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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Noínden Ulaid

Ailiter: Machae dano ben Chruind meic Agnoman doriacht and do comrith fri heacha Concobair, ar atbert an fer ba luaithiu a bean. Amlaid dano bói in ben, is hi inbadhach, cor chuinnigh cairde coro thoed a brú, ocus ni tucad di, ocus dognith in comrith iarum, ocus ba luaithem si, ocus o ro siacht (cenn) in céiti beridh mac ocus ingen - Fir ocus Fial a n-anmand - ocus atbert co mbedis Ulaid fo ceis óited in cach uair dus-ficfad eicin. Conid de bái in cess for Ulltaib fri re nomaide o flaith Concobair co flaith Mail meic Rochraidhe, ocus atberet ba hí sin Grian Banchure ingen Midir Brí Léith, ocus atbeb iar suidhiu, ocus focresa a fert i nArd Machae ocus focer a guba ocus roclannuadh a líae. Unde Ard Macha
  - Prose Dindshenchas

 Furthermore: Macha, moreover, wife of Chruind son of Agnoman who arrived there to race against the horses of Concobar, because her husband had said his wife is quicker. Thus moreover was the woman, she is due for delivery, she seeks a surety compact* to bring forth her womb, and none is given, and she is brought to race therefore, and she is the quicker, and when she reaches the (head of) the assembly she bears a son and a daughter - Fir [True] and Fial [Honorable] were their names - and she said that the Ulaid would be under a complaint of youth in each when their enemies compelled them. Therefore was this debility on the Ulaid for nine days and nine nights  from the rule of Concobar to the rule of Mail son of Rochraidhe, and it is said she was Grian Banchure [Sun of Womanhood] daughter of Midir of [the sí of] Brí Léith, and she died then after that and they put her burial mound in Ard Macha and performed her mourning lament and placed her stone. Whence Ard Macha [Macha's Height].

*cor chuinnigh cairde might possibly also be read as "she seeks a heart friendship" or something similar. The words can mean both a legal respite or mercy, and should perhaps be understood as both. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Translation Tidbits 2

I'm in the middle of writing my fourth novel but I thought you all might enjoy some miscellaneous translation tidbits. These are some of my favorite short pieces from a variety of sources.

Sonus lomma is lenna lir,
buáid comairle in cech caingin,
búaid comperta, clú co mbail,
búaid creiche adiu, buáid slúagaid.
Trí lán ma chluic d'usci úar
do chur esti a n-agaid slúag,
innreth t'innse tairis sin
- Betha Colmáin maic Lúacháin

Luck of milk and plentiful beer,
Victory of counsel in every matter,
Victory of judgments, fame with good luck,
Victory raiding henceforth, victory of hosts
three full good bells of cold water
Your horse-champions towards the faces of the host
Injury to those there forth

Trí coiri bíte in cach dúini: coire érma, coire goriath, coire áiged
- Triads of Ireland

Three cauldrons are in every person: a cauldron of motion, a cauldron of warming*, a cauldron of honor
* goriath is uncertain and may also mean "piousness" giving us a cauldron of motion, a cauldron of piety, and a cauldron of honor (literally "face")

Ré secht mbliadan Nuadat narsheng
Osin chuanairt chéibfind
Flathius ind fir chichmair chuilfind
Ria tiachtain in Hérind
I Maig Thuiredh, truim co trucha,
I torchair cuing in chatha,
Do cosnamaid bán in betha -
Ro lead a lám flatha.
- Lebor Gabala Erenn, vol 4

A space of seven years noble, graceful Nuada
Over a fair-haired warrior-pack
Ruled the greatly keen, fair-tressed man
Before going to Ireland
In Maige Tuired, heavy with doom,
By chance burden in the battle
From the bright defender of life -
Hacked off was his arm of sovereignty.

Fírinde inár croidhedhaibh ocus nertt inár lámhaibh, ocus comall inár tengthaibh - Acallam na Senórach

Truth in our hearts, and strength in our arms, and fulfillment of duty in our tongues

Ní dlig ferann fer cen treoir,
ní dlig degairm fer cen gliaid,
ní dlig cerchaill cenn co mbeoil,
ní dlig feoil fer cen scíain.
- marginalia Harleian 5280

Not deserving of land is a man without action
Not deserving of armoring is a man without battle skill
Not deserving of a pillow is a greasy head
Not deserving of meat is a man without a knife

Ad·fenar fó fíu.
Ad·fenar olcc anmoínib.
Ad·fenar maith moínib.
-          Cethairshlicht Athgabálae

Good is repaid by worthiness
Bad is repaid by un-treasures
Excellence is repaid by treasures

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Crossing Lines

  As my regular readers know I almost never get political on this blog. I try to avoid that sort of thing because, quite frankly, that's not what this blog is for.
   However, there's been a recent issue coming up in the wider pagan community*, which is itself just another verse of an older song, relating to elders in paganism making comments that are exclusionary and prejudiced. And that particular issue is more or less concurrent with another hate crime committed by people who may be associated with both White Supremacy and American Asatru. And honestly, yes I'm biased in both cases as someone who is non-binary gendered and who has a Heathen Kindred that includes someone of non-European ancestry, but I'm also just tired of it. And I'm tired of seeing so very many people in the community defending attitudes that exclude minorities with comments like "Yes, but they can have their own communities" and "Yes, but people are set in their ways and shouldn't be expected to change.". What I see is people - usually people not directly effected by the exclusions - making excuses and justifications.
   Seriously, people? That's asinine. I've been kicking around the pagan community for more than two decades and one thing that's always been true, until recently, was that paganism - in general - was a place for outsiders, for boundary pushers, for the minority of the minority. Have we really forgotten our own history so completely? Do we not remember when we were the ones who weren't accepted, weren't tolerated by mainstream society at all? We have a long, long history as a religious movement of pushing other people out of their comfort zones, of saying that we deserve acceptance because we exist, and in existing we have the same rights as everyone else. But now we're going to turn around and say within our own religions that doesn't apply to everyone? I realize some of these problems, especially racism in Asatru, have deep roots, but the hypocrisy needs to be addressed. We can't simultaneously have an attitude that says the rest of society must accept us and give us equal treatment, while refusing to do the same within our own community. We're letting lines be drawn when we, as a wider community have always been about crossing lines.
    I'm not generally against individual groups being able to choose who can and can't join. I'm not against groups controlling membership based on criteria they choose when that criteria makes sense in the context of the group. Individual groups are complex and group dynamics influence these things. An Irish pagan group only including people who follow Irish paganism, makes sense. A Heathen Kindred that is only open to people who honor Norse gods makes sense. A group that includes children choosing to exclude registered sex offenders is common sense. A private group that only lets in people who mesh well with existing members is one thing; a public group that wants to be public but also exclude is another. Groups have specific definition that establish who they are and create boundaries. But, no the color of someone's skin, their ethnicity, their sexual orientation, or their gender identity should not be a factor.
    Being Heathen isn't about having a certain amount of Germanic ancestry, or a certain skin color. Being a woman isn't about having a uterus or a certain chromosome combination. Just like being Pagan isn't about having the biggest pentacle (or Thor's hammer, or triskele or whatever). It's what's inside that defines us, and its always been what's inside that defines us. For people who so poetically say that our connection to our religion, to our Gods, is something internal that we feel we can't turn around and shift those goal posts to say that suddenly what's inside doesn't matter as much as what's outside.
    And if you are going to be a public figure than you are accepting the burden that comes with that, which includes the scrutiny and having your words given more weight than other peoples. If you are considered an elder then you should strive to be someone worth looking up to - or don't look for that position. When you speak publicly, when you take public stands on issues, for good or ill, your voice is louder and carries further than someone else's. Make your words count. Make sure you are speaking from a place of wisdom and compassion, not of fear. There is too much fear in the world already, we don't need more of it.
    So the next time anyone says that someone doesn't belong in the Pagan community, at a public ritual or event, or in a national organization because of an external factor, don't just make excuses. We, as a community fought for and earned the right to follow our religion in prison, in school, in the military. We fought for and earned the right to have a symbol of our faith on a military headstone. We have fought for the right to be acknowledged and given the same basic rights as every other religion. Don't turn your backs on that history now by deciding that our inclusiveness, our sense of community only applies if you look like you fit in.
      Either we stand together, or we fall.

*obviously all of this is aimed very generally, and I am using the term "Paganism" and "our religion" as blanket terms to cover the diverse traditions and groups within the wider community. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Influence of Fiction and Hollywood on Paganism

       I've been pagan for a couple decades now and I've observed a couple trends over that time. One of the most perplexing to me is the way that popular fiction - by which I mean novels, television, and movies - shapes and influences paganism. The reason it perplexes me is because the things that get picked up and absorbed into the pagan paradigm are often based in plot points and rarely fit well or make sense (to me) in actual practice. I've had friends argue, however, that this reflects a normal growth and evolution within the wider community, creating the dynamic which is modern paganism. From this viewpoint modern paganism is woven as much from current fiction and popular culture as it is from past mythology and belief.
     I'll provide a few examples of things that I have noticed and the sources I attribute to them, based on apparent corollary relationships. This isn't a scientific study, just personal observation. 

     Within a few years of the release of the movie The Craft I noticed an upswing in people condemning love magic as dangerous, calling on the made-up deity Manon, and a sudden trend towards people looking for an elemental balance in their groups, either using zodiac signs or affinity to elements. After Practical Magic came out I noticed a huge surge in people claiming to be natural witches. The Mists of Avalon (book and later movie) created a belief in a division between female witches and male druids (exacerbated by another fiction novel marketed as non-fiction), and forehead tattoos . The Charmed television series provided an array of beliefs I've run across in the pagan community, including the belief that magic shouldn't be done for personal gain, that familiars guide and protect new witches, in "whitelighters" as healers, and that each witch has a special power.
    Thor and the Avengers movies as well as the comics are other good examples. How many times have I seen, recently, people saying Thor and Loki are brothers, even though that's a complete modern fiction? That Sif is a warrior? People who have never read the Eddas or any other Norse myth are incorporating Marvel Thor's mythology instead. 
     And then there is the way that some modern pagans have redefined fairylore based on popular fiction and movies, so that fairies become exclusively tiny winged figures, and guardians of nature. I'm giving a side eye to Fern Gully and the Tinkerbell movies here, although they are only the most recent pop culture result of a slightly older trend going back to the Victorian era.
      Why does any of this matter? Well, what I struggle with is the way that many of these beliefs are not rooted in anything and cannot be explained. When I asked someone telling me that Druids had to be men and I should be a witch why that was so he could only say because it was "how it was always done" even though that isn't true outside of fiction. When I asked someone claiming familiars protect and guide new witches how her cat does that she could not explain except to say that it was what her friend told her. When I asked the woman who was lecturing me about never doing magic for personal gain but only ever to help other people why the old cunningfolk were paid for their services; well she just gave me a dirty look and stormed off. When I asked the girl telling me that she needed someone who was an "air" person to complete her Circle why she needed elemental balance - what would happen when she had it? Would the group size be limited to 4? What about traditional covens of 13? - she couldn't tell me.
     Paganism already suffers from a lack of understanding of our own beliefs and cosmology; many people repeat beliefs by rote not from a place of comprehension. And we should understand what we believe, the meaning and purpose behind what we say. We should know why we do what we do. Grafting on beliefs that are rootless, that have nothing behind them except an author's need to forward or complicate a plotline, does not help us; in fact can only hurt by muddying already misunderstood waters. You can't explain a belief that is based in the writers need to keep their characters from solving things too easily, or which was meant to set up the main conflict of the story. That is fiction - our religions aren't.
   The thing is I love pagan fiction and I think its wonderful - I love that it guides people to eventually finding the religions. I love that the quality of pagan fiction is getting better and that we have more and more books and movies which more accurately reflect the real beliefs, especially the old fairy beliefs. But when the line between the entertaining fiction and the actual religion blurs to a degree that people are practicing the fiction, without understanding it for what it is...that's where I see the problem. It frustrates me to see some of it, although it may be an inevitable evolution of religion based on how we tell our stories now - we don't grow up on the old myths and tales we grow up on Charmed and Disney Tinkerbell...and that shapes our beliefs. I enjoy pagan fiction quite a lot, but I understand it for what it is - entertainment.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Modern Prayers in Old Irish

This is something I've been working on to submit for a anthology* which is looking for modern Celtic Reconstructionist prayers. I thought it would be interesting to offer basic prayers in Old Irish to different Gods.
It is still a work in progress, but this is what I have so far:

Guide Nuada 
Nuada Argetlam
Nuada fo dí Ríg
Nuada narsheng
Guidim do a bhennach
Guidim do a eolas
Guidim do a anacht
Do chairdes form
D’ecne lemm
Do sciath úasum
Dobiur sin duit
Bronntas do bronntas
Nuada Ríg mórda

Prayer to Nuada
Nuada Silver Arm
Nuada Twice King
Nuada Noble-fair
I pray for your blessing
I pray for your guidance
I pray for your protection
Your friendship on me
Your wisdom with me
Your shield over me
I give this to you
A gift for a gift
Nuada mighty king

Guide Macha ar Nert 
I pray to you,
Oh Macha,
Sovereign Lady,
Queen by her
own hand,
Deadly crow
of many battles,
May I be fierce
May I be strong
May I be unyielding
In my own strife

Prayer to Macha for Strength
Guidimm cuccut,
a Mhacha,
Rígan tree
feisin laim,
Fionóg bhadbda
de ilchathaigecht
Beinn adlond
Beinn nert
Beinn taetach
I mu gliada céin

The Lorica of Nemain
Do-gairim Nemain
Is ind-í inmescaid slógu
Leiss dasacht ocus anfud
Is ind-í ata derci
ocus aibli tened
Is ind-í ben aithneimnech
ind-í dobeir cath báis
Nemain fodaind fathaig
Nemain airbertach brechta
Nemain eólaig i breithemnusa
Aingi missi, cech laithe,
Aingi missi, in naithchi n-uili
Aingi missi i mu beth
Lasse as-biur inse guide

I call on Nemain
She who intoxicates armies
With madness and fury
She who is passion
and the heat of the fire
She who is the venomous woman
she gives deadly battle
Nemain wise in poetry
Nemain skilled in incantations
Nemain knowledgeable in judging
Protect me, every day
Protect me, during the night
Protect me in my life
When I say this prayer

Guide Bhuaid
Badb catha
béldergi, gáiretach
ben úathmar aintrennda
aided co ceird chrúi
bascaid-si mo námaid
Doratai búadchas dam

A Victory Prayer
Badb catha
red-mouthed, smiling
terrible, fierce woman
skilled in bloody feats
restrain my enemies
give me victory

Guide in Morrigan
A Mhorrigan,
 dea morda
Fortched n-galann
comhuirleach de riga
tarcud do bhuadchas
Feannog dubh di chatha
Fuince airderg
Ind-i is lainn la
sluaighṡirthe calma
Cluinti mo chlois
allghlór, allabó,
allguth a airbúaid
Deachd mo conách
Do-andud mo grís
Doratai dam
sén uaire ocus solud
Admolaim do hainm
Ben uasal catha,
A Mhorrigan

A Prayer to the Morrigan
Oh Morrigan,
mighty goddess
Inciter of valour
Adviser to kings
Providing for triumph
Black crow of battle
Crimson clawed
Who delights in
valiant armies
Hear my voice
a great noise, a great war-cry,
a great shout of my
great victory
Inspire my success
Inspire my passion,
give to me
a lucky hour and
good fortune
I praise your name
Noble lady of battle
Powerful woman


* information on the anthology can be found here, deadline is January 2016

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Samhain isn't pronounced Sam-hane and other truths

    I should probably have titled this post "Grumpy Old Polytheist Ramblings". But there's a lot of so-called educational memes floating around the community right now that are a lot more opinion than fact and I finally decided that it was time to address some specific points. With facts.
    Samhain is pronounced "Sow-win" or "Sow-wen" in Irish and Samhuinn is pronounced "Sah-vihn" in Scottish Gaidhlig; there are of course minor variations with different dialects but in no Celtic language is it pronounced "Sam-hane". As far as I can tell pronouncing it that way comes from non-Irish speakers reading the word and applying English phonetic pronunciation rules to it. But lets be honest here - that doesn't make the mispronounced version correct. That's like me pronouncing "America" Uhm-ehr-ee-suh" and saying that's a legit pronunciation that should be accepted because that's how I read it phonetically. Or for that matter like me saying p-hon-eht-ih-cullee is an okay way to say phonetically. At this point there are enough resources and online pronunciation guides that there's no reason for people not to get Samhain correct. I mean seriously people everyone insists on using the Old Irish spelling for Lughnasadh but people manage to say it Loo-nah-sah just fine, so lets stop acting like mispronouncing Samhain is an okay thing to do.
   And no, there is absolutely no Samhain God of the Dead, or Sam Hane God of the Dead either.
   And, for the record, there is no ancient Celtic tree zodiac (or animal zodiac either), and the whole "Tree Calendar" thing was made up in 1948 by Robert Graves - the Druids never used it and wouldn't have had any clue what it was if you could somehow time travel back a couple thousand years and ask them about it. The Tree Ogham is a real thing but it had nothing to do with dates or months, just with associations between Ogham letters and specific trees; there's also a Bird Ogham where each letter is associated with a bird, and Pig Ogham, and so on. I guess Graves didn't think the Pig Ogham was romantic enough to base a calendar system on...
    Speaking of hard truths - let me burst another bubble for everyone. There is no Celtic pantheon. Really it's true. When you see those lists of deities labeled "Celtic pantheon" in all those books its really just a random list of deities from the different Celtic cultures hodge-podged together. But here's the problem inherent in that - a pantheon by definition is the gods of a specific religion or people, and there was *never* a single over-arching Celtic religion or people. Celtic has always been a term of convenience for describing similar groups based on shared cultural themes, art, and related languages. The mythology, even for the so-called Pan-Celtic deities like Lugh/Llew/ Lugus who are found across the different Celtic culture is different. The Morrigan was a major deity in Ireland but there isn't any evidence of her in Gaul; we find Cernunnos in Gaul but not elsewhere. Even within a single culture their were regional Gods who might be known in this location but not over in this other location. The reason that matters is that in a pantheon you should be able to find stories of the Gods interacting with each other, or at least appearing together, there should be a cohesion of belief and cultus that only occurs in groups of deities that have a genuine unifying factor. You might be able to argue for an Irish Pantheon or a Gaulish Pantheon, but understand that Celtic as such is pretty meaningless for religious purposes.
   Also, although we may not like to admit it, yes the ancient Celtic cultures - and pretty much all ancient cultures - practiced human sacrifice. This isn't some kind of nasty propaganda, its just a fact. When we're going around trying to act like that sort of thing never happened because it goes against our modern mores it just makes us look kind of silly.
   And since I'm on a roll, the Good Folk are not elementals and not all of them are nature spirits. That whole twee little garden sprite thing is a very Victorian idea. They aren't angels, and they also aren't our special spirit guide friends. Some of them may care about humanity at large but a great many them don't. Sometimes they help us, but sometimes they harm us and we can't just decide they are all sweet and gentle and make it be so.
   One final note, on the subject of hard truths - there is a difference between an opinion and a fact. An opinion is how you feel about something. In my opinion dark chocolate is better than milk chocolate. A fact is an objective reality. Chocolate is made from cacao beans. The first example is my opinion, other people may disagree or have different opinions and that's fine; the second example is a fact and is not open to someone else's disagreement. In other words you might think milk chocolate is better than dark, and that's your opinion which is fine, but you can't just decide that chocolate is actually made from coffee beans because that simply isn't true. In spirituality some things are opinion, and some things are facts. Its really important to know the difference between the two.
"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Crom Cruach

   One of the more interesting non-Tuatha De Danann deities that some people choose to honor today is Crom Cruach, synonymous according to scholars with Cenn Cruiach, and likely also the same as Crom Dubh (Smyth, 1988; O hOgain, 2006; MacNeill, 1962). Crom means bent, stooped or crooked; cruach has a wider array of meanings including stack of corn; rick; heap, conical pile, gory, bloody; high-coloured; bloodthirsty, slaughter, wounding, carnage. The meaning of Crom Cruach's name is uncertain but many people seem to read it as either "bent bloody one" or "crooked heap". Cenn Cruiach may mean "head of the hill" (MacNeill, 1962). Crom Dubh may mean "Black stooped one" or "dark croucher" and Daithi O'hOgain believes all the different iterations of Crom are actually derived from Christian imagery of the anti-Christ (O hOgain, 2006). In contrast Daragh Smyth sticks with the literary suggestion that Crom was the primary God of the pagan Irish before the conversion (Smyth, 1988).
   In modern folklore many Lunasa celebrations center on the defeat of Crom by saint Patrick, often on the last Sunday in July or first in Sunday August which is called Domhnach Chroim Duibh - "Crom Dubh Sunday" (Smyth, 1988). Marian MacNeill believes that these stories likely reflect older pagan stories which would have pitted Lugh against Crom, where Lugh must secure the harvest for the people, but that after Christianization the Catholic saint replaced the Tuatha De Danann God (MacNeill, 1962). Crom at Lunasa represents the primal force that is either trying to steal the harvest or keep the harvest and with whom a hero must contend to secure supplies for the community. Many of the myths relating to Lugh and Crom Dubh, who is sometimes called Crom Cruach, involve Lugh battling and outwitting Crom and thus insuring the safety and bounty of the harvest; in some cases this theme is given the additional layer of the defeat, sacrifice, consumption, and then resurrection of Crom’s bull which may argue for an older element of bull sacrifice on this day (MacNeill, 1962).For the three days of Lunasa the Goddess Aine is Crom's consort, and she herself takes on a more fierce aspect to match him (MacNeill, 1962).
  Besides Lunasa Crom is strongly associated with Samhain when it was said he was honored at Mag Slecht with offerings of the firstborn of every living thing in exchange for a good harvest of corn and milk. According to the Rennes Dindshenchas 3/4 of the people who bowed down to him died:
’Tis there was the king-idol of Erin, namely the Crom
Cróich, and around him twelve idols made of stones; but he
was of gold. Until Patrick’s advent, he was the god of every
folk that colonized Ireland. To him they used to offer the
firstlings of every issue and the chief scions of every clan. 

’Tis to him that Erin’s king, Tigernmas son of Follach, repaired
on Hallontide*, together with the men and women of Ireland,
in order to adore him. And they all prostrated before him, so
that the tops of their foreheads and the gristle of their noses
and the caps of their knees and the ends of their elbows broke,
and three fourths of the men of Erin perished at those prostrations.
Whence Mag Slecht ‘Plain of Prostrations
  (Stokes, 1895)
In the Metrical Dindshenchas we are told of saint Patrick's destruction of Crom's statue at Mag Slecht:
  "Here used to stand a lofty idol, that saw many a fight, whose name was the Cromm Cruaich; it caused every tribe to live without peace.
Alas for its secret power! the valiant Gaedil used to worship it: not without tribute did they ask of it to satisfy them with their share in the hard world.
He was their god, the wizened Cromm, hidden by many mists: as for the folk that believed in him, the eternal Kingdom beyond every haven shall not be theirs.
For him ingloriously they slew their hapless firstborn with much wailing and peril, to pour their blood round Cromm Cruaich.
Milk and corn they asked of him speedily in return for a third part of all their progeny: great was the horror and outcry about him.
To him the bright Gaedil did obeisance: from his worship—many the crimes—the plain bears the name Mag Slecht.
Thither came Tigernmas, prince of distant Tara, one Samain eve, with all his host: the deed was a source of sorrow to them.
They stirred evil, they beat palms, they bruised bodies, wailing to the demon who held them thralls, they shed showers of tears, weeping prostrate.
Dead the men, void of sound strength the hosts of Banba, with land-wasting Tigernmas in the north, through the worship of Cromm Cruaich—hard their hap!
For well I know, save a fourth part of the eager Gaedil, not a man—lasting the snare—escaped alive, without death on his lips.
Round Cromm Cruaich there the hosts did obeisance: though it brought them under mortal shame, the name cleaves to the mighty plain.
Ranged in ranks stood idols of stone four times three; to beguile the hosts grievously the figure of the Cromm was formed of gold.
Since the kingship of Heremon, bounteous chief, worship was paid to stones till the coming of noble Patrick of Ard Macha.
He plied upon the Cromm a sledge, from top to toe; with no paltry prowess he ousted the strengthless goblin that stood here.
"  (Gwyn, 1924)
  According to another story in a late version of saint Patrick's life the saint overthrew Crom, possibly under the name of Cenn Cruiach, whose statue of gold-embossed stone was at Mag Slecht surrounded by 12 silver-embossed statues (Smyth, 1988; O hOgain, 2006). In some versions he ordered Crom's statue to be buried after destroying it. Of course given the shifting that MacNeill speculates occured at Lunasa between Lugh and saint Patrick battling Crom one does wonder if perhaps it wasn't Lugh who originally confronted and destroyed Crom's statue at Mag Slecht, but that's pure speculation. Several scholars, including MacNeill and Smyth suggest a possible connection between Crom and Lugh's Fomorian grandfather Balor. 
   Crom Cruach is associated with Samhain not only in the Dindshenchas but also in several other sources.
According to the Annals of the Four Masters:
  "M3656.2 It was by Tighearnmas .... At the end of this year he died, with the three fourths of the men of Ireland about him, at the meeting of Magh Slecht, in Breifne, at the worshiping of Crom Cruach, which was the chief idol of adoration in Ireland. This happened on the night of Samhain precisely. It was from the genuflections which the men of Ireland made about Tighearnmas here that the plain was named."
 Which is reiterated by Geoffrey Keating:
  "And it was at Magh Sleacht that Tighearnmhas himself died and three quarters of the men of Ireland with him on the eve of Samhain while they were in the act of worshiping Crom Cruaidh, the chief idol of Ireland. For it was this Tighearnmhas who first instituted the worship of Crom Cruaidh (as Zoroastres did in Greece) about a hundred years after they had come to Ireland; and it was from the prostrations of the men of Ireland before this idol that that plain in Breithfne is called Magh Sleacht*." (Keating, 1854).
Unlike the two Dindshenchas versions neither of these suggest a direct connection between Crom's worship and the deaths of 3/4 of the men honoring him at Samhain. Keating is unusual in that he explicitly says that it was the pseudo-historical kingTigernmas who introduced Crom's worship to Ireland, placing that occurrence around 1200 BCE (Keating, 1854).
    In the later stories Crom is recast as a human pagan who goes to saint Patrick to be saved or is otherwise converted by him (MacNeill, 1962).
  I am aware of some modern Irish pagans who see Crom as a pre-Celtic agricultural God. They choose to honor him as a bringer or protector of the harvest rather than see him as a cthonic or chaotic force that must be fought against. In this view he is placed alongside the older Gods like the Cailleach as reflecting what could possibly be an echo of neolithic paganism, but of course this is impossible to prove. 

*  Samhain
* Generally understood as a form of sléchtaid meaning "bowing down, kneeling" and you'll often see Mag Slecht translated as the "Plain of Prostration" however its worth noting that slechtaid (without the fada over the e) means cutting down, slaughtering which in context would also fit equally well and would make the name of the plain "Plain of Slaughter". At the least I'd suggest this is a good example of the type of double meaning we see so often in Old Irish that should be appreciated more in English. 

Stokes, W., (1895) Rennes Dindshenchas
Smyth, D., (1988). A Guide to Irish Mythology
MacNeill, M., (1962) Festival of Lughnasa
O hOgain, D., (2006). The Lore of Ireland
Gwyn, E., (1924). Metrical Dindshenchas
Keating, G., (1854) The History of Ireland