Pan Greek pastoral deity of flocks and herds, who was half man and half goat, with the legs, horns and beard of a goat. He was the offspring of either Hermes and Penelope, or Hermes and Dryope, daughter of king Dropys, whose flocks he tended. His cult was centered in Arcadia, where he haunted the woodlands, hills and mountains, sleeping at noon and then dancing through the woods as he played the panpipes, which he invented. As a lusty leader of satyrs, he chased the nymphs; he later was incorporated into the retinue of Dionysus. His symbol was the phallus, and he was invoked for the fertility of flocks, or an abundant hunt. Every region in Greece had its own Pan, who was known by various names, and Pan eventually came to symbolize the universal god. He is recognized in Paganism and contemporary Witchcraft and is an aspect of the Horned God.
“O goat-foot god of Arcady … This modern world hath need of Thee!” So wrote poet Oscar Wilde. Beginning in the nineteenth century, Pan became a symbol of wild nature, the untamed libido, primal human nature, and also Paganism. It is no coincidence that James M. Barrie’s wild little hero is named Peter Pan.
Pan is the spirit of wild, irrepressible life essence. He is sexually voracious, always chasing after Nymphs, always ready for a romantic interlude with men, women, and probably goats, too. People tend to laugh at Pan because they perceive him as bestial and ugly. Many paintings portray Nymphs running from him, but they tend to be the exception. Pan’s erotic talents are legendary. He even seduced Aphrodite. Pan swore to have sex with every Maenad, and he kept his word.
Pan is no trivial woodland sprite. He is a great god of tremendous power. His name derives from Paon, a “pasturer.” Pan is lord of fertility, wild nature, ecstatic music, wild goats, shepherds, flocks, and hunters. He bestows musical skill. Officially he is the son of Hermes and a Nymph, but other myths suggest that he is older than the Olympic pantheon:
• Pan allegedly taught Apollo the art of prophecy.
• He gave Artemis her first hunting hounds.
There are many man-goat spirits, including Faunus, Krampus, and Ördög but references to the goat god usually mean Pan.
Pan is the spirit of corners, thresholds, borders, and edges. He is most likely seen at twilight at the edge of the woods from the corner of your eye. The word panic derives from Pan. It’s the reaction caused by his shout. Pan has no need for conventional weapons as his voice is sufficient to instill panic. The Greeks credited Pan with causing the Persians to flee in absolute terror at the Battle of Marathon.
Ancient Greek hunters considered Pan their patron. They offered him trophies of their success, usually heads or skins, but if results were disappointing, they scourged his image, demanding that he provide better luck next time.
Pan may be a musician but he inspires authors:
• Arthur Machen’s 1890 novella, The Great God Pan
• Algernon Blackwood’s 1912 book, Pan’s Garden, and 1917 story “The Touch of Pan”
• Lord Dunsany’s 1927 novel, The Blessing of Pan
• Dion Fortune’s 1936 occult novel, The Goat Food God
Pan inspires artists, too, including Rosaleen Norton, Arnold Böcklin, Franz Von Stuck, and Mikhail Vrubel. Pan was among the first deities embraced by Neo-Paganism. He is invoked for vitality, health, fertility, and successful, exciting adventures, romantic or otherwise.
• Pan is among the dancing spirits in Dionysus’ entourage.
• Pan is venerated alongside Nymphs, Hermes, Dionysus, and Ariadne.
Shepherds, hunters, free spirits. He is now a patron of gay love.
Pan has a man’s head and upper torso and shaggy goat’s horns, legs, and hindquarters.
Images of Pan served as the prototype for the Christian devil.
Pan is venerated alongside Hermes, Dionysus, and Nymphs.
Purple, brown, green
Pan’s preferred haunts include fields, groves, caves, and forested mountains.
Do not petition Pan at noon or anywhere near lunchtime. He likes to nap and is cranky if woken. Twilight or the evening hours are the best time to contact him.
October’s full moon is called Pan’s Moon (alternatively: Lover’s Moon), traditionally the night when one’s true love is revealed in dreams (and, depending on what is witnessed, possibly cause for panic).
Honey, milk, erotic images, musical instruments especially pan-pipes
- Olympian Spirits
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.