Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day...

Legend of one the Patron Saints of Ireland
St. Patrick

Approaching the Vernal Equinox of
March 21st

Today marks the Feast of Maewyn, better known to the world as St. Patrick, one of three patron saints of Ireland.

Maewyn was born in Wales around the year 385 to wealthy parents. At the age of the 16 he was abducted by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland. There, he lived as a slave for six years, finally escaping to return to his family after hearing a voice, which he believed to be God in a dream, telling him it was time to leave Ireland. This journey back home was an arduous walk of nearly 200 miles to the coast and beyond to Britain.

After his escape, Patrick then experienced yet another revelation in which he saw and heard an angel in his dream tell him that he would return to Ireland as a missionary. Up until this point, he had considered himself a pagan, but after this dream, he began his religious training which lasted some fifteen years. When finally ordained a priest, he was then sent to Ireland to minister to the Christians and to convert the Irish to Christianity.

Patrick was a wise man and realising that he needed to be able to "speak same language" of the people of Ireland, he chose to incorportate traditional ritual into his lessons of Christianity, thus encompassing and amalgamating the Irish beliefs with his own. For example, he used bonifres in his celebrations at Easter since the Irish honoured their gods at the time with fire. He also joined the Sun (an ancient and powerful Irish symbol) to the Christian cross, thus creating what we now refer to as the Celtic Cross.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Patrick became quite popular with the people and had many pagans add to and often change their ideals and beliefs. There were
a group of Celts that found this disturbing, so as is usual for any pioneer, he had his enemies amongst the Celtic Druids. The legend goes that Patrick was indeed arrested many times, but always managed to escape. On his travels throughout Ireland for nearly 30 years, he set up schools, churches and monasteries. He ended his life on March 17, 461 after some years in retirement, and March 17 has been celebrated as St. Patrick's Day ever since.

One traditional icon of St. Patrick's Day (and indeed of Ireland itself) is the Shamrock, or Irish Clover. Legend has it that St. Patrick used the three leafed clover to illustrate the Holy Trinity and how Father, Son and Holy Ghost were all separate elements of the same entity. Thus, his followers adopted the fashion of wearing shamrocks on St. Patrick's Day.
Today we are three days away from the Vernal Equinox/Spring Solstice of March 20, one of only two days in one calendar year where for a moment in time the center of the Sun can be observed to be directly above the Earth's equator. Get out your glad rags - it's soon time to celebrate Spring and Mother's Earth awakening from her winter slumber...and then we get to celebrate Easter!

As we approach Springtime with joy and hope, I wish you each today, the "Luck of the Irish" for years to come.


and to Wikipedia for the photo of St. Patrick:

No comments: