Friday, 23 June 2017
June 2016 saw the fiftieth anniversary of the tragic death of a remarkable individual, a man who posthumously was to become perhaps the most influential figure in Traditional Witchcraft and Occult thought, during the latter decades of the twentieth century. That man whose real name was Roy Bowers, is better known today under his pseudonym Robert Cochrane. Although one should add the qualification that Cochrane slipped into a coma on Midsummer Eve and did not actually pass until the 3rd of July 1966. Since he did not regain consciousness however, many mark that date as his ‘symbolic’ death. He was thirty five years old.
Founder of the People of the Goda, the Clan of Tubal Cain this man wrote no books and during his brief life, only a few of his articles saw print. He is today known through the famous letters written to Bill Gray, Joseph Wilson and Norman Gills, available online and in print. His influence however, extends far beyond the available works. Through the continued existence of the Clan and his unpublished manuscripts, his memory still serves as a candle in the darkness. A lamp that guides those who seek to explore the deeper mysteries.
On Saturday the 25th of June (2016) an event of enormous import took place in the English city of Nottingham. Heritage and the Poetic Vision of Robert Cochrane (Heritage for short) was in fact a series of linked events, each following on from the other. The first being an invitation only event to sixty carefully chosen individuals. This happy few, this band of brothers (and sisters), included not only Clan supporters and friends; this gathering included in its number the luminaries of the Craft and the Occult environment in Britain today. A somewhat smaller number were unable to attend and had sent their apologies. I had a small role to play in the organisation and running of the event, this included acting as one of the ushers on the day.
Gathering at the majestic conference rooms of the Galleries of Justice, a large, ornate and stylish venue, the private part of the day began post lunch at approximately two o’clock. Here in this room, with selected Clan artefacts and regalia on display, four lectures by Clan members were to be presented. The object to celebrate the heritage of the Clan, its place within the modern Craft movement and to look to the future.
The opening speaker was Louis Bourbon with a presentation titled ‘the Faith and Legacy of the Clan of Tubal Cain.’ Mr Bourbon read selected passages from the works of the Clan founder, interspaced with the necessary commentary. Our speaker made the observation that this event was the first joint and unified Clan action of its kind. Further noting that like the Cochrane material, there is a perceived and tangible difference between public material and private letters never meant to be made public.
What the Craft is and what the Craft does are two points difficult to explain, as understanding comes with doing. Mr Bourbon was to expand on this theme by explaining the significance of poetry within the Clan and the poetic insights that enlighten our personal gnosis, whilst referencing both Shakespeare and Graves. Noting that although much of the White Goddess may be dismissed, the inspired core elements remain valid.
Moving to further expand the subject, Mr Bourbon spoke of the symbolism hidden within verse, children’s rhymes and other poetic forms, dismissing another contemporary writer on Clan matters (an outside observer and not a Clan member) as having presented a ‘hodge podge’ work based upon misunderstood teachings. The matter of Poetic Vision, insight, allegory and metaphor, they were to become the core themes of the entire afternoon.
The gentleman continued with a brief question regarding of the place of Wicca within the Traditional Craft, noting that they are in fact two quite distinct movements, valid but not conjoined. Interspaced here were historical observances, the matter that the operations of the wise-woman and the cunning-man were solitary and not coven based. Even leaving the question of whether there is any connection between the Italian Craft and Wicca, hanging almost unanswered.
Making a deeply philosophical observation that ‘we cannot lie to the Gods and we cannot lie to ourselves,’ Mr Bourbon took a wider perspective from this point, throwing in questions regarding Cabbalistic influences upon the Craft, the Dark Goddess, the Old Man and the place of totems, whilst drawing a link between for example, the Stag of Seven Tines and the Stang.
Drawing a correspondence across symbolism, linking the idea of a virgin and the wise-woman with the virtue of compassion, we were reminded that nothing is ever purely good nor evil. That the Goddess is multifaceted, black and white, both light and dark. Examining the concept of Truth we observe that the Godhead contains both masculine and feminine elements, yet what of the Truth within?
Introducing esoteric Christian symbolism into an already heady mix, we beheld Christ as a Witch or Magician, observing that the Crucifixion can in allegorical themes, be regarded as the Sacrifice of the Divine King. Christ was obviously the true Christian and all that has followed, are variations upon his current.
This led us to the final part of Mr Bourbon’s most enlightening presentation, a discussion of spirit flight and the vision of a naked woman on horseback. This patently suggests Godiva as a Goddess and by returning to our theme of poetic insight, we are able to draw links with our Lady of Banbury.
Our second speaker was Shani Oates, the Maid of the Clan of Tubal Cain and whose talk was titled ‘the Rites and Rights of Truth.’ Here in this presentation, the Maid was to discuss the influence of Evan John Jones, the link between herself and Cochrane, whilst seeking to examine Clan history, lore, law and the alleged influences of others outside of the Clan.
The Maid began with an appreciative acknowledgment of the work of her late predecessor Evan John Jones, who took up the mantle of Magister of the Clan after the death of Robert Cochrane, via his widow. This led not unnaturally onto an examination of roles within the Clan and the Craft, including those that may be regarded as gender specific.
Referencing her own work (Star Crossed Serpent volume 3) and that of Doreen Valiente (Rebirth of Witchcraft); the Maid discussed the Pharaonic matrilineal descent of ancient Egypt, as a historical example of the heterogeneous transference of virtue. The partnership of Magister and Lady, together with the role of the Lady, may differ in the Clan and other Traditionalist groups, from those with other origins and influences. Although the genders are equal and although the woman does not lead, the male leads on a woman’s sufferance or licence. There is a subtle difference between The Lady and a lady, the former does not for example renew her vows.
Discussing the transference of Virtue, we note that power may not be tangible but while residing within, may only await a trigger. In discussing Robert Cochrane; we observe that his methodology could using modern terminology, be described as ‘shamanistic.’ Words convey an idea but rites can differ. Rituals change in the process of performance and perhaps that change is in ways less obvious, than a simple deviation from any script. “You are all and I am nothing.”
In referencing incidents from Clan history the Maid touched on areas of controversy, sensitivity and hurt. How the Regency declined Clan membership and how its members would eventually disown Cochrane. Finally and most timely the Maid spoke of chants, the Mill and Crossing the river. Asking us two thought provoking questions; “What do you hope to gain and do you want to die?”
The third speaker of the day was Robin the Dart, husband of the Maid and Magister of the Clan of Tubal Cain. His presentation began in a mildly socialist tone and perhaps an earthier one, when compared to the previous two but would again return to the themes of insight, allegory and metaphor. Titled ‘the Mask of Tubal Cain’ he sought to explore the duties and responsibilities of ancestry.
Speaking of the Craft as the preserve of the ‘humble peasant’ and as an expression of unity in a society of lords and serfs, Robin the Dart emphasised that there is no ownership of the mysteries. Truth is a difficult creature to capture, my Truth may not be your Truth, each of us must find our own way and each may have their own way. I found myself asking, is this the Crooked Path, that meandering search for the muse? It leads to that perennial question and to the words of Pilate when addressing Christ; “What is Truth?”
Robin the Dart then moved or rather returned to the themes of insight and poetic vision, observing that we have a duty and a responsibility to the Ancestors, however we may define that term. That the essence within myth is eternal, that the light of Truth shines through World Mythology and that this light is a harsh light. It exposes truth and wisdom, our honesty and our faults.
Matters pertaining to ethical living, personal integrity and observations that ‘we are what we do,’ served to guide us onwards to deeper questions. Noting that Robert Cochrane was part of that post-war generation that felt something had been lost and therefore, sought to rediscover. This leads not unnaturally to questions of cultural and historical belonging, lineage and family, the clan, the tribe and the place of a tutelary deity.
Linking this with family, faith and culture within the context of the Clan of Tubal Cain, Robin the Dart asked a question somewhat unnerving. Today, is part of the Craft nothing more than window dressing? The Gods need no temple.
Approaching the denouement of his presentation, Robin the Dart spoke of Yggdrasil, the stang and the stream of a tradition, noting briefly social distinctions, regional variations in Staffordshire and the Warren Code, imploring us to overcome our weakness and to defeat our fear. “Whom the Gods would destroy, they first make mad.”
Myth is the eternal Truth and although religion erroneously teaches us that spirituality is dead, the path of true gnosis, is when reaching the Divine becomes the primary objective. Comfort is an illusion, yet we are all bound under Law, the virtues of Honour and of Mercy. Love is truly divine and we must announce the Word over the lie. Those that are of the Blood will hear the call. Truly, I do wish this man would speak (and write) more often.
The fourth presentation was given by Ulric “Gestumblindi” Goding, the Tanist of the Clan of Tubal Cain and therefore, the heir apparent. Titled ‘Wisdom’s Embrace: Living Craft and Upholding Tradition,’ the speaker was to discuss living the Old Craft, its gifts of hope, wisdom and its relevance. Unfortunately I had to leave the assembly at this point, having as part of my usher duties an errand at our second venue. I provide below a link to a transcript of Ulric’s presentation:
Our second venue of the day was the Old Salutation Inn on Maid Marion Way. This ancient building dating back to the thirteenth century, is one of the oldest buildings in the city. The cellar caves underneath date to the ninth century and are something of a historical feature. After providing the staff with suitable music in the form of an assortment of themed folk CDs, it was here in the wood panelled Cromwell Snug that I set out the tables. This was for the public phase of the event and to provide an area for the Maid to sign her published works.
The event today marked the publication of three new works published by the Clan of Tubal Cain. ‘Heritage’ is an anthology of writings by the People of the Goda (the Clan itself) and explores its evolution. ‘Tubal’s Mill: the round of life’ is an account of the Robert Cochrane Tradition written by Shani Oates, the Maid of the Clan of Tubal Cain. To accompany that work there is a third publication ‘Tubal’s Mill: Legacy.’ This work being a collection of relevant scanned documents. I took photographs of all three and they are with the rest of the works of Shani Oates, available via Amazon or Mandrake of Oxford.
Making my way to the caves, allegedly haunted and certainly mysterious, I began our preparations for the ‘Sumbel’ later. Here in the intriguing and atmospheric caves, I lit some two hundred candles and a hoodlamp. Placing them on various ledges and in the many nooks, to hopefully provide the necessary light for the ceremonies later. I had an hour to fulfil my duties and was therefore, somewhat focused. I placed many lights in a manner to illuminate the steps from the upper levels to the deeper cave and on the uneven parts of the cave floor as a warning to the unwary.
Soon after five o’clock the guests from the Galleries of Justice began to arrive and joined the members of the public that had already taken their place in the Salutation. The numbers were such that we effectively took over the entire ground floor of the building, including the other snug. Allowing time for socialising and book signing, some of us then departed to the caves to prepare for the ‘Sumbal,’ carrying glasses and mead for our sacred toasts.
Judging that is was time to hold the toasts, I was asked to summon those gathered, this I did in my usual pretentious manner and with much bravado, my voice booming out across the building the invitation to join the Magister in the caves.
Gathering in the deepest cave of the underground complex, lit only by candle light, Robin the Dart the Magister of the Clan of Tubal Cain read a poem of his own composition. This was followed by a short delivery from Ulric “Gestumblindi” Goding the Tanist of the Clan. We each raised our glass of mead to drink in a most moving if simple ceremony. There was a moment of connection.
There was then a ‘round’ as we were invited to name a departed soul, asking the remainder of the gathering to join us in drinking to their memory. My own toast was to Evan John Jones, of whom I am a great admirer. In raising our glasses in memory of the departed, there were one or perhaps two names called, who in my opinion should not have been mentioned at all. Although the thought and action of raising my glass at this time and to their memory did make me pause, my unease did not spoil the moment and I drank in the spirit of the occasion.
Returning to the ground floor of the Salutation and after more socialising, we began our third phase of the day. An evening meal at Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, that other famous Nottingham public house. Although the main building dates to the seventieth century, with ancient caves and medieval foundations built into Castle Rock. The origins of the site can be dated to the early Norman period of the eleventh or twelfth centuries. It is one of several pubs that claims to be the oldest in England.
Walking from the Salutation, across Maid Marion Way, past the Robin Hood Legacy, Nottingham Castle and down the hill past the Robin Hood Statue, we made our way to the famous pub. Here on the upper floors, which like the Salutation we filled, all who wished to, invited guests and members of the public, came together for a communal meal of exceptional quality. There sitting under the shadow of the Roe Deer carving and the famous Haunted Galleon, enjoying the convivial company, I could reflect that this was a fine ending to an exceptional day.
We had gathered, friends, supporters and members of the Clan of Tubal Cain, to salute the memory of its founder Robert Cochrane, that of its second Magister Evan John Jones, to celebrate their achievements and to look forward in faith with the current Maid, Magister and Tanist. I am confident that the event has made its mark, with both the quick and the dead.
People of Goda - the Clan of Tubal Cain
Wisdom’s Embrace: Living Craft and Upholding Tradition by Ulric “Gestumblindi” Goding: http://manofgoda.com/uncategorized/wisdoms-embrace-living-craft-upholding-tradition/
Heritage – Midsummer 2016 (from Meanderings of the Muse)
Sacred Mask Sacred Dance by Shani Oates
The Devil’s Supper: A Presentation by Shani Oates at the Castle Bytham Spirit Circle November 2015
A collection of letters and articles written by Robert Cochrane
The Robert Cochrane Letters (PDF)
Sigil of the Clan of Tubal Cain used with permission.
Monday, 19 June 2017
On Tuesday the 3rd of May 2016 I made one of my infrequent trips to London, once again to visit the famous Treadwell’s Books on Store Street and only a short walk from the British Museum. This particular trip was to attend an evening lecture by Stuart Inman, one of the three virtue holders of the 1734.
Arriving early I made my way down to the basement to find the room already near full, quite a crowd was gathering and many who obviously knew each other, were socialising. I had not met the speaker prior to the evening and I was unsure what to expect. On line I have experienced many conversations with Mr Inman, some enjoyable and some not. I have even on occasion referred to Mr Inman as the ‘Master,’ in a similar manner to that when Sir John Mills deferred to Noel Coward. On line he has rather an intimidating presence, being highly knowledgeable and sometimes quite formal. Amusingly, I have heard the same said about me.
I soon spotted Stuart Inman without prompting and made my way over to introduce myself. There was no mistaking him, a big booming voice and a larger than life personality that filled the room. In conversation, I found him quite different from his on-line persona, still deeply knowledgeable but charming, self-effacing, an open, friendly and a rather jovial man. Amusingly, I have heard the same said about me.
I had travelled to London with a gift, a hood lamp made by a friend using a horseshoe and horseshoe nail, all mounted on a slice of Derbyshire yew. It was my pleasure to present this gift to Stuart Inman prior to the lecture and it is with pleasure that I can add, he was delighted with this token from Derbyshire. The hood lamp is one of a set of triplets, I have one and the Maid of the Clan of Tubal Cain has the other.
The evening began as expected, with brief introduction by Christina Oakley Harrington of Treadwell’s, ably assisted by a Jack-Russel terrier called Rambo, which was not expected. Stuart Inman then took the floor, to begin his presentation proper.
Naturally enough this first segment of the presentation gave us some background information on our esteemed speaker. Making a brief acknowledgement of his Alexandrian and Gardnerian past, together with the influence of Buddhism upon his development. Mr Inman explained his brief sojourn as a solo worker, his interest in the arts and surrealism, before his discovery of the 1734.
Naturally this enabled us to be given a brief exploration of the development of the 1734, recognising besides that of the founder Joseph ‘Bearwalker’ Wilson, the influence of Robert Cochrane (the famous letters) and that mysterious and enigmatic man known only as Sean. Other elements and influences that birthed the 1734 being the Fairy Traditions, Celtic Mythology and that of the First Nations.
Mr Inman made references to the work of Wilson, his articles, the famous correspondence between himself and Cochrane and naturally, Norman Gills. Going on to explain that teaching is by allusion, hints and perhaps poetic insight.
In reference to the Compass itself, Mr Inman made that most important observation; that despite what some may think, the Compass is not a circle. Adding the rather poetic statement; that the Compass is a map of the Otherworld, a vehicle to the Otherworld and itself becomes the Otherworld. Puzzling, confusing and deliberately thought provoking.
Moving on to make the observation that defining what Traditional Witchcraft is, remains open to interpretation, Mr Inman explained that although 1734 is itself not an initiatory tradition, it contains within itself initiatory traditions and that this both encourages and permits insight. I made a note that when I got home, I would have to read again certain articles in my possession. This was heady stuff.
Outlining his own practice our speaker explained that the Clan of the Entangled Thicket, his own group of which he is the Magister, although not Cochranite, is obviously influenced by the work of Robert Cochrane. The work of this highly influential figure has become better known over the past ten or fifteen years, in comparison to the previous thirty. We observe that the interpretation of the Compass was changed by this remarkable man and that the methodology today, continues to evolve.
Returning to the question of compass symbolism in greater detail, covering elements of Sufi mysticism and the paradigm of mapping. We note that the Pole and Pole Star are points of orientation and that the compass is perhaps specific to the environment. The four cardinal points express our sense of the world, whilst by adding that point of orientation, a vertical dimension or axis, the zenith and nadir, completes the process and thus creates what I call the ‘Sixways’ rune.
Returning once again to a comparison with the circle, something that would happen more than once during this presentation. Mr Inman made brief mention of the Tetragrammaton, noting that a compass has no real parameter, whilst a circle is both a place of protection and a spherical containment of power. A concept illustrated by a still from the film ‘the Devil Rides Out.’
Both the circle and the compass are far more than what is envisioned or contained within a two dimensional model. Mr Inman used the terms mandala and meta-map, describing a memory theatre or mnemonic to refer to the three dimensions of the Grand Compass, that itself contains other compasses like rings within rings. Again noting in comparison with the circle, that the compass enables a form of ‘Shamanic’ travel in which ‘we go to the powers rather than call them to us.’ To paraphrase Mr Inman further, the compass enables us to build a relationship with the spirits of the land by participation. Regular interaction with the natural world, even during an indoor rite, is the basic level of the compass manifest.
We then moved on to a discussion of the traditional winds, the four primary and others, with a brief overview of both Hellenic and alchemical symbolism. We then returned once again to the concept of the compass as a vehicle or mode of travel, this time using the Biblical story of Ezekiel’s Chariot as a metaphor.
Jumping cultures and centuries, the next section of this very full presentation was to explore the symbolism of the canal-folk. Examples of narrow boat decorations were discussed and how they may overlay craft symbolism, including the Rose, Castle as allegories for the Castle of the Rose Queen. Other symbols and concepts discussed included the moat and symbolism of the swan.
The range of illustrations supporting the presentation were both well-chosen and informative. I noted that several had been provided by mutual contacts. One provided by the Clan of Tubal Cain represented the Three Rites, incorporating Pan, Hermes and Hekate, each with their associated tools or implements. The first ring of Pan showing the stang, the skull (in the west) and the cauldron (in the east). The second ring, that of Hermes showing the tripartite group of stang, broom and keppen. The third ring that of Hekate, shows the cauldron in the centre.
The illustrations based upon the work of Norman Gill and the Four Dragons Clann, showed the winds or points of the compass as heteronormative pairs. I noted with interest the associated colours, north = black, east = red, south = white and west = grey. Associations I was not unfamiliar with.
The next slides continued this theme with the very complex compass of Bethany Lorekeeper Davis (Munnin’s Kiss) juxtaposed with a simplified compass provided by Trystn Branwen. This latter one had particular symbols associated with the compass points, north = wind, east = sun, south = stone and west = sea. Associations I was again, not unfamiliar with.
Presented as a comprehensive model, this series of slides served to emphasise compass symbolism and those same associations, carried over into other corresponding esoteric metaphors.
The next slide was one of my own photographs showing my own stang, with a Three Nails pendent displayed as the ‘Sixways’ suspended upon it. The Fourth Nail that never cooled is missing, perhaps hidden and I am not prepared to suggest where.
Mr Inman now began something of a pulling together of the concepts presented so far but with more theories thrown into the alchemical cauldron. These ranged from a mention of his own compass, Robert Cochrane’s own works again and the symbolism of the lucet, a forked implement used in the weaving of cord and braid. We were also introduced to selected masculine archetypes, the child as the warrior, the Green man, the ferryman as the psychopomp and Cain as the Man in the Moon.
The tying together of these many threads continued with insights into Mr Inman’s own practice, references to gates, bridges and the concept of liminality. Our presenter spoke of a woodland site, approached with an offering via a zig-zag (crooked path). Noting that the crossroads can be a permanent feature of the landscape, entered via a stile or bridge, finally reminding us once again; that we journey within the created compass not necessarily to it. We as an audience were entranced as he spoke of rings, castles, spirals and the otherworld.
Mr Inman read us poetry, anonymous, Graves and Cochrane, emphasising not for the first time that the natural world changes the individual and that archetypes are found within the land. We were given anecdotes describing the workings of the mill, the mist and the lights occasionally seen but more importantly, the feeling of such a working.
We were presented with a brief examination of how the mill is trod, noting that there is no standard technique. Rather we were told that some make a slow circular tread, some a lame step and others walk like a crab. Some groups may work in two circles that eventual merge widdershins. Festivals are generally trod deosil, magical workings widdowshins.
Once established, the concept of the compass can be visualised in a person’s complete existence. Finally pulling all of these remarkable threads together, we are asked whether such concepts are purely magical or should they permeate every aspect of our lives?
The Ash Tree by Robert Cochrane
The Clan of the Entangled Thicket
Friday, 16 June 2017
In times of trouble they are with me,
In times of joy and gladness too.
Comforting in times of sadness,
Lending strength to get me through.
They are not bound to ancient buildings,
Nor trapped within a dusty book.
They are alive and forever constant,
If you have faith to look.
Nature boundless now and ever,
The Great Wheel turning always round.
These my Gods, my Lord and Lady.
Long I sought, now gladly found.
Published in the Moonwise Diary 2007
(W. Morris distributed by Edge of Time Ltd UK).
A frosty night,
An Imbolc Moon,
Thin and needle-sharp,
Slices through bare branches of the trees.
Grows weaker by the hour.
And, in the silence,
The whispers of creation
Echo through hill and valley.
And into every burrow and nest,
Patiently awaiting what will be…
The wheel turns, of life and death
The stars above, the ground beneath…
And under skies of midnight-blue
The world is new.
A still Spring night,
A Beltane Moon,
Sails through the stars,
Sending soft shadows dancing
On dew-soaked, silver-dappled grass.
A bird breaks the silence with liquid song,
Flying on dusky wings
Into the darkness
Of the midnight sky.
The wheel turns, of life and death
The stars above, the ground beneath…
The blackbird sings his sacred song,
The world is young.
A Summer night
A Lammas Moon,
Swollen and ochre,
Rides the Milky Way,
Pendant over fertile fields of yellow corn
Ripened by sunlight, kissed by golden days
And watered by soft July rain.
Nature’s bounty in abundance,
Every ear in tune
To the song of creation.
The wheel turns, of life and death
The stars above, the ground beneath…
Night winds sing their song serene,
The world is green.
An Autumn night
A Samhain moon,
Hiding behind a patchy shroud of fog.
Smoky air dulls the pallid stars.
The silent misty land, shadowy and still,
Draws down the secret whispers of the night.
Damp half-naked trees shed russet leaves,
Give back their glory to the Earth,
As they make ready
To sleep once more.
The wheel turns, of life and death
The stars above, the ground beneath…
Under a blanket black and gold
The world is old.
A Winter night,
A Yule moon,
Luminous and diamond-hard
Against glitter-strewn skies.
Frosted trees etch lacy patterns over cold December stars.
And in the secret places,
The wild creatures sleep,
And wait for Spring.
The wheel turns, of life and death
The stars above, the ground beneath…
And frozen in a wintry bed
The world is dead.
The wheel turns...