Since today is St. Patrick's Day I thought I would go ahead and write a bit about working with St. Patrick. Working with St. Patrick comes from New Orleans Spiritualist practices where St. Patrick is primarily invoked to run off and banish enemies from one's life. For New Orleans Spiritualists, St. Patrick can be kept in a bucket, similar to Black Hawk, or he can be kept as a statue on the altar, normally kept with other statues. St. Patrick is not picky.
Let me start with a brief history of St. Patrick. St. Patrick was not Irish by birth. In fact, he was Roman-British. He was born circa 398 AD and at the age of 16 he was captured by Irish pirates and forced into slavery. He later ran away and was able to return to Britain. St. Patrick had a vision and converted to Christianity. He then returned as a missionary to Ireland to help convert the pagans. There are many legends surrounding St. Patrick. The most famous one involves how he drove out all of the snakes from Ireland. In this story the snakes are actually symbolic of pagans and the story itself is a retelling of Patrick's Christianizing of Ireland. However, for New Orleans Spiritualists, the snakes became symbols for enemies, hence why St. Patrick is called upon to banish enemies from our lives.
With regards to the driving out of snakes it should be stated that snakes could also be symbols of demons and this could be taken to mean that St. Patrick can be called upon to help us banish our personal demons and vices, such as addictions, as well as actual demonic entities. However, these are not the only reasons why St. Patrick is invoked. In Ireland, St. Patrick is believed to help in childbirth, to help stop seizures and to ward against the evil eye.
There are many other legends surrounding St. Patrick that speak to his miraculous powers. In one legend St. Patrick transformed himself and his companions into deer in order to escape the wrath of pagans hell-bent on murdering them. In another legend, St. Patrick used a bell to drive off demons in the form of blackbirds or crows, another reference to St. Patrick's power to banish evil. In another legend St. Patrick was attacked by a group of pagan women who refused to convert. The women began to hurl curses and spells at St. Patrick and in retaliation he drove them into the sea where they were transformed into mermaids. They could never again return to land and when they died they were lost forever as they had no souls, or so the belief was. One day when St. Patrick was elderly he was walking the beach and a mermaid startled him. The she-fish humbly asked if it was possible she could be saved. St. Patrick, in an arrogant fashion roared back that sooner shall his walking staff burst into full bloom than an evil creature such as she be saved. Almost immediately the walking staff burst into full bloom with multiple flowers of different hues and perfumes. St. Patrick was immediately humbled and realized that he had acted foolish and that salvation was available to all who sincerely seek it. The mermaid let out a cry of glee and disappeared beneath the waves. Of course that is my favorite St. Patrick legend!
If you would like to work with St. Patrick you will need to chose whether you want to work with him in a bucket or just as a statue or image on your altar. You will need an image regardless, whether you put it in the bucket or on your altar. It can be a statue or religious picture. St. Patrick's color is green. So add green decorations to the bucket or to the altar. His symbols are the shamrock, the Celtic cross, a bell, and a walking staff. Some people may add serpent symbolism as well but I personally wouldn't as the goal is not to keep the snakes around but to banish them. St. Patrick has no special day of the week as far as I know but Saturday is a good day to call upon him for banishing enemies. Traditionally, the novena to St. Patrick is started on March 9 and concluded on March 17, the anniversary of St. Patrick's death.
Now, as I'm not a New Orleans Spiritualist, I am not familiar with everything they do with St. Patrick. What I can tell you is from my experience that he is not a picky spirit. I've found that for offerings St. Patrick enjoys water, salt, bread, salted fish, potato soup, oatmeal, and milk and honey. He enjoys an occasional beer but doesn't seem to like any other alcoholic drink. Offerings of multi-colored bouquets of Spring flowers is also an acceptable. Because he's not a picky or demanding spirit it's possible to ask him to protect you and your own for a year and then pay him his offerings on his feast day. Or you can just call upon him when you need him, which appears to be what I think the New Orleans Spiritualists do. Regardless of how you decide to work with him, St. Patrick can make a wonderful spirit to have on your side.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!