The Winding Path

Counselling Services provided by Barb Zacharias

March 2011: Shamrocks

Posted on Mar 15, 2011

May your day be touched by a bit of Irish luck, brightened by a song in your heart, and warmed by the smiles of the people you love.

~Irish Blessing

Diversions in the middle of the month can be a good thing—such as St. Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day. So I thought I would look into St. Patrick’s Day a bit more. Maybe delve a little deeper into the Celtic way of life.

My glimpse into Wikipedia revealed that St. Patrick’s Day began as a religious Catholic holiday which has since morphed into a celebration of Irish culture. Also of interest, shamrocks are affiliated with St. Patrick as he used the leaves of this plant to teach about the Holy Trinity. There is also a political history to the “Wearing of the Green.” No mention of ridding the island of snakes—which is stuck in a cobwebbed corner of my mind.

The background story is that St Patrick originally went to Ireland as a captive in his teen years. When he returned home, he became a priest and eventually found his way back to Ireland to Christianize the pagans.

Regardless of how we feel about converting others to our religion (proselytizing), it must have taken a special moment in Patrick’s life to decide to return to the scene of his captivity with relatively good intentions instead of revenge. I don’t know how he was treated in Ireland as a captive; but I’m sure he was faced with moments of resentment and bitterness being kept apart from his family and home as a fairly young lad.

As rich and full as the Celtic heritage is, Patrick very likely played a significant role in their spiritual development—evident by the Christian influence upon the re-interpretation of Celtic symbols.  So while appreciating the Irish culture come March 17th, maybe give a thought or two to the people who have played a role in your own spiritual development. If considering the spiritual angle of your life is new to you, a start might be to reflect upon what it would be like to believe in something so strongly you are willing to face your former captors with a message of hope and renewal.

Another idea to break the monotony of March by observing St. Patrick’s day is to consider some of the Celtic symbols and how they can enhance your own life—such as the Triangle Knot keeping us mindful of the interconnectedness of life. The three points can symbolize a variety of relationships: earth-sea-sky, Father-Son-Spirit, earth-wind-fire, mother-father-child, past-present-future, love-truth-wisdom, mind-body-spirit, maiden-mother-crone. The interlacing or continual looping of the various Celtic knots also symbolizes eternity or the circle of life. &

The Celtic Cross is another example of the rich symbolism. It’s uniqueness is found in the blending of two belief systems with a Druid circle around the centre of a Latin straight cross.

“It was said that St. Patrick was told of a great stone that the Druids worshiped that was of circular shape. St. Patrick drew a Latin cross through the stone shape circle to bless it, trying to relate to their symbols of their belief to draw them to Christianity. This was the first recorded Celtic Cross. The circle today represents no beginning and no end (eternal life) and to others the circle represents the sun. The Celtic Cross has become a large representation of Irish culture and history. It is worn by many as a symbol of their culture and their faith…”

And one of the best ways to observe St Patrick’s Day is with a traditional Irish Blessing or two—or observe the custom by sharing a blessing of your own. As the middle of March is upon us, may you be blessed with hope and renewal as March finds its way into the warmth of spring and new beginnings.

May the blessing of light be on you—light without and light within. May the blessed sunlight shine on you and warm your heart till it glows like a great peat fire.

~Old Celtic Blessing

May love and laughter light your days, and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours, wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons bring the best to you and yours!

~Old Irish Blessing


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