The Irish called it Agairg Cuileoige, but it’s more popularly known as Amanita Muscaria. It has been used throughout the ages and around the world for its hallucinogenic properties, usually for religious, shamanic and spiritual purposes. And there are lots of clues in Irish mythology as to its use in ancient Irish culture.
A severed head depicted in Celtic artwork does not a macabre ritual make. However, it’s fair to say that the severed head makes many appearances in the ancient stories of Ireland. But scholars are now revising their opinions; it seems the Celts were removing the heads not of their enemies, but of their beloved friends who had fallen in battle. Could the same thing have happened here in Ireland? And if so, why would they behead their friends?
The legend of Crom Cruach is a sinister one. The ancient texts of the Metrical Dindshenchas claim that the people of Ireland worshipped the God by offering up their firstborn child in return for a plentiful harvest in the coming year. The children were killed by smashing their heads on the stone idol representing Crom Cruach, and sprinkling their blood around the base. This stone idol has been identified as the Killycluggin Stone.