As I began to ponder the subject of “Saint Patrick” and what his relevance is in modern day Ireland and the world at large, I have to be honest, it brought up all sorts of triggers for me. What came up lies somewhere between my deep love and reverence for our ancient indigenous traditions and beliefs and my passion for the protection and empowerment of women.
For millennia in Ireland’s history, especially within the Church, women have been marginalized, suppressed, abused and ignored. There is now a visceral revolt against this suppression, generational gender bias and downright abuse, resulting in a powerful resurgence and reverence for the Divine Feminine in our modern day Ireland. For example, my heart explodes with pride to see the reverence and adoration we now have for our Matron Saint and Triple Goddess, Brigid, among other Celtic Goddesses, especially in our younger generations. In fact, it was just announced last month that February 1st, St Brigid's Day, will now be a National holiday in Ireland from 2023 onwards. (About flippin’ time, you will hear many of us say!)
The story we heard as kids was that in 432 AD, a 16-year-old child, “Patrick’, was sold into slavery to Ireland and spent six cold, long years on the moors tending sheep. He then escaped and fled to France where he became a Catholic priest, then a bishop, and came back to Ireland after having a dream that he was instructed to do so. He then banished all the “snakes” and converted the “Heathen/Pagan” Irish to Christianity. So while there are some facts in here, there is also some creative embellishment.
First of all, Ireland never had snakes. Our climate was/is too cold. For the record, there were no sheep either at this time, so he would have been a goat herder. His real name was Magonus Saccatus. He wasn’t Irish. He was the well-to-do son of either Scottish or Welsh parents. He was given the name Patercius or Patricius (meaning father of his people) by Pope Celestine, who tasked him with converting the Indigenous Celtic people to Christianity.
The renowned Holy mountain now known as Croagh Patrick, where he reportedly cast all the reptiles into the sea, was already a Pagan pilgrimage site named Cruchàn Aigli (translated as Eagle Mountain) and associated with the Celtic Pagan Sun God, Lugh. When I was growing up during the 60's and 70’s in Ireland, we were taught that Pagan meant you didn’t believe in God! Heathen/Pagan had the same negative connotation and is still grossly misunderstood today. I’ve recently learned through the amazing work of author and witch, Danielle Dulsky, that heathen means “of the Heath”…basically revering and honoring the land. These historically maligned words are actually terms to describe Earth-based Spirituality.
So where did the story of banishing the snakes come from? Could it be that in actuality the snakes represented the revered pagan symbol, the Kundalini Feminine Shakti energy, and that it had to be eradicated at all costs?
As New Earthlings, when we ruminate and think about this man on the day he died in 461 AD, what is his place today? What was his role back then?
Was he operating under the dogmatic Roman Empire or was he a man of the land working and walking beside the Druids of the day? Did he really burn 150 of their books as the story is told? But hang on a second, the Druids handed down their traditions and teachings by word of mouth, not through books!