St. Patrick’s Snakes

The dark side of the Irish holiday held on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day

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St. Patrick’s Snakes

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March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day, a holiday commonly thought to be a celebration of Irish heritage. But St. Patrick’s day is darker than shamrocks, leprechauns, pots of gold, and talismans of luck. St. Patrick’s Day is truly a celebration of the spread of Christianity throughout Ireland and the subjugation and conversion of the Pagan Celts. In Irish myths, it is stated that St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland and received fame from this action. Pagan author Isaac Bonewits states: “He did not banish the snakes: Ireland never had any. Scholars now consider snakes a metaphor for the serpent of paganism.” These snakes are not meant to be taken in a literal sense, but instead, refer to the Pagan symbol and the Druid priests.

For modern Pagans, St. Patrick’s day is not a day of celebration; they see St. Patrick as committing cultural genocide and celebrating him is like celebrating Hitler. Although St. Patrick is seen as the symbol of Ireland and the one who “Christianized” Ireland, this reputation can be seen as overrated, as the process of conversion took hundreds of years with many before and after his arrival in Ireland in 432 C.E. St. Patrick did not physically drive the Pagans from Ireland, but spread Christianity around England and helped the conversion of an entire country to new religious beliefs. In the writing of St. Patrick’s life, there are many pages of him dueling Druids left and right, killing those who oppose him cruelly, but the popular knowledge is blind about him driving the Druids out, even though every other page in the writing is proclaiming it proudly.

The celebrations held on St. Patrick’s day are misguided from the dark truth. So when you are dressing up on March 17 and celebrating “Irish Heritage”, keep in mind those who were forced to give up their culture due to St. Patrick.

 

Works Cited

“Pagans and Saint Patrick’s Day: The Real Meaning of the Holiday.” Pagan Centric. N.p., n.d. Web.

Pitzl-Waters, Jason. “Saint Patrick, Druids, Snakes, and Popular Myths.” Patheos. N.p., n.d. Web.

Wigington, Patti. “St. Patrick and the Pagan Snakes of Ireland.” About Religion. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2015.