Blog changes

In an effort to get this blog back on track I have simplified it, deleted some of the attached one-topic blogs
and focused on Sabbats and Esbats, which was the original intent.
Other writings will be in 'stumbling upon the path of the goddess'
and the Borrowed Book of Charms is still active.
Links in the right hand column.

Monday, March 16, 2009

ah, Saint Paddy!

Probably born Maewyn Succat, later known as
Patrick, Patricius Daorbae, Palladius, Naomh Pádraig, early 5th century Briton (?), educated in Gaul, first Bishop to Ireland

St. Patrick's Day has become a way for expat Irishmen and their descendants to celebrate their roots. It has also become a day to wear green, claim to be part Irish and drink green beer.
Nothing wrong with any of that.

As a Catholic child I was taught how Patrick saved the Irish from their pagan ways and drove the snakes out of Ireland.

As an adult I discover that while Patrick may have baptized the thousands that he claimed, most went cheerfully back to their pagan ways. My grandfather, who was Catholic and an Irish immigrant, had as much belief in the 'old ways' as in the Church...1500 years later.

As for the snakes, Ireland never had any. But Patrick had a running verbal battle with the Druids and used the symbol of a snake to represent them in his letters. He felt his lack of formal education in Church doctrine put him at a disadvantage when debating with the Druids and mentions this in his letters.
Patrick's references to the Druids makes for an interesting historical puzzle. Patrick is believed to have been in Ireland in the early 5th century and there is some historical data to support this. The Druids were supposedly disbanded, destroyed or run into hiding in the 1st century by the early Roman excursions into Ireland. So is the Patrick who wrote about Druids a different person than the Patrick in Church records? There is some debate along the lines that there actually were two people later identified as Patrick, one in the 1st century and one in the 5th. Or were the Druids a little less extinct than reported? Or did Patrick mistake another group for Druids?

At any rate, running the snakes out of Ireland was probably just spin by the bishops in central Europe.

And speaking of them, they were often known to chastise Patrick, which didn't exactly make his status with the people any easier. It may have centered around his ability to talk women of status and property into going into the nunnery, which may have had something to do with Patrick's personal supply of funds. But he was known to be generous to the poor, so rumors were never investigated.

One legend about Patrick says that he was known to carry an ash walking stick. When he would address a crowd he would drive the stick into the ground where he stood. He would speak for so long that the walking stick would take root.

Taking the Church's history of Patrick out of the equation, he apparently was well known, well liked, and considered somewhat harmless. He may have baptized thousands and begun the Catholic take over of Ireland, but no one there was quick to throw the old gods or the old ways out the door. And many will tell you that the old gods never left.


  1. Interesting history lesson. I know little about this subject and enjoyed your commentary :-)

  2. Thank for this. I also learned from it.

  3. St Patrick is always interesting .



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