In the month of March many people think about St. Patricks Day on
March 17. It’s supposed to be a lucky day. Lucky symbols that come
to mind include the four-leaf clover and horseshoes, among other
things. But what about snakes and dragons?
By Michelle Walch and John Maddin
Snakes and dragons in Irish culture: More complex than you think
St. Patrick is supposed to have “driven the snakes out of Ireland” in 432 CE, according to popular lore. In reality he banned the use of what he termed as demonic and pagan symbolism by the monks of Ireland – the intertwining snakes and chains commonly found in the Celtic design work of such creations as the Book of Kells, which is now considered a beautiful work of art, and one of Ireland’s great treasures of world culture.
In Celtic art and culture, the snake represented rebirth, healing, and wisdom, while dragons represented seasonal fertility, all of which found their way into the artwork of the Irish monks. But serpents (and by association, dragons), according to Patricius and The Church, were linked with the Devil and that incident in the Garden of Eden. So in most of Western culture wearing a snake or dragon isn’t commonly thought of as lucky. It depends on who you ask. Maybe it’s time to reconsider what is and isn’t a lucky animal, real or mythical.
Wearing formidable animal jewelry for good luck
In other cultures, Snakes symbolize fertility, power, and healing. In Greek mythology, Medusa had snakes for hair with that whole turning-folks-who-met-her-gaze-into-stone shtick, and Asclepius, the Greek god of health, was said to have learned medicine from a snake. Hence the caduceus staff with entwined snakes he carried around which is now the Western symbol for medicine, found in any hospital or doctor’s letterhead.
Previous blogs have discussed animals that bring good luck in other cultures such as the dragon. In the East, dragons are considered lucky but in the West they are viewed as dangerous. Regardless, they are a formidable mythological creature and if the wearer wants to espouse power, a dragon is a top choice. Plus they just look super-cool.
Whatever your reasons for wearing a snake or dragon, on St. Patrick’s Day or not, a distinctive design is always eye-catching and a good conversation starter. And if you wear a snake or dragon ring to make you feel powerful, check out our small selection of rings and earclips/earcuffs, on sale (17% off!) at Ebay through St. Patrick’s Day!