|Pan Invoked by Shawn Carter|
I would say Pan is my chosen deity although you could argue the reverse just as easily. I've had a longtime fascination with him that started at a very young age. I'm not sure if it started with the image of a faun hoofing it (ha ha ha) through the snow, loaded down with brown paper-wrapped packages, tail over his arm and a snow-covered umbrella in hand under a lamp-post or if it was the discovery of the guardian of the forest in the forest grove watching over a baby otter until his worried father and a mole found him. If you know the books I'm talking about, you get cookies. If not, well, I guess I could tell you that they were The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis and The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. The LtWatW sparked an initial interest in all things Greek mythology. Willows had a more subtle effect realized much later when I understood how very much Pan was the spirit of the forest and how my relationship with him early on was more of a child's curiosity.
Of all the characters in Greek myth Pan was the one I found completely fascinating for reasons I didn't really understand. Admittedly, there was some attraction to the Greek gods for their muscled bodies and the fact that nobody seemed to want to put clothes on them. I came into my own sexuality very early in life, but more on that in a bit. But outside of the physical appearance of the gods there was a very human quality to them that I did not find in the god my fundamentalist Christian parents wanted me to devote my life to. They were much more easily identified with. And yet it was not Pan's human half that attracted me to him. In him I found a wild, beautiful, "dark" side that appealed to that hidden side of me that hung back from the main stage of The Life of Shawn.
As I got into my teenage years and hormones took over and the chaos that was being a closeted gay who loathed his sexuality came into play heavily I started to crave someone like the protector of the forest who's perceived calming and comforting presence was welcome. I began to connect to the idea of Pan as a father to all those who were not "normal" and who were the undesirables of society. I specifically remember going back to the chapter in Wind in the Willows and spending time rereading it trying to capture the image and sensation that I was Portly the otter and there was nothing to worry about. Looking back, Pan might have had some unrestrained influence on my more suicidal moments as life went up and down for me and panic set in over losing what was my entire world at the time, but such is life lived with a god whose own immortality tends to put a lower priority on whether you breathe air or not. Alive or dead you are still very much a part of the matrix that makes up a god's life force, right? A question for another long entry.
After exploring my interest in all things Celtic and druid in high school I started pondering how much the Horned God of the druids had in common with the Horned God of Arcadia. My blood is pretty green even though there is no immediate connection to a Celtic or Gaelic ancestry until you go way back to my Saxon ancestors who seemed to give birth to a long line of political opportunists who married and or slept their way around what is now Scotland, Ireland and then England. I'm mostly American mutt. But the interest and pull of Pan was strong as was the pull of the magic of standing stones, avenging ancestral dead and a race of god-men who fought glorious battles before accepting their receding part in the ongoing story of the rise of Men on earth. So I just let it be. No point in fighting what comes naturally.
I played with a pagan/wiccan religious worldview for a few years while trying to figure out where life was going shortly after leaving home and coming out as the atypical gay guy I accepted myself as. I found myself generalizing a god and goddess for reasons I wasn't entirely certain of. It wasn't until I decided that I was ready to take the plunge and go from a solitary pagan into an actual coven that I started revisiting the idea of this god who I seemed to have a stronger connection to than any of the others I'd flirted with. At a pagan festival in Colorado I attended a workshop where our goal was to get a taste of aspecting or invoking a godform. At a point in the lesson we were to close our eyes and drop into a meditative state and allow any god or goddess to make themselves known. Immediately I found myself in a grassy field bordering a forest. Nobody showed up for a few minutes so I kicked back and waited until Pan popped in ten yards in front of me. Not totally surprised and definitely happy about it. My first reaction was to head towards him. His response was laugh his ass off and head off across the meadow with this wordless invitation to find him if I really was serious about wanting to invoke his name. After that, shit got serious.
About a year later I ended up finishing the basic courses with the coven I was training with and decided to pursue first degree initiation in their tradition. Part of this process was choosing a deity to work with and a magickal name to dedicate with. Five guesses what deity I chose. The first four don't count. The name I ended up choosing was a funny sequence of events but the end result was that I chose a surname of "Paikon" that, after much help and some study of the numerical value of the final result, translates to "priest of Pan" roughly. It's one of the few things I've created in my life that I'm completely happy with even to this day. I initiated with my new name and dedicated to the study and worship of Pan and Selene.
Shortly after my dedication I led my first coven ritual celebrating Lupercalia, an old Roman festival that honored the wolf, werewolves, and in many accounts Pan/Faunus/Pan Lykaios. While Pan's direct connection to the festival is debated (some people believe that the Pan the Romans worshipped was a "master of werewolves"), I took what I had and ran with it. Further maturing of this ritual is a constant project of mine as well as a way to make it more relevant to modern pagans. That night solidified it as Pan's holiday for me.
After a year of first degree classes I ended up parting ways with that coven over differences of opinion on where the coven was heading and a change from a working family to a more public and polished identity. With this parting I took away a fantastic new first hand relationship with invoking Pan into my body. My first time was during an invocation class and I have invoked him a few times since then, sometimes with intent and other times spontaneously. My understanding of who he is and what he is seems to have been embedded deep inside me waiting for me to uncover more and more the deeper I get into that relationship. A year of focused learning and experience that have proved to cement him even deeper into my own identity and spur me on to learn more and more about him every chance I get.
I don't claim to know all about Pan and I have kept out a lot from this post to save it from being a four-hour novel. Hopefully it gives anyone interested enough to either relate or get curious about this goat man who ravishes nymphs in his off time when he's not playing on his pipes. At some point I will offer up a more expanded post on my understanding of this god through my own experience paired with what history has to tell us about him.