I propose we rename March 17th "Saint Baldrick's Day". Instead of getting
hammered on “Saint Patrick’s Day” (and waking up disheveled, disoriented, and obscurely ashamed for reasons you pray you will never remember), do something nice instead and contribute a few pence at www.stbaldricks.org . Then go get hammered.
That is the only warm-fuzzy sentiment you will find in this piece, so enjoy it. On to the meditation ...
“Patrick” (real name, Magonus Succetus) was the worst thing that ever happened to Ireland and the Irish. Succetus was a cultural imperialist and bitter revanchist, an angry man who took a perfectly fine, vibrant culture and befouled the place with a weird, groveling, guilt-obsessed, master/slave middle-eastern death cult.
First let’s be clear. Succetus wasn’t Irish, he was a Romanize Briton. He came from privilege, but his life changed forever when, as a teen, he was captured by Irish raiders and dragged off to Ireland as a human slave. We can’t imagine the kind of life he would have led as a shepherd out in the hills. Often cold, usually wet, months at a time seeing not a single human being, no decent clothing to wear, very little food, and subject to random beatings and the hundred and one daily abuses and degradations to which human slaves have been subject throughout history. What did Succetus think about during those endless cold nights alone out on the pastures? The stories claim he thought about how, if he could just escape, he could bring these poor pagan Irish to The One True Faith. This is nonsense: it presumes a model of human behavior that has never been in evidence, especially among those known as “saints.” What Succetus thought about for those years in slavery was the same thing we would all think about in identical circumstances: revenge. Eventually making his way to the coast and from there back to home, he found the perfect weapon for his revenge: Christianity. This middle-eastern religion made it easy for Succetus, and when he returned to Ireland to “convert the heathens,” his quiver was full. The Celtic Triskellion? Why, that’s a representation of The Trinity! The god Lugh, born of a divine father and a human mother? Well, that’s none other than a pointer to Our Lord And Savior! Tir Na Nog, the blessed isles where the dead go to rest and refresh themselves? What else could that be but Heaven! My ancestors – very brave but perhaps not as intellectually gifted as one might like – fell for Succetus’ bullshit hook, line and sinker. And so the culture and the soul of Ireland were changed utterly.
Let me tell you about a place out in the west of Ireland, a place that shows exactly what Succetus did to the Irish.
Croach Aigle (now called “Mount Patrick”) is a small mountain or a big hill, depending on who you ask. In pre-Christian times, the people would dance and amble up the slopes singing their old songs. Once they reached the top, the pilgrims would have revels and celebrations in honor of Lugh (and before him, in honor of Crom Cruach). As one of his main orders of business, Succetus climbed the mountain and “exorcized” the “demons,” turning it into a Christian pilgrimage site. However, the Christians do not dance their way joyously to the top: they trudge up, flagellating themselves (verbally and physically), riddled with sin and guilt and terror of eternity in a lake of fire. Even today, many Christian pilgrims walk to the top barefoot; every now and then, one of them will crawl all the way to the top on hands and knees. All in the interests of degrading themselves before their god, who apparently is pleased by such behavior. If any single thing brings into sharp relief the difference between the old, indigenous faith and the new middle-eastern faith that Patrick brought to Ireland, the difference in attitude as the faithful climbed the holy mountain to meet their respective gods is it.
I plan to visit Ireland and walk up that hill before I die. There will be no flagellation or wails of guilt and cries for salvation to some alien middle-eastern sky god, I assure you.