Yesterday I posted my excitement for St. Patrick’s Day today, because I thought, Sweet, a holiday where we enjoy little green fairies who hide pots of gold. Today I’m sitting in my room waiting for a face mask to solidify and I decided to just Google “pagan st. patrick’s day” and see what are the general thoughts on this holiday that seems to come really close to Ostara (which will be next Tuesday, woo-hoo!).
I came across pagancentric.org, which I’m not familiar with and therefore can’t certify is a great source (and again, it’s only one source, so I can only trust it with a grain of salt), and basically the author despises St. Patrick’s Day, citing that the “snakes” that St. Patrick drove out of Ireland are actually the pagan Celts (yay for biased symbolism). So in fact, this day when everyone goes out and engages in drunken revelry and promotes plants as symbols of luck (albeit also symbols of the Trinity) and little green fairies are supposed to give you gold if you find them at the bottom of a rainbow (leprechauns)…is really celebrating the spread of Christianity and the oppression of the pagans?
Damn. Just when you thought a holiday could get a little pagan fun in.
This being my first St. Patrick’s Day where I am actively on this path, I’ve got to say that most Americans are completely ignorant of this. We mostly treat it as a secular holiday, anyway, so it’s not like everyone is out and about with crosses (although they do often wear shamrocks, so there’s the Trinity, like I said…), but still, I can see how honoring someone who probably killed, if not facilitated the deaths of, many pre-Christian residents of Ireland is not at the top of any Pagan’s list. Nor should it really be at the top of any Christian’s, but lots of Americans think he literally drove snakes out of Ireland (if even that), and those Christians who do know who St. Patrick was got the sugar-coated version of it (“and the goodly St. Patrick took some priest friends to Ireland to teach the pagans about the wonders of Jesus Christ….”).
There are many flaws with St. Patrick’s Day, not the least being that St. Patrick might not have even been the one who did all these things (and they were just attributed to him later), but the least I can do as a Witch is get my head out of the common cloud and realize what these holidays actually mean.
Of course, like I said, that’s only one source, though it seems with a bit more rooting around on the internet, that it’s a pretty comment thought these days that the snakes were the Druids, who apparently had snakes tattooed on their arms. However, I also looked on patheos.com and got a different sentiment, which expressed that the idea that the snakes were Druids only came about several hundred years after St. Patrick was alive, as did the idea that St. Patrick was the most influential in converting Ireland. It’s all very confusing. Did Paddy engage in genocide? It looks like the jury’s still out.
The most important thing I’m taking away from all of this is, though, that most of our celebrations are not without bias or historical washing to make things look favorable to us. It would be a pretty sick miracle if St. Patrick drove real snakes out of Ireland, despite the fact that it would probably mess up the food chain or the ecosystem pretty good. To most Americans, this could be the story, and it doesn’t matter if it’s real or not. But it’s my responsibility to educate myself so I can see beyond these glossed-over holidays.
I’m still going to wear green and stuff. But the leprechauns are definitely going to get more glory from me than this questionable Christian dude.