A Surplus of Tricksters: Pan

This is Trickster #2 in a series of trickster posts. No clue how many I’ll write because the freaky dudes and dudettes keep popping up out of the woodwork. There’s a cache of tricksters awaiting us, an assortment, quite a batch, an assemblage, a cluster, a regular caboodle, a glorious assortment. Absolutely tricksters galore, a lavish abundance, overflowing and concealed. We have tricksters plentiful to pick from, soak in, and learn from.
Strap in crazies, we’re in for a strange, sometimes odd, but always fun ride. It’ll be entertaining at worst. At best, you might meet a beastie you like.

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Greek and Roman
In Greek mythology, his name is Pan. In Roman, he’s Faunus (sometimes Inuus). These two tricksters do differ in the two separate mythologies a bit. At the end I’ll throw in a few tidbits about Faunus where he’s different than Pan.

 
Strange and Dual Beginnings
Son of Hermes (also a trickster) and a nymph (why isn’t she named, you misogynistic myth writers?).

There’s also some talk of Pan being the offspring of other gods, leading to him being the grandson of Cronus. In this version of the tale, he popped out fully formed with horns and goat feet, which freaked out his mum, who hightailed it, abandoning him. Hermes found him and carried him to Olympus, where he lived with nymphs. I don’t think he minded. In fact, in most versions, Pan very much appreciated being surrounded by gorgeous nymphs aplenty.
In some versions of how Pan came to be, he is said to be the offspring of Uranus and Gaea. (Gaea being the personification of the earth we live on.)
Whatever the details, Pan was always a heavy hitter.
He’s human-looking except for the goat legs and horns. He isn’t, however, a satyr. He’s Pan. In some Greek art, he is shown as being fully goat though. I guess the Greeks couldn’t make up their minds where he was concerned.

Dualistic Nature
Pan is a confusing dude but balances out well, as he is upbeat and playful, then dark and terrifying. I suppose this goes along with his being half divine, half animal. One foot in a playful, fun world, the other in a riotous, tricky one. He’s also known to be prophetic now and again.

Plato even calls Pan “the double-natured son of Hermes”.
A man of strangely unrelated pastimes, Pan enjoyed chasing nymphs and creating musical instruments.
Interesting little tidbit, he was god of flocks, which included bees.

Yep. He guarded bees. Does anyone else have a great mental image of a goat-man deity fanning bees out of hunters’ paths?
No? Just me?

As A Trickster
Pan was a mischievous creature. He was lustful, playful, loud, and wild through and through. He was known for playing tricks on humans in the forests. So much so that humans feared running into him when traveling through his homelands.

He was often seen kicking it with Dionysus, the god who can be summed up as follows: wild, riotous, frenzied, madness.
When not hanging out with crazy gods, he was running after nymphs, literally. Pan was an extremely lustful trickster. Most often the desire of his heart thought him ugly and refused his advances. Depending on where you look, some sources say that Pan tricked nymphs into having sex with him, while another claims he had a broad torn apart by shepherds when she refused him.
From what I can find from actual texts, Pan is simply alone and rejected by all the women he wants. In one example, Pan was after the nymph Syrinkx but she didn’t want anything to do with him. In order to escape Pan, she transformed into river-reeds, which Pan then used to create his pipes.

Panic
Pan was also considered the god of panic, hedging him further into trickster territory.

A run in with this trickster is dreaded by travelers, for fear seems to be something Pan frequently created. Makes sense, considering he was said to have such a terrifying voice that he scared the Titans themselves.
The word panic is said to be derived from Pan. He liked to create noises in the forest at night which would freak people out. He is also said to cause irrational, sudden fear when someone is alone in the forest (or alone at all). He could cause panic that would spread across soldiers in an ongoing battle as well. Useful.
As to why he would cause such feelings, no one knows. But if you’re ever alone at night and feel the hairs raise on the back of your neck, blame this dude.

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Roman Faunus
Here, the Pan character was known as the Italian Faunus.

He began as a fruitful god over crops and flocks and became a woodland trickster. Faunus eventually became a universal god of sorts.
I do like how it was mentioned that the sound of the forest was Faunus’s voice. Random but totally cool.
In February in Rome, the Italians would run around during a fertility celebration in goat skins and swing around strips of goatskin. Because yeah, Faunus was basically about fun parties and ladies. He always remained an agricultural god but also became connected with hunters.
Faunus was mentioned specifically as a creature who was the “author of spectral appearances and terrifying sounds”. It sounds like he was a bit more mystical than Pan.

On the Fence
When it comes to this trickster, I’m not too certain I like him. He’d make a good villain to terrify the hapless traveler in the woods. But that’s about it. If I wrote a story with this character as a good guy, I’d probably change him around a bit, capitalize on the panic and fear inducing properties. I’d definitely strip him of the rapey vibe.
This woman obsessed, riotous trickster needs therapy and a hobby that doesn’t include following other people around. Just saying.
However, in others’ opinions, Pan is simply noisy, playful, and happily bouncing about in all the wild places of the world.
As always with tricksters, it’s up to us. Or perhaps, up to whichever lesson we need to learn.

 

Sources

http://www.theoi.com/Olympios/HermesFamily.html

https://www.greek-gods.org/greek-deities/rustic-deities.php

http://www.mythweb.com/encyc/entries/pan.html

https://pantheon.org/articles/p/pan.html

http://www.classicsunveiled.com/mythnet/html/lessgods2.html#Pan

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Pan-Greek-god

http://www.theoi.com/Georgikos/Pan.html

https://www.ancient.eu/Pan/

https://pantheon.org/articles/i/inuus.html

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Echo-Greek-mythology#ref29086

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Pan_(mythology)

http://www.theoi.com/Nymphe/NympheSyrinx.html

https://pantheon.org/articles/f/faunus.html

“Mythology Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes” by Edith Hamilton, Grand Central Publishing, 1942.

A Surplus of Tricksters: Eris (or Discordia) Part 2 of 2

This is part two of Trickster #1 in a series of trickster posts. No clue how many I’ll write because the freaky dudes and dudettes keep popping up out of the woodwork. There’s a cache of tricksters awaiting us, an assortment, quite a batch, an assemblage, a cluster, a regular caboodle, a glorious assortment. Absolutely tricksters galore, a lavish abundance, overflowing and concealed. We have tricksters plentiful to pick from, soak in, and learn from.
Strap in crazies, we’re in for a strange, sometimes odd, but always fun ride. It’ll be entertaining at worst. At best, you might meet a beastie you like.




(Reminder: I use the names Eris and Discordia interchangeably, as they’re the same goddess with two different names.)

Children
Eris is credited with mothering multiple horrid children who caused destruction and pain for humans worldwide.


Strife, her son, who tags along when she accompanies Ares into the battlefield during wartime.
A daughter, Dysnomia, the personification of lawlessness. She’s called a demon in some versions.


Eris has a third child, a daughter, named Ate, or Folly. This child is the one I find interesting and the most telling. Ate is seen in two differing lights.
One, as a creature who leads others to make very bad decisions. When she did this to Zeus, he banned her from living among the gods.
Two, Ate was seen as an avenger of evil deeds. She justly punished the bad guys. So let’s recap here. Ate or Folly, known as a dual being. Cruel and just. Sounds kinda sorta like a trickster, no?


Which leads me to the possibility that Eris isn’t so bad after all. Rather, trapped in a mythos that was always going to see her as a villain, because she was a female.

 

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Feminist Possibilities
Yep. It’s true.
I’m one of “those people”.
You know, the ones who think men and women are different but of equal value?
Now don’t get your panties in a bunch, this isn’t going to be an anti-male rant. Which has nothing to do with feminism or equal rights, as it is. But let’s not get into that. I might resort to throwing gold apples at people’s heads.
I wonder, as I often find when peering deeper into myths, if some of the women of mythology were painted in a bad light compared to their male counterparts, on purpose.

(Don’t get me started on the Medusa myth. We might be here for a while.)


Going back to the etymology from part one, you’ll notice one of the root meanings is “strife”.
As one author pulling apart Eris’ intricacies pointed out, use another tense of “strife”, and you have “striving”. He goes on to further add that during change, a person strives to improve their life, their situation, or their atmosphere, community, etc.

When a man is a good leader, he’s called a good leader. For a woman, however, they’re being “aggressive”, “bossy”, “bratty”, or a handful of cuss words.
My bet?
That’s a good way to describe a lot of strong females in mythology. Not that there aren’t nasty women. But when they all crop up either nasty or helpless or raped…. Well, I’ll stick with my bet on the subject matter.

Eris is no exception. She’s seen as a goddess who causes issues.
When women want to compete with men, they’re seen as aggressive or just plain stupid.
Discordia causes strife, discord, war.  She threw a golden apple into the mix, which started a competition which then led to a war.
I wonder if she was depicted this way not because she wanted to cause bloodshed and misery, but because she wanted to compete and was thrown to the dogs for it.

Then again, I could totally be reading into what isn’t there, as there are plenty of chicks who are goddesses of war in mythology.
*shrug*
Totally up to you. *cue Reading Rainbow theme song*

Eris and Disney’s Maleficent
Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty is rumored to be fashioned after Eris of Greek mythology.
Seeing the similarities?

During the Apple of Discord incident (also called the Judgment of Paris), Eris wasn’t invited to a wedding and thusly created conflict, which led to war.
In the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent wasn’t invited to the King’s daughter’s christening and was thusly offended. She then cursed the daughter, which ended up creating an unconscious kingdom.

Maleficent is now a movie wherein she’s the hero. Wronged and wrongly accused, hated and demonized, she is in truth, an enraged victim who eventually finds her way back to who she always was, and rules her kingdom with justice and love. Becoming Sleeping Beauty’s true protector.
Maleficent, or Eris, is demonized in typical fashion for characters of myth and folklore. And yet, in the current cultural shifts, we’re allowing strong women to appear as something other than evil or bloodthirsty. Showing them rather as another human being who has the potential to lead and/or create a situation where people can strive to become better.

I wonder. If Eris/Discordia was created today, would she be Maleficent in the newest telling of the story?

Tricky to Pigeonhole
Then again, Ares, the god of war, was hated, even more so than Eris. So perhaps I’m looking for something that isn’t there.
When it comes to tricksters, it’s completely up to you. To each of us.

They are whatever we need them to be. They are the outer limits of the box, walking the fence, they are exactly what we don’t know we need, but often do. There’s typically a lesson within each of them, even if it’s only a cautionary tale of where we ought not go, what we needn’t do, what decisions we’re better off not making.

That’s what’s so exciting about tricksters.
Like Pocahontas suggested, you don’t know what you don’t know.
Tricksters are always ever so willing to point out to us what we’re lacking and where we have room to grow as individuals, families, and societies.

 

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Eris as a Trickster
In a sentence, Eris was known as the cause of violent woe and bloody destruction.
This trickster begins insignificant, certainly not a major player. Eventually, however, Eris becomes quite the foe to tackle. Pretty soon she craves bloodshed and war and is constantly causing issues among humans, so she can realize her desires.
She’s known as a scourge on humankind and none of the other Greek deities want her around, except Ares, god of war, and occasionally, Zeus, when he can use her destruction.

But perhaps the best part of this tale is left to a few lines, tucked away in “Works and Days”, the Greek epic by Hesiod.
Perhaps you only make it to the best part of this trickster if you stick around and keep your ear to the ground, waiting, watching, believing there is something a little more to be gleamed.
Some consider Eris the daughter of Nyx (or Night). Others consider her the child of Zeus and Hera. This is where things get really interesting. According to Hesiod, there are two forms of Eris.

Did you bloody hear that?! Two forms! Two sides to strife, discord. Two forms of Eris.
The only form of Eris we ever hear about is the evil one, the woman who creates pain and bloody deaths for her amusement.

The second form of Eris is more competition than bloodlust. This is what the author I was talking about touched on when he referenced to striving. To strive for betterment, more, an increase of good things in life.
This form of Eris, when she is (rarely) spoken of, brings joy and hope to humans. She inspires within them to become the best versions of themselves.

To be honest, Discordia is offering two sides of a coin. People typically pick the negative, the drama, the bloodlust. So they can hate, jeer against, and throw all their problems on someone else. Eris might very well be the result of supply and demand. Story consumers want conflict, pain, nastiness, people to hate. Story creators create what their audience will buy, absorb.

That’s a pretty simplistic view of course. But it begs the question; what are we demanding of our stories? What do we want to see in the world, in our world?
After all, the best stories hold a mirror up to the person reading them.
What do you see when you look at, and really see, absorb, understand, Discordia, the trickster with a hidden dual nature?

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Sources

https://nameberry.com/babyname/Eris

https://www.etymonline.com/word/eris

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/discordia

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/discord

https://www.etymonline.com/word/discord

https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/dwarf-planets/eris/in-depth/

https://www.space.com/28379-eris-dwarf-planet.html

https://www.nga.gov/features/joachim-wtewael—a-closer-look/the-wedding-of-peleus-and-thetis.html

https://public.wsu.edu/~hughesc/stories.html

https://pantheon.org/articles/a/ate.html

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/apple-of-discord

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/judgment-of-paris

http://www.theoi.com/Olympios/JudgementParis.html

https://pantheon.org/articles/p/paris.html

https://pantheon.org/articles/e/eris.html

https://pantheon.org/articles/d/discordia.html

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Eris-Greek-and-Roman-mythology

http://www.classicsunveiled.com/mythnet/html/lessgods1.html#Eris

http://www.theoi.com/Daimon/Eris.html

https://pantheon.org/articles/d/dysnomia.html

https://genius.com/Walt-disney-records-colors-of-the-wind-lyrics

https://www.theoi.com/Daimon/Eris.html

A Surplus of Tricksters: Eris (or Discordia) Part 1 of 2

This is part one of Trickster #1 in a series of trickster posts. No clue how many I’ll write because the freaky dudes and dudettes keep popping up out of the woodwork. There’s a cache of tricksters awaiting us, an assortment, quite a batch, an assemblage, a cluster, a regular caboodle, a glorious assortment. Absolutely tricksters galore, a lavish abundance, overflowing and concealed. We have tricksters plentiful to pick from, soak in, and learn from.
Strap in crazies, we’re in for a strange, sometimes odd, but always fun ride. It’ll be entertaining at worst. At best, you might meet a beastie you like.

 

Greek and Roman
We all know Greek and Roman myths mirror each other. In Greek, this trickster goes by the name Eris. In Roman lore, she’s Discordia.
I prefer Discordia. Sounds cooler to me.

 

Etymology
Eris comes from the Greek ‘eris’ meaning ‘strife, discord’.
Discordia comes from a bunch of Latin, French, and Middle English words and word roots. Translating to, basically, a bunch of differing ways of saying strife, not friendly, disagree, and discord.
See that connection there? Totally not transparent.
FYI, I use Discordia and Eris interchangeably from here on out.

The whole point to storytelling, to myths and fairy tales, is how we connect them to ourselves, our lives. And if we never manage to peer into the whole jar of affairs, if we never see anything but what’s at the top, we miss the truths lying dormant at the very bottom.

We begin with a story. Once we get to the end of the second part to Eris – she is unveiled as not exactly who we were told to believe her to be. Which opens up the chance for you to decide who Discordia truly is.
Without any further ado, I give you the trickster Eris.

 

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Apple of Discord
Thetis, a sea nymph, and Peleus, a Greek hero, were to be married. These are the parents of Achilles, by the way. Zeus apparently dug himself some trouble when he got these two together. Isn’t he always getting himself in trouble? I mean, the dude is supposed to be a divine deity and he’s more prideful, petty, and entitled than a fourteen year old boy living off of mommy and daddy, no consequences in sight for any of his actions. But I digress.

This wedding was busting with all the Greek deities.
Everyone was invited, except for Eris.
Nothing like snubbing the unpopular chick.
Obviously, Eris was displeased. To put it mildly.
She shows up regardless but is turned away.

You’d think common sense would dictate not to spurn her any further. It’s not like these people didn’t know what would happen if they turned her away. Okay, they didn’t know exactly what she’d do, but they had to know she’d at the very least attempt to boil them alive or something equally distasteful.
But no-oo, these intelligence-challenged “divine beings” went and kicked the goddess of strife and discord to the curb.
(I wonder if Eris stood back for a moment and wondered to herself how many times she’d have to teach them not to insult her before they got the message?)

Discordia was now fitfully and frightfully furious. In her rage, she grabbed a golden apple and threw it amongst the wedding guests.
Just wondering. Does this chick carry around golden apples all day? That sounds inconvenient. Or did the Olympians have golden apples falling off their trees? The latter sounds a wee bit gawdy. Plus, I bet it’d hurt to have one of those suckers fall on your head while out for a leisurely stroll amongst trees. And who eats golden apples?! They’re made of gold…
Anywho.

On the apple Eris inscribed the words, “For the Fairest”.
Hilariously, this caused problems immediately. If you’ve ever read anything about Greek mythological gods and goddesses, you know they can be a bunch of vain, backstabbing, raping, murdering, thieving, jerks. To put it nicely. Which is probably why I have no sympathy for their not inviting her, then kicking her out, then going ape over a golden apple meant for the fairest.
Among the crowd were three goddesses who fought over the apple, each thinking themselves the fairest. Aphrodite (Venus), Hera (Juno), and Athena (Minerva).
As the story plays out, one was chosen and two were angered.
And this is how the Trojan War started.
*head desk*

 

Planet
Eris is a dual being disguised as an evil trickster, a destroyer of weddings, enjoys causing wars, and is often seen bebopping around town with Ares, god of war, who is also her brother.
Guess what else?
She’s got a planet named after her!

Okay, it’s a dwarf planet, but it’s still a planet. Eris is actually one of the largest dwarf planets in our solar system. How cool is that?! Scientists in NASA like Eris to the point that they named a planet after her. I must say, applause to the scientists. I like.

Because Eris, the planet, is so far away from the sun, it’s actual atmosphere freezes and falls to the surface of the planet as snow. Freaky, right? When it gets closer to the sun, it thaws and then starts the whole process over again.

According to NASA, Eris has a moon named Dysnomia, after Eris’ mythological daughter, which is apparently the goddess of lawlessness.

 

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Chaos
We mustn’t forget that Eris was created in a time when people were seeking to understand the world around them. Why did things happen? Like war, for example.

Well, gee, maybe it was a crazy contentious goddess that did it. Totally out of mere mortals’ hands. The gods and goddesses forever jerking humans around. Ri-ight. Humans have no control over war, whatsoever. *wink* *wink* It is good to keep in mind that the Trojan War didn’t actually happen and that Eris is a literary device.

Eris can be seen as the reason for war, suffering, daily strife, and misery, wrapped up in a neat, out-of-humans’-control, bow. Often times we find that myths and lore are patsies for what we didn’t understand yet.

Or, you know Eris can simply be a fun character or myth. A trickster can be many different things.

 

Tricksters as Change
The myth of Eris has fractioned into two possibilities. One sees her as evil, the other as an engine of change.

If you’re a fan of any tricksters, you know they often don’t see things in the same light as the culture they live within. This causes some major clashes and eventually, changes. The case of Eris is particularly striking to me because it is only now that Eris is becoming seen in a new light. And perhaps that is because the world we live in no longer thinks of women as inherently evil or less than. A culture that is striving to see women as capable and worthy of being leaders and creators.
Don’t hold your breath, but definitely keep an eye out for the second installment on Eris…

While you’re at it, keep both eyes open for it, and in general. Running into trees, buildings, and walls is a thing. Not a fun thing. Please utilize both eyes.
As a teeny tiny teaser for the concluding installment on Discordia, I pose this question. Does she sound at all familiar to the villain in a Disney movie?

 


Sources

https://nameberry.com/babyname/Eris

https://www.etymonline.com/word/eris

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/discordia

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/discord

https://www.etymonline.com/word/discord

https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/dwarf-planets/eris/in-depth/

https://www.space.com/28379-eris-dwarf-planet.html

https://www.nga.gov/features/joachim-wtewael—a-closer-look/the-wedding-of-peleus-and-thetis.html

https://public.wsu.edu/~hughesc/stories.html

https://pantheon.org/articles/a/ate.html

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/apple-of-discord

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/judgment-of-paris

http://www.theoi.com/Olympios/JudgementParis.html

https://pantheon.org/articles/p/paris.html

https://pantheon.org/articles/e/eris.html

https://pantheon.org/articles/d/discordia.html

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Eris-Greek-and-Roman-mythology

http://www.classicsunveiled.com/mythnet/html/lessgods1.html#Eris

http://www.theoi.com/Daimon/Eris.html

https://pantheon.org/articles/d/dysnomia.html

https://genius.com/Walt-disney-records-colors-of-the-wind-lyrics