Warning: Spoilers for season 3 of CAOS are ahead.
The Pagans reveal themselves in CAOS episode 4, during the coven's Hare Moon celebration. You'd think the pastoral ritual would be appealing to them, but they're unimpressed. According to Zelda (Miranda Otto), pagan witches died out when Satanic witches, and Christianity, ascended — but it appears they thought wrong.
"We were here first," says Carcosa, the Pagan leader played by Broadway's Will Swenson. "Before the False God, before your Dark Lord, the Old Gods reigned. We worship them." These new witches differ from the coven in Greendale in many ways. Their values are different, for one. We see that demonstrated by the way Hilda (Lucy Davis) and one of the Pagans view a spider. Neither of them wants to kill it, but Hilda would take it home and keep it as a pet whereas her counterpart would prefer to leave the spider in its natural habitat. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina drew from Wicca and Satanism to create the Spellman's church, and these new characters and their beliefs are based on real mythology as well.
Since, in modern society, many of conflate words like "pagan" and "wiccan" when talking about non-traditional religions, it's cool that Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is making this distinction and introducing these new types of witches. Follow along to find out where the show got inspiration from for the various characters and gods associated with the Pagan witches.
What Does "Pagan" Actually Mean?
Real pagans and neo-pagans are more about nature worship and counter culture. While ancient Germanic Pagans and Celtic Druids are on record as practicing human sacrifice, Pagan rituals today involve nothing more than chanting and meditation. Stay away from that festival in Midsommar, though, just in case. Much like the pagan witches on the series, modern pagans don't even sacrifice animals. The endgame of the Forest God is not typically to consume all flesh. Everything is a lot less murdery than the portrayal of Pagans on Chilling Adventures of Sabrina — but then again, what doesn't become murdery on this show?
Who is Pan In Pagan Lore?
"The great god Pan is the oldest of the Pagan monsters," warns one character in episode 6. "He is madness personified." As it turns out, the carnival barker (Swenson) is actually the Pagan god Pan. He's supposed to be like Peter Pan meets The Greatest Showman, with a dash of apocalyptic genocide. In Greek mythology, Pan represented everything from fertility to theatrical criticism — but there is a darker side. We also get the word "panic" from Pan.
And Who Is Medusa In Pagan Lore?
Pan/Carcosa's companion Nagaina is a gorgon, like the mythological Medusa. In Greek mythology, she was defeated by Hercules. She can conjure snakes and kill you with a glance — like the basilisk in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Speaking of the wizarding world, Nagaina also sounds a whole lot like Voldemort's pet snake, Nagini. The name "Nagaina" actually comes from Rudyard Kipling's short story "Rikki Tikki Tavi," which is about a mongoose and two cobras.
Also, Who Is Circe?
The Pagan's third leader has one of the most obvious names in the bunch: Circe, the sorceress from The Odyssey. In Homer's epic, she turns humans, particularly men, who offend her into animals. That's exactly what happens in Chilling Adventures when the football players who attack the carnival are turned into pigs.
What Is The Green Man?
Another God featured in Chilling Adventures, and possibly the most important, is the Green Man. While the name "Green Man" seems pretty basic, it is actually a common figure in religion and mythology. Even literary characters like Robin Hood and Tom Bombadil from Lord of the Rings can be traced back to this symbolic figure who represents nature, and renewal. And actually, Pan is associated with the Green Man in mythology, but Chilling Adventures separates the two deities.
Is "The Implantation" Based On Real Pagan Rituals?
The pagans attempt to resurrect the Green Man by sacrificing a virgin — giving them a very unhealthy obsession with the sex lives of everyone in Greendale. The idea of "implantation," in which the sacrificed individual is killed via penetrated by vines, doesn't appear to be inspired by any actual pagan history. It does, however, have major The Wicker Man vibes.