The Rite of Pan

Pan and Sex

If yet, if yet,

Pan's orgies you will further fit,

See where the silver-footed fayes doe sit,

The Nymphes of wood and water ;

Each trees, and fountaines daughter,

Goe take them forth, it will be good

To see them wave it like a wood

Hymn from ‘Pan’s Anniversarie’ by Ben Johnson (1620)

Pan has always been seen as a god of fertility and was famed for his sexual prowess.  In ancient Greece, he was often depicted as having a large erect phallus.  Pan’s conquests were legendary, and he bragged about having seduced all of the
Maenads, the wild female followers of Dionysus, in frenzied orgies.  The word ‘orgy’ is derived from an Greek word, orgion, which means ‘secret rite’ and the ancient Greek religious orgies were celebrated with drunkenness, dancing and singing, but were not necessarily sexual.

In order to seduce Selene, the Moon Goddess, Pan disguised himself with a white sheepskin to hide his hairy goat form and gave her a herd of white oxen.

Pan did not just lust after maidens and nymphs.  He also fell in love with the shepherd Daphnis, who was the inventor of pastoral poetry, and taught him to play the pan pipes.

The Greek philosopher Diogenes of Sinope once told how Hermes took pity on Pan, who was pining for Echo, and taught him masturbation.  Pan then passed on this habit to his shepherd followers.  Diogenes commented that he wished it were so easy to relieve hunger by rubbing an empty stomach.

Leo Vinci, in his book ‘Pan: Great God of Nature’ writes:

Sex, as the great fertilizing power in nature, is one prime aspect of Pan: it is a perfectly normal, healthy appetite and should simply be regarded as such.  If you are thirsty, you drink, you make little fuss about it and that is how it should be with Pan, for he is just as natural




by Albert Belasco (b. 1938)