Sunday, March 13, 2016


Here it comes, Saint Patrick's Day. In the past, I've covered a number of interesting facts about Ireland's patron saint, from him being English (basically) to supposedly having ongoing wars with the Druids. But there is only one thing I wish to pontificate about this time around.


Yes, snakes and the lack thereof.

Ireland doesn't have snakes. Ireland NEVER had snakes post- ice age. In fact the only lizard found on the isle is this little guy, right here:

He's called a common lizard. Cute little guy, no? Here he is, all green for the holiday.

And here he is, waving at' cha...awwh...

So, why the “drove the snakes out of Ireland” crap? The Church Fathers had to come up with SOME reason for our lack of slithering things, so why NOT Patrick?

It was only later that some “bright lights” decided it was a metaphor for driving the Druids and Pagans off the sacred land. Yeah? News alert: we're still there. We weren't compelled to run willy-nilly off the Cliffs of Moher, like a swarm of demented lemmings. We didn't jump in a fleet of currachs off the shores of Bull Island saying, “I hear Gaul is nice this time of year.” No! Still there. Hell, even Irish Catholicism is just Paganism with pews, and a lot more bells.

So, why the story? Well, snakes are evil, Old Path things, right? It was the snake in the garden of Eden that caused the downfall of Man, and let's not forget the ancient stories! Look at Medusa, and the other Gorgons. THEY were evil, and their hair was composed of living snakes! Oh, by the way...

Moses turned the staffs of Pharaoh's sages into snakes. That had to show that they were “dark hearted”. I found this little tid-bit on a Bible site:

The prophets liken the wicked to those who “hatch viper’s eggs” (Isaiah 59:5), to “a serpent [who] has swallowed us . . . and then has spewed us out” (Jeremiah 51:34), and to those who “will lick dust like a snake” (Micah 7:17). The poetic books speak of evil men making “their tongues as sharp as a serpent's; the poison of vipers is on their lips” (Psalm 140:3), of liars having “venom . . . like the venom of a snake, like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears, that will not heed the tune of the charmer, however skillful the enchanter may be” (Psalm 58:4–5), and of alcohol eventually biting “like a snake and poison[ing] like a viper” (Proverbs 23:32). Jesus and John the Baptist both condemned the hypocrisy of the Pharisees by calling them a “brood of vipers” and “snakes” (Matthew 3:7; 12:34; 23:33).
  Oooh...nasty... So if snakes are evil, and Pagans are evil, and Patrick fought against the Druids and Pagans, then he must have won because God was on his side. Therefore snakes equal dispossessed Pagans and such, forced to flee.


Don't know about you, but I resent being called a snake. And my family wasn't driven off by anything.. not by Patrick, not by famine, and not by the bloody English. A few came to the States to build a better life. That's it. Only motivation.

Isaac Bonewits, Druid and founder of Ár nDraíocht Féin, proposed that Saint Patrick's Day should be renamed “All Snakes Day”. He even wrote his own lyrics to that old chestnut “A Nation Once Again”. (You can go on YouTube and find a slew of groups singing it, if you're interested in the tune.) Here are the lyrics, in part:

When childhood's fire was in my blood, I dreamed of ancient dreemen,
Against the Church who boldly stood, as Pagans and as Heathen.
And then I prayed I yet might see, the Druids in the glen,
And Ireland long the churches' toy, be Pagan once again!
Be Pagan once again, be Pagan once again,
And Ireland long the churches' toy, be Pagan once again!
The Old Gods only sleep you know, although betrayed and slandered.
They guarded us from every woe, and blessed each crop and fine herd.
Then Patrick, he drove the snakes away, and brought the churches in.
'Twas a bloody poor bargain, I would say -- let's be Pagan once again!
Be Pagan once again, be Pagan once again,
'Twas a bloody poor bargain, I would say -- let's be Pagan once again!

I didn't say they were GOOD lyrics. They're a bit rhythm-challenged, but he gets an “A” for effort.

Others have suggested that we use the day to honor some of our ancient cultural heroes. I like that idea!

Well, that's it...the end of my rant. Enjoy the 17th. I'm staying home, avoiding the parades, green beer and bagels, Shamrock Shakes (does Mickey D's still have those?), and corned beef and cabbage. I'll be watching “The Bloody Irish”. Look it up!

Oops! One more thing....Ireland does have this...

It's called a smooth newt (as opposed to the terribly clumsy newt). Cute little critter.

Finally, I wanted to leave you with a true Irish ballad. I could have picked “The Minstrel Boy” or “Mo Ghile Mear”, but I decided on this:


No comments:

Post a Comment