Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick and The Cosmic Serpent

Happy St Patrick's Day!

As I have no known Irish credentials I was going to give today a miss posting-wise, until I read a piece on the legend of St. Patrick by blogger Chris Weigant written in 2010, but he linked back to it yesterday. In a nutshell Mr Weigant explained that the legend of St. Patrick ridding Ireland of snakes is, of course, a metaphor. The snakes were not real snakes but images of snakes allegedly carried (as tattoos?) on the arms of Druids who were, in effect, Ireland's priesthood before the coming of Christianity. St. Patrick, via the legend, is being credited with ridding Ireland of Druidic influence, so that Christianity could flourish.

That tidbit of information reminded me of something else I'd read earlier in the week at Cherie's Place, the blog of Cherry Pie who mentioned a book titled The Cosmic Serpent by Jeremy Narby. Putting two and two together - and I hope not making five and a half - perhaps what the Druids carried on their arms was an image of the Cosmic Serpent, symbolic snake representing the DNA of life? The cosmic serpent is found as a symbol in shamanism all over the world, according to Jeremy Narby.


Anonymous said...

GP: I once received a green tie. Did not overly like it, think I put it on only 2/3 times. But, by "accident" (???), it once happened on a 17th of March. I would not have realised the connection, had not an Irish/American
collegue pointed it out to me.

We have green snakes around here, living mostly in trees, feeding on birds - but they can grow to more then 2 meters of lenght. And contrary to what some locals say they are very poisonous. Only difference, their conduits are not in front, but in the back of their mouth. And who would put his finger into their throat? So, in practice they are not poisonous, for humans at least. St. Patrick may have been misinformed there...

CherryPie said...

Thank you for the link back :-)

I had not heard about St Patrick and the snakes before today - when several Bloggers mentioned it...

I too feel that the snakes are not real and are a metaphor.

Twilight said...

Anonymous/Gian Paul ~~
EEWWW - snakes feeding on birds? That sounds gross!

What if St. Patrick hadn't visited Ireland? The Druids would have survived. The Romans didn't ever go there, so it'd be an even more interesting land now. ;-)

Twilight said...

Cherry Pie ~~ Yes -I suspect that metaphors abound in religious doctrine, and elsewhere, in stories from the distant past. More than some of us would care to imagine, probably.

James Higham said...

Was there not some legend about how to spot snakes in Ireland?

Twilight said...

James ~~~ I'm not aware of one (but that doesn't say a lot!)
If there is, it too could possibly be a metaphor:
snakes = pagans/Druids ?