Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick and a Triple Brigid, Brought To You By the Banshee

Patrick, is of course, Patron St. of Ireland and Ireland has produced hundreds of saints, so that's quite an accomplishment. Patrick did bring Catholicism to Ireland and is credited with ending slavery there about 500 years before it was abolished anywhere else.

Patrick is reputed to have driven the snakes out of Ireland. The snakes are considered to be a metaphor for paganism / druidism / nature religions. However, if you grew up Irish Catholic as I did, you understand that the savor of the old religion has never left us entirely. For example, I was told to dedicate myself and my son to the Blessed Mother (which is what I was taught to call her -- Mary, the Mother of God or the Blessed Mother and hardly ever did we call her the Virgin Mary).

We have a saint to act as patron and go-between of every possible human concern, so St. Dymphna (an Irish Princess) is patroness of mental illness because her father tried to seduce / marry her and cut off her head when she denied him.

St. Brigid is patroness of Ireland and also blacksmiths, chicken and dairy farmers, fugitives, midwives and children whose parents aren't married. You should also pray to St. Brigid to prevent house fires I and once heard that she is credited with inventing whistling -- but that might have been the pre-christian Goddess Brigid, who may be the mother of both the saint and the Lwa Maman Brigette which closes a major loophole for me as I have always figured Irish catholicism to be as much of a syncretic religion as Voudoun and SanterĂ­a.

Maman Brigitte intrigues me. She is noted for her enjoyment of rum flavored with many hot peppers and her beautiful and sensuous dancing. She lives at the Cemetery Gates near her husband the Baron.

Together they bridge the crossroads between left and right, life and death, and this and that. Her rulership of death and sensual beauty puts me in mind of another Irish other -- the banshee.

The banshee is sidhe, a lovely youthful fairy woman who invented the fine art of keening (mournful screeching laments for the dead) and has attached herself to certain Irish clans. She appears to warn us of impending death within the family or clan and is reputed to sound that warning with her unearthly keening.

As one with whom the banshee visits, I can tell you that she doesn't necessarily screech, but rather lifts the veil between this side and the other. What that means is just as she shows me who is leaving us, I am also blessed to know who is coming to us. Unfortunately, having a veil lifted briefly often displays a scene without a context and I believe more strongly every day that our time of departure is pretty much chiseled in stone ahead of time. So for a variety of reasons, I am often aware of the pending death of a loved one but powerless to change things. Knowledge is a mixed blessing.

That said, the banshee hasn't recently been by to visit with any death reports -- however there seem to be a few healthy, happy babies on the way.

Love, La Weirdo Sirena


Anonymous said...

cool post!

La Sirena said...


Pavel Chekov said...

So, you were raised Irish Catholic as well. We belong to an exclusive club. Happy St. Pat's Day.

La Sirena said...

It's an excellent club with lots of good company.