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.


Carla said...

Thanks for this post,Marian. The photo is exquisite and your words comfort me. I have long been afraid of snakes but in recent years I have come to appreciate and even love them (from afar!). Yes, I love the message that we are to be mindful in each moment. Thank you!

Vagabonde said...

I agree with you. I visited a wildlife refuge in Florida a month ago and saw some beautiful snakes. Actually they placed one around my neck – it felt heavy and cold (here if you like to see: I think that when people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, at least in the US, they don’t celebrate the saint, they just celebrate Ireland in general, having a good time and drinking (a lot.)

Elderwoman said...

Carla I think fear of snakes is very common. As is fear of spiders (Vagabonde, if either my daughter or my sister saw that picture you took of the tarantula on Aneth's hand they would freak out). There are heaps of theories about why so many people fear these particular creatures but I am not sure I believe any of them. My only phobia is leeches. Luckily there are none round here.
Yes, I am sure nobody actually celebrates Patrick. we should simply re-name it Guinness Day. I'd drink to that!

Juli said...

I have never celebrated St Patrick's day, for a different but same reason. Some scholars believe that the snakes were not literal snakes but pagan people who believed differently. Either way, 2 legged or no legged, we all have a sacred right to live :)

Snake medicine is very powerful stuff and something we all need in our lives. The ability to shed old ways and become new again.

Whatever the case for St. Patrick, I feel sorry for him that he was unable to see Creators hand in all of Gaia's children.

You have a beautiful blog and truly wonderful photos and stories. I feel blessed to have found it.

Elderwoman said...

Thanks, Juli. Yes, you are so right about the importance of snake medicine. And yes, the poor snakes have had to carry some heavy human projections over all these millennia. It started with that stupid Eden story and it hasn't gotten much better for them. No wonder they mostly slither out of sight and try to keep a low profile!!

Teren said...

Hmmm, Marian. I understand your reaction, but the tale of St. Patrick and the snakes is one concocted by the church, probably centuries after his death. (In fact, it seems post-glacial Ireland had no snakes, to the wonder of scientists.) Maybe this is a fine point, in that Patrick did return to Ireland (after having been enslaved there) to bring Christianity to it. And Christianity as developed by the Church is completely antagonistic towards women - ain't no doubt about it! But from the few accounts available to us about St. Patrick it seems he was a decent man who devoted his life to helping others, as he understood it. Kinda hard to be angry with him.

So, I'd rather go on record placing the responsibility for vilification of snakes - an ancient symbol associated with women's wisdom! - and women with the Church and its seemingly boundless hostility.

May the human race return to the realization that everything and all are sacred.

Many thanks to you for your site!

Elderwoman said...

Right on, Teren!!

Tess said...

So Marian, don't beat around the bush about St Patrick, say what you really think!! ;-)

I agree, of course, and I found Juli's comment very interesting, I didn't know that.

5 Kids With Disabilities said...

I never really knew why St. Patrick was so famous! My son is obsessed with snakes and the most amazing thing I've ever seen was his 10 foot albino boa constrictor laying 22 eggs last Easter morning!
Lindsey Petersen

PEACE said...

Ah, just a blustery day in Vegas...getting ready to make the trek to Phoenix and see the mighty Mayo Clinic doctors, thought I would check in on my favorite blog and be uplifted from the wisdom of the Elderwoman sage! Wishing you a wonderful day!

Unknown said...

Wow. It is very good.

Unknown said...

Its nice.