Saint Patrick and the Fading of Druid Culture on the British Isles March 16 2021
Saint Patrick was an extraordinary man in the scheme of the history of Western and, particularly, Irish Civilization. A Roman aristocrat as a boy in Gaul, he was captured by Irish marauders and sold to an Irish chieftain. For years he tended the sheep herds and learned to read the elements of fire, air, earth and water, the basic magical vehicles from the Druid religion. He learned to speak and to love the ancient Irish Gaelic. After many years he escaped back to Gaul and entered the monastery of Martin of Tours. He gathered a group of young monks to him, taught them Irish, and set off to return to Ireland with the intention of informing the populace of the transformation of the elements through the Christ event.
Patrick transcends the “Christian” religious stereotypes. He has become over the centuries a powerful symbol for the travails of the Irish; the diaspora, the pride, the rejection of colonization, the sensitivity and the connection to the earth and its elements. Through Patrick’s intimacy with air, earth, fire and water — he, a mere mortal — was able to communicate directly with the spiritual world. The Druid religion predicted the coming of the Christ and experienced the event of the Christ in the transformation of all elements, which they could perceive. Many Druids, in understanding this, welcomed Patrick, however, others were reluctant to allow for this change. Resisting Patrick, these particular Druids blocked his work at every turn. Patrick prevailed again and again despite their efforts to try and stop him, even going so far as trying to kill him.
Remarkable men and women, especially those in ancient cultures, are important in the education of the young. In second grade, for example, the legends of heroes (including those whom Christians call “saints”) bring the children into the next epoch of human development after the fairy tales and along with folk tales and “explanation tales” (written to describe the forces of nature). Later in the developmental phases of the young, hearkening back to tales supports them in pictures of overcoming difficulties or bringing help to those in need. Celebrating genuine heroes and heroines of different ages and celebrating different spiritual leaders active in each epoch of human development supports the imaginations of students and leads to trusting intuition as these important people do — listening to the inner voice we all have. The transformation of this is significant and will bring inclusion with it. As teachers, we can read the children entrusted to us and choose the stories needed accordingly. Heroes like Patrick, Michael, heroines like Candace, the empress of Ethiopia, Odelia, Hildegard of Bingen, and other earthly women and men who wrought miracles of courage and love
Patrick might be only recognized with a song or two in an assembly or a class in a Waldorf school. But it would be good to recognize this man who, in his love and zeal, opened joyful gates to the Irish and stands as symbol of their spiritual strength around the world. “Everybody is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day,” speaks to this transcendence and this universality of the best of human gifts!
Patrick was a wild thing as a youth and his comprehension of the elements, listening to his inner voice, transformed him into an agent for the good and the spiritual (read this).
Other “saints” or heroes of compassion are Odelia, and Columban, who listened to the little voice inside their hearts to help others. A good picture for the young to experience. Beyond only Christianity!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, whatever your religion or worldview!
Irish Soda Bread
Saint Patrick’s Day Bread is simpler in Ireland than we have made it here. Currants, raisins, sugar, carraway seeds have shown up in many recipes. In Ireland, though, these are luxuries that, over centuries, have been rarely available.
Here’s the simplest recipe imaginable for classic Irish Soda Bread. This one can be served with dinner! Not only for high tea with jam…but, of course, use jam if you are having high tea!
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups low-fat buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 450F
- Combine the flours, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly. Make a well in the center of mixture. Add buttermilk to flour mixture; stir until blended (dough will be sticky). Turn dough out onto a generously floured surface. Knead lightly 4 to 5 times. Shape dough into an 8-inch round loaf; place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.
- Bake at 450 for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400 and continue to bake for another 15 minutes, or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath. Cool on a wire rack. Simple and delicious!
**Healthy tip: To reduce calories simply use low-fat buttermilk instead of full-fat buttermilk.