To Dance with Pan(ic)

With Etymology, we can break a spell. To know the roots of the words we speak allows us to shift their power. As of late, we find ourselves in Panic or Pandemonium, triggered by a Pandemic. The common thread weaving through it all-- Pan.

One one level, Pan means widespread, though we can also trace its roots to the Greek God Pan -- son of Hermes; satyr of the untame, joyous, and erotic. His laughter was infectious; the music of his pan-flute, hypnotizing. To be in the presence of Pan was known to incite an uneasy state of mind called Panikos -- but only if one resisted his wild dance.

This resistance-- this panic-- often arose because the very basis on which civilization stood were the walls built to divide humans from the Wild. Never would one honor Pan within city limits; he was the antithesis of the civil. As these physical walls were established, they were created within people, too: a resistance to the animalistic, free, unruly. The Dance of Pan was the epitome of that which civilization sought to seperate us from.

Panikos arises as we resist the Wild which is, rather than allowing our bodies to ride the rapture of it. So today, as Panic abounds, allow yourself to embrace the dance of it all. Turn on unruly music; shake your head and body. Breathe. Become the animal you are. Release resistance through physical movement and presence. Go out into wild places. This not only allows anxiety to subside, but it also gets your lymphatic system flowing, which is our immune system’s first line of defense. To break this spell upon us, we must embrace and call out to Pan. In the name of hope, let us take the hand of chaos, and dance.

{This musing was very much inspired by herbalist and dear teacher, Seán Pádraig O’Donoghue. To enter more deeply into his work, you may visit: Artwork by Ernest Louis Lessieux, 1848-1925.}

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