Meet the Gods: Pan
(art by Samantha Sullivan)
A man with the legs and horns of a goat, Pan was the Greek god of the wild and of hunting. He looks after shepherds, their flocks and the woods. He stirs up panic – a word derived from his name –because, one story goes, if his secluded afternoon naps were disturbed, his angry shout inspired panic.
Pan is also associated with sexuality. He chases nymphs, dancing with them in an effort to seduce them, but is always turned down.
One legend tells that he tried to seduce a beautiful wood nymph named Syrinx, daughter of the river god. To avoid him, she ran away, seeking refuge among her sisters. Pan followed, so her sisters turned her into a reed. When the wind blew, there was an enchanting melody. Not knowing which reed was Syrinx, he took seven (or nine) and placed them side by side in decreasing length to make the instrument named Syrinx for his beloved. Pan is typically seen playing them. The flute-like instrument is also known as panpipes.
Stories were told about other nymphs he pursued: Pitys, who was turned into a pine tree to escape him, and Echo who scorned the love of any man. There are different stories about her, one being that Pan had his followers kill her and scatter pieces of her on the earth. Gaia, the goddess of the earth, is said to have absorbed those pieces and now, Echo’s voice remains, repeating the last words of others. In another versions, Echo and Pan had two children.
Pan’s father is thought to be Zeus, Dionysus, Hermes, or Apollo while his mother may have been Aphrodite, Dryope, Hybris or a nymph named Dryope. Whomever his parents were, there is agreement that he was born in Arcadia, a rustic mountain district that was culturally different from the rest of Greece. It was because he was from that area that he became recognized as the god of fields, pastures, groves and wooded glens, and it is because of this that Pan is associated with spring and fertility.
He is notorious for his sexual powers and is often depicted with a phallus.
The Greeks also considered him to be the god of theatrical criticism and impromptus. His greatest conquest was Selene, the goddess of the moon. He hid his goat features by wrapping himself in a sheepskin so he was able to lure her down from the sky and into the forest where he seduced her.
Pan was worshiped in the woods, caves, grottoes and the wild. With two exceptions, no temples were built to honor him.
Pan could be a god you call for help with matters of fertility or to connect to the wild. It would be best to call him from a wooded area, or somewhere outdoors. Call to him with a wind instrument – be it a flute or a whistle – or by singing a series of notes known as the Lydian mode. Offer him milk and honey.
I would advise you only summon him for a genuine need and never for the fun of it.
Merry part. And merry meet again.
About the Author:
Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.