> The St. Patrick driving the snakes out myth is I've
>always assumed an explanation myth for the absense of reptiles in
>Ireland. (I would suspect there was a Pagan god doing the same
>thing before him).
I think it was an explanation myth to be sure, however, I know of no Pagan
god to have done the same.
> The driving out of evil (incl. snakes) by a holy
>figure strikes me very much of a pre-Patrician belief that has at
>some point been Christianized.
> As to the snakes=pagans symbolism it strikes me as rather modern
>in its straightforwardness. I wondered if anyone had any sources
>on when that interpretation arose. I wonder if indeed it's a modern
My understanding is that serpent mythos worldwide usually referred to Earth
power. From the serpent mounds of the Americas to Minoan snake goddesses the
message seems to be a recognition of the energy of the planet, that was
recognized in pre-Christian belief systems by the buiding of edifices at
certain key points, to magnify and contain the energies. It was at the
advent of Christianity that we see stories of St. George and St Michael
slaying the Dragon. Ironically the sites dedicated to Sts. George and
Michael all fall on geomagnetic fault lines (aka Ley lines) that aligned to
all the megalithic structures. The ascribing of Christian saints to depose
the serpents/dragons was a manner of assimilating the population into the
new religion as well as a way of gaining a great foothold. If the ancient
sacred sites were rededicated to a new pantheon, it is easier to gain
acceptance as a bonafide faith.
The "evil" represented in this scenario was the knowledge of the old ways,
and promulgated by the serpent in the garden myth. Oversimplified for the
sake of bandwidth, but you get the gist.