“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!”
–From the Song by the late Isaac Bonewits, Archdruid Emeritus, ADF
“Bring Back the Snakes” parties have been celebrated by Pagans throughout Northern California and the practice has spread throughout North America via the internet. The Christian Saint Patrick (whose birthday is celebrated March 17) is alleged to have driven the snakes out of Ireland. This legend has no basis in fact as snakes have never been indigenous to the island so what does this really mean? The snake has long been a symbol of the Druids, so in saying Patrick drove the snakes away they are saying that he drove out Paganism.
Bring Back the Snakes celebrations are thus protests which proclaim that Ireland and the world were better off with Paganism.
The general celebration is usually held around a Bardic circle where participants offer their poetry, songs, dances and the like to general entertainment of all. Usually Irish folk costume is prevalent and usually artificial and real snakes are in attendance. Prizes are sometimes given for best costume, performance, snake, etc. Guiness is of course a hallowed beverage at these events, although honey mead is also very prominent.
Recently it has come to light that the story of St. Patrick and the snakes is a late addition to the Patrick legend. It seems that there is a French saint who was said to have driven out the snakes of France and that this story was later attached to the Irish St. Patrick. These same people therefore say that ―Bring Back the Snakes is therefore inappropriate – that we shouldn‘t be celebrating it. I say ―bull pucky‖! There are plenty of Christians around who believe the tale and who believe that the snakes are symbolic of the Druids. Therefore we should continue to observe this and continue to party hardy. If some ―reconstructionist Pagans have a cob up their colons over it, so be it! “If they don’t like it they can’t have any!”