So, as providence would have it, my first Saturday back from my photo experience, falls on St. Patrick’s Day, a bittersweet day for me as an Irish Pagan. I am both culturally and spiritually an Irish Pagan, having been told stories of the little people, the pooka, selkies, and – of course – Winkin, Blinkin, and Nod as a child and having found my patron and patroness through the great Cycles (groups of sagas about different periods). As a child, I didn’t understand the meaning behind the St. Pat story – all I knew was that he drove the snakes out of Ireland, and with the way my mom would freak about snakes, I figured it wasn’t such a bad thing. Once a year, everything would be coated in green (then and now, one of my favorite colors) and Irish tunes would be piped through the speakers at nearly every store we visited. I love music (I say as classical flows from the local public radio station) and I have a fondness for folk music, so Irish folk music was especially fascinating. As I got older, I learned more and more about Ireland and fell more and more in love – at some point finding Nora Roberts and her love stories soaked in Ireland and the Irish. And once a year, everyone was Irish; it was magic.
And then, I discovered Paganism. And I discovered the Goddess, Danu, my patroness. And I discovered Brigid and the Morrigan, though they were distant and vague to me. And I discovered the Dagda, the Good God, my patron. And I discovered Mannanan and Dian Cecht, also distant and vague to me. And I found myself troubled – because St. Patrick was sainted for bringing Christianity to the Irish (actually, spreading Christianity, since there were already Christians in Ireland when Patrick arrived). So one of my favorite holidays was celebrating the end of the following of my new path. And it was still one of my favorite holidays, for the reasons that I had first fallen in love with it – you see, I’ve never lived in a heavily Catholic area, so the religious side was never part of it for me. And, of course, as I got older there was the fun of the drinking side of the holiday – and I am a fan of both Guinness and a good glass of Irish.
So what am I to do? I make March 17th my own day. I call it “Everybody’s Irish Day”, crank up Irish music (thank you, iHeartRadio!), maybe have some Guinness and Jamison (if I go to a bar, it’s kind of hard to drink it from a bottle after drinking it from a tap, you know?), and celebrate Ireland. I take some time to remember my Gods and the life they represented – a life of music and verse and honor; revelry and battle and passionate faith – that is still very much a part of the Irish identity. And one day, when I (hopefully) have children, I will use this day as a teaching day. I’ll celebrate the Irish snakes in Ireland and around the world.