Posted: September 3rd. 2004
Times Viewed: 8,183
I lost faith the day I was "disfellowshipped" by my Baptist Church in college. My sin? Asking for prayer because I was struggling with the "sin" of homosexuality. Shock turned to disgust, and I was conveniently given over to my "sin." I never fully recovered from that. Before that day, I had believed everything my church taught me, which is what I believed the Bible said.
I converted to Christianity at age 16, and within a year I was working as a peer counselor at my church. After my excommunication, I doubted everything. I was devastated. The Tower card in the Tarot overshadowed my life for years. Nothing was sacred anymore. I tried a stint with Catholicism, even becoming a monk, only to find myself doubting everything. I was exposed to Wicca and Goddess Spirituality, but could not lance the infection that scarred my soul.
Thankfully two things happened in the monastery that helped me change my path:
I turned to Mary with my doubts, which included ones about her. I cried to her, I sang to her. I chanted ancient Latin hymns to her. She heard and responded. When my spiritual director, who was a priest in our order, suggested that I accept my sexual orientation, I felt hope flood my soul for the first time in years. I now see this as the explosive grace of the Goddess. She came to me first as the old Crone tearing away my egocentric self-righteousness in fundamentalism; now she came to me as a loving Mother, cradling me in her arms. It was with her that I emerged from the monastery, leaving Christianity in my wake.
- My spiritual director encouraged me to accept my sexual orientation.
- Mary became my only source of consolation.
The Mother became the Maiden, the independent one. She became my sister as I explored my newfound freedom in thought, body image, and sexuality. I began to seek her out, but living in a rural area, I had to create a space for her, welcoming her children into our circle of love from wherever they came. And come they did. After several years, my next stage of healing would come. I spent Lent (the forty days before Easter) praying to the Goddess to allow me to know her more deeply. I did not know what I was asking for. She answered my deeper prayer. The one I had not verbalized. She gave me her son and lover.
The God, Antinous, entered my life at the end of that forty days. Antinous (111-130CE) was the lover of the Roman emperor, Hadrian. His temples and devotions were the last to be eradicated by the Church. While traveling through Egypt on the Nile during a time of famine and drought in Egypt, Antinous sacrificed himself by drowning in the Nile. Hadrian searched for three days along the banks of the Nile. His world turned upside down. He identified with Isis, desperately searching for her beloved one drowned and floating down the river.
When his body was found, his feet were surrounded and entangled with red lotuses, a symbol of enlightenment. The Egyptian priests declared that Antinous was said to have become Osiris by drowning in the river. Hadrian's grief and lamentations could hardly be consoled. Then something amazing happened. The rain began to fall; the Nile flooded. A star appeared in the sky which heralded the resurrection of the God, Antinous. He died a lad of 19 or 20, and was raised a God. There exists a whole mythology of Antinous'journey to the underworld and his raising to lead those who love him on the boat of a thousand years. Hadrian built a city called Antinopolis in Egypt dedicated solely to Antinous and his worship. The Sacred Nights of Antinous celebrated homosexuality and its expression. Temples were built. Antinous' face was placed on currency.
Antinous is a God for gay men. He was the lover of Hadrian. His statues and his writings acclaim his beauty. In fact, little else is known about his personal life other than his beauty. This was the gift of the Goddess to me, her beloved son, Antinous. He came to me, spoke to me in dreams, and took me unto himself. Antinous is a God for homosexuals. He gives the cup of life by his own right. He calls us to homotheosis, to rise to our own Godhood. He journeys with us, showing that love between the same sex is holy and sacred. He knows our pains, worries, and joys. Antinous offers us the benediction of our sexuality.
Today men and women are reviving his cult. Ecclesia Antinoi has re-established his priesthood. They recognize his saints in the young men who have died young displaying a holy sort of androgyny such as Kurt Cobain and River Phoenix. The Oracle has been re-established. Gay men are finding their place with their God in the Pagan world. The Ecclesia is neither fully reconstructionist nor eclectic. It is a unique living entity. Its members are fully devoted to Antinous and yet many are members of other Pagan paths.
Historically, Antinous was identified with Apollo, Hermes, Ganymedes, Osiris, and Dionysis. When archeologists uncovered the location of the Oracle of Delphi, whose statue was the only one found still standing? Antinous. Antinous' name was invoked in love spells. His temples spread from the British Isles to Egypt. His name was invoked to have power over death.
Personally, Antinous is my God. He came to me with the Magna Mater (Great Mother) and healed my wounds. He revived in me a faith, not based upon dogma, but upon experience. He showered me with kisses and loved me in a way that only gay people can fully understand. I may have lost everything of my old life, but found Antinous within myself. I am Antinous.
Bio: Bird is a Wiccan, Chaos Magician, and devotee of Antinous. He enjoys reading, music, and a little touch of the Discordian humor. For more information about the Eccleisa Antinoi, visit the web site: www.antinopolis.org.
Location: , USA
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