From the Oak: Let’s hear it for the God!
Many are those that focus on female divinities, leaving male divinities in the shadows if they get mentioned at all. This is a shame. Here I will share my thoughts, stories and prayers on male divinities.
About the Greek God Pan
Lacking ideas (please send me some!), I chose to write about Pan this week. A divinity whom I know very little about. Read on to find out what I've learned.
Pan is the Greek god of pastoral life including shepherds, animals and music. This rustic divinity is known to dwell in grottoes during the heat of the day and wander the mountains for his entertainment. He guards flocks, whether wild or tame,
and many an ancient prayed to him to increase their flocks, which put more buying power in their pockets. Even bees were under his protection as well as the fish caught from the beach. Yet Pan is also a hunter who can grant or deny a successful hunt. He is the inventor of the syrinx or shepherd’s flute and is said to have taught Ares how to dance. As god of the forest, Pan is known for the pan-ic with which he fills travelers through his sacred pines. His booming voice is said to have frightened the Titans during their war with the gods while his talent for prophecy lead him to teach Apollo in this art.
There is no certainty on his parentage. Typically Hermes is described as his father but the name of his mother changes with the author. Some say he is a child of Odysseus’ Penelope, others a child of Aether and Oeneis, Ge and Ouranos or Zeus and a nymph. What is known is that Pan was born with horns, a beard, pug nose, tail, goat’s feet and covered in hair (which leads me to suspect Ge and Ouranos as his parents as none of the others would explain his physical traits…I mean Gaia had sons with 100 hands so Pan’s features are really nothing to elicit excitement in comparision!) Hermes was at the very least his foster father as he is the divinity who presented the merrily laughing Pan to the gods who found him utterly delightful. He was named Pan (derived from the word pantes, meaning ‘all’), according to Homeric Hymn 19, for joy he brought to all their hearts
Raised by nymphs, Pan is often found in their company but also in the company of Dionysos and Rhea. He received sacrifices of cows, rams, lambs, milk and honey. His animals are the tortoise and the goat while his plants are the water-reed, pine and mountain beech. Pan’s epithets tend to describe his roles such as Agrotas (Giver of Pasture) or Haliplanktos (Sea-roaming); his appearance, Phorbas (Terrifying One) or Aigokeros (goat-horned); or is geographical in nature. The Romans identified Pan with the god Inuus and sometimes Faunus. It is said that one should not approach this god quietly for he loves chaotic noise.
Pan is a favored topic in art throughout the Renaissance. He also seems to be the basis for many descriptions of the Christian concept of Satan. During modern times, much seems to be made of his amorous escapades or attempts, which trivialize this divinity into being nothing more than a "horny old goat". Aspects of Pan can also be seen in the modern concept of the "Horned God".
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