Virtue: What is it?


Virtue: What is it?

Simply put, within a Traditional Structure of a Clan system, it is the ancestral charge or directive element/concept  inherent to it, and thus how Virtue works within it through the head kinsman in terms of lineal succession. That said, this does not deny the ‘unique transmission’ of the individual ‘Virtue Holder.’

Certainly as imbued by the active stream of spiritual ancestry, the synergy does not suggest the vital and potent force belongs to everyone within it! Nor does it suggest that what *is* transmitted will be unchanging through time as each successive heir to the legacy of ‘Tradition’ incumbent upon them.

Moreover, we challenge here the concept too often presented, that regards the ‘passing’ of Virtue as a means of acquisition, and further, that such is solely attributed to one’s spiritual ancestors, elemental guides and cultural guardians. In fact, this is a complete misnomer. To uphold such denies the marriage of personal virtue as a fundamental requisite, the key template if you will, for which the ancestral virtue is grafted seamlessly upon. This develops a conscious and vibrant lineage, wherein the continuity is a veritable ‘tour de force.’ A ‘virtue’ holder ‘mediates’ what is absorbs and disseminates via a creative process akin to the Sephirotic flow, an osmotic evolution in and of that vital spirit. Simultaneously, it becomes transmitted and transmuted according to the vessel that colours it thus. Hence the term ‘unique transmission.’

“Virtue is a position of Mediation of Ancestral Spirit, past, present and future, into a cohesive workable form that communicates to those within the present Clan, while remaining TRUE to the spirit of the Ancestors and their Legacy. If you were to look at any artist, fine artist, composer, poet or author who has been inspired and has mediated some inspiring spirit they perceive, be it a muse or a god or any cosmic principle of creation into a finished piece of work that communicates to others.”

 Griffin ap Ced


Three_Norns_by_FrølichIt is immediately obvious that failure to recognize this precious synergy and its proclivities of a sacred marriage, where the ‘Word’ is indeed en-fleshed, and of the mediator as so much more than a channel, seriously undermines them as an oracular interpreter in their own right.  For each is impotent without the other. ‘One is one and all alone and ever more will be so.’ Force needs form and visa versa to achieve true magic, to manifest all gnosis and to render coherent that which attains to the Mysteries proper for the edification and guidance of all who seek their instruction.

 Historical Precedent

Clan systems are those communities that have thrived upon the recognition of a ‘head kinsman, who acts as priest, king and warrior in their defense and support, in all matters of life and death, law and duty, judicial and spiritual. In order to ‘hold’ that position, ‘something other’ is said to have alighted upon them, a vital force, perceived as the luck, or welfare of that Clan. Effectively this ‘Fate’ they hold is understood as being at worst ambivalent, and at best beneficent if that head kinsman is just and acts within the ‘rightness of things. Conversely, where that person fails to uphold the ethic of the Clan they represent, that Fate is at best ambivalent and at worst maleficent.  In such dire event, the head kinsman is understood to have corrupted their Oath and Covenant with their Clan  and reneged its vitality through the over-arching spirit that guards and guides that Clan; this Virtue is known to those of Northern Tradition as ‘Hamingja.



This special transmission is said to leave the head kinsman upon death, to seek another of worth to ‘hold’ it in lineal succession. It may as afore mentioned, leave that person in extreme cases whence, thereafter, it is markedly absent from them,  indisputably so. Hamingja carries the very literal meaning of ‘fate that walks in the shape/form of’… and its mystery and ability to ‘shape-shift, one to another’ is relative to each one chosen in succession to bear it.

It is in every sense, considered as a light, a beacon of force – visible yet invisible. Known to those who are able to sense it, yet felt even by those who may not. It radiates its own value, adding to the whole, a spectrum as eternal and mutable as the Northern Lights witnessed in the eerie darkness and the glow of ages; the fleeting vestigial ether – fate, the Mother of all things, even the gods.

So, clearly, whilst all members of a Clan may have access to that Virtue, and partake freely of it; they do not ‘hold’ it, though each will of course ‘hold’ their own individual virtue as an imbued spiritual force. This may collectively synthesize  their community into a well bonded unit to create a harmonic equilibrium. Such a Clan would be formidable on all fronts, across the whole spectrum of challenges presented in life death by fate and fortune, the gods and men.


Firstly, we must appreciate that we may not ‘gift’ or pass something that is externally sourced beyond one’s self. So, with regard to the vital matter of ‘Virtue’ as an external source, an Egregore for example, or a spiritual line/heritage of/stream etc, it is imperative to acknowledge how it manifests within its chosen recipient host.  It does so a unity, as a two-way process, a marital bond or meld occurring between the (external) spiritual dynamic and the human agent. For clarity, nothing is herein ‘passed,’ rather it is a fusion that generates a third and unique force that continues to be transmitted from that person so long as they remain ‘fused’ (connected) to that quite direct and specific (external) grace imbued. This connection once eroded, broken, or severed in death, leaves that person once again dependent upon their own vital (internal) source.

This again highlights the distinction between the dynamic ‘compact’ engaged through a Clan/Family and that invoked as an individual. In  ‘Witchcraft: A Tradition Renewed’, Evan John Jones affirms how a seeker may, if they are of serious intent, could venture forth, on the night of the full moon and make their own pledge to the Goddess and the Old Gods in ‘ truth, honest and sincerity.’  He considers carefully the consequence of such an act as a personal undertaking, confirming  this ‘sort of pledge has as much validity as any formal oath sworn to any group’ (p 27); yet it is without question, a very different undertaking to Induction or Admission to a Clan or Group, where that Tradition is centred around a very specific Egregore from which that stream is sourced.

mistress of time


All too often, terms used are misunderstood or misappropriated, and one example, relevant here in particular holds in scrutiny, the ‘passing of the power‘ which implies a very literal ‘passing’ of one thing between two people. Yet, it means simply, an authority only is given, one to the other, to wield and use in accordance to the ‘Law’ (or ethic) of their own particular Egregore, its emanating Virtue. Effectively, the one appointed has been recognized as the conduit who will continue the lineal stream as its mediating synergy. This is why it can never be static, never maintain the ‘status quo’ and never blindly follow the work of their mentor’s and predecessors.

The stream must evolve and grow to remain relevant to all peoples in all times in which that Tradition enjoys continuity. All, ancestral, tutelary and patron spirits of that Tradition will thereafter serve and be served by that dynamic, a Covenant betwixt them.  There can be no apostolic succession, democratic, dynastic or otherwise; spirit alone determines the merit of the individual according to their own personal Virtue. It is upon that the ‘Fateful’ choice is made and conferred upon them as the appointed ‘Mask’ for that Tradition.

Thus we underline here the fundamental distinction between the Craft as a Tradition and Wicca as Craft. Many lay claim to knowledge of these principles, yet understand little of their subtleties. In Wica/Wicca, an ‘upline’ consists of ‘passing’ on what is deemed ‘power.’ In Traditional Craft, this was never so. For all the reasons herein stated, this is an impossibility, an implausible fantasy, as spirit alone confers such ‘initiatory’ impetus to an individual as and when it is deemed appropriate. This is not achieved on demand. When it is received, it is again an individual compact bewixt that individual and their relevant spiritual benefactor. This may or may not be similar to the fylgia.



LEGIS13NornsSadly of course some people will naturally, over the course of time, decide to leave the Clan family for one reason or another. These include personal causalities that may conflict with such a path, generally these matters allow them to remain firm friends, often enduring for many years after.  However, where exile or expulsion has been a necessary undertaking, again in but few extreme cases, only then, does this friendship tend to wither.  This situation is the one that has generated the most confusion.

Robert Cochrane’s Law is oft quoted, out of context and without full understanding: “what I have I hold” does not infer or imply that Virtue engaged directly through the mediation of the head kinsman is for another’s use thereafter. What it *does* mean in actuality, is the Virtue one held when Inducted, being the individual’s independent source, remains theirs by default. It is completely outside Clan jurisdiction, and theirs ‘to hold or lose according to their own ethic.’

Other tenets of the Clan Law (ethic) express this in detail through the lines that precede it: “take all you are given, give all of yourself.”  This describes well and with clarity, the law of reciprocity within a Clan where kinship is dependent upon the act of ‘gyfu’.. the gift of oneself, the act of sacrifice and the duty to the allegiance shared in troth.  Simply put, whence that allegiance falters or is severed, the troth is broken and that act of reciprocity is nullified. All that is taken (away by the individual) is that brought by them to the collective. All that remains (within the Clan) is that ‘shared.’

Now we are better able to understand the next line: “what I have I hold,” in its full and true context. The Magister/Robin/ as Head kinsman offers this Law unto each person admitted into the Clan by way of an instructional charge, a given ethic, a code to abide unto.  ‘What *I* have,’ is therefore all he holds, ie: the Clan Virtue, thus: ‘*I* hold,’ means just that; no part of that is given. It exists within as a force shared, accessible directly in Companie, and discreetly at other times, via the Egregoric, central ‘Source’ for that Virtue.

The sole authority for this is signified through the Clan Stang, always held by the Maid who embodies it, and is ‘gifted’ to her chosen Magister, in turn signified by the ‘weapon of choice,’ historically known as the sceptre – in Craft, the baton or hand-staff awarded to him at his appointment by her. Thus it becomes obvious to all how and why these symbols are honoured as instruments of that Law.




Due to the circumstances of Cochrane’s death, it has been posited that his (individual) virtue died with him. But we know that humble though he was to claim such, Evan John Jones as his spiritual heir, certainlyachieved such. He did of course later receive the authority to ‘hold’ the Clan when it became recognized by the Maid of the Clan at that time (Cochrane’s widow), that his own virtue would guard such until the ‘Clan Virtue’ alighted upon another. It would be as incumbent upon that person to claim that right to the Clan in the future, as it would be John’s task to find and inform that person of these vital matters, and to present them as Virtue holder of and for the Clan.

Again, to clarify, none of the former members of the Clan (then as now) were imbued with anything more than what they each brought to the Clan as individuals, that being all gnosis gleaned from their shared works under the aegis of the Clan’s totemic spiritual ancestry, including their own lore & law, their own virtue and praxis. Such works evolved within that stream were rightfully theirs to continue. But the stream and its Egregore that founded the Clan through the appointed head kinsman, must remain always aligned to that absolute authority that wields it, who is singularly recognized as having the appropriate qualities with which to undertake the full execution of the Law and keep the Hearth.


Indeed, it is something ‘other’ that validates who we are and what we do – be that a return to the Source under anamnesis or through the gift of Egregore. The shift is within the spirit shadows on all planes. Where it alights there is no doubt, it is willed, imparted, inherited and achieved by merit, self-dedication and sacrifice to the spirit of Truth – that righteous causation of the stream’s own vitality.


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It is agreed, how within an organic process of ever-evolving gnosis unbound by fetters of dogma, the Egregore is and must remain singularly exclusive, dedicated to the preservation of the core (only) within the stream in which it thrives. Others within that stream, or bordering/overlapping it, may partake of the essence but as afore-mentioned, may neither hold it nor develop it. Just as the Creator is not diminished by Creation, the ‘Source’ remains inviolate.

Wisdoms are by nature imparted on many levels and keys earned along the way unlock new levels of seeing, according to the inbuilt parameters of relevant symbology applied to intrinsic virtue. Those not gifted with this core, will see it differently and thus evolve differently. So there can be ‘no secrets’ (regarding the esoteric mysteries) in the absolute sense, to those who hold the keys, hence declamations of such fall upon ‘deaf ears;’ yet still people do make secrets of information, views, actions, formulae and even common knowledge. Moreover, these may even have value to others where revealed. But to hold these common things as ‘secret’ is grossly manipulative.

This is possibly why so many balk against it, and I believe too many egotists, overly fond of unnecessary power games, enforce such tactics. No ‘Truth’ can ever be ‘Secret’ and is by default not the same matter as having ‘being discreet’. To maintain ‘a’ Secret, is not to condone the withholding of information as an act of ‘secrecy;’ rather, it is to discern with discretion matters not inherently of themselves known as distinctly exclusive, but privileged. The former is merely maintained as principle of honour, the second as a matter of course and should therefore always be used to aid and guide others whenever and wherever possible. But what, where and to whom, becomes part of the virtue holder’s own lesson, to share and yet to hold, to discriminate and yet to yield, remembering always that:

 “Truth, no matter how we interpret it, feeds both the demon and the saint.”


 Robert Cochrane


Stasis, is the kiss of death. By this, it is meant that a claimant merely grasping the current as it flows by them does so “without comprehension of apprehension,” having no sense of the ‘otherness’ of it…and who then will argue for its possession, stifling the potency of any value it had.

Being embraced within and being encompassed by, are two very different poles relating to the whereabouts of ‘Virtue.’ There are some who would attempt to claim this potency, but Truth reveals its actual location. The best any such falsehood could achieve is a ‘bloom’ within the psyche, a ‘vital’ impetus for growth and change should its recipient use it wisely and according to the ‘rightness’ of things. This sense of Virtue is easily lost.

We may be led so easily astray, distracted by other paths, that denude and cloud the clarity of our own;  though these are not due to our own totems, who by their very nature, would always remain true to the core and could therefore not lead us astray.  Rather, it is perhaps the allure of  similar totems belonging to other paths that we feel drawn to, and may even relate to at some level of our being. Keeping focused on our own is another part of the discipline attached to the core.


The ego, ever one step ahead, distracts us from the final prize, and keeps us chasing rainbows, when all the time, the real treasure resides within, requiring only the processing  via– the ‘Great Work.’ There are of course, many commonalities of ‘Tradition,’ yet of necessity, these must remain distinct. For though we may delight in those things we share, yet still, must respect and retain all points of divergence.

In this, no competition exists; no competing factions observed, for if all act according to the Law (ethic), then its truth becomes exerted irrespective of claims, falsehoods, manipulation or deception. For by our deeds are we known. Virtue is either present or it is not. If absent from one’s deeds, then such is notably apparent. To the seeker or pilgrim, no study of rhetoric is requisite; just a simple observation of the ‘works’ engaged, the deeds known and the persons considered.




No matter the contra claim, the Egregoric spirit serves its own and will not work through those alien to it. Confidence in one’s own point of ‘Truth’ requires no purpose then in engagement, argument or external validation. This is resoundingly agreed, in this there is an incumbent duty to hold that flame high, to bear the torch for others to bear witness, that the word and hope of it continues to carry forth the thread of ‘Tradition.’ What we have we hold, but if kept hidden, then no-one sees its light, the flame of Truth, of hope and illumination. To be silent, may appear noble and equally protective of its purity, but may in fact be perceived as a lack of conviction in one’s worthiness.

To that end, may this short discourse, bring clarity to a very sensitive subject wherein numerous misconceptions have shrouded the very enigma of Virtue to befuddle and confuse the earnest seeker. In conclusion then, we may state how  ‘Virtue’ ranges  from a personal sense of it, right through to Ultimate or Divine Virtue. As both a core essence, within and without, it serves the sentience of a given collective. At its simplest it is the group mind, at its most complex it is the group soul. These are not the same thing at all. One can be created and fed by the collective. The other feeds that collective. One is created by the unity within a group. The other is the Unity of Creation.

So it becomes obvious that one of these can be acquired through industry, whilst the other is bestowed though Transmission, an act of Grace, mediated by Fate and manifest in Time.  It must be stated unequivocally that any ‘Virtue’ easily lost, was never really won to begin with. In that sense, what was exposed in (expectant) hope, may never be realized in essence. Where Virtue is embraced or where we become subject to its influences, there will be natural restrictions to the depths of how such is experienced. ‘Virtue’ is a sentient reality recognised within another. Only then is it duly honoured and lauded through the Rite of Transmission (The Old Covenant). Granted one to another, it could also be expressed where one is the effect, and the other affects.  The two are not one and the same thing. The first is not even a pale facsimile of the second.


Titian Sacred Profane - small


The Eternal ‘Now’

One must at all times be mindful of our world, for we must strive to be of this ‘world, even though we are seldom ‘in it. ’ And always we should ensure that we hold in mind and soul, the very nux of the ideal, the ‘dream of the rood’ as it were; that notion of history, of a time to come when all gnosis becomes relevant and apparent to the age in which it is discovered, shared and disseminated.

It is to that future we all work towards, for those whose hearts and minds refuse to succumb to media hype, those who scorn the idyl of folly; for those who do not resist such quagmire, are lost to all pilgrimage, exiled wayfarers of oblivion.  Fate alone decrees for whom and when the ‘work’ we engage becomes worthy of its time and the time worthy of its merit. A very wise pilgrim noted this to be:

“a golden age yet to come and all should be relevant to the ‘now’ in which we are eternally travelling within.”

Cunning Man of Kent

To that we may only add: how the ferry we traverse in time, the virtue we bear is one and the same vehicle; our history traverses the stream via the word it carries.

Furthermore, there can be no eternal ‘now’ if faith is lost and hope decays.  The eternal ‘now’ is fulfilled only in its continuity, in service, in duty and in love. To be a link in that chain of eternity, of the eternal and ever changing now, is the greatest service, for we hold all that came before this moment, to all that comes aft. And in that ‘moment’ of ‘all becoming,’ eternity has a voice. In that single ‘moment of becoming’ we are charged with the gravid task to:

“work on our ‘selves’ in the hope that such a blaze will spread to others, ”  where we may “suppose the only reliance that we may be certain of , are our own deeds, our Fylgia and our gods.”

Cunning Man of Kent

And so we live on in the deeds and the word of those who follow us.  sic virtus est in futurum




End note:

“Those who encounter Virtue will certainly be coloured by it, but those who possess Virtue will exude the potencies of those colours. As an analogy, it explains well enough the fact: ‘what I have I hold’ by the Rite of the Covenant that bestowed it, being the difference between feeling the heat of the sun and being the sun. The warming rays quickly cool when removed from the source. Whereas the Sun’s core becomes cool only when that Sun dies, and then only briefly, as it ‘births’ a new sun to continue its function. Again one is lost, the other withdrawn, shifting ever onwards as time and tide (fate) decree. It is, to use another excellent phrase, to mistake the finger for the Moon. Some who are ‘exposed’ to the light, falsely believe themselves to be that light. Others are brightened by exposure to the light in turn by principle of radiation. Yet none bear the mantle of light. One is either that light, or one is not”







2 Responses to “Virtue: What is it?”

  1. Beautiful worded piece, Thanks to all who contributed. ….. 🙂

  2. Enlightening, beautifully worded in a manner to engender understanding…….

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