Clan of Tubal Cain

Clutterbuck, Old Dorothy (1880–1951)
Mushroom and Garlic Spaghetti

 Influential Witch mystery tradition
founded by Robert Cochrane in England in the 1950s.
The Clan of Tubal Cain, named after the legendary Hebrew
blacksmith, Tubal Cain, was never intended by Cochrane
to become a religion. Its concepts were passed to America
in the 1734 Tradition and also were absorbed into the
Roebuck Tradition and Ancient Keltic Church.
Cochrane, who claimed to come from a long line of
hereditary witches, worked for a while as a blacksmith
and also lived on a canal boat. The Clan had its roots in
his own family tradition, as well as in the folklore he absorbed
from blacksmithing and canal life.
Cochrane viewed witchcraft as a mystery tradition, not
a fertility religion. The heart of his views was expressed
in an anonymous article he wrote for Psychic News on
November 8, 1963, entitled “Genuine Witchcraft Is Defended.”
Cochrane said he was tired of tirades against
real witchcraft written by uninformed journalists. He
requested anonymity because of his wife and small son.
Excerpts from the letter are:
I am a witch descended from a family of witches. Genuine
witchcraft is not paganism, though it retains the
memory of ancient faiths.
It is a religion mystical in approach and puritanical in
attitudes. It is the last real mystery cult to survive, with
a very complex and evolved philosophy that has strong
affinities with many Christian beliefs. The concept of a
sacrificial god was not new to the ancient world; it is not
new to a witch.
Mysticism knows no boundaries. The genuine witch
is a mystic at heart. Much of the teaching of witchcraft
is subtle and bound with poetical concept rather than
hard logic.
I come from an old witch family. My mother told me of
things that had been told to her grandmother by her grandmother.
I have two ancestors who died by hanging for the
66 Clan of Tubal Cain
practice of witchcraft. The desire for power may have been
the motive behind the persecution of witches . . .
[Cochrane explains that during the Crusades in the
13th and 14th centuries, Islamic ideas infiltrated witch
covens, and witches were members of the upper classes
as well as the lower.]
One basic tenet of witch psychological grey magic is
that your opponent should never be allowed to confirm
an opinion about you but should always remain undecided.
This gives you a greater power over him, because
the undecided is always the weaker. From this attitude
much confusion has probably sprung in the long path of
history . . .
[Cochrane then explains that witches are not part of a
premature Spiritualist movement and are not concerned
primarily with messages or morality from the dead.]
. . . It [witchcraft] is concerned with the action of
God and gods upon man and man’s position spiritually.
Cochrane preferred the term clan to coven, and he
openly despised Gerald B. Gardner and his followers.
The structure of the Clan was loose; rituals, which
were shamanic in nature, were conceived as Cochrane
went along. Inner planes contacts and alignment with
natural forces formed the basis of magical workings. The
Clan worshiped the Goddess and Horned God and conducted
rituals outdoors when possible, dressed in black
hooded robes. The Clan observed the same sabbats and
esbats as Gardnerian and Alexandrian traditions, the
dominant ones of the time. Principal working tools were
a stang, a forked staff that represented the Horned God, a
cauldron for the Goddess, a cup made of horn, a cord and
a whetstone. There was only one degree of initiation.
Cochrane liked to use herbal psychedelics as part of
his own practice; it is not known how many of the Clan
followed suit. The sacred contents of the Cauldron were
the Aqua Vitae, the Waters of Life, laced with fly agaric
or peyote.
The Clan was never big. When Doreen Valiente was
initiated into it in 1964, members included Cochrane (as
Magister) and his wife, Jane, and three men. A woman
member had recently left. Two women joined later.
In the 1960s, Cochrane began writing articles for The
Pentagram, a short-lived publication. The Pentagram attracted
the attention of an American Witch named Joe
Wilson, who placed an advertisement in it asking for correspondence
from interested parties. Cochrane responded,
and the two exchanged numerous letters for about six
months until Cochrane’s death by apparent ritual suicide
at the summer solstice in 1966.
In his first letter to Wilson, dated December 20, 1965,
Cochrane asked if Wilson understood the meaning of
“1734.” It was not a date, but a “grouping of numerals
that means something to a ‘witch,’” he said. He explained
that 1734 is the witch way of saying YHVH (Yod He Vau
He), the Tetragrammaton, or holiest name of God. One
becomes seven states of wisdom, represented by the Goddess
of the Cauldron. Three are the Queens of the elements
(water, air and earth—fire belongs to man); and
four are the Queens of the Wind Gods.
Cochrane believed that America had the right mystical
underpinnings—the stars on the American flag are
pentagrams, he pointed out—and he liked the rapport
with Wilson. He transmitted his philosophy and some of
his rituals in his letters.
Cochrane was fond of teaching in riddles, poems,
dream images and mysteries. “There is no hard and fast
teaching technique, no laid down scripture or law, for
wisdom comes only to those who deserve it, and your
teacher is yourself seen through a mirror darkly,” he told
Wilson. He signed many of his letters “Flags Flax and
Fodder,” which he translated as a blessing by water, air
and earth.
Toward the end of his life, Cochrane wrote a witch’s
code of ethics:
Do not do what you desire—do what is necessary.
Take all you are given—give all of yourself.
“What I have—I hold!”
When all is lost, and not until then, prepare to die with
dignity . . . and return to the womb of the Dark Goddess
to give life another try until the wheel of rebirth is
finally broken.
After Cochrane’s death, Wilson founded the 1734 Tradition.
In 1969, he traveled to England while enlisted in
the U.S. Air Force and was able to meet some of Cochrane’s
clan members. The 1734 Tradition is a family of
covens with roots to the Clan of Tubal Cain, integrated
with the teachings and ideas of other streams of Wicca
and Paganism. It does not have an initiation lineage by
authority; one can join without being initiated by an elder.
Wilson died in 2004.
In 1976, Americans David and Ann Finnin founded the
Roebuck Tradition based on the 1734 Tradition. In 1982,
English magician William S. Gray, a friend of Cochrane’s,
put the Finnins in touch with Evan John Jones, one of the
original Clan members. The Finnins served a two-year
apprenticeship with Jones and were adopted into the Clan
with the power to carry it to America. In 1989, the Roebuck
incorporated as the Ancient Keltic Church, based in
Tujunga, California.

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Clutterbuck, Old Dorothy (1880–1951)
Mushroom and Garlic Spaghetti

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