Mythic Tarot

Tarot Readings from Greek Mythology


The Demon Within

Posted on December 22, 2013 at 8:05 PM

Today we are introduced to the god Pan, son of Hermes and a nymph named Dryope, in the card of The Devil. Pan came into the world with a beard, goat legs, horns and hair on most of his body. He was the original satyr. His mother was so repulsed by him when he was born that she ran away in fright. Hermes, on the other hand, took him to Olympus for the amusement of the gods. Pan lived in the woods and pastures of Arcadia. While not exactly evil, he was still feared and loathed due to his "uncivilized" personification of the wildness of the natural world. He would even, at times and for reasons that were his own, be protector of flocks and herds of livestock or beehives or even help lost travellers find their way. Of course, he would just as often frighten lost travellers for his own amusement. He would often accompany mountain-nymphs in their games and help hunters locate wild game. While chasing after a nymph (Syrinx, who was chaste) he lost her near the river Ladon. Syrinx had managed to transform herself into a water reed to avoid his advances. Pan realized the trick, but could not tell her apart from any of the other reeds, so he cut at random several of them and fashioned them into his famous flute, the Pan-flute. While the rest of the Greek Gods despised him, they still found him useful. Apollo received the art of prophecy from Pan. Hermes found a Pan-flute that Pan had dropped, created a copy of it, passed it off as his own invention and sold it to Apollo. Thus Apollo received two of Pan's gifts (music and prophecy) from the ugliest and most untamed of the gods.


When one looks inside themselves, there is an aspect that they fear and loathe, yet are fascinated by nevertheless. Pan represents the raw, goatish, uncivilized sexual impulses within the human being. Some religions teach us that this part of ourselves is to be cut out and banished as inherently evil. Pan worship took place in caves and grottos in darkness except for the light of a fire or limited torches. The image of Pan was something to be feared and reviled due to his compulsive nature. So much so that Christianity adopted the image of Pan to represent the ultimate evil: The Devil. He personifies the impulses that both shame and fascinate us: our own sexual impulses and all that they reveal on an inner level. We all have some form of shame regarding our bodies. The impulses of the body come upon us as raw, untamed and amoral. To often we here about people being slaves of their own bodies, enslaved by their impulses. In this particular bit of symbology, it is The Devil Pan holding the chains that bind us humans. As long as we keep Pan hidden away in his cave, he will continue to rule over part of us, the part that we are most ashamed of. The presence of this card is notice that a confrontation with one's inner devil is needed for continued growth. This confrontation must be done with humility and self-compassion in order to free oneself from the grip of the devil within. The basest and most shameful aspects of the self need to be scrutinized to free the seeker from their own fear. The trap to avoid is allowing oneself to believe themselves superior for having "cleansed" themselves of their inner devil. This leads to prejudice, bigotry, persecution of others and even projecting ones own inner beast on others.


Confront all that is shadowy, shameful, base, crude and amoral within the self in order to become free of the grip of fear. By honestly and humbly accepting one's own embodiment of Pan, one gains true knowledge of their actual self and can free the creative power within from the chains of self-loathing. The goal is to achieve wholeness of being by recognizing the part of the self that is hidden: the human animal that is completely natural, but does not necessarily fit into societal norms. One cannot chain or dispel Pan from themselves, nor can they free themselves from his influence. All that can be done to improve one's being is to acknowledge that He is a part of them and accept it as perfectly normal and natural for a human being.

Categories: Personal reading

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