Tuesday 1 December 2009

Pan in Anger

In reading about the life of Aleister Crowley I noted with interest that he believed that the Great God Pan is the only one of the ancient deities to have made it into the modern world, which corresponds exactly to my own view. It occurs to me, though, that there is another dimension of Pan that I have not properly explored. I know of Pan the Protector, the Piper at the Gates of Dawn, from The Wind in the Willows. I know of Pan as the elemental force of sexual passion from Knut Hamsun’s novel of the same name. But what of Pan angry; what of Pan alienated from humanity, as humanity is alienated from nature?

What immediately came to mind is Algernon Blackwood’s marvelous short story The Willows, where nature is actively hostile to a human presence. Remember the words of the Swede, the narrator’s companion as the threat closes around them,

There are forces close here that could kill a heard of elephants in a second as easily as you or I could squash a fly. Our only chance is to keep perfectly still. Our insignificance perhaps may save us.

The interesting encounter for me is that the encounter with the God angry is on an island in a river, just as Mole and Ratty encounter him benevolent in exactly the same circumstances. Nature is being tortured; Pan is angry with humanity. To anger the Great God is a mistake beyond all mistakes.


  1. Hello Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont

    I found your website while looking for the original of the image on the page about Pan in Anger. I first saw the image a few years ago, and saved it, hoping one day to use it as an album cover. I now have the album about fionished, and want to find out who is the copyright owner. Can you tell me anything about the image please? Or about the artist, Eric Pouhier? (The picture is a silhouette, Pan playing a pipe with right hand, head up, left arm free and waving, bushes to either side...) I am a follower of the God....and I am interested in your questions. I am particularly interested in Pan in anger - (do you know about Jajouka, Brian Jones etc, and also Altamont where he wreaked havoc? ) Pan is the origin of the word Panic, - he is associated with music, sexual desire, and sometimes great fear.

    Please contact me if you are inclined...You can find me as BanjoBilly (Banjo Ballads and Bagpipes)on Myspace, or Bill Lloyd on facebook. Thank you. Keep the beat....

  2. First of all, Billy, welcome. Second, I got your Facebook message also which I will reply to later. I could tell you quite a lot about Pan, an inspiration for me also, but nothing about this particular image, which I took from a common pool. A quick Google search turned up an Eric Pouhier, who appears to be a French photographer, though I obviously don't know if it's the same person. There is a Gmail address that you might contact. As I say, I will check you out on both Facebook and My Space, where I have an account also. Yes, let's both keep the beat and all hail to the Great God Pan!