Well, it's that time of year again, time to celebrate the Great American Bacchanal and bone up once again on the real origin of this holiday. With any luck, many of you may be going out and getting drunk on Wednesday, assuming your local officials aren't already drunk.
Drunk with power, I mean.
We celebrate St. Paddy's in honor of my late father-in-law Charlie, whose birthday fell near it and whose favorite meal was boiled dinner (that's corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and carrots). Charlie was a big, barrel-chested, ruddy ginger with the kind of raw-knuckled fortitude that used to be taken for granted in old Yankees, but I'm not sure if he had any Irish in him. Biologically, I mean, He had plenty in spirit, certainly.
I named the bar in He Will Live Up in the Sky where the mysterious disappearance occurs "Charlie's Da" for a reason: Charlie's father mysteriously disappeared when he was just a wee wane, and the case has become a perennial favorite on amateur sleuthing sites. The general suspicion within the family was that Charlie's stepfather iced his dad so he could move in on Charlie's mom, but why spoil their fun?
Either way, I got a Boston vibe rolling by spinning the mind-blowing fan-fix on the notorious Cut the Crap botch job and serving Boston cream cake† for desert. Then again, I don't drink alcohol anymore so maybe it wasn't that much of a Boston vibe. Well, either way.
This will be new to some folks and ancient history for others. But you know what they say; repetition is the mother of skill. I sense an opening for some Buckley syncs in all this, but haven't worked out all the angles yet. Drop some hints in the comments if you like.
Without further ado, roll that beautiful beer footage...
March 17 is the day generally believed to be the death of St. Patrick, the British-born missionary who is credited with converting Ireland to Christianity.
And as I wrote in one of my first posts on this blog:
In Egyptian mythology, Osiris was killed on the 17th day of Athyr, the third month of the ancient calendar. (Note that this is October 3rd in our modern calendar)
3/17 is also the date of a Masonically-created holiday, St. Patrick’s Day. The story has it that the holiday was established by high level Freemason, George Washington, allegedly to reward Irish soldiers in the Continental Army. But “St. Paddy’s” has traditionally been a very minor Saint’s day in Ireland. Considering that the day has become America’s defacto Bacchanal (which takes us back to Osiris) it’s worth noting some of the parallels of this day with Solar mythology.
• Osiris was believed to be the source of barley, which was used for brewing beer in Egypt.
• It’s customary to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day and Osiris was known as the “Green Man”
• The root word of Patrick is pater, the Latin word meaning father. Osiris is the father in the Egyptian Trinity.
Since then, I've been looking into the curious origin of this holiday and have found out some very interesting facts...
• This one's a shocker- St. Patrick's Day was originally celebrated by Protestant Loyalists in the British Army:
Their first meeting and dinner to honor St. Patrick was an expression of their Protestant faith as well as their intention to bond with fellow Irish émigrés. Their 1775 meeting included British soldiers of Irish extraction. All proceeded, or marched, to the King’s Chapel to hear a sermon devoted to the occasion, and then continued on to a dinner in King Street. British soldiers were still the big show of the first St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York City in 1762.
The first celebration in New York City was in 1756, at the Crown and Thistle tavern. Philadelphia held its first St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1771. General George Washington issued a proclamation during the Revolutionary War, declaring March 17, 1780 a holiday for the Continental Army, then stationed in Morristown, New Jersey, in honor of the many soldiers of Irish ancestry and those born in Ireland.
It was reported that this was the first holiday granted the troops in two years. Washington’s remark that the proclamation was “as an act of solidarity with the Irish in their fight for independence,” was possibly the origins of St. Patrick’s Day in America as an expression of Irish nationalism as much as Irish heritage or of honoring a Christian saint.Since many lodges in Revolutionary-era America were chartered under the Grand Lodge of Ireland, I'm willing to bet those Irish soldiers were predominantly Freemasons (remember this is pre-Morgan Affair, when Freemasons were hardcore). To show how much a Masonic enterprise the American Revolution was, here's a list of the Freemasonic Generals in the Continental Army
• Up until very recently, St. Patrick's Day was not a big deal in Ireland itself:
In modern-day Ireland, St. Patrick's Day has traditionally been a religious occasion. In fact, up until the 1970s, Irish laws mandated that pubs be closed on March 17.
Beginning in 1995, however, the Irish government began a national campaign to use St. Patrick's Day as an opportunity to drive tourism and showcase Ireland to the rest of the world. Last year, close to one million people took part in Ireland 's St. Patrick's Festival in Dublin, a multi-day celebration featuring parades, concerts, outdoor theater productions, and fireworks shows.
• Modern Saint Patrick's Day shares both a date and a mandate with a far, far older holiday:
St. Patrick's Day is also frequently a time for drinking. It used to be that this tradition was strung out for at least five days, the so-called seachtain na Gaeilage or "Irish week."
That may stem from Roman times, when March 17 started the festival of the Bacchanalia, a celebration to the deity Bacchus, to whom wine was sacred. In olden years long gone by, the Irish drank mead, made from fermented honey. You might do better today with a stout Guinness, preferably dyed green.
• The Bacchanalia are well-documented in the historical record:
The bacchanalia were wild and mystic festivals of the Roman and Greek god Bacchus. Introduced into Rome from lower Italy by way of Etruria (c. 200 BC), the bacchanalia were originally held in secret and only attended by women.
The festivals occurred on three days of the year in the grove of Simila near the Aventine Hill, on March 16 and March 17.
Later, admission to the rites was extended to men and celebrations took place five times a month. According to Livy, the extension happened in an era when the leader of the Bacchus cult was Paculla Annia - though it is now believed that some men had participated before that.• Of course, Bacchus/Dionysus is just the Greco-Roman reinterpretation of Osiris. And drinking of beer was sacred to the followers of Osiris, the Green Man:
In Egypt, beer was regarded as food. In fact, the old Egyptian hieroglyph for "meal" was a compound of those for "bread" and "beer". This "bread-beer meal" plus a few onions and some dried fish was the standard diet of the common people along the Nile at the time.
Beer came in eight different types in Egypt. Most were made from barley, some from emmer, and many were flavored with ginger or honey. The best beers were brewed to a color as red as human blood. The Egyptians distinguished between the different beers by their alcoholic strength and dominant flavor.
None other than the god of the dead, Osiris, was hailed as the guardian of beer, because to him grain - both emmer and barley - were sacred. The Egyptians believed that grain had sprung spontaneously from Osiris' mummy, as a gift to mankind and as a symbol of life after death.
This was sufficient justification for the god-like pharaohs to turn brewing into a state monopoly and strictly license brewing rights to entrepreneurs and priests. Many temples eventually opened their own breweries and pubs, all in the service of the gods. The port of Pelusium at the mouth of the Nile became a large brewing center, and trading in beer became big business.• Beer wasn't simply a beverage in Egypt, it was also a sacrament. This arose from a myth in which the goddess Sekhmet decided to do away with humankind but was mollified with mandrake-infused beer by the supreme god Ra:
Ra now realized that Hathor-Sekhmet would destroy the human race completely. Angry as he was he wished to rule mankind, not see it destroyed. There was only one way to stop Hathor-Sekhmet, he had to trick her. He ordered his attendants to brew seven thousand jars of beer and color it red using mandrakes and the blood of those who had been slain.
In the morning Ra had his servants take the beer to the place where Hathor would viciously slaughter the remnant of mankind. Ra's servants poured the beer mixture on the fields. And so, Hathor-Sekhmet came to this place where the beer flooded the fields. Looking down, her gaze was caught by her own reflection, and it pleased her. She drank deeply of the beer, became drunk, fell asleep, and abandoned her blood thirsty quest.• This admixture of Egyptian festivities, Irish nationalism and Freemasonry might seem outrageous to some, but in fact it was part and parcel of Celtic culture before the rise of the Roman Church. Namely in the...
... religion of the Druids, as before said, was the same as the religion of the ancient Egyptians. The priests of Egypt were the professors and teachers of science, and were styled priests of Heliopolis, that is, of the City of the Sun.
The Druids in Europe, who were the same order of men, have their name from the Teutonic or ancient German language; the German being anciently called Teutones. The word Druid signifies a wise man. In Persia they were called Magi, which signifies the same thing. - Thomas Paine, Origin of FreemasonrySt. Patrick himself was believed to have driven the Druids of out of Ireland, but in fact druidry was merely incorporated into Celtic Christianity, which was distinct from other varieties and would remain so until forcibly changed on orders from Rome.
“The Celtic Church in Ireland and in Scotland owed its origin not to Rome, but to Egypt and the East; its customs, traditions, methods, government came from Egypt through Athanasius of Alexandria, Hilary, Martin of Tours, Ninian, and through that religious channel, more than a little independent of Rome.
The religious ideas of Egypt came to Scotland and Ireland and were absorbed easily into the tribal life of these countries.. There is no doubt that the Celtic Church owed its ritual, its architecture, its worship and its law to Syria, Egypt and Palestine, and that its allegiance to Rome was slight.”• And it seems that the festival of the death of Osiris shares much in common with another holiday that the Irish brought to America:
This universal illumination of the houses on one night of the year suggests that the festival may have been a commemoration not merely of the dead Osiris but of the dead in general, in other words, that it may have been a night of All Souls.
For it is a widespread belief that the souls of the dead revisit their old homes on one night of the year; and on that solemn occasion people prepare for the reception of the ghosts by laying out food for them to eat, and lighting lamps to guide them on their dark road from and to the grave.
Herodotus, who briefly describes the festival, omits to mention its date, but we can determine it with some probability from other sources. Thus Plutarch tells us that Osiris was murdered on the seventeenth of the month Athyr, and that the Egyptians accordingly observed mournful rites for four days from the seventeenth of Athyr.And what of the corned beef and cabbage? In late antiquity the Apis bull was identified with Osiris. The Apis bull would be sacrificed and eaten in ritual feasts. Cabbage is grown in the winter months in Egypt and was used to control intoxication at feasts.
So it's official: all of our modern holidays in America are simply covert repackagings of ancient pagan festivals and the increasingly popular St. Patrick's Day is no different.
Now go spill some fresh blarney in the Den of Intrigue.
† Boston creme being the gag in the most hilarious double entendre ever heard.
Don't forget The Secret Sun Institute of Advanced Synchromysticism, now holding classes in the highly strange. There's a ton of exclusive material up already and so much more on the way.
Welcome to the New Atlantis.