This is the third and final installment of my 30 Days of Devotion to Pan. I’ve really enjoyed working through the format and learning the depths of my God anew.
20) Art that reminds you of this deity
It’s so hard just to pick one…
This image is taken from the cover of Arthur Machen’s book The Great God Pan. I like it because it catches Him in the moment of a maddened caper between one leap and the next.
21) Music that makes you think of this deity
Three tracks that immediately spring to mind are Hymn to Pan, Arcadia and Andro, all by the wonderfully talented Faun. Putting aside that they take their name from fanus and all the satyr connections there they have a number a tracks that, for me, really invoke a mental image of the landscape of ancient Greece when I hear it.
22) A quote, a poem, or piece of writing that you think this deity resonates strongly with.
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame Chapter 7 – Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Really the chapter should be read in its entirety but I wanted to pick out the two sections that resonate with me the most.
“Then suddenly the Mole felt a great Awe fall upon him, an awe that turned his muscles to water, bowed his head, and rooted his feet to the ground. It was no panic terror— indeed he felt wonderfully at peace and happy— but it was an awe that smote and held him and, without seeing, he knew it could only mean that some august Presence was very, very near. With difficulty he turned to look for his friend. and saw him at his side cowed, stricken, and trembling violently. And still there was utter silence in the populous bird-haunted branches around them; and still the light grew and grew … He looked in the very eyes of the Friend and Helper; saw the backward sweep of the curved horns, gleaming in the growing daylight; saw the stern, hooked nose between the kindly eyes that were looking down on them humourously, while the bearded mouth broke into a half-smile at the corners; saw the rippling muscles on the arm that lay across the broad chest, the long supple hand still holding the pan-pipes only just fallen away from the parted lips; saw the splendid curves of the shaggy limbs disposed in majestic ease on the sward ….
“Lest the awe should dwell— And turn your frolic to fret— You shall look on my power at the helping hour— But then you shall forget! …
Lest limbs be reddened and rent— I spring the trap that is set— As I loose the snare you may glimpse me there— For surely you shall forget! …
Helper and healer, I cheer— Small waifs in the woodland wet— Strays I find in it, wounds I bind in it— Bidding them all forget!”
23) Your own composition – a piece of writing about or for this deity
I wrote this hymn, which is a combination of the Homeric and Orphic hymns to Pan, to match the adaptation of the Homeric hymn to Hekate as presented by Melissa of the Bees. Like the Hekate hymn it really raises the energies but I only tend to use them when I know I have a lot of time in my ritual and that I’m not about to disturbe anyone else in the house.
I call to Pan, Lord of the Woodland; Piper at the Gates of Dawn.
From ancient lands of Arcadia; Land of Springs, of heard and flock.
Born of mortal and of Heavenly Hermes child of hoof and horn.
Through woodland glade with nymph he wanders, Shepherd God his beard unkempt.
Cross snowy peaks and o’re the mountain-top following his wayward flock.
Returned from chase he brings his music, pipes of reed most sweetly played.
In glades arrayed in fragrant blossom, spirits dance and leap and twirl.
In caverns deep he finds his shelter and draws us in with pipers song.
With panic driven by his music, fear is driven by the sound.
His guidance brings a generous bounty there for all mankind to share.
Words by Vicky Newton
24) A time when this deity has helped you
All the time. He is a rock and a protector and always there for the times both good and bad. I am not going into specifics but lets just say his responses aren’t always what I would want or expect and he doesn’t do things by half.
25) A time when this deity has refused to help?
Not so far, but as with any deity I am careful what I ask for and when.
26) How has your relationship with this deity changed over time?
Initially it was a very intense relationship which eased over time, Pan was at the forefront of everything and was encroaching on my work with Hekate. Things have settled since then and they now sit side by side quite happily, with the occasional visit during my dreams.
27) Worst misconception about this deity that you have encountered
I’ve mentioned a couple of times how the idea that Pan is about sex and nothing else bugs me so you can take that as a misconception that bugs me. One of the worst misconceptions I’ve encountered has come from outside the Pagan communities I interact with. This misconception has to do with the conflation of Pan with Satan and that by worshiping Pan I am somehow involved in Devil worship or am devoted to an incarnation of Satan Himself. To a certain degree this is an understandable misconception, the iconography of the Enemy of God is firmly tied into a number of different Greek and Horned Gods however it still ranks as my personal worst.
The pitchfork is Neptune/Poseidon whilst the half goat body is that of Pan and the horns those of every horned god and nature spirit that there has ever been. The image presented in completion contains elements of various ancient religious traditions both in Britain and on the Continent, showing images of Gods previously associated with life and frivolity in a negative light. The Christian God was meant to be the only source of life and nature and any deity associated with these and similar aspects needed to be vilified. Also, characteristics like overt interest in womanizing and sex did not form part of accepted Church doctrine and so these things were emphasised to the level of the grotesque in an attempt to widen the gap between newly emerging Christianity and pre-existing traditions.
The intention was to cast the old Gods and traditions in to a negative light, dissuading new coverts from holding on to things out of a sense of tradition and drawing them deeper into the Church. Pan seems to be the most obvious parallel when people look at the early Satan/Devil imagery mainly because he was so close to the early Church in terms of geography when the founding fathers of Christianity went shopping for iconography and represented any number of the “vices” that they were so eager to force out of the pagan population.
The ins and outs of the imagery is almost a post in itself so let me explain why this misconception bothers me so much. Firstly it seems to be fuelled by ignorance and blinkers, particularly where Abrahamic Religions are involved. Its repeated and reinforced with no room for learning in greater detail about His (Pan’s) origins and/or the development of the Devil in Christianity.
Secondly Pan as an incarnation of the Devil is conflated with all the other worst possible misconceptions about Paganism and Witchcraft. On a personal level, being accused of chicken murder and black rites because I venerate a nature deity who happens to have had his image and personality slandered and libelled by the Christian Church kind of annoys me (can you tell?), possibly a shade more than other “guilty by association” comments directed at me in recent years.
28) Something you wish you knew about this deity but don’t currently
I’d like to know the nature of worship associated with the shrines located in caves and grotto’s dedicated to Pan. There are a number of caves known as “The Cave of Pan” around Greece as well as in other countries such as modern day Israel. Generally these caves served as shrines for both Pan and various nymphs or nature spirits as well as other Gods. There are references to torch lit processions to these caves but the exact nature of the worship that took place eludes me at this point.
One tale that does amuse me is the tale described by Achilles Tatius in his tale of Leucippe and Clitophon. In order to prove her virginity Leucippe is taken to the local Cave of Pan and ensconced inside with the doors shut. If a true virgin suitable for marriage the sounds of Pan’s pipes will be heard and the doors will reopen, allowing the her to leave. If she has lied and is not a virgin then a groan would be heard and the family and villagers would leave her there for three days. The Virgin Priestesses of Artemis would return and they would find the girl gone and the pipes abandoned on the floor.
This tale is closely linked with the tale of Stryix, who avoided the advances of Pan by turning into reeds, thus remaining a virgin. In the tale the sound of the pipes indicates that the woman is a virgin and immune to Pan’s charms. The sound of the pipes becomes an alternative to sexual fulfilment just as in the myth. The groan, disappeared woman and abandoned pipes conversely indicate that sexual fulfilment of another sort.
In the event Leucippe was proven a virgin and went to her marriage, but the tale gives a good example of how important it was in ancient Greek culture for a young woman to maintain her virginity in order to secure marriage and secondly just what lengths they would go to prove it given the lack of medical knowledge about the process.
I don’t really need an ancient virginity test ritual so my interest is twofold; firstly what rituals were associated with the various Caves of Pan in terms of procession and offering because it would be nice to attempt to recreate a modern variations and secondly I wonder exactly what happens to the girls that disappear with the God.
29) Any interesting or unusual UPG to share?
I am very drawn by the term Balanëphagoi or Acorn Eaters in relation to Pan. The title is more often used in relation to the Arcadians both to describe them as lacking civilisation as well as their status as fierce warriors. It highlights that in comparison to the Greeks, who were more familiar with cultivated grains and millet, the Arcadians were considered not only inferior to the rest of the civilised world but older. The Arcadians are also referred to be a people that existed “before the moon”, and indeed are said to refer to themselves as such however this is also used to describe their lack of class as in doing so they were also rejecting the science of astrology.
Getting back to Pan I like to use Balanëphagoi (or more accurately Acorn Eater as my Greek pronunciation is sadly lacking) to invoke his ancient origins. It makes me think of the hunter gatherer cultures of Europe, where the acorn was a staple food and source of starch (even now ground acorns are used as an alternative to flour although I can’t attest to its taste) and how Pan is also a hunter as well as a shepherd. He is credited with gifting Artemis with seven bitch hunting dogs, also serving as her “master of dogs” and the Homeric hymn makes mention of Pan in a hunting role;
“Often he courses through the glistening high mountains, and often on the shouldered hills he speeds along slaying wild beasts, this keen-eyed god.”
This hunter/gatherer link dovetails with my interest in prehistory, although my interest is gounded in British prehistory. It hints at an ancient prehistoric origin to Pan, possibly sharing common roots with the various horned deities he is conflated with in modern usage (such as Cernunnos), and generally emphasises his rustic nature and the idea that he is a step removed from civilisation.
30) Any suggestions for others just starting to learn about this deity?
What follows is a limited selectionof books and websites which I have come across and consulted over the course of writing this series. One of the best ways to learn more about Pan is through pathworking and meditation, as well as connecting with Him through nature.
The Cult of Pan in Ancient Greece by Philippe Borgeaud
The Goat Foot God by Diotima
Pan: Great God of Nature by Leo Vinci
Pan, God of the Groves by Hellfurian Liontari