Sarah Johnston is now discussing the Great God Pan
What happens when Gnosis leaves you feeling worse…or even smaller. What do you do?
The human hunger for special knowledge can make things worse, can make humanity worse. Let’s find out.
Arthur Machen’s The Great God Pan is about a group of people into occult leanings. A Doctor performs some great, New Age operation on a girl named Mary, touching a part of her brain with his scalpel. He thinks he can open her channels of communication to the spirit world. Mary will see Pan.
After the operation, poor Mary goes crazy. The Doctor said she saw the whole of creation, the god Pan, and lost her identity. Somehow Mary gets pregnant and has a daughter named Helen, a miserable and sad person.
Helen ruins people’s lives with evil actions, and one day hangs herself out of despair. Her body shapes into several plant and animal, until she turns into a slimy horrible being that cannot be described.
This story is an allegory that getting quick Gnosis is destructive, and Helen is an antichrist.
Pan is obviously the horror and wonder of The All. And knowing The All can make one go into eternal evolution but also devolution.
Very interesting, and it seems the early Darwin age is a theme, which Lovecraft later warned about.
Pan is neither god nor best, but something higher and more terrible…perhaps Abraxas as Jung depicted him?
Pan has appeared in several novels, always as the collective vengeance of nature.
But in Lovecraft The Dunwich Horror, someone is punished for deciphering ancient texts by a slimy monster like Helen becomes in the previous book. Again, Gnosis leads to horror.
Peter Straub’s Ghost Story addresses Pan. Sarah reads a very disturbing passage, and discusses it’s about some protagonists who make terrible mistakes. The Gnosis here is that evil exists and it plays with humanity in order to amuse itself.
Fiction is a safe way to express what we want to keep from our lives. Horror, though, keeps coming back.
Gnosis is dangerous. Horror story scare us because that’s their purpose, and the story tells us a dark truth about our own humanity.