……No, not really.
But that is what the majority of Christianity will have everyone else believe.
The demonization of Pan was just, well, dang-it…UNFAIR. I mean, of all the Gods to choose from to associate with the Christian Devil, why him? Why the guy who went after what he wanted, quenched his sexual appetite, danced like no one was watching, napped when he wanted, and loved with all his heart through his libido? He was considered one of the lesser Gods by comparison to say, oh, I dunno…Hades,the God of the Underworld. (Although there really is no confusing the two, one really has nothing to do with the other, but if we were to just jump to conclusions here, he’s the one I’d bank on as far as assumptions by those who simply don’t know any better, would go)…but was no less worshiped…
This particular God, Pan, was a god of the people yet wasn’t worshiped in the traditional Greek way. Only in his native Arcadia was Pan worshiped in a temple, in most of the ancient world he was worshiped in caves or grottoes (Think Playboy Mansion on the eve of Hue Heffner’s “Mid-Summer Night’s Eve parties).
Certainly one would think that a “God of the People” would have had a bit more reverence
among the people? (He was actually well-loved, but still)…
Here’s the thing: the grottoes dedicated to Pan weren’t dedicated solely to him either;
he generally shared his sacred space with nymphs local to the region (which I’m not entirely sure he minded)….On the acropolis in Athens he wasn’t given a temple or even a church, instead, it was said he resided in a crack on the side of the plateau that housed the acropolis…
What the hell?? (Pun intended)….
The grottoes had always served as a haven for outcasts, and Pan with his dual nature-half beast and half God, (Having a mortal mother and a Deity for a father) was more often than not viewed as an outcast in Greek society, but the caves were also seen as the birthplace of new beginnings, a place to regroup and start over.
You might be a little confused… I was too at first. It all sounds a bit hypocritical, doesn’t it? A God of the people (and according to some documentation, was fiercely loved) was an outcast of society, worshiped in temples solely isolated to his home land that he had to share with other Gods of a higher caliber, or even more baffling, in grottoes with which he still had to share space with nymphs, all the while these grottoes were considered a place for new beginnings?…. Hmmmm….
Shepherds also used caves for shelter when they were out in the fields, and this might have something to do with the cave being the preferred place to worship Pan, since he too was a shepherd: he was half goat and half man, a thing of nature, (very possibly the very representation of it, from a human perspective)certainly not the Antichrist or a being who was out to corrupt and steal men’s souls, yet by approximately 300 C.E., the demonization of Pan had begun, and it continued until the western world largely associated images of Pan with the devil.
I know, I know, I haven’t said much in Pan’s defense yet, but don’t you worry, I’m getting to it…
Pan, was associated with sex from the very beginning. While nudity among the gods of ancient Greece was common, gods with throbbing, over-active members were not. If a nymph (or anyone for that matter) wanted to get off with no-strings attached, Pan was her go-to guy. When I try to think of a good theme song for this God, Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” is the first one that comes to mind…because quite frankly, let’s be honest here, Pan would screw anything with a hole…
Pan was the patron of what has come to be known as “panic sex,” sex for the sake of lust and physical satisfaction, and certainly NOT to be confused with or mistaken for a god of love, and he was not the guy you petitioned if you were looking to fall in love. Pan was the god of lust, or of sex in its grunting, groaning, moaning, dirtiest, animalistic form…. so if you were simply looking to get laid, Pan is the one you call.
….Is it getting hot in here?? 😀
Pan was also the poster boy for anti-monogamy, and his myth is full of conquests and dalliances, and is void of long-time girlfriends and partners….. in short, the polar opposite of the teachings of Christianity.
In his defense with this too, With a few exceptions, Greek gods were rarely monogamous, and nearly all the male Gods had lovers on the side, but they almost always had a primary partner…. Pan never did..and not that any of the characters were Greek Gods, but have you watched Spartacus? If not, climb out from under the rock and watch the past episodes….even if it is only ONE episode. Those ancient Greeks were all about doing everything in front of them that had tits and could walk….. and it was perfectly acceptable to everyone all around.
It wasn’t all bad though, (as though mind-blowing, animalistic sex is a bad thing?) panic sexuality can lead to new things. In the world of Pan his tendency to just grab the nymph and to hell (there goes that innuendo again!) with the consequences, often resulted in the creation of something new.
The origins of the panpipes can be found in his failed conquest of the nymph Syrinxcan (and sometimes those panpipes are called syrinx in her honor) who resisted our god’s casanova ways and turned herself into some reeds rather than lie with Pan. Good can come out of heated lust, but not always. Pan’s myth is full of instances where the god all but rapes the object of his affection, behavior that is reprehensible in modern Paganism. So, when calling on Pan to give you that lustiness, it’s best to do with a partner who shares your desires to quench that animalistic, 50 Shades of Grey, knockin’ the boots kind of lovin’.
Pan is also well-known for napping…perhaps if we had to link this to the act of sex, many nap after a romp in the sheets, and for the ancient Greeks, Pan’s nap time was so sacred and special that they left the god alone during that period of the day. Pan was not just cranky if he was disturbed during his nap, he was said to get scary violent….after all that humping, can you really blame him for being exhausted and grumpy from fatigue?
Out of the many things associated with Pan, the most misunderstood attribute of the goat-god is probably his association with “panic.” In the Greek world, Pan was so associated with it that the word panic, actually derives from the name of the god. In most instances, Pan unleashed panic upon individuals he was upset with. As a god generally opposed to civilization and order, Pan enjoyed unleashing panic upon armies that entered his domain. It was said that any army that entered the woods and hills of Arcadia, Pan’s domain, would be inflicted with a sudden panic.
Generally, the panic used by Pan in these instances wasn’t life threatening, but it did lead to the breakdown of order in the ranks, and cause a general to think twice about every doing it again. The general assumption is that Pan creates such a racket on his own that an army feels as if they are being attacked, and in that moment of terror, with their lives flashing in front of their eyes, comrades in arms end up killing each other without realizing it.
When people worshiped Pan at one of his grottoes they seldom did so alone. At the bare minimum devotions were usually done by a couple, (for obvious reasons… think “Marvin Gaye”)..but more often, by large groups of people (also for the same reasons). Unlike most of the other Greek gods Pan didn’t have set in stone feast dates, so people worshiped him when they felt the need to. Perhaps Pan visited someone in a dream and said that it was time to honor him, or maybe someone needed something from Pan,and decided to have a ritual in his honor. A rite done in honor Pan was an exercise in endurance. Rites generally began in the mid-afternoon, after Pan’s daily nap, and lasted until sunrise the next day.
Pan was said to sometimes posses his worshipers, and those who neglected him. The term “panolepsy” refers to possession of a human being by the god Pan, and it was generally seen as a negative thing. Most people who ended up possessed by Pan withdrew from society and became social misfits. On rare occasions the possessed one might find themselves stuck in a fit of hysterical laughter, and this was generally seen as a sign of favor from Pan, simply because Pan loves to laugh.
When he was born and brought up to Mt. Olympus it’s said that his appearance brought joy and laughter to the gods, and that they were delighted by him. As he grew up, he became something of a trickster on occasion, relying on his wits…..that is, when all the blood in his body wasn’t solely focused on his (nearly always) engorged member.
On a few rare occasions Pan tricked a few goddesses into his bed, instead of using his usual method of run after them and then just start humping their leg like a dog in heat. One of those instances involved the goddess of the moon, Selene, whom Pan wanted in- the- WORST- way. She was infatuated with her own image, and so Pan donned a cloak of the purest white wool that reflected her light back at her. The trick worked and what we now call “The Man in the Moon” (How eloquent) was the result of their otherwise unlikely union.
While never the most popular of the Greek gods, Pan was a constant motif in art, and his worship was widespread, ranging from Spain all the way to the Middle East. In the ancient world wherever there was sex and joy you were sure to find him, which this is, in the end, what led Christian theologians to demonize Pan; they sensed a powerful
competitor for the hearts of the people. This demonization was no accident, either… but rather a deliberate twisting of pagan ideals as Christianity spread its influence throughout Europe.The other reason Pan might have been viewed as Satan, why the figure of Satan as handed down to us consists of goat’s feet, horns and black hair because the statue of the god Min, the Egyptian Pan, was daubed black. After the Council of Nicea issued the Nicene Creed and the Roman Catholic Church was established in 325 C.E., Christian theologians (beginning with Eusebius) transformed Pan from a benign nature god to Satan, the ultimate adversary.
There is some evidence to the contrary however, that in fact, Pan went the other way, and was associated with Jesus Christ.
…Okay… I can hear it now, Throwing your hands up in the air and shouting, “Holy Odin!” Did she just REALLY go THERE?
Yes. **Nods** Yes, I did.
The connection may not be apparent at first: how can a “minor” god of the sizable Greek pantheon have anything to do with the central figure of a monotheistic, eschatological religion? The mere suggestion of this would get someone burned at the stake during the Spanish Inquisition, possibly a stoning and harsh verbal lashing today… but I’m not completely off my rocker here… (the operative word being “Completely”)….and I aint skurred either…
The similarities are there….or are they??…
They were both shepherds, after a fashion. Also, neither of them were entirely divine: Jesus was supposed to be one hundred percent divine and one hundred percent human simultaneously, and Pan was likewise a god and also an earthly being, by virtue of his mother Dryope, his occupation, and his association with man.
Many later Christian poets, most notably Milton were to describe Pan as a pagan prefiguration of Jesus Christ.
The crucial point here, however, is that such comparisons were made by poets and mostly poets of course, and certainly NOT by priests, bishops, popes or any other religious figur-head of the Church.
My breath has not been wasted in bringing this up… meh… maybe it has…
Because the obvious problem with comparing Pan to Jesus, in the Church’s view, and I am quite certain in many a Pagan’s views, and certainly in my view, would be Pan’s incredible virility. Jesus was never portrayed as a sexual being, (even though there is some evidence to suggest he was married to Mary Magdeline) and to this day people still feel traces of guilt about sex, as if it were an unholy act…..
Pan was unabashedly libidinous, which makes Pan’s image obviously as far away from that of Jesus as another deity could get. It’s like comparing Madonna (the singer) to Mother Theresa. Not a single member of the clergy would ever dare to draw comparisons between them when the contrast was so evident, so the poets were alone in raising Pan to a Christ figure, for the sheer, raw sexuality that Pan so blatantly represents is what makes Christianity so afraid of him….it’s got nothin’ to do with the horns and goat-like features.
Since Pan’s sexual nature was so evident, there isn’t a single doubt in my mind that, that would explain the Church’s readiness to hold up Pan as an example of profound moral turpitude (Cough, cough, GAG!)Pan and women were allies, friends, lovers. All were guiltless, without shame. As some scholars have it, guilt is the cornerstone of the early Christian faith. Women were guilty by virtue of simply being women… alas here in the 21st century, we have a woman– a witch no less, talking about it freely, so I wonder what level of guilty some of us fall under?? Surely, I have long bi-passed being sinful. 😉
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I will continue to dance to the strains of his pipes.
Pan wasn’t the only pagan god getting his name besmirched. Believing in only one God and forsaking all others, Christians had a tendency to equate all pagan deities with demons. The concept of the Devil was also aided by the development of the concept of evil demons. At first, demons are morally ambivalent like the gods. Then two groups of demons were distinguished, one good and the other evil, hence the categorization of Angels and Demons.
But I’m not here to Christian bash, there’s enough of that in the Pagan community now to last us all another few thousand years. It certainly isn’t unimaginable, however to see how Pan’s unabashed and rampant sexuality, so incredibly sinful to Christians, made him the target–and an ideal one– for demonization.
This defamation of a once (albeit extremely sexual, but no less) pastoral god was part of a vast campaign of religious propaganda designed to put the fear of the devil (where the fear of God didn’t seem to work) in the people.
Christianity had several pantheons of old gods to conquer, and a personification of evil was certainly most helpful in moving the process along. Heck, Pan literally became the world’s biggest scapegoat, (word-play, word-play) all courtesy of Christianity, so I can certainly see why so many Pagans hold a grudge…as from all ancient sources and archaeological evidence, Pan was obviously a greatly revered, rather than greatly feared, being at one point.
It was only the ascetic values of the Judeo-Christian tradition that doomed him to play the role of the ultimate bad guy…. Oh! How the mighty have fallen…
The bad-guy however, he is not, for he was the god of all nature, and thus behaving naturally and certainly NOT as the incarnation of evil. It makes you wonder if they all weren’t just bat-shit crazy or spouting these things out in an opium-induced state when they thought it all up. I sort of wish I could have been a fly on the wall when they came up with it, actually. I can see it now…
Guy 1: “People have no fear of God, what shall we do?”
Guy 2: “Let’s begin with demonizing a Pagan God… but which one?”
Guy 3: “The one that slept with my wife!!”
If we, the witches should dance with him, it is because we know how to have a damned good time and not feel terribly ashamed about it….just sayin’.
Pan is the Greek God of Nature, first and foremost,as well as a god of bees and beekeepers, of music, and sometimes, a minor god of the sea. He is also directly connected to masturbation (taught to him by his father,Hermes, Arcadian god of lust and magic who seduces men and women with his pipes and wantonness, the symbol of the libido in its sexual aspect, vagrant male sexuality, the personification of undisciplined procreation in nature….it’s no wonder his own son was in a constant state of sexual frenzy), fertility, and the season of spring, which is also why he is often included in Beltane, which is a time said to be he is at his strongest.
So how does one grow closer to and honor our beloved, horny God? In ancient Greece His worshipers would party themselves to tears and make love afterward…. sounds like great fun, but not all of us are comfortable with this prospect, or maybe we just aren’t into swinging, wife-swapping and orgies (they’re getting rarer and rarer these days)…maybe we have no one to “Get it on” with…
Pan represents freedom of spirit, natural instincts and sinless love. I wrote an article here about building a better relationships with the Gods, it’s worth the read if it is something you are serious in becoming passionate about, but the single most imperative piece of advice I offer others on this subject is to study the Deity in which you wish to build a relationship with. You simply cannot learn TOO much. Find out what makes them tick. In the case of Pan, traditionally, offerings of Goats, milk (I’d go with Goat milk) and honey and springs of pine or something from nature.
Also, don’t be “turned off” by the prospect of a ritual that involves sexual acts with others. If you are in the lucky position to have a willing partner, whether it be a boyfriend, girlfriend, wife or husband, to participate in this act with you, fantastic! (Monogamy is always ideal for this, in my opinion, since we are no longer in ancient Greece…but if I am advising folks to let their uninhibited sexual freak flag fly, please, do it with someone you trust and of course, wear protection. We live in dangerous, risky times). But you don’t need anyone else to light the fires of passion (if you catch my drift) in order to connect with this god of good lovin’.
So light your candles, break out the massage lotion, give a libation and get it on…. guilt-free.. 😉