Feast of Saint Martin: Patron of Not Being A Dick

"je ne suis pas un con."

That's Halloween done for another year.

And this weekend in the UK we have Guy Fawkes Night to look forward. After that... well... pretty soon after that is November 11. 2011.

If you are playing along at home, that's 11/11/11. What? You didn't have anything planned?

Neither did I.

Conveniently for us both we can fall back on centuries of European tradition as November 11 is the feast of Saint Martin.

Even more conveniently for everyone except possibly Lyn he is also the unofficial patron saint of French viticulture and is mythically believed to be behind the creation of the Chablis grape.

(Sidebar: You're allowed to drink Chablis now. The era of ABC: Anything But Chardonnay is over. In fact, it puts you on the post-Riesling trend, the bleeding edge!)

This post was actually going to be the second in a series of uncommon saints and their use in magic but literally three seconds on St Martin's wikipedia entry demonstrates that including him in such a series would be ignorant to the point of borderline racism. He's also one of the many patron saints of soldiers so there may well be a few of you who know him in that aspect.

But basically he's like a French Saint George. (And now I'm suddenly realising why that enormous canal in Paris that has my favourite summertime bar on it is called what it is.)

No matter. I like him not for his erroneous uncommonality but because he is a typical example of the warrior saints that the early Christian church seemed so good at producing -where the stories of his powers and miracles were clearly meant to be transmitted and understood mythically. Bloody, godlike and sometimes downright wacky.

For instance there are parts of his hagiography that cover the dismantling of Pagan temples and the cutting down of sacred trees. It's tempting for some corners of the magical world to thusly dismiss him out of hand as another egregious example of Christianity destroying indigenous spiritual traditions.

However this would be (and always is) an historic oversimplification.

Even prior to Christianity this sort of activity happened all the time. Think of gods and their followers as Classical Age rappers. They beefed. They called each other out. Temples would be reconsecrated, new myths would circulate about how one god bested another. It's all very Kanye. The stories of these early saints, -including Saint Columba, Saint Magnus, Saint George and Saint Patrick- typify this tradition. Annihilation is better understood as soupification.

Saint Martin's cornerstone myth, however, is not an example of this tradition. Indeed it feels... right. It feels true. And to magical folk it should feel familiar. His cornerstone myth is why I'm suggesting he is the patron saint of not being a dick:

Whilst still a Roman soldier and not yet a baptised Christian, he was on the road one day and encountered a beggar. Saint Martin cut his cloak in half and gave a piece to the beggar for warmth. You can see this scene playing out in the stained glass image above, with the beggar looking weirdly like Leonardo Da Vinci and Saint Martin, even more weirdly, looking exactly like Uma Thurman.

That night he dreamed of Jesus wearing his half cloak and saying to the angels: "Here is Martin, a Roman solider who is not baptised; he has clad me."

Boom. That was it. Conversion done. Let the life of miracles and architectural vandalism commence.

To me this story rings magically true because it sits at that intersection -that crossroads- between our actions in the physical world and how our unconscious chooses to organise and feed it back to us. The Episode of The Cloak and its aftermath is, to my mind, a rather splendid example of that universal spiritual experience, The Call.

It has an extra level of personal appeal as I have always found sublimely beautiful the Christian legend that Christ sometimes walks the earth as a beggar -that the homeless kid sleeping at the train station is literally God Concealed. Of course, esoterically speaking and regardless of our own spiritual beliefs, this is indeed true.

Toward the bottom of the wikipedia article there is mention of Saint Martin being particularly helpful to business owners. I read this and things start to syncretise in my head: Business... equitable distribution of resources to where they're needed... don't be a dick... the apocalypse...

Awesome.

My November 11 plans coalesce. I'm going to ask Saint Martin to intercede on his feast day to put a stop to the global financial industry's ongoing dickishness.

Who better than a warrior who was transformed by generosity who also has connections with business? And wine! (Wine!)

Here's how that is going to look. Join in if you like:

  • Meal prep: Something French and seasonal.
  • Lay in the wine. Bless the wine:

In signs and in miracles you were renowned throughout Gaul. By grace and adoption you are a light for the world, O Martin, blessed of God. Almsdeeds and compassion filled your life with their splendors,Teaching and wise counsel were your riches and treasures,Which you dispense freely to those who honor you.

  • Raise a glass to Saint Martin and ask for his intercession to stop people being dicks everywhere but especially in the global finance industry.

As I get to the end of the post a weird memory has shaken loose from when -a decade ago in Sydney- my mother the psychonaut and I took Doreen Virtue's first ever Angel Intuitive course or something. I recall her saying something about how seeing repeated series of 11:11:11:11 is an indication and reminder that you are manifesting your thoughts and hence to be mindful and, above all, precise.

Fingers crossed then.

Oh Saint Martin, who cut your own cloak to clothe Our Lord disguised as a begger,

We humbly ask for your intercession before Our Lord Jesus Christ and help us to be worthy of the grace and mercy of the Holy Ghost that lead us from darkness to light into the eternal kingdom, forever and ever.

Amen.

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10 comments

  1. It is common to offer him a glass of water and fresh grass for his horse too, the grass should come from the front lawn of your business, I guess you could use some from a business district.

    Adding horseshoes to your altar set-up for him is also traditional.

    Both practices come from Mexican tradition.

    His color is said to be red.

    Best of luck with your petition.

  2. Profile photo of

    @VI Ha! Awesome.

  3. 1. I *love* the idea that they were just early age rappers kicking each other for a reaction. I think it makes sense!

    2. You just invited me to a party that I need to go to. We will be doing our 11.11.11 in dirty Jersey!

  4. Well, I won’t be toasting with you but I think this is an awesome idea.

    I read a little about St. Martin a while ago (I’m fascinated by the pagan roots of the saints). St. Martin was originally Mars but got absorbed into the saint hierarchy. That’s why many churches are called St. Martin in the Fields because they’re named after a god of agriculture. Or that’s the theory.

  5. Living in Holland – he is not unknown – the kids come round the houses with lanterns and sing a song in return for goodies

  6. Lovely post, and absolutely fantastic idea! We’ve a local town named after San Martin,interestingly enough. Great housing prices there, in a sea of over-inflated madness. Perhaps he’s working his juju over there…

    On a wine-related note, I’ve a bottle Stagg’s Leap “Artemis” waiting for your arrival next year. Absolutely sublime wine, like drinking a raspberry-lipped kiss.

  7. Doing that, excellent idea. I’d been looking for something to do on the 11th… seemed a shame to let such a lovely day pass by without doing a working, and here you are with a beautiful, timely idea. To top it off, I just worked with St. Martin recently, and we seemed to get along well. Thanks!
    P.S. Patron of not being a dick- I like that. *steal*

  8. Profile photo of

    @Lyn Yeah I can see that. Roman, soldier, red colour. That’s good syncretism right there.

    @AIT *eyes narrow* Okay I’ll take your word for it. But I’m still bringing duty free single malt. 🙂

  9. If I had anything resembling a codified morality, I think “Don’t be a dick” would be about as complex as it would get. Maybe I should look into giving him a permanent spot on my alter…

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