Pan plays a central role in European mythology, originating as a figure who represented all that was impossible to tame in the world, something anyone who has ever worked with goats will understand. This primitive origin was slowly assimilated by the Greeks as a celebration of life and vitality, although through Plato’s radical dualism and the moral inflection introduced by Christianity, his transition from goatlike deity to devil leaves us with a complicated relationship today towards everything he represented, giving birth to a collection of complexes and pathologies that demand addressing. Joining me to discuss these ideas is Sharon Coggan, here to discuss her new book Sacred Disobedience: A Jungian Analysis of the Saga of Pan and the Devil (Lexington Books, 2020).
Synthesizing Jungian psychology with the history of mythology and theology, Coggan works her way through the history of Pan as a way of thinking about the development of various forms of consciousness, both individual and social. This is then a history of myth and religion, but with the goal of developing a psychological and sociological diagnosis, and thinking about what sort of cure might be called for.
Sharon Coggan is a recently retired professor who spent much of her career at the University of Colorado in Denver, and founded the Religious Studies Program where she served as director for many years. She can be reached at Sharon.Coggan@ucdenver.edu.