Domhnach Chrom Dubh

Let’s Spell it Out

August, 2011

Domhnach Chrom Dubh (Chrom Dubh Sunday)

Domhnach Chrom Dubh, which translates to “Chrom Dubh Sunday”, is the festival of the sacrificial Celtic or pre-Celtic god Crom Dubh, the Irish Underworld Corn God, even though this festival has been Christianized.  Because Crom Dubh, who was also known as Crom Cruach, was referred to as the Dark Croucher or the Old Bent One, he was easily demonized and transformed into the ‘Devil’ once Christianity took hold of the land.

Every year, thousands of people make the pilgrimage to Ireland’s holy mountain where Saint Patrick supposedly fasted for forty days and nights before defeating a host of demons (but this mountain was considered holy long before Christianity and the tales of Saint Patrick).  To this day it is Ireland’s most remarkable pilgrimage.

Crom Dubh was originally called Crom Cruiach, Cromm Cruiaich or Crom Cruach, who had evolved form the proto-Celtic god Donn.  The word “Crom” means “bent” and the word “Cruach” translates to “a heap of harvested or gathered food” and this god is said to cause the crops to ripen at Lammas/Lughnasadh.  He was called the Bloody Bent One, the Elder King and the Chief Idol of Ireland.  Crom Dubh/Crom Cruach was usually depicted as bent over and carrying a wheat bushel or some other food stock on his back.  He is similar to John Barleycorn, the Grain God who is sacrificed by being cut down at the time of Lammas/Lughnasadh.  This festival day falls on either the last Sunday in July or the first Sunday in August, coinciding with the harvest festival of Lughnasadh (or Lammas).

The worship of Crom Dubh or Crom Cruiach, is said to have been brought to Ireland by Tigernmas, sometimes called Tiernmas, who was a fourth century king.  Some described him as a Roman Chieftain while others claimed that he was one of the last kings of the Formorians, the semi-divine ancient race of Irish mythology.   Sometimes referred to as the “culture king”, Tigernmas was said to be the one who brought aspects of civilization to the Celts including the smithing of gold and silver, the dyeing of fabrics, and the making of music and art.  Not only is it said that Tigernmas brought the worship of Crom Cruiach to Ireland, but he supposedly demanded it of his people.

The worship of Crom Dubh/Crom Cruiach/Crom Cruach took place at Meg Slecht, sometimes spelled as Magh Sleacht, which translates into either “The Plain of Adoration” or “The Plain of Prostrations”.  This plain of Tyllyhaw is in County Cavan, a scarcely populated county in north-central Ireland.  Here sat a circle of twelve idol-stones surrounding a central phallic-carved idol-stone.  Covered in Iron-Age decorations and hammered gold, this central stone was thought to represent the god as it was referred to as the Crom Stone.  The twelve smaller stones that surrounded the Crom Stone were believed to be representative of attendant gods that served the Mighty Old One.  It was here at the circle of stones that human sacrifices were made and later they became bull sacrifices.  Currently the stone circle is in ruins and the lore is that it was St. Patrick who destroyed it.  There are shards of the stone on display in the National Museum of Ireland.

The Stone Circle was also associated with the Sacred Mound of Celtic mythology.  Crom Dubh’s name has been translated to mean “The Black Bowed One” or “The Black Crooked One” and the name of his ‘ancestor’ of sorts, Crom Cruach or Cenn Craich, has been translated to mean “The Bowed One of the Mound”, “The Crooked One of the Mound” or “The Lord of the Mound”.  This is the name for the Celtic god associated with mounds and he was known as the Underworld god of graves and tombs.  These mounds are the same mounds of the Sidhe, the People of the Mounds, the Celtic Faeries who were and still are given regular sacrifices of milk.  Even the Greek Hercules was brought into the mythos of Ireland, and he was called Cenn Cruiach on the Emerald Isle.  According to the story, Crom Dubh was buried up to his neck in Mother Earth for three days, and only released after the foods had been harvested.  This is symbolic of the mating of the God and the Goddess; birth, life, death and rebirth.  A god in Celtic mythology is often the Sacred King and a Hercules-like hero.  There was a mound named Lugh’s Enclosure, similar to Macha’s Enclosure, where people gathered on the first of August for the harvest festival.  The Stone Circle of Crom Dubh/Crom Cruach was yet another harvest mound enclosure.  All of these mounds were Mother Earth Wombs that replicated the soil mounded on top of a seed waiting to germinate to life.  The entrance to these enclosures were placed in the West, representing the setting sun, death, sacrifice and rebirth.  It has been theorized that the Forts of Lugh, the “Mounds of the Oath” or the “Mounds of the King”, were actually harvest mound enclosures because in the Celtic language, a “fort” can be a fortified encampment made of earthen mound.  Classical writers recorded that on the first of August people gathered at the Fort of Lugh.

Sacrifice was common with these worshippers.  Originally, it was human sacrifice, but over time, a bull was used instead.  It seems that a human was chosen to represent and substitute for the god Crom Dubh at the Stone Circle.  After the sacrifice was complete, the victim also became The Crooked One and dwelled in the mound along with the King of the Dead.  At Cois Fhairrge in Ireland and Loch Maree in Scotland, bull sacrifice took place as late as the eighteenth century.  To the Celts, the bull was something to be feared; it symbolized aggression, potency and power.  The animal was skinned before being roasted in Crom Dubh’s honor.

Legends abound with the tale of the death and resurrection of the sacred bull.  This speaks to the story of the Bright Young God, the son of the Elder God (Crom Dubh), who seizes the fruits of power from his aging other self.  During Christian times, this story was changed and Saint Patrick was inserted.  In this version, Saint Patrick requests food from Crom Dubh, and Crom Dubh sends his live bull to St. Patrick, hoping that St. Patrick will be killed by the animal.  Crom Dubh’s ‘evil plan’ doesn’t work, because the bull willingly surrenders and offers itself up to be sacrificed: slaughtered, skinned, roasted and eaten.  This enrages Crom Dubh and after the bull had been consumed, he demands that Saint Patrick return his bull to him, knowing full well that this was a preposterous request.  To Crom Dubh’s amazement, Saint Patrick instructs that the animals hide and bones be reconstructed and he resurrects the bull.  At this point, there are two variations of the story’s finale, but both are obviously Christian-centered.  One is with Crom Dubh being so awestruck that he immediately converts to Christianity.  Another is where the bull kills the Pagan Crom Dubh; so he becomes the human sacrifice in place of the bull.

Another version of Crom Dubh’s demise is that he, along with seventy-five percent of his followers were mysteriously wiped out. Christians were told that he was killed during a Pagan ‘religious hysteria’ at the Stone Circle.  No doubt this story was told to annihilate the Pagan idol worship of Crom Dubh.

THE SPELL

The purpose of this spell is for you to “plant a seed” within Mother Earth that you wish to bring to harvest with the help of Lord of the Dead, Crom Dubh/Crom Cruach.  Although this is a simple spell with few supplies, you will still need to set aside two different days, which are three days apart, to complete the working.  Ideally, you will want to conclude this spell on August first, Lammas/Lughnasadh, but if that’s not possible, then plan for your Spell Work as close to the date as possible.

Supplies: You will need a representation of the Lord of the Mound that is suitable for burying within Mother Earth.  This could be a statue, a poppet, a stone or even a drawing that you’ve placed within a glass jar.  You will need a place that you can bury this item where it will be safely undisturbed, even if it’s a planting pot, as well as a tool to do the burying, like a trowel or a shovel.  It would also be wise to have an offering for the Sidhe.  If you wish, you can burn some Crom Dubh incense (see below).

Step #1/setting the dates: figure out which day you can conclude the spell.  Then, count three days before that date where your God symbol will be buried in the soil.  Finally, the day before those three days will be the day that you begin the spell.  In total, there will be five days.

Step #2/deciding which ‘seeds’ to ‘plant’: make a list of which things you wish to bring to fruition.  These ‘wishes’ will need to be loaded into the God representation on day one of the spell.

Step #3/deciding where to ‘plant’: if you don’t have a yard, then gather some potting soil and a pot.  If you do have property, then find a discreet corner where you can bury something for three days and it will remain undisturbed.

Step #4/creating or finding the God representation.  This can be a stone, like the central stone of the Stone Circle.  Or, you could carve or whittle a God totem.  Either of these items could be painted gold and finished with Iron-Age decorations (while decorating, you could chant or visualize your thought-seeds growing strong and ripe, ready for harvesting).  Another option is to use a statue that you already own, providing that you feel that burying it will not be an issue.

Day #1: Gather your supplies at the area you will be performing the spell; inside with potting soil and a planting pot, or outside on the property.  Ground and center and create Sacred Space in the manner that you desire.  Dig the hole or place the potting soil in the pot.  Call to the Mother Earth Goddess in either your own words, or with these:

“I call to the Mother in the deep, dark earth;

I ask for your help to give birth

To these seeds that I bury

In a mound of the Faery.”

Next, hold the God representation and call to The Lord of the Mound in either your own words, or with these:

“I call to the Crooked One of the Mound,

I ask that these seeds be not found

Until they are ready on  Lammas/Lughnasadh* day

When you bring the harvest from the mound of the Fay.”

*Use whichever name for the holiday that best resonates with you.

Pick up your God representation and have your list of though-seeds in front of you.  One by one, in your own words, load the God representation with each thought-seeds into the God representation.  Tell the Lord of the Mound and the Mother Earth Goddess what these things are, why they re important to you and why they need to be fruits of the harvest.  When finished,  place the God representation into the hole/pot and say:

“The God mates with the Goddess,

And He fills her with the seeds of life;

He lies within her womb for three days,

Growing to fruition,

Only to be reborn when it is time for the harvest.”

Cover the God representation with soil and leave for three days.

Days #2, #3 and #4: visualize the seeds growing at rapid speed.  See each seedling growing into its own unique plant; be they apples or berries or corn or something else.  Don’t worry or fret as to how these plants are growing, just know that they are growing.

Day #5 (Lammas/Lughnasadh):  Ground and Center.  Uncover the God representation while saying:

“The Goddess of Life and the King of the Dead

Spent three days in and earthen bed.

The seeds have sprouted and the harvest has come

After the God and the Goddess became One.

I pull the Lord of the Mound from the womb

And I give thanks for this boon!”

In your own words, than the Mother Earth Goddess and the Lord of the Mound.  Place an offering, such as honey milk or a shiny object into or next to the pot/hole as a sacrifice in thanks for what you have harvested.  Ground and Center once again.  Clean off the God representation and place it in a sacred place of importance, such as a shrine or an altar.  Work on the physical plane to help bring your harvest to its fullest potential.

Crom Dubh Incense

3 parts myrrh

1 part wheat grains

1 part oak bark

1 part crushed bilberries or rowan berries

½ part fern

A few drops cypress oil

SOURCES:

  • Celtic Myth & Magick: Harnessing the Power of the Gods and Goddesses by Edain McCoy
  • Lammas: celebrating the Fruits of the First Harvest by Anna Franklin & Paul Mason
  • Pagan Book of Days: A Guide to the Festivals, Traditions, and Sacred Days of the Year by Nigel Pennick
  • Witches Bible Compleat by Janet and Stewart Farrar