(Continued from Part One here)
When Pan became the devil, it was an easy transition for him to make, when you consider it in the context of how the early Christians viewed the decadence and depravity in which Rome had slid. To their way of thinking, the image of the beast found its form in the personage and image of the hard-partying, lustful, amorous half-man, half-goat that was his image. Over time, the newly-acquired image of Satan lost the goat fur, while retaining the beard, horns, and sometimes even the tail.
Pan had the last laugh, however, for as time progressed, the image of the bawdy, raucous god was hardly taken seriously as an appropriate view of someone who, after all, was supposed to be the personification of pure evil.
So who, or what, in reality, was Pan? Depends on which myth you prefer, I guess you could say. Many, perhaps most, came to view him as the son of Hermes by the nymph Dryope, who ran from him in fear when he was first born, after which Hermes took him up into Olympus, where he delighted the gods, particularly Dionysius, with whom he became more closely associated with than even Hermes.
Although, to be fair, Hermes did give him one other gift. He taught to Pan the "art" of masturbation. It was a gift that would serve him in good stead, seeing as to how the nymphs of the forest constantly spurned his advances, and as to how desperate became the god's on-going search for sex, with-well, seemingly anything and everything.
There is another version of his origins that would seem to predate those of the major gods. According to this one, Pan was the son of the goat Amalthea, who may be a symbol of the mythical "Great Mother". This female deity, whose origins are in fact obscure, was charged with the care of the infant Zeus, when the latter's mother, Rhea, hid the newborn infant from his father, the ragingly suspicious Cronus, who sought to swallow all his children as soon as they were born.
Amalthea cared for the future Father of Gods and Men as though he were her own, though in fact she had a son of her own-Goat Pan, who would later assist Zeus and his brethren in their ultimately successful war against Cronus and the Titans.
In fact, though Pan is not known primarily as a God of War, it is in this context that he is associated with Dionysius-as a general during the God's wars against the Indians.
Chiefly, though, Pan seems to have originally been a God of the Aracadian forests, where he was worshiped as a god of shepherds, which may have been the chief reason he became identified throughout Greece as a "son of Hermes". Additionally, there may have been a desire to subordinate the popular, well loved God below those of the major pantheon. What better way to do this than to name him as the son of one of these pantheon members?
The Arcadians were relatively uncivilized, and may have led not only a mere pastoral existence, but one of subsistence farming. They may have even been hunter-gatherers to a large degree, though they were certainly goat herds, and may have operated small, subsistence level farms such as what one might find in the hills of southeastern Kentucky.
Though they were hunters and shepherds, and Pan was chiefly their god in these regards, he would have by virtue of these attributes also been seen as a fertility god. And, since the Greeks came to see the Arcadians as backwards, rough, and unsophisticated louts, with low morals if any, and of a lustful disposition, then naturally one of their major deities would easily be seen in this light as well.
Thus we see Pan in myths chasing after first one nymph, then another, constantly undergoing rejection after rejection. He was said to have even created the Panpipes from the wood of a nymph who was so terrified of his advances, she turned herself into a tree. Pan did not give up easily, however, nor did he limit his advances to mere nymphs. In the following photo, we see him trying not too subtly to seduce Aphrodite herself, while her son Eros looks on in seeming amusement.
And of course, as homosexuality was common in Greece, especially among the upper classes, it would come as no surprise to see that Pan is depicted as unrestrained in his sexual passions, as depicted in the photo below.
In reality, of course, the true meaning of the god Pan is obvious from his appearance. He is a fertility god, and represents the very natural urge towards procreation that exists within all living things. We humans like to see ourselves as so far above the animal world, but a person with a true sense of discernment can easily see that we have more in common with them than just eyes and ears. The sex drive, in fact, is perhaps the more uneasily restrained, the hardest tamed, of all the animal urges that all living things share, including humans.
One way in which humans relieve themselves is through masturbation, which would have been indulged heartily and unabashedly so by the Arcadian shepherds as they spent weeks on end tending their flocks. Indeed, this is an "art" that does not need to be taught. Rather, it is picked up quite naturally, with no need for instruction or encouragement. Yet, it too is something of which we are taught we should be ashamed. In fact, if you have ever been caught doing it, say by a parent, you might remember that shame came about quite naturally as well. You might have felt it before the unfortunately intruding parent ever opened his or her mouth.
But, if there is anything to learn from Pan, it should be the realization that, while the sexual urges should be restrained, controlled, and channeled, they are in and of themselves nothing to be ashamed of. They are the natural urge by which through procreation all species of life survive through multiple succeeding generations.
The irony is, no one needs to be taught that fact any more than they need to be taught the act of masturbation, or the instinct of shame when they are caught doing it. Sexuality, and the need for it as a form of release and as a means of procreation, and even the need to keep it within definable boundaries, are all so instinctual, any attempts to keep it under further restraints are doomed to failure, at best. At worse, it can lead to a repressed individual, or even a repressed society.
Then, when the lid blows off the kettle, so to speak, you eventually have the same degree of decadence and sexual promiscuity that plagued the ancient Romans, as things once again go full circle. An example of such is seen below in the painting, by the excellent French artist Nicholas Poussin, titled The Triumph of Pan.
It is easy enough to answer the question, why a half man half goat? After all, there was more than one fertility god. Zeus himself was a fertility god. So was Demeter, and Dionysius, and of course Aphrodite. There were others, such as Priapus, who, as the short, fat, hideously ugly god with the monstrously huge penis, stood more for the dangers of unrestrained lust that recognized no boundaries, not even the boundaries of matrimony.
Pan, however, was unique in his own way as possibly the most ancient God who pointed out the common urge and need to procreate that existed within all living things, an urge shared by humans and animals alike.
In Greece, it so happened that goats were the most important form of livestock. Few people raised cattle. It was either too expensive, or the land was for the most part unsuited to raising them. As such, most people very seldom ate beef, unless it was during times of communal festivals in honor of one God or another. Almost no one aside from the rich elites of some areas consumed cattle.
The most common meat eaten by common Greeks of the day would have been either goat or sheep, and as such, this was probably the most common livestock. Therefore, it would make sense that a God of fertility, one who celebrated the instinct of procreation, would be seen in the form of a goat.
This in fact is why I prefer the myths pointing to Amalthea as his mother over the rather whimsical one of Hermes as his father. Pan might in fact be a much older God than we realize, and at one time might have been far more important, during the days of the Mycenaeans, than the myths concurrent with the times of Classical Greece would attest. There is just no way of knowing. We don't really know for sure where his worship originated, beyond Arcady. The Mount Ida mentioned as the place where Zeus was raised by Amalthea seems not to exist, but it could point to an origin in the Carpathians, or maybe even the Caucasus or Urals.
All we know is, thanks to Pan, the poor old goat has gotten a bad rap. How many times have you heard an older, allegedly lecherous man referred to as an "old goat"? You can thank Pan for that. Of course, goats are no more lecherous than any other living creature, including many humans. The point is, we all have that basic, instinctual drive, and perhaps the fact that we do, and that it is such a powerful drive, even an overwhelming one at times, is what makes us so ashamed. It makes is realize we are animals after all, doesn't it?
One way to attune with this instinct, and with Pan, might well be through the ritual act of masturbation. It is certainly an intense way of raising and sending magical energy. The utilization of visualization while doing so might well bring beneficial results. At the very least, it could help you to see your place within the universal "All". Many pagans, especially Wiccans, advise against visualizing a specific person, something I never agreed with, nor could I ever comprehend it, for the simple reason you can not control another person magically. You can, however, get in touch with your true feelings, and maybe, by allowing yourself to see clearly just what it is that is driving your feelings towards the "nymph" of your dreams, you can-er, "come to grips" with it in a positive way. When you masturbate, and you fantasize about someone in particular, note the setting you see yourself in, how you see the person dressed, how he or she acts, how you act as you lead up to engaging in sexual activity, and what exactly you do, and how you-and the other person-reacts in your dreams.
More importantly, how do you see yourself in your visualizations? Or do you even see yourself at all? Do you actually consummate the act of fornication, or are you thrilled merely by the chase, by the making out, the lead-in? What is it that is thrilling you about this person, and why?
You might want to keep a journal. Call it what you will. "My Jackoff Book", I guess.
It might also be a way of reigniting a relationship that seems to be withering away, a way of restoring the magic. Remember, Pan is the patron of those who are beleaguered by feelings of love and lust that are not reciprocated. He understands, so pour him a libation, of wine or milk, or anything handy. Even if you don't believe in the literal existence of this or any God, the ritual act itself, and the symbolic importance of acknowledgment of the personification of the universal sex drive is what is important for the successful conduction of any such magical endeavor as this one.
In the meantime, look for all the ways the God might manifest himself to you in your life. If you find yourself getting a sudden, unexpected, and inconvenient erection at the sight of a good looking woman as she smiles at you while flashing her legs in your direction in an obviously suggestive manner, or if your pet dog suddenly starts humping your girlfriends leg in front of the whole family, thank Pan for the laughs-even if you do feel they are at your expense. Somebody might be trying to tell you something.