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Blessings and Remembrance

     While today is traditionally a day of celebration, a day to toast the Irish and feast on corned beef and colcannon, my family takes a more serious approach. My husband and I are both of Irish descent, and yes, we'll cook our corned beef and pour the beer (not green, though...that's just weird) and play bagpipe music louder than usual, but we will do so not in honor of the venerable Saint Patrick, but instead in honor of the 'snakes' he drove out of Ireland: the Druids, the Priestesses, and the followers of the Old Ways that were murdered or driven from their homes.

     We remember and pay homage to the people who died for their faith, and the survivors who lived in terror, keeping their traditions in secret, so that today Pagans and Wiccans the world over can hold their heads up and proudly claim their places in the world. By all means, celebrate today as you have always done...please don't let me rain on your Saint Patrick's Day parade. (Ouch. That was a terrible pun. I humbly apologize.) In the midst of your celebrating, however, pause for a moment, and light a candle for the ones who came before, for the ones who fell, and the ones that continued on, despite all obstacles, so that we could be here today.

     Blessings to you on this All Snakes Day.

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  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Well said. I'll hoist a glass of Irish beer in remembrance of all the Pagan Irish who died of Christian sins.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Celebrating “All Snakes’ Day” March 17 as a protest against St. Patrick’s Day has become a sort of tradition among many of us Neo-Pagans. “He didn’t drive us all out!” is the sentiment, referring to the assumption that the “snakes” St. Patrick drove out were really symbols for the Druids. However, unlike most religions, Neo-Pagans are a relentlessly self-examining lot; we’re keenly interested in historical and archeological findings that may support or undermine the assumptions we’ve built our beliefs and practices upon. As a response, there’s a growing counter-movement to All Snakes’ Day based on two arguments: 1) St. Patrick wasn’t in fact the cruel, genocidal destroyer of Druids he’s been portrayed as, and 2) the snakes he allegedly drove out didn’t stand for anything; it’s just a fairy tale explaining why there aren’t any real snakes in Ireland.

Let’s start with Patrick’s reputation. Many Neo-Pagans see him as a sort of Hitler figure, responsible for the destruction of ancient temples, groves, and even many people who practiced the Old Ways. This is understandable, given that the mythology of St. Patrick credits him with battling, cursing, and killing non-believers in a heroic (or barbaric) way (depending on your perspective).

However, these myths have little factual basis, and seem to have been created long after Patrick’s death – a common impulse among hero-makers. As Jason Pitzl-Waters points out in The Wild Hunt blog, “Paganism thrived in Ireland for generations after Patrick lived and died, and, as [Pagan scholar P. Sufenas Virius] Lupus puts it, ‘the ‘final’ Christianization of the culture didn’t take place until the fourteenth century CE.’ There was no Irish pagan genocide, no proof of any great violent Druid purge in Ireland…”

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