated with many deities in the generations to come. Among his many names, the Beauteous Boy was adored as Antinous-Apollo.
The glorious image above left shows a modern reproduction of the Apollon Parnopios which has been gilded and fitted with gemstone eyes to show how it might have looked in a temple where a ray of sunlight would have set it ablaze in gleaming light.
The Delphinea is the celebration of the beautiful, golden-haired god of light, Apollo, and of his triumph over the great and monstrous Python which was wrapped around holy mount Parnassus. The Python was the creation of Juno, a creature of jealousy whose coils were meant only to stifle and constrict the grace of that which was to proceed from the Sacred Way of the holy city of Delphi.
Apollo shot the Python and destroyed it, when he was only three days old, which is like the brilliance of the Sun dispelling the covering of night. He set the black stone which had fallen from the sky, called the Omphalos, over the navel of the Earth, and charged a Sibyl, a priestess of the Great Mother to watch over the stone and to convey his wisdom to mankind.
Flamen Antinoalis Antonius Subia explains the significance for us Antinoians:
"The Oracle of Delphi, called a Pythoness, was overtaken while seated atop a golden tripod, by a fire that is the breath of the God. Apollo is the Flower Prince reborn, he is the Twin brother of Dionysus, the Twin brother of Diana. He is the Son of Zeus, and the inheritor of his Kingdom, just as Aelius Caesar was the chosen son of Hadrian.
"Apollo is the God of wisdom and art, the speaker of truth, the deliverer of radiance, reason and beauty. Apollo is the God of Socrates and Plato, and he is the God of Pythagoras who claimed to be his son, exhibiting a golden thigh as proof. Apollo is the unconquered light, the full manifested brilliance, power and wisdom of Orpheus.
"Of all the gods, Apollo is the most boy-loving, though the touch of his heart was invariably fatal. He is the genius of the dying boy-gods. We pray to Apollo, the great god of homosexuality, and seek his guidance on this day, the longest day of the year."
Which segues into the "Incipit Amor". In the year 123, Hadrian toured the Danube region and Asia Minor. It was on this occasion that he met and fell in love with Antinous, in the ancient Bithynian capital city of Nicomedia, according to current research. One portrayal of the event has Hadrian in a garden, surrounded by the youth of the city, hearing a poetry recital.
Antonius tells it this way:
"Towards the back of the crowd, Hadrian notices a boy of extraordinary beauty who did not bring a stylus and tablet for taking notes, but sat removed from the others, silently gazing into the fountain, contemplating the words of the reader, as if in a dream. Hadrian was captivated, and is said to have gained the blessing of the boy's parents to have Antinous join the court, where there were already other boys of Hadrian's interest. Antinous would have been twelve years old. He was then sent to Rome to attend the Paedagogium, a finishing school for boys. This day marks the beginning of the love upon which our religion is based."
The relief sculpture at right shows Hadrian addressing a crowd with a boy who bears a striking resemblance to Antinous foremost in the crowd, touching the robe of the Emperor.
And speaking of beautiful boys, on June 22nd we honor the beautiful boy from Sparta known as Hyacinthus. The astonishing beauty of Hyacinthus and his long, flowing blonde hair was first noticed by Zephyrus, the God of the West Wind. The moisture laden Zephyrus fell madly in love with the boy, and attempted many times to seduce Hyacinth. But every time the boy rejected the wind god, whose breeze is the most lovely and most arousing.
Antonius relates what happened next:
"It was then that Apollo noticed Hyacinthus and fell completely in love with him also. Unlike with Zephyrus, when Apollo revealed his love to Hyacinthus, he was not rejected, but his shining love was returned many fold. The two, who were like twins, whose long, blonde curls, rustled together in the jealous wind of Zephyrus, enjoined a passionate love affair ...
"... until one day, the sight of their happiness proved too much for Zephyrus to endure, and while Apollo and Hyacinthus were throwing the discus together, the wind god sent a gust of air, when Apollo threw the golden disk, causing it to fall directly on the perfect head of Hyacinthus who died instantly from the blow.
"It was all an accident, and a tragedy, but Apollo was beside himself with grief, like Hadrian holding the body of his beloved Antinous.
"The Sun God turned the blood that flowed through the soft curls into the flower that we call the Hyacinth. The Death of Hyacinthus is the divine metaphor for the beauty and tragedy of life taken from the young in their full vigor, falling victim to the accidents of youth. It is also a warning to those who would approach the majesty of the great god Apollo, who is rightfully called the Far-Shooter, and the falling of the golden discus is a sign that the powers of the sun at this time of the year, though at their greatest, are slowly fading. The disk strikes Hyacinth on the head and the days grow shorter."
On June 11th, the Religion of Antinous celebrates the Rise of the Star of Antinous. This is the date in our Liturgical Calendar when the Constellation of Antinous begins to rise over the horizon at sunset. It is visible on the eastern horizon along the banks of the Milky Way.
By Sacred Synchronicity, this June 11th 2010 is the inspirational GEMINI NEW MOON which means this is a moonless night when star-gazing is at its best. Astrologically, Jupiter and Uranus are aligned in Aries, making this night the "most fortuitous" wish-upon-a-star night in many decades!
Wherever you live on this blue marble we call Earth, you can see the Constellation of Antinous on starry nights from mid-June through late October when, in synchronicity with the Death of Antinous in late October, the Star of Antinous descends below the western horizon in the glare of the setting sun.
The Constellation of Antinous is no longer recognized by astronomers (just as Pluto has been demoted to the rank of "dwarf planet"). But it is still visible from any point on Earth nestled between Sagittarius and Capricorn and in the talons of Aquila (the Eagle Constellation) representing the Imperial Eagle which carried Antinous to lofty heights.
The most visible identifiers are the three bright stars of Aquila — Altair at the crown of his head, Tarazad, and Alshain. Alshain is derived from Arabic for "Two Friends" which astrologers have cited as a hint as to how to interpret the Sign of Antinous.
The Star of Antinous is however difficult to see. Most people cannot see it at all. You won't find it on any star chart. Like the Star of Bethlehem, it is a mystery and a conundrum about which many theories have been written.
The simple truth of the matter — and the most beautiful facet of all — is the fact that Hadrian discovered the Star of Antinous with his own tear-filled eyes as he looked skyward in grief after the death of his beloved Antinous. Distraught and weeping, the emperor stood under the canopy of the star-studded heavens and looked up the River Nile towards the spot where his Beloved Boy had died. And he saw a new star which he recognized as a celestial sign that the gods had taken Antinous to be one of them.
You have to realize that Hadrian was a keen astronomer/astrologer himself. He knew the heavens like the back of his hand and he was so adept at casting horoscopes that it was said he had determined the exact hour of his death. He built an observatory at his sumptious villa outside Rome. And the tour of Egypt had brought him into contact with the finest Egyptian magician/priests, one of whom taught him how to cast a binding spell which could give him dream-visions and could also cause someone to fall hopelessly in love with him or — depending on how it was cast — even cause that person to die in agony.
Hadrian was that sort of control freak. Despite the fact that he was the mightiest man on Earth who could send a man to death on a whim (and did so, on occasion), he also wanted control over the future. And he wanted to be able to force someone to love him and never, never leave him.
Much has been theorized about that magical spell, which was sold to Hadrian for a princely sum by the Heliopolis magician/priest Pancrates, who even demonstrated its efficacy by destroying a man right in front of the emperor's eyes. This is believed to be the same Pancrates who wrote a poem about Hadrian and Antinous and The Sacred Lion Hunt, during which Antinous very nearly died, but was saved at the last second by Hadrian.
Yes, much has been written about these events and about Hadrian's obsession with magic and astrology and soothsayers. Why would the most powerful man in the world need a death spell? Whose love would he possibly seek to bind to himself for all eternity? We know that similar love spells were a specialty of the later magician/priests at the Great Temple of Antinoopolis founded on the site where the Boy drowned.
Had the ageing emperor attempted to cast a love spell which tragically backfired and resulted in the death of the spell's intended subject? We shall never know ....
Whatever transpired, Antinous died under circumstances which were as mysterious as they were tragic. And Hadrian was consumed with grief which traumatized him to such a degree that the rest of his reign was marked by erratic judgement and unpredictable outbursts of rage.
Up until the year 130 his reign had been marked by peace and prosperity and humanity. Hadrian was well on his way towards fulfilling his dream of transforming the Roman Empire from a collection of provinces held together only by military force into a very modern-style, multi-culti society united by shared cultural and social values of tolerance and fairness. He was aiming for a kind of cultural globalism. And he was very close to succeeding ....
But after the traumatic events in October 130, the last eight years of his reign were marred by an ill-advised war against the Jews and by capricious cruelty which sullied his reputation for all time.
After Antinous died, Hadrian went slightly mad with grief.
Something in Hadrian died when Antinous died. A light went out. Hadrian spent the rest of his life seeking that Light of Antinous. He created the Religion of Antinous after his own romantic vision of the ideal religion. Like many romantic gay men, Hadrian idealized an era and a society — Classical Greece — to such a degree that his fantasy Classical Greece was far grander than the real thing had ever been. You all know what I mean. We've all seen gay men who collect Victoriana and who turn their homes into lavish 19th Century mansions — quite forgetting the fact that the Victorian Age was marked by repression, disease, exploitation, colonial tyranny and so on.
The Portuguese have a word for this: "saudade". It is an untranslatable word for a melancholy feeling of wistful longing for something (or someone) which was too wonderful, too fantastic, too perfect ever to have really existed.
Hadrian spent his life in search of spiritual enlightenment, having himself initiated into the Mysteries of Eleusis and Dionysus and other cults and also conferring with philosophers and magician/priests.
Hadrian was obsessed with astrology/astronomy and magic and a highly idealized vision of recreating Hellenistic cultural values in the world — and with a religion which would enable everyone in the world to bring this vision to life in their own hearts. He wanted to find that Light of Antinous (his idealized religion of love and beauty) and he wanted everyone to find that Light of Antinous.
Saudade — the quest for something so beautiful, so romantic, so splendid that it defies physical reality and can exist only in the perfect realm of the place the Egyptians called Sep Tepy (the "Initial Moment" of Creation) or the Classical Greeks called Olympus — the realm of the immortal gods, beyond time and space.
So Hadrian looked into the nighttime skies and discovered a new star to point the way to that new religion. As a scholar and man of science he was able to see it with his own two eyes. Perhaps it was a super-nova which flared and then went out — who knows? He saw it and his court astronomers confirmed it and the Constellation of Antinous was recorded in the star charts for 19 centuries to come.
But more importantly, Hadrian discovered the Star of Antinous shining in his heart. The Death of Antinous showed him a way to make his saudade vision of the perfect religion a reality on Earth. It was the Light he was seeking. It was the Light of Antinous.
So when you look up into the nighttime skies tonight in search of the Star of Antinous, don't be surprised if you can't find it with your physical eyes. You can't find it in physical space, which is why Arch Priest Antonyus Subia calls it the Dark Star of Antinous. Look inside your heart and you will find it shining there with all the saudade beauty of a dream of perfection.
Lumen Antinoi Adiuva Nos! (Light of Antinous, Sustain Us!)
Fans of noted scholar and mystery writer Ben Pastor's award-winning historical novels will be glad to know that her latest book has just been published in Italy and will soon be available in English. The Stone Virgins (Le Vergini di Pietra) is the third historical mystery adventure in Pastor's Aelius Spartianus series, which started with The Water Thief about the search for the Lost Tomb of Antinous and continued with The Fire Waker.
The third installment takes Aelius Spartianus — a true-life soldier/historian who wrote an official biography of Hadrian — on a sleuthing mission deep into the mountains of ancient Armenia. As always with a Ben Pastor book, Spartianus not only cuts through the Gordian Knot of a baffling murder mystery but also provides the reader with brilliant insights into life in Imperial Rome on the historical cusp between Paganism and Christianity.
Fans of the first book in the series will be delighted to learn that the new book embellishes details of plot and character in The Water Thief. Many of you who love the Blessed Boy have read The Water Thief — and if you haven't, you should do so because it portrays the Religion of Antinous in its full bloom at the turn of the 4th Century AD. Much of the action is set in the Sacred City of Antinoopolis, and even inside the most sacred precincts of the Great Temple itself.
In 2008 the Spanish translation of The Water Thief won the prestigious Premio internacional de la novela historica Ciudad de Zaragoza, Spanish literature's premiere award for historical fiction.
A delightful and witty person with feet in two continents, Ben Pastor was born in Rome, but her career as a college instructor and writer requires that she divide her time between the United States and Italy, where she is researching further sequels to The Water Thief and is also currently involved in an archaeological dig.
Author of the internationally acclaimed Martin Bora war mysteries set in Nazi-occupied Europe, her books have been published in the United States, Italy, Germany, Spain, Poland and the Czech Republic.
Ben Pastor's Martin Bora series focuses on a thoroughly scrupulous Wehrmacht military criminal investigator surrounded by thoroughly unscrupulous characters. And with her Spartianus books, she shows she is just as much at home with the Legions in Ancient Rome. She is indeed a master at the craft of writing a mystery that is more than a mystery and a historical novel that is more than a historical novel.
In fact, her books defy easy categories. The murder mystery plots, while riveting, are only part of the fun of reading her books. She has an incredible eye for detail and for precise time and place. Each event corresponds to a calendar date. Each setting is an authentic place. When Ben Pastor describes a rain cloud on the horizon, you half-suspect she consulted an ancient almanac to verify the weather on that day in the year 304 in the vicinity of Oxyrhynchos.
Above all, her characters are vividly drawn and fully complex human beings. Her dialogue is superb. The characters are never one-dimensional, never all-good or all evil, never entirely what they appear to be on the surface — just like all of us. Spartianus is a tolerably decent and honorable man who finds himself in perfectly intolerable situations. And as in all her novels, even the minor characters are fleshed out. There are always a couple of intriguing eccentrics.
In The Water Thief there is the outrageous tranny whore Cleopatra Minor, who spins a yarn about how Hadrian discovered Antinous as an 11-year-old toy boy at a male brothel on the Bay of Naples. And in the sequel The Fire Waker, we have the nymphomaniac Helena who uses the wiles of her body in a bid to bring her son Constantine to the throne. The reader knows, of course, that the man-hungry, sluttish Helena will one day be honored as a Christian saint.
And in The Stone Virgins Spartianus encounters a down-and-out male whore/entertainer named Lollius Pica who provides a vital clue to the identity of an elusive, phantom-like satrap in the wild and haunted hills of farthest Armenia.
The Water Thief has the added benefit of being the first novel in half a century to focus on Antinous the Gay God. Read it and, like me, you will have vivid dreams of Antinous. He stood in front of me (as Spartianus observes) "with a golden wreath in his hair, and with a face grey-eyed and lovely and tranquil, which no astonishment or pain seemed ever to have marred".
Set in the year 304 AD, it tells of Aelius Spartianus, the true-life army officer/scholar who was commissioned by Emperor Diocletian to do research on his predecessor the Divine Hadrian, who had died nearly two centuries earlier.
It is while delving into the mystery of the death of Antinous and while trying to learn the whereabouts of the Lost Tomb of Antinous that the officer stumbles onto evidence of a letter penned by Hadrian uncovering a covert conspiracy to bring down the Empire — a conspiracy that is still very much at work in 4th Century Rome. As he comes ever closer to finding the answer to the death of Antinous, the conspirators' efforts to thwart him become ever more violent, resulting in numerous brutal murders and attempts on his life.
The book opens in Antinoopolis, where Aelius Spartianus (who actually existed and actually wrote a biography of Hadrian) begins his search for the Lost Tomb of Antinous.
Ben's Antinoopolis is a lively city of gay bathhouses and bejeweled gay priests (laden with eye make up and attitude) and also a city of bitter feuds between Christian hot heads and angry Jews and jaded Roman provincial administrators.
But it is when Spartianus heads to Rome itself that this book really takes off. The author's obvious love for the Eternal City makes her book a joy to read. Her descriptions of Rome are superb. You get a real feel for the teeming city in mid-summer, with all the odors and noise, colors and steamy heat that that implies.
Best of all, for those of us who love and worship Antinous, are the chapters in which Spartianus ensconces himself in Hadrian's derelict villa outside Rome. It is there, as he stares up into the stars at night, that he makes a startling connection between the layout of the villa and the eight visible constellations in the nighttime sky in late October when Antinous died — indicating that Hadrian's obsession with horoscopes and astrology led him to create an earthly universe where time stood still at the death of Antinous.
Did Hadrian's belief in astrological fate compel him to have Antinous killed? Or did Antinous take his own life in a bid to fulfill his astrological fate? Or was it more mundane? Did he and Hadrian have a lovers' tiff that ended tragically? Was he done in by young male rivals intent on gaining Hadrian's affections for themselves? Or was something even more sinister at work? And why is someone desperate to prevent Spartianus from finding out what happened to Antinous all those years ago?
For those of us who love Antinous, the Aelius Spartianus books are a joy to read. Ben works in many small and obscure details which are well known to his modern-day followers. To give just one example, Spartianus expends a great deal of effort trying to locate and decipher the OBELISK OF ANTINOUS, which today stands in a park in northwest Rome is the focus of much current research.
The Obelisk's key inscription, which is the focus of modern experts seeking his tomb, says that Antinous "rests in this place which is in the Border Fields of Our Lady Rome". Just as today's researchers have puzzled over the meaning of that phrase, Ben's protagonist must also make sense of it — and he arrives at a startling answer that almost costs him his life and jeopardizes future of the Empire.
There are numerous gay characters and they emerge as well-rounded and believable characters, especially the flamboyant Egyptian gays who find themselves unwittingly the target of unscrupulous killers in their very midst.
The tales of Antinous and Hadrian which unfold as the investigation progresses are a true pleasure to read, if only because they are all so contradictory and often far-fetched — precisely as they are to today's researchers. Aelius Spartianus must work his way through this thicket of tall tales and outright lies and defamations in order to determine precisely what sort of persons Hadrian and Antinous were — in order to save the Empire two centuries after their deaths.
One of the more outlandish tall tales is told to him by the Roman hustler Cleopatra Minor who claims to have frequented a notorious whorehouse which specializes in boys for aristocratic customers whose villas line the Bay of Naples. Cleo claims it is "well-known there" that Antinous was a boy prostitute who had just arrived from Bythinia and "had barely become accustomed to his little bed" when Hadrian stopped by the whorehouse and took a fancy to him.
There are lots of other, equally intriguing characters in this book. But the most intriguing character of all, of course, is the one character who cannot take active part in the plot but whose presence is felt at every turn of the plot:
Though the 4th Century murders take center stage in the story, this book actually is more concerned with telling the story of Antinous and Hadrian and their abiding love affair which spans the gulf of the centuries.
As you read the novel, you get a growing awareness of Antinous as the living, breathing, three-dimensional human being that he must have been in life. The more Spartianus looks into the life of Antinous, the more he becomes obsessed with the Blessed Boy. He simply has to find that tomb, even if it means his death and the downfall of Rome.
I won't give away the thrilling ending, except to say that, when Spartianus finally "exchanges glances" with Antinous (in a manner of speaking), he is overcome with emotion — and the reader finds it hard to hold back the tears.
This is the finest historical novel about Antinous since Marguerite Yourcenar's Mémoires d'Hadrien. Particularly if you are an adherent of his modern-day religion, you'll come away with new insights and new theories of your own about the mystery of the life and death of Antinous — and his place amongst the stars.
If nothing else, after putting down the book before falling asleep, you'll dream of the Blessed Boy.
And when you learn the identity of the Water Thief, you'll realize that this insidious foe is stealthily at work in your own life today, just as in the life of Antinous and of the Roman Empire. Ben Pastor's Aelius Spartianus novels are perfect summertime reading for anyone interested in Antinous, in Imperial Rome and in crime fiction.
Worshippers of Antinous tend to be animal lovers. Perhaps it is because Antinous and Hadrian both are known to have loved animals. Hadrian even erected a tomb to his favorite horse. Horses, dogs, cats, pet birds — many members of ECCLESIA ANTINOI have beloved animal companions, or have had at various times in our lives.
Dogs are especially popular. Antinous also apparently loved dogs, and a dog affectionately looks up at Antinous while he is harvesting grapes in the relief at left.
Antinous no doubt was familiar with the Haralez, the beneficent canine spirits of the remote mountains of his native Bithynia and Armenia. While the mountain mythology of that region possesses many heroes, monsters and spirits, the Haralez have always been the most beloved. The Haralez assume canine form and guide and protect humans in peril. Few people in modern-day Turkey know of the Harelez, and indeed, these Celtic myths were fading by the time Antinous was born in the 2nd Century AD. But he might have heard oldtimers speak of how, when a valiant man falls in battle, the Haralez comes to his rescue and, by licking his wounds, restores him to life. The popularity of the Haralez never died out completely. Even today, Armenian folk tales mention the "perpetual lickers" who restore life to the dead.
On May 22nd, appropriately, the Religion of Antinous honors all faithful dogs who guard us and protect us and lick our wounds.
May 22nd is the Ancient Roman festival of Canis Erigoneius (Feast Day of the Dog of Erigone) which honors the she-dog Maira and her elderly master Icarius and his daughter Erigone.
This doggy feast day is not to be confused with the other Ancient Roman feast day each year when a dog would be crucified as a warning to all watchdogs not to fall asleep on the job. That was what happened once when the Gauls defeated a Roman Legion and marched undeterred on the city of Rome itself. The city's terrified residents fled in all directions. Total evacuation of a major city is impossible.
A few people stayed behind (mostly the infirm, elderly and pregnant mothers-to-be) and sought refuge with a few soldiers and Vestal Virgins atop the Capitoline Hill, where the city's vast treasure was stored in the Temples of Zeus, Juno and Minerva. Food was running low and the Sacred Geese of Hera looked very tempting but the Vestals warned that the goddess would not condone their slaughter. Spare the geese, and you spare Rome! Slaughter the geese, and Rome is lost!
The Gauls were intent on getting their hands on that treasure, so one night the Gauls crept up the slopes of the hill undetected, the hunger-weakened soldiers and watchdogs having dozed off. Only the plump Sacred Geese of Juno raised the alarm and roused the soldiers, who managed to stave off the Gauls and hold out until reserve Legions could arrive to retake the city and drive out the Gauls.
Needless to say, the dozy guards and watchdogs were punished severely — thrown off the Tarpeian Rock to their deaths. And after that, the Romans annually crucified a dog to make sure no watchdog forgot the lesson. Meanwhile the Sacred Geese were pampered to death, dying of arteriosclerosis and avian gout from over-eating.
But on the feast day of Canis Erigoneius, the Ancient Romans turned sentimental and pampered their dogs in remembrance of the faithful she-dog whose devotion to her master and mistress triumphed over death itself. Like so many holidays (both ancient and modern), it was a day to get falling-down drunk because the story involved Dionysus and the gift of wine to mankind.
It is the stuff that prime-time premium cable TV miniseries are made of: A kindly old man throws a party for his neighbors, who get completely hammered and end up murdering their host in a drunken frenzy. Afterward, they bury his body in a secret location, making off with his fortune and killing each other for their "fair" shares.
Ah! But the old man's faithful dog finds the secret grave under a tree and digs up his body. His daughter sees the grisly corpse and hangs herself in grief from the tree where the grave is located. The dog sits by both bodies, dutifully protecting them from anyone who approaches so that the dog has to be killed in order for authorities to dispose of the corpses.
That is the story in short. It could well be adapted as a forensic police mini-series except for the fact that the god Antinous-Dionysus plays a leading role. The full story is that kindly old man Icarius had been hospitable to the god Antinous-Dionysus and so, in gratitude, the God had given him a cutting of the finest wine grape vine in the universe.
With it, Icarius had been able to produce the mother of all wines, which was so potent that the neighbors who tasted it all came down with such severe alcohol poisoning that they became isanely envious of his fortune and desirous of his voluptuous daughter that they murdered Icarius — to get the Gift of the God.
Antinous-Dionysus was so outraged at what happened that he slapped a virulent curse on everyone in the neighboring countryside. He sent a plague of violent illness and delirious madness over the entire region. If they thought they had been poisoned from the divine wine, they REALLY got sick out of their minds this time.
In addition, all the unwed female offspring of the district spontaneously hanged themselves from the nearest tree. This is the origin of the biblical Grapes of Wrath.
Icarius was immortalized as the constellation Bootes, Erigone was placed into Virgo along with Persephone, and the dog Maira was placed in the Canis Minor.
Flamen Antinoalis Antonyus Subia relates the story in detail, concluding with the words, "Antinous, who is the New Dionysus, gives us the power of the dog Maira to find the buried mystery of his wine-giver."
For that is the Mystery Teaching of this myth. Icarius died and was dug up and raised to the heavens. He was "Twice Born" (Dio-Nysus) just as the god Antinous-Dionysus was born twice. As a foetus, Dionysus was taken from his mother's womb at the point of death and was sewn up in the upper groin-thigh of Zeus so that he could grow to full term — and was born a second time by the King of the Gods.
Similarly, Antinous was born of mortal woman but died and was reborn as a god at the proclamation of Hadrian in his capacity as the earthly Zeus.
Ah! But that's not all for us dog-lovers!
This is where Hermanubis comes into the story. In the 2nd Century AD the Religion of Antinous was thriving at the same time that the cult of Hermanubis was spreading to Rome. The Romans thought of Hermanubis as a merging of Hermes the messenger god and Anubis the Egyptian god of the dead.
But as so often, the Greeks hadn't translated the glyphs correctly and the Romans had blindly trusted the Greeks. In fact, the name Hermanubis is from the Egyptian Heru-M-Anpu, which means Horus-as-Anubis.
Rightly or wrongly (perhaps with the intercession of Hermes the Trickster), the Greco-Egyptian magician priests of Hermopolis understood that Hermanubis combined the cunning canine qualities of nocturnal scavenging (like a Mexican coyote) to emerge at dawn triumphant — like Horus the Sun God.
Woshippers of Hermanubis underwent initiations in which they discovered the "Anubic Light" which led them out of the darkness of their earthly existence. For a while, the cult of Hermanubis was very popular in Rome and there were great statues of Hermanubis. But a scandal of some sort resulted in the total suppression of the worship of Hermanubis in the city of Rome. No one knows why.
But his worship continued in the provinces, particularly in Egypt, where Anubis was quickly supplanted by Hermanubis — combining Horus and Anubis — Light Emerging from Death.
If you look closely at the Tondo of the Two Lovers, the portrait shows two men who are clearly worshippers of both Antinous and Hermanubis.
Antinous was worshipped at Antinoopolis on the East bank of the Nile, directly across the river from Hermopolis, where Hermanubis was worshipped on the West bank of the Nile. The two gods were clearly "neighbors" and were closely enough related to each other that they were both considered compatible for helping someone to become "Twice Born" and to triumph over death.
Ironically, Hermanubis is still worshipped around the world, although few of his worshippers are even faintly aware of that fact. The Egyptians never lost their love for the dog-headed god who carried the young Horus over the heavenly Nile each night towards the Dawn of Eternal Life. Over the centuries, Hermanubis lost his doggy ears and became totally humanoid. As Christianity became the religion of the empire, the boy Horus became the boy Jesus. Hermanubis was no longer called Hermanubis, but rather Christophorus — Christ Bearer.
But the symbolism never changed. He is still the faithful spirit-being conveying the Boy God safely through the deadly waters of the Nile.
The question for us worshippers of Antinous is whether that little boy on his shoulders in Horus/Jesus — or is he just possibly Antinous?
That would give a whole new interpretation to the Tondo of the Two Lovers. Perhaps the artist was trying to tell us that, for the citizens of the Sacred City of Antinoopolis, the Blessed Boy Antinous had come to replace the Boy God Horus, and that Hermanubis was involved in lifting Antinous out of the deathly Nile and carrying him towards the Shore of Eternity.
That is certainly something to consider next time you see a plastic St. Christopher statuette on a car dashboard. It isn't Christopher carrying Jesus, but rather Hermanubis carrying Antinous!
If you listen carefully, you can hear Antinous/Hermanubis/Christopher giggling boyishly in the background at our very mortal mistranslations and miscommunications — which seemingly uncannily turn out to be very uncannily correct!
On May 6th, the Religion of Antinous commemorates the book burnings and the ransacking of the world's first gay scientific institution — foreshadowing the Gay Holocaust.
Seventy-seven years ago, on this day in 1933, the Nazis stormed and shut down the Institute for Sexual Science which had been founded by Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld in Berlin in 1919. In collaboration with the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, the institute was founded for the research of human sexology, primarily for the purpose of repealing "Paragraph 175", which was the German Law that made homosexual acts illegal.
The work of the institute was a reflection of the widespread gay liberation that prevaled in Germany after World War I. It was specifically targeted by Adolf Hitler as one of the foremost "degenerate depravities of the Weimar Republic" which the Fuehrer vowed to eradicate.
Next week, on May 14th, the Religion of Antinous celebrates the feast day of Saint Magnus Hirschfeld. The man called the Father of Gay Liberation died on May 14, 1935, in exile in Nice, France, an embittered and broken man.
He died on his 63rd birthday. A life that had started out with such lofty ambitions ended in disillusionment. He was of Jewish ancestry and began his career as a medical doctor but very soon devoted his life to the study of homosexuality.
In 1897 he founded the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, which was an organization whose publication, called The Yearbook of Intermediate Sexual Types, was devoted to the repeal of "Paragraph 175", a law passed by the Reichstag in 1869.
The work of the committee included ongoing lobbying supported by the scientific studies of Dr. Hirschfeld into human sexuality. This study culminated in the formation of the Institute for Sexual Science in 1919.
Dr. Hirschfeld spent the majority of his career writing and lecturing around the world on the nature of homosexuality and other "intermediate" sexual types, including cross dressers. The word "transsexual" was coined by Dr. Hirschfeld to describe the phenomenon that he argued was a natural extension of human sexuality.
His philosophy centered on the contention that there was a third sex, called the Uranian, which was neither male nor female, but a combination of both that was manifested in homosexuality, which was not to be considered an impure deviation, or even as an illness, but as a natural and phenomenal component of human nature.
For his work, the Nazis targeted Dr. Hirschfeld as an example of decadent Bolshevistic/Jewish influence infecting the purity of the German people, luring the Aryan race into impure and destructive perversity. He was ultimately driven into exile and burned in effigy as an emblem of evil. His institute was ransacked May 6th and his books were publicly burned in a bonfire on May 10th, 1933.
In another ironic twist, homosexual members of Ernst Roehm's SA Stormtroopers (shown above) hurled these books to the flames in 1933 — and would themselves face persecution and death when Hitler turned against Roehm only a scant year later during the "Night of Long Knives" in June 1934 when Hitler decided that Roehm had become a liability.
The storming of the Institute for Sexual Science was the first step in the persecution of homosexuals, who were later sentenced to labor in the concentration camps, the extreme cruelty of which usually resulted in death.
The symbol of the Pink Triangle, the homosexual form of the yellow star of the Jews, was born after the fall of the forward-thinking Institute. It is the symbol of our repression, just as the rainbow flag is the symbol of our freedom. The storming of the Institute was the beginning of the dark ages which were to last until the riot at the Stonewall in 1969.
If you live near Kansas City, Missouri, you will want to see the dazzling, newly renovated ancient art galleries at the NELSON-ATKINS MUSEUM OF ART which were unveiled to the public in a gala re-launch party this past weekend.
Hadrian and Antonious share center-stage along with an unidentified Roman youth, as shown in this photo from the Kansas City Star in announcing the grand reopening of the galleries. Other finds from the Sacred City of Antinoopolis include an encaustic wax-paint portrait of an Antinoopolis woman which was used as a mummy face-plate.
But the real highlight is an enlarged first gallery that holds the inner and outer coffin of the Egyptian noblewoman Meretites. With dark blue-green walls and a charcoal colored floor, the redesigned gallery has the feeling of a tomb, in keeping with its display of funerary materials.
Exhibition designer Amanda Zeitler created a modified coffered ceiling for the Meretites galleries, which ramps up 2.5 meters (10 feet) as the viewer enters the galleries containing the rest of the ancient collection. It includes some of the best Old Kingdom art in the country as well as ancient Near Eastern work and Greek and Roman art, according to The Star.
Although these galleries retain the former black and gold marble wainscoting, casework and linoleum floors, many of the objects have been moved and made more accessible. New fiber optic lighting adds drama and illuminates details. It is quite an introduction to the beginnings of Western art. "This is where the museum really starts," curator Robert Cohon told the newspaper.
Members of ECCLESIA ANTINOI all around the world are shifting into a Gay Spiritual High to celebrate two momentous events — the SACRED BOAR HUNT and the SCORPIO FULL MOON. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the Spring Revels are in full swing during May Eve and May 1st in the wake of the SCORPIO FULL MOON on April 28th.
On May 1st we commemorate the arrival of Hadrian and Antinous at the sacred city of Bithynium, the home of Antinous, in the late spring of the year 129. They are depicted on one of the tondos of the Arch of Constantine (shown at left) engaged in a SACRED BOAR HUNT. This hunt takes place in the ancestral forests of Antinous in Phrygia, and its meaning is closely connected to the Sacred Mysteries of Adonis and Freyr.
It represents the full vigor of his strength, courage and skill as a hunter. This festival is a commemoration of the joy of life, in celebration of indulgence and sensual fulfillment. It is the midpoint of the Antinoine Year, in direct opposition to the Death of Antinous in October. The Sacred Boar Hunt represents the pinnacle of the short, sweet and soaring life of Antinous.
For the Wiccans among us, of course, this date has myriad sacred meanings. Yes, there are gay witches among the modern-day worshipers of Antinous. The Religion of Antinous is first and foremost devoted to The Beauteous Boy, of course. For Flamen Antinoalis Antonius Subia and for others of us, our hearts are filled to bursting by ANTINOUS THE GAY GOD all by himself.
But this group also includes Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Wiccans, Hellenists, Kemeticists and followers of all sorts of faiths. I know for a fact that many Antinoians have household altars to Isis, Bes, Cernunnos, Dionysus, St. Mary, the Scorpion Goddess Serket, the Thrice-fold Goddess, Hermes, Apollo and many others. Freyr and the other Norse gods are very much honored by several group members.
So May 1st offers a myriad of Sacred Meanings to The Boy's followers, as does nearly every other special date in our Liturgical Calendar.
Thus the SCORPIO FULL MOON possesses great Sacred Meaning for those of us who quest for Gay Spirituality. This Full Moon generally coincides (more or less) with May Day and represents the hottest and most passionate Rites of Spring. The Taurus Sun beams warmth and fecundity while the Scorpio Moon plunges into the murky depths of raw lust at the razor-sharp borderline between life and death.
For one brief evening, devils dance with angels as the portals between the world of mortality and the world of immortality are flung wide-open. The barriers between those two worlds vanish, as do barriers between the genders.
This is the "truth-or-dare" Full Moon when we confront our "devils". It is all about the Sacred Boar Hunt (spiritually killing and eating the "beast" before it kills and eats you) and about the challenge of turning Fear into Fortitude (through the power of Antinous/Mars and the scorpion goddess) and it is about turning Spiritual Doubts into Spiritual Determination (turning to Our Lady of Death to lead us through darkness).
There seems to be no end to the Fears which reach out and try to close their icy talons around our hearts. Volcanoes are erupting, a vast oil spill threatens the Gulf Coast. Astrologers point to the most malefic planetary alignments in decades and gloomily predict a "Black Summer" of doom. People are losing their jobs or losing their homes. Or they are AFRAID of losing them. People are afraid of losing their life's savings. People are afraid of contracting some deadly disease. Currently it's the "new" Swine Flu. We thought it was gone, but it has re-emerged in a mutated form. A few years ago it was West Nile Fever. Or SARS. Or Ebola. Or AIDS. Or .... well, there's always some headline-grabbing contagion — sort of La Maladie du Jour "the Disease of the Day" — which strikes mortal fear into the hearts of hundreds of millions of people around the world.
In fact, of course, Fear is the deadliest of all contagions. It is the contagion which each of us suffers from every day. I would go so far as to say that fear rules the lives of most people in modern Western societies. We fear being a failure. We fear we are not good enough. We fear what other think of us (or what we THINK other people think of us). We fear losing our livelihoods or our lovers or any of a million other things.
Oftentimes we wake up in the morning and start worrying and being fearful even before getting out of bed. We make ourselves sick. Fear actually brings about pain.
So when I read headlines about La Nueva Gripa Porcina — love that name in Spanish, it sounds so much more exotic than New Swine Flu &mdash I try to remember that most of us have a far greater chance of being involved in a car crash or dying of stress-induced heart disease, or of being knifed by street schizos on the way home from the pub.
Fear and Pain and Worry become so habitual that they become almost comfortable to us. We wake up sick with worry and fear so often (basically every day of our lives) that we can scarcely imagine NOT living in Fear and Pain.
Fear and Pain is a fact of being and one that permeates all of our lives to some degree. Since the fear and hurt we feel may be a part of the experiences that have touched us most deeply, we are often loathe to let them go. It is frequently easier to keep our Fear and our Pain at our sides, where they feel comfortable (like an old pair of shoes) and give us an identity — that of victim — from which we can draw bitter strength.
The Ancient Priests of Antinous were very much aware of the Sacred Magic of transforming Fear and Pain into constructive sacred/magical energies. Those of you who are gay witches know what I am talking about. Fear and Doubt can conjure up the very "demons" which make you Fearful and Doubtful.
We all know that prayer or a magical spell (prayer work and spellwork being one and the same to the Ancient Priests) is an intention that we announce to Antinous in order to create a desired outcome. And we all realize that our every thought is a kind of a prayer or a magical spell. Your "random" thoughts during the day are often little mini-prayers.
Naturally, this includes thoughts of Fear and Doubt as well as of Hope. All thoughts are subtle creative energy. Some thoughts are more focused or repeated more often, gathering strength. Some are written down or spoken (as in a mantra or ritual), giving them even greater power.
Every thought we have is part of a process whereby we cocreate our experience and our reality with the Most Great and Good God. When we use our creative energy unconsciously, we create what is commonly known as self-fulfilling prophecy.
In essence, when we worry, we are repeatedly praying and lending our energy to the creation of something we don't want. We become like the Cowardly Lion praying "I DO believe in spooks, I DO, I DO, I DO!" — in a desperate attempt to banish the very spooks he fears. Any of you who are accomplished spellworkers know that this is a sure-fire, guaranteed way of conjuring up the very things you want to avert.
The Ancient Priests of Antinous knew how insidious Fear and Doubt are and how they block spiritual growth. The simplest antidote to worry is affirmations. Instead of visualizing the horror and pain of coming down with the "new" Swine Flu, why not visualize the triumph of defeating it — or as Antonius Subia says — of spearing the Sacred Wild Boar before it has a chance to sink its rabies-soaked fangs into our thigh.
When we hold these positive thought visualizations, repeat them often, speak them and write them and refer to them throughout our day, we are using focused energy to create positive results.
Naturally, the first thing that came to your mind as you read that paragraph was, "Hernest is full of codswallop in asking me to say stuff like this. It's so silly. It'll never work."
And indeed, it won't work — not as long as you succumb to Fear and Doubt. As any Ancient Priest (or modern-day gay witch) will tell you — your Fear and Doubt effectively sabotage your prayers and meditations and positive visualizations right from the start. You can repeat all the mantras you want, but if what Antonius Subia calls your "Monkey Mind" (Conscious Mind) is constantly repeating the mantra "It'll never work, it'll never work", then you can be sure that it'll never work.
The answer is to convince the "Monkey Mind" to try a new trick. Instead of saying "It'll never work," try saying over and over "It IS working. I feel it working. My positive thoughts gather together with the thoughts and prayers of others in this group, and together we create enough positive energy to heal not only our own lives but the world we share. I feel the love and support from these other beautiful men and women and I am grateful for the ability to co-create with them the sort of life we want — instead of the life we fear."
The Ancient Priests of Antinous were noted for being very skilled healers and spellcasters. They knew first-hand that helping others can be a restorative experience that makes your own heart grow stronger. In channeling your own Fear and Pain into compassionate service and watching others successfully turn Fear into Fortitude, Doubt into Determination, you may feel a sense of Sacred Euphoria that leads to increased feelings of self-worth and optimism.
When your Monkey Mind habitually says, "It'll never work", remember that the Ancient Priests of Antinous are standing right behind you, whispering into your ear: "It IS working ...."
Thus they empower you to plunge the Antinous/Mars Arrows of Fortitude deep into the heart of the SACRED BOAR before it can plunge its Fangs of Fear into your flesh.
Mention the name Livia, and the image pops to mind of a treacherous and vindictive woman, as beautiful as she was wicked and cruel — a kind of Ancient Roman Disney witch. Second wife of the Emperor Augustus and the mother of his successor Tiberius, Livia has been vilified by posterity (most notably by Tacitus and Robert Graves) as the quintessence of the scheming Roman matriarch, poisoning her relatives one by one to smooth her son's path to the imperial throne.
Played by Siân Phillips (left) with viperish glee in the classic BBC TV drama series "I, Claudius", she hissed and writhed through the marble halls of the emperor's palace, leaving corpses in her wake as she ruthlessly intrigued to get her one surviving son, Tiberius, to the Imperial throne — finally even poisoning Augustus himself and forging his will.
Now a new book says Livia was not evil, she was merely a powerful and ambitious woman — and as such, she was damned by male historians. Like Egypt's Hatshepsut, Livia MUST have been a wicked and cruel step-mother who would stop at nothing in her own quest for power. Or so it was claimed by male historians from Tacitus to Robert Graves in the 20th Century. In recent years, Hatshepsut has been vindicated, most notably by historian Joyce Tyldesley. Dr. Tyldesley says Hatshepsut's name was erased from historical records by male successors who feared a "female pharaoh" was a dangerous precedent — dangerous to male domination.
Now it is Livia's turn to be vindicated in the new historiographical book "Empress of Rome: The Life of Livia" by Matthew Dennison. In this elegant and rigorously researched biography, Dennison rescues the historical Livia from the crudely drawn sexist caricature of the popular imagination.
He depicts a complex, courageous and richly gifted woman whose only true crime was not murder but the exercise of power, and who, in a male-dominated society, had the temerity and chutzpah to create for herself both a prominent public profile and a significant sphere of political influence.
As with the life of Hatshepsut, the challenge facing any biographer of Livia is the lack of recorded facts. To handle this problem, "Empress of Rome" tells her story in a series of thematic chapters in roughly chronological order. It makes for riveting reading.
All that we can be certain of is that Livia enjoyed a reputation for probity and traditional values. She seems to have taken care not to interfere in politics, although always on hand to give confidential advice to her husband Augustus. And he has gone on record as having valued her advice.
Dennison convincingly demonstrates in his biography of this much put-upon woman that she hardly needed to resort to poisoning anyone in an age when poor hygiene and lack of antibiotics meant that anyone might die at any time. Reports of poisoning in the Roman empire tended to coincide with epidemics, unrecognised or misunderstood by the unreliable medical science of the day. In some cases Livia was many hundreds of miles away from her putative victims and would have had to hire agents to do the dirty deed for her — an extraordinarily foolhardy risk.
A line of hopeful young noblemen, one after another, was struck down mysteriously. The first was Marcellus, Augustus's nephew, who (probably) died of typhoid fever at the age of 20.
The whisper spread that Livia had administered poison. Similar rumours blamed her for the deaths of her younger son Drusus, the emperor's grandsons Gaius and Lucius Caesar, and even Augustus himself (supposedly she smeared figs on his favourite tree with venom).
Her alleged motive was love for her eldest boy Tiberius, in whose interest she meant to eliminate all competitors for the imperial succession. She was a Claudian and wanted to ensure a Claudian dynasty, or so the story goes. The idea of Livia as serial killer was given new life by Robert Graves in his historical novel "I, Claudius", and she reached a mass audience in the television series of the book, memorably interpreted by Siân Phillips.
Where did Graves get his Livia? The key figure is Tacitus, a Roman historian whose "The Annals Of Ancient Rome" is one of the great masterpieces of historical literature.
Tacitus disliked Livia. In fact he loathed her. Writing slightly more than a century after Livia's heyday, he never directly accused the empress of mass murder but slyly insinuated it with a nudge and a wink. Graves simply fleshed out those insinuations in his historical novel — historical fiction which readers accepted as historical fact.
But Dennison points out that at least two historians of the Roman Empire, who were actually writing at the time, made very few criticisms of Livia. Born in about 58 BC, she came from an upper-class Roman family living under a strict moral code, which was even stricter for women.
They wove a lot. They looked after the household and the education of their children. A contemporary wrote that an ideal wife "can relax with her husband and he can confide all his secrets to her since it is like confiding in himself".
That explains the genuinely close relationship between Liva and Augustus. This doesn't change the fact that she was a Claudian and family dynasties were what really mattered. Octavian Caesar (who became Augustus) married into Livia's Claudian family because it gave him more power. She conveniently left her husband to marry Augustus because he was rich and powerful.
The problem for Livia was that Augustus wanted to create, in essence, a hereditary monarchy. That would exclude her sons by Claudius Nero, and she could have none by Octavian (now dubbed Augustus). That meant the end of the line for the Claudians. The rivals who stood in her way went down like ninepins, although not necessarily by Livia's hand. Marcellus, Augustus's nephew and the first to go, could well have died of typhoid, says Dennison.
Augustus's daughter Julia was exiled to a rocky islet off the Italian coast after Livia fed the puritanical Augustus stories of her wanton immorality. No proof, says the author.
Lucius and Gaius Caesar, grandsons of Augustus, dying abroad mysteriously? Tacitus suggests Livia's "secret hand" but no other historians mention the rumour.
Postumus, another grandchild of Augustus, murdered, while unarmed, by an unknown hand on the islet to which his mother Julia had been exiled? The identity of the killer is still open to debate, we are told.
However, there is little question about the death of Augustus himself. It is a near contemporary historian who records Livia smearing poison on some figs and offering them to him with her own hand.
And there is no question that Livia, skilled in "medicinal potions", lived to be nearly 90 years old — more than twice the average life span. And she did indeed ensure that the Claudians remained in power through Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero. And, of course, it was her grandson Claudius who proclaimed her an immortal goddess, thus absolving her of all earthly misdeeds — whether factual or only fictional.
April 21st is a very special date in the Liturgical Calendar of the Religion of Antinous. This is the day we joyously celebrate The Eroticon.
The ancient festival of The Eroticon is celebrated when the Sun moves into the Sign of Taurus the Bull. But this year The Eroticon is particularly special because Venus is on the cusp of vivacious Gemini and in a beneficent aspect to fiery Leo Mars. This Venus/Mars embrace sends out erotic sparks which will be energizing all of us.
Flamen Antinoalis Antonius Subia knows best what to say on this special day, and I defer to him. I will only mention the highlights for the many new followers of ANTINOUS THE GAY GOD, based on the LITURGICAL CALENDAR.
On this day we honor the great God of Love, Eros-Cupid, in his guise as Antinous-Phanes, the "radiant being of light who emerges from the egg of night".
We also honor the Great God Priapus the divine phallus, the column of male virility, the bestower of the fertility of fields, vineyards, orchards and gardens. Priapus is the axis of the cosmos.
On this date we also commemorate the founding of the city of Rome, Natalis Urbis, personified by the Romans as Our Lady Roma. We celebrate the consecration of her sacred border, and of her birth, and eternal life, and remember that we are her children and we remember the hieroglyphs on the OBELISK OF ANTINOUS which hint at the location of the Lost Tomb of Antinous:
Antinous the God is here!
He rests in this place
Which is in the Border Fields of Our Lady Rome.
And also on this date we remember the Sacred Bear Hunt. While in Mysia in Asia Minor, in the year 129, the court engaged in a Bear Hunt near the city which Hadrian had founded (on an earlier trip) called Hadrianotherae, "Hadrian's hunting ground". It is the modern-day city of Balikesir in a lovely area of wooded forests and lakes in northwestern Turkey.
Hadrian loved animals and is known to have built tombs for his dogs and horses (according to Royston Lambert) and he loved to hunt. Unlike the popular stereotype today of the blood-thirsty hunter who shoots anything that moves, Hadrian was a hunter in the ancient shamanic sense of the word. The same way that the native peoples of North America were. The way that aboriginal peoples everywhere still are. He identified with his prey and understood it and became one with it. Hunting was a form of sacred devotion to Hadrian.
The Bear is the sacred animal of Diana-Artemis, and symbolizes the solitary, forest-roaming character of the Virgin Huntress. In the ferocity of the bear lies the secret of Diana's power, against which Hadrian and Antinous pitted themselves, as shown on the tondo (at right) from the Arch of Constantine.
The grand themes of the Eroticon are Love and Sex and Ferocious Anger. The Beast is always lurking inside of us. The mystery teaching surrounding the Bear Hunt involves getting to know your animal instincts — sex and lust and rage — and to become one with them and to turn them into powerful allies for your spiritual development.Sex and Anger can be powerful allies, since they are filled with energy that we can harness and use to create change in the world. They are two of the most cathartic emotions, and they can also be very effective cleansers of the emotional system.
However, when rage becomes a habit, it actually loses its power to transform and becomes an obstacle to growth. Identifying the role anger plays in your life and restoring it to its proper function can bring new energy and expansiveness to your emotional life.
It is when anger has no outlet and morphs into resentment that it carries with it the potential to cause great turmoil. Like a cornered bear, it turns into a killing machine.
Our feelings — rage, sexual lust, fear — can sometimes present a very challenging aspect of our lives. We experience intense emotions without understanding precisely why and consequently find it difficult to identify the solutions that will soothe our distressed minds and hearts. Yet it is only when we are capable of hunting down our feelings and understanding them and communing with them that we can tame them by finding an appropriate resolution.
We retake control of our personal power by becoming courageous enough to articulate, out loud and concisely, the essence of our emotions. Like a hunter, we spear it and take it home with us instead of allowing it to remain a wild thing which spreads fear and havoc.
Our assuming ownership of the "bear within us" in this way empowers us to shift from one emotional state to another — we can let go of pain and fear and rage and upset because we have defined it, examined the effect it had on our lives, and then we spear it and make it our own. By naming our feelings, we claim the right to divest ourselves of them at will.
Hadrian understood the mystical meaning of the Sacred Bear Hunt.
Antonius Subia has expressed this mystical mystery meaning as follows:
Antinous, under Hadrian's guidance, was an accomplished hunter, indeed it is perhaps his natural skill and bravery in the chase that elevated him to the absolute love and adoration of Hadrian. The Emperor was madly in love with hunters, and Antinous was one of the best. Antinous had perhaps been silently stalking and hunting the Emperor's favor for quite some time, and now, in Asia, in the sacred Hunting Grounds of Hadrian, Antinous closed in on the heart of his prey and captured the Emperor completely. In our commemoration of the Sacred Bear Hunt we recognize that Artemis and Antinous are twin deities, and we seek the Dianic-Artemis-Bear within ourselves.
When we become one with the "bear within us" and when we become one with all our animal instincts and powers (the "monkey" inside us, as Antonyus calls it) then we can harness their power to become one with the Great God of Love, Eros-Cupid, foremost of the Gods of the Religion of Antinous. He is the first impulse upon which the world was created, and he is the beauty and perfection of all creation.
Planning a trip to Spain this summer? Be sure to check out the LIBRERÍA-CAFÉ ANTINOUS (Antinous Café Book Store) in Barcelona.
This cozy shop, filled with the aroma of coffee and pastries, has just been listed among the "Ten Must-See Destinations for Book Lovers" by the travel writer of El País newspaper.
Other must-see destinations on the list include the British Museum Reading Room in London, the Library of Congress in Washington DC and the stunning new Library of Alexandria in Egypt.
Travel writer Ángela Gilabert calls the Librería-Café Antinous a delightful rendezvous meeting place for anyone who loves books. It is not unusual to rub elbows with famous authors there, she says. And while the book store specializes in gay titles, it has a well-stocked selection of books in all other literary genres, she adds.
While you're at it, check out the LIBRERÍA ANTINOUS BLOG to keep yourself posted on readings, book launches and other special events at the store.
The TIME OUT travel guide says: "This large, bright bookshop has an appealing café at the back, an ideal spot in which to check out your purchases (DVDs to postcards, poetry to magazines, art to comics). The shop also has a great selection of nude photobooks."
Spain has a special place in the hearts of all those who love ANTINOUS, of course, because the Emperor Hadrian was himself Hispanic, having been born in ancient Italica near modern-day Seville.
If you keep an eagle eye (an Imperial Roman Eagle's eye) on eBay you may have noticed that a small silver pendant medallion with the very worn-down image of Antinous has just sold for more than $200 dollars.
What would otherwise be a worthless little trinket, less than 2 inches in diameter (5 cms), demands top dollar solely because you can just barely make out the image of the Beloved Boy's profile.
Being silver and at least 30 years old, it is worn down to such an extent that the Boy's features are almost unrecognizable.
I asked Flamen Antinoalis Antonius Subia to assess the authenticity, and Antonius replied with the quip: "It is definitely Antinous, but it looks like Antinous Skeletor."
Look at the hair on the top of his head and you can see that those are indeed classic "Antinous Curls" -- so distinctive that they have their own designation in Art History.
The reverse side of the medallion shows two men looking dreamily into each others' eyes. Though Classical Greek in style, they resemble two gay men wearing forehead sweatbands on a disco dance floor in the '70s -- which is probably when this item was produced. The medallion is actually a whistle. You can blow into the bottom and produce a high-pitched peep. It can be worn as a pendant.
Such whistles are a now almost-forgotten relic from early gay-lib history. During the '60s and '70s, gay men flocked to big US cities and settled into run-down areas such as the Castro in San Francisco, the West Village in New York, West Hollywood in LA, and the South End in Boston -- old neighborhoods where rents were cheap, crime rates were high and you could find a beautiful old Victorian house or a vacant retail space for next to nothing.
Gays moved into these "neighborhoods-in-transition" and created their own gay ghettos. These were very heady days for out-and-proud gay men. Entire neighborhoods became gay-dominated -- with gay restaurants, gay bars, gay shops and all-gay apartment buildings.
These people were called Gay Urban Pioneers -- GUPPIES -- the gay equivalent of YUPPIES (Young Urban Professionals). The GUPPIES assumed they were carving out gay ghettos which would last for all eternity. Of course, urban neighborhoods are volatile and very dynamic things -- they never remain the same for long. Once the neighborhoods became safe and prosperous, new people moved in -- well-educated Asian immigrants, Hassidic Jewish families -- and the aging "ex-GUPPIES" moved out to bucolic suburbia in pursuit of childhood nostalgia.
Which brings us back to the Antinous Gay God Whistle. In those early days, crime rates were horrific and anti-gay violence was routine. In an age before mobile phones, you needed a portable way to call for help.
The movie "MILK" very accurately shows how whistles were used in the early '70s in one such gay ghetto -- the Castro district of San Francisco. Gay men alone on dark streets at night were easy prey for muggers and queer-bashers. Whistles worn as a pendant around your neck became a '70s gay fashion accessory. You wore a whistle -- preferably something stylishly campy in Sterling silver -- and you felt safe. If cornered, you could blow it to summon help. You felt safe in knowing that potential evil-doers would see your big shiny whistle and look elsewhere for a victim.
These whistles were worn constantly. On the dance floor, they were blown in time to the disco beat -- and many disco recordings feature whistle riffs. No Pride Parade would be complete without the ear-splitting sound of thousands of whistles.
So the lucky buyer of this ANTINOUS GAY GOD WHISTLE will soon be holding a piece of gay history in his hands. The features on the medallion whistle are worn because the whistle was worn constantly by someone who prized it, someone who entrusted his safety and well-being to it.
Who knows? Perhaps the whistle's owner was using his final breath to blow it to summon help as someone bashed in his skull.
More likely, however, the whistle served its purpose and did its job and sometime in the '80s it was finally removed and put away in a drawer with other memorabilia of the disco era such as pastel sweatbands and "Aunt Ethyl" club-drug hip-pocket hankies. Perhaps the owner survived the GUPPY era only to succumb to AIDS and the Sterling silver whistle ended up in a box of personal belongings in someone's attic, finally ending up at a flea market -- and eventually making its way to eBay. A totally worthless, worn-down piece of junk. A totally priceless gem of gay history.
The Religion of Antinous observes Valentine's Day on the 14th and also the Lupercalia on the 15th ? two very ancient holidays which both involve love (if not lust and fertility) and both of which have become totally overwhelmed by legend and lore.
As the Fates would have it, overnight Saturday/Sunday is a very romantic VALENTINE'S DAY NEW MOON in Aquarius.
This is the Aquarius New Moon, which is also CHINESE NEW YEAR ? the Year of the Metal Tiger ? a very auspicious year. Romance will be in the air from now through most of next week as Venus (which has just entered dreamy Pisces) strikes up good aspects to Pluto and other planets. The highlight comes on Wednesday when Venus aligns with lucky Jupiter. This creates an itch for love, romance and sex which will need to be scratched. You may also want to take a scratch at a lucky LOTTO ticket since Venus/Jupiter conjunctions bring good fortune with money as well as love!
No one today knows the origins of Valentine's Day and the Lupercalia. Even Hadrian and Antinous would not have known the precise origins of the Lupercalia, although they might well have visited the cave-like grotto ? the Lupercale ? at the foot of the Palatine Hill. And as the fates would have it, experts currently are carrying out an extensive archaeological dig at a site at the foot of the Palatine which they believe is the ceremonial site of the Lupercale grotto where the caesars honored Romulus and Remus. It is intriguing to think that Hadrian and Antinous took part in the rites in this subterranean chamber.
Popular legend mixes Valentine's Day and the Lupercalia together as one. But we Antinoians keep them separate, because of one important and very little-known fact ? that there is a connection between St. Valentinus and Antinous. Here is how our own Arch Priest Antonyus Subia explains it:
"St. Valentinus is the Day of Love. Valentinus was the Gnostic Father who was a bishop of the Catholic Church. He tried to change orthodoxy by introducing the Gnostic speculation. Valentinus was from Alexandria and was there, studying with his teacher Basilides, when the court of Hadrian and Antinous arrived. He believed that Love was the creator of the universe, and the cause for the fall of Sophia, he believed that Jesus came to reverse the fall of Sophia, that Jesus was the consort of Sophia, the Aeon called Christos. The love between them was the reason that Jesus descended to save the world. Valentinus began his teaching in Rome, and gained so much support that he was even nominated for the Papacy but lost by a narrow margin. Eventually exiled for heresy, the Gnostic Father formed his own rival church that became an influential and widespread Gnostic sect, influencing Gnostic thought down to our own time. Because Valentinus was a witness of the Passion of Antinous, and because he attempted to change the Catholic Church, we sanctify his name and venerate him on this sacred day of Eros, the Day of Love."
Hadrian and Antinous probably also observed the Lupercalia, which was one of the most ancient of all religious rites in Ancient Rome. Gay author Steven Saylor, in his epic historical novel ROMA, offers a ribald version of the very first Lupercalia.
Picture it: The 8th Century BCE, a cluster of mud-hut villages in and around a number of hills which are called the "ruma" ("titties") by local wags. Ruma/Roma is nothing but a bunch of bickering clans in rival villages who hate the fact that they are dependent on each other for their mutual livelihood.
In Saylor's novel, two orphaned twin boys are raised in a grotto on the edge of the settlement by a slutty wench who only agreed to take them in so her swineherd "husband" could have help slopping the hogs. Her boobs are so prodigious that her nasty husband has given them names reminiscent of two of the surrounding hills: Romulus and Remus.
This uncouth swineherd gets a good old chortle out of watching her nurse the two infants simultaneously ? and so Romulus and Remus become the boys' names, much to the chagrin of the decent neighbors who look down their noses at the whole family and derisively call the woman the "She-Wolf of the Ruma district" for her sexual wantonness.
In Saylor's novel, young Romulus and Remus become the terror of the neighborhood as they grew into adolescence, bullying other kids and subjecting neighbors to practical jokes and petty thievery.
Just to shock everybody and to get their rocks off, they team up with a third boy (from upstanding parents who are unaware that he hangs out with these yobbos), and the three of them decide to play a really raunchy trick on the local girls.
They find three old moth-eaten animal hides and proceed to strip off buck naked and put on the hides so that the animal faces cover their own. Then they run howling through the district, chasing girls and whipping their backsides with strips of hide ? while making no effort to conceal their teenage hardons, which swing lewdly to and fro as they run.
The result is that the teenage girls have fun squealing and pretending to be frightened. The decent people of Roma get all huffy and say something must be done about Romulus and Remus, since everybody knows it could only have been them, and now they've enlisted the help of a third boy in their lewd carousing, just underscoring what a bad influence they are.
Meanwhile, rival clans enjoy the whole spectacle of their neighbors getting all outraged, and THEY think Romulus and Remus are pretty cool ? that is until R&R raid a more distant settlement where a self-proclaimed king has hoarded a considerable treasure, and they return to Roma with his iron crown and all of his booty after having slit his throat. Suddenly these trashy young thugs are the richest people in Roma and the whole delicate balance of power amongst the clans is thrown out of kilter ....
Well, that's one fictional version of the first Lupercalia. For centuries, a cave-like grotto at the foot of the Palatine was revered as the sacred site where the "She-Wolf" suckled the orphans Romulus and Remus. Young nobles called Luperci, taking their name from the place of the wolf (lupa), ran naked from the Lupercale grotto around the bounds of the Palatine, and used strips of hide to slap the hands or buttocks of girls and women lining the route.
Here is how Flamen Antinoalis Antonyus Subia explains its significance for the Religion of Antinous:
"The Lupercalia is the festival of the wolf mother of Rome, and sacred festival of Antinous Master of Hounds. The Lupercalia remembers the she-wolf who raised Romulus and Remus, twin sons of Venus and Mars, who later founded the city of Rome. The wolf-like nature of the twins and of the Roman character was imparted through the milk of the wolf-mother. The spirit transferred through the loving milk of the ferocious mother is celebrated on this day, and is integral to the concept of Antinous the Hunter. Antinous took his place at Hadrian's feet, and accompanied him bravely and loyally through the forests and lived by the Emperor's side for seven years, which is equivalent to the life of a strong hunting dog. The Canine nature of Antinous is celebrated on this day and is seen as an allegory for the Priesthood of the Religion of Antinous."
In a Lupercalia Epistle to ECCLESIA ANTINOI members worldwide, Antonyus explains that the Lupercalia festival is a purification rite, cleansing the way for Spring, nourishing the winter spirit of the dormant wolves within so as to fuel the ruthless courage of Roman warriors. A Dog and a Goat were sacrificed, and the young noble youths raced around the city naked except for goat, or wolf skins, whipping any girls or women who they encountered.
Arch Priest Antonyus explains, "The Festival is also sacred to Faunus, the Roman Pan...the one who 'drives away the wolf from the flock.'...we usually think of Pan as Goat-horned and cloven hooved, but 'the one who drives away the wolf'...could quite possibly be a sacred Dog. Lupercalia is therefore quite possibly a dog festival...and it is interesting to note that it falls almost exactly opposite the calendar from the rise of the Dog Star."
Arch Priest Antonyus elaborates, "For me, Lupercalia is a time of cleansing and light...the lighted lamp that preceeds the coming dawn of Spring...a preparation for the Flowering....
"So a celebration or ritual to observe the Lupercalia should focus on purification. ..self-purificat ion primarily, but also the purification of the home, and surroundings. A cleansing of negative, stagnet, dusty, mildewy, settled, sedimentary influences that we are ready to clear away...from within and without."
He also outlines rituals for purification and cleansing which members of the worldwide Religion of Antinous will be performing this weekend.
Antonyus says the Lupercalia harkens to the most ancient of rites of Spring, and he says the cleansing must come from within.
"And then look into your soul, observe your interactions. ..make changes for the better...be kinder, more polite, or just simply be friendlier to people...and do something strickly for your own pleasure," he says.
"It is really a matter of deep and meaningful concentration on cleansing your mind and heart of negative internal influences...so as to strengthen your fortifications against external negative influences."
The first full week of January is when the Religion of Antinous commemorates a week of holidays in our Liturgical Calendar which, at first glance, don't seem to have any relation to each other ? the Minor Baccanalia and the Massacre of Christians at Antinoopolis and Victoria Antinoi the final victory of Antinous over Death, and culminating in the Boy God's triumphal journey through the Underworld as Antinous Navagator.
But a closer look reveals that the Religion of Antinous and early Christianity were subject to much exchange of concepts. Antinous was the last pagan god of the Classical age, and his priests were contemporaries of the early Christians, who were squabbling among themselves over how to present the story of their own fallen young Man-God, the slain Jesus of Nazareth.
The story of Antinous the Gay God is the story of the clash between the last of the Greco-Roman pagans and the earliest of the Christians. The two religions borrowed heavily from each other. They lived side-by-side in the cradle of the Nile. Christians lived in the Sacred City of Antinoopolis and initially were subjected to cruel abuse by pagans ? before they finally got the upper hand and cruelly suppressed the pagans.
A stone relief (at right) depicts a Antinous-Dionysus holding a Coptic cross in one hand and a bunch of Baccanalian grapes in the other. Only the hair style reveals that this is supposed to be Antinous and not Jesus.
And, like modern-day Republicans and Democrats, the followers of these competing religions waged ideological campaigns to portray their rivals as lost souls.
The homophobic hysteria of many modern-day Christians can be traced directly back to the grim determination of those earliest Christians to distance themselves from the popular cult of the beautiful Man-God Antinous who, like Jesus, held out the prospect of salvation to his followers.
Those earliest Christians went to great lengths to portray the Gay God as a demon and as Satan incarnate. They very literally "demonized" Antinous and condemned his followers as devil-worshippers.
Thus this is the story of the religion-fired hatred that has led to so much suffering for gay men and lesbians throughout history. To understand Antinous is to understand why many Christians to this very day are staunchly convinced that homosexuals are possessed by a demon or by Satan. What they sense in us is in fact Antinous the Gay God.
So the story of Antinous is the story of all gays. It is the story of you and me. And that means that the story doesn?t start on the banks of a great river on the edge of the desert, it starts instead with the place where you were born, because the legacy of Antinous has in part shaped your life.
Each of you is a Priest of Antinous...of an ancient cult that was destroyed...and has remained dead...and is now reborn...in us...because we love him...and we want to raise his memory from the dead. There has been no cult of Antinous for 1,900 years, not a single priest.
The magnificent Religion of Antinous was dead.
And though there have been a few here and there who over the centuries have claimed to be priests and have been devoted to him for decades, none of these have loved him with enough passion to refound his cult. None came forth and said that the deification of Antinous was true or stood up and proclaimed "I beleve in Antinous."
But now we have. And more than that, we don't just say that we believe in Antinous and that his deification is true. We have adopted the cause which Hadrian proclaimed to the world. We identify ourselves as the successors of the ancient Priesthood of Antinoopolis, the sacred city founded on the banks of the Nile where Antinous drowned. We are not a new religion. We are the same religion that worshipped Antinous in Roman times.
The barbarians succeeded in putting us down. But our priestly predecessors loved Antinous so deeply and had so much faith in him that they carefully buried their treasures in the ground where he would be safe until the fires had burned over.
Thousands of statues and busts of Antinous have been dug up over the centuries — more than for any other Classical deity. And when those statues were dug up, the power came out of the ground and began to work its way in the world.
We are that power. You are that power. The power is ignited in us. Even if you have never heard of Antinous before this moment, he has always lived within your heart.
I once asked Flamen Antinoalis Antonius Subia what made him certain I was worthy to be a priest of Antinous. He told me:
"You are a Priest of Antinous. For there is one qualification you have, the most important and sacred of all your personal attributes...that you are a homosexual.
"That is why you are worthy to be a Priest of Antinous. You can't change the fact that you are gay, it wasn't your choice, and you would never consider changing your sexuality even if you could.
"You will always be a homosexual, because Antinous made you gay."
Those are words which are worth repeating aloud to all followers of Antinous the Gay God. He selected us from all others. Every gay boy has felt this touch of specialness. We have felt it all our lives. Our Homosexuality is Sacred. Antinous is the Man-God within us. And we are Antinous the Gay God.
So this week, during the Minor Baccanalia, or Lesser Festival of Dionysus, we raise our glasses to the true-life mortal boy who became a god. The festival is celebrated when the autumn wine has reached fermentation. Traditionally a secret ceremony limited to women, it was opened to men during Roman times.
Flamen Antinoalis Antonius Subia explains, "Mythologically this is the occasion when the Titans lure and capture the child Dionysus, charming him with a mirror and toys. The Titans murder him, rend his limbs from his body and eat his flesh. This is the first Wine festival and triumphal procession of the entourage of Dionysus whose arrival signals the Victory of Antinous over the forces of life and death as represented by the Archons."
Later this week we raise our glasses in memory of a group of Christians in Antinoopolis who were executed for their refusal to believe in Antinous. On January 8th during the persecutions of Diocletian in the year 286, St. Anthony, St. Anastasius, St. Vasilissa, St. Celsus, St. Marcionilla, St. Julian, seven children, and 20 soldiers were all put to death for their belief in Jesus.
Because their death took place in our Sacred City Antinoopolis, we honor their memory and courage in the face of ignorance and violence. Our Sacred City has always been a center of religious fervour throughout history. From pagan times, through Christian times, and even down to the modern era, this area of Upper Egypt along the Nile has always been a hotbed of religious feeling.
In recent months, Islamic Fundamentalists abducted Coptic monks from a monastery only a few kilometers away from the site of our Sacred City. The Islamic radicals accused the monks of seeking to spread Christianity by expanding their monastery compound. Riot troops were called in to resolve the hostage-taking.
We pause this week to condemn the very sort of religious intolerance which bedeviled our own Sacred City in ancient times — and which continues to bedevil it even today.
Arch Priest Antonius Subia explains this seemingly contradictory stance: "The Religion of Antinous condemns the persecutors for the murder of innocents, and begs forgiveness for the cruelty of our ancient citizens and for the negligence of the ancient priests. We dedicate this day, on which these souls were martyred for Christ as an occasion of shame and sorrow, and as a reminder that we must never persecute our human brothers and sisters.
"In our love for Antinous, we pray for the holy and consecrated souls of these martyrs who died in our Holy City because they would not honor our gods. Intolerance in all forms is the final restraint that holds Antinous prisoner in our cosmos. The final three days before the liberation of Antinous the God, is sacred to the Holy Christian Martyrs of Antinoopolis, whose forgiveness we seek for our own liberation."
This liberation is commemorated on January 11th, the Feast Day of the completion of Antinous' mummification, and his defeat of the final archon. Antinous in glory and radiance, stands between our cosmos and the abyss that is known as the Veil. He has returned as Antinous the Savior.
Then on January 12th Antinous the Transfigured becomes Antinous Navigator. Antonius Subia says, "Antinous steps away and The Boat of Millions of Years in One Moment, leaves the shore of the known cosmos, sailing out into the darkness of the abyss on its voyage to the Black Star, the way of the void, where the heaven of Antinous lies concealed beyond the veil of the cloud of unknowing, where he enters the fullness of the Place of Light, and restores the unity of the Aeons. This is the Via Negativa whereupon the soul-triumphant is lost in the open space of nonbeing, awaiting the Dark Bird of Night, the Thunderbird-Phoenix-Eagle that will elevate his heroic spirit to immortality. Only Antinous can guide the Boat of Millions of Years across this expanse of darkness. This journey, which ends as it begins, which arrives as it departs, is the eternal heaven which Antinous has accomplished for all those who are his chosen, who answer his call, and who believe in him."
But what has any of this to do with us as gay men living in the 21st Century? If there is a God of the Gays, then why does he let us suffer?
It is so hard to see any divine plan in our everyday lives. We seem to be so powerless, so very much at the mercy of merciless powers which are oblivious to our wishes or our needs. We look at those glistening eyes of Antinous and wonder ? does he care? Why does he let bad things happen to those who love him?
And yet ... and yet ... there are those moments which make us realize there just might be a Divine Plan after all and that Antinous does care.
He is so mysterious. He is so unapproachable. The Obelisk of Antinous says he works miracles. It says he brings healing dreams to us as we sleep. But so often we wake up the morning and our troubles weigh upon us worse than they did the night before.
And yet ... and yet ... there are those moments when we feel his gentle hand and we know he has moved and acted on our behalf -- perhaps not in any way which we could possibly have anticipated. Not in the way we had necessarily hoped. But in a way which amazes us with its sublimely mysterious logic.
Usually, it is when we have given up hope that Antinous steps in and does his mysterious thing. The more we try to hold on and to control the situation, the more oblivious he seems. And yet ... and yet ... when we just give up and let go, he does his mysterious thing.
For many of us, trying to maintain control in our lives is a bit like trying to maintain control on a roller-coaster. The ride has its own mysterious logic and is going to go its own way, regardless of how tightly you grip the bar.
There is a thrill and a power in simply surrendering to the ride and fully feeling the ups and downs of it, letting the curves take you rather than fighting them.
When you fight the ride, resisting what?s happening at every turn, your whole being becomes tense and anxiety is your close companion. When you go with the ride, accepting what you cannot control, freedom and joy will inevitably arise.
As with so many seemingly simple things in life, it is not always easy to let go, even of the things we know we can?t control. Most of us feel a great discomfort with the givens of this life, one of which is the fact that much of the time we have no control over what happens.
Sometimes this awareness comes only when we have a stark encounter with this fact, and all our attempts to be in control are revealed to be unnecessary burdens.
But we can also cultivate this awareness in ourselves gently, by simply making surrender a daily practice. At the end of our meditation, we might bow, saying, "I surrender this life and place myself in the hands of Antinous." This simple mantra can be repeated as necessary throughout the day, when we find ourselves metaphorically gripping the safety bar.
We can give in to our fear and anxiety, or we can surrender to this Great Mystery with courage. We thus banish all fear and all doubt from our hearts.
When we see people on a roller-coaster, we see that there are those whose faces are tight with fear and then there are those who smile broadly, with their hands in the air, carried through the ride on a wave of freedom and joy. This powerful image reminds us that often the only control we have is choosing how we are going to respond to the ride.
And that is the moment ? when our hearts are free of fear and doubt ? when Antinous can step into our hearts and do his mysterious thing. When we stop struggling and white-knuckling the bar, and when we just give up and just let go ....
Perhaps we shouldn't try so hard to understand the God's mysterious ways. Perhaps we should just accept that his ways are mysterious. There is an Ancient Egyptian inscription (stolen by the Hebrews) which says:
"For the God's thoughts are not the thoughts of us mortals, neither are the God's ways the ways of us mortals."
As we look back over the past year, perhaps the ultimate New Year's message to us from Antinous the Gay God is:
"My ways are mysterious. Get used to it!"
This week marks the Coming Forth by Day of Antinous. His triumph becomes the celestial procession, and together with the saints and blessed spirits of the immortals and divinized men, Antinous steps away from the limit of the cosmos and enters the darkness of the void beyond, becoming his own divine navigator.
It is only by letting go that we open our hearts to the Gay Spiritual Liberation that Antinous the Gay God offers us with all his heart. We stop struggling and we stop despairing at our lack of control. We stop trying to control the course of the roller-coaster and, instead, we just sit back and enjoy the thrills and spills. We stand proudly and contentedly beside the portals of our Spiritual Home within the Sacred City of Antinoopolis.
HOLLYWOOD ? Gay icon Judy Garland was sanctified as a saint of ANTINOUS THE GAY GOD in ceremonies in Hollywood October 30, 2009, which culminated a week of events.
"By sanctifying Judy, we elevate her to the sacred status she deserves as someone who has inspired and enlightened millions of gay people around the world," said Antonyus Subia, arch priest of the Hollywood Temple of Antinous, in announcing Garland's sainthood.
"It was her tragic death on June 22, 1969 which fueled the fires of revolution which ignited into full flame during the Stonewall Riots after her funeral in New York City," Subia explained.
Other gay icons who were sanctified along with Judy Garland in the solemn ceremonies at the Hollywood Temple of Antinous were Danish fairy tale author Hans Christian Andersen, the 300-pound drag queen Divine and British computer-sciences pioneer Alan Turing, Subia said.
Andersen, a lifelong bachelor now generally regarded to have been a closeted homosexual, is being singled out for his gay coming-out sub-texts in such semi-autobiographical stories as "The Ugly Duckling".
Divine was the drag stage persona of Harris Glenn Milstead, a gifted gay singer and actor whose over-the-top roles in several John Waters films in the 1970s and '80s paved the way to the big time for other drag artists in the entertainment industry.
Alan Turing, ranked by Time magazine as one of the 100 most important people of the 20th Century, was pivotal in development of computer technology. But at the height of his fame in the early 1950s, he was prosecuted under Britain's anti-homosexuality laws. After botched "hormonal therapy" in lieu of a prison sentence, Turing ended his own life by taking cyanide in 1954. On September 10th, 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued an official public apology on behalf of the British government.
In the past, the Religion of Antinous has sanctified Oscar Wilde, Quentin Crisp, Michelangelo, Vaslav Nijinsky and Harvey Milk, among many others.
"We recognize the lives, courage and work of those blessed souls who in significant ways furthered the cause of Homosexuality and who stand as shining examples to gay people everywhere through their lives and, tragically often also their deaths," Subia added. "While not all were gay themselves, we proclaim them Saints and Martyrs as an example to all who believe in the sanctity of Same-Sex Love," he said.
He said that Judy Garland, for example, helped shape Gay Identity in the 20th Century.
Subia expounded on the idea of a "Gay Religion" based on a Classical Roman God by saying, "The Religion of Antinous is a Truly All-Gay Religion, dedicated to homosexual spirituality. Our thousands of followers around the world are devoted to Antinous, who was a real person ... a beautiful youth loved by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in a relationship which was openly homosexual."
During an Imperial tour up the Nile, Antinous mysteriously drowned in the River Nile. Hadrian is said to have "wept like a woman" at the loss. The grief-stricken Emperor declared Antinous a god after his death in the year 130 AD. Miraculously, the following year a drought ended in Egypt. Soon after, other miracles were attributed to Antinous. Lowly born himself, Antinous was seen as a promise of divinity for slaves and plebs. His priests were renowned for religio-magical prowess.
"Hadrian spread the Religion of Antinous around the Roman world," Subia related, "promoting Antinous as the savior of the world, and the bringer of peace."
The Hollywood Temple of Antinous is devoted to the rebuilding of the ancient Religion of Antinous, but rebuilding it in a manner which meets the spiritual needs of gay men in the 21st Century. The religion was revived in 2002 and now has an active membership of nearly 500 persons, in addition to thousands who visit the Temple of Antinous website on a daily basis, according to Subia, an artist with stage production and musical performance background.
"Homosexuality is Sacred, and Antinous is the manifestation of the Divine Gay essense," said the Hollywood gay priest. "Through love of our own kind, we are made aware of self-love, and the origin of celestial love...and with that Sacred Secret in our hearts, we are made divine, through the grace and beauty of Antinous."
The Emperor Hadrian was so grief-stricken at the death of his beloved male lover Antinous that he founded a city in honor of Antinous ? called Antinoopolis ? on the shores of the Nile where Antinous died. The city was founded on October 30th, which is when the sainthood ceremonies for Judy Garland and the other new saints were held.
Antonyus Subia's painting (above right) is inspired by the YouTube video below:
2012 ANTINOOPOLIS GAYZETTE EDITIONS
2011 ANTINOOPOLIS GAYZETTE EDITIONS
SEPTEMBER through DECEMBER 2009
JUNE, JULY and AUGUST 2009
APRIL and MAY 2009
FEBRUARY and MARCH 2009
Hernestus, Priest of Antinous