Bring Back The Snakes Day

 

 

 

This day is the modern Pagan answer to St. Patrick’s Day. Legend has it that St. Patrick drove the snakes of Ireland off the island, never to return. Science tells us that snakes were never indigenous to Ireland in the first place, so what then is the truth (and all legends have at least a wee bit of truth behind them) underlying this legend? Prior to St. Patrick, Ireland had been a stronghold of the Pagan Celtic religion, and their priesthood, the Druids. One of the symbols of the Druids was the snake. So what the legend is really celebrating is Christianity become the dominant religion in Ireland, once the snakes (Druids) were driven out.

For about the past thirty years, beginning with Pagans living in California’s San Francisco Bay area, raucous parties have been held, celebrating the return of the snakes – snakes in this case not just representing the Druids, but all the Pagan religions of old. The most common format has the party taking place at a local micro-brew pub, and hosted by an MC, who is usually a local Priest or Priestess from the Pagan community at large. Generally these have been bardic like affairs, with a featured musician or band, and with members of the audience participating in a kind of open-mic, offering songs, poetry, stories or demonstrations of prowess. Sometimes prizes are awarded for the best offering. Back when I was living in Santa Cruz, the party was well advertised, and Pagans from miles around would flock in. The practice was to collect a cover fee from anyone not appropriately dressed in what is considered Celtic costume (usually just Ren-Faire garb). A snake (real or toy)
would also grant you free admission.

The late Archdruid Emeritus Isaac Bonewits wrote a song celebrating the fest, appropriately named “Bring Back The Snakes”:

(To the tune of “My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean”)

‘Twas on a bright Midsummer’s evening,
An old woman I chanced for to see.
She grabbed both my shoulders and shook ’em,
Saying, “Bring back the snakes to me!”

Bring back, bring back, bring back the snakes to me, to me;
Bring back, bring back, O bring back the snakes to me!

“My land was a jewel most blessed,
My people both happy and free,
Till the preachers came in with their crosses,
And drove all the snakes out to sea.”

Bring back, bring back, bring back the snakes to me, to me;
Bring back, bring back, O bring back the snakes to me!

“Yes, ‘snakes’ was the word that they used then,
For the masters of all druidry,
Whom they murdered, converted or banished,
As threats to their new tyranny.”

Bring back, bring back, bring back the snakes to me, to me;
Bring back, bring back, O bring back the snakes to me!

“Now it’s past fifteen centuries later,
The results now are clear for to see;
Ireland was better off Pagan,
So bring back the snakes to me!”

Bring back, bring back, bring back the snakes to me, to me;
Bring back, bring back, O bring back the snakes to me!

Then the old woman’s face started changing,
Every country and race I could see.
She said, “All lands are better off Pagan,
So bring back the snakes to me!”

Bring back, bring back, bring back the snakes to me, to me;
Bring back, bring back, O bring back the snakes to me!