The Tanist Tradition of CTC

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


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:



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).


~ by meanderingsofthemuse on November 12, 2015.

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Man of Goda

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The Elder Tree

Life as a Witch.

Sorcerous Transmutations

Meanderings of the Muse:honouring the sacred muse in word and vision

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