1) A basic introduction of the deity
I was supposed to write a little piece introducing Pan but it turned into a bit of devotional writing so rather than mess with perfection (well, something I like anyway) I’m going to use it as my introduction.
What can we say about Pan, wild and untamed as he is?
Pan, fleeting shadow in the forest green, distant hooves accompanied by baying hound, laughing eyes and member proud.
Pan, Great God who’s death was much proclaimed by Thamus the Sailor but who is felt as we walk through nature and the wild places that are his domain.
Pan, who makes sport of chasing shepherd and nymph alike, and isn’t above wandering through the herd should he feel the need, randy old goat that he is.
Pan, lustful and laughing, but maddened and frightening when roused from his nap bringing panic to the enemies of man and god alike.
Pan is all this and so much more; Father, Lover, Protector.
© Vicky Newton 2015
2) How did you become first aware of this deity?
As with Hekate I have always been academically aware of Pan to a certain extend for a long time however it is only I later life that I have come to “know” him. Ipnitially I only intended to work with Pan for a short period of time, a one off ritual and even then he didn’t take me in the direction I initially imagined in that work. Even with those lessons learnt Pan has remained by my side, a source of strength and guidance but also a reminder of the lighter sides of life.
3) Symbols and icons of this deity
Grapes / Vine Leaves
4)A favourite myth or myths of this deity
The Homeric Hymn contains the tale of his birth which is a favourite because it reminds me that in rejecting Pan (and I did for a number of years) whether it be for his looks, maligned history or chaotic nature we are rejecting something within ourselves. The baser elements that we associate more with animals and prehistoric ancestors which are considered so chaotic still governs our most basic of responses and emotions. Not only that it shows the jovial side of the Great God which reminds me that I can’t expect him always to be deadly serious, a good thing for me.
Muse, tell me about Pan, the dear son of Hermes, with his goat’s feet and two horns — a lover of merry noise. Through wooded glades he wanders with dancing nymphs who foot it on some sheer cliff’s edge, calling upon Pan, the shepherd-god, long-haired, unkempt. He has every snowy crest and the mountain peaks and rocky crests for his domain; hither and thither he goes through the close thickets, now lured by soft streams, and now he presses on amongst towering crags and climbs up to the highest peak that overlooks the flocks. Often he courses through the glistening high mountains, and often on the shouldered hills he speeds along slaying wild beasts, this keen-eyed god. Only at evening, as he returns from the chase, he sounds his note, playing sweet and low on his pipes of reed: not even she could excel him in melody — that bird who in flower-laden spring pouring forth her lament utters honey-voiced song amid the leaves. At that hour the clear-voiced nymphs are with him and move with nimble feet, singing by some spring of dark water, while Echo wails about the mountain-top, and the god on this side or on that of the choirs, or at times sidling into the midst, plies it nimbly with his feet. On his back he wears a spotted lynx-pelt, and he delights in high-pitched songs in a soft meadow where crocuses and sweet-smelling hyacinths bloom at random in the grass.
They sing of the blessed gods and high Olympus and choose to tell of such an one as luck-bringing Hermes above the rest, how he is the swift messenger of all the gods, and how he came to Arcadia, the land of many springs and mother of flocks, there where his sacred place is as god fo Cyllene. For there, though a god, he used to tend curly-fleeced sheep in the service of a mortal man, because there fell on him and waxed strong melting desire to wed the rich-tressed daughter of Dryops, and there be brought about the merry marriage. And in the house she bare Hermes a dear son who from his birth was marvellous to look upon, with goat’s feet and two horns — a noisy, merry-laughing child. But when the nurse saw his uncouth face and full beard, she was afraid and sprang up and fled and left the child. Then luck-bringing Hermes received him and took him in his arms: very glad in his heart was the god. And he went quickly to the abodes of the deathless gods, carrying the son wrapped in warm skins of mountain hares, and set him down beside Zeus and showed him to the rest of the gods. Then all the immortals were glad in heart and Bacchie Dionysus in especial; and they called the boy Pan because he delighted all their hearts.
And so hail to you, lord! I seek your favour with a song. And now I will remember you and another song also.
Homeric Hymn to Pan Theoi
5) Members of the family – genealogical connections
Like many other gods the tale of Pan’s birth is conflicted and dependant on the whims of the author and cult which is telling it. The most widely accept birth myth is the one proclaimed by Homer in his Hymn to Pan, wherein he states that the God was born of Hermes and Dryope, daughter of Dryops for whom Hermes watched the herds.
Dryope appears in Greek Mythology in a number of forms, both as a mortal as described in the hymn and as the mortal seduced by Apollo who later transformed into the black poplar tree after her encounter with the red lotus tree. She is also referred to as the nymph responsible for the abduction of Hylas, companion to Heracles, and is conflated with Merope, the youngest of the Pleiades and the only one of the heavenly sisters to take a mortal lover.
Dryope is not the only woman credited with being the mother of Pan, although Hermes is consistently listed as being His father. Below is a list, with references, of Pan’s various mothers.
Thymbris (Apollodorus 1.22-23, Scholiast Ad Theocritus 1.123)
Penelope (Herodotus 2.145, Apollodorus E7.38, Hyginus Fabulae 224, Nonnus Dionysiaca 14.67, Servius Ad Aeneid 2.43
Kallisto (Scholiast Ad Theocritus 1.3)
Orneios (Scholiast Ad Theocritus 1.3)
Pan is also credited as having fathered a number of children by various mothers. Below is a list of Child (Mother) (Source)
The Panes X12 (Dionysiaca 14.67)
Krotos (By Eupheme) (Eratosthenes, Hyginus Fabulae 224, Hyginus Astr. 2.27)
Akis (By Symaithis) (Ovid Metamorphoses 13.750)
Eurymedon (Statius Thebaid 11.32)
Krenaios (By Ismenis) (Statius Thebaid 9.318)
Lynx (By Ekho) (Other References)
Seilenos (By Melia) (Other References)
6) Other related deities and entities associated with this deity
Dionysus – Pan is often depicted as being a companion of Dionysus, who was the god of wine, vegetation, pleasure and festivity, all things that Pan himself loved.
Satyrs – what can I say, the stag night of the Greek world. Fearsomely protective of the wild lands they roam and not above a damn good party when the Gods are throwing one.
Nymphs – if satyrs are the stags then the nymphs are the hens. Nymphs love to party but that doesn’t always mean they want to party with the boyz. They often get the short end of the stick when pursued by various Gods either because they fall victim to the jealousy or anger of goddesses or the well intentioned “sympathy” of deities.
Selene – Goddess of the Moon, Pan disguised himself by covering his body with a pure white sheep pelt and seduced Selene out of the heavens and into his arms.
Syrinx, Pitys, Ekho and Psyche – These Nymphs are named as either being pursued by Pan, as in the case of Syrinx who was transformed into reeds in order to avoid Pan’s embrace and Pitys who became the Beech tree, or were taken in by him after they were rejected by other lovers, as in the case of Ekho and Psyche.
Daphnis – The mortal son of Hermes and a Nymph, Daphnis was raised amongst shepherds where he encountered Pan. Pan fell in love with him and taught him to play the Pan Pipes, the musical instrument created out of the reeds that had once been the nymph Syrinx.
7) Names and epithets
Latin Spellin Meaning Nomius Of the Pastures
Agreus Of the Hunt
Agrotas Giver of Pastures
Acrorites Mount Akroria
Sinoeïs Mischief, Bane
Scolitas Winding Crooked
Aego’cerus Goat Horned God
Aigibatês Who mounts goats
Balanëphagoi Acorn Eater
(I have included Balanëphagoi, which is the Transliteration and not Latin spelling, here because it is an epithet I sometimes used in my UPG. Although not applied to Pan directly “Acorn Eaters” is a phrase used to described the Arcadians and I use it when approaching Pan as I see it as being part of his woodland and hunter/gathering role in mythology)
Because i was worried about space I have edited out Greek Spellings and transliterations. For fuller information please visit Theoi.com
8) Variations on this deity (aspects, regional forms, etc.)
The obvious example here would be that of Fanus, the Roman God of the Wilderness. Not only do they share the same physical depictions and areas of dominion but Fanus was also credited with having originally come from Arcadia, as Virgil credits him with originally having been the king of the Latins whose shade was consulted in prophecy under the name Fatuus. There is some degree of separation between Fanus and Pan, with Virgil referring to both Gods as being distinct and individual.
We’ve already mentioned the Satyrs so let’s consider the Panes, and specifically the Paneides as the son’s of Pan. Panes are daimones (spirits) of the wilderness and are particularly drawn to hears of sheep and goats as they share similar physical characteristics. Whilst Pan is human from head to waist and goat from the waist down the Panes only poses a human torso whilst their head is that of a goat. They’re just as ‘horny’ as Pan in both sense of the word. The Paneides are the 12 son’s of Pan whilst the Panes are a multiplicity of Pan’s with Pan their leader or prime. The Paneides are called;
Latin Spelling Meaning
Celaeneus Black haired
Aegicorus Glutted on Goats
Omester Eater of Raw Flesh
Daphoeneus Bloody, Tawny
Philamnus Friend of Lambs
Xanthus Blonde haired
Glaucus Grey haired
Argus Silver haired
Phorbas Of the Grazing
Again, because of space restrictions i have only listed the Latin name and meaning. Please refer to Theoi.com for a full listing.
9) Common mistakes about this deity
Two common mistakes about Pan are that He’s all about sex and nothing more and that He is Dead.
Looking at the first statement, whilst it’s fair to say that Pan has had his fair share of sexploits and his wild nature plays a major part in this there is more to Pan than just Sex. Pan is a protector not only of the wilderness and the animals within it but of man, particularly those that pay him homage, or promised to do so. Pan lent his aid to the Athenians by causing panic amongst the ranks of the enemy (Herodotus, Histories 6. 105. 1), causing much confusion and death amongst them. In thanks the Athenians dedicated a cave beneath the Akropolis and held regular sacrifice and annual celebrations to honour Him. For this reason he should be considered a protector as well as a randy god of lust and sex.
The second misconception is that the Great God is dead. The report of his death comes through Plutarch in his work , The Obsolescence of Oracles, in which he credits the sailor Thamus with hearing a great divine voice as he journeyed to Italy via the island of Paxi during the reign of the emperor Tiberius (CE 14-37).
“Thamus, are you there? When you reach Palodes, take care to proclaim that the great god Pan is dead.”
Thamus duly reports this when he reaches land and is greeted by lamentations and wailings at the loss of the God.
It makes sense that Plutarch, who was writing against the use of Oracles and attempting to explain/promote their decline in The Obsolescence of Oracles, would mention Pan. Pan was held as a God of “rustic” prophecy, that is to say he was associated with more fundamental forms of divination such as reading the clouds (Nephomancy)or the cries and flight of birds (Ornithomancy )as opposed to the trance states used by the Oracles of Delpi.
Some Christian scholars have read into the proclamation the birth point of theology. In this explanation the cult of Pan must “die” in order for the cult of Christ to rise up and fill that void. A third explanation, given by Robert Graves amongst others, is that the phrase Thamus Panmegas tethneke or ‘the all-great Tammuz is dead’ was misheard by Thamus, who was Egyptain and would not have been familiar with the transplanted Babylonian cult of Thammuz, for Thamous, Pan ho megas tethneke ‘Thamus, Great Pan is dead!’.
Whatever the reason it is clear that the pronouncement did not effect any great change in the activities around Pan’s cult centres. A century after Plutarch, in his work Description of Greece, Pausanias the traveller found that the sacred shrines, mountains and caves associated with Pan were still frequented.
10) Offerings – historical and UPG