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Thursday, April 24, 2014
Pan & Selene
‘Twas the day before the Harvest Moon rose over Arcadia. The land was preparing for its mild winter of rain in the low-lying areas and snows in the mountains. The autumn flowers were blooming, the vines heavy with fruit.
Through the tall grass, with the sunshine upon his back, walked a god. God of music and laughter, dance and revelry, panic and frenzy. Lord of the shepherds and flocks in the pasture, god of the wild mountains and those who hunt amongst trees and rocks.
Friend and companion of Dionysus, lover of dryads and nymphs. He who gave Artemis her hunting hounds and who taught the secrets of prophecy to Apollo. Wild god, randy god, troublesome god, trickster and artist, rustic musician. Chaser of beautiful women and seducer of handsome young men. The Great God Pan.
He walked amongst the autumn flowers and through the fertile fields; he walked under the boughs of ripe orchards and passed by vineyards. He walked into a pasture filled with the finest sheep in all of Greece. Big, fat and with wool of the purest white. He played a single note on his pipes and two of the largest and whitest sheep came to him, bowed their heads before their lord … and breathed their last breath. With magic and care, Pan removed their snow white skins and gave their bodies back to the land. He tucked the skins into a pack, slung it over his shoulder and walked out of the pasture and deep into the forest.
He climbed the slopes of the highest mountain in all of Arcady until he came to a large grove. Waiting for him there were three of the largest and whitest oxen ever seen. Pan set about building a great fire. He adorned his hair and horns with white flowers. He placed a silver chain around his neck. He draped a white cloak over his shoulders and he wrapped his dark, goat-y legs in the pure white skins of the sheep.
He stood upon the mountainside and watched as the sun sank. He threw more logs onto his fire and smiled. As twilight crept its way into the grove, Pan blew a single note on his pipes and one by one, each of the three great oxen walked towards him, bowed before their lord and stepped willingly into the fire.
The Full Moon could now be seen on the horizon. With great care Pan played his pipes, the ringing notes blew the smoke of the sacrificial fire towards the silver wheel shining in the sky. The smoke billowed, dancing in time with the music he played, reaching, reaching towards the Moon as it worked its way through the sky, bringing the night with it.
Then as the Moon rose high in the sky, right above the grove where Pan danced and played, a shaft of light came down, bathing the Great God Pan in white, lighting him up as if he were a stage performer standing in a spotlight. The light shone upon the flowers in his hair, his cloak, the silver around his neck, and the white furs wrapped around his legs making him appear to glow. The shimmering light glinted off his pipes as he played brightly, sweetly, joyfully. The light played against his body as he danced … his music and the Moon’s light flirting with each other. Teasing, testing, taunting, curious and inviting.
When it seemed as if the moonlight in the grove was nearly blinding Pan changed his song of invocation into a sweet serenade. A song of seduction, of surrender. Sensual and enticing. The Moon filled the sky above the grove until not a single star could be seen.
Slowly a figure took shape, forming out of smoke and moonlight. Radiant and feminine. White as the Moon and dark as the Night. Slender arms reached above her head, supple legs stretched to touch the earth and then bent in the dance. She twirled and spun as smoke dances upon the night breeze.
The very air shivered with anticipation. Passion filled the grove. Joy and lust burst from Pan’s pipes and into the surrounding mountainside. Laughter as clear as a bell rang from the velvet throat of Selene, goddess of the Moon. Drawn down by Pan’s music, enticed by the sacrifice of oxen and the beautiful adornments the god wore, she joined him in the dance, leaping and whirling.
Pan placed his pipes in the air and they hovered there, still making sweet and sensual sounds as if played by some unseen musician. He grasped Selene around the waist and spun with her, danced with her. Flirted with her. Seduced her utterly too both their delight.
And so the god of Nature and the goddess of the Moon lay down together in a wooded grove bright with silver light. The passion of their tryst spread out through the night air and over the land.
And that night all who hunted by the light of the Moon returned laden with a kill that would feed their families well.
The shepherds lost not a single member of their flocks, as the Moon shone so brightly upon them they could see their furry charges as clear as day. And the animals lay down still and silent, dreaming sweetly, as if they knew no predator would hunt them that night.
Young couples stole away from their homes and into the breathless night. Drawn to each other by a pull greater than any they had felt before, meeting each other in field and forest as if by magick. They lay down and made love and whispered sweet nothings to each other.
Meanwhile their parents and guardians were too busy in their own beds to notice the absence of their beautiful daughters and brash sons. Rekindling old flames of passion they had long forgotten.
Autumn leaves fell silently from the trees, grapes on the vine seemed to double in size over night, prize horses went into season, cats prowled and yowled, dogs bayed at the Moon, owls slipped through the chill night air and deer bounded over glade and glen. Dew formed on grass and reflected the brilliance of the Moon. The unseen creatures of earth and sky danced together, cavorting and celebrating. It seemed as if the whole world was just that little bit more alive.
The gods pleasured each other until the birds began to sing the dawn chorus, the Moon slipping away and out of sight. Selene bid a fond farewell to her lover and went with it.
The Sun rose, the fiery chariot of Apollo driven through the morning sky. As he passed over Apollo looked down and spied Pan, lounging in the wooded grove. He asked the goat foot god just what exactly had he been up to during the night?
The Great God Pan grinned devilishly and replied that he had done nothing, nothing at all. Then he wrapped himself up in his cloak and slept.