Pagans: Thoughts on the Death of Pan

According to the historian, Plutarch, the death of Pan was announced from the heavens to a sailor who subsequently spread the news and was even interviewed by the Emperor Tiberius (AD 14-37).

Does Pan’s death cause you concern about the real potency of the god or gods that you worship?

What thoughts do you have about the value of worshiping a god who was not the creator of all things and does not have eternal life?

For more on the death of the so-called god, Pan, go here.

Not to mention Isis, who had to piece her husband back together after he was chopped up…

Why would the death of Pan affect anyone who was not a follower of Pan?

There are thousands of pagan religions. With a huge variety of understandings of the cosmos and deity.

Many have gods that are eternal.

The same way Christians and Jews don’t much care whether or not Pan died, neither do most pagans.

I am not saying that you don’t understand this, but it has been my experience that many people do not understand that religions can’t be lined up parallel to one another and say that the various aspects of one are equivalent to aspects of another.

When religions have completely different understandings of the cosmos it can be very difficult for them to understand how/why the others believe and worship as they do.

It is very common for people of one faith to look at a different faith and try to define it not according to it’s own beliefs, but by the observers understanding of things.

This is why so many people accuse Catholics of worshiping idols.

If a person of the “accusing” faith behaved in the way Catholics do to saints and statues, it would indeed be worship. They define it from they own understanding of things, because they are not Catholic and don’t understand Catholic theology.

On the other hand Catholics/Christians often make erroneous assumptions or statements about other religions because they define things based on Catholic thinking, rather than the theology of the religion in question.

Many Catholics say that they don’t worship idols like pagans do, because pagans actually think the statue IS a god. Which is untrue of nearly all pagans. They don’t think the statue is divine or a god, it, like statues of Jesus, represents something divine. When they put an offering before a statue, or light incense or candles, they are offering it to the god the statue represents, not to the statue itself. Yet the same Catholic who claims other are attacking and misrepresenting their faith, is often doing the same to another faith in exactly the same sentence.

The death of Pan causes no more concern to people of other pagan faiths than it does to Catholics. It’s a non issue. Their god is no less potent because the god of another came to a bad end.

Indeed the above is true - unless Pan is part of your pantheon, it’s really a non-issue.

Many gods and goddesses also undergo a death and rebirth following the cyce of the year - the wheel of the year. One will ‘rule’ the waxing part of the year, die and be replaced by one ‘ruling’ the waning part of the year.

The one ruling the waning part of the year will die when the year begins to wax. S/he being replaced by the rebirth of the one who died when the year began to wane, repeated in an endless cycle.

Not always, but typically the two are seen as simply aspects of one another.

Perhaps not so much with the case of Pan, but in many traditions the death of a god/goddess is not at all uncommon or odd - they are usually (not always in some traditions) reborn at another part of the year.

Interesting. So, if Pan, one of the best-known of all the ancient gods, can “die”, doesn’t this sort of call into question the eternal nature of other ancient gods who are even less significant than Pan?

Personally, if I’m going to choose to worship and follow a God, then I want to commit to the one is above all and the creator of all.

What is the point of being children of a lesser god? :shrug:

Pan the best known? To whom?

Unless you follow a religion in which Pan factors, Pan is…again, a non issue.

The fact that some mythological being in another faith and culture came to a bad end…means exactly nothing to someone who is practicing their own faith.

And just like you, people don’t consider their deities to be “lesser gods”.

Not all people “choose” their God, as you say you have. Some are chosen by their deity, and others are born into a relationship with a particular pantheon. I think shopping for deities is a relatively new practice in history.

See Tom Robbins’s novel, Jitterbug Perfume, for his imaginative take on the death of Pan, among other things.

I certainly understand being chosen…Jesus said:

John 15:16-17
16"You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17"This I command you, that you love one another.

And Paul reminds us:

Ephesians 1:4-6
4 God chose us to belong to Christ before the world was created. He chose us to be holy and without blame in his eyes. He loved us. 5 So he decided long ago to adopt us as his children. He did it because of what Jesus Christ has done. It pleased God to do it. 6 All those things bring praise to his glorious grace. God freely gave us his grace because of the One he loves.

However, being chosen by the creator of all things is far cry from being selected to serve a lesser “god” who, truth be told, is NOT believed to have created everything that exists and nor even to be immortal.

Are wimpy “gods” like these even worthy of worship??? :shrug:

I guess that depends on just how far back you want to define recent. The Romans took Gods from almost everybody they encountered. That was fairly long ago. Before them, the Greeks and Egyptians had instances where they would borrow gods from one another. Babylonians and Assyrians shared dieties often.

However, to the original point. Nobody cares about the death of Pan. Using that as a justifcation against Paganism is irrational. However, if you want to mention that the difference between Paganism and Christianity is in the specific concepts of deism then sure go ahead. Pagan gods and godesses are part of nature, and their relationships with nature work in both directions. They are influenced by the worship of their followers and they can influence their natural world. It was very common for idols of their gods to be granted gifts and sacrafices in order to appease them in the natural world. The Christian God is the creator and he is beyond nature. He is whethere he is worshiped or not. He does whether we believe or not. He influences nature without there being an influence upon him.

Pagan beliefs are a direct representation of nature worship.

This (especially what I bolded) should be common knowledge, but isn’t. I get ticked off when any religion I know something about is misrepresented. Sometimes it’s just ignorance, but sometimes it’s malicious.

Are you suggesting that this actually happened?

Depends on where you stand. Of course you feel the god you worship is the only god worth worshiping. Your opinion of others is that they are wimpy, so of course you don’t bother with them.

To those who have profound relationships and covenants to those gods, they are not wimpy.

Many religions believe that different peoples have different gods they are answerable to.

If you are answerable to a particular god or pantheon, then yes, clearly they are worthy of worship.

I don’t have a dog in the fight as to who’s god is better than who’s god. And for many pagans that isn’t even an issue, they believe that different nations are answerable to different pantheons. The convenant another group has with their pantheon is their own business and responsibility.

The basic understanding of the cosmos and the place of humans within that cosmos is radically different between monotheists, polytheists and pantheists.

That said, have some Wilde:

Santa Decca

THE Gods are dead: no longer do we bring
To grey-eyed Pallas crowns of olive-leaves!
Demeter’s child no more hath tithe of sheaves,
And in the noon the careless shepherds sing,
For Pan is dead, and all the wantoning
By secret glade and devious haunt is o’er:
Young Hylas seeks the water-springs no more;
Great Pan is dead, and Mary’s Son is King.

And yet—perchance in this sea-trancèd isle,
Chewing the bitter fruit of memory,
Some God lies hidden in the asphodel.
Ah Love! if such there be then it were well
For us to fly his anger: nay, but see
The leaves are stirring: let us watch a-while.

As a point of interest, at our parish we are watching the DVD Video of Father Barron’s Word on Fire series on Catholicism.
In the first of the series Father Barron relayed the story of St Peters confession.

From Matthew 16

Peter’s Confession about Jesus

13 When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist,* others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
16* Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood* has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
18 And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church,* and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.

What is so interesting is that the location in which Jesus asked these questions of His disciples, they were actually standing at the temple of Pan and surrounded by all of the statues of other false gods. It was one of those enlightening moments. Way too cool.

Plutarch said it did.

It’s not about MY opinion of these so-called “gods”.

What boggles my mind is that pagans themselves admit that the “god(s)” they worship did not create everything that exists, and, apparently, that they are not immortal.

So, why would anyone dedicate himself or herself to such an impotent “god”?

Right. Plutarch said a lot of things. Is anyone here accepting him as an authority?

“Pagan” covers a lot of territory, tens of thousand of religions throughout human history. Blanket statements are going to have more holes in them than a fishing net.

Some pagans do believe their gods created everything, and that their gods are immortal. I am guessing those are not the ones you are talking about.

You consider their gods as wimpy and impotent, they don’t. That is not their experience of them, nor is it the experience of their families and cultures. They dedicate themselves to that which they find to be powerful and purposeful.

To an outside observer Christ was mortal. He needed a more powerful god to resurrect him, and the glorious kingdom he promised would come before the people of his time had passed away, has not manifested after 2000 years.

It is mindboggling to some that people hold fast to the Christian god and Christian faith. But you have an understanding that compels you to dedicate yourself to that god just the same.

It’s sorta like that.

Conversely, some do not.

And my point is: Why bother with these so-called “gods” if they are not supreme, all-powerful, omniscient, omnipresent, etc.? Most of us out-grow dressing up for Halloween, but hey, if wearing funny costumes and running around the countryside is their thing, let them have it.

More importantly, should they?

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