Laughter, velvet-lipped, runs ringing
All along the woodland ways,
While a strange, bewitching singing
Fills the glad Arcadian days;
Ripple-rocked, the slender naiads
Rush-fringed shores expectant scan
For attendant hamadryads,
Heralding the path of Pan.
Through the swaying bushes sliding,
Dark-eyed nymphs before him trip,
And the god, with stately striding,
Follows, laughter on his lip;
While the wild bird-hearts that love him
In the haunts untrod by man,
Riot rapturously above him,
Heralding the path of Pan.
From the yellow beds of mallows
Gleams the glint of golden hair,
Nereids from the shorewise shallows
Fling a greeting on the air;
Slim white limbs, divinely fashioned,
Of the fair immortal clan
Sway to harmonies impassioned,
Heralding the path of Pan.
Round his brow a wreath he tosses,
Twined with Asphodel and rose,The Passing of Pan by Guy Wetmore Carry 1896
As triumphant o’er the mosses,
Song-saluted on he goes;
Frail wood-maidens who adore him,
When he rests his temples fan—
When he rises, run before him,
Heralding the path of Pan!
What was he doing, the great god Pan,Elizabeth Barrett Browning 1806-1861
Down in the reeds by the river?
Spreading ruin and scattering ban,
Splashing and paddling with hoofs of a goat,
And breaking the golden lilies afloat
With the dragon-fly on the river.
He tore out a reed, the great god Pan,
From the deep cool bed of the river:
The limpid water turbidly ran,
And the broken lilies a-dying lay,
And the dragon-fly had fled away,
Ere he brought it out of the river.
High on the shore sat the great god Pan
While turbidly flowed the river;
And hacked and hewed as a great god can,
With his hard bleak steel at the patient reed,
Till there was not a sign of the leaf indeed
To prove it fresh from the river.
He cut it short, did the great god Pan,
(How tall it stood in the river!)
Then drew the pith, like the heart of a man,
Steadily from the outside ring,
And notched the poor dry empty thing
In holes, as he sat by the river.
‘This is the way,’ laughed the great god Pan
(Laughed while he sat by the river),
‘The only way, since gods began
To make sweet music, they could succeed.’
Then, dropping his mouth to a hole in the reed,
He blew in power by the river.
Sweet, sweet, sweet, O Pan!
Piercing sweet by the river!
Blinding sweet, O great god Pan!
The sun on the hill forgot to die,
And the lilies revived, and the dragon-fly
Came back to dream on the river.
Yet half a beast is the great god Pan,
To laugh as he sits by the river,
Making a poet out of a man:
The true gods sigh for the cost and pain,—
For the reed which grows nevermore again
As a reed with the reeds in the river.
When considering divine parings and consorts in relation to Hekate a common companion mentioned is the Great God Pan. Whilst other pairings will be looked at collectively at a later date the connection between Hekate and Pan is something worth looking at individually.
Who is the Great God Pan – a crash course
To the Greeks Pan was the God of Shepherds and Hunters, residing in the meadows and forests of the wild mountains of ancient Arcadia. A son of Hermes, by various mothers both mortal and divine depending on the source, Pan was rejected by his mother but welcomed by the Gods, particularly Dionysus and the Nymphs he would grow to chase in his lust. He was a pastoral god, often described as “rustic” which seems to be at the root of his name in Arcadia. This land seemed to be one he preferred with the woodlands, mountains and caves providing him with suitable places to chase, carouse and rest with his companions. In addition to protecting and bringing fertility and abundance to various herds and flocks Pan is also credited with bringing success (or failure) to a hunt as well as being seen as a fearsome presence in the wilderness, able to bring awe and even madness to those who he encounters. Theoi Wiki
The Witch Father and Witch Queen
The divine pairing between Hekate and Pan is far from being historical in nature but its modern and experiential origins are no less compelling, with the author and artist Jeff Cullen being a vocal practitioner recognising both deities in a single praxis.
As a Hellenic witch heavily influenced by traditional witchcraft, to me Pan and Hekate hold the roles of the Devil and the Queen of Elphame respectively within the Hellenic Pantheon. To me Pan is the lord of the wild, the god of ecstasy and nature, the true inverter of human normality just as the Devil is in traditional witchcraft. Hekate is the mother of witchcraft and necromancy, she who is the queen of the dead, and mistress of all human and inhuman spirits, just like the Queen of Elphame.
Speaking for myself, I have also worked with Hekate and Pan as a pair following a ritual dedicated to Pan, which was originally intended to be a one off. After that ritual, and regardless of whether or not I consciously invoked him or not, he would appear in my meditations and rituals in company with Hekate.
In my experience they were both denizens of the wild spaces but whilst Hekate was more often found stood silently waiting upon the crossroad between the town and wild wood Pan would emerge tousled and laughing from the deep wood itself. Where Hekate would preside with dignity and wisdom Pan would lead with exuberance and experience. When Pan cavorted, Hekate smiled with affection bordering on indulgence and whilst Hekate spoke Pan would make running commentary, bringing his own brand of wisdom into the conversation.
For the period of about two years, I worked actively with them both until over time Pan’s influence and connection faded. The lessons that he had to bring had been passed and whilst he would always attend the rite, he no longer inserted himself into rituals uncalled.
The commentary offered by Jeff, as quoted above, resonates strongly with my experience. The lens of Traditional Witchcraft, one which I myself have looked through when developing my own magical praxis. Associating Pan with the Traditional Witchcraft figure of the Devil, or Witch Father, and Hekate with the Queen of Elphame, Witch Queen/Mother, for the reasons outlined by Jeff reflects my own experience and continues to resonate for me today. That being said, here are some other throughs on the matter; The Great God Pan for Witches / Witch Father Mother
Pan and the Mysteries
Stepping away from direct connections with Hekate let us have a look at Pan’s role in some telling’s of the wanderings of Demeter and his connection to her daughter, Despoine.
In the words of Pausanias, when recounting an account of the myth as told by the people of Thelpusa in Arcadia;
“. . . Afterwards, they say, angry with Poseidon and grieved at the rape of Persephone, she [Demeter] put on black apparel and shut herself up in this cavern for a long time. But when the fruits of the earth were perishing, and the human race dying yet more through famine, no god, it seemed, knew where Demeter was hiding, until Pan, they say, visited Arkadia. Roaming from mountain to mountain as he hunted, he came at last to Mount Elaios (Elaeus) and spied Demeter, the state she was in and the clothes she wore. So Zeus learnt this from Pan, and sent the Moirai (Fates) to Demeter, who listened to the Moirai (Moirae, Fates) and laid aside her wrath, moderating her grief as well.”Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 42. 1 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.)
In this I see Pan acting in a role which is counter point to that of Hekate in the tale. Whereas Hekate leads Demeter to a source of information and wisdom as to the fate of Persephone it is Pan who is able to locate the grief wrought and wandering Demeter and brought knowledge of her to the Gods. In some telling’s of the story Pan is deliberately sent by Zeus to search the wilderness for signs of the grain goddess but in others he stumbles upon her in the land of Arcadia, dressed in black and shut up in a cave. In either event, this also feels like an inversion of the earlier part of the tale where it is Demeter who locates the cave of Hekate.
You may also be interested in reading this paper about Liminal Landscapes of Ancient Arkadia: The God Pan and Panic Sanctuaries.
Pan and Despoina
Regardless Demeter was a feature of the Arcardian ritual landscape, particularly in concert with her daughter by Poseidon, Despoina. The cult of Despoina was a very important mystery religion within Arcadia and some ancient commentators claim that she was worshiped above all others. This cult was very similar in nature to that of the Eleusinian Mysteries, with Desponia revealing to her initiates secrets of the nature of life and death at the main cult centre of Lycosura. Marble reliefs found at Lycosura hint at ecstatic ritual dance to music, with figures with animal heads hinting at the wearing of masks as part of the ritual process. The construction of the megaron of Lycosura is somewhat similar to the one at Eleuis so perhaps this relief hints at an ritual element through which similar or shared mysteries were shared.
I mention this cult in relation to Pan for within the temple of Desponia at Lycosura was also a shrine dedicated to Pan, where it is said that a fire dedicated to the god is always kept burning and through which oracles of the God could be sought.
“Thence you will ascend by stairs to a sanctuary of Pan . . . Beside this Pan a fire is kept burning which is never allowed to go out. It is said that in days of old this god also gave oracles . . .”Pausanias, Description of Greece 8. 37. 1 – 8. 38. 2 :
Finally, and before I can be accused of neglecting to mention it, the title of Despoine (Desponena) is one which is used in relation to not only Persephone but also Artemis and Hekate. Despite Despoine having her own lineage through Demeter and Poseidon, and her own identity within Arcadian mysteries separate to that of Persephone, the name is also used in the context of a title meaning “the mistress”. Who is being referred to in any given text is largely driven by the context of its use in the text however it should be remembered that in the aforementioned Arcadian mysteries the sacred name of Despoine is given to initiates so this is yet another case which proves that the Greeks were not a homogenous whole. Theoi / Wiki / Pantheon
I like to express my sense of wyrd by making things that are more than a little off beat. There are all sorts of possibilities out there if you know where to look and I would be lost without The AntiCraft to keeping me up to date with the wyrd side of yarn craft. Ravelry is also a really good source for odd ball patterns such as a Cthulhu plushy for those little girls that need the Old God in their lives.
Just some of patterns I’ve made include a Pan, crochet goddess dolls, dragon scarfs and a Krampus Hat. I do occasionally make ‘normal’ hats and scarves but if you want to go big there’s nothing better than dragon scale gauntlet gloves.
The wyrd isn’t only limited to the patterns I make, some of my equipment is wyrd and wonderful too.
My living room is a homage to my various craft interests and as regular readers know I don’t shy away from decorating my spaces with animal remains such as antlers and skulls so when I spotted a hoof pin cushion at the vintage fair at Leeds Market I snapped it up. I am also really fond of my hand carved crochet hook, which proves the point that not all magic wands are pointy sticks.
There is nothing better than mixing up your creative craft with your magical craft, a subject that I have touched on the subject before on this blog. For the most part though I just like weird knick nacks and if they can be used to make things for people so much the better.
Week two is completed and I’m ready and raring for Week three. Woody has behaved much better this week, nesting down in my yarn bag and blanket whilst he was waiting to get started on the next phase.
I was planning to darn in all the ends for the proceedings rows over the course of last week but it didn’t come to pass. I better do it soon or it will turn into a massive chore. Some people who are participating in the CAL are filling mason jars and other containers to make keepsake memories. I’m not sure if I will do anything like this myself but I do have some glass baubles which would look lovely stuffed full of little yarny bits.
Crafting, be it fiber craft, herb craft or witchcraft, always finds a way into my practice somehow. As well as experimenting with infused oils I’ve finally got around hooking up my own personal Pan. Now everything is finished, and I am between 30DoD’s it’s time to share.
Infused Satyr Oil
I have been experimenting with infused oils and tinctures over the past few months and my most recent project has been an infused Satyr Oil. There are quite a few recipes and methods for making satyr oil with pure essential oils and whilst I am a qualified aromatherapist I prefer the subtle tones of infused oils for anointing myself and in ritual.
The amounts given are for 100ml of carrier oil, if that’s too much or not enough adjust the quantities accordingly.
You will need
A jar with tight fitting lid.
100ml carrier oil to suit your purpose or skin type.
A pinch of Patchouli, 12 cloves and a pinch of All Spice all within a muslin pouch or tea bag
One whole vanilla pod and one whole cinnamon stick
10-12 drops of scotch pine essential oil
Charge all your ingredients with intent and dedicate them to Pan. Combine the loose herbs in your muslin or tea bag and pop them into the bottom of a jar. Add your cinnamon stick and vanilla pod and the pine oil. Add the base oil, ensuring that everything is covered. Reseal the jar and then give everything a good shake.
Store the jar in a cool dark place for one moon cycle, remembering to shake it every couple of days. After 28 days the oil is ready to re bottle and use.
Remove the tea bag, pod and cinnamon and if necessary strain through a second muslin or a pair of old tights. If you are gifting it and are wanting something a bit more decorative use a clear bottle and add a new peice of cinnamon stick and vanilla pod as well as a couple of cloves. They will look pretty and keep the infusion process going.
As with anything you intend to use on your skin patch test it first (a dab behind the ear 48 hrs before you’re planning to use it properly). Although infused oils are not as strong as their essential oil counterparts people with sensitive skin may find they still have a reaction. This oil is meant to be for anointing objects as much as the body so you will always find a use for it. Alternatively you can add a drop to a tissue or to your collar or cuff so you can wear the scent with directly applying it to your skin.
I’ve not used it for anointing objects yet but I’ve anointed myself for ritual, and just because I love the gentle scent. This has actually been infusing a little longer than 28 days whilst I found a better vessel to store it in. I’m going to decant it on the next full moon, watch out for altar pics with it in.
My Personal Pan
Another crafty project I find finally got around to (in an effort to destash) was my own personal crochet Pan/Satyr.
This handsome devil is a hybrid of two patterns; a free Pan amigurimi pattern by Jason McKiernan and a paid for faun pattern avalible from Miles of Crochet on Etsy. I used DK weight acrylic throughout, adding a fancy fur for the lower body. I took Jasons body pattern and added Miles of Crochet hair, horns and arms. The beard and chest fuzz were my own inovation. He ended up with button eyes when I realised I had no safety eyes but they work.
He is currently presiding over my (sacred) craft space, along with Shiva and Red Fox.
I weighted the base to keep him stable on flat surfaces as I didn’t really intend for him to be a cuddly toy, which has annoyed the kids no end. Nor did I add any ‘extra apendages’ as the kids have a tendency to rub them for good luck. The only element I have not been happy with has been that the join between head and torso was a bit floppy, a result of under stuffing on my part. I corrected this with the help of a bamboo skewer (point removed) inserted bottom up. So this is one Pan who has a stick up his butt but at least he can hold his head up with pride.
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
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
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.
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
I’ve not had a lot to say about my Patron Pan since starting the blog and I thought it was time to correct that. I’m not going to go into massive detail, as I am in the process of planning to write a 30 Days of Devotion to him and don’t want to eat too far into its content, but I wanted to introduce a bit of personal experience and gnosis before hitting the big subjects.
Pan is one of those misunderstood deities that appears on the outside almost the rebellious option. The fact that his appearance, a horned half man half goat figure, was co-opted into the classic devil imagery can become all encompassing and hides much of who and what Pan is. Like Hekate I initially resisted becoming ‘involved’ with Pan because I felt it was too obvious, too twee if you will. As a teen I shied away from Him and don’t think I could adequately explain what went through my adolescent mind when he first appeared on my radar. In hindsight its likely the timing was not right for me to connect with him as I had a bit of maturing to do.
Considering the way he came thundering into my life, kicking up quite a storm with those hooves of his, it would have been too overwhelming to my younger self. With a couple of life experiences under my belt not only was I able to understand and appreciate the experience but I was able to ride it as much as I was ridden. At one stage I felt very close to being pushed over the edge by Him, and sometimes now I can feel something of a madness or frenzy looming as I work with him, however I am able to bring it back and set boundaries in a way my younger self wouldn’t have been able to.
From a very basic ritual in his honour asking for help to find joy in life again it quickly became apparent that not only had he been near the whole time he had been waiting for me to reach out to him. The sense of returning home was strong and I almost felt chastised for having taken so long.
That’s not to say it’s been plain sailing. Have you ever tried to set boundaries with a rampant horny god of nature who has no sense of propriety? Early on in my workings with Pan it became clear that he was in danger of blotting out my work with Hekate. He’d show up in meditations with earthy advice when I had begun with a deliberate intention to communicate with Hekat and would effectively talk over Her any other time. Fortunately She has never appeared threatened in fact if anything the pairing works well however it did eventually came down to Her giving me a long look (you know the one I mean) and telling me to sort it out. Typically Hekete gave me no direct advice or solution but I think I worked it out.
It took a deliberate step back and a period of honouring my patorns on alternate moons to achieve a sort of equilibrium. This gave me and Pan space to get to know each other and gave Hekate the respect and attention due even if only every other month. I’m at the point where I feel ready not only to work with both and have them both represented on my altar simultaneity and to start mediating with them. I’ve reached this point in part because I’ve finally connected with the Hekate Suppee, particularly the egg part (orphic link), and this can serve as my devotional time to Hekate. I’m sure that Pan will come to want his own time eventually but we can cross that bridge when we come to it.
One thing I wascdrawn to was Pan’s love of life, something I am only just beginning to find in myself again, and his earthy nature. I’m also drawn to his pre-Olympian origins in the same way Hekate’s called to me although there is a slight difference. Whilst it’s Hekate’s Titanic nature and honours from Zeus that sing to me it is Pan’s prehistoric connections that resonate. I’ve already posted a little on the phrase ‘acorn eaters’ and one of the first things Pan demanded for Himself with a hand knapped flint blade from Will Lord (link). My interest in prehistory isn’t confined to the British Isles, although my knowledge gets a little shaky as you get further afield, and Pan touches this aspect of myself.
I’m deliberately skirting the detail of a couple of things here so that when it comes my 30 Days of Devotion has some content to it. Most of my personal gnosis has some basis in fact but you’ll have to watch this space for the explanations.
This PBP is focusing on music within ritual, both in terms of being used as a way to set mood and as a way of honouring the gods and nature.
From throat singing and drumming to full blown symphonies and pipe organs music and song music has been used throughout history in spiritual and ritual settings. Music can create a profoundly moving and powerful experience which can remain with us for the rest of our life.
Music is often used in ritual and meditation to create a mood and affect a change in psychology and state of consciousness. Although music doesn’t directly affect our psychology it can can affect our physiology by increasing or decreasing our breathing rate which in turn affects our brain activity. Frequency also has an effect which is why some people prefer deep resonant drums as part of ritual.
Chanting is the easiest way to incorporate music into ritual. As well as allowing energy to be raised in preperation of magical works ahead chanting is an opportunity to achieve a higher state of mind which beings closer communication with the divine. Alone or in number, whispered or sung aloud, chanting can dramatically change the mood of the space and cause divine energies to draw near.
Whilst on a camping trip to wildest Wales a friend of mine had an experience with the genius loci of the area through the medium of song. Although she can’t remember exactly what she sang her voice drew the attention of the local spirits, causing them to dance around her and her companions and test their resolve. The act of singing itself became inadvertent ritual, drawing the genius loci close and she closed with offerings and thanks because, as with all ritual those who attend should be honoured.
Working with Greek Gods and Goddesses I have found that music is most pleasing to the gods. As you might expect the Homeric Hymns loom large in my practice but initially as spoken invocations as the music itself is long lost. Recently I came across this modern adaptation of the Orphic Hymn to Hekate which I have come to use in my own rituals to honour Hekate. The effect still raises the hair on the back of my neck and no matter how quietly I intend to sing it I always end up giving full voice to my praise.
I have subsequently gone on to blend the Homeric and Orphic Hymns to Pan into a single Hymn to Pan set to the the same melody as that created by Melissa of the Bees.
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 woodlands glade with nymphs he wanders shepherd god with beard unkempt.
Cross snowy peaks and o’re the mountains, following his wayward flocks.
Returned from chase he brings his music, pipes of reeds most sweetly played.
In glades arrayed with fragrant blossom, spirits dance and leap and twirl.
In caverns deep he takes his shelter, they echo with his pipers song.
Panic driven by his music, fear is driven by the sound.
His guidance brings a generous bounty there for all mankind to share.
By Victoria Newton