Contrarian Perceptions on St. Patrick’s Day, 2017
His real name may have been Maewyn Succat and a better sobriquet may have been the Irish Heretic Hunter. Today, as perhaps has always been the case, seekers after truth confront the falsity of our official myths.
Today’s special myth concerns a canonized Romanized Briton; a religious leader who exterminated, not snakes but rather several then extant religions, among them Pelagianism (a religion following the gentle Palestinian today referred to as the Christ which had taken root in Ireland prior to the arrival of the variant imposed by Constantine, the purportedly Great, and the then expanding Papal Empire that would eventually become the Catholic Church, see, e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pelagianism).
I have a dear friend who being expert on all too many things Gallic could probably demystify a great deal more about this topic. Perhaps, in an effort to correct or supplement my observations, something he dearly loves doing, he’ll soon be adding to my currently limited information.
Be that as it may, human culture often fashions important conventions out of falsehoods and that seems especially true with respect to religion and nationalism (“important” not necessarily being either synonymous or antonymous with positive). In this case, St. Patrick has become an important symbol of Éire and of Irish independence, and culturally, the source for a very festive holiday of which he would in all probability not approve as it is not all that characterized by sobriety (hmmm, … so it definitely has its positive points).
Ériu, daughter of Ernmas of the Tuatha Dé Danann, is the eponymous matron goddess of Ireland from which, joined with the Germanic (Old Norse or Old English) word land, we derive the modern English name for Éire. I wonder how She might feel about Éire’s current association with St. Patrick?
The myth making process may be thought of as one of memetic evolution over long periods although, as in the case of most mutations, that is probably inaccurate; rather, it is a process whereby a cultural mutation gains ascendancy over competing variants, usually over a period of time. As in most things today, mythic evolution seems to have become a drastically accelerated process thanks to the transition of journalism from a quest for truth to an organ for the propagation of propaganda. Or perhaps it would be more accurate, in a historical context, to realize that journalism has all too often been only that and that now it is just being a bit more blatantly unmasked as such.
Thus, in an ironically and perhaps ambivalently positive note, in light of the horrors of today’s purported journalism, the evolution of the “Patriquian” mythos seems harmless enough (so long as you are not a closet Pelagian).
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2017; all rights reserved