Friday, April 20, 2018
FOR decades the mummified penis of Tutankhamun has been shrouded in mystery ... especially when it mysteriously "vanished" for a number of decades ... only to be found amongst the dust and detritus between his legs at the bottom of the sarcophagus a few years ago.
But a prominent Egyptologist says the embalmers engorged the royal penis so that it was erect ... and it originally stood at a 90 degree angle upwards from his body ... to enhance his identification with Osiris.
This would contradict Howard Carter's famous first photo of the mummy, which shows the penis pointing towards his toes. However, it is well known that the mummy had been badly damaged by Carter in the process of unwrapping the ancient bandages.
The head had to be severed from the body because the back of the skull was "glued" by perfumed resins to the bottom of the mummy case. The wrists were broken in order to remove bracelets.
But somehow the royal penis and testes miraculously survived this rather rude unwrapping process and were clearly visible in those initial photos ... the first royal photographic portrait of the king.
The portrait was one of nearly 2,000 images taken by Carter's photographer, Harry Burton, as part of a photographic record of each step of Carter's meticulous procedural methods ... setting new standards for archaeological research.
As you can see in the photo, the penis is clearly visible. In fact, by mummy standards, King Tut is really quite well endowed. The mummification process results in dramatic shriveling of soft tissues, of course, reducing even the most prodigious penis to about the size of a sun-dried sultana raisin.
Somehow, in Tut's case, the embalmers managed to retain at least a semblance of respectable manhood.
Did the embalmers pump it full of padding material that would resist shrinking, like some after-world sausage-makers? No one knows how they achieved that. It is one of the puzzles of archeology, the subject of dissertations.
Now, Egyptologist Salima Ikram, a professor at the American University in Cairo, says it is in fact supposed to represent an erect penis ... and it was originally positioned at right angles to the body ... pointing towards the heavens.
The mummified erect penis and other burial anomalies were not accidents during embalming, Ikram suggests, but rather deliberate attempts to make the king appear as Osiris, the god of the underworld, in as literal a way as possible.
The erect penis evokes Osiris' regenerative powers. Egyptians believed Osiris was killed and dismembered by his brother Seth. Isis found all the scattered pieces ... except for his phallus, which had been swallowed by the phallic-shaped Oxyrhynchus fish.
Isis fashioned a magical phallus by which she, in the guise of a bird, was impregnated by Osiris. Their child was Horus the falcon sun god.
Another anomaly is the absence of a heart. No heart was found in the canopic jars, and no heart scarab was found in Tutankhamun's ribcage. Ikram says the lost heart recalls the story of the god being cut to pieces by his brother Seth and his heart buried.
Making the king appear as Osiris may have helped to undo a religious revolution brought about by Akhenaten, a pharaoh widely believed to be Tutankhamun's father, Ikram says.
Akhenaten had tried to focus Egyptian religion around the worship of the Aten, the sun disc, going so far as to destroy images of other gods. Tutankhamun was trying to undo these changes and return Egypt back to its traditional religion with its mix of gods.
Ikram cautions that her idea is speculative, but, if correct, it would help explain some of the mysteries surrounding Tutankhamun's mummification and burial.
Mystery after mystery surrounds the mummy.
There was a great outcry in dusty Egyptological circles when the mummy was unwrapped in 1968 in order to be X-rayed, and British researchers discovered not only that the arms and legs had been broken off but also that one ear was missing ... and that the royal penis was gone.
It was obvious that something had happened to the mummy after the portrait photo was taken. Had it been dropped?
For the past four decades, speculation has been rife as to the fate of the mummified member.
It was generally assumed that Carter or else his benefactor, Lord Carnarvon, had swiped the penis immediately after Burton snapped the photograph.
It was whispered that Carter or Carnarvon may have kept the penis as a kind of gruesome souvenir. Those rumors were spurred by reports that Carnarvon had, in fact, spirited away a few objects from the tomb which were found in his manor house many years after his death ... the same manor house which is the setting for the TV series "Downton Abbey."
But it seemed very out of character for Carter to have done such a thing, or for him to have condoned such a theft by Carnarvon. Carter was incredibly meticulous, spending years cataloging and safe-guarding every last item in the tomb, every shred of fabric, every last bead from long-disentegrated necklaces.
It seemed unthinkable that Carter, a consummate scientist, would have copped the king's cock.
So it was very gratifying when, in 2006, it was announced that the penis had been found ... it had only dropped off and become lost amidst the other debris of the royal groin so that nobody had noticed it.
And what has all of this to do with Antinous? Well, his tomb and his body have yet to be found. Carter's methodology and ethics will doubtless serve as a model.
And Ikram's latest findings could spur speculation about the sacred-sexual state of the remains of Antinous ... who was also identified with Osiris.
Thursday, April 19, 2018
THE Religion of Antinous honors St. John Addington Symonds, the English poet and literary scholar who shocked Victorian sensibilities by openly promoting the cause of same-sex love.
John Addington Symonds was born on 5 October 1840, to a wealthy middle-class family in Bristol England. His father was a liberally minded doctor with connections and close friendships with many of the most illustrious and forwards minds of the time.
It was this environment of Victorian middle-class sexual repression that caused John Addington Symonds to blossom into one of the first and most prolific proponents for the cause of love between men.
While teenager in school, he was awakened by Plato to the awareness of love between boys among his schoolmates and almost immediately and unhesitatingly came out of the closet, even to his father, who was initially dismayed but ultimately supportive.
From then on, Symonds devoted his entire life to the study of homosexuality through art and history. He was the most pronounced defender of the ancient and glorious legacy of love between men, and a champion of social change.
He was a deep admirer of Walt Whitman, and later worked closely with Edward Carpenter, and Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, co-founding the British Institute for Sexual Science, which advocated a methodical study to overturn the laws against homosexual love.
For his life-long work and devotion, and for his early recognition and exultation of his sexuality, John Addington Symonds is a canonized Saint of the Religion of Antinous.
The most sacred of his many contributions to the enlightenment of our freedom are the words that he wrote about Antinous, whose beauty he glorified with poetry and elegance in the language of a lover of the homosexual, erotic beauty of Our God. John Addington Symonds died in Rome on the 19th of April 1893.
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
IF you are in Athens this summer, here is your chance to see a statue of Antinous which has languished in storage for years.
The statue, also called the Youth of Mantineia, is on view at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens from now until 22 July 2018.
The statue complement the museum's temporary exhibit on "Hadrian and Athens: Conversing with an Ideal World," which runs through November 2018.
The Antinous (Youth of Mantineia) is part of a rotating-object program, "The Unseen Museum," which places in public view a different object every month from the museum's storage, and is the 17th such object to be put on exhibit.
According to a Culture and Sports Ministry announcement, the statue was found in 1886 in the vicinity of the ancient town of Mantineia, in southern Greece (Peloponnese), and was transferred to the museum.
From May to July this year, museum archaeologists will be giving tours of the exhibit tracing Hadrian's steps through Athens to Mantineia, and talking about the intellectual revival of Greek paideia and nostalgia for the past, as experienced during Hadrian's reign.
The tours are free but a museum entrance ticket and reservations are required.
Tours are offered on Fridays (May 4, 25, June 8, July 6) and Sundays (June 3 and 19, July 15 and 22) and start at 13:00.
For reservations, please call any of the following numbers:
213 214 4856
213 214 4858
213 214 4866
213 214 4893
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
ON April 17th the Religion of Antinous honors Saint Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, 17th Century Mexican nun, scholar, poet, scientist, playwright, musician and lesbian.
She was exceptional not only for her intelligence and beauty, but also because she wrote literature centered on intellectual and sexual freedom.
In the poem "Redondillas" she defends a woman's right to be respected as a human being. "Hombres necios" (Stubborn men) criticizes the sexism of the society of her time, and pokes fun at men who publicly condemn prostitutes, among other things, but privately hire them.
She also has a philosophical approach to the relative immorality of prostitution. This was exemplified when she posed the question, "Who sins more, she who sins for pay or he who pays for sin?"
In the romantic comedy entitled "Los empeños de una casa" about a brother and a sister entangled in a web of love, she writes using two of her most prominent themes, love and jealousy.
She did not moralize, but rather, in the spirit of her lifetime interests, inquired of how these deeply emotional matters shaped and carved a woman's pursuit of liberty, knowledge, education and freedom to live her life in self-sovereignty.
Her revolutionary writings brought down upon her the ire of the Roman Catholic Church at the end of the 17th Century. She was ordered to tone down the sexuality of her writings. She did not.
However, powerful representatives from the Spanish court were her mentors and she was widely read in Spain, being called "The Tenth Muse". She was lauded as the most prominent poet of the post-conquest American Continent. Her work was printed by the first printing press of the American Continent in Mexico City.
She is believed to have penned 4,000 works, but only a few have survived. They were rescued by the Spanish Viceroy's wife, who was rumoured to be her female lover. In April 1695, after ministering to the other sisters struck down by a rampant plague, she is said to have died at four in the morning on April 17th.
For her love of learning and her devotion to the beauty of sexuality and for her courage to write about controversial things in the face of the Spanish Inquisition, we honor Saint Sor Juana as a Prophet of Homoeros.
Monday, April 16, 2018
WE honor Margot Adler as a Saint of Antinous the Gay God.
She was a pioneering modern pagan and well-respected all-round journalist who enabled millions of listeners on NPR radio in North America to get a balanced and informed view of paganism.
She reported on news and current affairs from New York City ... most notably the 9/11 tragedy ... and her listeners respected her religious beliefs were did not make her "weird" or "demonic."
Margot Adler authored DRAWING DOWN THE MOON, a 1979 book about Neopaganism which was revised in 2006 to include our own modern Religion of Antinous.
The book is considered a watershed in American Neopagan circles, as it provided the first comprehensive look at modern nature-based religions in the US.
For many years it was the only introductory work about the American Neopagan communities. And it mentions Antinous ... and our new religion!
For many years it was the only introductory work about the American Neopagan communities. And it mentions Antinous ... and our new religion!
Sunday, April 15, 2018
ON April 15th the Religion of Antinous remembers Jean Genet as a Saint of Antinous.
Saint Jean Genet was one of the first and most modern gay poets, whose elegance and sordid love for the street life was unprecedented, and has never been matched.
Among his most fervent desires, expressed from the very beginning was that he should one day be elevated to Sainthood.
We of the Religion of Antinous, fully and faithfully, take faith in the spirit of Saint Jean Genet, through whom the eternal voice of Antinous spoke with the most voluptuousness and vain-glory.
Saint Jean Genet died on this day in Paris in 1986.
Saturday, April 14, 2018
ON April 14th the Religion of Antinous honors one of our most blessed thespian saints and martyrs, St. John Gielgud, who was born on this day in 1904.
The most terrible moment in John Gielgud's life -- on which he maintained a public silence for 50 years -- was the subject of a critically acclaimed play in the London West End.
The play, entitled "Plague Over England", was about the scandal which swept across Britain in 1953 when John Gielgud was arrested by an undercover policeman in a public toilet in London.
But the 2008 play was concerned with much more than Gielgud's arrest in on the charge of "importuning for immoral purposes". The play showed the plight of gay men in the 1950s Cold War atmosphere when gays were associated with Communist espionage.
Its characters include the producer who nearly ended his career, the virulently anti-homosexual Lord Chief Justice Rayner Goddard, an American fleeing his own country's anti-Communist paranoia, and a doctor who claims to "cure" same-sex attraction with "Clockwork Orange"-style electric shock therapy.
Homosexuals had long been feared and hated in England as men who, it was believed, preyed on the innocent young, and were thus unfit to lead normal, happy lives. Until 1967, they risked prosecution for what the law called "acts of gross indecency between male persons", even in private, and could be arrested for merely showing -- in a police spy's opinion -- an intent to commit them.
Police throughout England were alert for any hints of homosexual behaviour. Just before Gielgud was arrested, two prominent high-class gay men had been uncovered as KGB spies, resulting in a further crackdown on all gay activities. The officer who arrested Gielgud was part of a Metropolitan Police squad established in 1930 that regularly lurked in central London toilets.
The year in which Gielgud came to grief in a Chelsea public convenience was a particularly dangerous one for homosexuals, as the increased frankness of the period allowed politicians, the police, and the press to profit by inflaming public hysteria, warning that a "plague" or "epidemic" of sodomy and Communism was sweeping the land.
The climate of fear was chilling to gay men who paid even the slightest attention to the news.
Gielgud, however, was, in his own words a "silly gubbins" who took no notice of anything outside of acting. On October 21, following the rehearsal for the play "A Day By the Sea", this supremely unworldly man, then 49, had a few drinks at a party and then visited a public lavatory popular with "cottagers" -- English gay slang for men who cruise toilets.
Arrested, and aware that he should give a false identity, he said he was a clerk called Arthur (his real name) Gielgud. The next day he appeared before a magistrate who did not know who he was, fined him 10 pounds, and ordered him, with the disdain and sexual ignorance of the period, to "see your doctor the moment you leave this court".
Unfortunately, a better-informed Evening Standard reporter was there, too. When that afternoon's paper hit the streets, he was on the front page.
You can imagine the shame and the terror with which Gielgud turned up at rehearsal (he had considered suicide) for the role of a bachelor diplomat whose mother worries that he is lonely and unloved.
But the company, led by his co-star, Dame Sybil Thorndike, in fact welcomed him with open arms. "Oh, John," she said, in one of the most magnificent double entendres of all time, "you HAVE been a silly bugger!"
The producer of "A Day By the Sea", however, the immensely powerful Binkie Beaumont, saw the newspaper articles and the hate mail, and worried that the public would stay away.
Yet his thoughts of firing the star were thwarted by Gielgud's brother, Val, who applied a little judicious blackmail about Binkie's very own private life.
Everyone was nervous that the audience might react with silence or even boos.
But as the curtain came down he was cheered to the rafters.
Gielgud was known for having a penchant for anonymous bathroom sex -- It's one of the reasons his knighthood (just a few months before the arrest) was postponed for years. He even had a "cruising cap" for such forays, an attempt to disguise himself so as to avert detection by fans who might recognize him.
The arrest had important consequences, and not only for Gielgud, who was told by the British embassy in Washington to forget about a planned American production of "The Tempest". because he might prove "an embarrassment".
Afterwards, the floodgates opened as the public was confronted by the disturbing fact that an extremely distinguished and beloved artist was one of the people they, in theory, despised. The fuss contributed to the Wolfenden Commission, set up the following year to study prostitution, taking on homosexuality as well. Its recommendations eventually led to decriminalisation in Britain.
While the affair broke Gielgud emotionally, he put himself back together in a way that made him better suited to a theatre in a world of greater change and upheaval.
For his talent and for his courage, the Religion of Antinous honors Saint John Gielgud as a Prophet of Homoeros.