was born in Arcadia on Mt. Lycaeum to Hermes (the Roman god Mercury)
the mesenger to the gods. His mother was the beautiful nymph Penelope
and his gorm of half man and half goat was said to be because
she was raped by Hermes in the form of a Billy Goat. When Pan
was born with horns, pointed ears, a goatee beard and the hind
legs of a goat, Penelope was so horrified that she freaked out
and abandoned him. Hermes wrapped his son up in rabbit skins and
took him to Mt. Olympus where he delighted the hearts of the gods
with his laughter and playfullness. The gods named him Pan which
means "all." He is the symbol of the universe, the personification
of nature and was ultimately regarded as representing all Pagan
An aspect of the Horned God, Pan is the Greek god
of noise and confusion, forests, mountainsides, shepherds and
their flocks and sometimes a minor god of the sea. His many qualities
include healing, protector and carer of animals, bee keeping,
music, prophecy, human nature and the ability to appear in dreams.
He also assists hunters, lost travelers and sailors. Sacred to
Pan are the Oak and Fir trees. His symbol is the phallus and he
would be invoked with offerings of honey, roasted venison, red
wine, and flowers for the fertility of flocks or a successful
Playful and energetic, Pan reveled in the dark forests
at night and napped during the day. If by chance an unsuspecting
traveler would disturb his sleep, he would let out a bone-chilling
scream causing whoever heard it to run in fear and panic. Hence
the word panic is derived from Pan.
A lustful leader of Satyrs, Pan chased nymphs and
fell in love with many of them. One such nymph was Pitys (Greek
for pine) who preferred Pan to Boreas (the North Wind). Boreas
was so enraged with Pitys for her choice that he threw her against
a huge rock, crushing her limbs. To put her out of her misery,
Gaea turned her into a pine.
Echo, another nymph, tried to escape his advances,
but Pan caused such a panic amongst the nearby shepherds that
they tore her to pieces, leaving only her voice behind.
The lovely nymp Syrinx, devoted to Artemis, rejected
the advances of woodland spirits but caught the eye of Pan who
chased her until she begged her sisters, the river nymphs, to
turn her into a bed of reeds in order to get away from him. The
wind blowing through them made such a beautiful noise that Pan
cut seven of them and fastened them together with beeswax to make
the first panpipe, naming it after her.
Pan was successful in seducing Selene, the Moon
goddess by disguising himself in the fleece of a brilliant white
Ewe and leading her into the woods. When Selene became aware of
what had just occurred, she became furious and hid behind the
earth's shadow, causing the first lunar eclipse.
Pan represents the spirit of the wild things in
all of us. His half goat, half man appearance to many confused
Christians has come to represent the very image of the Devil.
According to legend, the great god Pan is said to have died when
Christ was born. I tend to disagree... for if we look around in
this modern age, Pan is alive and well within each one of us.