The Horseman’s Word: Revealed

•April 17, 2017 • 6 Comments

‘The  Horseman’s Word’3867538391_11f4bf66d1_z


Here’s to the horse with the four white feet,

The chestnut tail and mane,

A star on his face and a spot on his breast,

And his master’s name was Cain.’


Traditional knowledge was often passed in secret fraternities. One of these was the society of horsemen, a rural organisation that fiercely protected its lore. All teachings were customarily oral, from mouth to ear, records were forbidden, all had to be remembered by initiates into these groups. But it was often sound advice and practise, appearing as magic or ‘arcane gibberish’ only to those who were not in the ‘know.’ Of course, a certain flair and aptitude was essential, just as with any Craft, and this illusive ingredient could not be taught. Initiates were given a ‘word’ of power, their guard against the devil, whose word it was, whilst wielding its power.  According to legend, the first horseman was reputed to be Cain, forging another link between this agricultural figure and the devil.

CHAPTER 12 image 59 Horse Whisperer

Given that Cochrane’s father was allegedly a ‘horsemen’; this may possibly have influenced his choice of name for his Clan.  Another notorious cunning-man active during the latter half of the 19th century was George Pickinghill, and who was also rumoured to have been a renowned ‘horse whisperer.’ Pickinghill allegedly held one of his many cuveens in Sussex and is claimed to have enigmatically predicted the revival in 1962 of the ‘Old Craft.’[1] Coincidently, Prof. Hutton makes the observation that Robert Cochrane possibly released his first published work in that very year: 1962. Clearly this was a fateful and auspicious date in the historiography of the Craft. [2]

Divers communal customs and rites of passage immersed the farm labourer within the superstitions and lore that saturated traditional rural practices. Cogently, the leader or foreman drawn from among the harvesters was known as the ‘lord.’ and to whom his men ‘owed duty.’ All newcomers were initiated according to medieval custom, wearing a ‘halter,’ submitting their oaths to the ‘Lord’ and his ‘Lady.’ [3] He was the surrogate ‘Master’ for the Manorial, (or feudal Lord) and one of his obligations was to ensure the provision of vitals and all ‘good fayre’ for his men. As host in this sense, he is perceived by some as having parallels with the faerie ‘lords’ and with the greenwood lord, Robin Hood. [4] These patterns suggest the template for many later ‘Craft’ traditions, and the scion between the feudal compact, the superstitious reverences and the mentoring system, often secret, can be evinced within them.


Early mural shutterstock_94032301

One of these events, bound intrinsically to Martinmas, is held in honour of the patron saint of smiths and labourers, and was the traditional time for the agricultural hiring fair. A huge feast of bread, cheese and whiskey, or more generally ale, both welcomed the new labour and celebrated for the last time, the camaraderie with those leaving. All manner of labour including ploughmen and carters were contracted to prepare the fields and animals for winter. One custom peculiar to this fair, was that ‘blood should be spilt on this day to secure good fortune for the next twelve months,’ referring of course to the necessary annual slaughter of livestock for the winter. [5]

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Even when celebrated at a domestic level, an ox or a fowl at least was duly prepared and mindfully consumed. It was a celebrated public holiday, and one of the few days in rural employment where no work was undertaken. Initiations into Horsemen’s societies normally took place on this auspicious eve, and the barn was often a favoured location. Three knocks upon the door and the declaration that the candidate was there at the behest of the devil, gained them admittance to the smell of burning sulphur.  Led in, under the moon, blindfolded, he would then be enjoined to take ‘a shak o’ ould hornie,’ the hand of the devil, over which the pledge or covenant was declared:


‘to hele, concele and ne’r reveal; neither write, nor dite, nor recite; nor cut, nor carve, nor write in sand.’


horseman's word


The hand of the devil, was of course, the Master Horsemen, draped in calf skin speculatively rubbed with phosphorous, wearing a horned mask. The pledge bound them never to reveal the horseman’s ‘word’ (of power), to anyone who wore an apron except a smith or farrier. Smiths were also held in awe, wielding the power to heal and expel baneful influences. The ceremonial toast was to Cain, as the first master of the art:


‘Here’s to the horse with the four white feet…………..,


According to folklore, they were shown the ritual handshake, in order to greet and recognise a true ‘brother’ and taught many charms, some were reputed to invoke the assistance of the devil himself by right of the toad bone. [6] The devil as a master craftsman was also allegedly a smith, whose civilizing arts repelled the darkness and ignorance of tribal societies. Though not all engagements were beneficial, especially those that challenged fate; the best example of this, is gambling. Playing cards were typically referred to as the devil’s books, not because they were evil per se, but because they engaged fate to manipulate the outcome. Perceived as hubris to challenge the devil at his own game, the odds were never good.


Even so, the devil is also a useful ally, a powerful protagonist, a force invoked adverse to another. In this way, a negative neutralises or binds another negative. Baneful hemlock, denoted as a witch’s plant, evocatively drawing its power from the ‘devil’ is put to use as a healing salve, where it is set in opposition to the disease. This belief reveals a spiritual level of healing in addition to that of the physical properties of the plant itself. Of course, the recipes do contain other narcotics and natural entheogens, having juice, seed and root concocted according to variable but once tightly guarded recipes. [8]


A certain procedure for self-empowerment through an invocatory compact with the devil involves the complex extraction of the frog or toad bone. Charms of this nature vary across counties, but normally entail a gruesome and excruciating death for the unfortunate frog, whose excarnated bones are disarticulated by throwing them into a stream at midnight, retrieving the one screaming bone that flowed contra to the others, upstream. This esteemed bone was endowed with similar powers to that carried by the ‘Toadmen’, the infamous and enigmatic horse-masters, whose power, drawn through this bone, generated fear amongst the common folk, convinced the carrier must be in league with the devil! [9]


An alternative rite requires that the bone, once won, be taken to a stable or a graveyard for three consecutive nights, whereupon the devil, in order to preserve this power for himself, will attempt to wrest it from its claimant; to best him, is to earn the right to carry it.[10]


In summary, it is worth pointing out how these traditions and lore came into England from the Scottish Highlands,  during the  late 17th century, and early 18th century,  when the horseman’s skills were needed there. Taken up by Cunning-folk to counter supposed situations involving possible hexing against the landowners. Once shared, it became the stuff of legend.[11]



“In June 1989 the local newspaper printed the Oath of the Horseman’s Word, and the belief that a member was initiated ‘a few weeks ago’. The article is here.


The Horsemen originated in the north-east of Scotland before 1870. Much has been written about the growth and the following of the Horsemen with anecdotal versions of the initiation ceremony, the mysteries, the Oath, and versions of the ‘Word’ itself.   For anyone keen to read such accounts, a short list of books is given below.

On a light-hearted note, from ‘Scots Pegasus’ by the Scottish dialect poet Alastair Mackie, ‘ . . the hert o the nut is this – naebody, dammt, kens the horseman’s word’.


Contrary to what curious readers may find stated elsewhere on the internet, the Horsemen (as we call it) is still an active Society in Scotland. Competent authors such as Russell Lyon in Lanarkshire made the effort to check facts before writing “Small groups have survived, notably in Orkney where, I have been told, members are still initiated into the old secrets; and those societies which appear to have been incorporated into Masonic lodges still flourish”.  And indeed this is so.


Billy Rennie, from Stuartfield near Peterhead, was described by a Scotland on Sunday columnist in Dec. 2002 as ‘the last known surviving member of the Horseman’s Word’.  In Oct. 2009 the Buchan Observer had a local headline entry ‘Horseman’s Word expert publishes book’ – none other than brother Rennie, initiated in Sept.1961. A deluxe limited edition (100) followed, bound in leather ‘with an imprint from an actual horseshoe, with nail holes in genuine gold’ and including an envelope containing ‘a horsehair knotted in the special manner that signifies that it is your invitation to the mysteries of the Society of the Horseman’s Word’.


Yes, we have many more ‘surviving members’ . . .  and that is from the horse’s mouth!”

For the enjoyment of visitors who can understand the broad Scottish tongue, a delightful poem ‘The Horseman’s Word’ by William Christie can be read online here.[11]


 and another resource:


“To become a “Horesman”, a form of initiation had to be endured. The young “Orraman” went to the barn on the appointed night armed with a loaf, a candle and a bottle of whisky. He was blind-folded and taken to an altar made of a bushel, where a series of questions had to be answered. During the ceremony he swore never to reveal the “Horseman’s Word”.[12]


The Horseman’s Word

The following notes regarding “The Horseman’s Word” arrived at the Archive in August 2005 from Stewart Beveridge who emigrated to Australia in 1970:[13]

“I read an article on this many years ago in one of the Weekly or Monthly UK magazines. It seems that The League of the Horseman’s Word was similar in many respects to modern Trade Unions, the difference being that the bosses were the farmers, landowners etc. all part of the establishment per se, so in the God fearing climate of the North East as it used to be, they all went to kirk on Sunday. To emphasise their differences, the horsemen worshipped their Founding Father, Tubal Cain the first blacksmith or worker in brass and other metals who is important to the equestrian world and became translated to Auld Clootie or Auld Nick (Satan) who was reputed to be an exceptional fiddler. (See Burns’ Tam o’ Shanter).

Apparently there was an initiation ceremony where a novice was given the welcoming handshake before being given “The Horseman’s Word”. He was sworn to secrecy about The Word and told never to disclose it or write it down. At the end of the ceremony he was offered a pen and paper and told “Now that you ken the word, write it.” At this point, if the person reached for the pen, one of the officials standing by would hit his hand VERY hard with a chain causing wounding.

The researcher of the article said he had interviewed many old horsemen with massive scars on the backs of their hands. The other classic question was “Fit do you need maist?” Many answers were forthcoming but the ideal was “Mair light.” The song “Nicky-Tams” recounts part of this event when the singer is inducted after being Fee’d to the Mains (hired to the farm). “Weel I gaed on for Baillie Loon, Sine I gaed on for Third (Horseman), And sine of course I had to get the Horseman’s Grip and Word”. I knew the song but had not appreciated what was being said until reading the article. I did my Agri Practical on a farm near Montrose in 1953 which was not all that far removed from the time in question. Horse work was being phased out by that time but the older farm hands were a pretty insulated group of people. In those days it was a 5½ day week with very few people having cars so public transport, if available, took you where you wanted to get to.

The men and wives would come into town on Saturday afternoon. The men, in their good blue suits with white collars and ties, went to the football while their wives went shopping. Everyone went home on the 5pm bus. Life was simpler in many respects in those days.”[14]

~Stewart Beveridge, August 2005.


•   Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain, Reader’s Digest Association Ltd., 1977.
•   The Quest for the Original Horse Whisperers, Russell Lyon, Luath Press Ltd., Edinburgh, 2003.
•   The Horseman’s Word, Timothy Neat, Birlinn Ltd., 2002.
•   The Pattern Under The Plough, George Ewart Evans, Faber & Faber, 1966.



[1] W.E. Liddell. & M. Howard (Ed.) ‘The Pickinghill Papers’ (Berks.1994) p103

[2] Prof. R. Hutton. ‘The Triumph of the Moon’ (Oxford, 1999) p313

[3] B. Bushaway. ‘By Rite: Custom, Ceremony and Community in England 1700-1880’(London, 1982) p112.

[4] This would tally well with Cochrane’s claim through his father, of five generations of Craft in his family.

[5] C. Hole. ‘British Folk Customs’ (London, 1976) p127. Significant now as Armistice Day, where we remember those fallen in death during the two world wars.

[6] Readers Digest Ass. (Ed.)  ‘Folklore, Myths and Legends’ (GB, 1974) p462

[7] E. & M. A. Radford p168

[8] E. & M. A. Radford. ‘Ency. of Superstitions’ (GB, 1974) p188

[9] Shani Oates ‘Brimstone and Treacle’  2008  Published in ‘The Arcane Veil’ Mandrake Press 2012  [This article was originally written  for and  submitted to a Journal publication through Three Hands Press that never came to fruition, so was eventually included in ‘The Arcane Veil.’]

[10] These are extant themes and praxes utilised within many Craft Traditions.]

NB: As a long standing interest of my Clan, a few valuable scraps of information have been collated over time; some of these were shared several years ago in an article that was submitted by myself for The Cauldron, but the editor felt the information was not something he wanted to put out in the Public Domain. This was a shame, as the information was of great interest to many people interested in and researching horse and craft related folklore, moreover, much of it already existed in the public domain, albeit in diverse and obscure places.  Thankfully, before too long, the rest of that information, and considerably more besides, became published in a couple of books on ‘The Horseman’s Word,’ and made widely available online. It is wonderful therefore to share here yet further information for all interested parties, of many excellent on-line resources for this lore, for those who may not yet be aware of them. Enjoy!





A Lament for Lucifer

•August 4, 2016 • 1 Comment


“And the sons of God beheld the daughters of men that they

were fair.”— Genesis.

A Fallen Angel is flying over the earth. He is weary of

evil. Mankind has become corrupt and offers no opposition

when he tempts, (i, 2.)

He views the noblest scenery of the Caucasus, but hatred is

predominant in his heart, and he scorns whatever he sees.

(3, 4-)

Gudil, a Caucasian chief, has built a castle on a lofty hill.

His daughter, Tamira, is about to be married to the Lord of

Sinodkl. She is spending the evening with her girl friends

dancing and singing. She is so pure and lovely that she would

arouse nobler thoughts, even in a Demon, were one to see her,

and would make him long for his lost Paradise. (5,6,7,8.)

The Demon sees her and loves her. (9.)

Meanwhile the Lord of Sinodal is riding to the marriage at the

head of a gay cavalcade. The Demon tempts him to ride more

swiftly through a dangerous mountain pass, where he is attacked

by robbers and slain. His horse arrives at Gudil’s castle with

the dead rider on its back. ( 11, 12, 13, 14.)

The Demon appears to Tamira in her dreams. He urges her

to grieve no more, and promises her a love that is not of

earth. (15,16.)

‘A FALLEN ANGEL once was winging

Over a sinful earth his way,

And memory was ever bringing

The vision of a happier day,

Telling an unforgotten story

How once in realms of light and glory

A seraph pure and bright he shone —

How the brief comet downward fleeting

Loved to exchange a smile of greeting

With him, before its spark was gone.

How ‘mid the infant world’s formations

In caravans of cloud he roved

Through worlds of scattered constellations —

How Nature spread her lore and smiled

Once upon him, God’s happy child,

In days when he believed and loved.

No trouble vexed his spirit then —

Now endless vistas lie between

The blessedness beyond his ken

And Him, who knew what might have been.

Outcast so long — no Heaven, no home —

He wandered through earth’s wildernesses-

Monotonous and wearisome,

As one age on another presses,

Or one slow minute follows minute.

The paltry world was his — but in it

His wickedness he wrought resistless,

For men on earth nowhere withstood

His wiles when he essayed — and, listless,

He loathed the evil seeds he strewed.

O’er many a lofty Caucas peak

The exile’s soaring pinion rose,

Below him, as with gems, Kazbek

Sparkled with everlasting snows.

And Darial’s  opposing sides

Showed black, as when a serpent hides

Its winding coils in some dark lair.

And Terek/ bounding from its fountain/

Like lion with wild shaggy hair,

Roared, and each mountain beast and mountain

Bird in the azure deep of air

Circled in endless panorama,

And gold-rimmed clouds from Eastern lands

Whirled with him on to northern strands,

And lofty rock and promontory,

Full of the secret of a dream.

Bent their proud heads beneath him flying.

Tracing the course of glittering stream.

And rival tower with tower vying

Scowled on the clouds that lay between ;

Till last, like sentinel stupendous,

The Caucasus shed dazzling sheen

Veiling a majesty tremendous.

All wild and wondrous was the scene

Of God’s fair world ; but his proud vision

Scanned his Creator s works in vain.

Reflecting nought but calm derision,

Although that scorn was deathless pain.

In front a glorious variation

Of palpitating landscape lies.

Carpets of living vegetation

Where Grusian valleys sink or rise,

Glimpses of earthly Paradise,

Columns of ruined minarets,

And gently tinkling rivulets

Making the happy pebbles glisten ;

And rosy groves where nightingales

Sing their sweet loves, nor pause to listen

Till amorous mates sing answering tales.

There clothed with ivy, cool and wide.

The sycamores spread shady arches,

And in the caves when noonday parches

The timid stag comes in to hide.

Brightness and life where all rejoices,

The myriad hum of Nature’s voices

All drowsy in noon’s burning tide.

But in the blaze of midday heat.

Or in the night when zephyrs sweet

With fragrance of the rose were laden,

And bright as eyes of Grusian maiden

The pale-faced stars kept watch above,

Nought of magnificence could move

In that grim angel fallen from splendour

One thought of sympathy or love,

Of strength renewed or longings tender ;

And when he viewed the scene before him.

Hatred and scorn came surging o’er him.

High on a cliff, with spacious halls,

A castle stood, (the price of tears

And toil to serfs through weary years),

Where in the morning shadow falls

From pine-clad hill to castle walls.

And Prince Gudal, so stern and gray,

Had bade his thralls to hew a way

Down that steep cliffs resisting side,

Till step by step led to the water

Where deep Aragva’s  currents glide.

And oft Tamara, his young daughter,

Would come in veil and snow-white hood

To fill her pitcher at its flood.

From lofty cliff that castle lowered

Grim, silent, motionless alway ;

But all is mirth and joy to-day,

And zithers sound, and wine is poured.

Gudil his daughter’s hand hath plighted,

And all his clan to feast invited.

And on the housetop, thickly strewn,

The bride Tamira, fair and young,

Is seated in a virgin throng,

‘Mid song and dance and zither’s tune.

While the sun’s orb is sinking soon

Behind the peaks, and for their pleasure

They dance in a cleared space between

Maids clapping hands to music s measure.

And lightly her gay tambourine

Twirling with one hand round her head.

The young bride springs with fairy tread.

And lighter than a bird she flashes,

Now darting here, now breathless staying.

And all the merry girls surveying

With sparkling eyes ‘neath long eye-lashes.

She guides the chorus through its mazes

‘Mid rustling silk and gauzy shimmer,

And oft a dainty foot upraises.

Seeming to float, an airy swimmer.

And ah ! that smile of childlike grace

Lighting her laughter-loving face.

Not Cynthia’s quivering beams, the while

On castle wall and turret glancing,

Could match the radiance of that smile

Than youth and gladness more entrancing.

I swear by yon clear midnight star,

By rays that flash from east to west,

Ne’er emperor of lands afar,

Nor king, nor conqueror, nor Czar

Such lovely damsel e’er caressed.

Nor e*er did fountain’s gentle storm

Lave with pellucid drops of pearl

In summer’s heat so fair a girl,

Or sprinkle so divine a form.

Never did mortal hand till now

Smooth with soft fingers such a brow,

Or twine them in such waving hair.

For not since man was thrust from Eden

Had ever bloomed so sweet a maiden,

So innocent, so heavenly fair.


But now, her last gay dance is over.

And dark forebodings o’er her hover,

For at the morn a stranger lover

Waits for the daughter of Gudal.

A marriage yoke, a plighted hand.

New kinsmen, unfamiliar land.

Poor child, to be a husband’s thrall !

And ofttime doubt, all unaware, ,

Laid on her heart a dumb distress,

But all her motions were so fair,

So full of seeming want of care,

Brimful of simple artlessness,

That had the Demon, wending by,

Beheld her then, he might have spurned

All his fell purposes, and turned

To Heaven with a repentant sigh.

Lo ! he beheld …. For one brief space,

Emotion strange, expressionless.

Swept in resistless torrent o’er him,

As if some voice of grace divine,

Across the gulf that lay before him.

Had called the outcast to the shrine

Of loveliness and heavenly strength.

And awestruck at the wondrous sight,

His thoughts in wayless labyrinth

Perplexed him, as in twinkling night.

Star points to star a chain extending

To continuity unending.

And riveted by power unseen.

New pangs increased his punishment,

Speaking in words which might have been

Erstwhile his own, ” Repent, repent ! ‘*

He strove to tempt — the words came not —

Had he his ancient wiles forgot ?

Nay. For were God to grant him yet

His former malice to forget,

He would but scorn the gift He sent.

Spurring meanwhile his mettled steed,

The impatient bridegroom rides with speed

Where bright Aragve’s currents glide

Twixt verdant banks on either side.

And following, far down the way,

With bells that tinkled as they strode,

Came camels faint beneath the load

Of costly gifts for marriage day.

And Sinodal’s  impetuous lord

Himself led this gay cavalcade.

With flashing jewels thick inlaid

Glittered his poniard and his sword,

His richly carven musket gleaming

In the sun’s rays, his tunic streaming.

Fanned by the breeze that ceaseless played

Through the loose sleeves and vest confined

By fringe of lace, his saddle gay

With coloured silks of far Cathay ;

His bridle decked with every kind

Of tasselled store from farthest Ind.

And his proud steed of Caucas strain,

In fierce revolt gainst guiding rein,

Tossing his tawny mane, and champing

The foamy bit, impatient stamping,

Pricks up his ears to glance aside

From threatening cliff to seething tide.

Narrow and dangerous the way

Along the gaping chasm lay ;

To right the angry waters hiss.

To left a frowning precipice.

The dusk has fallen, the day is gone,

The cavalcade moves faster on.

There stood a chapel on the road

Wherein a saint reposed in God,

(This saint had been a prince in life,

Slain long ago in vengeful strife,)

And whosoever fared that way,

On warfare or on pleasure bent.

Passed never heedless by, but went

To the old lonely shrine to pray,

And that same prayer would guard him well

From dagger of the infidel.


But the young bridegroom, pausing not.

Rode on secure, his prayers forgot,

For, weaving dreams of fond conceit,

The crafty Fiend was at his side,

” Haste, bridegroom, haste —

more fleet, more fleet.

Else other lips will kiss thy bride.”

Sudden in front two forms appeared —

A shot rang out — the charger reared —

And on his clanging stirrups rose

The impulsive prince to face his foes,

For words of parley lingering not,

But straight with poniard gleaming, flashing,

Like eagle from its eyrie dashing,

‘Mid crack of whip and pistol shot.

Loud rang the pass with musket rattle.

With cries and groans of wounded men,

As craven Grusians through the glen

Fled from the short contested battle.

Huddled together in amaze

Stand the aff’righted camels, eyeing

The corpses of their riders lying,

And helpless on each other gaze,

As bell to bell makes vain replying;

Plundered the gorgeous caravan,

And over every slaughtered man,

Flapping their wings, foul birds of prey.

No peaceful tomb awaits their clay

In graveyard ‘neath monastic stones

Where rest their fathers’ dust and bones.

No mother in bereaved despair,

No black-veiled sister will come there,

With tears and sobs and anguished prayer,

To mourn a son’s, a brother’s loss.

But ‘neath the cliff, in uncouth ways,

Rude hands will dig a grave, and raise

Some hasty carved memorial cross.

And ivy in the summer days

Will twine around, in fond caress,

An emerald net of tenderness.

And weary traveller in the vale

Seek rest within its holy pale.

Swifter than stag, the noble steed.

As though rebuked for tardy speed,

Pausing a moment’s space to sniff

The breeze that flutters on the cliff.

Snorts, stamping the insensate ground

With angry hoofs metallic sound ;

Tosses his mane from side to side,

His nostrils red, distended wide ….

A rider motionless he bears.

With wound that gapes, with eye that stares,

Whose head is sunk on horse’s mane,

Whose nerveless hand still grasps the rein,

Whose feet the stirrups press in vain,

While the dark crimson splash upon

Harness and gay caparison

Spreads to a deeper, broader stain.

Bold courser ! thou didst bear thy master

Fleeter than arrow from the fight,

But the fell bullet followed faster

From dastard ambuscade that night.

In GudM’s court loud wail and din,

And eager peasants throng and press.

Whose steed is this that gallops in,

Wild-eyed and staggering in distress.

And falls within the courtyard dead ?

And who that knight in armour red.

With frowning brow and firm set lip

Telling a murderous tale of pain.

While his dead hand the horse’s mane

Clutches with last convulsive grip ?

Too soon the wedding day is over,

Poor bride, behold the expected lover,

As true to plighted, princely word

He galloped to the festal board !

Hapless Tam^ra, all is o’er.

And he will mount his steed no more.

On happy home like thunderstone

Fell that disaster, strange and dread,

And poor Tamkra with a groan

Fell swooning on her bridal bed.

And wild spasmodic sobbing tore her,

And burning tear fell after tear.

Twas then she listening seemed to hear

A voice unearthly whisper o’er her :

** Ah weep not, child, thy tears are vain ;

They fall in no reviving rain

To make the unheeding dead return :

They only cloud thy face with pain.

And make thy maiden cheeks to burn.

He is so far, he will not stay

To heed thy tears, to reck thy sighs.

Caressing angels kiss away

All disappointment from his eyes.

His dreams of earth are fading dim

In that far land so still, so calm,

What are a maiden’s tears to him

Who listens to the angels’ psalm ?

The happiness and woes of earth,

Whate’er their transient chances be.

Nay, all creation is not worth

One momentary tear from thee.

“In the broad ethereal ocean,

Free of rudder, free of sail,

Wandering planets in their motion

Chant a myriad-voicfed tale.

Fleecy flocks of cloud are wending

Their irrevocable flight,

Through the fields that have no ending

In the labyrinth of light.

Now they meet and now they sever,

There’s no joy and there’s no pain.

Yesterday is gone for ever,

And to-morrow’s cares are vain.

When there comes a day of anguish,

Only think of these and say,

* I will neither pine nor languish,

Recking earth no more than they ! ‘

Soon as the night her sable veil

Over the Caucasus has spread,

When charmed as by enchanter’s tale,

The busy world asleep is laid ;

Soon as the wind in mountain pass

Makes rustle in the faded grass,

Where hidden bird by sleep oppressed

Flutters contented to its nest ;

When the night flower ‘neath sheltering vine

Sips nectared draughts of dew divine,

Spreading its timid petals tender,

And the pale moon with stealthy splendour

Clear of the hills her beauty flings

To gaze on thee with envy wan —

Lo ! I will come on dew-dipped wings

To dwell with thee till flickering dawn,

And waft on thy silk-shaded eyes

The golden dreams of Paradise/’

Silence …. all faded far away ;

Echo for echo, sound for sound.

She started up, looked wildly round —

Terror, astonishment, dismay.

Held in her breast alternate sway,

And at her heart strings surging, swelling.

She did not know, she could not say,

What rapturous joy, all else excelling !

Her soul had cast its bondage down

And rioted through every vein.

While diapasons could not drown

The insistence of that new refrain

In that strange voice’s haunting strain.

But when at dawn her senses slept,

Prophetic fancies o’er her creeping

Told her that some dim Presence kept

Watch over her while she was sleeping.

A cloudy form was o’er her bending

Of beauty human thought transcending.

He did not speak — he did not move —

But in his eyes was speechless love.

So anguish-torn that glance fell o’er her

Whose only thought was to adore her.

Twas not the angel God had given,

Her guardian spirit sent from Heaven ;

Halo of iridescent rays

Shone not above the impassioned gaze ;

Twas not a Fiend from Hell’s abysses

Of tortured agony — oh, nay,

He glowed with evening’s lovelinesses —

Nor dark, nor light — nor night, nor day.’

[This small section of poetry is reproduced with grateful thanks to Wiki docs, who have included Lermontov’s profound epic ‘The Demon’ in their archives.

This extract and images that accompany it may be found here:

and here

The Ring of Arte~ A Witches Compass

•April 17, 2016 • 2 Comments



The information about the nine foot magic circle sounds a bit false. I am very disinclined to believe it as a possible historical event. Everything in the theory points towards a laboured nineteenth century hand, inventing primitive man all over again. No twentieth century man likes to admit the possibility that it has all been done before. But in a different way with different means. However, this is literally what a witch’s compass is, a highly efficient and scientific machine, and it requires science to use it properly.

This is the Key of Kings.”

                                                                                                      (Robert Cochrane)


A scientific machine? The Key of Kings? Robert Cochrane wittingly beguiles us with these intriguing descriptions in deference to ~ the Ring of Arte. Upon reading them, we could be forgiven for thinking these two comments oppose one another, or that they suggest a paradox in linear time. Sounding at once archaic and futuristic, it is not until we analyse them in context that we are fully able to properly appreciate how searingly astute a summation Cochrane has declared. We can but wonder what experiences led him to such clarity. Startlingly innovative, nothing like it before, or since, has been known. Not only did he establish a clear demarcation from the more popular and better known practises of the ‘Wica,'(sic) he set the bar for others who came after, seeking more traditional ways of working. His single, most distinctive gift to others outside his tradition concerns the existence of a  traditional ‘Compass.’ Making several references to it, he even provided guidelines for others to follow, to secure its foundations in public awareness for generations to come. What he did not explain was those differences. Perhaps he felt they were obvious?

            Approached with scientific perception, we may distinguish a Circle from a Ring, and both from a Compass ~ or can we? At what point does physics enter the quantum arc, bridging the natural world of general consciousness with the seemingly chaotic and random realms of supra-conciousness in the planes of supernature? In that unique space, ‘out of time and out of place,’  liminality subsumes the linear order of our universe, and we are at once in Arcadia ~ truly the land of the gods from whose hands the ‘Key of Kings’ was originally gifted.


 So how do we begin to understand the Key of Kings?

First of all we must establish an understanding of the basic form and function of Ring, Circle and Compass:

A Circle normally describes a flat space which is not only ’round,’ but is complete in its inclusivity. This means the entire surface of that space is distinguished by its separation from all that surrounds it, peripherally, above and below it.

A Ring is a circular band, placed between two zones to delineate what is inside it, from what is outside of it. Functioned to create a deliberate boundary  or transitional zone between two other spaces, these may be the same or different depending on geography, elements etc. i.e. a Castle is separated by a Moat ~ a ring of water that in addition to  creating a boundary or bridge between two areas, marks an actual point of departure, from one thing to another. In this case the shift from a natural landscape to a building. In more ancient times a ditch was constructed around a raised ‘circle’ of land, known as a mound. This henge structure afforded tactical defence. In like manner, a nine foot circle is the defensible area one person armed with a sword may secure about themselves.

Both a Ring and a Circle can be physical or metaphysical of course.

A Compass is inter and intra physical and also metaphysical.

A Compass is the mode of transport, the direction traversed and the destination desired.

It is an orientation of intent.

What this means will become realised as we progress.


see me now

Setting aside for the moment all tenets of faith and belief that determines the emotive construct (associated with force) within its dynamic, we need to make an analysis of purpose and function in the formalisation of a ritual space according to the directives established by ‘Wiccan’ practises. At its most basic level the Wiccan sacred space is constructed from both a Ring and a Circle. A Ring secures a boundary around a circular area it deems entirely distinct from that on the other side of its boundary. All rather obvious so far. What is known, though is perhaps not so obvious, is, that Ring is very much perceived as ‘defensive.’

Furthermore, to increase that security, Cardinal Watchtowers are envisaged/constructed on the other side of the boundary, warded by Guardians. At this point, it is irrelevant what capacity they assume or how they are envisaged. What is important, is that we understand they are not to be approached or encountered. In fact, they are ‘summoned’ to their posts and held there at the point of a sharp weapon. Once the participant/s is/are inside that ‘space,’ the boundary is generated from inside, around itself, and the Watchtowers are then built beyond that. Paradoxically, in closing all force and focus inwards, everything is pulled physically and psychically towards a static central point of its own origin, from which it looks outwards viewing its boundary and castellated Watchtowers on its peripheral borders.  It is a centripetal construct. It is the construct of the Magus, a world apart from all other worlds.

A Compass is an entirely different ‘thing,’ both literally and figuratively.


To begin with, the approach is from the outermost point. Working inwards, the boundary or ‘Ring’ is created then breached, quite deliberately, the Bridge to what lies beyond is forded, allowing access to whatever exists on the ‘other’ side as coded by the purpose of the advance. We shift ourselves out and into another space, leaving where we were in the physical body behind us.

Once over that Bridge we approach the Castle Gate. These Castles, Realms, or Worlds stand at each Cardinal and inter-cardinal nodes, hence it forms the Compass Rose, the supreme glyph of all navigators. On approach to each gate, we prepare and forge the key that will unlock it, hence it is the ‘Key of Kings.’ Knocking is a gesture accompanied by utterance, of sign and sonic to announce our presence. We pass through the now open Gate and into whatever resides beyond that gate. Taking ourselves into their worlds, we approach unarmed to embrace the shades of ancestors and spirit forms from whom we seek wisdom. We choose to shift unhindered through into those other worlds and realms. Traversing ever deeper in our explorations, we paradoxically shift outwards, away from our point of origin. It is a centrifugal force. This is the ‘Witches’ Compass where trajectory is determined by intent. It is the (shifting) world within (all) worlds. 

“All measurements of position and velocity must be made relative to some frame of reference.”   (centrifugal force)

Within a ‘Witches’ Compass, we have several rings of arte, that is to say, distinct arcs between specific nodes. These bridges and moats distinguish not just the realms from each other, but the purpose that directs and propels those mediations of virtue. And so we begin at last to see how very different is the Wiccan Circle to a Witches Compass, and to see how simple and yet how very complex the latter is when compared to the former. As Cochrane said, it is a ‘map to other worlds.’

After a gravid description of those other worlds within a poignant and scientific Creation Myth, Robert Cochrane separates the basic structure of the ‘Ring’ in terms of gods and kings, of queens and castles, of elemental kingdoms and of their inherent virtues. Poetically he observes the origin of mankind, and our place in the schema of the universality of all reality and non-reality. He speaks of time and eternity, and of a symbiosis of spirit enjoined through ‘witch-blood.’ Linked through ancestry, we traverse the realms by the vehicles their beliefs created for us in Myth made manifest in the realities of those quantum worlds beyond time and space.

So how do we manipulate such deliberate transport?


            We do not ‘raise’ power,’ we ride on what is already there. Nature provides all. We ride the ‘Broom,’ a folk name for the Compass, referred to by Cochrane. This is what he meant when he explained to Bill Gray that for us, ‘nature is a means to an end.’ Observing nature, we note that all matter shifts with the winds, from the tides that ebb and flow o’er the variant and distant shores of Gaia, to the scudding clouds above, of vap’rous transparency; we are adrift betwixt heaven and the deep blue sea. Poetically, these three realms are the underworld abyss, the plane of Edin, now corrupted into Hell, and the transcendent arc of the celestial track-ways of the gods. Through the lens of Myth, these three host a hierarchy of beings structured to explain animistic principle expressed in a panentheistic multi-verse, in landscapes that range from pure wondrous beauty to the starkest and most terrifying of nightmares.


Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came, Thomas Moranin 1859.

These obviously demand three basic requisites in order to accomplish transvection over Bridge and Moat, into Mound and Mold, and through Gate and Doorway……ascending and descending, triangulating ourselves through a mutable and ever shifting map, of no fixed abode, anchored nowhere in time and space. It is the antithesis of stasis. Its axial shaft is the self, we are singularly a microcosmic tree of a collective, and macrocosmic Yggdrasil. Three things provide the context, purpose and mode to generate the dynamic synergy of transvection.

That is to say:

1). Faith: a cultural understanding of how to know the gods, ancestors and all other deific forms in the natural order according to myth and folklore sustained in that Faith.

2). Quest or Mission: the purpose or reason that inculcates structure and format of the ritual procedure.

3). The Crafting of that Ring of Arte: Building the Bridge, digging the Moat, seeking a Mound, Cave, Tunnel, River or lofty Precipice as a ‘jump point’. Construction of Matrix from  the Thirteen Tools of Arte, assigning their placements as co-ordinates in a  vehicle for the transport of Mind and Soul (not body) to the appointed destination.

Cochrane describes the Worlds and Realms of his Compass thusly:

Aetes/Anemoi: Four gods of the Cardinal winds, that herald the four seasons we now relate to them.

  • Tettens/Boreas, the North Wind, the Thrall of Winter.
  • Nod/Zephyros, the West Wind, the Herald of Autumn.
  • Luci/Euros, the East Wind, the Herald of Spring.
  • Carenos/Notos, the South Wind, Flame of Summer.

Sophisticated magical concepts from the middle and near East are rooted into generic Craft rituals. Infused over many hundreds of years, they assert a standard form. Usage determines their ingress. Most particularly we all recognise the significance of the four cardinal points which were once stellar and later attributed to the four winds. The Four Royal stars, named ‘Watchers,’ seen as guardians [eg: Kerubim] were evoked in high places – their symbols were traced in the air with torches or ritual wands [symbolising air], as their sacred names were called out.

Pulled by the call of spirit, by divine measure we traverse the narrow thread, strung upon Wyrd, the map of life and death.

The English word ‘god’ is derived from the Proto-Germanic ǥuđan as found in the 6th century Christian Codex Argenteus, and is generally accepted as the earliest written Germanic root form.  Linguists largely agree that the reconstructed ‘Proto-Indo-European’ form ǵhu-tó-m is based on the root ǵhau(ə)  meaning  ‘to call’ or ‘to invoke.’ This does of course have tremendous implications regarding the more mystical elements of our own spiritual praxis. It is the animate force or Virtue within all things, yet sourced beyond them.

A guiden- pole is a standard banner imbued with (g)odic force manifest and non-manifest as wind and the perceptible but unseen virtue of that ‘wind.’ Erected to ‘guide’ the mind-soul on its journey, these may be set-up and mounted to synergise the jump-point as a visual mnemonic for the entranced body in bi-location, in each of Five Separate ‘Rings.’ Three Rings only have been discussed in any depth (1-3-5), and two alluded to, at (2-4):


Old woman (witch or fairy) spinning. Woodcut attributed to Holbein from Boethius De consolatione philosophiae 1547

1). Cardinals – Fyfolt Cross. (Four Pointed Star)~Wisdom

2). Star Pentagram (Five Pointed Star)~Death

3). Horned Mask of Seven Stars (Reversed Pentagram) ~Life

4). The Necklace (Nine Stones Blessed Eight)~Love

5). Nodal Enneagram (Nine Pointed Star)~Maturity


1). Priestly Mysteries ~ Truth – Central Pillar/Altar & Powers Zone -All Magicks – East (Fire) –Lunar /Earth-(Skull in Reliquary) ~ Castle of the 4 Winds . Hermes is Guide

2). Male Mysteries ~ Death & Prophecy– Right Pillar/Banner – Held  & Led by Maid  – Of Mound- Highest Will – Mercy  – Chaos – Grail Mysteries ~  Martinmas  & Mound and  Skull. Saturn is Guide.

3).  Priestly Mysteries ~ Communion Grace – Life -Water (Skull in Reliquary)– Earth /Solar- Power Zone South (Earth) – Mid-Summer (Feast of St John) & Rose Beyond the Grave – Into the Void – Hekate is Guide

4). Female Mysteries ~ Law & Frith &Troth–Highest Love – Left Pillar/Banner ~ Held &Led by Magister –  Covenant & Hallows at Yule – 12th Night Moat & Maze ~ Sophia is Guide

5). Priestly Mysteries ~ Divination/Banishment/Purification/Initiation  – Power Zone North (Air) Oracular Head – Stellar/ Lunar – Cave of the Cauldron ~ Nine Norns, AegiPan is Guide.

All of these are ‘open’ (centrifugal) Horned Rings and are created counter and contra to the Hexagrammatic Circle of Six points, which having all arcs closed, maintain a defensive construct for the Magus, ensconced within his closed Circle of Arte. Balanced and mirrored on all sides, it again focuses and condenses everything within, towards its (centripetal) axis.


Nota Bene

There has been some amazing feed-back for this article, for which I am very, very grateful. Better yet, I am content in the knowledge that this work is widely seen and appreciated in its own right as the informing Egregore for CTC, a continuous and abiding Virtue.

In that regard, it is necessary to address here a misunderstanding that arose on a forum I am not a member of, and has come to me via a friend there. The matter concerns my own comment that refers to the unique innovation to the workings of Traditional Craft …and I stand by that comment. Within that context of a particular approach to the ‘mysteries’, Traditional Craft is but one modality within the greater whole of occultism.

The misunderstanding has assumed that where I say “there has been nothing like it before or since,” I inferred it within that all-inclusive field entire. I did not. The two sentences immediately following my own comment within the article make it very clear that I refer only to the spectrum of Traditional Craft and nothing else. In fact, if read carefully enough, it is clear the entire article refers to nothing else.

As a person who has always promoted the variant occult mysteries per se, including Hermetism, Hermeticism, Qabbala , Enochia, etc etc,  both as separate avenues of the Mysteries and how elements of their craft infuse and inform those of CTC.,  my appreciation and regard for them as specialisms in their own right has never been in doubt. One cannot compare their modus operandi, not in any sense. They all serve differently. Furthermore, the ability to synergise those elements within his own tradition and culture was Cochrane’s genius.

So even there it ‘could’ be argued that Cochrane’s Tradition is singular in the fact that it took those mysteries out to others,   as E. J. Jones said – “The first of his tradition to do so.” We are a closed tradition in the same way as all the afore-mentioned cults and orders of the greater mysteries’, BUT we have opened access to those mysteries in ways they have not.

Therefore, in the sense of : ‘format, form and formulae of work were and are used still in Traditional Craft, and that he opened the gates for others,  I still say,  his innovative work has not been equalled before or since.




A Winter’s Tale

•December 23, 2015 • Leave a Comment

In keeping with seasonal Yuletide customs, here is an abridged version of the Scandinavian Folk-tale ‘The old Dame and Her Hen’. It features in:

Popular Tales from the Norse, by George Webbe Dasent, [1904], at


The Old Dame and Her Hen

Once upon a time there was an old widow who, with her three daughters, lived far away from the rest of the world, under a hill-side, on high. But, she was so poor that she owned one little hen alone, which she prized as the apple of her eye; it followed her everywhere, cackling at her heels. Well! one day, suddenly, the hen was missing. The old wife went out, looking and calling for her hen, but it was gone, and there was no getting it back.

So the woman said to her eldest daughter, “You must just go out and see if you can find our hen, for have it back we must, even if we have to fetch it out of the hill.”

And so her first daughter set off walking up and down, looking and calling, but no hen could she find. But then, all at once, just as she was about to give up the hunt, she heard someone calling out in a cleft in the rock—

“Your hen trips inside the hill! Your hen trips inside the hill!”

Jean Veber - The Giant, The Ogre And The Fairy, 1905

So she went into the cleft to see for herself, but she had scarce set her foot inside the cleft, before she fell through a trap-door, deep, deep down, into a vault underground. When she got to the bottom she went through many rooms, each finer than the other, but in the innermost room of all, a great ugly man of the hill-folk came up to her and asked, “Will you be my sweetheart?”

“No! I will not,” she said. She would never take him, at any price, not she! Desperately, she sought to escape him – all she wanted was to find her hen, and escape this mound. Then the Man o’ the Hill got so angry that he took her up and wrung her head off, and threw both head and trunk down into the cellar.

Unaware of this, her mother sat at home waiting and waiting, but no daughter returned. So, after awhile she said to her second daughter, that she must seek after her sister, adding, “You can just give our hen a call at the same time.”

And so the second sister set off, and of course, the very same thing befell her. As she went about looking and calling, she too heard a voice away in the cleft of the rock saying—”Your hen trips inside the hill! Your hen trips inside the hill!”

Thinking this strange, and went to see what it could be; and likewise fell through the trap-door, deep, deep down, into the vault. Searching from room to room, she arrived at the innermost one, whereupon she discovered the Man o’ the Hill, who came to her and asked if she would be his sweetheart? No! she would not. She rebuked him strongly, just as her sister had done.  Once again, the Man o’ the Hill got angry, and took her up and wrung her head off, and threw both head and trunk down into the cellar.


Now, when the Old Dame had sat and waited seven lengths and seven breadths for her second daughter, and could neither see nor hear anything of her, she said to the youngest—

“Now, you must set off to see after your sisters. ‘Twas silly to lose the hen, but ’twill be sillier still if we lose both your sisters; and you can give the hen a call at the same time”—for the Old Dame’s heart was still set on her hen.

And so, her youngest daughter walked over hill and moor, hunting for her sisters and calling the hen, but she could neither see nor hear anything of them. So at last she too came, up to the cleft in the rock, and heard how something said—”Your hen trips inside the hill! Your hen trips inside the hill!”

Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came, Thomas Moranin 1859.

She thought this strange, and peering in, fell through the trap-door too, deep, deep down, into a vault. When she reached the bottom she went from one room to another, each grander than the other; but she wasn’t at all afraid, and took good time to look about her. So, as she was peeping into this and that, she cast her eye on the trap-door into the cellar, and looked down it, and what should she see there but her sisters, who lay dead. She had scarce time to slam the trap-door before the Man o’ the Hill came to her and asked—

“Will you be my sweetheart?”

“With all my heart,” answered the girl, for she saw very well how The Man o’ the Hill had dealt with her sisters. So delighted was the Man o’ the Hill when he heard this, he acquired for her the finest clothes in the world. Everything she wanted, she had only to ask.  So overjoyed was the Man o’ the Hill that anyone would be his sweetheart, nothing was beyond his care.


But when she had been there a little while, she was one day even more doleful and downcast than was her wont. So the Man o’ the Hill asked her what was the matter, and why she was in such dumps. “Ah!” said the girl, “it’s because I can’t get home to my mother. She’s hard pinched, I know, for meat and drink, and has no one with her.”

“Well!” said the Man o’ the Hill, “I can’t let you go to see her; but just stuff some meat and drink into a sack, and I’ll carry it to her.”

Yes! she would do so, she said, with many thanks; but at the bottom of the sack she stuffed a lot of gold and silver, and afterwards she laid a little food on the top of the gold and silver. Then she told the ogre the sack was ready, but he must be sure not to look into it. So he gave his word he wouldn’t, and set off. Now, as the Man o’ the Hill walked off, she peeped out after him through a chink in the trap-door; but when he had gone a bit on the way, he said—”This sack is so heavy, I’ll just see what there is inside it.”

And so he was about to untie the mouth of the sack, but the girl called out to him—

“I see what you’re at! I see what you’re at!”


Startled by this bewitchment, he shouted back to her: “The deuce you do!” said the Man o’ the Hill;” then you must have plaguy sharp eyes in your head, that’s all!”

So he threw the sack over his shoulder, and dared not try to look into it again. When he reached the widow’s cottage, he threw the sack in through the cottage door, and said—

“Here you have meat and drink from your daughter; she doesn’t want for anything.”

Some time later, when the girl had resided in the hill longer still, a roaming billy goat happened to fall down the trap-door. Surprised by this, the Man o’ the Hill shouted,

“Who sent for you, I should like to know.. you long-bearded beast!” Beset then by an awful rage, he whipped up the goat, and wrung his head off, and threw him down into the cellar.

“Oh!” bemoaned the girl to him, “why did you do that? I am so lonely, and I might have had the goat as playmate, down here.”

“Well!” said the Man o’ the Hill, “you needn’t be so sad, for I can soon put life into the billy-goat again.”

So saying, he took a flask which hung up against the wall, put the billy-goat’s head on his body again, and smeared it with some ointment out of the flask, and he was as well and as lively as ever again.

“Ho! ho!” said the girl to herself; “that flask is worth something to me—so it is.”


So again, time passed as she watched and waited for a day when the Man o’ the Hill was away. Then seizing her chance she took the flask from the nail, crept into the vault and placed her eldest sister’s head back upon its shoulders. Next she smeared her with some of the ointment out of the flask, just as she had seen the Man o’ the Hill do with the billy-goat, and in a trice her sister came to life again. Then the girl stuffed her into a sack, laid a little food over her, and as soon as the Man o’ the Hill came home, she said to him—

“Dear friend! Now do go home to my mother with a morsel of food again; poor thing! For I can see that she is both hungry and thirsty. Take this sack to her, but mind you must mind and not look into the sack.”

Well! he said he would carry the sack; and he said, too, that he would not look into it; but when he had gone a little way, he thought the sack got awfully heavy; and when he had gone a bit farther he said to himself—

“Come what will, I must see what’s inside this sack, for however sharp her eyes may be, she can’t see me all this way off.”

But just as he was about to untie the sack, the girl who sat inside the sack called out—

“I see what you’re at! I see what you’re at!”

Startled again, the ogre said, “The deuce you do! You must have plaguy sharp eyes;” for of course, he realised not it was the girl in the sack that called to him, and not his wife at home. So he did not dare peep again into the sack, but carried it straight to her mother as fast as he could, and when he got to the cottage door he threw it in through the door, bawling out—”Here you have meat and drink from your daughter; she wants for nothing.”

arthur rackham

Once again, time passed, and another day came when the girl found herself alone in the Hill. So, taking the flask into the vault, she revived her second sister. Placing her safely inside a sack, she covered her with silver and with gold, a finally a little meat near the top of the sack. She instructed the Man o’ the Hill to take the sack to her dear mother as before, reminding him never to peer inside it. “Dear friend,” she said to the Man o’ the Hill, “you really must run home to my mother with a little food again; and mind you don’t look into the sack.” Again, he did as she wished. Staggering under its weight, he paused to look inside, pulling at the string but stopped the moment he heard – “I see what you’re at! I see what you’re at!”

“The deuce you do,” said the Man o’ the Hill, “then you must have plaguy sharp eyes of your own.”

Well, he made all the haste he could, and carried the sack straight to the girl’s mother. When he got to the cottage door he threw the sack in through the door, and roared out—”Here you have food from your daughter; she wants for nothing.”


Satisfied she had freed her sisters, the girl began to plot her own escape, and feigning illness, declared to the Man o’ the Hill, that when next he departed for the day, there would be no supper ready for him upon his return.

“It’s no use your coming home before twelve o’clock at night,” she said, “for I shan’t be able to have supper ready before,—I’m so sick and poorly.”

But when the Man o’ the Hill was well out of the house, she stuffed some of her clothes with straw, and stuck up this lass of straw in the corner by the chimney, with a besom in her hand, so that it looked just as if she herself were standing there. After that she crept off home, armed with a rifle to defend the cottage with her mother and sisters.

So when the clock struck twelve, home came the Man o’ the Hill, and the first thing he said to the straw-girl was, “Give me something to eat.” No word did he receive form this girl of straw.

“Give me something to eat, I say!” called out the Man o’ the Hill, “for I am almost starved.”

Silence was all she gave him.

“Give me something to eat!” roared out the ogre the third time. “I think you’d better open your ears and hear what I say, or else I’ll wake you up, that I will!”

But the straw girl stood motionless. Flying into a rage, he struck her head so hard that the straw flew all about the room. Seeing this, he knew he had been tricked, and began to hunt everywhere. At last, he came to the cellar, and found both sisters missing. In a rage he ran to the cottage, shouting, “I’ll make her pay her for this treachery!”

But upon reaching the cottage, the girl who had been his good-wife, turned the rifle into the air above him and fired. Afraid of the thunderous volley, the Man o’ the Hill dared not go further towards the house, for he thought it was indeed thunder. So he turned tail and scarpered back to his Hill, running as fast as he could lay legs to the ground.  But what do you think, just as he got to the trap-door, the sun rose and the Man o’ the Hill burst asunder.


The Old Dame and her daughters lived happily ever after of course, but Oh! if one only knew where the trap-door was, I’ll be bound there’s a treasure hoard of gold and silver down there still!



Images from Pinterest, wikicommons and sacred texts.

Don’t Fear the Reaper

•November 12, 2015 • 2 Comments


Together through this Wintertide,‘ out of time and out of place’, we witness closely the strands of life and death. Bound through ancestral totems, we are drawn into their mysteries. We are gifted the opportunity to unite in troth, with our brothers and sisters, to share intimate time with them, to hold them dear. We strike up the Hel runes, light the Nyd fire, harken the Call to the Old Ones, our beloved Ancestors: thus we walk with all Kith and Kin. How others mark this tide, I would consider it a privilege to learn from all true souls.

Contemplating upon our Fate of, being, before, and beyond, we have already noted the present. The past is always with us. On this, and at this time I was remembering a dear brother and friend, who, born with chronic asthma, told us he should have been dead in his teens, but went on to become a Black Belt, Fifth Dan and Martial Arts Master. Yes, he surely cherished his gift of life – by living every precious moment. But more than this, he’d dedicated his all too short life to the people, and to all people, spending three decades with the Saint John’s ambulance troupe by choice, in nursing as his role in society, and giving what remained of his free time to Martial Arts Exhibitions for Charity.

Massive steroid dosages that controlled his asthma eventually destroyed his vital organs; yet in his final moments, as his lungs slowly atrophied, he drew his last few breaths with the broadest grin imaginable. Those privileged to know this blessed soul, will know how true his intent, embracing death with elation; the mark of a true warrior. For him, the Hel runes were struck, and mead flowed. He, like another honoured brother, had understood death as a transition – staged to shift us from flesh to the ‘Other’. They’d crossed the Lethe many times, and their conviction in the reality of the ‘Other,’ as Robert Cochrane asserted, replaced Faith with Certainty. At each Hallows they sit with us still.

To the future we sow the seeds of our culture’s continuity; we embrace the future but never forget the past. Huggin and Munnin – their importance is immeasurable: the old craft saying of, nothing is forgotten, nothing is ever forgotten, is an absolute truism. And so, as we stand at the crossroads of the Now, we look to the Future, remembering all that is Past.

CTC blesses all in Truth.


May the Word protect you from the Lie!


This stunning image was ‘Posted by Gudar och Gudinnor?’ Image of Hela on, also used on If you are the artist or know the artist please inform me so that i may credit their work fully.

Legends of the Hunt

•November 3, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Legends of the Hunt : St Hubert’s Day – November the 3rd

st hubert 2

At this time of reverence for the traditions of our ancestors, it is interesting to discover some of the lesser known observances, especially where they savour a rich homily, an ethic to hold in high esteem, still. The Huntsman is directed to one such premise:

“For example, the hunter ought to only shoot when a humane, clean and quick kill is assured. He advised to shoot only old stags past their prime breeding years and to relinquish a much anticipated shot on a trophy to instead euthanize a sick or injured animal that might appear on the scene. Further, one ought never shoot a female with young in tow, to assure the young deer have a mother to guide them to food during the winter.”

In an article by Robin-the-dart, an explanation of this ethic is exampled as follows:

They Call Me the Hunter

“the boar, the stag, the ram we become, the hunter and hunted are but one”

As human beings, our basic needs are well, human. And so our ancestors also sought mastery in part at least of their environment. This becomes particularly important when we realise how the life and well being of their communities depended upon it. Hunting and fishing within these societies reflect cultural activities, often ritualised, that have distinguished humankind from the animal kingdom. And yet we retain an instinctive interconnectedness and relationship within both society and the natural world.

A certain dynamic tension exists between the need for a people’s survival and the ability of the hunters to meet it. So magic enabled those people to establish a link to an unknowable or uncontrollable object, to effect their control of that object they desired. Enacting a scenario that anticipates the successful intent of the hunt relies on a systematic and logically coherent set of ideas about the relations between the shaman and the subject pursued. Taboos are placed to minimise the possibility of failure. The shaman knows and accepts how all things have an unpredictable influence upon such matters. These things find their origin from within a mysterious realm beyond the kenning of human laws.

Each hunt is a rite of passage, one ventures out into a wilderness, beyond the known safety of the people towards a hostile environment and an uncertain outcome. In this place, nature alone is Mistress; here Her laws preside over the Hunt. The true hunter thus prepares himself fully, ritually, first in the act of separation, first in mind, then in body. In his mind he will immerse himself and become the prey, he envisions himself as the prey, to move look smell as the prey would, until their spirits link and they can move as one. At that point, he makes the switch. He becomes the hunter and makes his kill. A true hunter and man of the woods once told me how the last few moments are key to a successful quarry, and that under no circumstance to allow eye contact. Fail this one premise, and all is lost. That precious link, so artfully woven allows the prey to know the mind of the hunter and take flight as the hunter sees himself reflected in those mirrors that link their souls; in that brief pause, the prey seeks its freedom.

In hunter/gatherer societies the hunter had to go through a ritual to honour the prey on its final journey, its own rite of passage, if you like. It was revered in the initial rites of preparation, consciously respected in the hunt, and then dispatched without malice and finally prayed over in death. This was no blood sport, no pleasure shoot, but a simple matter of survival, one life for another. No savagery here.

This arcane and quite profound relationship between the hunter and the hunted links them essentially as one. Even clothing and weapons become imbued with the spirit presence of the animal and are thus assimilated one to another; no separation exists magically between the hunter, his tools and his prey. Where success is required, it is to magic they turn, utilising all available spells, charms and offerings to their totemic deity. Thus all magic becomes focused on the prey its self, to allow itself to be killed, or to be easy to find, to make the hunter invisible to it, and always to respect the spirit of the prey.

It was believed that the hair, meat and blood of wild prey had a dangerous potency, and had to be neutralised. The concept of the man/animal relationship underlying the practice of hunting magic is sophisticated and complex; the rituals maintain a managed symbiosis to increase all species through survival which depended on need, rather than greed. The First Nation Tribes Peoples of America are fine exemplars of this vital tenet, to take only what is needful, understanding that, if you take too much, the herd is depleted, and this means no food for future generations. Some hunter societies believed that all life is interlinked, such that if you engage in dishonourable hunts, the grim outcome decrees that it would be your soul hunted by the Lord of the Animals, taken to his cave and reincarnated as a hunted animal.

This idea that all animal spirits return to the Lord of the Animals in his cave is very interesting, especially with regard to the Craft concept of the cave as a womb. Many caves have been discovered adorned with sparse but graphic scenes of hunting. Animal’s bones and effigies are often found in heaps towards the back of the caves in middens. Others are found nearer the front, pierced with holes that suggest a different usage and significance. Some hunter societies share similar beliefs to certain craft practices of an animal duality, of an inner spirit – the primal totem self, which if properly understood and contextualised, will help and guide the individual.


It is also believed that to kill a persons spirit totem will affect the human person, that a family will recognise its own totem children and be able to repel any that is not its own. Thus on the other side of this bridge in life, the watcher will recognise his own by name and totem. The ‘hunter’ always remembers his ancestors; be, before, and beyond the hunt. Countless superstitions that require fore-knowledge in the victim that magic has been worked upon them, though undoubtedly successful present to my own understanding, a very different scenario lacking in a very real magical command of spirit, to the works of a true shaman where, like the hunter, they ‘create’ and manifest the reality of their magical will through wit and cunning rather than by psychological trickery.

The underlying purpose of hunting magic was and remains to maintain steady contact with their subject and afterwards to integrate the hunter safely into the community, as well as to promote the success of all ventures into the animal world. To that end, I wish to share a very fine and poignant tale that includes a genuine hunting spell from the myths of the Sami peoples, the oldest extant hunters who still have a deeply respected tradition of Shamen.

“I have a mind a thought occurs, a mind to go to my totem, to the foot of the tree, to the Ide of the forest girls, to the courtyard of the woodland maids, to drink the forest mead, to taste the honey of the woods in the shadow of my totem. By the watchful maidens I shall doff my tattered working clothes, dash down my working birch-bark shoes, put upon my hunting shoes, my stockings of darkest hue. I afterwards equip my limbs. My body I protect with a jacket shaggy at the edge, with a shirt of blue. I brush my head with twigs of fir. I comb it out with juniper, in order no scent escape, no human breath exhale. I put my bow in order and detach my honoured spear. I anoint with grease my shoes with the fat of swine, my feet have covered the snow, my feet have covered the heath. I carry my staff and move at a steady pace, I head towards the forests edge. And into the hazy wooded wilds, at the head of a copse I sing a song, into the inner depth of the forest-to amuse the forest girls, to delight the maiden of the wood. The old one has laid down fresh snow for me, fine snow does the old one send, as white as autumn ewe, as white as winter hare. I, leaving men, start forth to hunt, quit full grown men for outdoor work, on the old ones newly fallen snow, on the old ones snow without the footprint of a hare, unbroken by a foxes track.

First I make ready with my bow, unloose my spear, and address my snow skates with my lips; A skate is of the family of foot, a spear is of the axe`s race, a bow has kinship with the hand; grand is a bow of hardened yew, a spear-shaft made of a tree`s hard side, grand is one`s shoes that fits one well. I then when going to the woods, when I am leaving home, I have my guide`s, my three dogs, five dogs of mine with bushy tails, they guide me true. My dogs have eyes as large as a blessed oath ring, my dogs have ears as large as a water- lily on a lake, my dogs have teeth as sharp as a scythe.

What temper and what change has come o`er the delightful hunting-ground. While trapping, a maiden made rich my tract of wood, she made my beat abound with game. To take and not respect, to not [forfeit but accept in] gyfu [only]my life, will tilt the millstone, unbalance the order, and all abound will be cast in chaos. In the maidens hold, I hold my weapon’s in truth I ask no more, so I with chosen words beseech. I do not hunt on holy days, others may take by knavery, will take by fraud, I would not take by knavery, nor will I take by fraud. I only take that I have earned, I take with the sweat of my brow, I bring the best offering, I sing the best songs, thou are my shield under thee I sing.

My power is insignificant, my walk on you is short, my guide provides me all I need. Bread and mead I share with thee, I have hunted in this forest long, three forts in the forest lay, the one of wood, the other of bone, the third was a fort of stone. I took a glance at them inside as I stood at the foot of the wall; there the givers of gifts abide, the maiden lived there in. As for the wooden fort, the forest lassies lived within, the maiden in the one of bone, but in the fort of stone the forest`s master dwelt himself. All sparkled in there gold attire, were swaying to and fro, on his head the sun`s-son had a hat, three branches were in that hat. The arms of the forest`s mistress, of the kindly mistress, had golden bracelets on, upon her fingers golden rings, on her head a crown of gold, in golden ringlets were her locks, gold pendants in her ears. Her skirt was hung in golden pleats, around her neck hung pearls. Oh kindly maid oh pleasant mistress of the woods, glance kindly to thy servant here, be well disposed to give thy gifts, be generous with thy largesse’s. Hold not thy gaze from thy Faithfull son, not let binding or hunger strike me, for in thy shadow I shall hold thy light, and take nobly all I am given. I leave it to you, in whose hands we are held, to bless the hel shoe I am given.”

The death runes and hel shoes were an integral little known part of early death rites, still used in certain Craft families. There is much Craft Law here written, and much of the Mystery Tradition’s teaching in this simple charm.

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The hunter who established this ethic established a legend that has many parallels with the heroic figure of Robin Hood, whose ventures harken to us at this seasonal interstice most profoundly. Of him, Robin-the-Dart has this to say:

“In my own Craft, we firmly believe in the reality of ‘Utopia,’ a hope for the future. Never mourn the past; the lessons are there to see, where symbols retain the truth of this. It is for each of us to see beyond what we see, to discover the presence of myth beyond the drab and miserable illusion of what is presented as life.

A quote I particularly like is by Antoine Faivre: Myth is the founder of all culture and that without it, a humanity that has forgotten its lost civilization cannot make a new beginning.”   An ‘Old Craft’ saying – “nothing is forgotten, nothing is ever forgotten.”  that means as long as some of us can listen to the wind, interpret the symbols, then the word will always remain manifest for those with eyes to see and ears to listen. For true understanding of all you see and beyond, the gift of insight, prevalent within the Old Craft, we need to approach the word through the symbols it describes and upholds.” 

St Hubert

And so we come to the hunter, once a prince who is perhaps the earliest  exemplar of the archetype we know and celebrate in myth and legend as Robin hood and herne too. November the 3rd. Feast Day of St Hubert. His feast day marks the formal opening of the hunting season in Europe. Somewhat akin to Robin Hood and St Francis, his legend is worthy of investigation.

St. Hubert: a prince, huntsman, healer, and saint. Interestingly, he is also the patron saint other groups, some associated with the hunt, but some having no apparent connection, including butchers, soldiers, machinists, mathematicians, metal workers, furriers and trappers. In his capacity of healer, he is invoked against both rabies and bad behaviour in dogs–especially in hounds and other hunting dogs. This gift is celebrated still in a ceremony named ‘Blessing of the Hounds.’

Hubert, was born in 638CE, the eldest son of Bertrans, Duke of Aquitaine, and naturally as his heir, became a prince in the House of Aquitaine in France.  In 682, Hubert married into a powerful Merovingian family, taking Floribanne, daughter of Dagobert, Count of Leuven as his wife. Their son Floribert would later become bishop of Liège, though he nearly died at the age of 10 from a fever.

Hubert was a seasoned and skilful hunter, spending much of his privileged life in the forests where, as legend has it, he had a vision that was to convert the pagan prince into a mendicant. Seeking the familiar fauna of his hunting grounds, Hubert encountered a magnificent Stag; between its huge antlers he caught sight of the Holy Rood accompanied by a voice reprimanding his pagan ways. This profoundly affected Hubert causing him to renounce his privileged lifestyle. Rejecting even his title and his family,  he gave up his birthright to the Aquitaine to his younger brother Odo, whom he made guardian of his infant son, Floribert. He distributed all his personal wealth among the poor, then studied for the priesthood. Hubert was quickly ordained, applying his passion for the forests and for the animals therein for his remaining years. Within his arboreal retreat, Hubert successfully established Christianity in large sections of the Ardennes forest of Belgium, stretching from the Meuse to the Rhine. He gave succour and wisdom to its many hunters and foragers there, establishing a hunting ethic adhered to still, especially his native regions across the Netherlands.

Hubert taught compassion for them as God’s creatures with a value in their own right. Moreover, St. Eustace and St. Hubert thus appear to share many similarities to Robin Hood.  This was his coat of arms:

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Hunters rely heavily upon their dogs. Rabies, then a common problem decimated very quickly many prized hounds. Hubert was gifted with a natural immunity to this disease and also to cure its affliction to the unfortunate hound. Due to his great love for the hounds, the monks of the St. Hubert abbey named a breed of hound after him – the ‘chien de Saint-Hubert’ in his honour. The breed, a forebear of the modern bloodhound was originally black or black and tan, medium-sized, and smooth-coated, with shorter legs, designed specifically for hunting boar. Rather curiously, it is believed this breed was later crossed with the Talbot Hound, a pure white hound, now extinct, to generate the modern bloodhound. Again, a strange legend surrounding the white hunting hound that haunted the forests. Perhaps linked to the fae hounds of scarlet ear?

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In the Middle-Ages, an Order of knightly brotherhood (Rittersbruderschaft), reflecting the overlapping religious and military aspects of medieval court life was established too in Hubert’s honour as the patron saint of hunters and knights. The founding of the Order of the Golden Fleece in the early 15th century started a trend in confraternal princely orders. The purpose of these, whether established by monarchs or princes, was to foster loyalty to a sovereign, replacing the old Chivalric orders developed in the Crusades.

Both the Netherlands and Belgium claim saint Hubert as their own, holding a special Mass for him that celebrates sharing ‘mastellen’ before the hunt begins. This bread is akin to a cinnamon doughnut or bagel. There is an old folk rhyme for the blessed bread. It is a very special bread, some of which the hunter kept in his pocket to place into the mouth of the stag or hind  as a final  sacrificial meal to honour its passing – a tradition much upheld by those hunters today who observe still the ethic of St Hubert!

The hunt is followed by a traditional and hearty game casserole at the end of the day 

“I came all the way from Saint Hubert’s grave,

Without stick, without staff.

Mad dogs, stand still!

This is Saint Hubert’s will.”

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Refs:  Quotes by Robin-the-dart from ‘They call me the Hunter‘

And from ‘Pagan Symbolism within the Sherwood Legends’ by Daniel Bran Griffith {foreword by Robin-the-dart}


Images and info sourced in:

Tanist: A Lineaged Tradition Continues

•September 26, 2015 • 2 Comments

The Fool on the Hill and The Dirty Rascal 


As Magister and Head-Kinsman, it is my privilege to know that The Clan is able to bear witness to a time-honoured duty of kinship at the higher levels of responsibility and service to our People. Ulric Gestumblindi Goding stands beside me now in the role of Tanist; to ‘live’ fully the ways of our ancestors, sharing in the marking our Knots and Tides in the ways of old, now and for many years to come, in preparation for his own eventual ascension as Head-Kinsman, that is to say, Magister of the Clan of Tubal Cain.”

Robin d’Arte –

‘May the Word protect you from The Lie.’

johnandroyThe Roles of Tanist and Magister are inexorably linked. They serve each other, the ‘Other’ and the Clan, without distinction. Clans are historically composed of various groups or collectives; though always in allegiance to the one Head-Kinsman. It can be no other way. We are not being exclusive so much as we are refuting inclusivity by desire, rather than by due election and admittance. This means, that, contrary to a popular opinion given elsewhere concerning ‘closed’ groups, we are not exclusive; though we deny access to those who are simply desirous of admittance.

Many words in common use now are used very much out of context, and without qualification. We do not exclude people based on their of measure privileged abilities, a rather elitist principle – but neither are we inclusive of all things, a naive licence. But we do exclude those who come to the gate out of desire or ego, and we do include those of a true heart. Therefore, election and admittance is a matter of ‘being.’

It was thus in 1966 and remains so now in 2015.

We, ‘The People of Goda, the Clan of Tubal Cain,’ hold that Tradition and its Legacy as Covenanted Heirs, in succession through its rich history of leaders, continuing directly, an unabated aegis of the Clan, from a Craft elder, through Robert Cochrane, then through Evan John Jones, appointed by Cochrane to be his Tanist (spiritual heir), an act vouchsafed by his wife as the Lady and Maid of the Clan, to be its physical heir and leader after him.


In like manner, Evan John Jones, past Magister and Head-Kinsman of the Clan of Tubal Cain, publicly bequeathed that authority to ourselves, naming Robin-the-dart as his Tanist successor.

In continuance of this arcane tradition, ‘Ulric “Gestumblindi” Goding’ now stands as Robin-the-dart’s appointed Tanist, in honour of our Ancestral culture and sacred custom.


Our appreciation to all who continue to look in here to read or comment on this significant and historical marker within the Robert Cochrane Tradition, a most profound assignment of continuity into and through the next generation, the promise of a heavy mantle indeed.

In keeping with the customs of our cultural forebears, gathered from across Scandinavia and northern Europe, the Saxon tradition especially is significant. The announcement of a leading male clan member of age to accompany, support and stand in for, advise and share leadership as ‘second,’ in the present leaders lifetime, found typical mundane reflection in the clanships of Ireland and Scotland. Known as the Tanist, this person would already be long sworn-in and duty bound to seamlessly succeed the leader upon his eventual death, sometime in the unforeseeable future (most commonly), very rarely before, in order to preserve full honour of their line. These roles also reflect those of the hereafter, a mirrored microcosm of the macrocosm, expressed in folklore, myth and rhyme. The Fool on the Hill is the King of the Castle in death, and the Dirty Rascal is his challenger in Wyrd, in life and in time.


In Clan family traditions, these tenets remain observed by too few. We count ourselves most fortunate that we do. For those uncertain still about this little understood and mostly defunct modus operandi, further explanation as to how this sits within ‘The Robert Cochrane Tradition.’ The dawn of a new era is upon us: ut luceant in lucem extensio

027 freyja

A deeper exploration will be found in the forthcoming publication: “Star-Crossed Serpent III”. The following link should satisfy until then (it ‘should’ hopefully be out for Yule 2015 – please watch Mandrake of Oxford’s Press’ release page for updates).

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