“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.