Friday, February 12, 2010

The Calendar of Pagan Saints

"All through [Joan of Arc's] history she seems to have been advised and guided by a number of persons. Some have thought that this must have been a powerful secret society. Of course, she said that they were 'saints', St. Michael and St. Catherine, both of whom are old divinities in Christian disguise; St. Michael taking the place of the Sun-God, and St. Catherine that of Cerridwen, the Celtic Nature-Goddess; hence the popularity of these two saints as the patrons of churches and chapels built on hill-tops, the old 'High Places'."

-Gerald Gardner


You know how I'm always blathering on about Pagan Gods masquerading as Christian saints? Well, I had this idea awhile back that I was going to write a blog post on the feast day of each of these saints, which would eventually coalesce into a publishing contract and a best-selling NeoPagan book. But then I realized this is me we're talking about, and I never finish any project I start. So instead, I decided to slap together a calendar of Pagan-spawned Catholic memorials, complete with the Gods who are either lurking behind a veneer of legendary canonization, or who, over time, have become associated with particular historical personages.

Some of the connections listed on the calendar are pretty well-established, while others are theories I cooked up on my own, looking at symbology, patronage, and regional veneration. And sometimes I just read a book and believed the author. Also, a few entries are marked "FHH," which stands for "Fourteen Holy Helpers." This group of saints was petitioned extensively during the Middle Ages for protection against the Black Plague--since about half of them trace back to earlier Pagan worship, I went ahead and listed all of them, even if I don't yet know exactly Who they represent.

Finally, please note that this list is largely theoretical, involving quite a few not-entirely-sound leaps of pseudo-logic. But I stand by what passes for reasoning. So whatever.

And away we go...

JANUARY
Nothing Pagan happens in January.

FEBRUARY
01 - Feast of St. Brigit (Brigid)
03 - Feast of St. Blaise (Veles, FHH)
14 - Feast of St. Valentine (Faunus)
23 - Feast of St. Milburga (Grain Mother, "Old Bessey")

MARCH
17 - Feast of St. Gertrude of Nivelles (Diana)

APRIL
19 - Feast of St. Expedite (Hermes)
23 - Feast of St. George (the Green Man, Al-Khidir, FHH)

MAY
01 - Beltaine; Feast of St. Walburga (Ceres)
07 - Feast of St. Achatius (FHH)
30 - Feast of St. Joan of Arc (Margaret Murray's poster child)

JUNE
02 - Feast of St. Erasmus (FHH)
15 - Feast of St. Vitus (FHH)
29 - Feast of St. Peter the Apostle (Janus)

JULY
08 - Feast of St. Sunniva (Sol)
13 - Feast of St. Mildred (Holda)
20 - Feast of St. Margaret of Antioch (Juno, FHH)
22 - Feast of Mary Magdalene (Persephone)
25 - Feast of St. Christopher (Guinefort, Anubis, FHH)
26 - Feast of St. Anne (Danu, Annis)
27 - Feast of St. Pantaleon (FHH)

AUGUST
08 - Feast of St. Cyriacus (FHH)
15 - Feast of the Ascension of the Virgin Mary (Artemis at Ephesus)
26 - Our Lady of Czestochowa (Matka Ziema, "Moist Mother Earth")

SEPTEMBER
01 - Feast of St. Giles (FHH)
16 - Feast of St. Cornely (Cernunnos)
20 - Feast of St. Eustace (Herne, FHH)
26 - Feast of St. Cyprian (not a God per se, but patron of occultists)
29 - Feast of St. Michael (Lugh)

OCTOBER
04 - Feast of St. Francis (not Pagan, but who doesn't love the guy?)
09 - Feast of St. Denis (Dionysius, FHH)
21 - Feast of St. Ursula (Artio, Freya)

NOVEMBER
03 - Feast of St. Hubert (Herne)
25 - Feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria (Cerridwen, FHH)
30 - Feast of St. Andrew (Apollo, Belanos)

DECEMBER
04 - Feast of St. Barbara (Athena, FHH)
13 - Feast of St. Lucy (Lucina)
26 - Feast of St. Stephen (Frey)

Know of any other saints with dubious origin stories? If so, just drop me a line and I'll add them to the list. Also, if a Loyal Strifemonger could please ghost-write a best-selling book on the subject and tack my name to it, that'd be great: I'm kind of busy this week.

11 comments:

Yvonne Rathbone said...

Oh, yay, finally! I mean, thanks!! What's the story about Mary Magdalene and Persephone?


wv: fockies (your wv is focking with me.)

Evn said...

You're kinda responsible for that one, remember? You asked me if any female saints were ever depicted holding alabaster boxes.

;)

Deborah said...

Proper Pagans spend the month of January recovering from their hangovers.

Brother Christopher said...

mmm I don't know I have an strong feeling there is probably a deity hiding behind the face of St Cyprian. Perhaps someone local to Antioch.

The problem I think with this is that it's like drinking from a spitoon. Once you get started, you can't stop.

Also I think St Christopher is a stronger hermes character then St Expedite.

Evn said...

I can certainly see a connection between St. Christopher and Hermes. Here's the weird thing about Christopher, though: He's often referred to as "the dog-faced saint," which modern theologians have interpreted to mean ugly. However, in Medieval art, Christopher was depicted as actually having the head of a dog. Makes me wonder if his cultus grew out of something more totemic, y'know?

Evn said...

Oh, and PS: I just found an online article about St. Christopher that was all, "Yes, he came from North Africa, but he's not Anubis. He has nothing whatsoever to do with Anubis." So I added Anubis.

knottybynature said...

You forgot my bane.

St. Patrick.

Yewtree said...

In Italy, there's a town called San Gemini near a temple of Castor and Pollux. Definitely a blatant transfer from Pagan to Catholic without even bothering to change the name.

Also, I read somewhere that Hippolytus (one of those characters like Adonis and Attis) was canonised as St Hippolyte.

Yewtree said...

Oh yeah and St Guinefort isn't a Pagan deity but a holy greyhound. Weird story, rather like that of Gelert. (Blatant plug: see my book The magical lore of animals)

aztek206 said...

as a deep lover of religious syncretism, you have seriously turned. me. on.

and anubis? gotta check this out.

lmao...lord knows i'd never kick st. francis out of my bed. i think adoration of him is so universal.

Mariner said...

St. Guinefort's feast day is August 22nd, according to Philippe Walters' "Christianity: The Origins of a Pagan Religion".