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There Was and There Was Not…..

March 11, 2010

….. a Welsh youth by the name of Maewyn Succat, who lived an average ordinary life, until at the age of 16, he was kidnapped by Irish marauders and sold into slavery to a Druid chieftain in Ireland, forced to work as a shepherd for six years.

…A young man, almost a beardless boy, I was taken captive before I knew what I should desire and what I should shun…

His forced sojourn in Ireland lasted six years.  Some historians believe much of that time was spent in today’s County Antrim, among the fields surrounding an ancient volcano named Mount Slemish. Other scholars think he spent his captive years in the western part of the area. 

Mount Slemish, Northern Ireland

Turning to God, for support and solace, he became a devout Christian.  Amidst the area’s beauty, if this is indeed where he was taken, the young man often slept outside with the animals he cared for. 

…I used to stay out in the forests and on the mountain and I would wake up before daylight to pray in the show, in icy coldness, in rain, and I used to feel neither ill nor any slothfulness, because, as I now see, the Spirit was burning in me at that time…

Six years passed.  Then … Maewyn had a dream – one of several which would change his life.  This time, he sensed a voice telling him to leave his captors behind:

…[O]ne night in my sleep I heard a voice saying to me: ‘You do well to fast: soon you will depart for your home country.’ And again, a very short time later, there was a voice prophesying: ‘Behold, your ship is ready…

The young shepherd was not living by the sea.  Where was his ship?  And if one were “ready,” how would he reach it?

…And it was not close by, but, as it happened, two hundred miles away, where I had never been nor knew any person…

Could it really be that the young man, now twenty-two years old, could break free from his oppression?  How would he know where to go?  How would he know which ship to board?

…And shortly thereafter I turned about and fled from the man with whom I had been for six years, and I came, by the power of God who directed my route to advantage (and I was afraid of nothing), until I reached that ship…

After he escaped his life as a slave-shepherd, Maewyn went back to the country of his birth.  He didn’t take a direct route, however.  Scholars believe the ship sailed to Gaul but, once again, we cannot be sure.

A few years after he escaped slavery in Ireland, Maewyn returned home to his family.  Given all he had been through, his parents urged him to stay home.  Once again, however, a dream changed his life.

…[I]n a vision of the night, I saw a man whose name was Victoricus coming as if from Ireland with innumerable letters, and he gave me one of them, and I read the beginning of the letter: ‘The Voice of the Irish…’

What could the Irish people possibly want from Maewyn?  He was a former slave, someone who tended sheep and pigs.  Who even knew him?  Why would anyone ask for his help?

…As I was reading the beginning of the letter I seemed at that moment to hear the voice of those who were beside the forest of Focult which is near the western sea, and they were crying as if with one voice: ‘We beg you, holy youth, that you shall come and shall walk again among us….’

Were these people whom Maewyn knew before his escape – or – were they people he’d never met?  We do not know the answer to that question.  One thing is clear.  The dream troubled Maewyn:

…And I was stung intensely in my heart so that I could read no more, and thus I awoke…

Despite the pleas of his family, Maewyn once again left Britain – this time of his own free will.  In the ensuing years, he had studied theology and was ready to embark on an entirely new career. 

Maewyn went into the ministry and placed himself under the guidance of a bishop, St. Germain. In a few years, he was promoted to priest.
He began to have thoughts of the people in Ireland and longed to return there to spread the Gospel. He began tell St. Germain of his desires. The bishop recommended Maewyn to the pope, so he traveled to Rome.

Shortly before Maewyn’s death, Pope Celestine agreed to let Maewyn return to Ireland to teach God’s word. Before Maewyn left, the pope gave him the name “Patricius” or Patrick, derived from two Latin words meaning the father of his people.

Now Patrick, went to Ireland with a vast knowledge of their language and their religious beliefs. He began to spread Christianity to the Irish people.

The Druids weren’t exactly pleased with Patrick’s return to Ireland.  When he arrived (the exact date is the subject of debate) there may have already been a bishop (called Palladius) in his new homeland.  It is also possible, however, that Patrick’s arrival predated that of Palladius.  

One thing is fairly clear.  Patrick was different, and so was his approach to the Irish people.  He was not about teaching “religion” to potential converts.  He wanted to be a missionary – an apostle to spread the word of God’s love and grace to the Irish. 

…”I spread my net to find everyone for God…”

It is said that bishops of the Catholic Church treated Patrick as a kind of theological looney since he focused less on ritual and more on the souls of people.  He wanted to preach the gospel to the whole world, “and then the end will come.”

“The end,” of course, did not come, but along the way even church officials began to change their views about Patrick.  He went, in relatively short order, from theological looney to patron saint of Ireland.  

Patrick’s approach to life was fairly simple – believe in God and do His will.  His writings are authentic and straightforward.

…I, Patrick, a sinner, unlearned, resident in Ireland, declare myself to be a bishop. Most assuredly I believe that what I am I have received from God. And so I live among barbarians, a stranger and exile for the love of God … I gave up my country and parents and my life to the point of death. If I be worthy, I live for my God to teach the heathen, even though some may despise me…

Legend has it that Patrick rid Ireland of snakes, although scientists dispute the claim.  Historians believe the story is allegorical (relating to Druids, not reptiles).  And as for shamrocks, and whether Patrick used them to teach people about the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), no one is sure about that either. 

One thing is true:  Patrick was highly respected in his own lifetime.  It is said that he died on the 17th of March; the year is uncertain but ranges from 461 to 492 AD.  A simple stone in Downpatrick, located in County Down,  marks the site reputed to be his grave where it is said his ”remains” were removed to in 700AD .

St. Patrick left some words for those who remember him.  Humble to the end, he credited himself with nothing, except being the receiver of God’s gifts and grace.  He wished:

…that nobody shall ever ascribe to my ignorance any trivial thing that I achieved or may have expounded that was pleasing to God, but accept and truly believe that it would have been the gift of God…

I was born on St Patrick’s Day during the violet hour.  In the eyes of the Catholic church technically I am a Pagan, because I am unbaptised; a fact that worries God-bothering Christians more than it does me.  I almost died during my birthing – prolapsed cord – and was born with pre-natal seborrheic dermatitis; a skin condition that ensured I was covered in colourful greasy creams and ointments for the first six weeks of my life as I literally ‘shed my skin’ like a selkie.

My mother told me that when I was born, the doctor and nurses sang “It’s a Great Day for the Irish”, however she must have been told that because I was labor Cesarean-born, and mum was ‘crashed’ with a general anaesthetic as the doctor scrambled to save my life, and was out to it for two hours.

Last year, I was visited by a spirit, who said I was saved by a demon. You can imagine I was a little perturbed to hear that.  Yet on checking my birth records for the name of the doctor, which I Googled, I learned about the man whose strong hands delivered me into this world.  He used to play for the Melbourne Football Club, known as the “Demons”.

True dinks – up until this visitation the circumstances of my birth had been rather fuzzy. My mother wasn’t one to regale me with the story of my birth, the gruelling labour and so on, yet a curious line in my birth notice sheds light on how touch-and-go it all was: 

Thanks to God and Dr Cordner.

My parents never ever spoke about God to me and were not religiously observant nor did they attend church.  How curious they thanked Him in my birth notice, eh?  Cord prolapse, an obstetric emergency during pregnancy or labor that imminently endangers the life of the fetus; cord prolapse is rare.  

I was packed off to Sunday School because they thought it was expected of them – the done thing.  They didn’t take me and I had to walk through some dodgy areas to get to the Methodist Sunday School.  How I never got snatched by a predatory paedophile, I do not know …

During my teens, I attended many churches – Baptist, Presbyterian, Charismatic, Anglican, Catholic – the first book I read, after faery-tales, was The Pilgrim’s Progress. Then in my 20s, I found my way to the Victorian Spiritualist Union, dabbled in the occult, and in my 30s and 40s studied metaphysics and mysticism in all its facets – Qabbala, Gnosticism, Sufism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism etcetera, etcetera, etcetera … and all the isms inbetween.

I have always had a deep and enduring faith.  I have always been a Mystic and when it is all said and done, maybe I am a Druid.  I dunno – labels and categories are for other people – the Gods know who I am; they know my White Stone name. 

Tempora pallet occulta veritas – in time, all hidden truths shall be revealed.

Source: Awesome Stories.

Curently reading – The Serpent Grail: The Truth Behind the Holy Grail, the Philosopher’s Stone and the Elixir of Life by Philip Gardiner & Gary Osborn.

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3 comments

  1. Wow, an interesting post on St. Patrick becomes an even more interesting autobiography at the end! I’m glad to finally understand what “The Violet Hour” refers to — a time of day, perhaps around dawn? Or would that be twilight or sunset? And that “demon” story is just amazing — and a good reminder not to necessarily take things at face value. Playing for the Demons is quite a bit different from being a Demon!


  2. Also a reminder of the trickster nature of Spirit and their cryptic symbolic messages that are multi-layered.


  3. This is weird (and did you know that “weird” has its roots in “wyrd” = “to be connected with one’s fate or destiny”) … I have come upon two detailed essays about St. Patrick in the last day … I’ll find the other one and link it …

    Your blog is so beautiful … Your series on the seven deadly (squirrely?)sins is fantastic. Thank you 🙂



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