We are probably familiar with the Great God Pan. The horned and horny goat-god of the ancient Greeks. He whose domain was all that came to be known as 'pagan'. In particular, was Pan associated with nature and with sexuality. Not the lovey-dovey sexuality of Aphrodite; nor the mortgage-and-domestic-bliss version of sexuality embodied in Hera. His sex was basic, spontaneous, free of any trappings of orthodox morality. He had a particular liking for young nymphs.
As God of the natural world, Pan could be found in woodland glades, grottos, typically alone, sometimes enchanting with the sound of his pan-pipes.
Even in ancient Greece, Pan was a bit of an outsider, roaming the hills and forests on the very edge of civilisation. Two thousand years ago, Plutarch made the great declaration: "The Great God Pan is dead!" And thus was ushered in the era of modern civilisation.....
'A question from Pan might ask us: "Why are you civilized people who profess compassionate Christianity so hard on the environment? Why do you blast, bulldoze, and flatten so many acres of scrub woodlands and hillsides? Why are there fewer and fewer lonely places where people may hide in nature and nature hide from people? Are you trying to eradicate my haunts? Put a final solution to the problem of Pan?"
'Pan might go on to say: "Sometimes I believe you practice a reverse psychology ....... You rape nature and call me the rapist. You serve your own private desires and call me the masturbator. You leave tracts of ruin, yet claim I am the God who favors deserted wilderness. Is not your day world becoming a suffocating nightmare? Your children having more and more trouble breathing? Are you not security obsessed, seat-belted against surprise, medicated against panic attacks? And what have you done to save the nymphs, the tiny differentiated sounds of nature, nature's little night music? Parks, resorts, golf courses, and well-marked trails - no nymphs there, no risk of swooning at the earth's beauty. No risk of panic either."' (James Hillman, 'Pan and the Nightmare')
Wise words from a Wise Elder, sadly no longer with us. Things have both changed and remained the same since Hillman's essay was first published in 1972. Alert to the burgeoning sentiment of sympathy towards Pan in the closing years of the twentieth century, those who would like to control (both nature and humanity) were quick to implement a clever strategy. A bundle of measures was rolled out which superficially appeared to be on the side of Pan, while in reality permitting the continued destruction of his venerated haunts. Popular environmentalism was born. A pseudo-scientific rationale for maintaining the status quo, it became the ideology of choice for the politically correct, the trendy, the concerned, the right-on. Thus, 'working for Pan' became windfarms flapping in the breeze, slicing up birds, destroying the tranquillity and wilderness of Pan's favourite places for miles around. It became fields plastered in solar panels rather than sheep and potatoes. It became biofuels instead of food for nutrition.
Pan continues to be persecuted, most by people who think they are doing the opposite. His haunts being blasted to pieces as the bulldozers come in to set up yet another wind turbine, or maybe for another housing estate. Anybody who wishes to witness the wholesale rape of Pan's sacred places, encouraged by people officially designated to the care and protection of that country, should come to Scotland and have a look. Pan, for sure, is both in mourning and in fury. The nymphs are quietly raging, too. Which leads neatly on to........
The typical depiction of 'Justice' in Tarot involves a person with a sword in one hand and a pair of scales in the other. The Waite-Smith Tarot, to which I generally give a hard time, is one such example (see above). 'It indicates the moral principle that deals unto everyman according to his works' apparently intoned Arthur Waite of the Justice card. Frankly, I find this all a bit predictable, uninspiring, obvious but doubtful, and not hugely illuminating.
In the Thoth Tarot, Aleisteir Crowley dispenses with Justice, replacing it with 'Adjustment'. I feel a faint spark of interest light up on this one. It is as if things get out of kilter, either personally or collectively, with respect to the way that phenomena naturally work. So 'justice' is concerned with a movement back to the divinely-ordained way of things, metaphorically at least. 'Balance against each thought its exact opposite. For the Marriage of these is the Annihilation of Illusion.' (Book of Thoth). Crowley is mining a deeper layer of reality altogether; but one which is still not quite where we're heading just now.
In a return to the sadly departed Wise Elders of post-Jungian practice, here are a few sections from Marie-Louise Van Franz. It's from 'The Feminine in Fairy Tales', chapter three.
'When we think of revenge or punishment - revenge is an older form of punishment - we think of the law, of its transgression, and of punishment according to established laws, for that is our custom.'
'To make laws and to decide what is to happen to those who break them is in our countries a man's way of dealing with the problem. Our laws are based on Roman law and patriarchal mentality........... The problem of justice and punishment in the male world is linked up with the idea of 'just' laws, and justice means that everybody gets the same punishment for the same sin. It is based on statistical thinking, and there are no exceptions, unless there is a regulation to cover them.'
'.......... it is a one-sided way of looking at the problem. According to mythological standards, there is also feminine justice, and a feminine principle of revenge. ......... It would be more individual and personal ........the law represents the logos principle....... Certain rules have to be made and those who do not keep to them must be punished. It is a protest against chaos and typical of a rational attitude toward life. But there is another process of revenge and punishment which I would like to define as the revengefulness of nature......... It could be called revenge by the natural process of things.'
Von Franz goes on to relate how most primitive mythologies have an aspect of the feminine goddess of nature connected with revenge and fate: Nemesis is one. And another concerned with justice: Themis. She also points out how, on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, justice turns up on the left-hand, feminine, side of the tree. The feminine, she continues, works not so much through 'rule', but 'reacts against what it does not like with nastiness.' As an example, Von Franz cites the vixen who bites its cub at a certain moment in its growing up: inflicting pain, suffering, as the necessary stimulus to get the young one to leave home, go off as an independent little fox.
Nature works more in the feminine mode, according to Von Franz. Nature can be harsh, severe, cruelly revengeful. OK. But what's that got to do with our nice little civilised human world?
'Nastiness'. That's good, as James Hillman was wont to say when somebody uttered words that he approved of in some rap or another. Nature does not quite work with revenge, methinks. It's not punishment either. Nor are we talking about karma exactly. I once wrote against Lovelock's notion of 'Revenge of Gaia', opining that Mother Earth will put up with a fair amount of shit without keeping that list of checks and balances: as Big Mum, she loves us, and unconditionally, possibly. But nastiness. Yes. believe me, do a dirty on her and Mother Earth can be nasty.
Two prime candidates for nature's nastiness in the world of humans: cancer and dementia. People have always suffered from these, but not in the way they do today. Such is my admittedly subjective impression, at any rate. They constitute a veritable plague on the species. Anyone and everyone is in the firing line for cancer. Gone are the days when you could point a finger and say "Ah, George. Well he did smoke a packet of fags a day." No. I am familiar with enough people who have led, and continue to live, pretty healthy, high-risk-free, lives both physically and mentally, but who have unfortunately succumbed to cancer. And at no great age. Cancer, I submit, is no longer personal.
There are those who will point out that life expectancy is longer nowadays, so it is natural that more people will end up with cancer or dementia. A bit of research a few years ago led me to the 'conclusion' (I am open to be shown otherwise) that this is not the case - or at least only part of the truth. The rise in incidence of cancer in the UK far outstrips what one would expect from changes in life expectancy alone over the past 50 - 100 years. I have lost my sources of info, I am quite bad like that, and I ain't gonna run around the internet a second time. But this would appear to be the case.
Nobody in mainstream life understands what cancer is at all. I might characterise it as a serious disruption to the healthy functioning of an organism. Things just start to go haywire; as if the physical system requires reconfiguring. As such, it would appear to be a fairly accurate reflection of how humanity at large goes about things on the face of the earth today. Gone haywire, creating mayhem, something seriously amiss. Dementia, similarly, is one large part of mental process and processing gone completely crazy, or missing. The image of an out-of-control helicopter looping round and round as it heads to disaster comes to mind. It is the species gone mad in the head; the archontic factor, if you like that. Erroneous, out of control, lop-sided mentalising, reflected in stupid acts by stupid people; stupid opinions on everything under the sun; mental process out of touch with other aspects of the personality. Research, opinion, statistics, reason as the one and only pathway to truth; academia as the residence of the new gods. Mentalising gone mad, in complete pathological disconnect.
Out of touch with Nature. She does not like it. Not one little bit. The way that most of us immersed in modern western culture live is far from the natural cycles that have formed the basis of human life until more-or-less yesterday. So much of what our psycho-physical organism experiences as its environment is foreign to it: screens, microwaves, mobiles, the continual bombardment with information. Even fifty years ago, this was unthinkable.
Nemesis, it appears, is not overly harsh. She doesn't go out looking for trouble, and would prefer things to go smoothly. She understands a degree of human error. What really gets her angry, though, is hubris. Taking up above your natural station. Thinking you really are the greatest, and know best, so two fingers up to Nature, Nemesis, the other gods and goddesses. Then you are in for trouble. Big trouble. We could do worse than all put up little shrines to Nemesis in our bedrooms, and offer a prayer before turning out the light. It might bring down the cancer rate. Nothing else seems to.
Images: Justice, Waite-Smith Tarot