Pan or Pantalaimon is a character from Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials books and the HBO TV series adaptation of the same name. In season three, episode four of the series, Lyra Belacqua and Pan, who is her daemon have to separate. If a person and a daemon separate, the person dies, and the daemon turns to Dust. So what happens to Pan?
Pan doesn’t die. He and Lyra are just separated. Daemons are corporeal souls of people from Lyra’s world. In order for Lyra to go to the Land of the Dead, she needs to leave her soul behind. What happens to Pan and Lyra is similar to what witches undergo, so their daemons can travel great distances from them.
In this article, we will discuss spoilers for the rest of the TV series and other His Dark Material books. We will explain what a daemon is in detail and explain how this separation will affect Lyra and Pan’s relationship.
What is Pan? Daemons explained
Pan is a daemon. They are physical manifestations of a “person’s inner-self,” i.e., their soul that takes a form of an animal. Daemons have human intelligence, they can speak, and they act like they are totally independent of their owner. Before a person reaches adolescence, their daemon can change the form, and they can become any real or imaginary creature. After that, daemons undergo “settling,” a process in which they take their permeant form of an animal that most resembles their person’s character.
Daemons are mostly the opposite sex of the person. But there are always exceptions to the rules. For example, in the book La Belle Sauvage we see a woman who has a flock of butterflies as a daemon. People and daemons are so connected that when a person gets inebriated, their daemon is also inebriated. Also, when a person sleeps, their daemon is almost always asleep as well. In Lyra’s world, it is considered taboo for a person to touch another person’s daemon, and people even feel a strong sense of repulsion when their daemon is touched.
When a person dies, their daemon disappears into Dust instantly. But what happens when they separate? Normally, a person can go only a few yards from their daemon without feeling discomfort. This separation is sometimes called pulling. In the books, we have a description of how pulling can feel physically. It feels like “an iron hand pulling one’s heart out between one’s ribs.” There are groups of people who have undergone separation from their daemons or have pushed the bond past its usual limits.
For example, witches and shamans can survive separation after undergoing a special ceremony. Witches have to undergo an initial voluntary separation at a special location, a canyon under the earth in Lyra’s world. Shamans have a different way of separating. They go through horrible ordeals, as they have to embark on a spiritual journey, and they have to cross an area of death, all this without their daemons. Witches and shamans still have an intimate relationship with their daemons. The only thing that is different is the distance they can travel from each other. This is the reason almost all witches and shamans have bird daemons.
What happens to Pan?
In season three, episode four of His Dark Materials, we follow Lyra and Will as they travel to the World of the Dead. Ever since Lyra’s dad, Lord Asriel, killed her best friend Roger, she is determined to save him somehow. When she finally reaches the river she has been dreaming of, Lyra is faced with a problem, if she wants to save Roger, she has to leave Pan behind. The boatman says it is a law that people can’t take their souls to the Land of the Dead. Maybe it looks like this law only affected Lyra, but Will also has a soul. Only his soul is hidden inside him. The separation of Pan and Lyra is not the same as what Mrs. Coulter did to the children at Bolvangar with her guillotine. Nevertheless, this separation will leave a permanent mark. Lyra undergoes similar separation as witches and shamans whose daemons can travel great distances from them.
After they successfully free the ghosts from their misery in The Land of the Dead, Lyra and Pan reunite. Pan manages to escape on his own by jumping through windows, and he finds Lyra in the mulefa world. At first, he kept his distance from her, and he even remained out of her sight as a sort of punishment. In the end, they are drawn to each other, and they get back on good terms. But something felt different. Later, in the book The Secret Commonwealth, Pullman’s sequel to the original trilogy, we learn more about their relationship ten years after the separation. Lyra and Pan were increasingly irritated with each other, and they even had a big falling out in the book.
Pan leaves Lyra for the rest of the book, and she doesn’t even know where he is. There is no surprise, their relationship changed after Lyra betrayed him in the World of the Dead, but it is hard to see a friendship you grew up loving to go through this much turmoil. At this time, we have to wait for Pullman to release the third book and final book in The Book of Dust trilogy, to see what happens to Lyra and Pan.