Thursday, March 17, 2016
Some Little Known Facts Regarding St. Patrick's Day
The truth of it is, many Pagans do not celebrate St. Patrick because of his association with the annihilation of the Druid's and Pagan Celts, as he formally orchestrated their deaths and by doing so was able to bring his Christian religion to the British Isles. But, many Pagans can and do celebrate the Irish and the Celtic peoples on this day, and it can be a day to celebrate all things Irish!
The flag depicted above was the official Irish flag from 1542 to 1801 and the color blue was known as St. Patrick's blue. Blue was the official color of Ireland, but there is a legend that St. Patrick chose the clover or Shamrock as his emblem, because the three leaved plant, it is said he told fellow Christians, that the Shamrock represented the Holy Trinity. The Holy trinity, which to Christians is The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost. But the Holy Trinity was already very well known in Celtic Pagan Ireland and still today we Pagans recognize it as The Maiden, The Mother and The Crone, aspects of the Goddess. This legend, while lovely, is not true, at least to scholars knowledgeable about the Saint, but the Shamrock was used in Ireland at the time to represent the Christian cross.
So by the association of the tiny Shamrock with St. Patrick, this caused the eventual demise of his sacred color, in favor of the now famously known Irish green.
And many do not know that St. Patrick (it is believed his real name was Maewyn Succat, he adopted the name Patrick or Patricius upon becoming a priest ) was not Irish at all, but he was Roman Briton. He was born in Scotland to Roman parents who lived in Briton and were at that time in charge of the colonies. It is believed he was born around 375 c.e. (Common Era, which has replaced the A.D.)
When he was a teen he was kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland, where he tended sheep on Slemish Mountain, Co. Antrim. It is believed he was a slave for 6 years and during this time he had a dream where God came to him and told him to run away from his captors to the coast where a boat would be waiting to take him away.
He sailed to France where he studied to become a Priest and then a Bishop. He then had another dream, it is reported, that told him to bring the Christian teachings back to Ireland. He spent 40 years preaching and 'converting' people to Christianity, until in 432 it is said all of Ireland had converted. I put the word converting in quotes because it sounds so much like gentle persuasion when history tells us that the conversions of the Pagan peoples to Christianity was anything but gentle. It was a murderous, torturous endeavor and in the end, those who did not convert were killed.
Scholars believe that those women, the Druidic Priestesses of the Celtic peoples, took another tactic and entered the newly built convents attached to the newly built monasteries and where once they were called Priestesses they were afterwards called Nuns. But the work of the Goddess was still being done. Caring for the poor and ill, providing midwifery care, tending to the orphans, ministering to the dying.
There are those scholars who feel that March 17th was the day of St. Patrick's death in 461 c.e, (which would have made him 86 years old) and those who believe it marked the day of his birth. After so many years it is hard to tell, but during the time in which he lived it was more common to mark the day of death as significant, rather than the day of birth, which has more significance to us today. There are many different years attributed to St. Patrick's birth and many for his year of death, but we do know he lived and did succeed for his time in driving the Druid's and Pagan ways out of Ireland.
Another little known fact, though St. Patrick was credited with converting all of Ireland to Christianity, there were Christians in Ireland before he came back. But he became, by far, the most famous of all the Christians bent on converting the masses.
Many now know that there were never any snakes in Ireland, but the snake was a metaphor for the Druid's and Pagans and for thousands of years the serpent or snake was known as a symbol of women's knowledge, power, and a sign of the Goddess.
For those who enjoy going to a St. Patrick's Day parade, it is curious to note, that these parades did not originate in Ireland but in Boston in 1737, and was originally hosted by the Charitable Irish Society of Boston. Now parades celebrating the Irish are held all over the world.
In addition to his many 'occupations' such as sheep herder when younger, Priest and Bishop, St. Patrick was known for preaching, writing, traveling, church building and, interestingly enough, hill walking. At the time of St. Patrick, it was very common for those on a spiritual quest to go on pilgrimages, and these consisted on walking great distances and in the case of the Tor in South West England, one could spend an entire day walking the spiral procession from the base of the Tor to the top. It was a similar practice to what we do today when walking a labyrinth.
For more than 1,000 years the Irish have observed March 17th as a religious Holy Day (Holiday) which falls in the parameters of Lent and have attended church in the morning and often held a feast meal of boiled cabbage, root vegetables and Irish bacon. Corned Beef is also an American addition to this Irish holiday, along with dying beer green. Irish Soda bread dates from 1840 when Bicarbonate of Soda was first introduced to Ireland, and traditional Irish Soda bread has a cross cut into the top of the loaf to keep evil and harm away from the household. A magickal practice in it's own right.
Well, these are just a few bits of trivia surrounding this day of celebrating all things Irish and Celtic and I hope you enjoyed this discussion! My next post will be about Ostara which is coming up in just a few days!
Peace and Happiness!
© 2010-2016 Faith M. McCann. Portions of this blog posting may include materials from my book “Enchantments School for the Magickal Arts First Year Magickal Studies.” For more information, see www.enchantmentsschool.com or go to the title of tonight's discussion and click, it will link you to my school's website. Please note that the copying and/or further distribution of this work without express written permission is prohibited.
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at Thursday, March 17, 2016