Monday, March 17, 2008

St Patrick

St Patrick’s Day celebrates the bringing of Christianity to the Irish, but to some, it’s not a day to be cheery about.

What many people don’t know is that St Patrick brought about the destruction of an old religion: Paganism in Ireland.

Patrick was born in Roman Britain, but enslaved and sent to Ireland. He escaped and began training as a Catholic priest in France.

He then set about converting the Pagans of Ireland to the new faith.

The story of his banishment of the snakes doesn’t refer to the reptile, but to the Druids and pagans of Ireland. The snake is a symbol of the Pagans.

What's of more interest, is that he used Pagan ways to do it. For example, he used the three leaf clover (Shamrock) - another symbol of paganism - to represent the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost to teach about the Holy Trinity. To pagans, it represents the three faces of the Goddess: maiden, mother and crone.

And he used cruel 'magic', but justified it as the only way to bring the pagans into christianity: In his struggle to discredit the Druid elders and gain the confidence and later the souls of the Irish population, he was (in his own words) forced to "curse their fertile lands, so that they became dreary bogs; to curse their rivers, so that they produced no fish; to curse their very kettles, so that with no amount of fire and patience could they ever be made to boil; and as a last resort, to curse the Druids themselves, so that the earth opened and swallowed them up." The Sacred

In the pagan calendar, Ostara - the Spring Equinox - arrives on March 21 (not co-incidentally, Good Friday). Legend also has it that Patrick arrived on Tar Hill and lit the ritual fire for Ostara before the Druids could get there; a desecration of the pagan religion.

The deliberate timing of this event, and others throughout the Christian calendar was designed to subvert the pagan religion by placing Christian holidays on or near important pagan days of celebration. It also served to demonize paganism. Christmas is also the Summer Equinox, or Yule, Halloween is Samhain, for example.

Yet... paganism is a religion of peace and balance with nature. Patrick's brutal suppression of Celtic pagans and was a part of future oppression perpetrated by a patriarchal organisation against a matriarchal organisation and those who would not submit.

So, no St Patrick's Day celebrating in this household. Paganism has been around for thousands of years; it was here before Christianity, and will survive Christianity.

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