Happy St. Patrick’s Day? I Don’t Think So.

I was driving around my little town today and I saw that several houses already have decorations up for St. Patrick’s Day, which in the US is about two weeks away. I usually forget all about this “holiday,” and I certainly don’t celebrate it, but this time, seeing the shamrocks and the green paper garlands festooning my neighbor’s home, I decided to sit down and write a little bit about why.

Courtesy Lauren Siegert via Wikimedia CC license

I realize that for many people, St. Patrick’s Day is a celebration of Irish pride. I think that’s a good and wonderful thing. I’m not Irish but I could completely get behind a day set aside to celebrate the blessings of Irish culture, language, history, and ancestry. I think that would be rather cool, actually. Despite how it’s celebrated, however, that’s really not what St. Patrick’s Day is all about. It’s a religious holiday. It’s a Christian holiday. At one point it was (and in Ireland still is) a holy day of obligation in the Catholic Church. It’s a holiday commemorating the conversion of Ireland to Christianity.  Its celebrations may have become more secular over the years, but at its origin, it’s a celebration of religious colonialism and the destruction of indigenous traditions inherent in the work of this man for whom it is named. Why, in the name of all that’s sacred, would I as a Heathen woman, celebrate that? Why would any Pagan?

St. Patrick is commonly celebrated for “driving the snakes out of Ireland.” What he really did was aggressively evangelize the native Irish.  Through evangelizing, he turned them away from their ancestral traditions, their indigenous religions, and the worship of their indigenous Gods. He harassed and eventually drove away the Druids—the infamous “snakes.” Now granted, those who converted had a choice of course, and a great deal of the responsibility for abandoning their traditions lies with that generation that converted, but people like Patrick planted the seed, and provided the social and psychological pressure. As a devout Heathen, as someone working very hard to restore and rebuild the very faiths people like Patrick sundered, I would rather cut off an arm than put on the green for St. Patrick’s Day.

I’ve often wished that there were some diplomatic way to state my objections through decoration or dress but I haven’t found anything appropriate yet. Wearing a button with ‘St Patrick’s Day’ written on it, with a big X through it seems a little over the top, after all. Still, I adamantly don’t decorate and when people wish me Happy St. Paddy’s Day, I very politely thank them but inform them that I don’t celebrate it. If they ask why, it provides me with an opportunity to very briefly educate and raise awareness. This brings me to my next suggestion, which I hope some of you at least, will consider.

I’d like to propose that this year on St. Patrick’s Day, we each choose a God or Goddess of Pagan Ireland and celebrate Them. Pour out offerings, speak Their names, tell Their stories, write a prayer, write an article, hold a ritual. Write about Them in some way on your blogs. I’m Heathen and we usually don’t go outside the Norse Pantheon but for this, I shall very likely make an exception.  By doing this, we’re spitting in the eye of St. Patrick and his Church’s agenda of wholesale Christianization. It’s a small thing, granted, but if we attend to the small things, the large have a way of handling themselves. By doing this we’re making a statement before our ancestors and Gods. We’re saying ‘we remember You. You’re not forgotten. Christianity did not win. We’re still here. And so are You.”

Irish Paganism was at one time a rich polytheistic tradition. To be fair, it had a tremendous influence on the Catholicism that initially developed there and it’s become almost cliché to point out how many Irish Gods and Goddesses suddenly received new life as saints. One of the things that so many contemporary Pagan traditions share is the idea that to speak and name a thing is an act of great power. So call to these Gods, Deities like the Morrigan, Manannan mac Lir, Aengus, Lugh, Airmed, Eiru, Boann and dozens and dozens more. Speak Their names. Tell Them that we still remember Them. That we are once more taking up the ancient contract with our Gods, with the land, with our dead. Tell Them that we shall see Their worship restored.

Party if you must; drink, celebrate, but celebrate that we are engaged in this glorious restoration. Celebrate that we are Pagans, Heathens, or Wiccans. Celebrate that we have come home to our ancestral ways however imperfectly (in the process of being) restored. But St. Patrick was an invader with an agenda of subjugation and religious destruction. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? I don’t bloody well think so.

Prayer to the Morrigan –my offering, in advance of St. Patrick’s Day.

Hail to the Morrigan,

Brave in Battle,

ever first on the field of combat.

Battle Raven,

Mother of Conflagration,

Bless us,

Inspire us,

Fill our hearts with courage.

Let us not waver in the work that we do.

Let us not balk or cringe or retreat,

from the paths we have so honorably chosen.

May our dead speak well of us,

when it comes our time to grace their halls.

May they celebrate the work of our hands,

the struggles of our hearts,

the commitment of our spirits.

May You bless these things too.

Hail to You, Battle Goddess.

Now and always, may Your worship endure.

  • http://twitter.com/thesilverspiral Naya Aerodiode

    Applause to you for making such a strong statement and bringing many to awareness on this issue. It is important that I, one who follows the old gods, do not raise my glass to those gods, cultures or people who drove them out. What a nasty way to disrespect my own gods that would be. It would be no different than an American Indian toasting the Pilgrims on Thanksgiving.

  • http://twitter.com/thesilverspiral Naya Aerodiode

    Applause to you for making such a strong statement and bringing many to awareness on this issue. It is important that I, one who follows the old gods, do not raise my glass to those gods, cultures or people who drove them out. What a nasty way to disrespect my own gods that would be. It would be no different than an American Indian toasting the Pilgrims on Thanksgiving.

  • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

    Someone on FB just told me that some Pagans are making a point to wear snake symbols on Saint Patrick’s Day to show that the snakes aren’t vanquished after all. I think that’s a powerful idea!

    • http://twitter.com/thesilverspiral Naya Aerodiode

      Oh, I wear snake symbols every day. Maybe I should go get my new tattoo that day.

    • Rex Ross

      93!

      Star,

      I wasn’t sure if I thanked you for this before or not, but if it was you who posted an article like this awhile back on FB, then thank you for defrocking me of my ignorance concerning this holiday! I never really participated in anything St. Patrick’s Day related except for on occasion (and i’m half Irish by the way!) and it was all secular. Nothing Catholic or religious about it whatsoever.

      However, now that I have done some research into this holiday from your post, when I do celebrate, I plan to do in full pagan regalia and ceremony! ;-)

      Love is the law, love under will
      Fr.Dominion

    • Cora

      I love this idea!! I might have to see what snake motif I can come up with.

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    Someone on FB just told me that some Pagans are making a point to wear snake symbols on Saint Patrick’s Day to show that the snakes aren’t vanquished after all. I think that’s a powerful idea!

    • http://twitter.com/thesilverspiral Naya Aerodiode

      Oh, I wear snake symbols every day. Maybe I should go get my new tattoo that day.

    • Rex Ross

      93!

      Star,

      I wasn’t sure if I thanked you for this before or not, but if it was you who posted an article like this awhile back on FB, then thank you for defrocking me of my ignorance concerning this holiday! I never really participated in anything St. Patrick’s Day related except for on occasion (and i’m half Irish by the way!) and it was all secular. Nothing Catholic or religious about it whatsoever.

      However, now that I have done some research into this holiday from your post, when I do celebrate, I plan to do in full pagan regalia and ceremony! ;-)

      Love is the law, love under will
      Fr.Dominion

    • Cora

      I love this idea!! I might have to see what snake motif I can come up with.

  • http://mypaganworld.blogspot.com Kallan Kennedy

    Im Irish and Pagan. I happily celebrate the Death of St. Patrick on its anniversary (March 17) every year. In every social network I’ve been on since the 90′s I’ve posted a snake as a picture in protest of this non-Irish invader who hated my people because we enslaved him and came back to get his revenge. So, I toast to his death and to the fact that he never could rid Eire of ‘the snakes’.. we and our ancestral gods live, while his death is celebrated and made light of every year :)

  • http://mypaganworld.blogspot.com Kallan Kennedy

    Im Irish and Pagan. I happily celebrate the Death of St. Patrick on its anniversary (March 17) every year. In every social network I’ve been on since the 90′s I’ve posted a snake as a picture in protest of this non-Irish invader who hated my people because we enslaved him and came back to get his revenge. So, I toast to his death and to the fact that he never could rid Eire of ‘the snakes’.. we and our ancestral gods live, while his death is celebrated and made light of every year :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1013368406 Stuart Lee

    Beautifully stated and written. The wearing of a snake symbol shall now become a part of my attire on St. Patrick’s Day (I never did like wearing green because I was told to wear it).

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1013368406 Stuart Lee

    Beautifully stated and written. The wearing of a snake symbol shall now become a part of my attire on St. Patrick’s Day (I never did like wearing green because I was told to wear it).

  • Laura M. LaVoie

    Personally, I think it might be the gods who have the last laugh. In the US at least, the day has become solely about wearing green and drinking beer. As a home brewer, I dedicate my craft to the Gods (for me it is Demeter and Dionysos but could just as easily include Brigid.). Few people at the bars really understand why they are there. I think the gods know they are remembered and delight in the turn this celebration has taken.

  • Laura M. LaVoie

    Personally, I think it might be the gods who have the last laugh. In the US at least, the day has become solely about wearing green and drinking beer. As a home brewer, I dedicate my craft to the Gods (for me it is Demeter and Dionysos but could just as easily include Brigid.). Few people at the bars really understand why they are there. I think the gods know they are remembered and delight in the turn this celebration has taken.

  • http://vermillionrush.wordpress.com Vermillion

    This is a wonderful idea Galina! I’m complete crap at writing anything except haikus but perhaps I’ll try and write something original in honor. I’ve always been a fan of Manannan mac Lir.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mhaoil-Lain/100000789234060 Mhaoil Lain

    Well written, Star. I, too, am of Irish descent, and have never celebrated this “holiday”. I would be turning my back on my ancestors to raise a glass to this man. Like a Native American celebrating Columbus Day.
    Very nice prayer to the Morrigan.

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      The talented Galina Krasskova wrote this. Not I!

    • Galina Krasskova

      I agree wholeheartedly. It would be exactly like a Native American celebrating columbus Day. I almost said that in the article, but hoped the parallel would stand on its own.

      thank you, btw. I have a deep respect for the Morrigan.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mhaoil-Lain/100000789234060 Mhaoil Lain

        My sincere apologies to you, Galina. Talented indeed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mhaoil-Lain/100000789234060 Mhaoil Lain

    Well written, Star. I, too, am of Irish descent, and have never celebrated this “holiday”. I would be turning my back on my ancestors to raise a glass to this man. Like a Native American celebrating Columbus Day.
    Very nice prayer to the Morrigan.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      The talented Galina Krasskova wrote this. Not I!

    • Galina Krasskova

      I agree wholeheartedly. It would be exactly like a Native American celebrating columbus Day. I almost said that in the article, but hoped the parallel would stand on its own.

      thank you, btw. I have a deep respect for the Morrigan.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mhaoil-Lain/100000789234060 Mhaoil Lain

        My sincere apologies to you, Galina. Talented indeed.

  • Andras Arthen

    When my children were small, starting in the early nineties, they took to wearing multi-colored snakes in their hair every year on St. Patrick’s day. After a couple of times, a lot of the kids in their classes started doing the same, and it became a school tradition for a while.

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      That’s fantastic!

  • Andras Arthen

    When my children were small, starting in the early nineties, they took to wearing multi-colored snakes in their hair every year on St. Patrick’s day. After a couple of times, a lot of the kids in their classes started doing the same, and it became a school tradition for a while.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      That’s fantastic!

  • Bglennbergen

    Catholics continue to disrespect us, our traditions, and our values. Why should we honor them. I give, as Odin said in Havamal, a lie for lie !

  • Bglennbergen

    Catholics continue to disrespect us, our traditions, and our values. Why should we honor them. I give, as Odin said in Havamal, a lie for lie !

  • Viviennegrainger

    Thank you for thinking so clearly on this issue, and sharing the results of your thought with us. It’s very easy to forget how poisoned are the waters we swim in as non-Judeo-Christians.

  • Viviennegrainger

    Thank you for thinking so clearly on this issue, and sharing the results of your thought with us. It’s very easy to forget how poisoned are the waters we swim in as non-Judeo-Christians.

  • http://zbudapest.com Zbudapest

    Great article! I thought this holiday was all about how much alcohol the irish can put away. Its not religious anymore in any sense of the word. Its pride ,yes, then drunk and proud.

  • http://zbudapest.com Zbudapest

    Great article! I thought this holiday was all about how much alcohol the irish can put away. Its not religious anymore in any sense of the word. Its pride ,yes, then drunk and proud.

  • Faoladh

    I think that the suggestion that the day be reconsecrated to the hero-cultus of Cú Chulainn is certainly something to consider. (Heh. Yeah, I mentioned this in another venue, Galina, but I figured that it would be additionally worthwhile to mention it in a venue with a wider audience.)

    • Galina Krasskova

      I love the idea of repurposing the day as a day to honor Pagan heroes, like Cu Chulainn. :) let’s revive that cultus! I’d be all for that. btw, i maintain a “Pagan Heroes and Martyrs” page on my website krasskova.weebly.com. If you would like, i’d happily add Cu Chulainn. I’d just ask that you email me a one or two sentence description of who he was to tamyris at earthlink dot net. :)

      • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

        Given that I’m the one who started that particular date for hero-cultus to Cú Chulainn (who remains one of my primary divine figures with whom I have a relationship), I’d be happy to do that.

        The reason being: Cú Chulainn was the protector of Emain Macha, the provincial capital of the Ulaid. Armagh, Patrick’s eventual “home parish” and the primatial see of all Ireland, is right next to Emain Macha. And, in one story, Patrick calls up Cú Chulainn’s shade from Hell to convert Loegaire, high king of Tara, and gives Cú Chulainn release to heaven for it. Technically, then, Cú Chulainn should be a saint according to Irish Catholicism. (It canonized the mermaid Muirgelt/Lí Bán/Muirgén on Jan. 27–why not Cú Chulainn therefore?) So, I think for these reasons and more (which I’ll be detailing on my own blog on March 17), Cú Chulainn should be able to take back that day for himself…indeed, it seems possible, given that we’re not even sure when Patrick lived or if he lived, if he was one or two different people, or if the surviving writings relating to him were about him or were truly by him (and a host of other difficulties), that perhaps he took over what was originally a local festival of that area…whether it was for Cú Chulainn or not is unknown, but it certainly could have been, if not for Macha, Lug, or any number of other deities who had local significance in that area.

        • Faoladh

          I am surely trying to spread the idea, as it is such a good one. The hero-cultus of Cú Chulainn has every reason to be instituted, and the day of Irish identity is already deeply rooted (and, additionally, the Hound is quite an important symbol of Irish identity, on both sides of the border), so it seems a good plan to me.

        • Galina Krasskova

          Thanks, P. Let’s touch base off list about this. :)

  • Faoladh

    I think that the suggestion that the day be reconsecrated to the hero-cultus of Cú Chulainn is certainly something to consider. (Heh. Yeah, I mentioned this in another venue, Galina, but I figured that it would be additionally worthwhile to mention it in a venue with a wider audience.)

    • Galina Krasskova

      I love the idea of repurposing the day as a day to honor Pagan heroes, like Cu Chulainn. :) let’s revive that cultus! I’d be all for that. btw, i maintain a “Pagan Heroes and Martyrs” page on my website krasskova.weebly.com. If you would like, i’d happily add Cu Chulainn. I’d just ask that you email me a one or two sentence description of who he was to tamyris at earthlink dot net. :)

      • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

        Given that I’m the one who started that particular date for hero-cultus to Cú Chulainn (who remains one of my primary divine figures with whom I have a relationship), I’d be happy to do that.

        The reason being: Cú Chulainn was the protector of Emain Macha, the provincial capital of the Ulaid. Armagh, Patrick’s eventual “home parish” and the primatial see of all Ireland, is right next to Emain Macha. And, in one story, Patrick calls up Cú Chulainn’s shade from Hell to convert Loegaire, high king of Tara, and gives Cú Chulainn release to heaven for it. Technically, then, Cú Chulainn should be a saint according to Irish Catholicism. (It canonized the mermaid Muirgelt/Lí Bán/Muirgén on Jan. 27–why not Cú Chulainn therefore?) So, I think for these reasons and more (which I’ll be detailing on my own blog on March 17), Cú Chulainn should be able to take back that day for himself…indeed, it seems possible, given that we’re not even sure when Patrick lived or if he lived, if he was one or two different people, or if the surviving writings relating to him were about him or were truly by him (and a host of other difficulties), that perhaps he took over what was originally a local festival of that area…whether it was for Cú Chulainn or not is unknown, but it certainly could have been, if not for Macha, Lug, or any number of other deities who had local significance in that area.

        • Faoladh

          I am surely trying to spread the idea, as it is such a good one. The hero-cultus of Cú Chulainn has every reason to be instituted, and the day of Irish identity is already deeply rooted (and, additionally, the Hound is quite an important symbol of Irish identity, on both sides of the border), so it seems a good plan to me.

        • Galina Krasskova

          Thanks, P. Let’s touch base off list about this. :)

  • Noxenla

    Since green is catholic and orange is protestant, I always wear Blue for the snakes, whic I have always seen as blue tattoos and to show my woadish warrior feelings about it. Pointing out to most the protestants here that they should wear orange is amusing, they have no clue!

  • Noxenla

    Since green is catholic and orange is protestant, I always wear Blue for the snakes, whic I have always seen as blue tattoos and to show my woadish warrior feelings about it. Pointing out to most the protestants here that they should wear orange is amusing, they have no clue!

    • Marcus

      Blue is actually the traditional colour associated with St. Patrick before green took over as the national colour of Ireland: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Patrick's_blue

    • http://twitter.com/Sulaire Jenna Rose Gibbons

      In the late 80s when I lived in NJ my spouse at the time always wore orange to work in Manhattan on St Patrick’s day to protest the IRA bombings back home in Britain. The first time I was very concerned she’d get hurt, but nobody ever understood for the 5 years she did it!

  • Prayven627

    It amazes me that any pagan would celebrate this holiday, Irish or not. I remember a long time ago a wiccan friend’s friend had said to me, “Well, yeah, I know St. Patrick wasn’t really a friend to us, but hey, the drinking’s fun, so I’m like whatever.” I answered, “Interesting. I’m sure a few brought corn and ale to the witch burnings from time to time, as well.”

  • Prayven627

    It amazes me that any pagan would celebrate this holiday, Irish or not. I remember a long time ago a wiccan friend’s friend had said to me, “Well, yeah, I know St. Patrick wasn’t really a friend to us, but hey, the drinking’s fun, so I’m like whatever.” I answered, “Interesting. I’m sure a few brought corn and ale to the witch burnings from time to time, as well.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/juniperj Juniper Jeni

    By the time Patrick came to Ireland much of the “pagan” religion had become decadent and weird, there was a serious power imbalance … the blood feuding encouraged by that religion/culture was getting out of hand. People were tired of it. Yes there was forced conversions and slaughter. But there was also plenty of people who choose to flock to the New religion.

    I celebrate Patty’s Day as a heritage day. I wear my serpent symbols and celebrate All Snaked Day at the same time. I also take the opportunity to think about religion and choice and culture and how things can go wrong, shift quickly and what happens when power and religion is abused.

  • http://www.facebook.com/juniperj Juniper Jeni

    By the time Patrick came to Ireland much of the “pagan” religion had become decadent and weird, there was a serious power imbalance … the blood feuding encouraged by that religion/culture was getting out of hand. People were tired of it. Yes there was forced conversions and slaughter. But there was also plenty of people who choose to flock to the New religion.

    I celebrate Patty’s Day as a heritage day. I wear my serpent symbols and celebrate All Snaked Day at the same time. I also take the opportunity to think about religion and choice and culture and how things can go wrong, shift quickly and what happens when power and religion is abused.

  • Cora

    Galina, as someone with Irish ancestors thank you! I’ve been struggling with this issue for years.

  • Cora

    Galina, as someone with Irish ancestors thank you! I’ve been struggling with this issue for years.

  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

    Good post, Galina!

    Small note re: Patrick, snakes, and druids. The “snake driving” story is late (11th or 12th c. or later) and copied from another hagiography; Patrick’s actual hagiographies date back to the 7th century, though, and no mention of that story occurs in any of them (there are about five) until those later centuries. He certainly didn’t convert Ireland single-handedly, nor definitively, in his own time period of the 5th century. And, there were certainly druids around and still teaching definitely until the mid-8th century, if not later. So, the idea that snakes are druids and that Patrick drove them out is kind of no, no, and no, really…

    • Faoladh

      However, it is part of Irish folklore that Patrick’s snakes = druids. See Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries, chapter X.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=586268271 Makarios Ofiesh

      Precisely. The snake story was plagiarized from the hagiography of St. Hilaire of France for the purpose of explaining the absence of native snakes in Ireland.

      Patrick, of course, was not the first Christian missionary in Ireland, nor was he even Ireland’s first bishop. The best estimates that I’ve seen put the advent of Christianity in Ireland at about the second or third century CE.

    • Galina Krasskova

      P. I know that the whole “driving out the snakes” i.e. Druids is bogus and that Patrick didn’t convert Ireland singlehandedly; but, he was a key figure in helping the church establish a foothold (much as Columbus paved the way for the destruction of Native cultures…surely there were thriving autonomous Native nations hundreds of years after Columbus but the damage that would lead to near genocide had already begun) and for that reason, imo, should not be honored by Pagans or Heathens. He remains a powerful figure in folk-imagination for the establishment of Christianity in Ireland.

  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

    Good post, Galina!

    Small note re: Patrick, snakes, and druids. The “snake driving” story is late (11th or 12th c. or later) and copied from another hagiography; Patrick’s actual hagiographies date back to the 7th century, though, and no mention of that story occurs in any of them (there are about five) until those later centuries. He certainly didn’t convert Ireland single-handedly, nor definitively, in his own time period of the 5th century. And, there were certainly druids around and still teaching definitely until the mid-8th century, if not later. So, the idea that snakes are druids and that Patrick drove them out is kind of no, no, and no, really…

    • Faoladh

      However, it is part of Irish folklore that Patrick’s snakes = druids. See Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries, chapter X.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=586268271 Makarios Ofiesh

      Precisely. The snake story was plagiarized from the hagiography of St. Hilaire of France for the purpose of explaining the absence of native snakes in Ireland.

      Patrick, of course, was not the first Christian missionary in Ireland, nor was he even Ireland’s first bishop. The best estimates that I’ve seen put the advent of Christianity in Ireland at about the second or third century CE. Patrick didn’t begin the Christianization of Ireland, and he certainly didn’t complete it. As you’ve pointed out, there were Druids and other Pagans in Ireland well after Patrick’s death.

    • Galina Krasskova

      P. I know that the whole “driving out the snakes” i.e. Druids is bogus and that Patrick didn’t convert Ireland singlehandedly; but, he was a key figure in helping the church establish a foothold (much as Columbus paved the way for the destruction of Native cultures…surely there were thriving autonomous Native nations hundreds of years after Columbus but the damage that would lead to near genocide had already begun) and for that reason, imo, should not be honored by Pagans or Heathens. He remains a powerful figure in folk-imagination for the establishment of Christianity in Ireland.

  • CelticHeathen

    I call it “All Snakes Day” and I say my yearly toast: “Pog mo thóin, a Phadraig!”

  • CelticHeathen

    I call it “All Snakes Day” and I say my yearly toast: “Pog mo thóin, a Phadraig!”

  • Cara

    From The Wild Hunt in 2010:
    The problem with most of this Pagan rage and sadness directed at Patrick for converting Ireland, is that it’s mostly untrue.

    “The snakes he drove out of Ireland were not symbolic of druids, pagans, or goddess worshippers. They were, quite simply, snakes. The tale was lifted from the life story of St. Hilaire, who was said to have evicted the snakes in a section of France, as an explanation of why there are no native snakes in Ireland. That piece of plagiarism explicative text was added in the 10th century. Earliest versions of Patrick’s story don’t include it. They do, however, include direct claims of him besting druids in magical combat and argument, as well as having druids in his personal retinue. Catholic saints’ stories, by and large, do not truck in allegory. To cite a different reptile story, they really did mean to say that St. George killed a dragon. I have never seen anyone who’s bothered to study the way Irish saints’ lives were written down and embroidered take the snakes to be symbolic of anything. It is a neo-pagan invention to assign that story any degree of symbolism.”

    Celtic Reconstructionist Brenda Daverin goes on to point out that Ireland was quite “pagan” for another century or so after Patrick’s death, and that Ireland’s conversion process generally wasn’t at the point of a sword, or completely successful. Just because it’s become the common folklore to equate snakes and pagans doesn’t make it true. So, since Patrick didn’t actually cast the literal or metaphorical snakes out of Ireland, I see no issue in wishing my Irish, Irish-descended, and Irish-loving readers a happy St. Patrick’s Day. Avoid the green beer, that stuff is just nasty.

    ___________________________________

    Go to the Wild Hunt article for the links. (cache version) http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:cgJTfMRvMO8J:wildhunt.org/blog/2010/03/about-st-patrick-and-the-serpents.html+wild+hunt,+st+patrick%27s+day&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&source=www.google.com

  • Cara

    From The Wild Hunt in 2010:
    The problem with most of this Pagan rage and sadness directed at Patrick for converting Ireland, is that it’s mostly untrue.

    “The snakes he drove out of Ireland were not symbolic of druids, pagans, or goddess worshippers. They were, quite simply, snakes. The tale was lifted from the life story of St. Hilaire, who was said to have evicted the snakes in a section of France, as an explanation of why there are no native snakes in Ireland. That piece of plagiarism explicative text was added in the 10th century. Earliest versions of Patrick’s story don’t include it. They do, however, include direct claims of him besting druids in magical combat and argument, as well as having druids in his personal retinue. Catholic saints’ stories, by and large, do not truck in allegory. To cite a different reptile story, they really did mean to say that St. George killed a dragon. I have never seen anyone who’s bothered to study the way Irish saints’ lives were written down and embroidered take the snakes to be symbolic of anything. It is a neo-pagan invention to assign that story any degree of symbolism.”

    Celtic Reconstructionist Brenda Daverin goes on to point out that Ireland was quite “pagan” for another century or so after Patrick’s death, and that Ireland’s conversion process generally wasn’t at the point of a sword, or completely successful. Just because it’s become the common folklore to equate snakes and pagans doesn’t make it true. So, since Patrick didn’t actually cast the literal or metaphorical snakes out of Ireland, I see no issue in wishing my Irish, Irish-descended, and Irish-loving readers a happy St. Patrick’s Day. Avoid the green beer, that stuff is just nasty.

    ___________________________________

    Go to the Wild Hunt article for the links. (cache version) http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:cgJTfMRvMO8J:wildhunt.org/blog/2010/03/about-st-patrick-and-the-serpents.html+wild+hunt,+st+patrick%27s+day&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&source=www.google.com

  • Wes Isley

    Regardless of why the holiday began, there’s something assuring in the fact that St. Patrick’s Day has essentially become a drunken bacchanal!

  • Wes Isley

    Regardless of why the holiday began, there’s something assuring in the fact that St. Patrick’s Day has essentially become a drunken bacchanal!

  • Whitecrane123

    I absolutely agree! And I love the Ode to the Morrigan! I had never considered the other meaning that the “snakes” may have been the idigenous faiths..

  • Whitecrane123

    I absolutely agree! And I love the Ode to the Morrigan! I had never considered the other meaning that the “snakes” may have been the idigenous faiths..

  • http://4ofwands.wordpress.com Melia

    Whether the myth about Patrick driving snakes out is true or not doesn’t really matter. It is a popular myth with Pagans and non-Pagans alike, so I love the idea of wearing snakes. I think another option is to honor nymphs/fey/good people/nature spirits on this day. As a child, they are what fascinated me the most about this day.

  • http://4ofwands.wordpress.com Melia

    Whether the myth about Patrick driving snakes out is true or not doesn’t really matter. It is a popular myth with Pagans and non-Pagans alike, so I love the idea of wearing snakes. I think another option is to honor nymphs/fey/good people/nature spirits on this day. As a child, they are what fascinated me the most about this day.

  • Rua Lupa

    Interestingly, or perhaps even ironically, as Irish culture is celebrated on St. Patrick’s Day; St. Patrick himself was behind the burning of 180 books of the Druids and called on others to do the same until all the remains of the Druidic superstitions were utterly destroyed (Leabhar Buidhe Lecain – Yellow Book of Lecan)(A Brief History of the Druids – Peter Berresford Ellis – pg.165)

    Historically speaking it was common for Celts who were in protest to publicly fast (troscad) against an individual, even against the saints. In fact, it is from Ireland that the political hunger strike originates. Terence MacSwiney, a political prisoner, hunger striked until he died on his 74th day of striking, which was said to have inspired Mahatma Gandhi to revive the custom of dharma in India as a moral political weapon. This may be something to incorporate for those trying to revive the Celtic ways on All Snakes Day.

    • Rua Lupa

      Wearing snake torcs may be a really great trend to start. http://www.craftycelts.com/Jewelry/Torcs/Snake_Torc.html

    • Galina Krasskova

      I did not know that public fasting for protest had its origins in Ireland…very interesting. I may in fact incorporate that….thank you!

  • Rua Lupa

    Interestingly, or perhaps even ironically, as Irish culture is celebrated on St. Patrick’s Day; St. Patrick himself was behind the burning of 180 books of the Druids and called on others to do the same until all the remains of the Druidic superstitions were utterly destroyed (Leabhar Buidhe Lecain – Yellow Book of Lecan)(A Brief History of the Druids – Peter Berresford Ellis – pg.165)

    Historically speaking it was common for Celts who were in protest to publicly fast (troscad) against an individual, even against the saints. In fact, it is from Ireland that the political hunger strike originates. Terence MacSwiney, a political prisoner, hunger striked until he died on his 74th day of striking, which was said to have inspired Mahatma Gandhi to revive the custom of dharma in India as a moral political weapon. This may be something to incorporate for those trying to revive the Celtic ways on All Snakes Day.

    • Rua Lupa

      Wearing snake torcs may be a really great trend to start. http://www.craftycelts.com/Jewelry/Torcs/Snake_Torc.html

    • Galina Krasskova

      I did not know that public fasting for protest had its origins in Ireland…very interesting. I may in fact incorporate that….thank you!

  • KoraKaosOnline

    “By doing this, we’re spitting in the eye of St. Patrick”

    So, when I go to Mass that day, should I spit in the eye of Morrigan? Nah, I’m not that mean. I like Morrigan.

    • Galina Krasskova

      Given that this is the *Pagan* portal, i should hope most of us will be honoring our own Gods and not going to mass.

  • KoraKaosOnline

    “By doing this, we’re spitting in the eye of St. Patrick”

    So, when I go to Mass that day, should I spit in the eye of Morrigan? Nah, I’m not that mean. I like Morrigan.

    • Galina Krasskova

      Given that this is the *Pagan* portal, i should hope most of us will be honoring our own Gods and not going to mass.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=716122227 Dawn Gribble

    Well said – I had a rant about this last year; but you’ve put it much more eloquently.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=716122227 Dawn Gribble

    Well said – I had a rant about this last year; but you’ve put it much more eloquently.

  • Dreamer

    Kudos to you for making this statement, something that I have long since agreed with.

  • Dreamer

    Kudos to you for making this statement, something that I have long since agreed with.

  • WarriorPrincessDanu

    I typically wear black on St. Patrick’s Day, and treat it as a day of mourning. Since I’m part Irish, I choose to celebrate my Irish heritage on April 24 -30, the anniversary of the Easter Rising.

    • Galina Krasskova

      I also tend to wear black and look at it as a day of mourning, much as some Native peoples look at Thanksgiving.

  • http://pagancollegestudent.blogspot.com/ WarriorPrincessDanu

    I typically wear black on St. Patrick’s Day, and treat it as a day of mourning. Since I’m part Irish, I choose to celebrate my Irish heritage on April 24 -30, the anniversary of the Easter Rising.

    • Galina Krasskova

      I also tend to wear black and look at it as a day of mourning, much as some Native peoples look at Thanksgiving.

  • Seranada Artemia

    Thank you for writing this and not only for standing up for your beliefs but for also making a point to educate others. And for doing it with such gusto on top of that. You make me proud to call myself Pagan!
    Blessed Be

    • Galina Krasskova

      Thank you, Serenada.

  • Seranada Artemia

    Thank you for writing this and not only for standing up for your beliefs but for also making a point to educate others. And for doing it with such gusto on top of that. You make me proud to call myself Pagan!
    Blessed Be

    • Galina Krasskova

      Thank you, Serenada.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=530986972 Michelle Donelle Bryant

    I am a pagan and an Irish woman. Therefore I both love and hate St. Pat’s day. So a few years ago I started calling it Irish People Day. And on St. Pat’s I celebrate the Irish people of past and present. I drink to the death of Irish pagans fighting against the rise of Christianity and to the cause of the men and women who died fighting for Irish freedom not so many years ago. Its not about the Christians for me, or about St. Patrick, its about Irish blood and Irish pride.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=530986972 Michelle Donelle Bryant

    I am a pagan and an Irish woman. Therefore I both love and hate St. Pat’s day. So a few years ago I started calling it Irish People Day. And on St. Pat’s I celebrate the Irish people of past and present. I drink to the death of Irish pagans fighting against the rise of Christianity and to the cause of the men and women who died fighting for Irish freedom not so many years ago. Its not about the Christians for me, or about St. Patrick, its about Irish blood and Irish pride.

  • Bramble

    A fabulous read, thank you. On Saint Patrick’s day I hold my head up high and say, “Kiss Me, I’m Pagan!”

  • Bramble

    A fabulous read, thank you. On Saint Patrick’s day I hold my head up high and say, “Kiss Me, I’m Pagan!”

  • Kathleen Sloan

    This is very interesting; I hadn’t previously been aware of the connection between Patrick and the destruction of ancient, specifically goddess worshipping spirituality. I’m interested in learning more about his specific destruction of goddess culture.

    • Galina Krasskova

      I wouldn’t necessarily call it a “Goddess culture.” It was a polytheistic culture, probably animist, with both Gods and Goddesses–very powerful Goddesses, it’s true. But yes, Patrick was one of the Christian missionaries who evangelized the Irish, helping to turn them away from their indigenous religious practices.

  • Kathleen Sloan

    This is very interesting; I hadn’t previously been aware of the connection between Patrick and the destruction of ancient, specifically goddess worshipping spirituality. I’m interested in learning more about his specific destruction of goddess culture.

    • Galina Krasskova

      I wouldn’t necessarily call it a “Goddess culture.” It was a polytheistic culture, probably animist, with both Gods and Goddesses–very powerful Goddesses, it’s true. But yes, Patrick was one of the Christian missionaries who evangelized the Irish, helping to turn them away from their indigenous religious practices.

  • Whispering Mists

    Great article and very well worded! Thanks for writing about the truth of this day!

    http://www.whisperingmists.typepad.com

  • Whispering Mists

    Great article and very well worded! Thanks for writing about the truth of this day!

    http://www.whisperingmists.typepad.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/rhea.nekhebet Rhea Nekhebet

    Great post.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rhea.nekhebet Rhea Nekhebet

    Great post.

  • Jppollock

    More wars were fought to convert tribes of peoples to Christianity than were fought in all wars since. Look at the wars by Muslims, Arabs, Jews, Hindus, Scots, Saxons and others, all over this world since the beginning of time, all to convert people to their way of thinking. Christ didn’t want us to kill to convert and never asked us to do so. Don’t go placing all the blame on St. Patrick. It was the way it was, at that time. Hopefully, we will finally learn that converting by force is not the way. I can still be a good Christian and will be known by my works.

  • Jppollock

    More wars were fought to convert tribes of peoples to Christianity than were fought in all wars since. Look at the wars by Muslims, Arabs, Jews, Hindus, Scots, Saxons and others, all over this world since the beginning of time, all to convert people to their way of thinking. Christ didn’t want us to kill to convert and never asked us to do so. Don’t go placing all the blame on St. Patrick. It was the way it was, at that time. Hopefully, we will finally learn that converting by force is not the way. I can still be a good Christian and will be known by my works.

  • Jennifer

    Very well written and very enlightening. Personally, our family always celebrated “st. Patties day” for my aunt Patties, who is Irish/Italian, non religious (agnostic) and a poisonous viper, wonderful mother, devoted wife, and amazing drinker :). Although I will use any excuse as a good one to honor the Old Gods I think I will continue to call it “st Patties day” because it makes me and my family laugh.

  • Jennifer

    Very well written and very enlightening. Personally, our family always celebrated “st. Patties day” for my aunt Patties, who is Irish/Italian, non religious (agnostic) and a poisonous viper, wonderful mother, devoted wife, and amazing drinker :). Although I will use any excuse as a good one to honor the Old Gods I think I will continue to call it “st Patties day” because it makes me and my family laugh.

  • Mindgarden

    Just to get this straight; St. Patrick is bad because he converted people to Christianity as he “planted the seed, and provided the social and psychological pressure.”

    So are you virtuous by “working very hard to restore and rebuild [Paganism]?” Are you planting seeds when you “briefly educate and raise awareness” to make people reconsider thier Christianity? I find little evidence that Patrick converted by force. How different is that from what you do?

    I say this as a proud Pagan. I bear the mark of Lugh. I just do not agree with base tribalism that declares people good or bad based on the diety or dieties they follow. That thinking leads to genocide. In my view, behavior towards other humans, the Earth and all life is what determines the merit of a person. People can worship Yahweh if they want, I choose other Gods and cherish the freedom to choose.

    If Patrick converted people with the power of words and an example of love, good for him. Ceasar did more to stamp out Celtic culture when he conquered Gaul than St. Paddy did on his island at the periphery of Europe.

    I don’t view spirituality like a sporting event where I’m cheering for my team of Gods to win by having more followers.

    • Leslie Squirrel

      I am in agreement with you Mindgarden.
      See the big disco ball with it’s many facets reflecting light to
      the many who need to fill their god-shaped holes of the heart.
      The translation is about love and Life,
      I also choose the Beautiful Way.

    • Aneurin

      I agree! I am a pagan and have been my entire life and am sick of the anti-Christian bias.

  • Mindgarden

    Just to get this straight; St. Patrick is bad because he converted people to Christianity as he “planted the seed, and provided the social and psychological pressure.”

    So are you virtuous by “working very hard to restore and rebuild [Paganism]?” Are you planting seeds when you “briefly educate and raise awareness” to make people reconsider thier Christianity? I find little evidence that Patrick converted by force. How different is that from what you do?

    I say this as a proud Pagan. I bear the mark of Lugh. I just do not agree with base tribalism that declares people good or bad based on the diety or dieties they follow. That thinking leads to genocide. In my view, behavior towards other humans, the Earth and all life is what determines the merit of a person. People can worship Yahweh if they want, I choose other Gods and cherish the freedom to choose.

    If Patrick converted people with the power of words and an example of love, good for him. Ceasar did more to stamp out Celtic culture when he conquered Gaul than St. Paddy did on his island at the periphery of Europe.

    I don’t view spirituality like a sporting event where I’m cheering for my team of Gods to win by having more followers.

    • Leslie Squirrel

      I am in agreement with you Mindgarden.
      See the big disco ball with it’s many facets reflecting light to
      the many who need to fill their god-shaped holes of the heart.
      The translation is about love and Life,
      I also choose the Beautiful Way.

    • Aneurin

      I agree! I am a pagan and have been my entire life and am sick of the anti-Christian bias.

  • Aneurin

    Our ancestors knew more than we ever could about why they left the pagan Gods, and I will not lament for Crom Cruach who had child sacrifices, and the horrible people that want to revive him (and they are horrible, all political correctness to hell).

  • Aneurin

    Our ancestors knew more than we ever could about why they left the pagan Gods, and I will not lament for Crom Cruach who had child sacrifices, and the horrible people that want to revive him (and they are horrible, all political correctness to hell).

  • http://profiles.google.com/wllinden Will Linden

    “Aggressively evangelize”? Does it occur to you that Ireland was the ONE country converted without casualties? On either side? (As the Archbishop of Cashel remarked when Giraldus started sneering at the lack of Irish martyrs.) Perhaps other missions could have used some of this “aggression”.

  • wlinden

    “Aggressively evangelize”? Does it occur to you that Ireland was the ONE country converted without casualties? On either side? (As the Archbishop of Cashel remarked when Giraldus started sneering at the lack of Irish martyrs.) Perhaps other missions could have used some of this “aggression”.

  • Laurelhedge

    FWIW:  That St. Patrick aggressively confronted and persecuted the Druids and Pagans in
    his attempt to evangelize them is church propaganda, invented in the 7th
    century CE, and never corrected.

    That Saint Patrick drove the “snakes” (Druids) out of Ireland is also church propaganda. Another Saint (Honorius) who lived about the same time, but in another in another area of the world (Gaul) –which had real actual snakes–supposedly banished them in a minor miracle, circa 1000 CE. That particular legend was attributed to Saint Patrick–and explained as symbolizing the Druids–in order for the clergy in one particular location to prove they were more important than the clergy in another location.

    Celebrating one’s heritage and the Gods and Goddesses in which one believes, rather than a dead Christian priest on what is supposedly the day he died, is a lovely thing. My purpose here is to attempt to counter the lies told about the man, himself.

  • ProgressiveMews

    As far as attire for March 17th goes… Here is a blog post on the same topic, by a Pagan, who wears red & black, plus a green oak leaf necklace:  http://www.pagancentric.org/?p=135

  • Sacredhill26

    How do you cope at Christmas?


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