Wisdom’s Embrace: Living Craft & Upholding Tradition
The following is a transcript of the talk given at the Clan of Tubal Cain’s “Heritage” event held on June 25th 2016:
Wisdom’s Embrace: Living Craft and Upholding Tradition
by Ulric “Gestumblindi” Goding
Good afternoon. It is indeed a privilege to speak amid this esteemed audience and yet moreso it is moving to see that such interest is held toward the ancestors of my Clan and, I hope, interest held in its continuation to the present day and beyond. My talk today concerns itself with living Old Craft, finding Hope through Wisdom and the timeless relevance that such immersion will continue to hold now and for those yet to come. As a disclaimer let me state that I am not a public-speaker so please bear with me, wherever my words fail to convey, let our hearts and minds meet with an unspoken understanding.
I speak as one who views his Craft as more than merely a technology to attain one’s desires. I speak as one whose Craft is his very Being. With this view in mind, I shall attempt to convey a culture witnessed through living Tradition.
It would now be pertinent of me to offer an agreeable suggestion as to what “culture” may be. The Cambridge English Dictionary states that culture is “the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time.”. Sir Edward Burnett Tylor, founder of cultural anthropology, offers a fuller definition of culture: “that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.”. It is within Tylor’s framework that I personally experience what I affectionately call Old Craft. One should not be able to pick it up one moment, put it down the next like an item of clothing, merely worn for purpose. One’s Craft should inform how one lives; how they relate to the World, how they interact with fellow man, creature and experiences of Other.
And with that statement comes a stark recommendation:
Do not let the thoughts and opinions of Academics and Theologians silence your direct experiential apprehension of the Other. Regardless of romantic thoughts of being renegades, pioneers or free-thinkers, the Craft in this era is at risk of becoming a subculture of conformists. I’ve seen so many mute themselves for fear of not complying with the latest University Press book of theory, or the academic paper written by one looking for funding or to make a name for themselves. It matters not how well read you are, what matters is how effective are you as a vessel of perception, this efficiency is assured through tempering and annealing of self. This purity of vessel is what allows experiential vision and transmission a viable chance of being verified by those who have gone before us on the Mystic journey. As Truth crosses cultures and perennial wisdom can be agreed through disparate sources documented through time.
“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”
― William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
Though as an addendum to Blake’s quote I would emphasise that many are forcing themselves to view the world “thro’ narrow chinks of other people’s caverns”.
A wonderful quote from English philosopher and Friar Roger Bacon that I hope will sit well with you all:
“There are two modes of knowledge, through arguement and experience (experientia). Argument brings conclusions and compels us to concede them, but it does not cause certainty nor remove doubts in order that the mind may remain at rest in truth, unless this is provided by experience.”
~ Roger Bacon, Opus Maius
As I have written elsewhere, “that which we do today will be tomorrow’s folklore”. If all stay conforming to what is in vogue for academics, then what really will we leave to all of our respective descendants? (After all, this is *Traditional* Craft and so by its very nature it must be inherited and passed on.) So in that instance, what indeed is passed on? An inoffensive, unobtrusive, safe-on-the-fence magnolia, just the same as everyone else who has read the same “research” as gospel. In fact, a phrase from the Bible if I may, “the letter killeth the Spirit”. Yes, academia satisfies the intellect… their discoveries may also inspire… but do not let it rule and dictate practice. Have courage to strip as much away as you can, return to centre, listen for that voice in the wilderness. The Old Craft is very pragmatic, what we are after are *RESULTS*, nothing less than that. If what is undertaken to get those results, that communion with Other, flies in the face of textbooks and peer-approval, then so be it! The Old Craft has never concerned itself with back-patting and badge-collecting. Old Craft is very much an archaic beast, as suggested by its Clan-systems, it is tribal at its core. Yes, Old Craft is tribal in its nature, this statement will have me losing “brownie-points” amid those who are enamoured by the rampant globalisation that has eroded culture after culture for the sake of evangelising an homogenous techno-industrial replacement, one that offers supposed “prosperity and democracy”. As an example of this tribalism in practice; I am oathed to the Clan of Tubal Cain, the People, my kin; as nice as all of you sitting here are I’m sure, if this building was on fire who would your money be on that I am looking to save first?…. Of course, *my kin*, if there are people in the way then they will used as stepping-stones to get my own to safety, and step I shall. Granted, not a pretty example, but it highlights a rather unfashionable, tribal attitude. In this example had I lost moral ground running over folk to save my own? In my view, it was neither a moral nor immoral decision, strictly amoral. After all, as many Trad Crafters like to state, “nature is red in tooth and claw”, not out of vindictiveness or spite, but due to necessity in ensuring survival. Loss or harm to others is to be mourned, but sometimes it may just be necessary to ensure the survival of kin and continuation of the seed. Again decisions not made on a moral basis; manevolence is not sought after.
Behaviour, actions, are dictated by cultural paradigm. If, as a member of modern society, what you are doing in the Craft doesn’t change you, then what you are doing isn’t rooted in the Old Craft. Modern society is but a mixture of individuals, if any of you know chemistry then you will appreciate the difference between something being a “compound” and something being a “mixture”, the former is chemically fused the later is merely sharing space. As we look about the world now, the smaller, intimate, “fused” communities are but a quaint memory. Instead we just share space, or cyberspace, a loose mixture of egos, contrived versions of self are presented and very little else offered. This modern society affords someone an identity based on their consumer preferences, hobbies, sports or political team. Within Old Craft, identity is found and nurtured through the collective of the tribe, the comunity etc. As Tanist of the Clan of Tubal Cain, to use my headkinsman and Magister Robin-the-Dart’s words from the “Heritage” book:
“The Tanist, Lawful Son, holds the Priestly Rites and Law for the People. His charge is to be their spiritual guide, and share the Clan’s lore and customs, its Mythos, the dreams and aspirations of our cumulative ancestors, and its evolution through a milennia of change. His duties are manifold. He is the needful diplomat, spokesperson and envoy for the Clan.” Robin also adds further that his own “duty is to the shadows. The light is held by my Tanist son, and he is my bridge to the outer world; for he is my eyes and ears there.”. That, my role in the strengthening and survival of my Clan is my identity; I, Ulric Goding, am nothing outside of those parameters. There is the difference between archaic tribal values and today’s society which rewards and celebrates the individual, quite literally the shallow “cult of Celebrity”.
I must give context for this foray into the tribalistic roots of Old Craft; for want of better terminology they may be seen as “Lesser Mysteries”. Now “Lesser” used in this way isn’t to detract from the importance of this mode of preparation for the modern seeker into the Craft. It is the foundation in which direct spiritual experience may be apprehended; for if one cannot love and act justly, in the rightness of things towards immediate kin and your surrounding community, then what really does transcendental philosophising matter? I’ve known a fair few who can talk a good game, but when it arises to display the fruits of such fancy words where it matters, in the “Now”, there is very little harvest to yield. Without having firm roots in a collective paradgim and having the seeker still slave to the sole concern of themselves, any talk or practice aspiring to a Unitive Experience could be likened to the scattering of seeds onto bad or un-tilled soil, little will take and nothing will last.
My Craft offers the guidance within Cochrane’s “Law”, “Do not what you desire, do what is necessary”, so very simple, so very understated and so very uncomfortable for the egoic-self to adhere to. This one sentence is the very underpinning differentiation between what folks cling to as “witchcraft” and the Craft in which I know and live. It is no secret that historically “witchcraft”, when the practitioner openly professed to practice such, was a manevolent and selfish undertaking. In order to discern what is necessary rather than what is desired one must quiet the temperamental and easily distracted chatter within the mind. Hold the imagery a river or lake, where the surface water is calm or still one can see into the depths, however if the water is disturbed then the ripples and murkiness of all dirt festering within will obscure all vision. We are no different, the more debris and baggage that we carry with us, the more our perception will be hindered. As cliche as it sounds, the first step in purifying one’s self is in the knowing of one’s self. Now unless we really get to the core, timeless essence of our being, we are indeed transient, as the Sands of Time shift, so too do our personas; what makes us tick today may not be the same as it was yesteryear. Each one of us in this room is a composition of various “metals”, each of differing amounts and each of different degrees of purity. These sit within us whether we know it or not. Our compositions are displayed through our words and actions, unwittingly layed bare before the discerning individual with “eyes to see”. Please, have a brief moment to ponder on this idea… Are you brimming with Iron, quick to strike, dominant and successful through force and volume? Or is your conduct primarily through Copper (apologies for that very poor pun), a lustful grab at all that satisfies the appetite of your senses? Let me be clear though, it isn’t an either/or approach, all of us are a composite of all metals, though some have a greater presence than the others within our character/persona; Nature allots our initial portion, Nurture purifies our lot or we allow it to sit stagnant and unconscious. Therefore what we are Crafting is indeed ourselves, we commit ourselves to the purging flame of conscious existence (rather than an unconscious stumbling through life), we allow ourselves to become malleable, shaped not according to own will but shaped according to True Will. Each time that we try and impose our own desired design upon ourselves, and wear another false-face or mask, we will be thrown again into the furnace; try and try again until humility is birthed and our inner ear starts to finally listen. Know your metallic composition, but do not try and rid yourself of certain metals and bolster those that may seem at first glance more favourable. Divine Providence has this unique combination as your Nature here in this round of life, “what I have I hold”, knowing what you have been given will allow you to harmonize your inner compound. This is the key, not self-annihilation to a nebulous numbness, but reaching a harmony through purification, onwards and upwards in a spiral dance until Unity is experienced as your true, purified and realised Self. As the Rhineland Mystic Meister Eckhart put it so wonderfully “The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.” This is the eye of the heart, intuitive knowing and deep reciprocal communication between Man, Nature and what some people term Other. It is through this organ of perception, the flaming awakened heart bathed in its own green fire, that humanity can read with fluency the Book of the World/or Nature, that Man can read the hearts and minds of Man, that Magic and Compassion are by-products of the path well-travelled.
Attaining the green fire and the imminent result is to be immersed in the more advanced stages of self-transmutation. I will hint at some guiding principles but deeper personal meditation on this topic may serve as an inspirational nudge in each of our respective journeys. Here is an initial quote from Jacob Boehme:
“Venus, the most blessed planet, or igniter of life, has its origin or issuance from the rising of the sun.”
Venus is the planet that marks the love of life as well as spiritual rebirth. Venus is both the harlot and the Virgin, its metal is copper, copper when reacting to the purging and purifying flame amid our life-giving and fire-fuelling oxygen produces…. have a guess….. green fire.. When the base Venus (Copper) with its wanton lusts, desires, and its enamoured glamour of form and subtleties of Other has been tested and purged, (as seen through the presence of the green fire), then the purified Venus, now as Virgin Wisdom, holding an unconditional love and nonattachment to wordly desires will appear to you, and she will whisper the sweet promise of Hope and your deeds shall start to reflect this communion.
“All arts lie in man, though not all are apparent. Awakening brings them out. To be taught is nothing; everything is in man, waiting to be awakened.” ~ Paracelsus
This is what Cochrane sought to do, as John did also, as Shani and Robin-the-Dart continue to do; not so much as explicitly teach people but to assist in their awakening. Not reinforcing a dogma to be repeated but to have people think, look and listen for themselves and for the benefit of their surrounding spheres of influence.
That universal panacea is already within us, just as the seed of gold resides in the bosom of lead. The initial step is to stop grabbing for an external saviour or a new deity to add to a list of patrons and instead start looking for and listening to Wisdom’s soft-voice within. She is always there, every successful endeavour as well as every shameful act you undertake, She is waiting, waiting for you to realise that you are indeed more than this animated carcus, She is waiting for you to remember that you are the inheritor of much more than merely 60-80 years or so trying to survive society. You are more than an individual, you are your ancestors and all of their collective hopes and dreams, you are also all of the inspiration and aspirition of Divinity. One could say plainly that we are “fully human and fully divine”. Yet it really is no use merely hearing these words echo from a stranger’s mouth, such a profundity will only be realised in the experiencing of it, this is what drove Roy (Cochrane) and this is what the Clan has offered its people from its inception, to the present day and beyond; when then immersed and lived fully within its culture, experiential knowing is Wisdom’s embrace upon the worthy seeker.
Thank you for your kind reception and attention.
In the words of an Old Norse Blessing:
Til árs og fríđar! (To Good Harvest and Peace!)
Flags, Flax & Fodder,
Ulric “Gestumblindi” Goding
Tanist of the Clan of Tubal Cain
Níwe Dæg – Níwe Léoht – Níwe Hopan