by Melanie Marquis
(From Llewellyn’s Witches’ Calendar 2014)
Stone: Aquamarine, Jade, Bloodstone • Animal: Wolf or Cougar, Whale
Flower: Jonquil (aka daffodil, narcissus) • Ruling Planet: Neptune, Jupiter
Saint Patrick’s Day draws mixed reviews from modern Pagans. While some see it as a harmless celebration of Irish culture and possibly a good excuse to let loose and party, others see it as an offensive nod to aggressive Christianization and the violent oppression of Paganism. After all, Saint Patrick is known for his aggressive, evangelicizing-with-a-sword ways — so he’s not exactly the coven’s little darling. Not by a long shot! Perhaps exacerbating this feeling is the fact that many people also believe that the legend of Saint Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland is actually an allegory for his alleged destruction of Celtic and Druid culture, with its prevalent serpent symbolism. This theory is widely disputed, however, and it’s generally accepted by today’s scholars that the snakes of the legend were meant to be either real-life snakes or a metaphor for the staff of Moses or Aaron.
Whether the snakes of Saint Patrick’s legend were Pagans, actual snakes, or Yahweh’s own magick wand does nothing to change the indisputable fact that post-Ice Age Ireland has never had a single snake, or the other indisputable fact that Paganism continued to thrive in Ireland despite the efforts of Patrick and those who came before him and after him. Sure, we Pagans have been backed into the shadows, beaten down, and trodden on, but nevertheless, we survive. This survival gives us a cause to celebrate, and Saint Patrick’s Day is a great opportunity to do so.
The late and great Pagan author and Archdruid Isaac Bonewits jokingly created a new holiday to substitute for Saint Patrick’s Day — the holiday All Snakes Day, encapsulated in Isaac’s slogan, “Bring Back the Snakes!” I, for one, believe we should carry on this tradition.
If you’d like to celebrate All Snakes Day this March 17, consider performing this ritual dance in honor of the tenacity and inextinguishable pride of snakes and Pagans everywhere.
Snakes Ritual Dance
Begin with participants standing in a circle, hand in hand. Designate someone to act as the leader of the dance, and have them stand in the east quarter, or three-o’clock position. Place musicians around the outside perimeter. As the musicians start to play, the circle begins to rotate clockwise to the melody. After three complete rotations are made, returning the leader of the dance to their original position at the three-o’clock point — let’s call this position the “midpoint” — the leader should then let go of the hand of the person to their left. This breaks the circle, the dance continues on around in a now counterclockwise rotation, back to the midpoint and then on around in a new, now clockwise rotation, guiding the dancers movements in the form on an infinity symbol, or horizontal figure 8. The rotations are repeated as the music continues to build and the energy of the ritualists continues to rise. When the leader of the dance feels that the time is right, instead of changing directions at the midpoint, the circle is instead continued around clockwise, in a large circumference that brings the leader back to hold the hand of the person originally to their left, returning the circle to its original form. Intentions are set, and the magickal energy is then released toward the aim of bringing continued strength to Pagans and snakes around the world.
Posted on March 1, 2014, in Wicca and tagged Aaron, All Snakes Day, aquamarine, Archdruid, bloodstone, cougar, daffodil, dance, Druids, Ireland, Isaac Bonewits, jade, jonquil, Jupiter, March, marcissus, Moses, Neptune, Pagans, ritual, Saint Patrick, serpent, snakes, whale, wolf, Yahweh. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.