Highway to Hel
Interview with P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, Founder of Ekklesia Antinoou
While I think that this kind of ancient hero cultus continuation would potentially be of great benefit to many Hellenic and Roman practitioners, I think developing similar systems within other traditions would be very useful as well. The Irish heroes Cú Chulainn (with whom I've had a hero cultic connection to for some time) and Finn mac Cumhaill, for example, would be perfect for hero cultus, since we know more and have more surviving tales about them than we do about any of the Irish or Welsh deities. While I am not as informed on the specific details on the following as I am in other areas, I'm pretty sure there must be figures in Germanic legend who are not gods, but who would be worthy of honoring as heroes at least on a yearly basis with a blót, at very least. The same is true of many other traditions the world over.
Thank you for that explanation. I think it was perhaps the clearest and most comprehensive explanation of hero cultus that I've ever had the pleasure of reading. To continue, where would you like to see your community go in the next decade?
I've been involved with the modern worship of Antinous since the summer of 2002, so this is going into my ninth year of it. On October 30, 2010 I celebrated the ninth Foundation Day ritual that I've ever done, which is the most important ritual of our sacred year. Last year was an important anniversary for the historical cultus, because on November 27, 110, Antinous was born. I had hoped at this stage of our modern cultus that there would be organized and sizeable communities, public temples, and major recognition; I've never been one to think modestly about such things! However, that isn't the case at present, though I am pleased with where we've come and what we've done up until this point. In 2030, on October 30, we will have the 1900th anniversary of the deification of Antinous and the beginning of his cultus. By that time, with any luck, we'll see some of these things, or at least the beginnings of them. While it is only twenty years away, I may or may not still be around to see it; but if I am, I hope that some of these things will have taken place.
In the meantime, there is the daily work of devotion and the ongoing work of education and visibility, as well as our very important (and timely, particularly in the last few months) work in making LGBTQI spiritual resources known and available as options to everyone, Pagan and non-Pagan alike. The forces of religious discrimination, hostility, hatred, and violence against LGBTQI people have been allowed to reign unchallenged and without critique for too long, and those same authorities in Christianity who mocked Antinous's divinity also mocked him for his supposed sexual and gender variant "excesses" to their celibate and strictly procreative ideals. I hope that Antinous's devotion can be a voice for inclusion for all people, and can be a reasonable and hospitable alternative to the idea that all religions (which is more accurately "all monotheistic religions," despite efforts on the part of some denominations and individuals) are not accepting of homoeroticism or gender variance. Here is one ancient cult that, no matter what else might be said about it, would never have existed had it not been for the love of two males for one another.
It is important to note that the relationship of Hadrian and Antinous was not entirely comparable to the modern notion of homosexuality; nonetheless, it was an emotional, erotic relationship, and one that was not based on the ideas of building a traditional family or producing offspring. To have a religious practice founded, ultimately, in love—a fierce love that ennobles as well as even deifies the lovers involved—is a powerful counter to the poisonous messages of far too many so-called religious voices in modern Christianity about the supposed evils and sinfulness of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, transsexual, queer, questioning, and intersexed individuals, for starters. Other religions have been as equally oppressive, and their influences need likewise to be challenged and countered in whatever ways possible.
The author of several books on the Northern Tradition, Galina Krasskova is a Heathen priest, shaman, and devotee of Odin. She blogs at Gangleri's Grove.