The Ecclesiastic Year
The First Cycle is the Holy Ecclesiastic Year, which begins on October 30th, the anniversary of the Foundation of the City of Antinoopolis, and ends on October 29th, the night on which Antinous descends into the Underworld, only to rise again. On this day we celebrate the anniversary of the foundation of Ecclesia Antinoi which occurred on October 30th 2002.
The Holy Year is divided into four quarters named after the phases of the Moon, in keeping with the lunar aspect of Antinous. The "New Year" begins on Foundation Day and represents Winter and is sacred to Dionysus, god of darkness, ecstasy and eternal life, its color is Blue. The “First Quarter” begins on February 1st and extends to the end of April and represents the Spring, which is Sacred to the Great Mother, who rules over birth, and sensuality, its color is Green. The “Full Year” begins on May 1st and ends on the 31st of July, it encompasses the high Summer, which is ruled by Apollo, god of the sun, revelation, and maturity, its color is Yellow. The “Last Quarter” begins on the first of August, culminates with the Sacred Nights of Antinous, and ends on the 29th of October, which is the last day of the Ecclesiastic Year, it is ruled by Persephone, goddess of death and mystery. Its color is red, after the color of the Lotus Flower.
The major events of the life of Antinous that occurred outside of the time frame of the Peregrination to the East are part of the yearly calendar. These include his birthday, the day on which Antinous and Hadrian met, and the inauguration of the Pantheon in Rome, at which Antinous was present. The most important events of the Peregrination such as the Death and Resurrection and the Foundation of Antinoopolis, the Sacred Lion Hunt, the Miracle of the Red Lotus Flower and the Sacred Boar Hunt are also celebrated annually in a subdued form, though with deep solemnity at their appropriate time during the Peregrination.
The cult of the Antonine Emperors is recognized as part of the sacred yearly calendar. Although Hadrian is not by name an Antonine, he was the founder of the dynasty because he chose Antoninus Pius to be his successor. The Antonines are considered to be the most glorious of the roman emperors, and their reign is called the Golden Age. The days of the birth, ascension, and death of Aelius Caesar, Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Verus and Elagabalus are considered holy because they were supporters of the religion of Antinous and regarded him as the guardian spirit of the Empire. Trajan is not part of the Imperial Cult of Ecclesia Antinous because his reign preceded the religion of Antinous and is therefore outside of the sphere of Ecclesia Antinoi. This is still a matter of conjecture because Antinous was born during the reign of Trajan and he choose Hadrian as his successor thereby initiating the course of events that we regard as holy.
The Ecclesiastic Year is also devoted to the commemoration of historical events of importance to homosexuality. We consecrate these days as Holy Days. They include the riot at the Stonewall, National Coming Out Day, the Gay Holocaust and the closing of the Institute for Sexual Science
The Saints and Martyrs of Ecclesia Antinoi are remembered on the day of their death, though at present only the foremost and those with recorded deaths or births are included. In time the full catalogue of Saints will receive designation, and the number of saints will surely grow. Recognition of their lives and their contribution to the memory of Antinous and to Homosexuality is of great importance to the full implication of this religion.
A very delicate and important inclusion is the Christian Martyrs who died in Antinoopolis during the persecutions of Emperor Diocletian. Though these Christians were against much of what we believe in as Pagans, Homosexuals, and believers of Antinous, it is essentially that we recognize their sacrifice and death, because they were Antinoopolitans, citizens of our Sacred City, and because we do not wish to forget the injustice that they suffered at the hands of our own people, with the approval of our own ancient priesthood. They are an example of the evil depth that our religion is tainted with, and must serve as a reminder that even as we are persecuted now, we too have once been guilty of the same crime. We include them as martyrs of our own injustice, and as symbols guide us away from hypocrisy, and we pray to them to forgive us, that we may be forgiven and set free by our own modern persecutors.
This calendar is a Pagan calendar, whose yearly cycle is a celebration of the festivals of the gods connected to Antinous. Dionysus and Magna Mater are particularly emphasized because they had the heaviest influence on the inner meaning of his religion. However, the wide spectrum of mythological, and syncretic philosophy of the ancient religion of Antinous necessitates that all the gods to which he was compared be given equal status. Because his religion emerged during the Roman era, the names of the Greek and Phrygian gods have been given their Roman aspect, and the general theme of the veneration of the gods is presented in fashion of the Religio Romana. But this is in no way the official policy of Ecclesia Antinoi, which remains open to any and all interpretation and form of worship.
In Keeping with the Roman Religion of which Antinous was a part, the yearly calendar includes many of the major festivals of ancient paganism. The Solstices and Equinoxes are celebrated under specific names whose tone alternates in accordance with the three-year cycle known as the Peregrination. The four major festivals are the Saturnalia in winter, which is sacred to Dionysus, the Cerealia in Spring, sacred to Magna Mater, the Delphinea in Summer, sacred to Apollo, and the Persephonea in Autumn, which is sacred to Persephone. The first of the two lesser festivals is the 72 Days, which begin the day after Foundation Day, and extend from October 31st to January 11th. This long period of time represents the ascension of Antinous into heaven in defiance of the Archons, and the period of time in which his body was mummified in natron by the priests of Anubis. The 72 Days are a period of introspection, comparable to Lent. The second lesser festival is the Eroticon, which is an elastic festival that precedes the Sacred Boar Hunt, and can be celebrated all on one day or drawn out for any number of days according to taste and feasibility. Situated at the mid-point of the Ecclesiastic Year, the Eroticon is dedicated to an expression of sensuality and indulgence in honor of the god of Love, and at the appropriate time includes the Sacred Games of Antinous, which are an athletic demonstration in memory of the Death of Antinous. The Sacred Games were traditionally celebrated every four years, and at the moment Ecclesia Antinoi is adhering to that policy, but this is still a matter of conjecture.
The Second Cycle and the most complicated is called the Peregrinatio ad Orientem, or the Peregrination to the East, which is an outline of the journey that Antinous made with Hadrian over the three year period between August, 128 and October, 130. It begins on August 1st and ends on July 31st and is composed of three phases of one year each. This is the most important time in the short life of Antinous, and the focus of our spirituality because he was publicly acknowledged as the Imperial Favorite, the boyfriend of the Emperor Hadrian. In order to align ourselves with this true, historical event in which Antinous took part, we have delineated the course of the journey to the best of our knowledge, and in keeping with the spirit of our holy aspiration. Though the dates are difficult to ascertain and were essentially settled on by informed guesswork and intuition, we feel that the itinerary, as outlined by this calendar, is within the margin of probability. Though many of the cities included were certainly visited by Antinous, others have been added to fill in the silence because their religious significance would have made them likely destinations for the spiritual, wander-lust of Hadrian. They have been chosen because the essence of their predominating cults, or the events which took place in their history may have influenced the spirituality of Antinous and may offer clues to the motivation of his death, the meaning of his deification, and the religion of his followers.
The destinations of the Peregrination to the East are followed spiritually in a manner similar to the stations of the cross, spread out over the course of three years, beginning with the departure from the Villa at Tibur, continuing through Greece, Asia Minor, Syria, then Egypt and the Death and Deification of Antinous.
The First year of the Peregrination begins on August 1st in Italy, at the Villa of Tibur, and at Rome and then moves on to Greece, where the Imperial Court took up residence for the winter months. In the Spring they sailed for Asia Minor including Antinous's hometown Bithynia. The gods of the Greek pantheon, especially Dionysus and Magna Mater, are incorporated into the spirituality of Antinous as he is "initiated" into their cults along the way. This first year of the Peregrination is comparable to the Joyous Mysteries because is was the high point of the life of Antinous and Hadrian, the period in which their relationship was publicly and privately flourishing.
The Second year begins as the court enters Syria and is essentially the time spent in the cities of the Middle East. The court was based in Antioch, but Hadrian and Antinous traveled throughout the region, going as far East as Armenia and as far South as Arabia Petra. The year is predominated by the Syro-Chaldean pantheon which is characterized by various forms of Sun worship into which Antinous is initiated. This is also the time when the relationship of Hadrian and Antinous came under the scrutiny of the large population of Jews and Christians, who were utterly scornful. This is the most difficult and darkest portion of the journey, when the homosexuality of Antinous was condemned, and the deification of Hadrian was rejected as an abomination. The second year of the Peregrination is comparable to the Sorrowful Mysteries because of the confrontation that occurred between Judeo-Christianity and the Hellenism of Hadrian and Antinous, which would ultimately lead to centuries of repression from which we are only now emerging.
The third and final year of the Peregrination begins as the court enters Egypt and the metropolis of Alexandria. One of the most important and historically documented events of Antinous's life, The Sacred Lion Hunt, takes place just before the court begins its sacred progress up the Nile River on a fleet of gilded barges. The religious atmosphere increases in intensity as Antinous enters the ancient holy cities and is revealed their mysteries in succession. The tone of the cosmologies of Egypt, each offering a different yet interrelated interpretation of creation, is as though in preparation for the death and deification of Antinous during the Sacred Nights of October. Though the events of the Death and Resurrection, and the Foundation of Antinoopolis are also part of the yearly, Ecclesiastic Calendar, they are celebrated in full and with all solemnity during the final part of the Peregrination. The remainder of the year is split between two spiritual perspectives, the celestial progress of the immortal spirit of Antinous above and beyond our Universe, and the terrestrial odyssey of his mummified body which is symbolically entombed at Antinoopolis, but then travels on with Hadrian, going as far as the city of Cholchis on the far shore of the Black Sea, and then back to Rome where it is brought to the Villa of Tibur, from which the religion of Antinous extends to the whole world. The third year of the Peregrination is comparable to the Glorious Mysteries because they represent the passage of Antinous from the mortal realm to the Celestial Sphere and are dedicated to our belief in the meaning of what salvation through Antinous implies.
Of the three cycles of the Calendar, the most simple to understand is the Common Year, which begins on January 1st and ends on December 31st, following the customary calendar of the western world. This is used for the basic purpose of reckoning time.
*** The Sacred Liturgical Calendar of Ecclesia Antinoi is an ever growing, forever provisional and changing description of the sanctity of common days. Membership in Ecclesia Antinoi, or belief in Antinous does not require participation in every festival, or an adherence of belief to the uniform interpretation of the inner meaning of the sacred days. Any recommendations are welcome, as this calendar is intended to be all-inclusive.