Great Goat God Pan: The Greek Myth Lives On
In the magical land of Faerie where all is possible and nothing is as expected, in ancient times when this land was Arcadia among the nymphs and fair things danced a monstrous being, half man half goat. They laughed at him, but listen not to his music or you will dance. You will dance and dance and dance and suddenly succumb to passion.
The wildest passion possible. Oh yes. And it will never end – but when it does – you will fall in mad exhaustion. Nothing will ever be the same and no sensual experience will ever be as good or even half as good. Not a tiny touch as good.
Silenus the comedic father of the satyrs was autochthon or father of Pan. Yet others say he was fathered by Hermes. Hermes says this for he was there. Many were there that night and many might think the same. Hermes states it though, and he believes.
Pan was born. He was born while Hermes was still there. Pan was so ugly at birth it is said that his mother ran away from him. Born with horns, beard, tail and goat-legs. Magical birds and dryads and all are not accustomed to such fierceness among their midsts. Hermes thought it a laugh to take him to Olympus to show as a novelty. Following his freak show upbringing he went on to lead quite a life, quite a wild life.
Lived in rural Arcadia, though he could have dwelled upon Olympus. He taught Daphnis pipes given by his foster parents who were shepherds. He was humble, easy going yet wild and some say lazy. He certainly liked his afternoon naps; after his revels with the mountain nymphs.
From Arcadia he guards all herds, flocks, and beehives when called upon. Perhaps we need to call upon his spirit now to save the earth, for he well knows that more than half of our foods and drinks are only here because of bees; because of Pan.
If you are seeking something in life then perhaps he is there for you for he helps all hunters who ask for help in finding quarry.
Beware you wake him as you pass a grove or grotto where he has chosen to sleep for he will raise with a great shout which will terrify you to the bone.
The magical Arcadians do not show him respect, for all he blesses hunters, if they fail then that day they will fire their remaining quills at him and how they laugh.
Pan is fron paein:- to pasture, the upright man of the Arcadian fertility cult leading to the North Western Witch-cult and later as the devil – so it is said.
His terrible shout brought us the word and the state of ‘panic’.
He has many lop-eared hounds around him and he loves to eat lynx. He named a daughter after this cat. He would catch them and devour them. Always sharing though, throwing chucks around to be eaten by his hounds, his bitches and his whelps alike or so it is said. Old goat-legged god from Arcadia.
Pan fathers many children with the nymphs and muses. He tells tales of many other trysts and sessions.
He chased the chaste Pitys. They turned into a tree. A fir tree they became. Quite what happened one may never know but to this day The Great God Pan (or at least his spirit) wears a branch from it as a chaplet; a fir-tree crown of celebration, pitiless celebration perhaps.
He also went after Syninx seeking to besmirch her purity; he chased her from Mount Lycaeum to the River Ladon. She turned into a reed. He saw this happen as he approach but when he closed he could not tell one reed from another reed. He took them all, well, a great cluster. He could not tell which one or if he had her, but he took enough to weave himself a new pipe with. So now when he plays that pipe he thinks he plays her.
He did well when he chased Selene, after dressing himself up in well washed wool. He had chosen well, a moonlit May Eve where she thought herself the young Queen of the May and saw him as her lover leading to the marriage of the greenwood. She enjoyed riding on his back so much that she said he could do anything he wished to her.
Pan was simplistic and loved riot and the Olympians hated him for it. They exploited him. Apollo wheedled round him till he taught him prophesy then as soon as he had what he wanted (he wanted more) he took the Delphic Oracle from him and the Pythonesque Preistess. Oh how Pan should have seen this before it happened and now he saw less than before. As he wandered, perhaps lost in thoughts of how he had been tricked, he dropped his pipe. Hermes watched and sniggering took it. Oh how it played and how the Olympians loved it. “I invented it myself,” said Hermes. Apollo admired that playing most of all so perhaps he was tricked back. He didn’t see that coming.
Pan is dead. The Great Goat God Pan is dead. That is what is said. They say he is dead. The only ever god to be dead. So it often was said. Said by a sailor; Thamus who heard a voice – he said it was divine. It told him, “Thamus sail on to Palodes as you planned, sail fast, and tell them there that the Great God Pan is dead”. Oh how they groaned and lamented all along the shore.
Oh how the Maenads go mad. They did in times back then and it is my guess they still dance again. Laurel-chewing web-faced orgiastic worshippers of mare-headed Daphoene.
Each year they rip apart the sacred king then they bathe to wash away the blood.
He, Pan, was invited to their dances. He dances still I hear.
As they dance in ecstatic trance amid the laurel babbling you may hear them calling Pan, Pan, bring me Pan.
Yes, dressed in goat-skin, he is their chosen lover during drunken orgies upon the high mountains
Some say it was Hermes fathered Pan but Silenus says otherwise as he laughs. Amid the Maenads dance there is a shaft, a stone shaft, erectile in its standing proud for all around. Perhaps Pan’s mother the woodpecker taps there still. For her tapping upon the trees in a lulling song of beats portends the summer rain.
This rain will cool even the passion-mad Maenads as they dance an intoxicant dance of writhing limbs. For his mother as woodpecker Penelope (with a web over her face) had danced here in her passions and in her labours and the penelope was once a bird with webbing over. So when you see a woman with a webbing inked into her leg she is a dancing lover of Pan; a Maenad.
Great Pan dances when you are reborn so look for him when you have fresh new thoughts and dreams for you may have become anew within his dance.
Personally I do not think he is dead. Yet even if he is, I believe the spirit lives on, so Pan is with us still; play on Pan play on.
See also Athene Greek Goddess
This piece was originally part of my research for a forthcoming graphic novel with artist Tony Lawrence, but for now I felt Pan deserved a blog of his own. Current artwork for this blog is from myself. This is my interpretation from studying Graves’ Greek Myths and a few bits from the Iliad. Look out for the forthcoming Graphic Novel with Tony: Behold the God-slayer Typhon the Doom of Zeus.