The Knife

The Knife

Much has been said on the Stang, but very little has been explored regarding the Knife.

Robert Cochrane believed that when placed and used in conjunction with the (whet)stone, the cord, the cup and the staff, a powerful and magical mandala was generated. He also believed the correct preparation of these tools was essential prior to any and all rituals.

As the Foundation of Wisdom, the Stang is established as a combination of the Masculine and Feminine up to Death. Thereafter, it becomes the Pure Path of Enlightenment; the Goddess and The GODDESS are lower and higher aspects of One Source. Also described as ‘the Supreme Instrument, the Gateway, it is at the base of physical experience. The Chariot at the centre because it is the power and the treble. Horns at the top, the High Spiritual endeavour.

It forges the pathway through the Mysteries as the entwining of Love, Beauty and Mercy, a three-fold magical binding of the Supreme Triadic Virtue it represents. It is phallic and represents Hermes the Guide. As the steed of Oðhin and Hermes, it is the winds that pulls and push us forth, elevating us towards the forked crown of choice that is Life and Fate or Death and Destruction of Fate, since to achieve the Highest, one must pass the Lowest the Passage of Time, “In this aspect it becomes Lethe, Chronos, in fact Mercy and Chronos in One.  The next attribute at the Horns is mystical and may not be written.”

In the Transcript for their Midsummer Ritual, Cochrane provides instruction for the ritual purification and preparation of the site and of the self. Amongst the tools, he emphasises the purpose of the knife in conjunction with the staff and knotted cord, the hangman’s noose, used as a personal rosary and ‘meditation device’ to shift consciousness out and beyond the Round of Life: The Round of Life as agreed upon, represents not the actual aspects of the Round, but the Power The Goddess, as primal movement, has over them. As the supreme tool of balance, it is used in the ‘ring’ which can be aspected as the ‘threshing floor’ or the ‘dancing ground.’ Small knives may be substituted for three nails in acts of cursing. Its wielder holds the powers of life or death, justice or mercy….therefore it is temperance. [fire] and of the Masculine Mysteries incorporating the Order of the Sun and the Grail Mysteries. (Ref: Tubelo’s Green Fire). Beyond the physical ‘cutting’ purpose of the knife are its spiritual attributes.

Cochrane writes:

Knife: This is the masculine Tree, and such represents Intellect, or the actual search for wisdom, experience and knowledge. Basically then, it represents these aspects. Wisdom. Love physical. Mercy and generosity. Victory and conflict. And as such when sharpened against the Stone of the Mysteries (the Gateway….Malkuth) it represents our passage through time and space on our search.

Stone: Any stone will do providing it is square and natural. The Stone represents the Stone of the Mysteries and it is three-fold. I will not explain in the letter, but examine the Triad at its highest level.

I can keep on explaining but I think you find everything interlocks and forms One Whole. I know it is a lot to remember but I have a career and considerable responsibilities external to Witchcraft. Incidentally, before anyone starts to say that I am complicating things have a look at my original letter. You will find that we all agreed to a common symbolism, and these symbols are historically valid and correct. It was what the true witch used to believe in, no simpleton by any means. Now work before the ritual. Each night a small amount of time will have to be spent upon these things.

(a) Consecrating each of the tools.

This is done simply by imagining yourself filled with the highest power from above, bringing that power down to the base of the spine and lighting the basic fires there, bring it up to the right hand, externalise it and bless each tool in the name of the Goddess (anyone will do) in its particular aspect. ie. The Knife

Invocation to Hermes:

Hermes. Hermes.  Thou Bright Light leading us through the Gateway of Death. Thou Guardian of the Portholes, Fashioner of all Skills and Knowledge. Torchbearer, here me! I pray for Thy assistance in my trade. Thou who burnest as Love Physical, Thou who bearest the entwined snakes, Thou who knowest all things, who was born from the Union of the North Wind and Darkness. Here me. Here me. Here me. Hermes bless this Knife make it all Thou Art. May it fashion my art for me may it protect me from ill doers, may it lighten the way for me…. Amen.

And so on. It should be simple to prepare a personal consecration for each tool.  The Goddess is the Highest aspect, image Her transformed into each of the Forces you invoke.

Words should be whispered to achieve a state of group or self-hypnosis the words also have great relative meaning at certain parts of the ceremony.  And then by being whispered, act as a depressant to oxygen supply to the head. The dance steps and movements with the tools are also important. The totality of all these movements is to produce a great ‘whoosh’ of directed Will and power to the object desired.

After some time spent discussing Natural Magick with Bill Gray, Cochrane summarised the process to him, explaining that, “Midsummer is my big night, or the nearest I can get to it. Quite simply our ritual falls into this pattern:


This is the Taper that lights the way.

This is the Cloak that covers the Stone,

That sharpens the Knife

That cuts the Cord That Binds the Staff

That’s owned by the Maid Who tends the fire

That boils the Pot That scalds the Sword

That fashions the Bridge That crosses the ditch

That Compasses the Hand That knocks the Door,

That fetches the Watch That releases the Man

That turns the Mill

That Grinds the Corn That makes the Cake

That feeds the Hound That Guards the Gate

That hides the Maze That’s worth a light

And into the Castle that Jack built.

To those of his Clan, he’d explained these as: “The Preliminaries.  I am sorry if they are complicated, but there is no simple way to do them. It is all time and Will, day in day out.” After the rite had taken place, he questioned their grasp of its concepts:

 You will notice that it contains considerable chunks of philosophy: for instance, why should the cord bind the staff, and why should the knife cut it? There is a lot more in it, and basically it represents both Jane’s and my total knowledge upon witchcraft.

Meantime, in another letter, he continued his discussion of these principles to Bill Gray:

As you can see, it is a child’s game, but one that works. We use a skull as much in the same fashion as the Knights Templars, but Mithraic worship is out for us, two differing concepts. The druids, however, were eastern in origin, they again superimposed a different pattern upon the aboriginal gods of the Kelts. They were supposed by the Romans to have more magic than the rest put together, however they were a bloody-minded lot. It you want to use nature magic, then you must work outside, preferably by running water, or failing that, as high as you can get. It must be open to the four winds, since they carry the seeds of life and destruction, and they represent your four elements.

There are no hard and fast rules, it must be played by ear. The sense of power is usually denoted by a sensation of extreme panic, then comes the ‘gathering’ in you feel that you are being surrounded by hosts of ‘watchers’. You may possibly see them out of the corner of your eye, these must be ignored, and the panic overcome.

Then there comes a cold blast of wind, and the power which is being asked for begins the manifestation, this will appear in the form that you expect to see, the main difficulty is in holding it, since (and I speak from experience) it is rather like being hit with a hammer. Usually green, brilliant lights flash on and off in the centre of the working space. ….Whatever you do, resist the temptation to panic or to feel that ‘everything is going wrong’ The Farmer has a reputation for affecting human beings in this fashion (hence the words ‘panic’, ‘pandemonium’, etc.)

Here is a short prayer that may help to consolidate:


My Lord …..

Here I be stripped of all finery.

No clothes, lover or home have I Excepting by thy Grace

Master, I have descended the Paths towards Thy gates …

Leaving all but my truthful spirit behind me.

Here am I as naked as the sea, as the sky ,

As grave winter itself.

I pray Thee take pity on me and listen unto my prayer.

Basically nature magick is very simple, it is as simple as doing it , but like all simple things, it has some fantastic fortifications behind it. Witches believe that all things are One and joined, there is no singular (except human beings – Law of correspondence).  To create spiritual effect, – one must create physical effect, and to work nature magic, you must first do natural things. There are dangers though, these are in effect leaving anything undone. Once you have achieved your purpose, leave everything as you found it, or else you will spend some uncomfortable nights with nature spooks clomping around your room, taking it out of you for disturbing them.

Cochrane stressed here a rather distinct application of the principles of Natural Magick as the theology of (religious) science; crucially he was extremely keen to avoid what he perceived as generic practical demonstrations of it as superstition, found in both positive magics (sorcery), and negative magics (taboo).

He believed that true magick crosses all boundaries of theory, science, sorcery, taboo, religion and art, to be acts of desire, fuelled by the human instinct to ‘overcome’ Fate. In the field of animism, we pitch ‘Will,’ in accordance with Wyrd—the grand conjunction where human force merges with the cosmic force of The ‘Natural’ World, as understood by Agrippa. There is no point of separation, and no part of us that is not, ‘of ’ it.


Cochrane asserted that the state of being in alignment with one’s Fate to the extent we may anticipate it, judge, dodge, assess, pre-empt, prepare and advance our own causality. Precognitive attunement and unsubtle sentience together, form the twin-edged blades of the sword we carry as spirit, honed in focus, to battle against apathy and despair. Balance, wrought only within the field of Nature, is where ‘Will’ staves all too briefly, the onslaught of an unrelenting Fate.

And the knife is ultimately the pure form of that virtue – the pure force of Will as the vehicle for Wisdom.

All acts of magick become an act of Will, specifically of True Will. Complete surrender evokes complete absorption of the lesser will, allowing us to act freely and spontaneously without fear of conflict.

Gnosis is not a rejection of the world, but an awareness of the dual gifts of our humanity and divinity, their harmony and symbiosis. Successful symbiance is reliant upon this premise. Complete detachment defeats the purpose of life.

Guénon understood that no-thing and no-one is of consequence, yet truth or wisdom gained, is always of consequence. That all may act according to their nature, is to be accepted, and all responses should be our own, and not another’s.

So we come to the heart of the People, a belief that is based upon eternity, and not upon social needs or pressures—the ‘witch’ belief then is concerned with wisdom, our true name then is the Wise People, and wisdom is our aim.


All texts are from ‘The Star-Crossed Serpent III The Letters of Robert Cochrane Revealed’ by Shani Oates, published by Mandrake of Oxford 2016

Photos of Ritual Tools artifacts and sacred places are copyright of Shani Oates, the dancers and the mare are on wiki commons.


~ by meanderingsofthemuse on April 30, 2018.

One Response to “The Knife”

  1. Superb as ever, Thanks Shani…..

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