MYTHICAL BEINGS

 


Pan
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Pan

King of the Arcadian satyrs, Pan was the horned and hoofed woodland god, often associated with the god Dionysus. Identified with the wild, capricious, erotic energies of nature. The word "panic" derives from his name. He is often shown playing his pan pipes, resounding through the woods with their sweet seductive music, playful as a goat or faun. In fact, the word "capricious" comes from the Latin word "caper", which meant "goat". In old Europe, a popular dance devoted to Pan (called a "caper") was ritually enacted in the spring, and endured well into the 17th century.

Pan, like other horned gods, was also associated with the sacrifice of the goat, and hence, the sacred drama of the god who dies and is resurrected; hence the original meaning of the Greek word for tragedy, tragoidos, which meant "goat song". In this primal ritual drama, it is the potent male deity that dies, and is reborn in the spring to be the lover of the earth mother.

Pan was reincarnated among pre-Christian pagans as the fertile, sexy Horned God, which the church quickly turned into Satan or the Devil. The Devil was generally displayed with Pan's goat hoofs, horns, and enduring lust. Sometimes the Devil was also shown with the head of a goat, and a following of demons or satyrs. Yet by the 19th century, Pan was made benign again by the romantic painters, who portrayed Him as a gentle sprite playing his magical "pan pipes" in the company of shepherds and nymphs.


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