trees and sky and night

It was New Year’s Eve and a cold damp day that penetrated while the elements ran wild across the landscape. Skeins of mist hung tenuously upon the high banks and draped the bare trees. My surroundings were white and hushed and I’d lost all sense of time as I walked. In places the ground underfoot was several feet deep with compressed snow from some weeks ago.

I had turned off the main path to follow an upward track which I knew led me to the edge of the forest. Here the ground was slushy underfoot, worsened by the water streaming down from the hills. Everything was so breathlessly still and silent. It was as if the mist had erased all sound as well as every contour.

I reached the outskirts of the forest and saw the dark conifers puncturing the mist. But then something made me stop. It was music. High piping music that seemed to resonate on many levels simultaneously. It flowed through my body and spirit, as if the chords were able to penetrate hidden doorways into my soul. I was porous, living and breathing somewhere between substance and time. Gradually I became aware of a presence, a feeling that I wasn’t alone.

I saw him first, a small bearded figure, half human half goat, dancing on a small hillock playing the pipes. I immediately thought of Pan, but he was much smaller, a faun in fact. He was no more than a metre in height. And then I saw that he was surrounded by animals of all kinds, in a circle. There were shy woodland animals, squirrels and foxes, and mythological ones such as satyrs and centaurs. It was some form of animal gathering.

Stephanie Wilson
Meeting with a Faun

pagan to the hilt

April 22, 2018

Bacchanal - Rosaleen Norton

From an early age she had a remarkable capacity to explore the visionary depths of her subconscious mind, and the archetypal beings she encountered on those occasions became the focus of her art. It was only later that Roie was labelled a witch, was described as such in the popular press, and began to develop the persona which accompanied that description. As this process gathered momentum, Roie in turn became intent on trying to demonstrate that she had been born a witch. After all, she had somewhat pointed ears, small blue markings on her left knee, and also a long strand of flesh which hung from underneath her armpit to her waist – a variant on the extra nipple sometimes ascribed to witches in the Middle Ages.. .

.. .She had no time at all for organised religion, and the gods she embraced – a cluster of ancient gods centred around Pan – were, of course, pagan to the hilt. She regarded Pan as the God of Infinite Being. Traditionally Pan is known as the god of flocks and shepherds in ancient Greece. Depicted as half-man, half-goat, he played a pipe with seven reeds and was considered the lord of Nature and all forms of wildlife. He was also rather lecherous, having numerous love affairs with the nymphs – especially Echo, Syrinx and Pithys.

Nevill Drury
Rosaleen Norton: Remembering Roie – the Witch of Kings Cross

Awareness grew stronger

April 21, 2018

A witch - Rosaleen Norton

If the Kingdom of Pan had always been with me, it had been mostly in the background, overlaid by what was called reality: Now it had begun to emerge and pervade the latter. Awareness grew stronger and stronger that the tedious world of childhood didn’t really matter, because this held the essence of all that called to my inmost being: Night and wild things and mystery; storms; being by myself, free of other people. The sense of some deep hidden knowledge stirring at the back of consciousness; and all about me the feeling of secret sentient life, that was in alliance with me, but that others were unaware, or afraid of, because it was unhuman. So my first act of ceremonial magic was in honour of the horned god, whose pipes are symbol of magic and mystery, and whose horns and hooves stand for natural energies and fleet-footed freedom: And this rite was also my oath of allegiance and my confirmation as a witch. I remember my feelings on that occasion well, and they are valid today: If Pan is the ‘Devil’ (and the joyous goat-god probably is from the orthodox viewpoint) then I am indeed a ‘Devil’ worshipper.

Rosaleen Norton
Thorn in the Flesh: A Grim-memoir

I was probably about 11 or 12 when I first saw a picture of Pan, and I was mesmerized by this half goat, half man god. He came to represent all that I searched for in the magical mysteries of “the Pagan”, all that I swore ran through my blood and my pre-teen sexuality, as it led down into adolescence. Any depiction of a satyr in a museum would become an icon and a little place of pilgrimage for me.

In esoteric hearsay, stories of Pan’s invocation were accompanied with cautionary tales, supposed immorality, foolhardiness, and magicians left gibbering and naked in the morning. I wonder if that still gets trotted out nowadays? I didn’t really consider Pan in quite that light, he was my favourite after all, but there was a coldness and a darkness that could accompany the goat foot god, both a loneliness and its answer, along with experiences which might get stereotyped as “enchanting” and “ecstatic”. For one period of time in my twenties I would get hurled out of sleep, like out of deep water, in a state of terror. My sister swore, years later, that she had once awoken to hear a large animal on the landing outside our bedrooms, breathing heavily in the middle of the night. It was quite an extreme time in some ways, though very creative.

Mo (aka CredenceDawg)
Hymn to an Outsider

15th August

So he enters her bedroom through that impossible two way mirror. She’s not there but he finds a mannequin that looks like her and dresses it in a flowing white bridal gown. He utters the words that make them husband and wife, and consummates their union on her untidy bed. Afterwards he takes her to the cemetery on the edge of the moor. It is the happiest day of his life.

‘I think of you,’ he says, ‘at midnight each and every night.’

He takes her in his arms and they begin to dance to the music playing inside his head. He is overcome with passion, and he has her there, bending her over a tombstone and thrusting into her.

She is like a woman from another time. She awakens so many different emotions in him. She has the soft smell of a child about her, and he whispers words of love into her tangled hair as he cums up her.

He loves her, every atom, every particle. Squeezing her breasts through her bridal gown and gently kissing the back of her neck. But she doesn’t respond. She lays quite silent and still over the tombstone, like a woman in some other person’s dream –

Then he wakes.

#

The creative artist is much better equipped to exploit the obscure sources of myth, magic and ritual surrounding us than any ‘academic’ writing down pure ‘facts’. Contact with the sacred in nature may effect a transformation in our ways of ‘seeing’. The visible and the invisible and the veil between become momentarily transparent to assist in our enlightenment. It is possible for the creative artist to live in both worlds at once. To live inside and outside of time. The trackless, sheep-wandered moorland beyond my window suggests power, joy, growth – and the possibility of transformation. Here, it is easy to believe, is Pan’s playground, his kingdom, and that he waits, a bodiless shadow, to brutally ravish some innocent female out walking his domain without due care.

One should always propitiate the Gods with an appropriate sacrifice.

love-dance

To diminish the worth of women, men had to diminish the worth of the moon. They had to drive a wedge between human beings and the trees and the beasts and the waters, because trees and beasts and waters are as loyal to the moon as to the sun. They had to drive a wedge between thought and feeling…At first they used Apollo as the wedge, and the abstract logic of Apollo made a mighty wedge, indeed, but Apollo the artist maintained a love for women, not the open, unrestrained lust that Pan has, but a controlled longing that undermined the patriarchal ambition. When Christ came along, Christ, who slept with no female…Christ, who played no musical instrument, recited no poetry, and never kicked up his heels by moonlight, this Christ was the perfect wedge. Christianity is merely a system for turning priestesses into handmaidens, queens into concubines, and goddesses into muses.

Tom Robbins
Jitterbug Perfume

Pan

All are assembled in a clearing in the woods at about l1.3Opm. The priestess administers a powerful sacrament to the celebrants who are deployed around the circle. Light is provided by torches at the cardinal points.

PRIESTESS:

Ecstatic are the rites of Man
And doubly so when horned Pan,
Careering through the Wildwoods night,
Puts Temperance and Shame to flight.
Put off the black of robe and cowl
And naked run and stalk and prowl.
(The wildhunt seeketh not to kill
Dumb beast or bird, rather to thrill
Numb human sense, – to pinnacle
The peak phantasmagorical).

A human snake is formed of men and women alternately with the priestess at the head. She moves off into the darkness, slowly at first but gradually becoming faster, weaving between trees and bushes, through tall bracken until, careless of direction, she leads the group pell mell until it fortuitously arrives back at the circle. A short time elapses for the recovery of breath.

PRIESTESS:

lo Pan, raw power of Light and Lust,
lo Pan, our strength derives from dust,
But thine absorbs the power of spring
Then spirals out in beat of wing,
In tear of talon, rending beak,
Triumphant horn, astride the peak
Of ecstasy without control
As flutes shrill high and tabors roll.
We ask for no embodiment
For here we have a regiment
Of men prepared to take thy form
And ravish nature in a storm
Of fervent, frenzied frolicking,
All pleasure here encompassing.

The priestess sets the wand of Pan in the ground at the centre of the circle. The men stand at equidistant points facing outwards while they are blindfolded by the women who then chant and beat drums. To this accompaniment the men whirl and spin in situ for as long as the priestess deems fit. The women, as they dance within the circle, ensure that the men do not enter it. At the command of the priestess there is silence and the men attempt to get to the wand. They are hindered in this by the women who misguide them in whatever way they choose.

When the wand is eventually reached the man’s blindfold is removed and the other men are led back to the circumference where they remain blindfolded.

The priestess anoints the man’s body with fragrant oil; he is now regarded as the regent of Pan. She makes obeisance to him as does each woman in her turn in her own way. A fire is lighted.

At the command of the priestess the men, still hoodwinked, grope around the circle until each has found a woman. The women remove the men’s blindfolds and the couples leap the fire (the size of which depends on the priestess’s sense of humour) in the time honoured fashion.

The rite is concluded in whatever way the priestess sees fit.

PAULA PAGANI
The Cardinal Rites of Chaos

danceinwoods

By the flame that burneth bright
O Horned One!

We call thy name into the night
O Horned One!

Thee we invoke by the moon led sea
By the standing stone and the twisted tree
Thee we invoke where gather thine own
By the nameless shrine forgotten and lone

Come where the round of the dance is trod
Horn and hoof of the goat-foot God
By moonlit meadow on dusky hill
When the haunted wood is hushed and still

Come to the charm of the chanted prayer
As the moon bewitches the midnight air
Evoke thy powers, that potent bide
In shining stream and secret tide

In fiery flame by starlight pale
In shadowy host that ride the gale
And by the fern-brakes fairy-haunted
Of forests wild and wood enchanted

Come! O Come!
To the heartbeats drum!

Come to us who gather below
When the broad white moon is climbing slow
Through the stars to the heavens height
We hear thy hoofs on the wind of night

As black tree branches shake and sigh
By joy and terror we know thee nigh

We speak the spell thy power unlocks
At Solstice, Sabbat, and Equinox

Word of virtue the veil to rend
From primal dawn to the wide world’s end
Since time began –
The blessing of Pan!

Blessed be all in hearth and hold
Blessed in all worth more than gold
Blessed be in strength and love
Blessed be wher’er we rove

Vision fade not from our eyes
Of the pagan paradise
Past the gates of death and birth
Our inheritance of the earth

From our soul the song of spring
Fade not in our wandering

Our life with all life is one,
By blackest night or noonday sun
Eldest of gods, on thee we call
Blessing be on thy creatures all

Doreen Valiente
Witchcraft for Tomorrow

Pan

January 22, 2015

satyr

God of nature, father of Silenus, whose own father is uncertain, but was possibly Hermes, or perhaps even randy Zeus. His mother’s identity, too, is shrouded in mystery. Possibly it was Penelope, wife of Odysseus, who is said to have engaged in sexual congress with 108 of the suitors who courted her in her husband’s absence. Pan was the result, maybe, of one of these forbidden intimacies?

He was born with horns, beard, puckish nose, goats legs and hindquarters that were covered in hair. He was so unusual for a newborn, his mother fled from him in panic.

The story of Pan is older than that of the other Olympians. After all it is said he taught Apollo the power of prophesy and provided Artemis her pack of hunting dogs. He was inventor of the syrinx, the shepherd’s flute, which he played with brilliance.

Often savage and insatiate, Pan inspired panic in lone travelers in the world’s wild places, impregnated countless Nymphae. Most famously he loved the mountain deity Echo, who he held in his arms, teaching her to repeat after him all kinds of songs. It was, of course, a love that was doomed.

He fell in lust with Syrinx, perused her relentlessly, and would have ravished her in a lonely spot beside a river had she not been transformed into a stand of mash reeds. Pitys, Selene, each experienced and attempted escape from Pan’s love; his wild lust. His nimble-footed dancing like a sportive goat. His huge member. Frightened troops of Nymphae fled from him in panic, his terrible lust that knew no satiation. Pan’s greatest conquest, of course, was Selene, the moon goddess, who he lured to earth and ravished mercilessly and repeatedly.

Pan lived to dance, to sing, to play his pipes, to fuck and chase the beautiful Nymphae, many of whom would wake in the morning from his goat-musky embraces to piss away the remains of their hymen in to rushing stream or silent forest glade.

So, boys & girls, what should you do if confronted by the Great God Pan in some lonely spot in wood or dale?

Firstly, never – NEVER – go wandering without a good tube of lubricant, which you should keep close to hand at all times. At your first, fleeting glimpse of his horns, his furry pelt, apply the lubricant generously to genitals and bottom. Pan, boys & girls, has no conception of foreplay. And no mortal could ever outrun him. That phallus of his, is wickedly proportioned…

You have been warned.