Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Man Who Was Not Green

I will not be wearing green today. I will NOT celebrate St Patrick’s Day, today or any other year. No way!!

Do you know why?

Because if the legend is true, then Patrick was a stupid, ignorant man who for some misguided and utterly wicked reason decided to wipe out all the snakes in his native Ireland. What a senseless, idiotic thing to do. And he got sainted for that?

I love snakes. I have had some wonderful encounters with snakes in my life and I treasure every one of them. I respect snakes. I admire them. I want my world always to have snakes in all their glory, their sinuous, undulating beauty, their quiet, mind-your-own business way of getting on with their lives and avoiding messing with mine.

I have only ever had one intimate encounter with a rattlesnake. The snake saw me and rattled its rattle in warning. I obeyed. And I watched as it moved away through the grass, marvelling that for the first time in my life a rattlesnake had spoken personally to me.

In my book, Elderwoman, I told the story of the brown snake (one of Australia’s deadliest creatures) who once lived underneath the floor of our cabin in the Aussie bush, and how that snake was my Zen master, reminding me every day to be mindful, to step with awareness, to stay in the moment.

Yes, snakes are amazing. I love them. Ireland is very much the poorer for not having any. That Patrick was a very, very stupid man. And for messing with the ecosystem he was a sinner, not a saint. I am glad he is long gone.