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...

Nothing Pagan happens in January.

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")

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

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

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)

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

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)

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")

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)

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)

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

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.


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".