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Druidic Shawn MacKenzie

The Wearing of Draconic Green.

By Shawn MacKENZIE

So, it is Saint Patrick’s Day once again, a curious religious-turned-secular celebration which in its modern incarnation owes far less to fact than fancy. Still, it gives those who need it an excuse to hoist a pint and dream of leprechaun gold and other Hibernian stereotypes which have little if anything to do with a saint who wasn’t even Irish. The facts are, Patrick—aka Patricius—was, as his name attests, a well-born Romano-Briton, kidnapped from Wales and raised as an indentured shepherd across the Irish Sea. When he escaped his captivity, he became a priest, in time returning to Eire as bishop and evangelist to the heathen Celts.

Arguably the most famous bit of blarney connected with Patricius is the story of him driving all the Irish snakes into the sea. That there never were any Irish snakes in the first place proved a minor inconvenience to the hagiographers. It was the Dark Ages, after all. They were dealing in myth and metaphor, in selling the Faith to the masses with broad strokes and simple symbolic tales.

Never let the truth get in the way of a good sales pitch.

But, in the truth they so blithely ignored lay something far more insidious. To understand exactly what was going on, we must take a step back, to a time before the one God replaced the Many. A time when Druids held sway and Dragons ruled.

Learned men and women, the Druids were the moral compass of the people. They were also blessed with the ability to converse with all manner of creature, including Dragons. They looked into Dragon eyes and saw a part of the oneness of nature: as with tree and spring, deer and human, so too with Dragons. They recognized the Dragons were old before time with spirits indwelling and immortal. Like the stones beneath their feet, they could roar with joy, speak, and sing. As keepers of their people’s justice, faith, and wisdom, Druids formed an intimate bond with the Dragons of Prydain, Cymru, Brittany, Eire, and the outer isles, receiving both guidance and instruction from their long-lived associates. The Druids shared their knowledge with kith and kin, and, in the process, Dragons became the most powerful creature in all Celtic lore. They represented the entirety of creation, from the rolling solidity of hill and mountain to the sinuous turn of river and stream. To a people who honored the eternal unity of the universe, no being could be more magnificent.

When Constantine obliterated the separation of Church and State in the 4th century, any previous laissez-faire attitude towards Pagans vanished, and the Christian notion of Dragons as demons straight from Hell was fine-tuned into the strictest article of faith. To Medieval minds, draconic physique not only made them perfect models for Lucifer’s minions but also linked them to Satan in his Serpent garb, tempting humanity to sin. (Note: A look at Genesis suggests that the Serpent was actually a Dragon—certainly a legged reptile—who only lost his limbs after that little kerfuffle with the apple. Gnostic texts, particularly On the Origin of the World, are much kinder, casting him as the descendent of Zoe [Life], the “instructor,” and “wisest of all creatures.” This more pro-Dragon take may have affected the Church’s decision to label Gnostics as heretics. But that’s another story.)

To anatomy and temperament add their association with the God-less Pagans and Dragons became the peerless targets of an increasing number of fanatics. Would-be saints and tin-pot heroes were lining up around the block, scripture and swords at the ready, as Dragon slaying became a quick—if dangerous—path to fame, fortune, and heavenly reward.

This was the stage upon which Patricius played, the script which informed his legend. No real snakes in Eire? No matter. There were Druids and Dragons, beings as figuratively serpentine as Satan himself. For the Patrician mission to succeed and the Church to claim ascendancy, one way or another both had to be eliminated. So Druids and Dragons fell under siege, their sacred springs and blessed woods seized in the name of the new God. No one knows how much blood was spilt in their defense—record-keeping gets a little sloppy when fighting for one’s life—but tales from sidhe and weyr speak of the Dark Times, “when rivers ran red.” Among the survivors, a band of adventurous Dragons emigrated to the New World (“driven into the sea”), while others retreated beyond the veil, dwelling in the land of the fey until the human madness passed. For centuries, the only reminder of Ireland’s rich draconic history lay in the verdant hue of her hills. From a dracophile’s perspective, Patricius left the isle much poorer than he found it.

On March 17th, take a moment between sips of emerald lager and think back on the dear price our scaly friends paid—and continue to pay—simply for being themselves. In this, the Year of the Dragon, honor them with song and roar. Celebrate their fierce wonder with the wearing of Draconic Green.
Shawn MacKENZIE is the author of The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2011), Dragons for Beginners (Llewellyn, 2012), and numerous short stories, published and not. She has been a freelance editor for twenty years and is an avid student of all things mystical and rare, wild  and woolly, and all creatures great and small.
Various thoughts, ramblings, and a taste of Shawn’s fiction can be found at http://www.mackenziesdragonsnest.com  and at her blog,        http://www.mackenziesdragonsnest.wordpress.com/

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About Dr Niamh

When I was a little girl (a very, very long time ago), I used to love learning new, really big words like ‘discombobulate’. As I grew, my love of words grew too, until I loved them so much, I could not stop writing them down. One day, as I was scribbling a particular word, a very peculiar thing happened. The word shouted at me, “Stop! Don’t put me there!” As you can imagine, I was shocked and nearly fell off my chair. When I recovered somewhat, I said to the word, “Could you stop shouting, please? I am not used to it.” Can you guess what happened next? No! I thought not. The word said, “I might be small, but I will misbehave if you do not use me properly. I will not tell the story you would like me to tell. I will say something entirely different!” I dropped my pen. I hoped that by dropping my pen, the word would stop talking. Alas! It did not. It carried on chitterchobbling, even after the ink had dried. I was in a pickle. I could not allow my words to run away with my story, now could I? I don’t know about you, but when this sort of thing happens, there is only one thing left to do if you prefer not to spend your time arguing. “Very well,” said I. “I will do as you ask if you will just be quiet and allow me to concentrate.” Since that day, I have been paying special attention to every word I invite into my stories. After all, a story should say exactly what it means to say and not be led astray. With love from Dr. Niamh, Ph.D in Learning Through The Imagination and Founder of Dr Niamh Children's Books. www.drniamh.co.uk

13 comments on “Druidic Shawn MacKenzie

  1. Uncle Tree
    March 17, 2012

    Well, that’s a new take on the story. And a true one at that.
    Cheerz to a happy St. Patrick’s Day! 🙂 Uncle Tree

    Like

  2. DiAnne Ebejer
    March 17, 2012

    What a totally interesting piece of history.Thank you!

    Like

  3. Shawn MacKENZIE
    March 17, 2012

    Thank you, Niamh, for including me in today’s festivities on the Plum Tree.

    Like

  4. Shawn MacKENZIE
    March 17, 2012

    Reblogged this on MacKENZIE's Dragonsnest and commented:
    In honor of Dragons lost…..

    Like

  5. Georgia Saunders
    March 17, 2012

    Good post. I’ll have to put on a bit of green for the dragons today. 🙂

    Like

  6. Pingback: Wearin’ o’ the green to honor St. Paddy | Heartspoken

  7. I’m raising my glass to the Dragon spirit in each of us!

    Like

  8. the secret keeper
    March 17, 2012

    Loved the post on the Druids and Dragons. It is a shame that back in time those who sought glory had to find it by the taking of Dragons lives. They did find other places to live fortunately but as the Dragons of Ireland go so did the visibility of the Druids being chased underground and into extinction by the monothiestic religions that stold from their beliefs and renamed them their own. Happy St. Patrick’s Day. All Is Green Today. Being a touch of the Irish I am pleased that Dragons and Green go together. Did want to mention that Shawn MacKenzie’s book: The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook is filled with wonderful stories and legends of Dragons and so much more on Dragons to entertain the curious mind.

    one note: the blog post is missing a dot after the www. As is when you click on the link it goes to wordpress and states there is no such blog. Thanks.

    Like

  9. ontheplumtree
    March 17, 2012

    Fabulous post Shawn. Thank you for being my guest today on this day of all things Irish.

    Like

  10. Draconia Flight
    March 18, 2012

    A good story with a new twist ! I’ll have to do some deeper research for Dragons in Ireland.
    ~ The Dragon Master ~
    Founder & Crytozoologist
    The Dragon Society

    Like

  11. echowood628
    March 20, 2012

    may i say to everyone here ‘thank you’, as you value the things in life that matter most and with a tremendous passion…may i say that all of you are so involved with sharing your heart, your souls, your true being and place in this world…you have accomplished so very much…you are people who keep in touch with your hearts… i fear people are forgetting how to discover themselves and the life around them with pen and ink, and the arts, and instead they’re becoming addicted to electronic ‘gadgets’ losing themselves…your accomplishments are many and amazing, and i am honored to know you…i wish to find the words to match what i am feeling with the many posts and poems and accomplishments i have found here…you offer a world filled with contemplation and appreciation for creativity, imagination and self-expression…. you are a celebration for all creation…thank you for the many doors you open to all…

    sincerely…

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      March 20, 2012

      I am deeply touched by your words, as are we all. What better way to spend a life than sharing soul, creativity and inspiration. You are so very welcome among us. You feel the beat because your heart is pure.

      Like

      • echowood628
        March 20, 2012

        you are an angel and you have brought an awareness to people that helps them see life from a much higher plane…as you know how beautiful the world looks from up above…

        i hope you realize i’m never going to stop saying “thank you”…!!!!

        sincerely,

        Like

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This entry was posted on March 17, 2012 by in Special Projects and tagged , , , , , , .
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