|An Alternate St. Patrick's Day Bead Pattern|
Saint Patrick is, as we know, the Patron Saint of Ireland, and on the 17th of March each year, his Feast Day is celebrated. As a child, I remember making shamrocks in school, wearing green, pinching those not wearing green, and sometimes watching a parade on TV. I knew nothing of the ancient lore attached to the Catholic Saint Patrick, nor of the deeper meaning of the things he was said to accomplish. I did, however, notice that his special day had grown from one of many feast days of the Saints into one of a day of celebration for nearly everyone in the Western world.
So, during my childhood, I began to learn more about this Saint, and what he had done to achieve Sainthood. I read about how he had stood on the hilltop now known as Croagh Patrick, held his staff aloft, and ordered all of the snakes out of Ireland. And, even thought this was way before the days of environmental awareness, I can remember wondering why this was necessary. Were all of the snakes poisonous? Were they biting and killing the people or animals? Eating crops? Did he just hate snakes? How did the snakes understand the order he gave them? Do snakes even have ears? What was up with this?
Of course, all this kept me wondering about Saint Patrick over the years. Not enough to cause an obsession, but certainly enough to make me think of it now and then. Finally, once I was able to read the books contained in libraries other than those on the dusty stacks of what passed for a library in my rural childhood town, I finally learned the real meaning of Saint Patrick and the snakes. Well, ok, so maybe it was a bit more of an obsession that I thought, but it was just such a mystery to me.
So, once I got out into the wide world and began reading more, I learned that Saint Patrick was, of course, a devout Christian, who had ended up in Ireland when it was still Pagan. Of course, in the times of Paganism, there were many small groups of devout, specific to their own local or particular gods and goddesses, but the largest and most powerful amongst them was the Druid priesthood. Nowadays, the Druids are best known for the Stonehenge monument in England, which people have come to think of as a Druid church. Although Stonehenge may have been used for some form of worship at certain times of the year, it was really more of a calendar, as the Druids worshipped outdoors, usually in groves of oak trees, preferring a natural setting as opposed to anything made by human hands. Not much is known about the Druids, as they left no written records that we know of, and due their reverence for Nature, identified themselves with serpents. Because serpents and snakes had held a place of honor and had long been considered magically powerful animals, the Druids became popularly known as The Serpents of Wisdom.
As for Saint Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland, well, there never were any snakes in Ireland to begin with; no snake species have ever been discovered as being indigenous to Ireland, which explains why there are none living there now. What St. Patrick did do, was to put an end to Paganism in Ireland, and begin converting the Irish people to Christianity. While that was probably inevitable, I like to keep the memory of the more ancient, Earth loving Druids on this day of celebration. I like the symbolism in this bead pattern, as it incorporates the serpent, the acorn and the beautiful green of Ireland in one place, I feel that it conveys respect to both Christian and Pagan Ireland. With the addition of a few pearls, as Irish pearls were once considered the finest in the world, this bead pattern makes a beautiful Amulet bag. Perhaps the following traditional Irish blessing written on a bit of parchment would be a proper item to place in this Amulet bag, substituted, of course with the name of your particular deity in the proper place:
May luck always be on your side. May the road rise up to meet you, and the wind be always at your back. May the Sun shine warm upon your face, may the Rain fall soft upon your fields. And, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.