To understand where I am coming from will require you to put on your “symbolism hat” and reflect on this great legend from a more elevated viewpoint. While there is indeed no natural population of snakes on the island of Ireland, something much deeper and profound is being expressed in this famous event.
Since we are talking about a saint, there must be a spiritual angle to this miraculous story. If Saint Patrick was doing God’s bidding, then his actions represented driving spiritual evil out of the hearts and minds of men and women. An island (ground) symbolizes the spiritual landscape and quality of people’s souls.
While real snakes may endanger or poison the lives of a few people a year, the tendency to put sensual and worldly things above heavenly qualities (spiritual snakes in the soul) will poison the inner lives of many more people—and for an eternity. It is these spiritual “serpents” that a true saint would target and seek to remove from people’s lives.
But Saint Patrick’s Day has become synonymous with drinking. Drunkeness and intoxication symbolize a false state of one’s self-importance, which causes an individual’s soul to lose proper focus and slip and stagger. Today, therefore, many of us are celebrating Saint Patrick’s efforts by doing the exact opposite of what he was really trying to accomplish!
We can each keep this event from turning into a festival of foolishness.