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

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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).

Please also see:



•August 13, 2015 • 2 Comments



Musae  Muse, Muse of all Inspired and Inspiring Artes

“The gods have given to men cunning arts and have put in them all wisdom. Other god is namesake of other craft, even that whereof he that got the honourable keeping . . . The gifts of the Mousai (Muses) and Apollon are songs.”

[Oppian, Halieutica 2. 16 (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd A.D.)]



Nymphs & Wraiths of inspiritus, the indwelling genius loci of all sacred water sources, grottoes, and wells. Mountains too were typically connected with their worship and all sacrificial devotions there were likewise transferred from the northern regions of Mount Helicon in Boetia (Thrace) to those more southerly. First,
as three, namely, Melete (meditation), Mneme (memory), and Aoede (song), they eventually became nine distinct forces, as they travelled to Mount Olympus, with no set virtue or name originally ascribed to them, excepting that which rang out the ‘repasts of the immortals.’



“The Mousai (Muses) who gladden the great spirit of their father Zeus in Olympus with their songs, telling of things that are and that shall be and that were aforetime with consenting voice. Unwearying flows the sweet sound from their lips, and the house of their father Zeus the loud-thunderer is glad at the lily-like voice of the goddesses as it spread abroad, and the peaks of snowy Olympus resound, and the homes of the immortals. And they uttering their immortal voice, celebrate in song first of all the reverend race of the gods from the beginning, those whom Gaia (Gaea, Earth) and wide Ouranos (Uranus, Heaven) begot, and the gods sprung of these, givers of good things. Then, next, the goddesses sing of Zeus, the father of gods and men, as they begin and end their strain, how much he is the most excellent among the gods and supreme in power. And again, they chant the race of men and strong Gigantes (Giants), and gladden the heart of Zeus within Olympus,–the Mousai Olympiades (of Olympus), daughters of Zeus the aegis-holder.”

[Hesiod, Theogony 36 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.)]

kissofthemuseby cezzane

Revered as feminine virtues, these deified goddesses of all inspired word, movement and voice, generated the creative stimulus of poets and authors, musicians and dancers. Yet they were also the champions of memory and wisdom, of all things past and yet to be. The Greeks listed these beautiful and uniquely gifted women as follows: Kalliope, epic poetry; Kleio, history; Ourania, astronomy; Thaleia, comedy; Melpomene, tragedy; Polyhymnia, religious hymns; Erato, erotic poetry; Euterpe, lyric poetry; and Terpsikhore, choral song and dance.[i]

Great poets and sages, bards and artists, if they be wise, dedicate their art to their Muse; and many, in times past, have professed to be the ‘son of’ (hence the recension within faerie lore to d’arte), often claiming an ethereal bonding, as devotees to their beloved Muse. Rather than Mothers, they are better known as virginal nymphs. Eventually, these divine ladies became the nine ‘Mothers’ of Apollo, whose prophetic qualities inspired the Pythia at Delphi. On Mount Helicon, they formed the mantic companions of Dionysus.

Grand statuary adorned the Temples of the Mouseia, and their followers, known as Thespians celebrated a solemn festival of the Muses on Mount Helicon and Mount Parnassus, even within the Academy in Athens. Spartan warriors offered sacrifices to these great spirits sacrifices previous to battle. Yet another Cult revered their influences in the dream world of Hypnos.


“Apollon journeys to] Olympus, to the house of Zeus, to join the gathering of the other gods: then straightway the undying gods think only of the lyre and song, and all the Mousai (Muses) together, voice sweetly answering voice, hymn the unending gifts the gods enjoy and the sufferings of men, all that they endure at the hands of the deathless gods, and how they live witless and helpless and cannot find healing for death or defence against old age. Meanwhile the rich-tressed Kharites (Charites, Graces) and cheerful Horai (Horae, Seasons) dance with Harmonia (Harmony) and Hebe (Youth) and Aphrodite, daughter of Zeus, holding each other by the wrist.”

[Homeric Hymn 3 to Pythian Apollo 186 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th – 4th B.C.)]



Apuleius,  relates to us in his second century Roman novel, ‘The Golden Ass’ [ii]  how the gods & muses danced at the wedding feast of Cupid and Psyche:

“At the wedding of Cupid (Eros) and Psyche (Psykhe):] Vulcanus [Hephaistos] cooked the dinner, the Horae (Seasons) brightened the scene with roses and other flowers, the Gratiae (Graces) diffused balsam, and the Musae (Muses), also present, sand in harmony. Apollo sang to the lyre, and Venus [Aphrodite] took to the floor to the strains of sweet music, and danced prettily. She had organized the performance so that the Musae sang in chorus, a Satyrus played the flute, and a Paniscus [a Pan] sang to the shepherd’s pipes. This was how with due ceremony Psyche was wed to Cupidos [Eros, Love.”

They were often accompanied by the Kharites (Charites, Graces), goddesses of dance, glorification and adornment, as Sappho eloquently expresses here:

“Apollon, the Leader of the Mousai (Mousagetos) himself as he appears when Sappho and Pindar in their songs deck him out with golden hair and lyre and send him drawn by swans to Mount Helikon (Helicon) to dance there with the Mousai (Muses) and Kharites (Charites, Graces).”[iii]

Homer similarly flavours his great epic with exploits of the graceful Artemis, here at play with the Kharites.

Artemis goes to the great house of her dear brother Phoibos Apollon, to the rich land of Delphoi, there to order the lovely dance of the Mousai (Muses) and Kharites (Charites, Graces). There she hangs up her curved bow and her arrows, and heads and leads the dances, gracefully arrayed, while all they utter their heavenly voice, singing.”[iv]



It is therefore quite remarkable that Plutarch (l. c.), in contradistinction, records the stoic tradition that persisted, which regarded the Nine Muses especially as the Mneiae, or ‘Remembrances.’ But this may be due to their association with the mourning of the dead in elaborate funereal dances of lamentation and dirge. They were frequently referred to as ‘Judges’ too in this capacity. Certainly, the power most commonly assigned to them is of inspirational insights for poet and choreographer alike. Homer cites the presence of the Nereides, the nine daughters of Nereus, in his Odyssey, the grand funeral of the mighty hero Achilles, equating them with the Mousai.

“The daughters of the ancient sea-god [the Nereides daughters of Nereus] stood round about you [Akhilleus], wailing piteously, and clothed you with celestial garments; and nine Mousai (Muses) sang your dirge with sweet responsive voices. Not one Argive you have seen there who was not weeping, the clear notes went to their hearts. For seventeen days and seventeen nights we lamented for you, immortal beings and mortal men; on the eighteenth day we committed you to the flames.”


Hubris before the gods, was met swiftly and assuredly with divine retribution, deformity and blindness spiting those whose vanity breeched the mark.  The bird-like Sirens lost their striking plumage to the Muses after losing a contest for their beautiful song who thereafter wore them as bright decoration, others were yet transformed from mortal (the nine daughters of Pierus) to bird.

Pausanias records the brutal contest between the Muses & Sirens:

“At Koroneia in Boiotia] is a sanctuary of Hera . . . in her hands she carried the Seirenes (Sirens). For the story goes that the daughters of Akheloios (Achelous) were persuaded by Hera to compete with the Mousai (Muses) in singing. The Mousai won, plucked out the Seirenes’ feathers and made crowns for themselves out of them.”

Ovid too, finds room to record an equally dramatic musical contest on Helikon:

“Whenever the daughters of Pieros began to sing, all creation went dark and no one would give an ear to their choral performance. But when the Mousai sang, heaven, the stars, the sea and rivers stood still, while Mount Helikon, beguiled by the pleasure of it all, swelled skyward till, by the will of Poseidon, Pegasos checked it by striking the summit with his hoof. Since these mortals had taken upon themselves to strive with goddesses, the Mousai changed them into nine birds. To this day people refer to them as the grebe, the wryneck, the ortolan, the jay, the greenfinch, the goldfinch, the duck, the woodpecker, and the dracontis pigeon.”[v]

“The Musa (Muse) was speaking [to Athena] when in the air a whirr of wings was heard, and from high boughs there came a greeting voice. Jove’s [Zeus’] child looked up to see whence came the tongue that spoke so clear, thinking it was a man. It was a bird: nine of them there had perched upon the boughs, lamenting their misfortune, master-mimics, nine magpies. As Minerva [Athena] gazed in wonder, the Musae began (one goddess to another) to tell this tale. ‘Not long ago these, too, worsted in contest, swelled the tribe of birds. Their father was rich Pierus, a squire of Pellae, and Euippe Paeonis their mother. To her aid nine times she called Lucina [Eileithyia goddess of childbirth] and nine times she bore a child. This pack of stupid sisters, puffed with pride in being nine, had travelled through the towns, so many towns of Haemonia [Thessaly] and Achaea and reached us here at last and challenged us: “Cease cheating with that spurious charm of yours the untutored rabble. If you trust your powers content with us, you Deae Thespiades [Mousai, Thespian Goddesses]. In voice and skill we shall not yield to you; in number we are equal. If you lose, you leave Medusaeus’ [Pegasos’] spring [Hippokrene on Mt Helikon] and Aganippe Hyantea [spring of Thebes], or we the plain of Emathia up to Paeonia’s snowy mountainsides; and let the judgement of the Nymphae decide.”


‘Of course it was a shame to strive with them but greater shame to yield. The choice of Nymphae was made; they took the oath by their own streams, and sat on benches shaped form living stone. Then, without drawing lots, the one who claimed to challenge sang of the great war in heaven, ascribing spurious prowess to the Gigantes, belittling all the exploits of the gods: how Typhoeus, issuing from earth’s lowest depths, struck terror in those heavenly hearts, and they all turned their backs and fled, until they found refuge in Aegyptus and the seven-mouthed Nilus. She told how Typhoeus Terrigena (Earthborn) even there pursued them and the gods concealed themselves in spurious shapes; “And Jupiter [Zeus] became a ram,” she said, “lord of the herd, and so today great Ammon Libys’ [Zeus-Ammon] shown with curling horns. Delius [Apollon] hid as a raven, Semeleia [Dionysos] as a goat, Phoebe [Artemis] a cat, Saturnia [Hera] a snow-white cow, Venus [Aphrodite] a fish and Cyllenius [Hermes] an ibis.” So to her lyre she sang and made an end.

 “Such was the song Calliope our leading sister sang; she finished and the Nymphae with one accord declared the goddesses of Helicon the winners. As the losers hurled abuse, “So then it’s not enough,” I said, “that your challenge has earned you chastisement; you add insult to injury. Our patience has its limits; we’ll proceed to punishment. Where anger calls, we’ll follow.” Those nine girls, the Emathides, laughed and despised my threats and, as they tried to speak and shout and scream and shake their fists, before their eyes their fingers sprouted feathers, plumage concealed their arms, and each of them saw in the face of each a heard beak form, all weird new birds to live among the woods; and as they beat their breasts their flapping arms raised them to ride the air.”



And so, our divine ladies, of wisdom, grace and death, of  three and nine are of the earth beneath and around, the living waters, that flow through and between and the skies above and beyond………… there’s a mystery here………


[ii] 6. 24 ff (trans. Walsh)

[iii] Fragment 208 (from Himerius, Orations) (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric I) (C6th B.C.)

[iv] Hymn 27 to Artemis 14 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th – 4th B.C.)

[v] Metamorphoses 5. 294 & 662 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.)


Henrietta Rae (1859-1928), “The Sirens”



•June 12, 2015 • 2 Comments

The Divil’s Crown


“The Hunter, Old Tubal and the Roebuck in the Thicket are one and the same!”

Upon His hoary brow, three curling flame-like strands dance in the hazy light; seen, unseen, gestural, metaphysical; this fire-brand of shin, the triple fire and triple horns belong to Him alone. Eponymous and eternal wanderer, He steps out, lowering his piercing gaze to draw down His favoured hat, to veil His Virtue, from profane eyes. Who today would see that blazing sigil; smiling inwardly, He yet bears the mark with pride!

The Jestor’s hat both mirrors and mocks the black felted Tricorn, much favoured by the Devil Himself

His trident, tight within the Fool’s grasp, is shadowed in that seasoned staff,  a-mocking by tinkling bell, His hayfork’s iron Tines. Three tangs. But why? What medieval jape obscures a mystery here? Robert Cochrane casually refers to two such characters, each completing in the other, two halves of one whole, not in opposition, but in harmony. In tandem. Denial of either one leads to madness. Embrace the whole, leads to discovery of the genius within.

Each new seeker is metaphorically a ‘fool,’ yet has much to teach us; the ‘blind’ lead the blinded. Perhaps the fool is simply blind because his eyes do not yet ‘see’ and we are ‘blind’ because, in seeing so much, we are often oblivious to peripheral activity – that is, we look but do not truly ‘see all that is hidden in plain sight.’


” the wise holy fool – the alpha omega zero point paradox, neither the end nor the beginning, androgynous hermaphrodite who is all and nothing. ..the ‘simpleton’’ who is yet all knowing; pregnant with potential for renewal, yet desiring it not, seeking freely, openly, guided ever from within, not being distracted from without; the self, connected in purity to the Source, inflamed with divine vigour, enfolded by the wings of Fate, the fool dances on.”

Connection with and through the Egregore is essential; intrinsic to a Clan/family tradition and its virtue through the tutelary deity, mediated by the totem. An Egregore, the ‘source of virtue’ facilitates a spiritual ancestry from which its ‘People’ descend, just as a common blood ancestor will be present if we look back far enough. To work with the weight of such history and heritage requires first an awareness of, an acknowledgment of who we are within and along that stream. How then, does anyone even begin to define themselves, less still, what they do? The Fool dances blithely along, oblivious of all title and label; the devil ‘advocates’ all, guised in plethoric obscurity.

“What do witches call themselves? They call themselves by the name of their Gods. I am Od’s man, since in me the spirit of Od lives.” And “Now, what do I call myself. I don’t. Witch is as good a name as any, failing that ‘Fool’ might be a better word. I am a child of Tubal Cain, the Hairy One.” 

The Head-Kinsman of a Clan stands as its Chief/Leader/Father, and in some cases, even as a minor king. A Chief may claim only what is given by this right of heritage, charged thereafter to ‘hold’ it within that virtue; no more, and no less than is deeded to his care. And for this, he must give all in return. Under the Law he has a solemn duty.


The use of the term king, as in Young/Old Horn King, stems from the Anglo-Saxon cyning, which breaks down as cyn = people; ing = originating from: giving us the meaning of cyning/king as a natural descendant from a specific ancestry, from an identifiable ‘people’ to whom ‘his’ family belong. Most probably, this concept will be unfamiliar to those whose perception of a ruler and a king has been defined by the Latin Rex/Regina adopted with much support during the medieval period and especially by the Church.  However, this was not how our Anglo Saxon forebears conceived of the relationship between a Clan and its King/ Head- Kinsman. His power rested not upon the virtue of land ownership but as leader of his People. One respected Anglo Saxon dictionary explains the concept of cyning thusly:

“He is the representation of the people, and springs from them, as a son does from his parents. The Anglo-Saxon king was elected from the people; he was, therefore, the king of the people. He was the chosen representative of the people, their embodiment, the child, not the father of the people.”

His sworn duty to them was to be their guardian, protector, leader and representative. It is extremely intriguing that this role was undertaken as the product/progeny of ‘his’ people; a position holding some contrast to the sole autocracy of being ‘parent’ over them. The ‘child’ is born of and through the ‘People’ it serves to represent, fulfilling the mysteries proper as a product of ancestry, a child of his historical parentage, and also father to generations yet to be… and so on in perpetuity by Virtue of the Group Mind and Group Soul.

A Head-Kinsman therefore functions as an intermediary known best by the honour and position of his ‘Father;’ hence the emphasis of the ‘Father’ within their name and the declaration: ‘I worship the gods of my Father’s Father…’  Hence many refer to Odhin as: ‘All father.’ Somewhat ironically the Church adopted this concept in naming each King a ‘son’ of Mother Church.

fool, book of hours -

Robert Cochrane’s understanding of these basic Craft tenets is very evident in his given descriptive of who he is within the path he embraced, its guides and its historical context under a Tutelary deity, clearly noted in the name of his Clan:

  • Clan Tubal Cain = descendants of Tubal Cain (an heretical line, spiritual heterodoxy, a civilising force of evolution)
  • The People of Goda = the priestly line (priesthood of)

Identity of an inherent cultural premise, a Faith its adherents are hereby avowed to uphold by sacred oath. ie: as ‘Od’s men:’

This signifies the Drighton principle of the Virtue of Suzerainty, implementing the right to rule by deed of ancestry, again a contrast to the Sovereign claim to rule by ‘divine’ right. It is a hoary stream indeed we follow.

History is replete with examples of dynasties and of dynastic wars. And yet, scant mention is given to the canny tribes peoples who developed and implemented a system to combat this, who were so successful, it endured in some places for 1200 years. From the 4th century onwards, these Blessed Isles witnessed the influx of migrating tribes from Northern Europe and the Baltic regions.

In this world, any attempt at clarification…

“… will be a difficult task, since talking about the People (We describe ourselves as such) is a matter that every hereditary group trains out of its members.’ The religion is also more, mystical than most – so words are very poor approximations of what we actually discover or feel about our beliefs.” 

History has preserved for us a wealth of material to draw example from that others may learn of their precedents in a forgotten and neglected heritage. Succession to leadership was never democratic. Neither was it initially dynastic, and least, not in the way we are accustomed to. Custom and tradition were carefully monitored, observing to the letter of the law their strongest tenets in order to avoid nepotism and despotism by encroachment or upheaval.  To preserve the virtue of a lineage and of a family heritage, the best protection resided in an official, and duly appointed heir, elected from amongst the senior, male adults within the family.  This was by far, the preferred rule, rather than the Regency of an infant child, later history has familiarised us with.


Within the Saxon Heptarchy, noted also amongst the Germans and the Scandinavians, the more natural system of Tanistry thrived, which raises the possibility that Scottish and Anglicised regions of Briton must have inherited such a bone-fide legacy of Tanistry naturally.

For any leader to place so much trust in his successor, he must first prove his worth. Trials and quests were set to inspire confidence in his choice to their people. Trust in leadership is primary. The Tanist, having completed his task and effected his display of loyalty, would then declare his trust, a troth avowed before the old gods. Those chosen would typically be drawn from a pool of men, whose own great-grandfathers, grandfathers or uncles had at some point been the elective ‘Tanist.’  As successor he must be of sound mind, a natural warrior, a learned man – a loyal man; one who reflects the virtue to hold the line of kin-ship.

Thereafter, he would be his leader, chief or Head-Kinsman’s ‘second -in-command,’ effectively his right-hand man, his surrogate even when called upon to serve  their people.  It is a heavy office that requires a very dedicated and gifted person to fully support his Head-Kinsman. An official declaration of his heir as far in advance of his own death as possible ensures smooth transference of duty – one to the other, vouchsafing the unity of the Clan, without disruption.

The Clan is likewise governed by this carefully monitored system of ‘Tanistry,’ to cover all eventualities possible in fate. Community is everything. Many myths and tales recall this arcane system of succession that binds all within an ancestral chain, wrought in their shared fate. Our mentor declared:

“The curse of Ol Tubal lies in the management of the Clan itself. You are stuck with it until you feel the need to download it on someone else and when you do, you’ll get a tremendous feeling of lightness and relief. In the end you find if you let it, it will rule your entire life and that quite simply is, the ‘curse.’

Again, Robert Cochrane invoked this arcane premise when he announced:

 “I carry within my physical body the totality of all the witches that have been in my family and their virtue for many centuries, if I call upon my ancestors, I call upon forces than are within myself and exterior…, now you know what I mean when I speak of the burden of Time.”


And so, the duty to commit to continuity was discharged. From within Cochrane’s Clan, Evan John Jones was the Tanist, the leader elected by Cochrane to succeed him as Magister of the Clan, heir to the tradition as its Head-Kinsman. Humbly and reluctantly, he valiantly ‘held’ a position so many have misunderstood. He said of himself, that it was ‘Hobson’s choice, and a poor choice at that!’ 

Well he knew though, how directly Clan Tradition held full accord with historical precedents, serving Craft and Cultural history; although there is no distinction of course.  Imperative roles assigned to each of three jewels in the divil’s crown continue to secure the merit of three distinct yet involved mysteries.

secrecy ….has nothing to do with protecting the Mysteries, since all that can be said about the Mysteries has already been written into folklore, myth and legend. What is not forthcoming is the explanation.”

Towards the end of its term as an embedded system of succession, medieval Barons struggled in the tide of sweeping change to maintain the high bar set by the Great Chiefs of Old, battling to observe even the most fundamental  Laws of hospitality, of protection, of duty and care to all those under their aegis. Their livelihood and well-being, ever at the behest of the Head-Kinsman, ensured a full purse, a roof over their heads, and a warm hearth around which to gather and feed their own families in return for their loyalty.

It is somewhat ironic how constriction generated freedom, a release that revived mercantile wealth, cultural tolerance, economic and artistic growth. These are the threads from which the extant tapestry of Craft hangs, threadbare, faded, but attached to roots that stand firm. Threads may be traced back, picked up and darned, re-working the bonds of the new upon and through the bounds of the old…as is meet to do so. And what do our skeins reveal?

In order of Hierarchy, after the Head-Kinsman, Chieftains, known better today as Earls and Barons from whom the Tanist/ Toiseach found selection, each headed their own individual houses or smaller family units, collectively forming a Clan. These positions were maintained as an hereditary right, again with each ‘chief’ elected to uphold his title. As an hereditary office and historical body politic, they established the court regime, consistent with their own era. In times of war and conflict, these would be the men the Head-Kinsman called upon. Though the Chief was the Laird, Liege Lord, and Drighton, he alone was the Ruler of Law. Devotion of duty, one to the other between him and those held in troth, established the compact of gyfu.


Nonetheless, these suffered erosion during the 12th century when English court influences connived to abandon those traditions in favour of another more dynastic, hereditary sovereignty. Those displaced men were the those same hereditary barons  and earls who fought and defended their rights against a tyrant king, forcing him to sign the now infamous ‘Magna carta,’ whence he attempted to dissolve those rights. That document has been woefully misrepresented ever since; one thing it was certainly never drafted for, was to protect the rights of all men – only free men of means.

“The fundamental difference between the clan system of society and the feudal system which was destined to supersede it, was that the authority of the clan chief was based on personal and blood relationship, while that of the feudal superior is based upon tenure of land.”

Clearly, the more spiritual aspects and the customs surrounding a leader, especially with deference to his ancestral links were maintained through Crafts and Frith Guilds.  Therefore a Magister/Master as Head-Kinsman and the Tanist are one and the same through that patrimony, and through their Lady and Maid who holds the virtue for the Clan, hence duty to him under the Law, and absolute allegiance to her, exactly as Cochrane stated under Clan Law.  She is not chosen by man, but man chooses his own successor. The Lady, in her role as Seer, becomes Cup-bearer, and if prompted to do so by her virtue, will accept and acknowledge him. By the ‘Godstone,’ she wields the ‘Cup and Stang,’ by the hearth-stone, she serves them. Through her, the Pale Guiden is the gift of life and death, wisdom and insanity.

“The Hunter, Old Tubal Cain, and the Roebuck, are one and the same divine presence in the shape of Fate or Wyrd.”

Evan John Jones selected and appointed Robin-the-dart as his Tanist, who in turn was vouchsafed by The Maid. Tubal’s Mill turns, and another is now named as the Clan’s appointed Tanist to the current Magister; vouchsafed by the Maid, as tradition demands, for the continuity of the People – Ulric Gestumblindi Goding.

One need not peer too deeply into these traditions to discover them, replete throughout the rich heritage of our folkloric histories and mythical historicity’s. Some of these developed from the mythical ages through into the medieval periods and into the eras of strong feminine cults from which arose ‘Marionism and Courtly Love.’


Above all, Cochrane notes the mechanics of Clanship, of fealty within the hierarchy as it flows from the Egregore through the principals of titular heads, and then the gyfu of ‘return,’ back towards the Egregore – a perfect symbiosis. Underpinning his exemplary facet of magical enterprise, all is the grist for the Mill, creating the true context for the winding of its cogs.

Reiterated below is possibly the finest explanation of what Traditional Craft is and how it operates. Cochrane explores duty, the charge to the ancestors, the work itself, mentorship and tradition.

blood must be possessed to gain the ear of the gods, and that witch blood re-occurs every second or third generation, and in the same pattern physically.” 

The canny hierarchy of the Clans deftly re-organised into trades and guilds, each possessed of apprentices, customs, rites and lore; each possessed of strict ‘family’ codes of adoption and rejection.

I in turn recognise the authority of others who are higher than myself, and that authority, once stated, is absolute, do what we may……My job, is to train and organise, fulfil the letter of the law, and to function, to discipline and to curse, as well as to elevate and expound…. We have to train any new members to a certain level, develop any hidden power they may have, and finally to teach them how to manipulate virtue. We may be the last of the old school, but we still uphold the old attitudes and expect the same. Above we two rises another authority whose writ is older than ours, to that authority, we give absolute allegiance, and whose function it is to train us and work with us…. I was in the fortunate position of having been blooded, therefore I have some hold on their ears.”

Blood and Bone – source the virtue within every Egregore!

In Clan family traditions, these tenets remain observed by too few. We count ourselves most fortunate that we do.

Academic treatises have covered this historical peculiarity, and one of the most succinct is available free on Google Books here:



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