The Two Faces of Pan : musings on Panic & Pleasure


Ah, the Great God Pan. How I love the goaty horned God that runs around with his erections and laughter. Who knows for sure what the ancients associated him with? For myself in my twenties I was drawn to men who smelt like forest, had little beards and deep brown eyes. I was moving from a frigid closed up youth to an open, wild woman sexuality; and my consort of choice was the Earthy God of animal and man.

I saw him in my art, in Musicians, in Revellers. Oak trees and rivers. Masculinity that runs through the currents of the wild, down here in twisted roots and soft earth….as a contrast to the cool intellect and rational spirituality of the sky-gods. I opened up my heart and sexuality through the initiatory desires and lusts of the Pan-men who longed for my unrefined wild beauty, my Artemis-nature of nymphs and wolves. I knew the face of Pan that was sex, and lust, and sacred fucking; warm sunshine on the skin and moss underneath me. I felt Pan as golden life flowing through my pleasure, merging my soul and body into one again.

As I hit my thirties, barely making it through the 2012 gateway, I came to know the other Face of Pan.


Pan, as in Panic. As in Pandemonium. The Pan that grips you in the night time hours, the dark forest, the screams of unknown creatures. The dark face of Pan, who pulls you into your body not through lust but through fear, a crazy fear that feels like death or madness. The Pan that takes, rapes, laughs and leaves you in a mess on the floor. Panic attacks, Panic Disorder, Night time Anxiety, Agoraphobia, a complete mental melt down of identity and purpose. I’ve fought against it in ever decreasing spirals until I hit a singularity. I could no longer hide it from myself or from others and finally got honest.

I found an excellent resource on panic, anxiety, and the panic cycle. And last night I waited for the rise-flood of chemicals of fear, but with a new agenda. Not to fight, deny, hate myself for it, but to tell myself that it would pass, no matter what I did, and my role was to float-ride-move through it. To hold it, to meet it, to acknowledge it and make myself as comfortable as possible till it was over. Imagine sitting on a beach watching a tsunami come in and deciding no matter what you are staying on the beach, and if you are sure about it the wave will simply pass over you.  This is a contrast to the usual response of running screaming.

dark-waveI had 3 or 4 waves hit me, but I was able, somehow, to stay on that beach. I did not turn into a panic-attack. I did not wake my lover. I did not destroy myself again. I managed to find sleep. I have realised that this is a going to be case of repeated exposure, showing up again and again, learning how to be with myself no matter what. It’s going to mean unpicking a big long mess of associations between sleep and fear. But I have started, and my perspective has shifted to inquiry, learning, practice.

Panic is not an event, it is an Invitation. What else is an Invitation? Pleasure.

That is what I learnt last night. I thought about the waves of pleasure, of orgasm that obliterates control and mind. I thought-felt-intuited that deep down, panic and pleasure are connected. I remembered Pan. Wild forces that overwhelm, drag us out of ivory towers of limited control and ego-identity. I thought about how the same meds that treat depression and anxiety fuck up our orgasms. I thought – here then, is a rich vein of truth, to know myself and my body. To be one and be full not just in the heights of ectstasy but the agonising depths. I will claim back my nights, one at a time, until they no longer are my hell but can be my rest again.

This last weekend, I found my sexuality returning after months of struggle in the bed sheets. I found it flowing through me when I lay outside, on mossy rocks, sound of wind in the trees. I was able to open and respond, and feel my lover merge with life and trees. It was one of the most spectacular sexual experiences I have had. I wonder now that nature-sex IS the only sex for me.

Pan has returned, in Pleasure and Panic, and he has some new lessons for me….


"There's nothing you can do that's more important than being fulfilled. You become a sign, you become a signal, transparent to transcendence; in this way, you will find, live, and become a realization of your own personal myth." – Joseph Campbell

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