Saturday, March 7, 2020

Crom Deity of An Extinct People - A Different Twist On A Classic Cimmerian God For Your Old School Campaigns

Crom by aquilianranger on DeviantArt

...He dwells on a great mountain. What use to call on him? Little he cares if men live or die. Better to be silent than to call his attention to you; he will send you dooms, not fortune! He is grim and loveless, but at birth he breathes power to strive and slay into a man's soul. What else shall men ask of the gods?
Queen of the Black Coast by Robert E. Howard

Ever since I was a kid Robert E. Howard's Crom has been on my mind in one sense or another. But Crom is both as mysterious as he is dangerous. The wiki entry on Crom goes into the gods details;"Crom is the chief god of the Cimmerian pantheon, and he lives on a great mountain, from where he sends forth doom or death. It's useless to call upon Crom, because he is a gloomy and savage god who despises the weak. However, Crom gives a man courage, free-will, and the strength to kill their enemies at birth.[1] Crom doesn't care if individuals live or die, and he despises weakness, therefore the name of Crom is typically only invoked during an oath or curse. He is the only member of the Cimmerian pantheon named with any regularity." 
In Robert E. Howard Conan stories Crom is the silent divine  witness to every one of Conan's exploits. Crom is the head of a pantheon of the extinct Cimmerian peoples. His rites, his rituals, & even his prayers mean nothing. Crom is gives a man courage at birth, and the will and might to kill his enemies, which, in the Cimmerian's mind is the best a man could ask for. 

Conan movie 1982

"His gods were simple and understandable; Crom was their chief, and he lived on a great mountain, whence he sent forth dooms and death. It was useless to call on Crom, because he was a gloomy, savage god, and he hated weaklings. But he gave a man courage at birth, and the will and might to kill his enemies, which, in the Cimmerian's mind, was all any god should be expected to do.In "The Phoenix on the sword though" king Conan indicates that he prefers the ways of the nordheimr also in religious matters.
The Tower of the Elephant by Robert E. Howard"

Who or what were the other members of Crom's Cimmerian pantheon? We actually have some solid information about these god; "Conan swears often by Crom but also mentions Lir and Manannan mac Lir by name. Howard, in his notes, also listed some other familiar Celtic deities as belonging to the Cimmerian pantheon:

Crom is highly detailed in original Dungeons & Dragon's Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes 's ROBERT E. HOWARD'S HYBOREA ;
"CROM Armor Class — 4 Magic Ability: (See Below) Move: 18" Fighter Ability: 20th Level Hit Points: 300 Conan's diety, a grim savage human type presides over a great hall in the high mountains filled with powerful fighters. He hates any form of weakness and to call on him in this state is to bring dooms instead of help. He has the power to teleport and fights as a Storm Giant. He wears plus 4 armor and uses a plus 3 sword."

Crom has resurfaced in the OSR back in Jan 29, 2014  in Greg Gorgonmilk's free Underworld Lore issue#3 in which an alternative HYBOREA Lore is detailed. James Mishler' version of Crom presents a grim divine warrior.

Mishler's Crom gets a solid entry in Petty Gods: Revised & Expanded Edition where he is counted among the Petty Gods. But really there are those among certain Howard & HP Lovecraft fans who insist that Crom is an Elder God. Among my fellow Robert E.Howard & HP Lovecraft local fans there is a fan theory that states Odin is a future incarnation of Crom;"Beginning with Henry Petersen's doctoral dissertation in 1876, which proposed that Thor was the indigenous god of Scandinavian farmers and Odin a later god proper to chieftains and poets, many scholars of Norse mythology in the past viewed Odin as having been imported from elsewhere. The idea was developed by Bernhard Salin on the basis of motifs in the petroglyphs and bracteates, and with reference to the Prologue of the Prose Edda, which presents the Æsir as having migrated into Scandinavia. Salin proposed that both Odin and the runes were introduced from Southeastern Europe in the Iron Age. Other scholars placed his introduction at different times; Axel Olrik, during the Migration Age as a result of Gaulish influence.[66]
More radically, both the archaeologist and comparative mythologist Marija Gimbutas and the Germanicist Karl Helm argued that the Æsir as a group, which includes both Thor and Odin, were late introductions into Northern Europe and that the indigenous religion of the region had been Vanic.[67][68]
In the 16th century and by the entire Vasa dynasty, Odin (as Oden) was officially considered the first King of Sweden by that country's government and historians. This was based on an embellished list of rulers invented by Johannes Magnus and adopted as fact in the reign of King Carl IX, who, though numbered accordingly, actually was only Carl III.[69]
Under the trifunctional hypothesis of Georges Dumézil, Odin is assigned one of the core functions in the Indo-European pantheon as a representative of the first function (sovereignty) corresponding to the Hindu Varuṇa (fury and magic) as opposed to Týr, who corresponds to the Hindu Mitrá (law and justice); while the Vanir represent the third function (fertility).[70][71]

Odin, in his guise as a wanderer, by Georg von Rosen (1886)
Another approach to Odin has been in terms of his function and attributes. Many early scholars interpreted him as a wind-god or especially as a death-god.[72] He has also been interpreted in the light of his association with ecstatic practices, and Jan de Vries compared him to the Hindu god Rudra and the Greek Hermes"

In the far future of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea we see both Crom & Odin take the battlefield of Ragnarok;"The völva continues that Jötunheimr, the land of the jötnar, is aroar, and that the Æsir are in council. The dwarfs groan by their stone doors.[13] Surtr advances from the south, his sword brighter than the sun. Rocky cliffs open and the jötnar women sink.[16]
The gods then do battle with the invaders: Odin is swallowed whole and alive fighting the wolf Fenrir, causing his wife Frigg her second great sorrow (the first being the death of her son, the god Baldr).[17] Odin's son Víðarr avenges his father by rending Fenrir's jaws apart and stabbing it in the heart with his spear, thus killing the wolf. The serpent Jörmungandr opens its gaping maw, yawning widely in the air, and is met in combat by Thor. Thor, also a son of Odin and described here as protector of the earth, furiously fights the serpent, defeating it, but Thor is only able to take nine steps afterward before collapsing. The god Freyr fights Surtr and loses. After this, people flee their homes, and the sun becomes black while the earth sinks into the sea, the stars vanish, steam rises, and flames touch the heavens.[18]

Battle of the Doomed Gods (by Friedrich Wilhelm Heine, 1882)

The völva sees the earth reappearing from the water, and an eagle over a waterfall hunting fish on a mountain. The surviving Æsir meet together at the field of Iðavöllr. They discuss Jörmungandr, great events of the past, and the runic alphabet. In stanza 61, in the grass, they find the golden game pieces that the gods are described as having once happily enjoyed playing games with long ago (attested earlier in the same poem). The reemerged fields grow without needing to be sown. The gods Höðr and Baldr return from Hel and live happily together.["

Crom himself as the grim warrior has his own people among the Viking & Keltic
 peoples of Hyperborea. He saw the coming conflict
between Old Earth & Hyperborea. He raised his cults of warriors among the
 elite orders of the military. Crom agenda has not changed
at all. Strong backs, good sword arms, and the code of the warrior all please the grim one.

 King Conan composed by Roy Thomas King Conan issue # 8

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