Ultimately, it’s the same reason I don’t celebrate Columbus Day:
These men, held up as Paragons of Progress, are actually genocidal maniacs. Genocidal maniacs venerated by capital-H History and the Roman Catholic Church, because they are some of the biggest heroes of the Patriarchy.
(If you think I’ve been harping on the Patriarchy over-much, well, this is probably not the right blog to be following. Because this IS the central issue of our times. All of the major movements of the twentieth century and beyond–Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, Gay Rights, the Peace Movement, the War on Poverty, the Cultural Revolution, and all the wars in… forever, really–were conducted either for the furtherance of or in resistance to Patriarchy.)
I’m sure you already know that Columbus was a third-rate navigator who adopted the idea of a round Earth (already an accepted truth by the Ancient Greeks but dismissed as heresy by the Roman Church in the Middle Ages) but who misunderstood the science behind it. He convinced the “Catholic Monarchs” (Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain) that he could beat their rivals the Portuguese to India by traveling west across the Atlantic rather than east around the Cape of Good Hope.
When he arrived in the Caribbean islands, he called their inhabitants “Indians” because he didn’t realize (did I mention he was a third-rate navigator?) that he was still half a world away from India proper. He kept looking for the cities he had heard tell of and the spice markets, and although he never found them, he insisted that he had.
His arrival there exterminated the indigenous Arawaks in almost no time, both through disease that their immune systems had no resistance to, and because he forced them into slavery. Nice guy!
You may know a little less about “saint” Patrick, so let me fill you in. According to his own version of the story, Patrick was kidnapped by Irish raiders when he was a young man and spent a number of years in servitude in Ireland as a shepherd. When he escaped he went to France, became a Christian cleric, and went back to Ireland to “drive the snakes out of Ireland.”
Now, according to the chief naturalist at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, Ireland never had any snakes: he has never been able to find any in the fossil records. But of course this is a metaphor.
Snakes have, throughout history, been connected with Priestesses of the Goddess. Here is a replica of a Minoan “Snake Goddess” (more likely a priestess of the Goddess) from around 1500 BCE:
So when people speak reverently of Patrick “driving the snakes out of Ireland,” it’s really a cleaned-up metaphor for “brutally murdering all the priestesses and druids of the Old Religion,” which was Earth Mother worship. He had their sacred groves burned, tore down most of their standing stones, and turned their High Goddess Brigid into a minor Christian saint.
I could certainly go on about how the Roman Church warped the image of the Goddess in all her faces–even associated them with Satan and called their worshipers Satanists despite the fact that Nature worshipers don’t believe in Satan, which is a judeo-christian construct. I may write another firebrand-style post on the topic soon. In the meantime, you can get a good deal of information in Call #1 of my (un)Holy Trinity series on Sexuality + Spirituality here. The Keepers go into great detail on the “serpent” in the Garden of Eden being associated with the Great Mother Goddess.
Now, this wasn’t “merely” (!!!) the mass murder of a peaceful people by so-called “Enlighteners.” It was the wholesale destruction of a belief system.
Brigid was co-opted as a saint, a rung or two below Patrick himself (don’t make her too powerful, or she might inspire revolt).
The Triple Goddess was replaced by the Christian Trinity in Patrick’s shamrock.
Just enough of the old symbols were retained–though relieved of their potency–to make the Irish people accept the new religion, by hook or by crook. Patrick’s Bishop’s crook, that is.
Of course, take one look at me and you know that I’m of Celtic origin–though Scots, not Irish, as most people guess. I’m also a delicious mix of Cherokee, Swedish, French, and more, but my family name comes from Loch Lochy, which is about 10 miles southwest of Loch Ness. So as heartbroken as I am over the elevation of the one who destroyed or watered down so much of Ireland’s history and culture, I’m eager to wish you a “Happy Celtic Heritage Day!”
Erin go bragh!