For a brief moment Saint Patrick’s Day appears to be a Pagan holiday with its Celtic themes, shamrocks, leprechauns and rainbows but the reality is that it is the exact opposite. This is why many Pagans are very strict about knowing what you are celebrating before you start decorating.
So what is Saint Patrick’s Day really about?
This is the religious celebration that happens each year on March 17th that was created by the Catholic Church and made an official holiday in the early 17th century. It is said that Saint Patrick died this date in the fourth century. In modern times it is often viewed as nothing more than a celebration of Celtic heritage, specifically the Irish, but there is far more to it than that and that is what we, as Pagans, should be mindful of. The history of who Saint Patrick actually was is rather dark and disturbing, a far cry from the leprechauns and bright rainbows used to decorate for today’s celebrations.
Most of what we know today about Saint Patrick comes from a document called the Declaration which is said to have been written by Saint Patrick. He was born in the fourth century into a wealthy Romano-British family who had strong ties to the church and were active members, his Grandfather was said to have been a priest. In the Declaration Saint Patrick claims to have been kidnapped at the age of 16 by Irish raiders and kept as a slave. He stated that he was kept for six years and that while he was enslaved he found God. For a man who was raised in the church with a Grandfather as a priest it seems rather odd that he would need to find his God while living among the Pagans of ancient Ireland. In his Declaration he claims that God told him to leave and he was able to make it home unscathed but he would return later.
His document goes on to state that he returned to Ireland to convert the Pagans to Christianity. In the Declaration he says that he taught the Pagans about the Holy Trinity by using the three leaves of the clover. To a practitioner of any of the Abrahamic religions this might seem wise but not to the Pagan. Pagans had been using trinity symbols for many thousands of years before the creation of any of the Abrahamic religions. Saint Patrick claims to have converted thousands of Pagans to Christianity and today there are many Catholic and Christian churches in Ireland but how did he actually accomplish any of it?
How it all happened is up for much controversy and it is said that he was only successful on the northern parts of Ireland. One theory revolves around the tale of Saint Patrick driving the snakes from Ireland into the sea and drowning them but there were never any snakes in Ireland. So what is that all about? It is common practice for the Abrahamic religions to tell the people that they wish to convert that their gods are actually evil serpents or snakes that are out to do them harm. Those that don’t follow along like good sheep are then also cast as being the snakes within the village. Wondering what Mr. Patrick drove into the ocean and drown? You wouldn’t be alone if you are. It has long been suspected that what he drove into the ocean were the Pagans that refused to convert. There are also many tales of vicious torture, enslavement, burnings and other such horrors done to the Pagans either by Saint Patrick himself or those that he employed.
Sadly, it has been too long for anyone to know the full truth of it but based on Saint Patrick’s own tales of converting the Pagans, that includes the tales of driving the snakes into the ocean and drowning them, it is easy to conclude what he really did. So as we approach a holiday in his honor you can drink your green beer and eat boiled cabbage and corned beef but keep in mind what you are actually celebrating.