Pan – 30 Days of Devotion Part 2

This is my second instalment of my 30 Days of Devotion to Pan.

11) Festivals, days, and times sacred to this deity
Lupercalia is a Roman festival observed between February 13th and 15th. Marked by the sacrifices of goats and a dogs; offering of cakes and fertility rites, Lupercalia celebrated the Roman Shepherding god Lupercus who was often linked with Greek Pan. This pastoral festival is linked to older Arcardian observation of Lykaia and replaced the older Roman spring festival Februalia in providing a time to expel evil spirits and purify the city at the same time as bringing health and fertility to the city and its people.

If there was ever a time where it was inappropriate to call on Pan it is between12pm and 2pm. High noon is a time of rest, when the heat of the day is upon us, and Pan does not like to be disturbed when he’s having a nap.

12) Places associated with this deity and their worship
Wild Places
Salt Marshes

13) What modern cultural issues are closest to this deity’s heart?
As I write this I am not sure what label to apply to Pan in terms of his sexuality. Looking at mythology I am inclined to say that he is bisexual as I perceive a preference towards Nymphs (females) in his choice of partners however that perception might be faulty. Regardless Pan has liaisons with both genders and the alternative label would be pansexual. Pan is certainly a popular deity amongst gay witches and magical practitioners and I like to think that he is supportive of LGBT issues and protective of the LGBT community.

Another issue that I suspect is close to Pan is environmental conservation and issues around protecting the environment and the creatures within it. The wild lands are his home, and the creatures within his charges to protect and guide, why would he not be interested in protected these lands?

14) Has worship of this deity changed in modern times?
I’ve struggled with this because and honest answer is I don’t know. Something that occurs to me is that the worship of Pan in modern times seems to increasing shun the grotto’s and caves which were associated with his shrines in favour of woodland groves and outdoor environs. Perhaps this is a sign that He is casting off the dark shadows of misconception and coming further into the light however it is equally probable that the focus of modern worship is on ecological issues rather than other roles associated with Pan.

15) Any mundane practices that are associated with this deity?
I’m sure that not everyone would agree with this as being mundane, because it doesn’t have to be, but masturbation was an act linked to Pan. Pan is said to have learnt about this from his father Hermes and then gone on to teach it to the herders of Greece.

16) How do you think this deity represents the values of their pantheon and cultural origins?
Greece considered itself the first truly civilized cultures. Never mind what had gone before Greece was the epitome of what civilization could achieve. Where then does rustic Pan fit into all of this? Pan servers as a reminder of where the Greeks came from, where hunting and close partnership with the land and pastoral activities were key to survival. Pan can be seen as providing a cultural reminder of an even older past, which may be analogous to a time when hunting and gathering from woodland and plain was the main source of food and materials. Apollonius Rhodios, writing in the early part of the 3rd century BCE, tells as that the Arcadians, the people who first worshiped Pan, came from a “time before the moon” and lived off acorns in the mountainous lands before the deluge. Lycophron (285-247 BC) evokes the oakborn Arcadians, eaters of acorns and older than the moon and states that they are descended from Dryops, son of Lykaon (possibly Apollo) and Dia and father of Dryopes sometimes mother of Pan. The Arcadians are described as strong but primitive, nourished by a highly nutritious but apparently second rate food source as an alternative to cultivated grains. In light of this Pan comes to represent these primitive origins, half human half beast with “uncouth” features and wild hair. 

Pan also presents a blending of animalistic qualities and human ones, again reminding the observer how closely the two things lie. In the mythology of his birth Pan is rejected by his nurse/mother because of his inhuman appearance. He is cast out of humanity because of his appearance and all it implies and is taken to Olympus where the Gods, particularly Dionysus, find him most amusing and accept him as one of their own. His animalistic nature, so repellent to humanity, can be interpreted as representing qualities that we as humans identify with the animal world and as a result attempt to repress them. The myth implies that by rejecting Pan we both reject part of ourselves and have missed an opportunity to approach the God’s in a way that they find pleasing. As Philippe Borgeaud interpreters the Hymn to Pan: if we refuse the beast, we shall never know how to resemble a god.

17) How does this deity relate to other gods and other pantheons?
Pan is a known companion of Dionysus, Aphrodite and Artemis, though his status can be viewed as somewhat lesser. He is the “master of dogs” for Artemis and a clownish companion to flirtation Aphrodite. With Dionysus the relationship is that of supporter, as in the Indian Wars, and drinking buddy. He is sometimes shown as a devotee of Hermes and Hekate, too deities with similar liminal roles to himself. Just as Hekate and Hermes are messengers between God and Man so Pan performs a similar function and he shares the ability to possess mortals causing them to suffer from the Sacred Disease of epilepsy.

There are also links drawn between Hekate and Pan in the appearance of a hidden inscription to Pan, located not far from the Sanctuary of Hekate at Eleusis, dated to the first century BCE and their roles within the Rape of Persephone. In this Pan, or “Nuptuial Pan”, plays a similar guide role as Hekate and guides Persephone into her new life. Scenes from a Megaran relief bowl found at Thebes shows on one side Hermes leading Hades and the kidnaped Persephone into the Underworld whilst Hekate, Athena and Artemis pursuit them. On the other side Pan is shown emerging through the reeds of a marsh land, a landscape associated with the transition between the mortal realm and that of the dead. In this Pan is seen as leading the nuptial procession, taking Persephone into the lands where she will reside with her lawful (legitimately chosen by her father) husband. Pan also plays his part in helping Demeter return from her wanderings to the heavenly realms once more after finding her wandering the Mountain of Elaios (Elaeus) in Arcadia and informing Zeus of her location.

Moving on to other deities Pan is often conflated with the Roman gods Fanus and Lupercus. Pan is often conflated into a generic and harmonised “Horned God” worshiped by the European witch-cult described in her book “The God of Witches”. Pan then becomes part of the symbolic virile and fertile God of the Wildwoods, the embodiment of masculinity. 

18) How does this deity stand in terms of gender and sexuality? (historical and/or UPG)
In terms of sexual orientation Pan can be considered bisexual, possibly even pansexual if you feel that there is a lack of defined preference in his choice of lovers. Personally I see it as being weighted towards female lovers just in terms of numbers making the correct label bisexual. On gender identity and sexual orientation I think Pan is open to all things and whilst he is very clearly an example of masculine energies and virility he is accessible to both genders on an equal level. In terms of gender roles Pan’s mythologies show that whilst he is more than capable of chasing skirt there is no disrespect towards women, in fact he is often shown as being subservient to goddesses in some scenarios or holding them in high esteem.

19) What quality or qualities of this god do you most admire? What quality or qualities of them do you find the most troubling?
Pan is a God of extremes. On one hand he is an almost comical character, the jester to the Gods even, but on the other hand he is a fearsome creature, able to bring madness and fear to those he considers his enemies or deserving of his wrath. His joy and laughter and ad protective, gentle qualities of the woodland protector are certainly qualities that I admire and I am drawn to. It would be unfair to deny that part of the attraction and admiration I feel towards him revolves around his unrestrained sexuality and lust for life but this is tinged with awe, respect and wariness. Pan is, at his centre, a force of nature; wild and unpredictable. He cannot be reasoned with, his influences on us may not be entirely rational and it is oh so easy to let him carry you away. Whilst the occasional lesson in letting go is one thing, getting carried off against your will is something else entirely. If an action feels wrong then it usually is, and you have the right and ability to say “no” if you are uncomfortable. Pan’s true nature shouldn’t become an excuse for your actions and it worries me when I see it used as such.


About knotmagick

Weaving Magick and Crochet in the madhouse I call home. I am a devotee of Hekate and a follower of Pan.
This entry was posted in 30 Days of Devotion, Pan, The Pagan Experience 2015 and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Pan – 30 Days of Devotion Part 2

  1. jane burton says:

    Can I just say how much I enjoy reading your blogs. They are both informative whilst retaining accessibility.

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