St. Patrick’s Day has arrived my lovely Tribe!
I do love green. Leprechauns, rainbows, and pots of gold make me smile. And the shamrock and I are old friends. Well, clover really. But as a child I thought shamrocks and clover were the same thing. Now as an adult the association is still strong in my mind. Intellect tells me differently. I shush intellect away. Shhhhhh! Please don’t tell the plants 😉
While all of these lovely things represent St. Patrick’s Day to the modern-day observer, they really have nothing to do with the meaning behind the holiday.
St. Patrick’s Day is fraught with a great deal of unsavory history.
Its origin is rooted in Catholicism, as it was originally a religious holiday. My understanding is that in Ireland it retains this status. (Anyone out there from Ireland who would be so kind as to shed some light on this claim? I will look for you in the comments 😉)
However, here in the United States it has taken a highly secular turn.
This day, March 17th, was originally a holy day of obligation to the Catholic church. It was commemorated in honor of St. Patrick, who according to legend gave a sermon so powerful that it drove all of the snakes out of Ireland.
First, there were never any snakes in Ireland. Like real snakes. No not in Ireland.
Second, why would a sermon drive snakes away? It has to be a metaphor, right?
AND indeed, it is. It is a metaphor crediting St. Patrick for driving Pagans and Druidic priests out from Ireland. In other words, in an effort to convert practitioners of native faiths to Christianity, he harassed the Druids until they ‘cleared out’.
This is St. Patrick’s sole claim to fame. Not very honorable. Nope. Nope. Definitely not an upstanding sort of behavior 😉
AND even giving him credit for this ‘feat’ is much more than the man actually deserves!
He did not single handedly drive out an entire group of indigenous practitioners from a country. That is quite the ridiculous claim. There were many more hands at work here than his own.
So, who was this saint we call Patrick? Like really, who was he, all legends aside?
His name was Maewyn Succat and he was born to a wealthy family in Kilpatrick, Scotland, in the year 387 AD. He was taken to Ireland at age 16, where he was enslaved. He served 7 years there as a slave before escaping his oppressors.
He then returned to the fair isle in later years to work as a missionary. He believed he was being directed by God to dismantle the prevalent Pagan culture in Ireland by converting its residents to Christianity.
He very aggressively evangelized the native Irish people; turning many of them away from their ancestral traditions, indigenous religions, and the worship of their indigenous Gods. Not really something to celebrate! Pretty negative and seriously egotistical!
Still, we celebrate. (*sigh*)
In our defense, it seems that many people who are whooping it up on this day couldn’t tell you the legend of St. Patrick in exchange for a pot of gold (Ha). Most are under the impression that it is a holiday commemorated in honor of Irish pride.
How nice! A day just for the Irish <3 This Irish girl is all for it!
Celebrating Irish beliefs and traditions sounds fabulous to me. As a matter of fact, whatever little inkling of recognition I do show for this holiday is done with the sole intent of honoring Irish culture, language, history, and ancestry.
I can only begin to imagine the many aspects of Irish culture that we as Pagans can celebrate on this day.
Like the Druid faith, for instance. Let’s celebrate that! I’m a great fan. I even have a more in-depth study of it penciled in for the next ‘study slot’ that opens up in my schedule.
We can honor this indigenous Irish faith by listening to Celtic music, reading traditional Celtic stories, or incorporating Celtic tools into our rituals. Our main intent on this day can be to support the restoration of the ancestral ways of the Irish in modern-day.
I LOVE this approach to this holiday!
We can also choose an Irish God or Goddess who catches our attention and get to know them more intimately. Honor them throughout the day. Learn their legends and pour out offerings to them in ritual. Speak their name as we go about our daily routines. And allow the essence of who they are to permeate our being.
Sounds like a positive approach, right?
I think so. And I think assuming a positive stance is by far the best way to facilitate change (even if it is only in our own hearts) concerning the celebration of St. Patrick.
Personally, this year I intend to focus my attention on the recognition of indigenous Irish culture, as opposed to grumbling about the offensiveness which arises in my soul when I think of the legend of St. Patrick.
I will still wear green as a symbol of solidarity with those who believe they celebrate Irish culture on this day. I will not focus on whether or not they 'get' what the holiday is all about, but instead I will simply bask in the juju of their celebratory spirit.
BUT I will also wear red to represent the blood of my Irish ancestors. And black in remembrance of the darkness which spread over the faith practitioners of Ireland when the Christian church launched a takeover of their lands. As well as the spread of patriarchy and its sullied goal to replace the reverence of the feminine divine.
What are your thoughts on this misunderstood holiday, Tribe?
Were you aware of the legend of St. Patrick before you read this post?
Does the truth behind the legend make you feel differently about the modern-day celebrations which surround this holiday?
I would love to hear your thoughts ...
There is always so much to learn in this world and I am eager to learn from all of you ...
See you in the comments Tribe 😉