Monday, September 30, 2019

CALIGULA'S SAPPHIRE RING
FOR SALE FOR $600,000



AN exquisite 2,000-year-old sapphire ring which is thought to have belonged to Roman Emperor Caligula ... and is one of the 'Marlborough Gems' ... is being sold for close to £500,000 (over $600,000).

The sky blue hololith, made from a single piece of the precious stone, is believed to have been owned by Caligula, who reigned from 37AD until his assassination four years later.

The face engraved into the bezel is thought to be his fourth and last wife Caesonia, who was said to be so beautiful Caligula paraded her naked in front of his friends.

Caesonia, who was played by Dame Helen Mirren in the 1979 erotic historical drama Caligula, was assassinated almost immediately after her husband.

Stricken with grief at his death, she reportedly willingly offered her neck to the assassin, telling him to kill her without hesitation.

The ring is the star attraction at an exhibition of more than 100 engraved gems which will be held in London by Royal jewellers Wartski next week.

The gems will be available for purchase, with prices ranging from £5,000 to £500,000.

The sale has sparked worldwide interest, with collectors from as far afield as Japan queuing outside their premises days before the exhibition to be first through the door.

The 'Caligula ring' resided to the collection of the Earl of Arundel from 1637 to 1762, at which point it became one of the famous 'Marlborough Gems'.

This was a collection of 800 engraved jewels amassed by politician George Spencer, 4th Earl of Marlborough, in the late 18th and early 19th century.

They were sold in 1875 by John Winston Spencer-Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough, to pay for repairs on the ancestral home of Blenheim Palace, Oxon.

The collection was bought in its entirety by David Bromilow, of Bitteswell Hall in Leicestershire, for the princely sum of £35,000 (the equivalent of £2.2million in today's money).

This ring was then sold by his daughter in 1899 at a Christie's auction in London to dealer Julius Goldschmidt.

Its provenance is not known until it emerged for auction with Sotheby's in London in 1971, fetching just £750.

It then featured in a French private collection before being acquired by Wartski.

Currently, only a quarter of the 'Marlborough Gems' are accounted for, with the location of the rest remaining a mystery.

Kieran McCarthy, Wartski director, said: 'This ring is one of the prestigious 'Marlborough Gems', having previously been in the collection of the Earl of Arundel.

'It is crafted entirely of sapphire. Very few horoliths exist and I would argue this is the best example you can find.

'We believe it belonged to the debauched Emperor Caligula and the engraving shows his final wife Caesonia.

'The gems at the exhibition have prices ranging from £5,000 to £500,000. While we don't want to disclose its price out of discretion for potential buyers, this gem is at the top end of that range.'

Sunday, September 29, 2019

THESE SEVEN ANCIENT PRIESTS
DEVOTED THEIR LIVES TO ANTINOUS


IN many religions the number seven is sacred ... Christians honor the Seven Archangels on September 29th … but (typically) apocryphal texts and regional denominations can't agree on the lists of seven. The big four are certain: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel, but after that things get a bit iffy. 

Depending on which "church" is involved the seven may include: Raguel, Sariel, Baracael, Ieadiel, Sealtiel, Peliel, Gamael, Jerahmeel, Izidkiel, Hanael or Kepharel.

Oh and at least one list includes Lucifer, the fallen angel.

In Santeria Las Siete Potencias Africanas (Seven African Powers) are the best known and most powerful Orishas of the Yoruban pantheon. There are endless variations worldwide.

Many Protestants, of course, denounce all mention of angels, potencias or even saints as idolatrous, further confusing the situation for many modern seekers.

The Religion of Antinous has no "angels" (fallen or otherwise) in the Judeo/Islamic/Christian sense.

But the Romans depicted many ascendant souls as having wings and assisting in elevating mortal humans to attain celestial realms.

By sacred synchronicity, we know the names of Seven Ancient Priests of Antinous. They are:

JULIUS FIDUS AQUILA, Priest, Epistrategos and Architect of Antinoopolis.

ARISTOTIMOS, Priest of Delphi.

HOSTILIUS MARCELLUS, Priest of Corinth.

ISIDORUS DIDYMUS, Priest of Alexandria.

NICIAS, Priest of Rome.

PUBLIUS SUFENUS, Priest and Eunostos of Neapoli Oriens.

LUPERCUS, Priest and Eunostos of Neapoli Aetolia-Arcarnia.

There were many other priests, of course. But alas, their names went unrecorded.

We have no portraits of any of these Seven Ancient Priests. And their mortal appearance is of little importance.

Priest Hernestus wears prayer beads and a bracelet with seven charms and beads representing the Seven Ancient Priests. He prefers to think of them transcending Time and Space ... serving as mediators in modern guise for all of us.

Rather than worshiping mythical angelic beings, we honor these seven human beings of flesh and blood who really lived and who devoted their lives to Antinous. 

They were priests of Antinous ... we honor them ... men who lived and breathed and who remind us that angels come in many guises ... angels are all around us in our everyday lives.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

THE FIRST MIRACLE OF ANTINOUS
INVOLVED AN EGYPTIAN INTERSEX DEITY



ON September 28th the Ancient Egyptians celebrated the Feast of the Creation of the Nile Inundation as represented by the intersex deity HAPI.

It was through HAPI that Antinous worked his first miracle ... bringing about a bountiful Nile inundation which ended a long famine ... only a few months after he died and was deified.


Hapi is special to us especially because Hapi is intersex. 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. 

However, 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. 

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 transgender 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.

The grandest depiction of HAPI is a colossal statue found in the submerged ruins of HERACLEION at the mouth of the Nile ... this statue once flanked the portals of the Great Temple in that city before earthquakes and tsunamis sent it to the bottom of the sea. 


It was rediscovered by marine archaeologist Marck Goddio and is the highlight of a British Museum EXHIBITION ... as seen in the photo at left.

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 ... in September and October of the year 130 AD. 

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.

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!

Friday, September 27, 2019

RABBIT GOD TU ER SHEN
IS THE CHINESE DEITY OF GAYNESS



ON International Rabbit Day, observed on the fourth Saturday in September, we honor the Chinese "Rabbit God" of homosexuality.

Just as Antinous the Gay God is being re-discovered in the West, Hu Tianbao alias Tu Er Shen the "Rabbit God" is being rediscovered by Chinese gay people. 

Incredibly, both deities involve young gay men who were in love with men of high standing ... and who died tragically ... and who became gods of the spiritual essence of homosexuality. 

Antinous is a true-life historical figure, of course, but his Chinese counterpart is shrouded in myth and legend ... involving rabbits.

According to Zi Bu Yu (子不語), a book written by Yuan Mei (袁枚, a Qing dynasty writer), Tu Er Shen (兔兒神 or 兔神) was a mortal man called Hu Tianbao (胡天保).

Hu Tianbao fell in love with a very handsome imperial inspector of Fujian Province. One day Hu Tianbao was caught peeping on the inspector through a toilet wall, at which point he came out to the other man. To save face, the imperial inspector had no choice but to have Hu Tianbao beaten to death.

One month after Hu Tianbao's death, he is said to have appeared to a man from his hometown in a dream, claiming that since his crime was one of love, the gods decided to right the injustice by appointing him the god and safeguarder of homosexual affections.


After his dream the man erected a shrine to Hu Tianbao, which became very popular in Fujian province, so much so that in late Qing times, the cult of Hu Tianbao was suppressed by the homophobic Qing government.

A slang term for homosexuals in late imperial China was Tuzi (兔子) (bunnies) which is why Hu Tianbao is referred to as the RABBIT GOD, although in fact he has nothing to do with rabbits and should not be confused with TU-ER-YE (兔儿爷) the famous "Rabbit in the Moon" which is the Chinese version of the "Man in the Moon".

However, the rabbit association stuck, and even today his devotees portray him with rabbit ears and make offerings of carrots to his altars. The handsome statuette in this image is lovingly clothed in a rabbit-fur cloak.

While no one knows if gays in mainland China worship him ... there is a temple in Yonghe city (永和市)in Taiwan that venerates Hu Tianbao, alias Tu Er Shen. The temple is known as the RABBIT TEMPLE (兔兒廟). The address is Taipei, Yonghe City, Yonghe Road Section 1, Alley 37, No 12.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

WORKERS ACCIDENTALLY FIND
UNKNOWN ROMAN FORT IN ENGLAND



CONSTRUCTION workers in Britain have accidentally unearthed remains of a previously unknown Roman fort under a bus station in Exeter in western England.

The fort is on the banks of the Exe River which flows into the English Channel a few miles to the south ... making the location of strategic importance.

Archaeologists have described the find, which occurred during redevelopment of the site in the Devon city, as important and unexpected.

A Roman ditch was first uncovered, with further excavations revealing two more ditches running parallel to each other. 

These belonged to a previously unknown military site, which was either a fort occupied by an army unit or a defended compound.

Coins and pottery made in the area for the troops, as well as fine red samian tableware imported from France, were also discovered.

The find was made by Cotswold Archaeology, which is working with Kier , the construction company, in the run-up to the renovation of a bus station and leisure complex.

Andrew Pye, an archaeology officer at Exeter city council, said: “This is a very important, and completely unexpected, discovery, in an area that has been heavily changed by previous postwar redevelopment.

“Along with other recent work in Exeter, it demonstrates just how much of the city’s history can still survive in unlikely places, despite damage caused by bombing and modern concrete foundations.

“This discovery of yet another new Roman fort within the city does demonstrate, along with that of the fortress and baths back in the 1970s and of several other new major military sites in the last decade, just how pivotal a role the Exeter area played in the first decades of the Roman conquest and subjugation of Britain.”

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

EXQUISITE STATUE OF HADRIAN
UP FOR AUCTION AT CHRISTIE'S



THIS larger-than-life-size Roman sculpture of the Emperor Hadrian will be up for auction at Christie's in New York with an estimate of $6 million.

Known as the Cobham Hall Hadrian, the statue has been called "one of the finest ancient statues from the Grand Tour era of collecting" and has been consigned to Christie's by British investment manager Christian Levett.

Dating from the 2nd Century AD, the 6ft 10in (2.08m) high marble statue is expected to fetch in the region of $6 million when it is offered at Christie’s New York on October 29.


It is the first full-length Classical statue of a Roman emperor to appear at auction since the work was bought by Levett for $902,500 (£609,840) including premium at Christie’s New York in December 2008.


The statue is thought to date from the reign of Hadrian (117-138AD) but it underwent some typical 18th century restoration to "complete" the statue.

The head, however, is deemed certainly antique in part due to its extraordinary physiognomic detail which includes a diagonal crease in his preserved left earlobe – a symptom of the subject’s coronary artery disease which was generally not recognised by later copyists.

Hadrian is depicted standing in "chiastic" pose with his weight on his right leg, his left leg bent at the knee and drawn back and his right arm raised – a stance that recalls the work of the earlier 5th Century BC Greek sculptor Polykleitos.

Levett has amassed one of the world’s most important private collections of antiquities and in 2011 opened his own museum, the Musée d'Art Classique de Mougins, in southern France to house part of it, including this statue.


The Cobham Hall Hadrian is now being sold to benefit the museum.

Christie's international department head of antiquities G Max Bernheimer said: "This masterpiece has incomparable provenance and represents an opportunity to not only own an important work of art but also to help fund the future of a truly remarkable institution."

The work holds a distinguished provenance, being formerly in the Villa Montalto-Negroni-Massimi in Rome before it was acquired in the 18th century by John Bligh, 4th Earl of Darnley (1767-1833) for his home, Cobham Hall in Kent.

It remained there until it was sold by the Darnley estate at Sotheby’s in London in 1957, where it was acquired by the New Orleans dealer J Wilson Raker, who sold it to Iberiabank.

Hadrian's Iberian ancestry was the inspiration for the bank's acquisition and the statue was placed on a pedestal outside the St Peter branch of the bank in the town of New Iberia, Louisiana until 1980, where it was covered by a domed glass enclosure.

ON NATIONAL COMIC BOOK DAY
WE REMEMBER JACQUES MARTIN



SEPTEMBER 25th is National Comic Book Day ... and we say Happy birthday to Jacques Martin, creator of Alix the blond Gallic-Roman boy who fights evildoers in ancient Rome. Jacques Martin was born 25 September 1921. Alix and his Egyptian orphan teen friend Enak have delighted comic book readers for more than 70 years ... In the image above, notice the Antinous Farnese statue on the balustrade as Alix and Enak frolic in the Edessa Falls in Greece.

Feliz aniversário Jacques Martin, criador de Alix o menino gaulês-romano loura que luta malfeitores na Roma antiga. Jacques Martin nasceu 25 de setembro de 1921. Alix e sua egípcia amigo órfão adolescente Enak ter encantado os leitores de quadrinhos por mais de 65 anos ... Feliz cumpleaños Jacques Martin, creador de Alix el muchacho rubio galo-romano que lucha contra los malhechores en la antigua Roma. Jacques Martin nació el 25 de septiembre de 1921. Alix y su amigo egipcio huérfano adolescente Enak hecho las delicias de los lectores de cómics desde hace más de 65 años.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

A PHALLIC AMULET OR TALISMAN
KEPT DOCTOR AWAY IN ANCIENT ROME



IN ancient Roman religion and magic, the fascinus or fascinum was the embodiment of the divine phallus. 

Phallic imagery was everywhere in Ancient Rome: inscribed on paving stones, on pendants and jewelry and as decorative hangings, such as this terracotta fascinus found in Pompeii.

The deity Fascinus was tended by the Vestal Virgins who blessed phallus effigies, amulets and talismans, and spoke enchantments invoke his divine protection. 

Pliny calls it a medicus invidiae, a "doctor" or remedy for envy (invidia, a "looking upon") or the evil eye.

Tintinnabulum hanging wind chimes in gardens warded off insect pests and blights from plants.

A fascinus ring on a child's finger, or pendant around the child's neck served to protect the tot from harm.

Phallic emblems on paving stones were intended to keep away evil spirits who might cause traffic accidents.

A winged phallus whisked harm away with the beat of its wings.

Monday, September 23, 2019

HOBBIT DAY IS A GOOD DAY
TO REMEMBER ANTINOUS' QUEST



SEPTEMBER 22nd is Hobbit Day in reference to its being the birthday of the hobbits Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, two fictional characters in J. R. R. Tolkien's popular set of books "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings." 

Bilbo was born in the year of 2890 and Frodo in the year of 2968 in the Third Age (1290 and 1368 respectively in Shire-Reckoning.) 

Miranda Baggins, one of our artistic social-media followers, sees parallels to Antinous! 

"I think Frodo from 'The Lord of Rings Trilogy' has such a great resemblance to Antinous ... his trial with the Evil One Ring is particularly fitting for the Eleusinian mysteries. I've placed him and Antinous side by side ... complete with black roses and pomegranates!"

Thank you, Miranda for this inspired fan art!

ANTINOUS ON MOUNT CASIUS
WAS NEARLY STRUCK BY LIGHTNING


IT was at the season of the Equinox in the year 129 that the imperial court ascended Mount Cassius (also called Mons Casius, Mount Kel or Mount Casius).

They climbed the mountain overlooking the sea because on top of it was a Temple of the Sun. 

A storm broke while they made their ascent, and Hadrian had the priests conduct the Equinox ceremony in the rain. 

During the sacrifice at the altar, a bolt of lightning struck with a horrific, earth-shattering clap of thunder ... killing the priest and the sacrificial animal together. 

This was taken as a very significant portent, one that perhaps Antinous alone comprehended, the darkness of the coming death and transfiguration were presaged. 

Hadrian took it as a sign that the gods of Syria had turned against him, thinking it was Baal-Zeus who struck down the priests as a warning to Hadrian of what lay ahead when the court entered Jerusalem. 

Perhaps it is all a myth and a legend, of course. There were many myths and legends about the events leading up to the deification of Antinous. 

Researching background information on the Lightning Bolt Omen on Mount Cassius, we stumbled upon an old Epistle which Antonius Subia wrote to the original members of this religion at this time of year back in 2002. There were only a handful of followers ... about five or six. 

Take a moment to read what Antonius wrote so many years ago:

"Whatever myths and mysteries were fabricated to legitimize the Religion of Antinous, we can be sure that they were only for the benefit of the vulgar populace, dependent on poetry and allegory. The Priesthood of Antinoopolis however, had to deal with the truth. I can't help but think that the pinnacle of his mysteries, revealed to only the most devoted, was the unsettling revelation that Antinous the God was no more than a boy, just as any of them were or had been."

And Antonius says that THAT fact was what makes our religion so special. He goes on to write:

"That Antinous lived a truly human life, died, and miraculously became a God is what captivates me, even more than his beauty. Unlike so many other, mythical gods, there is a definite level of certainty that all that is said about him is true. It is only when one begins to dig deeper that the mysteriousness of his story becomes manifest. There is a desperate shortage of evidence from his time, almost nothing at all, and what little is written is rare and clothed in foreign languages. Antinous, because of the peculiarity of his divinization, is not a subject of great philosophical interest as are the other, more popular gods."

And then he hints at the idea of HOMOTHEOSIS:

"The most important impression one receives from his story, which is utterly non-mythological, is that if he could become a God, with a star, and a flower, and an eternal name, then what prevents all of us from following in his trail? Antinous destroys the very concept of Godhood. For the vast majority, this is an incomprehensible concept, but Antinous is not a god of the populous, who remain simple in their acceptance of theology … then as now."

And he says Antinous is the divine spark of Sacred Homosexuality:

"Homosexuals suffer from a terrible lack of Gods and divine heroes. Heterosexuality has an overabundance

He adds: "I don't see the harm in claiming the truth of our one and only patron saint and god. The emphasis of our day, in which homosexuality is gaining acceptability, seems to be on bringing our sexuality into line, and in conformity to the rest of the population. But what we need most is our own identity, not as an aberration, or a peculiarity, or a mere deviation from the norm, but as a sanctification, a sacred state of blessedness. 

"For thousands of years we have been considered a degeneration, a sin, and even a disease of lust. Now people are beginning to see that we are just different, but there is almost no talk, even amongst ourselves, that we are a wonder of the human species, a divine grace, a delicate flower possible only in the most elevated levels of civilization. It is no coincidence that our sexuality has regained the prominence of respect that it knew in the age of the Antonines, and Antinous is the emblem, in my heart, of our blessedness, then as now."

Antonius then says non-pagans balk at our religion, but he also notes that traditional pagans also have problems with the concept of Antinous as the Gay God for the 21st Century, rather than remaining a reconstructed Classical deity from ancient times:

"Already I have encountered the difficulty of explaining what is so personal to an uninformed listener, and this conflict of interest, as it were, may only increase. My only hope is that Antinous has already prepared the way, as he has done with me, and a few others. However difficult and testing his message may be to bring to the world, I trust that those who are prepared to listen will need very little explanation, the truth being already ingrained within the depth of their soul.

"All I can ever do is turn the key that they alone suspected was there, but the door is for them to open. The statues, and the stark reality of his life, show that there are many sides to our Antinous, none of which is ultimately and universally true.

"However much we may delineate and formalize his religion, it must always remain founded on personal connection, and individual truth. 

"I am prepared to say that this is far more simple than it seems, if we are willing to succumb wholly to absolute freedom in ourselves, and in others."

Antonius (writing back in 2002, remember) has a final question ... a question he has posed to each new priest over the years:

"My question is this, if ever you felt yourselves to be secret priests, evangelists of beauty, and missionaries of sacred homosexuality among these barbarians of our age, what would you say to a soul in whom you could plainly see Antinous, just beneath the skin? But more importantly, why would you even mention his name?"

This weekend, as the shadow of the Super Moon Eclipse falls upon the Earth, and as we remember the story of the Lightning Omen on Mons Cassius, it is perhaps good to remember the founding tenets of our religion:

Antinous was a flesh-and-blood human being of lowly birth.

Antinous and Hadrian were male-male lovers.

Antinous died tragically, perhaps in sacrifice for his beloved Emperor.

Hadrian "wept like a woman" and issued a decree establishing the Religion of Antinous … declaring Antinous a God … the last Classical Deity.

And the question for us today is whether we would recognize a modern-day Antinous if he walked up to us on the street, or if we saw him on Netflix or on the Internet.

More importantly, can we see Antinous in the eyes of all gay men.

Because that's the first place to look for him.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

THE DAY ANTINOUS WAS INITIATED
INTO THE ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES



ON THE EQUINOX in September the Religion of Antinous commemorates the FEAST OF THE PERSEPHONEA — the initiation of Antinous into the ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES in Greece at the outset of Emperor Hadrian's Imperial Tour of the Eastern Provinces.

Historical records state that, in the late summer of the year 128, the Imperial Court embarked on a grand tour of the East. The Empress Sabina, Hadrian's wife, and her attendants were members of the entourage.

But on this particular journey, Antinous was the most favored of Hadrian's companions. Their love affair was openly, and gracefully displayed before the eyes of the world. This journey through the East, what we call the SACRED PEREGRINATION, is the only part of the short life of Antinous that history has conveyed to us. 

For this reason it takes on the importance of a sacred epic. Antinous  was in the very flower of his beauty and vigor, he was a shining star  held in the wings of the Imperial Eagle, and it is no coincidence that  this court of demigods should travel through the lands of Ganymede, Attis, Adonis, Jesus and Osiris, who were all beautiful souls taken from life before their time.


The court stayed in Athens for five or even six months, they arrived in time for the celebration of the MYSTERIES OF ELEUSIS, which symbolically portrayed the rape of Proserpina by Hades, the mourning of her mother Demeter, and the return of Spring. 

In the modern Religion of Antinous, we commemorate these ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES during the September Equinox, for it is believed that Antinous underwent the secret initiations provided by the Priests of Eleusis at the Temple of Demeter/Ceres.


The painting above by Joseph Gandy in 1818 shows how the temple may have looked in the 2nd Century AD. The painting at right is "The Garden of Persephone" by Robert Hale Ives Gammell.

Through the Priests of Eleusis Antinous received the consecration of the dark goddess of the underworld Persephone/Proserpina, which prepared him for his own death and resurrection.

In the Mysteries of Eleusis, the initiates are led into the realm of death and are confronted with immediate death. 


Two years later, in 130 AD, Hadrian and Antinous would indeed be confronted by physical death. 

In the Mysteries of Eleusis (and indeed in the Underworld after Death), the initiates cannot go back the way they have come. 

And they cannot go forward without knowing the Words of Power that will allow the gatekeepers to throw open their gates.

But we face such situations not only in secret initiations, or on our deathbeds. No, we face such "mysteries" every day of our lives. 



We put off our dreams and aspirations so we can cope more effectively with the challenges of the present, ostensibly to have more time and leisure to realize our purpose in the future. 

Or we tell ourselves that we will chase our dreams someday once we have accomplished other lesser goals.

(Photo left: Antinous statue found at Eleusis.)

In truth, it is our fear that keeps us from seeking fulfillment in the here and now — because we view failure as a possibility, our reasons for delaying our inevitable success seem sound and rational. 

If we ask ourselves what we are really waiting for, however, we discover that there is no truly compelling reason why we should put off the pursuit of the dreams that sustain us.

That is what "mystery initiations" are all about. Hadrian and Antinous were forced by the Eleusinian priests to confront their fears and to find a way to go forth into life — NOW. They had no options. It was now or never. Life or Oblivion. In our own lives, we face the same question every day. And usually we try to find a way to avoid the question.

The idols, the images, the icons, the gilded statues and the gods themselves are as nothing.

YOU YOURSELF HOLD THE KEYS TO FINDING AND FULFILLING YOUR OWN DESTINY.

It is yours to find and to fulfill. No one else's. Not even the gods'.

That is what the ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES are all about. And that is what the PERSEPHONEA is all about. And the Journey Up the Nile by Hadrian and Antinous to their Fateful Destiny with Eternity. And it is also what the symbolism of the Equinoxes is all about.

Even if the days are getting shorter, they are also getting longer — it is all a matter of perspective. The days ARE getting longer — our brothers in South America, South Africa and Australia can look out the window and see the lavender blossoms of the jacarandas in springtime bloom.

Remember Hadrian and Antinous in the Underworld (or on their Fateful Voyage Up the Nile) and understand what they understood: That the keys of fate are in your hands and you can venture forth RIGHT NOW wherever you wish to go.



FOR IT IS WRITTEN ON THE OBELISK OF ANTINOUS 

 

He is able to enter any place he wishes.
The Guardians of the Gates
Of the Underworld
Say "Praise to You!" to Him...
They loosen their bolts
And throw open their Gates before Him ...
Millions of years ... daily ...
As His duration of life is as the sun,
Never in eternity elapsing!"

 

Saturday, September 21, 2019

WE ARE THE HUNTER AND THE HUNTED
DURING THE EQUINOX STAG HUNT



ON the Equinox ... may Antinous-Cyparissus bless us with celestial alignment and let us be in harmony with the cosmos ... as worshipers in North America, South America and Europe convene live online tonight in ceremonies originating from the Hollywood Temple of Antinous. 

We regard the September Equinox (Autumnal in the Northern Hemisphere and Vernal in the Southern Hemisphere) as the SACRED STAG HUNT in which Antinous spiritually pursues the magic stag through the spiritual forest ... the stag representing the male god force within us. 

The stag is a symbol for gay spirituality, a graceful, beautiful animal, crowned with horns, mighty and strong, yet pursued by hunters who yearn for the taste of his tender meat.

We look to the story of Cyparissus the beautiful boy who was lover of Apollo or in another version of the forest god Silvanus. 

As a gift of love, the god gave Cyparissus a beautiful stag, but while hunting the ever jealous god of the west wind fooled Cyparissus into accidentally shooting and killing his beloved stag. (Image: "Cyparissus" by Jacopo Vignali)

The boy was so consumed by grief that Sylvanus-Apollo took pity and immortalized him by turning him into the Cypress tree, which is an emblem of death. 

So it is the the Stag Hunt brings summer to a close and prepares the way for the Death and Transfiguration of Antinous.

We pray to the Horned God to come into our lives and direct our magical forces as gay men towards fulfilling our goals and accomplishing our dreams. We are both hunter and hunted.

Antinous is both the beautiful Cyparissus and his beloved stag, and between the two is a sacred gay mystery.

Ave Antinous the Stag Hunter

~ANTONIUS SUBIA

KING EDWARD II AND PIERS GAVESTON
By Priest Martinus Campbell


ON 21st September I and the companions of Antinous venerate one of my heroes (flawed though he was), King Edward II of England. His story is fascinating, scandalous and, ultimately, tragic.

His story is also one of the earliest recorded examples of homophobic abuse and murder in British history.

Contemporary accounts say Prince Edward was handsome, athletic and had acquired a reputation for extravagance. 

His father, Edward I was powerful and successful in battles. Before his father's death, Prince Edward II had angered his father by his "excessive affection" for a young men, especially one called Piers Gaveston. Piers was a nobleman from Gascon - an area of South West France. Piers was Edward II's favourite lover from a group of 12 handsome young men he is recorded as always having around him. 

In July 1307 King Edward I died and and was succeeded by King Edward II - he was 23. The image below is the only surviving contemporary depiction of Edward II, showing his coronation. 

On 25 January 1308 Edward married Isabella (who was aged between twelve and sixteen at the time) the daughter of Philip IV of France. It was a marriage of convenience to consolidate power across the Norman empire. With her he needed to sire a future King, so they had several children including a son who later became King Edward III.

King Edward II was dependent on the support of the powerful English barons. However, they believed that a king had a duty to distribute patronage fairly amongst the aristocracy - not abdicate his responsibilities by showering it all on one non-aristocratic favorite. At the parliament held in April 1308 the barons demanded hat Gaveston be banished.

Edward II reluctantly agreed and sent Gaveston to Ireland as his Lieutenant there (June 1308). However, he immediately began to scheme for Gaveston's return - implementing a policy of "divide and rule", buying off some of the barons with favours. Finally the "Statute of Stamford" was signed to redress baronial grievances in exchange for Gaveston's return.

Quickly the affair with Piers began to offend the barons again. Gaveston clearly had a stinging sense of humour. He began openly inventing scandalous names for each baron. We know that "Black Dog" was applied to the Earl of Warwick, and "Bursting Belly" for the Earl of Lincoln!!

Unfortunately Edward began to lose the ground his father had won. He lost battles with Robert the Bruce thus effectively losing Scotland. The barons mutinied and, again, tried to banish Gaveston. They placed themselves in effective control of the country. Edward II refused to accept his overthrow and Gaveston's exile, so civil war erupted. Edward II placed Gaveston in Scarborough Castle under the protection of two Earls from of his trusted band of 12 men. The castle was besieged and the Earls were forced to surrender the castle and Gaveston. He was thrown in a dungeon, and then beheaded  on 19 June 1312.

In deep grief Edward lost the plot. In the vacuum that followed Robert the Bruce won a famous victory at Bannockburn thus securing Scotland as a separate kingdom for centuries ahead.

Also Queen Isabella began an adulterous affair with one of the Earls, Roger Mortimer. Isabella and Mortimer formed an army which overthrew Edward in 1326. 

He was imprisoned in a damp pit at Berkeley Castle. Two of his beloved 12 supporters made two attempts to free him but failed.

What happened next is not 100% clear but contemporary accounts show that Isabella and Mortimer announced that Edward was dead in September 1327. 

Many rumours circulated about the cause of death but the account recognised by most historians is that one man held Edward down while another pushed a red hot shaft of iron into his rectum. The screams where reputed to have been heard well beyond the castle walls.

In 1594 Christopher Marlowe published his play The Troublesome Reign and Lamentable Death of Edward the Second, King of England. Marlowe was gay and reputed by many to have been the secret lover of William Shakespeare - maybe even the true author of Shakespeare's plays. Edward II the play is never taught in schools and remained pretty much ignored until Derek Jarman's wonderful film of the play in 1991.

When I was learning British history at school the reign of Edward II was simply referred to as the 'failed rule of Edward II'.

Most gay men know of Edward II here in the UK. He is an underground cult here to many.

Many Antinous bless him.
MARTINUS

Friday, September 20, 2019

THE ROMAN GENERAL UNDER HADRIAN
WHO HAD A VISION OF A STAG



SEPTEMBER 20th is the saint day of Saint Eustace, patron saint of hunters, firefighters and also anyone facing adversity, a Christian saint who is linked by legend to Emperor Hadrian.

Saint Eustace, also known as Eustachius or Eustathius in Latin, purportedly was a general named Placidus, who converted to Christianity and who ... again, according to legend ... was persecuted by Hadrian.


While hunting a stag in Tivoli near Hadrian's Villa, Placidus saw a vision of a crucifix lodged between the stag's antlers. 

He was immediately converted, had himself and his family baptized, and changed his name to Eustace (Greek: Εὐστάθιος Eustathios "well standing, stable, steadfast").

A series of calamities followed to test his faith: his wealth was stolen; his servants died of a plague; when the family took a sea-voyage, the ship's captain kidnapped Eustace's wife Theopista.

And as Eustace crossed a river with his two sons Agapius and Theopistus, the children were taken away by a wolf and a lion. Like Job, Eustace lamented but did not lose his faith.

He was then quickly restored to his former prestige and reunited with his family. 


There is a tradition that when he demonstrated his new faith by refusing to make a pagan sacrifice, Emperor Hadrian condemned Eustace, his wife, and his sons to be roasted to death inside a Brazen Bull ... a bronze statue of a bull or an ox ... in the year AD 118.

However, the Catholic Church rejects this story as "completely false".

Eustace became known as a patron saint of hunters and firefighters, and also of anyone facing adversity; he was traditionally included among the Fourteen Holy Helpers. He is one of the patron saints of Madrid, Spain. The island of Sint Eustatius in the Caribbean Netherlands is named after him.

The German digestif schnapps Jägermeister (German for "Master of the Hunt") has a round logo of a shining cross between the antlers of a deer/stag referring to two persons who had seen such a vision: Saint Hubertus and Saint Eustace.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

THE BIRTH OF ANTONINUS PIUS



SEPTEMBER 19 the Religion of Antinous celebrates the birth of the Divine Emperor Antoninus Pius.

Caesar Titus Aurelius Fulvius Boionius Arrius Antoninus was born on this day 86 A.D. at Lanuvium, near Rome.

Under the Divine Hadrian he served as Proconsul of Asia minor from 130 to 135, the most crucial years in the development of the Religion of Antinous. After that he was summoned to Rome to be close to Hadrian as his health failed.

With the untimely death of the emperor's chosen heir, the blessed Lucius Aelius Verus Caesar, Hadrian chose Antoninus to be his successor. Thus Hadrian adopted him as his son and successor on the 25th of February 138, on condition that he himself adopted Hadrian's great nephew-by-marriage Marcus Aurelius, and Lucius Aelius Verus's son Lucius Verus, who was only 7 years old.

Hadrian's choice in successors proved to be infinitely wise. 

Following decades of political turmoil, civil strife and imperial excesses, Hadrian and his successors ushered one final period of peace and prosperity for Rome which would go done in history as the Sacred and Golden Age of the Antonines.

On Hadrian's death, Antoninus Pius was enthusiastically welcomed to the throne by the Roman people, whose hopes of a happy reign were not disappointed. For Antoninus came to his new office with simple tastes, kindly disposition, extensive experience, a well-trained intelligence and the sincerest desire for the welfare of his subjects.

One of his first acts was to persuade the Senate to grant divine honors to Hadrian, which they had at first refused (but later agreed to). This gained him the title of Pius (dutiful in affection). He built temples, theaters, and mausoleums, promoted the arts and sciences, and bestowed honors and salaries upon the teachers of rhetoric and philosophy.

Unlike his predecessors Trajan and Hadrian, Antoninus Pius was not a military man. His reign was comparatively peaceful. Insurrections amongst the Moors, Jews, and Brigantes in Britain were easily put down. The one military result which is of interest to us now is the building in Britain of the Wall of Antoninus (a few miles north of Hadrian's Wall), which was proclaimed in 2008 to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

During his reign, Antoninus issued coins celebrating the religious glory of Rome in celebration of the nine hundredth anniversary of the city in 147. The coins asserted the superiority of Romanism over the Empire.

Antoninus is said to have restored the sanctity of the ancient Roman faith, and to have reinvigorated its ceremonies, which is another possible reason why he was surnamed Pius.

The Religion of Antinous was in its infancy when Antoninus Pius came to power. The Blessed Boy's temples were under construction. The Sacred City of Antinoopolis was unfinished. It would have been easy for Antoninus Pius to pull the plug on the expense involved in the new religion. After all, Antoninus Pius was known as a penny-pincher who demanded fiscal restraint.

Instead, Antoninus Pius generously supplied the fledgling religion with imperial largess and was instrumental in the spread of the Faith of Antinous in those early years. Without him, the religion would have vanished at Hadrian's death. Instead, it flourished for centuries.

After the longest reign since Augustus (surpassing Tiberius by a couple of months), Antoninus died of fever on March 7, 161. His last public utterance was when the tribune of the night-watch came to ask the password — "aequanimit as" (equanimity). It was a fitting epitaph.

His body was placed in Hadrian's Mausoleam, a column was dedicated to him on Mars Field, and the temple he had built in the Forum in 141 to his deified wife Faustina was rededicated to the deified Faustina and the deified Antoninus. The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina still stands today in the Roman Forum (at right, now called the Church of San Lorenzo in Miranda).


We pay tribute to Antoninus Pius, who truly lived up to his title as a man of wisdom and piety.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

PAMELA COLMAN SMITH
SAINT OF ANTINOUS


MAGINATION is the key word. Just imagine the cramped artist's studio in London's Chelsea district and, with the help of the artist's images, you are there. It is December 1909. The solid-black walls of the apartment contrast starkly with the red-orange drapes. 

Jamaican folk artefacts share space on a Victorian curio shelf with photographs of friends and relatives — a mother in Jamaica, a father in Brooklyn Heights, a famous actress in a West End production, Bram Stoker, W.B. Yeats. The jet-black walls form a void-like exhibition space which highlights the dazzling Caribbean art as well as the dozens of paintings and sketches which line the walls. Suffragette posters. Oil landscapes. But particularly watercolor illustrations of dreamscapes and fairy tales.

A brightly painted miniature theatre with ornate proscenium and cloth curtain stands proudly in one corner, with its cast of tiny cardboard cut-out "actors" waiting patiently for their entrances.

An enormous gramophone stands in the opposite corner, and Debussy's La Mer is playing at full volume, as it has been all morning. The neighbours have long since stopped complaining about the music.


The artist, Pamela Colman Smith, is a petite woman in her early 30s who sits in the middle of the studio with paint brush in hand, mixing watercolors, her eyes trance-like as the music envelops her. She is wearing a vividly hued kimono with broad sleeves made even more colorful by splotches of paint.

One of the two Japanese combs pinning back her long dark hair has loosened, causing her tresses to sag to one side, but she is oblivious.  The paint is dripping from her brush, but she pays no mind, keeping her eyes firmly shut as Debussy transports her to a place she calls "the unknown country" of her artistic inner heart.

On the easel in front of her is a small canvas showing an androgynous person wearing a short kimono-like tunic with sleeves and an abstract floral design uncannily like the kimono she is wearing. The figure is striding to a precipice as a small white animal dances at his heels.

The painting is almost finished. The outline was done in pen. Only a  few more brush strokes are needed for the hand-coloring. Debussy will provide the musical sunrise which will be the cue that the illustration is finished.

And then the small illustration will join all the others (about 80 in all, give or take one or two) which are carefully arranged on drying shelves around the studio. The printer is waiting. The cards must be delivered by the end of December.


She has been working on the Tarot card project for about a year, since Arthur E.A. Waite asked her to illustrate "his" new pack of Tarot cards in his long-running one-upsmanship feud with other occultists in London. 

He had very strong ideas about the design of the 22 Greater Trumps but was unconcerned with the 56 Lesser Trumps. Only one other artist had ever illustrated all 78 cards, an unknown 15th Century artist whose dazzling cards were jealously guarded by the Sola Busca family of Italy. 

The Sola Buscas had grudgingly permitted photographic copies of the cards to be put on view at the British Museum in 1908.

And so it was, that a petite 30-something sufragette took a tweedy advertising executive for the Horlick's bedtime powdered milk drink  (Waite's "day job" when he wasn't doing occult spellwork) and dragged him to the British Museum and said she would do the job but only on condition that she illustrate all 78 cards with artistic license for design and color.

It had taken months of pain-staking work. "A big job for very little cash!" she would write to her friend and benefactor Alfred Stieglitz,  who had made room in his famed New York photography gallery for exhibitions of some of her "Pictures in Music", watercolors she painted in a trance-like state while listening to her favorite composers, such as Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Debussy. On a visit to Paris, she had even been bold enough to introduce herself to Debussy and show him paintings she had done to his music. She was greatly flattered when he said she had captured the very essence of his music.


"You ask me how these pictures are evolved," she said. "They are not the music theme — pictures of the flying notes — not conscious illustrations of the name given to a piece of music, but just what I see when I hear music-thoughts loosened and set free by the spell of the sound."

She explained that, for example, "Often when I hear Bach I hear bells ringing in the sky, rung by whirling cords held in the hands of maidens dressed in brown."

Stieglitz had shown her music paintings to rave reviews in New York in 1907. The New York Sun critic wrote: "Pamela Colman Smith is a young woman with the quality rare in either sex — imagination."

Pamela — "Pixie" to her few close friends (mostly women) — had grown up in London and New York City, as well as in Jamaica. Her father was a globe-trotting businessman who spent little time at home. Her mother came from a long line of women poets and children's story-book writers. The details of her childhood are fuzzy. She had a dark complexion and facial features which prompted speculation that she had been adopted during her father's many trips to Jamaica. At any rate, she spent her formative years in Jamaica, where she learned the patois dialect perfectly and became a master story-teller of Jamaican tales of magic and wonder.


But when her mother died at an early age, little Pixie moved to Brooklyn Heights where she lived with her father and pursued art classes at the renowned Pratt Institute, a progressive school which encouraged students to explore new avenues of expression.

And when her father also died suddenly, she was shipped back to England to live with a troupe of actors who were friends of her eccentric father. She was relieved to be back in England, since her skin color had exposed her to racist discrimination in the States.

The rarified atmosphere of London's Leicester Square theatre district was an invigorating change. In New York she had been "a mulatto". 

In London's West End she was simply exotic. She lived with the high-profile actress Ellen Terry, who became her mother, mentor and best friend. Sir Henry Irving, a leading thespian and empresario, became her ersatz father. The three of them toured Britain in productions when they weren't staging their own plays in the West End. Pixie lived in Irving's theatre. She learned set design, costume design (and how to mend costumes between acts) and she learned how the stage is the world-in-small.

A century on, it is hard for us to appreciate how mind-opening the theatre was. There was no radio, no television. Even the cinema was in its infancy. To see the world, you went to the theatre. Pamela didn't just go to the theatre. Surrounded by actors and directors 24 hours a day, she truly LIVED the theatre. She said it was the perfect place for a budding artist.


"Go and see all the plays you can," she advised young artists. "For the stage is a great school — or should be — to the illustrator — as well as to others."

She openly admitted she had learned more in the theatre than at her famous New York art institute.

"The stage has taught me almost all I know of clothes, of action and  of pictorial gestures," she said, and her advice to other artists was to  throw away the textbook and just open their eyes and ears. An artist should always have a sketch pad at hand. She even took her sketch pad to the ballet to see Nijinsky dance.


"Learn from everything, see everything, and above all feel everything! And make other people when they look at your drawing feel it too!"

She was dismissive of painters who are interested only in their medium and who shun other liberal arts.

"Keep an open mind to all things," she said. Even though you are a painter, listen to music, go to the ballet.


"Hear all the music you can, for sound and form are more closely related than we know."

And she dismissed turn-of-the-century painters who strove only for beauty, ignoring ugliness.

"For through ugliness is beauty sometimes found," she observed. She recalled having seen a very dark and brutal stage production which in a way reminded her of the gritty beauty of poverty-stricken Jamaica.

"All through that play I thought that ugly things may be true to nature, but surely it is through evil, that we realize good. The far-off  scent of morning air, the blue mountains, the sunshine, the flowers, of a country I once lived in, seemed to rise before me — and there on the stage was a woman sitting on a chair, her body stiff, her eyes rolling, a wonderfully realistic picture of a fit."

Through Ellen Terry and Henry Irving, Pamela made friends with literary luminaries such as "Dracula" author Bram Stoker, "Peter Pan" playwright J.M. Barrie and and poet/playwright W.B. Yeats.

In fact, "Sherlock Holmes" was her uncle — because her real-life great uncle was the actor William Gillette, who brought Holmes to the stage in London and on Broadway. It was Gillette who introduced many of the mannerisms and props (the deerstalker cap, the meerschaum pipe) which have been intrinsically associated with Sherlock Holmes by succeeding generations. Her Uncle Bill even saw to it that Pamela illustrated the programs for his Holmes productions.



Pamela became well-known for her afternoon literary teas, at which Yeats, Stoker and other luminaries would gather in her studio while she put on the costume of a Jamaican wise woman and sat cross-legged on the floor, relating Jamaican folk tales in dialect.

She used a miniature theatre and tiny cardboard characters to illustrate her hugely delightful tales.

Her literary friends encouraged her to publish and illustrate the stories under her own name, which she did. The book is still in print.

One frequent male visitor described one such literary evening, saying, "The door was flung open, and we saw a little round woman, scarcely more than a girl, standing in the threshold. She looked as if she had been the same age all her life, and would be so to the end. She was dressed in an orange-colored coat that hung loose over a green skirt, with black  tassles sewn all around over the orange silk, like the frills on a Red Indian's trousers. She welcomed us with a little shriek. She was very dark, and not thin, and when she smiled, with a smile that was peculiarly infectious, her twinkling gypsy eyes seemed to vanish altoghether. Just now, at the door they were the eyes of a joyous, excited child."

This was shortly after the turn of the 20th Century, and she had perfected her artistic style and was busy as a book and magazine illustrator. While publishers mandated style to some extent, Pamela Colman Smith advocated the Arts and Crafts style, also known as the Secession style or, in the US, as the Craftsman or, especially in California, called the Mission style.

The Arts and Crafts Movement was a style which dominated in the years before World War I, and which was between the Art Nouveau style of the 1890s and the Expressionist style which would revolutionize art after the Great War. The Arts and Crafts Movement was an attempt to reject superfluous Victorian "wedding cake" adornment and to simplify things to the basics of simple lines and solid colors, in defiance of bourgeouis homeowners who wanted clutter.

For one brief moment, in the cosy years before the war, idealistic artists such as Pamela depicted a magical world in which machines did not dominate humankind. They were artists who sought to recreate pre-industrial, even primitive styles in art, architecture and decoration. Lines were simple. Colors were bold and earthy.


Pamela's generation of artists saw that a world driven by steam pistons was heading blindly, full-steam ahead for collision with the cold and immutable forces of nature. The Titanic disaster in 1912 was only a symbolic inevitable disaster waiting to happen, as far as these artists were concerned.

The Arts and Crafts Movement flourished in the first decade of the 20th Century, and Pamela managed to get by financially with her illustrations in that style. She also provided illustrations and even wrote articles for Gustav Stickley's "The Craftsman" magazine which was a leading purveyor of the style.

Not surprisingly, her Tarot cards are an enduring monument to the Arts and Crafts Movement and its philosophy which holds that a return to timeless styles in the Arts can help the human race return to timeless virtues and ageless wisdom. She was seeking to create a world in which racist thought and moral hypocrisy would vanish along with high-button shoes and celluloid shirt collars. She wanted everyone to sit on the floor, cross-legged, and discover the childlike magic of just being alive.

The cards were published with very little fanfare in December 1909. Only a few occultists took notice, and most of them were engaged in feuds with each other. The general public did not notice. Tarot cards were considered to be "French". The only Tarot cards hitherto available were from France, and they were considered only slightly less objectionable than saucy French porn postcards. Pamela was keenly aware that her cards were not going to make inroads into popular culture.


"Oh, the prudishness and pompous falseness of a great mass of intelligent people!" she wrote in an article for Stickley's "The Craftsman". It was an article aimed at inspiring young artists. "Lift up your ideals, you weaklings, and force a way out of that thunderous clamor of the steam piston, the hurrying herd of blind humanity, noise, dust, strife, seething toil!"


Those 78 cards are a veritable map of the place which she called "the unknown country" within an artist's heart. Many of her book illustrations are variations on that theme, such as "The Hill of Heart's Desire" at left.

To look at each card in succession is to take a trip through a magical land where cosmic wisdom and virtue prevail. You can spot  recurring landmarks, such as castles, bridges and towers, which recur from different vantage points throughout the "journey". This magical land is peopled by beings who at times wear Renaissance clothing and at other times wear chitons and togas. The whole magical world is a place beyond linear time and space.


Waite never adequately acknowledged her work. In the book accompanying the cards he failed to mention her by name, saying only that a "young woman artist" had illustrated them on his instructions. 
But in fact, Pamela had been a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn along with Stoker and Waite. In a way it was only natural since the English-speaking world's first esoteric book store, Watkins, had just opened its doors a few steps away from the Leicester Square theatre district.

Pamela never wrote about her initiation into occult mysteries. But the very first card in the deck, The Magician, is graphic proof that she was privy to occult knowledge of the most secret sort. In 1909 only a handful of people had read a badly translated copy of Das Buch Abramelin, a 15th Century German-language grimoire written by a German-Jewish sorcerer who claimed to have been initiated into ancient mysteries by a master living in a desert cave on the banks of the Nile.

Even now, a century after Pamela painted that card, very few people have read the Book of Abramelin, certainly not in the original German. To this day there is no full English translation. Those few who have read it immediately realize that The Magician card is a very precise portrait taken straight from the ancient book.

In it, the novice magician is instructed to wear a clean white tunic bound at the waist by a symbolic ouroboros serpent. He is to wear a  crimson mantle over the tunic while standing before a simple wooden table upon which are his magical tools. The book then says that, for best results, the magician's magical work space should look out over a witch's garden of flowers and magical herbs.

Whatever Waite thought of "his" cards — and he was very vague in  saying what their purpose should be other than clearly to aggrandize  himself — Pamela knew they were tools not for TELLING the future, but for SHAPING the future through ancient Abramelin magical spells. That occult secret, sealed in the colorful symbolism of her cards, was destined to die with her — to be rediscovered a century after she created the cards by priests of ANTINOUS THE GAY GOD.


With that first card, The Magician, and with Renaissance alchemical symbolism throughout the deck, Pamela shows she was highly knowledgeable in the occult arts.

The rest of her story is quickly told. The Titanic sank but the age of the steam pistons did not go down with it. Instead, the First World War swept aside the lofty dreams of Pamela's generation of artists. The Arts and Crafts Movement was the first casualty. By 1915 Gustav Stickley's "The Craftsman" magazine ceased publication and his design company went bankrupt.

Pamela's illustration assignments dried up. By the mid-1920s she was unable to get even one job a year. When a distant uncle died and left her a modest nest egg, she took the money and left London, buying a village cottage at the far western tip of England — not far, in fact, from the fictional location of Baskerville Hall, which had figured so prominently in Uncle Bill's Broadway-hit Sherlock Holmes plays.


She lived in isolation with a woman companion. She died penniless at age 72 on September 18, 1951. The cottage and all her possessions were auctioned to pay back taxes, leaving her companion with nothing.

In December 1909 she had told her New York gallerista friend Alfred Stieglitz that she would send him a pack of the Tarot cards which she said were being "printed in color lithography (probably very badly) as soon as they are ready" and that she would also "send over some of the original drawings as some people MAY like them." By "some people", she meant "buyers". But the original art work has never surfaced. Not one of the 78 originals is known to exist.

The printed card decks vanished into obscurity for decades until the  American playing card connoisseur Stuart R. Kaplan resurrected them in about 1970. It is largely thanks to him that anyone knows anything about this extraordinary artist, who created a single work which is ageless and timeless and which continues to appeal to new generations.

The final word belongs to Pamela Colman Smith, and it is a statement of inner strength which could just as easily be the catch-phrase of The Fool card in her Tarot:


"Banish fear, brace your courage, place your ideals high up with the  sun, away from the dirt and squalor and ugliness around you and let that power that makes the 'roar of the high-power pistons' enter into your work — energy — courage — life — love. Use your wits. Use your eyes. Perhaps you use your physical eyes too much and only see the mask. Find eyes within, look for the door into the unknown country."