The Rite of Pan

The Night of Pan

The ritual magician Aleister Crowley coined the term, ‘The Night of Pan’ to represent the of spiritual darkness wherein the ego-self dies.  Nox means ‘Night’ in Latin and this night is the darkness of the womb of the Great Mother, before the initiate can be reborn and ‘grow up to be Himself wholly and truly as He was not previously’.

In mythological terms, this is the journey into the Underworld, where difficult trials must be completed and monsters vanquished, before the hero can return back to this world.

Chapter 1 of Crowley’s Liber  333, The Book of Lies, is entitled, The Sabbath of the Goat and describes the Night of Pan.


                        ΚΕΦΑΛΗ Α

    O! the heart of N.O.X. the Night of Pan.

    PAN: Duality: Energy: Death.

    Death: Begetting: the supporters of O!

    To beget is to die; to die is to beget.

    Cast the Seed into the Field of Night.

    Life and Death are two names of A.

    Kill thyself.

    Neither of these alone is enough.


The shape of the figure I suggests the Phallus; this chapter  is therefore called the Sabbath of the Goat, the Witches’ Sabbath, in which the Phallus is adored.

The chapter begins with a repetition of O! referred to in the  previous chapter.  It is explained that this triad lives in Night, the Night of Pan, which is mystically called N.O.X., and this O is identified with the O in this word.  N is the Tarot symbol,

Death; and the X or Cross is the sign of the Phallus.  For a fuller commentary on Nox, see Liber VII, Chapter I. Nox adds to 210, which symbolises the reduction of duality

to unity, and thence to negativity, and is thus a hieroglyph of the Great Work.

The word Pan is then explained, P, the letter of Mars, is a hieroglyph of two pillars, and therefore suggest duality; A, by its shape, is the pentagram, energy, and N, by its Tarot attribution, is death.

Nox is then further explained, and it is shown that the ultimate Trinity, O!, is supported, or fed, by the process of death and begetting, which are the laws of the universe.

The identity of these two is then explained. The Student is then charged to understand the spiritual importance of this physical procession in line 5.

It is then asserted that the ultimate letter A has two names, or phases, Life and Death.

Line 7 balances line 5.  It will be notice that the phraseology of these two lines is so conceived that the one contains the other more than itself.

Line 8 emphasises the importance of performing both.

Crowley writes another commentary on The Night of Pan in Liber VII, Chapter 1:

Prologue Of The Unborn

Into my loneliness comes—

The sound of a flute in dim groves that haunt the uttermost hills.

Even from the brave river they reach to the edge of the wilderness.

And I behold Pan.

The snows are eternal above, above —

And their perfume smokes upward into the nostrils of the stars.

But what have I to do with these?

To me only the distant flute, the abiding vision of Pan.

On all sides Pan to the eye, to the ear;

The perfume of Pan pervading, the taste of him utterly filling my mouth, so that the tongue breaks forth into a weird and monstrous speech.

The embrace of him intense on every centre of pain and pleasure.

The sixth interior sense aflame with the inmost self of Him,

Myself flung down the precipice of being

Even to the abyss, annihilation.

An end to loneliness, as to all.

Pan! Pan! Io Pan! Io Pan!

My God, how I love Thee!

With the vehement appetite of a beast I hunt Thee through the Universe.

Thou art standing as it were upon a pinnacle at the edge of some fortified city. I am a white bird, and perch upon Thee.

Thou art My Lover: I see Thee as a nymph with her white limbs stretched by the spring.

She lies upon the moss; there is none other but she:

Art Thou not Pan?

I am He. Speak not, O my God! Let the work be accomplished in silence.

Let my cry of pain be crystallized into a little white fawn to run away into the forest!

Thou art a centaur, O my God, from the violet-blossoms that crown Thee to the hoofs of the horse.

Thou art harder than tempered steel; there is no diamond beside Thee.

Did I not yield this body and soul?

I woo thee with a dagger drawn across my throat.

Let the spout of blood quench Thy blood-thirst, O my God!

Thou art a little white rabbit in the burrow Night.

I am greater than the fox and the hole.

Give me Thy kisses, O Lord God!

The lightning came and licked up the little flock of sheep.

There is a tongue and a flame; I see that trident walking over the sea.

A phœnix hath it for its head; below are two prongs. They spear the wicked.

I will spear Thee, O Thou little grey god, unless Thou beware!

From the grey to the gold; from the gold to that which is beyond the gold of Ophir.

My God! but I love Thee!

Why hast Thou whispered so ambiguous things? Wast Thou afraid, O goat-hoofed One, O horned One, O pillar of lightning?

From the lightning fall pearls; from the pearls black specks of nothing.

I based all on one, one on naught.

Afloat in the æther, O my God, my God!

O Thou great hooded sun of glory, cut off these eyelids!

Nature shall die out; she hideth me, closing mine eyelids with fear, she hideth me from My destruction, O Thou open eye.

O ever-weeping One!

Not Isis my mother, nor Osiris my self; but the incestuous Horus given over to Typhon, so may I be!

There thought; and thought is evil.

Pan! Pan! Io Pan! it is enough.

Fall not into death, O my soul! Think that death is the bed into which you are falling!

O how I love Thee, O my God! Especially is there a vehement parallel light from infinity, vilely diffracted in the haze of this mind.

I love Thee.
I love Thee.
I love Thee.

Thou art a beautiful thing whiter than a woman in the column of this vibration.

I shoot up vertically like an arrow, and become that Above.

But it is death, and the flame of the pyre.

Ascend in the flame of the pyre, O my soul! Thy God is like the cold emptiness of the utmost heaven, into which thou radiatest thy little light.

When Thou shall know me, O empty God, my flame shall utterly expire in Thy great N. O. X.

What shalt Thou be, my God, when I have ceased to love Thee?

A worm, a nothing, a niddering knave!

But Oh! I love Thee.

I have thrown a million flowers from the basket of the Beyond at Thy feet, I have anointed Thee and Thy Staff with oil and blood and kisses.

I have kindled Thy marble into life—ay! into death.

I have been smitten with the reek of Thy mouth, that drinketh never wine but life.

How the dew of the Universe whitens the lips!

Ah! trickling flow of the stars of the mother Supernal, begone!

I Am She that should come, the Virgin of all men.

I am a boy before Thee, O Thou satyr God.

Thou wilt inflict the punishment of pleasure—Now! Now! Now!

Io Pan! Io Pan! I love Thee. I love Thee.

O my God, spare me!

  It is done! Death.

I cried aloud the word—and it was a mighty spell to bind the Invisible, an enchantment to unbind the bound; yea, to unbind the bound.



N is the Tarot symbol,

Death; and the X or Cross is the sign of the Phallus.

Commentary on Chapter 2 of Liber VII, The Book of Lies, by Aleister Crowley