The Wickerman wasn’t the only documented history of Pagan sacrifice. You see, Ireland has a history too….of blood sacrifice.
Crom Cruach was a god of pre-Christian Ireland. According to Christian writers, he was propitiated with human sacrifice and his worship was ended by Saint Patrick.
He is related to the folkloric figure Crom Dubh. The festival for Crom Cruach is called Domhnach Crom Dubh, Crom Dubh Sunday.
A decorated stone known as the Killycluggin Stone has been interpreted by some as the cult image of Crom Cruach. It was found at Killycluggin, County Cavan. It was discovered broken in several pieces and partly buried close to a Bronze Age stone circle.
Aah yes…sacrifice in exchange for milk and grain suggest that Crom had a function as fertility god. The description of his image as a gold figure surrounded by twelve stone or bronze figures has been interpreted by some as representing the sun surrounded by the signs of the zodiac, suggesting a function as solar deity.
According to an Irish dinsenchas (“place-lore”) poem in the 12th century Book of Leinster, Crom Cruach’s cult image, consisting of a gold figure surrounded by twelve stone figures, stood on Magh Slécht (“the plain of prostration”) in County Cavan, and was propitiated with first-born sacrifice in exchange for good yields of milk and grain. Crom is said to have been worshiped since the time of Érimón. An early High King, Tigernmas, along with three quarters of his army, is said to have died while worshiping Crom, but worship continued until the cult image was destroyed by St. Patrick with a sledgehammer.
Crom Cruach’s name takes several forms “bent, crooked one”, “bloody crooked one”, “crooked stack of corn”, “crooked one of the mound”.
An old reference to Crom in ogham writing is translated: ‘In it Cruach was and twelve idols of stone around him and himself of gold’.
Crom Dubh, the ‘dark, stooped one’ who lived in the underworld throughout winter, emerging on 1st August to claim the ‘first fruits’, in the form of Eithne the corn maiden, and bringing her on his back (hence his stoop) down to the underworld.
He once enjoyed the unreserved worship in Ireland and other Celtic countries, before the church and tribal wars brought about the cultural and ethnic genocide of old Europe.
Human sacrifices to the Irish God CROM DUBH were made to ensure a rich harvest and fair weather.
He comes from the underworld as a dark man with a scythe to bring this harvest.
Crom Cruach/ Dubh has a festival day on the last Sunday of July called Crom Dubh’s Sunday, where vigils and patterns are held at holy wells around the country in his memory. An association with St Brigid is recognized in an all-night vigil still held on Crom’s feast day at her holy well in Liscannor near the Cliffs of Moher.
Black Crom’s Sunday – In Ireland, on the Sunday before Lammas, pilgrims climb mountains and high places, particularly Croah-patrick in County Mayo, where Patrick allegedly fasted for 40 days and battled demons. Until then the mountain was sacred to a pagan deity, Crom Cruach (Crom of the Reek). Pilgrims often climb the mountain barefoot.
Bilberry Sunday – The Sundays before and after Lammas were the usual times for celebrating a feast that was essentially communal. People climbed to the top of high mountains, picking bilberries as they went, thus giving rise to the popular name of Bilberry Sunday.