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through the legacy of Robert Cochrane

Ciphers and Symbols Used by Robert Cochrane - by Robin the Dart

Over the course of the seven years both Shani and myself knew and studied with Evan John Jones, former Magister of the Clan of Tubal Cain, he taught us many curious things, some of which seemed initially to have little use or relevance to what we were doing. He insisted that such subtleties wwoven into the greater structural fabric of the Craft formulated and expressed the Mythos of the People of Goda and must be slowly assimilated over a period of no less than seven years to allow them to become fully immersed into one's psyches. For that reason, he insisted that we rather than himself, must instruct our initiates. This basically meant that he considered the newly transferred egregore would cumulatively ‘mature’ or reach fruition after the afore mentioned time lapse. Only then he said, would we be properly ready to act as guides to others along the arduous path of the Mysteries, where the 'real' teacher is oneself. Therefore it has only been within the last couple of years that much of those teachings passed to us have begun to make ‘real’ sense- what was once just information has now become knowledge. Hopefully after the next cycle has transpired this may have evolved into ‘wisdom.’ Through the ‘work’ alone, does light dawn.

The following symbols/glyphs have been transcribed by myself according to the Mythos and teachings of the Clan of Tubal Cain as transmitted by its late Magister, Evan John Jones, who would often become wryly amused when asked about these symbols and other points covered within the letters of Robert Cochrane, remarking with a wink “I was there in the room when he typed most of them you know – we discussed much of it between us.” Some points are selectivly cross-referenced; enough to provide a rough guide, yet leaving sufficient material available so as not to spoil the lure of the chase.

The Robert Cochrane Letters [Capall Bann.2002]

Within the book:

Letter nine to NORMAN GILL [p. 172] & Letter seven [p. 168] are edited such that parts of each form different composites from the ones commonly available elsewhere.

1-5 symbols compass

  1. Three Queens

  2. Round of life (birth, youth, maturity, wisdom and death)

  3. The Dark/Birth Creatrix and Pale/Death - Destroyer Goddess of the Moon/Fate [ref: Letter Three, p 28] & [ ref: Letter five, p41]

  4. Four Kings of the Compass

  5. Microcosm/Macrocosm – The Cosmology of the Clan – Fate
  6. The Compass, the vehicle and map of the eight directions, comprised of four solar and four lunar points + X . The Stations of the Sun, Moon and Stars. The Star vehicle of Eight Airts.

  7. Letter two to NORMAN GILL [p.147]


  8. The left hand [the cursing hand], marking the thumb, heel of thumb, tip of fore-finger and ear finger. [interesting ref. made in ‘Roebuck in the Thicket’, page 54, ‘On Cords’, RC stresses the complexities of Cat’s Cradle, Fate and the fingers of the hand to a Witch.
  9. Three dark moons shot with an arrow, denotes a cursing, baneful Saturn, and Fate.
  10. The Tao of Mind and of Sacrifice is exalted above the devotional Path of the Serpent. Love under Will. The pellar’s power to curse or bless/heal by…
  11. The five elements, ruled by force/will. Spirit points down, Air and Earth form the horns of the reversed pentagram, the symbol for the Horned God. His five points are cognate with the fingers of the hand.
  12. The dark triangle within the circle expresses the concept of Fate, its triplicity and influence within the cycle/circle of life, cognate with the three moons [see no. 8]. Also represents three nails* (binding, cursing – manipulation of wyrd) .* the three nails may also be used for blessings, but not in the context of this schematic as presented by RC to NG.
  13. In ‘The White Goddess’ Graves discusses the speculative and now contentious druidic ‘Tree Alphabet.’ Although this has largely now become disregarded by modern academia, four decades ago, hungry students extolled its virtues as revelatory and revolutionary.

    In chapter 11, Graves posits the alphabet aligned to fingers as a popular mnemonic. He describes the archaic belief in the ‘Sweet cauldron of the Five sacred Trees’ the arboreal and paradisial pillars that correspond with the five senses, and the five elements.

    Of these, one tree in particular, the Yew is explained as the Tree of Destiny, given to Fate, ruled by Saturn and Hekate. Known also as the King’s Wheel, these five points relate to the pentagramatic stations of the Five stages within the ‘round of life’ which form the basis of the Compass.

    This ring/round of life [birth/life, youth/love, maturity/maternity, wisdom and death] which becomes relevant when studied against the very interesting pages [p195-7] Graves devotes to the archaic (folk) lore of fingers. In particular, the little finger, otherwise known as the auricular finger and dedicated to ‘Ruis’ the witch tree – Elder, rumoured to have been the tree of crucifixion, and ‘Luis,’ the Rowan, tree of divining and prophecy. Specifically Graves expounds the meaning as ‘that which is secretly whispered into the ear’ [p196]. This reveals much regarding how the Mysteries are traditionally transmitted.

    If we look at the five fingers of the splayed hand beginning with the thumb, we may align them to the mound of Venus & Mars (love, war, smith-craft and agriculture), the forefinger of Jupiter, the fool’s finger of Saturn, the physic or leech finger of the Sun /Apollo and the ear-finger of Mercury (sacred psychopomp and guide to all travelers, thief and master of the silver tongue. The heel of the thumb is influenced by the Moon.

    So what is RC telling us? Initially he appears to be highlighting Venus (linked to the Morning and Evening Star), the Moon (Pale faced Goddess of Fate), Jupiter (Oak/Father/ King), the Sun (the Promethean Lucifer), and Mercury (master of magicks and the spoken word). The only finger not marked is the fool’s finger, significantly of the dark and hidden Saturn. Apparently to wear a ring on this finger denotes a desire for resurrection, of rebirth in the cycle of life – something RC wished to avoid!

    In summary then Robert Cochrane is actually expressing his belief in the power of the star crossed serpent (9) that has gifted to him through the ‘blood’ (9) the arte of manipulating Fate (7) & (8). Nos. 10 & 11 are the common/mundane/exoteric expressions of these concepts. “In Fate and the overcoming of Fate is the true Graal, for from this, inspiration comes and death is defeated.’ Robert Cochrane’s singular philosophy may be summated in his own words: “Magic and religion are aids to overcome Fate, and Fate is a cradle that rocks the infant spirit.” [ref: Letter two to Joe Wilson, p 22 ]


    These symbols were a game of cat and mouse between Gills and Cochrane, a tease and a game of wits.

  14. EJJ, explained these four symbols as forming the reversed pentagram which is the six pointed star, the conjunction of male and female potencies. Referred to as the combined cauldron ritual also known as ‘The Star of David’. [ref: p32 - Letter four to Joe Wilson’ & again on p181, Letter twelve to Norman Gill] he also speaks of the Star of David as the mystery of the Sword and Broom
  15. We have line grids (see 12) that indicate possible elemental associations with Hermetics, which to RC was a male field of operation (see 13).
  16. Certain symbols (see 14) relate to sex ‘magick’, which is why some of them are also relevant to Third degree Wiccan practices (see 15), again to RC a female field of operation.
  17. This crowned upright pentagram symbolizes many things to those who follow Wicca. Its symbolism may easily be discerned in one of many books written on this subject. As I am also a third degree Wiccan, bound by an oath, I may not personally discuss it.
  18. Self- explanatory. RC is here placing stress on this particular symbol to Norman Gills concerning the baneful significance of Saturn (see 17).
  19. The skull proffers a curse or death.
  20. Another way of expressing this is in the glyph of three nails or three knives, a traditional curse also used in folklore. Esoterically, the skull and the nails refer to the Crucifixion, of Adam’s (ergo humanity’s) redemption, of Cain the wanderer and of smith-craft and the civilizing arts.
  21. Together, (18) & (19) forge the mystery of the broom and the sword, the bridge or gate opened by Love.
  22. The heart represents devotion and submission. There is no force greater than Love. When this is realized and we enter the Mysteries, Wisdom is gained.
  23. The three Queens/Fates combined as One deity – the Pale Faced Goddess who rules Cain (as Man in the Moon) represented by the runic stave kennaz V, whose ‘kenning’ generates wisdom. He carries the flaming torch of spiritual gnosis and the mystery of metallurgy. The next three dashes are also runic staves from the (Swedish/Norse) Younger Futhark of 16 rather than 24 letters. The first and third dashes are the 14th rune madhr, indicating divine ancestry, and primordial man (Adam). Both relate to the Clan and family. The middle dash is the 11th rune of this system, sol, indicating spiritual direction from the solar deity. Again the cycle of life, death and rebirth overcome by ancestral wisdom is clearly emphasized.
  24. This heart within a lozenge, or the rune ingwaz, refers to emotive gestation, to steady growth cycles, which he suggests parallel those of the moon. He is saying here that such forces are ideal for divination &, sorcery (see 23) as they come under the aegis of the Clan (24).
  25. The star crossed serpent. [ref: Letter three, p26]
  26. The rune elhaz, implying the protective forces of tutelary beings.
  27. The first of three more runes. This one, jera, represents the life cycle or harvest…..
  28. This one is gebo, the gift of exchanged, of reciprocity and obligation…
  29. This runic stave, othila, signifies self-contained hereditary power – in other words - Virtue. These three together express the synergistic harmonic of the Great Work, of the interaction of man and god (see 28) through his own virtue and that of his divine ancestry (see 29). RC goes on to state how these are but another way of expressing The Three Rites in which our service to the tutelary deity (ancestry) is executed. We are obliged to fulfill the Nine Knots, the Round of Life within the Compass (see 30).
  30. ‘All Ritual is prayer’ – the duty and obligation of service.
  31. The presence of the Shadow Company.
  32. Crude example of the Compass, facing North-east, depicting the cross of elements, the moat and maze.  


    This set of symbols offers a plethora of possibilities that could quite easily fill a book. But as the intention behind RC’s cryptic ciphers was for the interested party to discover for themselves (a valid requisite extant within the ‘1734’ legacy developed by Joe Wilson, influenced by RC among others). Briefly, the first of these is the four squared castle within which the maze brings the seeker to the qutub, axis mundi and nowl star. The next is the personal glyph used as a signature by RC on his correspondence. This is a bind-rune, comprised of elhaz, isa and gebo. Used in this way, it offers friendship, protection and the sacred and inviolate bond for those who choose to reciprocate. The numbers 1734, again infer a number of possibilities, all of which are valid. Within CTC, these signify the ‘Alchemy of the Compass,’ where one achieves the Great Work. It suggests the use of force over form, and seeks to overcome Fate. For those who wish to pursue this enigmatic formula, there are now numerous explanations for but a little research. It is believed that those who seek it will attract the meaning that best suits their path, their needs and their evolution. [Cochrane alludes to an explanation in Letter two to Joe Wilson, p 23] [More may be found here - 1734 Witchcraft - The Authentic Method of Robert Cochrane and Joseph Bearwalker Wilson)



  34. Three crescent moons, forming a triadic circle, a lunar triplicity and Wheel of Fate that she rules…. She empowers the Kings through the three [main] Queens. Inspiration. [ref: Letter five, p41]
  35. Single crescent moon and lunar cross denoting the Castles of the four Kings.

Over and over again, Cochrane stressed themes closest to his heart, those of Heritage, blood, Virtue and Fate, especially Fate !“ All mystical thought is based upon one major premise: the realisation of Truth as opposed to Illusion……… The Faith is finally concerned with Truth, total Truth. It is one of the oldest religions, and also one of the most potent, bringing as it does, Man into contact with Gods, and Man into contact with Self.” [ref: ‘The Faith of the Wise’ inRoebuck in the Thicket’, pp55-56]