Glossary entry for
Pan

According to Webster's Dictionary, Pan was "a god of flocks and pastures, forests and their wildlife, patron of shepherds, hunters, fishermen, etc. Pan was represented as having the legs and, sometimes, the ears and horns of a goat."

What we have above is the Disney (and Webster) version of Pan. The PG/R version is that Pan was the leader of the satyres in the Greek mythos. He was a lusty God. "Wild Life" perfectly describes this Pan. He hardly seduced women with his "good looks" but rather with his primal sexuality, goatesque musky scent and all. Even "seduced" is not the right word. He took them in animal passion, often against their will although always to their delight. Pan is not exactly the model of PC, although his antics usually had a flavor of playfulness and the nymphs were also often willing (albeit faux reluctant) participants.

The more interesting (and possibly X-rated) version that is put forth by the Wiccans, neo-pagans, etc. is that Pan is the down-powered Great Horned One. (Of course this may be re-visionist history...or maybe not.)

According to this account, in the times before the Solar religions (where the male gods hold all the power -- the Sun Gods -- the Sons of God) there were the old religions that were more based on Lunar images and methods of keeping time. Where the moon and nature were the connections to religion. Where man related to fitting in with nature rather than dominating her.

During that time, the main gods were the Goddess and her consort The Great Horned One. Their relationship was one of great sexuality, life, death, rebirth. Full of life & fire.

As the exclusively male-oriented religions took over, the Horned One was gradually depowered to just a minor god. He became Pan. And as Christianity took over, in order to convince the pagans that their gods were wrong, the image of the animalistic and horned god became the image of the evil god Satan.

The powerful Horned One/Pan/Etc. has analogs in many early religions including pre-Christian Ireland. The remains of the Goddess can still be seen in the near divinity of Mary. Even more apparent is the weird transformation of the Irish triple-Goddess Brigit into Saint Brigit who somehow interacted with Mary in Ireland.

All of this, of course, has to do with the political manipulations of the ruling religion as they convert new believers by co-opting the old religions. It's hardly a coincidence that Christian holidays fall on the same dates as old pagan holy days. Easter is the new, and sanitized, version of Spring fertility and rebirth rites and is even timed according to the Vernal Equinox. Christmas is the Christian celebration of the Winter Solstice (Yule) where the Sun (Son?) is born and regains its power. Check out the number of Solar Gods who were born in late December. The Irish pagan holy day Imbolc became the more Christianized Candlemas and then the more secular Groundhog's Day. Samhain became the tame Halloween. And on and on and on.

Back to Van. Pan, to me at least, has to do with lust for life and all the mud and blood and wetness that means. Getting down and dirty with the reality of being human and being as alive as possible. Back street jelly roll and the gardens wet with rain. Gettin' down to it. Trying to wipe off that thin layer of civilization to find out what's really going on. Fire in the belly.

It also connects with the mytho-poetic men's movement made popular in recent years by Robert Bly & others. Pan is often used as an image of maleness. There is a book on the subject called Fire In The Belly.

Contributed by Michael Redman

Van references in:

Part of the van-the-man.info unofficial website

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