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Pan

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A modern depiction of Pan by artist Michael Hague

Pan is a goat-footed and horned satyr, the Greek god of wilderness, shepherds and flocks, fertility, sexuality, springtime, and rustic music. In ancient times, his name was conflated with the Greek word for "all" ("pan"). He is from Arcadia, in the highlands of central Greece, whose inhabitants are thought to be the aboriginal people of the land. There are many differing traditions about his parentage: He is said to be the son of Hermes and any one of a number of wood nymphs; of Apollo and Penelope (not the wife of Odysseus); or a foster-brother of Zeus, raised with him from infancy. He gave Artemis her hunting dogs and taught Apollo to prophesy. He fought alongside the other Olympian gods when the Titans, the previous dynasty of Greek gods, attempted to invade Olympus. During this war, Zeus was hamstrung and crippled by the sea monster Typhon. Typhon carried him away as a prisoner, hiding Zeus' severed sinews in a bearskin. Hermes and Aegipan ("Goat Pan") stole the sinews and returned them to Zeus, who was able to free himself and defeat Typhon. In other battles with the Titans, Pan aided Zeus by letting out a horrible shout that caused the enemy to flee in terror; this story is the origin of our word "panic."

The irreconcilable traditions concerning Pan's parentage and deeds may be a sign that Pan is one of the oldest gods in proto-Grecian culture, whose origins were described differently in various regions. He is now remembered largely for his many affairs with nymphs, not all of whom accepted his advances. For example, the nymph Syrinx ran away from him and took refuge with her sisters, who transformed her into a reed among other reeds. When the breezes blew through the reeds, they produced a mournful melody. Pan could not identify which reed was formerly Syrinx, so he cut seven reeds of different lengths and bound them together into a set of graduated pipes, thereby inventing the syrinx or pan pipes, which appear among indigenous wind instruments all over the world.

Pan is portrayed as a satyr — with a human head, arms and torso, goat horns, and a goat's hind legs — and is frequently shown playing the syrinx. He is worshiped, not in temples made by hands, but in groves, grottoes, and caves. Hoodoo psychic readers, spirit workers, and root doctors who petition the Greek deities within the Pagan and Neo-Pagan traditions on behalf of clients may work with Pan when there are pending spiritual and magical issues regarding sex, romance, dominating love spells, or a desire to increase musical ability.

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