The Prize vs The Price: Where Saturn Asks Me “Would You Give up Love for Love?”

•January 14, 2019 • Leave a Comment

/One of the most significant romantic relationships of my life recently dissolved three weeks ago, and while it was inevitable, there were circumstances external to the relationship that I can’t help but feel affected things. Before I give you the story, I want to give you how I know it was significant. I think that should be honoured.

I know that it’s significant, because I know it’s over  and how naturally it came to accept that. I know that it’s significant because while I’m mourning the loss of a beautiful thing,  I haven’t lost sight of the other beautiful things in my life. I know that it it’s significant because I walked knowing that I was good enough, deserving enough, of all the love she has shown me. I know that it’s significant because while I might disagree with whether or not things could have ended differently, there’s no anger. I have seen Kimberley through the eyes of someone that she has hurt deeply and with my illusions torn asunder, but no desire for her to know joy, nor respect for her, nor friendship, nor genuine love for her, has been lost.  All of this is new to me. A week after the breakup, when I told her that she has changed my life for the better, It wasn’t hyperbole.

Now, I promised you a story, so here it is.

I have worked with all of the classical planets a fair amount, except one.  I have worked through 42 of the 49 spells contained in Jason Miller’s Advanced Planetary Magic. I have worked through all of it except Saturn. Saturn had always left me feeling cold and like I was in the presence of something huge and threatening. I avoided it like the plague, as well as working with any Saturnian energies for a very long time. I decided that if Saturn wanted with to work with those energies, then Saturn would tell me. In November, Saturn did exactly that.

Kimberley had travelled to India and Nepal, being a  beautiful soul with amazing lust for adventure. Upon her return I was greeted with a gift. A necklace with skull-shaped beads, not dissimilar to to mala beads. They were dedicated to Saturn, she had been told, and she had dipped them in the river to give them extra “power”. This was a gift that I treasure.  It was also immediately realised was telling me in no uncertain terms, that I needed to begin Saturn work. I couldn’t ignore it anymore.

Fast forward to December, a week before Christmas. Funds had gone to hell due to a few harsh circumstances and I had no gift for Kimberley, nor for Phoenix. Walking one day, I slightly tranced out and began to walk to a second hand store. I bought two old keys. One was presented to Phoenix, which I think triggered realisations about their own work.

The other, I decided, was to be used for something else entirely. My first Saturnian work.

A square of Saturn was prepared on paper. A sigil for travel was marked on it and the key placed there. A spell was enacted on the key, to unlock the door to opportunities in travel, to open doors that would normally be closed to her. For Christmas, the Key to Opportunity would be her gift.

I’m not really certain what happened as the spellwork was being performed, but I was being spoken to.

“There is a price for this work.”

“I know. I’ll pay it. But I pay it. Nobody else.”

“For her joy, what would you allow to be taken from you? What would you give up?”

“Take it and we’ll both know.”

A deal was done and a week later, my heart was broken.

I’d had a sense that I was living on borrowed time with regards to the relationship, for a few months, but I had ascribed it to fear and feelings of self-loathing that I had spent a lot of time to undo. When the deal was made, there was a sense that we wouldn’t last much longer. I don’t know whether Saturn sped up the process, or obstacles to it happening, or whether Saturn simply took my illusions about the relationship. I see things that were wrong, but I don’t feel disillusioned. When the dust had cleared, I pondered something. I asked myself if Saturn had actually  destroyed the relationship and I knew that it was a certainty, would I still do that piece of spellwork.  I can answer that, knowing what the freedom of travel and exploration means to Kimberley, yes. I would be willing to give that up.

With this knowledge, had Saturn asked me directly if I was willing to give up the relationship, it would take me a heartbeat to say “If you must, for her.”

It would take a second heartbeat to say “Take it if it brings her true joy.”

I don’t think that Saturn did affect the relationship, but I now know that the love I give is true. I told Kimberley at the beginning of our relationship that I would hang on too tightly, but I would gnaw my hand off if she felt trapped and now I know that it felt true because was true. I know the love I have to give and that it has value. I walked away being more than I was. That is a powerful feeling.

I would give up love for love and in time, I will find others, that, like Kimberley, are worthy of that kind of love.

Advertisements

Strokes Are Bastards, Positivity is Bullshit, and Other Things I Have To Tell You

•August 6, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Howdy folks.

 

As it says up there, strokes are bastards. I can confirm this as at the end of June, I had one. It does not come recommended. A blood clot hit somewhere in the right side of my brain andI’m not gonna lie, it caused some damage. That damage is repairing itself, but for a little while I was terrified that I wasn’t going to recover. Even now, I’m occasionally afraid that it has caused some damage somewhere it my head that I have no idea about, and I am going to fail in something as a result and hurt someone in the process. Right now, I’m trying to focus on my recovery and making brain work better than it did previously.

This has hit my confidence in a hugely unexpected way. Let me explain:
For most of my life I had been led to believe that death lurked around every corner, unless I did exactly as I was told and even then I was guaranteed a place among the living on the morrow. I could die in my sleep. I spent a very long time trying to shake this, and I finally managed to earlier this year. I hit a point where I wasn’t terrified that I wasn’t going to see my son become a man. I didn’t feel the need to bargain with my girlfriend for more time with her because the time that had was already borrowed. This kind of thinking. I had shaken it. I had WON. A few weeks later, I was unable to speak due to an event in my body that could have killed me.  That fear that had spent a decade telling myself was unrealistic, and had started to believe was unrealistic, had come to pass, undoing ten years of work.

It hit me hard.

Of all the things that it could have done to me, the stroke attacked the language centre of my brain. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t read. It took my words. It took my poetry. THAT was the thing that shattered me. Not being to properly tell Phoenix and Kimberley I love them broke my heart.All of these things and more aren’t really things that you can understand unless you’ve been there. It attacked one of the ways I connect most strongly with the world, one of the ways I do magick. Needless to say, I took it personally. Over a month later, I can speak better, but am nowhere near where I once was before the stroke. I can read better, and am close to where beforehand. With therapy, I am getting a lot better than I was previously.

I just have to push onward and keep going forward.

That sounds positive, but it isn’t the same as the advice that I sick of getting.

“Stay Positive”.

This is the kind of advice that people give when they have nothing to say but want to offer something. While yes, a positive outlook has definite value, this advice seldom comes from someone that understands chronic illness or trauma, and the mindsets that it can create. It’s also seldom about the person with the condition. People offer this advice because they don’t like to see someone suffering. It makes uncomfortable for a few reasons, one of which is the recognition that they are unable to help, which can lead to them feeling weak. It also doesn’t often  acknowledge the challenges ahead. Yes, a positive attitude can  have an impact on rehabilitation, but so can the sheer bloody-mindedness it takes to get to the end. For me, telling me to stay positive feels like victim -blaming. If a person doesn’t heal completely, and are a little down about it, someone with an asshole streak will argue that they didn’t stay positive enough. Don’t get me wrong: It can be an excellent fuel for therapy and rehabilitation, That said, said, so is determination. The difference for me is that determination doesn’t feel like the lie that “stay positive” feels like. Determination demands effort to go as far as I can and doesn’t tell that everything will be fine as long as I believe it hard enough. What determination DOES tell me is every success should be celebrated, because I fucking earned it, which can be a very powerful incentive to keep going.

I’m hugely grateful for the amazing people that have helped along in my day to day life and  I have to say that I wouldn’t have this Phoenix and Kimberley. The love and validation that they have shown me during the darker moments has been amazing. I think that I’m going to leave it there for now.

Southern Howler,

Signing out.

Trust Issues and More….

•May 1, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Hey folks.

If you read my last instalment, then you’re partially aware of just how messed up I am. The traumas aren’t the only thing that have contributed though. Not by a long shot.

I grew up spending a lot more time in hospital than the average kid. I have chronic asthma and wasn’t expected to live too long. For a while, there was talk of me having a heart-lung transplant if I made it to sixteen. I’m thirty five now and still have all my original organs.

Oops.

Despite my continued survival and slowly improving health, there’s a lot of programming that happens mentally to some kids when they’re chronically ill that still plagues me today. For me, because of the circumstances of my illness, part of it was a sense of not really belonging. Another part was, due to being treated as less than a person in a lot of respects, the idea of me being fully human simply doesn’t feel one hundred percent true to me.

These aren’t what I’m going to be talking about though.

I have some major trust issues. I am very good at convincing people that I’m open and candid and up to a point I am very much so. The thing is, that candidness is a misdirection tool. I won’t lie, but you won’t actually learn anything more about me than exactly what I want you to. It’s something that you learn when you want people to trust you but don’t want them to know too much about you in case they decide to hurt you with information later. For folks like me, it doesn’t matter if there is a legit reason for this or not. The fear is always there. When I hit sixteen and it became apparent to other people that I was suffering from depression, it got worse.

Now if you want to know just how toxic this can get, then read the next paragraph, but understand that for a few people (such as family members) this could hurt.

“I can’t trust the doctors as my health pays their bills, so their motives can’t be trusted. I can’t trust family as whatever poison is in me might be in them too. I can’t trust the people at school as they already treat me as an outsider. I can’t trust my friends as they already know I’m an outsider, so they must be waiting for the right time for something.”

These are the kinds of thoughts that hounded my head for a very long time and I still haven’t completely shaken. This isn’t because of any inherent fault of any of the people I’ve mentioned, but because of one simple line of insidious logic: If I couldn’t trust my body (because it was trying to kill me) and I couldn’t trust my mind, then there was nobody I could trust, was there?

It wasn’t until a young woman named Gloria reached out to me that I learned what it was to trust a person implicitly. Over sixteen years later, I still trust her. There aren’t many people that I do as much as I do her, even though we talk maybe once every six months or so.

Now, there are others that I’m letting in, slowly but surely. Giving them small parts of trust and hoping that they don’t abuse it. There are even a few spectacular individuals that I’ve trusted implicitly from the start. That doesn’t mean that the same dread of being wounded, or about being discovered isn’t there, or that the dread of the people I love leaving has gone anywhere. These are still major battles that are being fought in my head constantly and because of the downright insidious nature of them, getting help goes against every instinct I have. But for those people that I’ve let in, or found their way into my circle of trust, I’m doing it. Shit, I want my kids to know their Dad.

The posts that I’ve made in the last six months have been my way of challenging this. Slowly pushing past some of my programming and opening myself up further, despite the terror that comes with being exposed.  I want the people that I love to see all of me, so I have to do this.  It’s going to hurt and I’m going to fall down a lot while it’s happening, but the people I love, the beautiful people fall in love with, or those magnificent creatures that I fall into joy with are the perfect reasons to get back up and keep on going.

With all of this toxic programming keeping me in the dark for so long, I think it’s time to walk in the sun for a while.

Southern Howler,

Signing Out

Janie, the Black Armband, and my Current Mental Health

•April 27, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Hey folks

Friends on Facebook have been aware for a little while that my mental health hasn’t been great. As a result, I stepped back from a lot of the people that were in constant contact with me and made a concerted effort to not engage with a lot of people. I was emotionally burned out from life in general and as a result, wasn’t able to take the barrage of people needing or wanting my attention. It was one trickle in what was already a huge flood and I was already going through a lot (more on that another time).

After about three weeks of this, my brain started to repair itself. There was a lot of processing and a lot of relearning where my boundaries were.

The thing about healing is that it’s not always a straight line. I found myself in a place where for a little while, I could finally relax. So, one afternoon, in my girlfriend Kimberley’s, arms, where I felt safe, comfortable and loved, I started to remember things about my first girlfriend’s death that I spent a lot of energy forgetting. When it began, I went into shock again, but for the most part was fine. It was only later, walking home from the train station that I remembered everything.

I remembered eating little and drinking next to nothing over the second weekend in November of 1994, spending most of the weekend in my room, talking myself into a near frenzy before I’d created a memory that I could handle.

I remembered the car, going over what seemed like over a hundred, three doors down from Janie’s house.

I remembered being on the other side of the fence, spotting her. Shouting “Hi!” That feeling of simple happiness as I saw Janie while I crossed the oval. Seeing her there was a joyous surprise.

I remembered the moment of impact. The noise that couldn’t decide if it was a squelch or a snap. Watching the body of a barely thirteen year old girl shattered by a blue Ford on a Friday afternoon in November.

I remembered watching the girl that had given me my first kiss an hour beforehand die and the special kind of numbness that only shock and depression can bring.

I remembered my twelve year mind, having seen his first moment of true Hell deciding that if he hadn’t truly seen it happen, then maybe, somehow, she could be alive and in his broken, shock-addled brain, talking him into making it so.

I remembered the news getting to the school that a girl had been killed by a car nearby. I was so broken that I thought it was a surprise to me.

I’d carried that around for 22 years, without realising it. When that wall finally came down, I shattered again. It’s only now that I’m realising how badly, and how it set up the patterns for fear of loss. It’s also not the only tale of loss for tonight.

1998 was the year that I met the Black Armband. I’d spent a Saturday afternoon wandering around and came across some neonazi graffiti. Hating the Nazi Swastika with a passion, I decided to “fix” it, by turning it into a flower.

The only problem was that the Neonazis hadn’t actually left….

Being drunk enough to think that a curbstomping was a good idea, but still sober enough to be able to do so to a stupid sixteen year old kid, they tried to grab me and I ran. I ran the way that only someone being chased by Neonazis can run. Then, I started climbing fences. It was the third fence that had them catch up with me. It was also the third fence that had my salvation.

Four random strangers, one of whom lived where I’d more or less invaded, formed a line between me and my pursuers. Trying to get past, I saw one of my pursuers being kicked in the face by a woman a foot shorter. I then saw her being punched in the face, before my memory goes hazy. I remember being held down, but not because people were trying to do me harm. The Neonazis were gone and I was being side-eyed by one of the four, with a look of trepidation on his face, before the introductions were made. It was with Rusty, Dion, Lady Jane, and Franklin that I had my first taste of beer. I was nicknamed Mutt, because I’d shown up in their lives without dignity, but I seemed to be more or less unkillable.

They were The Black Armband and I honestly thought that they had a chance of making it big one day. Somehow, I ended up writing lyrics for whatever new stuff they wrote. One of my fondest memories is sitting around a fire in a metal bin, with Rusty strumming the guitar while we chatted and then breaking into Jeff Buckley’s rendition of Hallelujah. The way that the five of us came together was incredible. It was also the last time the five of us would.

A week later, Rusty had both of his arms broken while trying to fix a car. A fragment of bone made its way into his brain and he died from complications around that. With his hands shattered and no chance of ever playing the guitar again, I’m pretty sure that his soul had left him before the bone fragment hit his brain.

Franklin died of an intentional drug overdose two years later in 2001. A couple of hours beforehand, in a fit of spite, he told me that Rusty had been in love with me. With the amount of adoration and admiration that I had for Rusty, my life would have taken a rather different turn had I known this while Rusty was still alive.

Lady Jane and Dion died on their wedding night in 2006. They were deeply in love and had eloped to Vegas to get married, as Lady Jane was initially from Nevada. They’d taken a walk and had been gunned down by gangsters who had mistaken them for someone else. They died in love and they died together. That was the only mercy that the world showed the Black Armband.

Cut to the present day. I’ve outlived a lot of the people that I grew up with, due to the sheer amount of time I spent at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital. I’m only realising now how deeply all of this has cut me and how it’s affecting me now. It’s not just with a death in the family, or the passing of a friend that these wounds get revisited. It gets worse when the depressive states kick in, as this becomes amplified and I feel every moment all over again should it seem like someone might somehow step away from me. There’s a special kind of terror that for me, comes from knowing that somebody’s not going to be there anymore which is intensified, because they chose for it to be true. It feels like a death that continues because the person continues to be around after the “death” of sorts. This special kind of terror is something that I hope nobody who reads this will ever have to understand, but I think that way too many people recognise. Between this and low self-esteem, it’s a perfect storm of mental fuckery. It’s why while I’m fairly open up to a point, you’ll not get anything from me beyond that point until I choose to open up to you. For a lot of people, that day will never come. If I get too close, people might die, or worse, leave of their own volition.

All of this has contributed to the negative effects on my mental health and I’m doing something about it. I’ll be going into therapy soon, as these thought patterns have been playing a part in mentally and emotionally destroying me and I don’t want this to destroy the good relationships in my life. It’s already done that too many times.

I didn’t mean for all of this to come out, but fuck it. It’s caged me for too long. I’ve carried a lot of this for a long time and I’m tired and I think more than anything, I want people to understand why I’m exhausted.

Before I sign out, there’s a few people that I’d like to say something to.

Kimberley, you did the near fucking impossible and created a moment of safety where I could begin to remember. I hope that you can one day understand how grateful I am for that without ever being wounded enough to understand why that gratitude is there.

Phoenix, you were, are, and continue to be a miracle. You provided me with a haven when the memories of Janie came flooding back and with the exact balance of safety and space that I needed.

Laura, we met up for coffee and chats and you had no idea any of this was going on. You managed to make me feel human, hell, even GOOD, when I didn’t think that anything could, simply by who you are. You helped the healing to begin.

Tashie, you were there for me in a  way that I don’t think anybody else could ever have been. I have no words, except thank you.

For now, I think I’ve overshared enough.

Southern Howler, Signing Out.

Why I’m Polyamorous: Probably the Most Honest I’m Able To Be With People I Don’t Know (Plus a Statement of Intent)

•December 6, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Hey folks.

This is the official post about polyamory and my own reasoning for why this is the life that I choose. Bear in mind that this is only my own expression of polyamory.

For those who haven’t been exposed to polyamory, it’s a form of ethical non-monogamy, where each relationship or group of relationships have their own understandings and rules. There are many great resources for understanding polyamory better, so it’s definitely worth Googling, if you’re curious.

But anyway, yes, I’m one of THOSE people.

I’m an admin for a Polyamorous group on Facebook, yet due to my demeanour and the fact that I tend to keep my private life out of other people’s faces unless I trust a person enough to share parts of it with them, I often get assumed to be monogamous by most folks because I “seem so normal” in a lot of ways. People can pick that I’m somewhat different, but are never sure what it is and I usually come across as within the acceptable parameters of weird. I know some of the reasons for this, but I’m not going into them here.

Part of this weirdness is that I can feel a lot of affection for people. Compassion as well.  These things come easily for me, but they don’t rely on any actual relationship beyond a simple recognition of similarity or circumstance. Despite these things, I don’t trust easily. I have an instinctive distrust of (most) people. This surprises a lot of my closest friends, because I’ve usually trusted them implicitly very quickly and it’s not until they see me around others and start to see how I tend to shut the hell up and just listen that they start to realise just how deep my distrust goes. If I somehow magically open up to a person and admit that I trust a person before knowing them for years, there’s often (not universally, but often,) a secret terror that I’m giving someone the weapons to destroy me emotionally. There’s a certain irony there, as this is one of the primary reasons why I’m polyamorous.

Confused?

Okay, I know for a fact that I’m not the only one that has these trust issues. Having these issues means I’m painfully aware of others and I want to be worthy of the trust that these people put in me for some inexplicable reason. That requires honesty.

For me, the beginning of this honesty is being able to say that I can’t be all things to anyone, and it seems like hypocrisy to try to demand that somebody else do that for me, especially since I know that it’s impossible. It also feels cruel to me to lie to someone and try to act like these things when I’m just naturally, well, not. If I’m diverting energy into trying to be something I’m not, I’m also stealing it away from the things that I CAN be to that person and frankly, that does everybody a disservice. I want to know that I’m with a person because we’ve both seen the other properly and made that choice to be with each other on levels that we both choose and without expectations that none of the parties involved signed up for.

Another big part of this honesty is being able to honestly say “Yes, I feel this way about this person or these people” and having the freedom to explore that. To be able to open myself up to those feelings and instincts, rather than pretend that they’re not there, is a form of freedom that I won’t give up, nor is it a freedom that I will deny anyone else. I’ve dedicated myself to exploration of myself and the human condition and this is a huge part of that exploration.

Another important aspect for me is the pack; the family of my choosing. That collection of relationships, whether these relationships are those of friends, partners, lovers or other connections. I need to be able explore these connections and relationships wholly and honestly, with others able to do the same with the people within their lives. This is what I’m trying to forge in my life and what I hope to help others forge in theirs. These connections, with these innate freedoms.

Honesty. Freedom. Exploration. Connection.

These are the things that I feel rule my life and are the ideals I uphold. I don’t believe for a second that I can claim to live these things within the confines of monogamy as I understand it. This post is not a judgement on monogamy, but a recognition that it is not for me. I’m going to sign out here, but in the spirit of honesty, I’m going to do so using my actual name instead of my handle.

Phillip St Clair Martin,
Signing Out.

Unintentional Brilliance in Hellraiser: Revelations

•June 30, 2016 • Leave a Comment

There are some movies that are just so close to unwatchable that even I have trouble with them. For me, the film that best exemplifies that is the ninth installment in the Hellraiser movie franchise, Hellraiser: Revelations.

Hellraiser Revelations was slapped together so that Dimension Films could keep the film rights to the franchise, and sadly, it shows in so many different ways. The special effects were sub-par, the acting wasn’t fantastic and the story felt forced in a lot of ways. I think that it could have been a much better movie in a lot of respects if there had been more time and care put into it. It’s been argued that because it was originally written to be a Hellraiser film (rather than other recentish Hellraiser films), that it isn’t the weakest film in the franchise. In my own opinion, if a film is badly done and doesn’t have the structured story or production values to engage a viewer, then the “written as a Hellraiser film” argument falls flat.

For all its faults, there is an aspect of the story that I initially hated, but has created an idea in my head that I feel adds to the story.

Let me explain.

The lead cenobite, the Hell Priest, affectionately known by fans and outsiders alike as Pinhead, was immortalised by actor Doug Bradley in the original Hellraiser film and subsequent seven films that followed. In Hellraiser Revelations, Doug Bradley had declined to play the iconic character. Instead, we had Stephan Smith Collins. While Stephan Smith Collins did an admirable job trying to fill those leather shoes, the way that the dialogue was written felt like a hollow shell of the hell-priest that we all know and love, as well as looking more like a bad cosplay of Bradley’s Pinhead.

He wasn’t Doug Bradley, nor could he be the same Pinhead that Bradley played..

That, in my opinion, is where the unintentional brilliance comes into play. For those that haven’t watched the film, there are spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned.

Now, in the beginning of the film we’re shown some found footage of two young men and their trip to Mexico. They find the box and as a result are whisked off to Hell by you-know-who. One returns and we find out that the other has remained in Hell and is acting as a Cenobite-in-training, with similar pins to that of Pinhead he is following. So what we have here is evidence that the pins through the head aren’t unique to Pinhead.

We also note Cenobite-in-Training doesn’t look like “the finished product” that we’re used to seeing in the earlier Hellraiser films, nor does it gel with the creation of cenobites that we see in Hellbound: Hellraiser II. Rather than see this as a contradiction, I’m personally led to believe that there are multiple methodologies for creating a Cenobite. This is strengthened by the slapdash creation of Cenobites in Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth.

Now, we’ve seen in different Hellraiser films multiple iterations of the Cenobites. The Chatterer alone has undergone more than a few transformations. What I find fascinating is that all of the cenobites have undergone changes except for Pinhead. What I’m suggesting is that they may not have actually been the original Cenobites that we saw in the first film.

What I’m putting forward is the idea that each position in Hell’s priesthood is marked by unique piercings, markings or other kinds of wounding. This would explain why the Cenobites consistently change from film to film but retain some similarities. The Cenobites by their nature, are a religious order, with one particular example being the Order of the Gash. The use of scarification of flesh as markings of office works as an explanation as to why the Pinhead we saw had a follower with similar pins.

But now I want to focus on the character of Pinhead here. Stephan Smith Collins’ take on Pinhead had a lot of people saying “This isn’t the Pinhead I know and love.” I say that they’re right, but not in the way that they think. Pinhead is innately different in Hellraiser: Revelations. Stephan’s efforts are solid, but it isn’t the same Pinhead as the previous films.

While it’s assumed that this character is meant to be the same played by Doug, I personally can’t make that assumption with the same certainty. This has a few cosmetic similarities, but this just doesn’t feel like the same Cenobite. The character looks different to Doug’s Pinhead, moves differently to Doug’s Pinhead and even speaks differently.

Let’s focus on the speech for a moment. It is similar in some ways, with similar themes, but there are glaring differences. The phraseology is just inherently unfamiliar, with both wording and delivery being different from what we recognise from Pinhead. What would account for this would be a different personality having studied the same (un)holy books and receiving “instruction” within one of Hell’s Orders.

While some might think that I’m reaching, it strikes me that there is nothing that ties the original Pinhead (as seen in the first Hellraiser films) to the Pinhead portrayed in Hellraiser: Revelations, but a case CAN be argued against it.

Just a fan theory to help make sense of what happened there and maybe get some creative juices flowing.

Sometimes A Snake Is Just A Snake…

•March 17, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Hey folks.

It’s St Patrick’s Day in Australia and as is the more recent norm, there are an abundance of Pagan folk bringing up the fact that it was Pagans that were driven out of Ireland  (with the occasional kneejerk reference to an Irish Pagan Holocaust). The only problem is that this idea, while it sounds like it should be true, really isn’t.

Now, I’m going to give you a little bit of history that tends to get ignored because it doesn’t fit with the Pagans Driven Out story.

What you need to understand is that St Patrick didn’t bring Christianity to Ireland. There were already Christians there. A whole bunch of them, due in no small part to travellers to other lands bringing the new religion to Ireland with them. The problem was that they weren’t nice Catholic folk like the church in Rome had wanted. They were part of the Arian Church which was seen as heretical due to not accepting the concept of the Holy Trinity. THIS was St Patrick’s target audience. The fact that many pagans converted peacefully was a bonus.

That’s right, I said peacefully. While he was no friend of the Pagans, he wasn’t one of the people that went around with the ultimatum of “convert or die”. He would have died with nary a word written about him if he’d tried. The Irish would have had exactly none of that bullshit.

Christianity had already made its mark and was already becoming popular. I’m not going to pretend that Patrick wasn’t part of that, but he didn’t start the process and there were still plenty of non-Catholics around after him. His effect on Ireland is overstated (at least), but the myths around him live on.

Now, getting back to the idea of the snakes being a reference to him driving out the Pagans, there are two gaping plot points that need to be addressed.

1, There were already stories of his efforts against the Pagans all over the place, so why change the story from Pagans to snakes? When every second story in his early biographies were about he openly smote the Pagans, why try to hide it?

2, It would have confused people no end, as there was still an abundance of Pagans to call bullshit on this in Ireland. I’m not talking about their religions going underground, either. Druids were still being talked about in the seventh century to try to figure out what part they played in law.

Folks, the idea that Pagans are the snakes in the tale is bunk. As of right now there are no snakes in Ireland except in zoos and pets. There were no snakes in Ireland loooooong before St Patrick got there, either. When later generations of settlers from lands outside of Ireland realised that there were no serpents to murder them in their sleep, the idea that they were driven out seems nice, especially if you can pin it on someone that was once considered local. It’s been suggested that the driving out of the snakes from an area came from another saint, but since I have none of the info on where it supposedly came from, I can’t say conclusively on that one way or another.

Morgan Daimler, a Celtic reconstructionist, went to work trying to find out where the idea that the snakes were Druids came from and came up with this:

The earliest reference I have found to anyone thinking the snakes meant Druids (and thanks to the friend who helped me find it) is in the Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries from 1911 where someone states that he believes based on a story that because a certain place was where the Druids last stronghold was and also the place Saint Patrick drove the snakes that the snakes must represent the Druids, but it’s just faulty logic (Evans Wentz, 1911).

It feels like it would be true, but there’s no genuine evidence for it, and surrounding stories (and actual history)don’t bear it out. St Patrick barely made a dent in the paganism of Ireland and he certainly had no effect on the snake population.

Southern Howler, signing out (with a few references for those who’re interested).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick

http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/was-st-patrick-a-slave-trading-roman-official-who-fled-to-ireland

Saint Patrick, Druids, Snakes, and Popular Myths

http://lairbhan.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/st-patricks-day-snakes-and-irish.html

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/03/080313-snakes-ireland_2.html

http://intothemound.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/st-patricks-fakelore.html