The Root Tradition of The Ancient Keltic Church

The Clan of Tubal Cain is a British mystery tradition made public in Britain during the 1960's and introduced into the United States during the years 1964-1966 through the writings of Robert Cochrane. Cochrane died in 1966. However, in 1976, Ann and David Finnin, with the aid of the Cochrane writings and material contributed by other British traditionalists, attempted to recreate this tradition as an experimental group called The Roebuck. In 1982, contact was made with Evan John Jones, one of the surviving members of Cochrane's original group. After an apprenticeship which lasted nearly two years, Ann and David were adopted into the Clan by Jones and empowered to carry the tradition back to the States. Thus, a link between the old tradition and the new was formally established.

Some information about the American branch of the Clan of Tubal Cain and how we became the Maid and Magister of the Clan.

We were not actually adopted into the Clan of Tubal Cain during our first trip in 1982 John performed a ritual with us that consisted of sending me on a kind of “vision quest” in which Ann was supposed to bring back a series of “key” visions which would determine whether or not we had been accepted by the Ancient Ones. As it happened, she did receive some of those keys and John proceeded to give us as much background material on the Clan and the way Cochrane used to work as we could absorb. However, he knew that we had our own group so the subject of bringing us formally into the Clan of Tubal Cain was never brought up. John just assumed that we would use the material with the Roebuck and, for a time, that is what we did.

However, in one of our letters to him, We expressed a concern about whether or not the material we had (and, incidentally, the truth about Cochrane’s death) would be accepted as valid in the States. We had, after all, been duped before. In his return letter, John suggested that we actually join the Clan of Tubal Cain. By this time, it was already May of 1983. We accepted and he sent us a copy of the adoption ritual, empowering me to act in his stead to adopt the entire Roebuck into the Clan provisionally while we served a year-long apprenticeship. He suggested that Ann and I give each other the oath first, then, a few weeks later, give it to the entire Roebuck.

Our apprenticeship was an intense one, even given the distance. In frequent letters, John would suggest a ritual, we would perform it and report back to him in detail what happened and who got what. Then, he would write a critique and suggest something else. There were also phone calls in which we discussed a variety of issues. John was insistent from the very first that we were to be an independent group and not slavishly copy the practices of the original clan. He was especially adamant that we not repeat any of Cochrane’s mistakes.

In May, 1986, we took a second trip to England. On Beltaine old calendar, John formally adopted Ann into the Clan in person and then she, in turn, adopted me. The ritual, held on the hill above Brighton, was simple and impromptu, but would prove to have a profound effect on the future of the Clan.  For some inexplicable reason, it was vital to have that in-person, hands-on confirmation of what we had done through the mail three years previously. Something clicked into place that night on both the material and non-material planes, something that would give us the power to solve the problems that we would face in the years ahead.

The text of John's letter to us about Clan Leadership. June 18 1987.

Dear Ann and David,
Many thanks for your letter. Glad to read that things are working out for you and that all seems to be going well.

I liked the letter a lot and as a Clan introduction it's great, with certain proviso's of course. In the case of 1734 you have to remember that a lot of it is simply a fabrication of Roy's. While saying this, at the same time, a lot of it is based on sound fact. The thing is, being able to pick out the false from the true and using it. Though I'm pleased that you stress the visionary and devotional side of the craft rather than the phantasy spell world that seems to be one of the main reasons people take up the craft.

The idea that the Roebuck and the clan are two different entities that link, harks back to the old inner and outer circle tradition. The rites and rituals for the main congregation and the rites of the inner circle of Priests and Priestesses, these were always done apart from the congregation at a hidden and sacred spot. When you say that clan members are chosen or seem to be chosen by powers beyond, you've put the truth into a nutshell. For myself, I've always advanced the theory of the group connected souls. Roy and I used to spend hours talking about it and in the end coming back to the old idea that certain people are bonded together through many lifetimes of shared experience. In each life you may or may not find members of your group souls but they are there and when you do find one or more, you are drawn to each other as sure as fate is fate. The key to the whole concept is the drawing together of people who by all logic should be incompatible yet are not.

As you say, some people are drawn to the clan because they are what they are, others will try to use the clan for their own ends, but the clan spirit in the end will reject then and they'll have to pay a high price for trying. The only trouble is, these people can cause a lot of upset and bother for the members before being shoved out as you well know. All in all, what you're doing makes me wish I'd thought of it first. But I feel the same as Bill, he's found that there is no room or feel for the Sangreal over here and I feel the same way about the clan, it'll never formalize over here the same as it seems to be doing in the States. Maybe some of the old old groups put the mockers on the whole idea when the craft came to the surface in the sixties. Knowing some of the people involved, I cannot blame them.

If you hadn't started getting the sight and feel of the invisible company by now, you'd have been wasting your time for all this while. In dedicating the circle you call on kinship to kinship, blood to blood and the certainty that the past will reach forward to link with the present. For centuries people were born within the faith, lived within the faith and then died within the faith strong in belief of the immortality of the soul, I don't know about you but I'd find it strange if they didn't recognize the call of their kin and recognize that in your rites there is the same element of worship as they once knew. Somewhere in that gathering you'll find Roy, when it's my turn to die, I'll come round your fire and if there isn't a libation poured for me, then watch out. I'll go around snapping all the Ladies bra straps in public, try explaining away a "Stop it at once John" in a supermarket, especially if you're in one of the gangways on your own. No, these shadows are the past impinging on the present in a protective and educative manner, from them you'll learn more than I can ever hope to tell you. In this sense, you are the clan of Tubal Cain and through what you are doing, the clan will live Roy and all of us had our chance to do the same sort of thing, we blew it, which makes me sort of anachronism in the order of things.

I know what you mean when you say that you don't want everything you say to be taken as gospel. But at the same time, to a certain extent you have to say this. I'd tend to look at it in the light of "this is the way we do things, we don't claim that this is the only way, but it is our way and you can take us or leave us as you so choose." If they accept your way, then they must accept your way for doing things. As for people going off to form their own group. Well as far as the Roebuck is concerned, I'd rather not express an opinion. Where the clan is concerned, there is a clear cut way of doing it. Any group or coven that wishes to be part of the clan must take an oath recognizing that your coven and

as titular head of the clan. This is not open to negotiation, arbitration, civil liberties, uncivil liberties or anything else. In fact, any group starting up over here in the clan ways are in the same position as the groups in the States, they will owe their oath to you and your group and to no-one else. If Peter, Brenda and I started a group over here, we will have to take an oath recognizing you as head of the Clan of Tubal Cain before we can claim to be part of the clan.

You are going to have this problem because of the similarity between Indian mythology and Celtic mythology, only to be expected when both way back came from the same root stock. But at the same time, Indian thought developed in a different way to Celtic thought and to try and cross that divide is not only wrong in a moral sense, but denies ones own roots, background and upbringing. Where one culture has displaced the native culture, the gods of the native culture usually become the devils and dwellers of the infernal regions, recognized placated but never worshipped, even when the Romans brought in the local Celtic gods and Romanized them, it was more political than anything else and only lip service was paid at the altars. To bring in peace pipes and medicine bags into the concept would bastardize the whole meaning of the rites and aims of the worship. The Indians have their gods, we have ours and there is no way that they'll ever reach across the cultured divide. To recognize and make an offering at a new working site is the right thing to do but at the same time, they are not our gods and will never be. Both you and Dave are right in slapping anything like this firmly on the head, you are the guardians of the tradition and in your hands the care of it has been placed.

In the case of the four main rites, the wording is only a vehicle for the concept. How you wish to word them is up to you. The concept and the idea behind the concept is the important thing, does it have a validity to you, does it work well enough to satisfy you. The rites must be your wording, your thoughts, your expressions, you are the only people who know what you are aiming for. The craft as such has always been flexible enough to adapt to changing circumstances rather than bogging down in an outdated liturgy. Once the craft rites expressed a fear of the unknown and the unseen, seeking protection and continuity, today the craft explores the unknown and tries to understand it, instead of the practical being the order of the day, its now the mystical. You are the people doing the work, so what words you use to explain the concept and work the rites must be yours.

I'm still slogging away at putting down all I know, and the first person who makes a crack about filling the back of a postage stamp'll find me doing them an unpleasantness with the pointed end of the stang. So there is a lot that has to be sent to you, so the first to arrive from your group will have a lot dumped into their hands and the best of British to them. I'm also hoping to send over a bronze knife with them for you, it all depends on how quickly I can get into Mikes workshop. The unfeeling swine is insisting on going away on holidays and such like, that's the trouble with people, never around when you want them. The other thing I have in mind, is to do a working up at Chanctonbury one night, mainly to sort the men out from the boys and see what we can bring back two days after I wrote to you the photos came back so I'm sticking them in. I've had the letter from Jim with your note and will be writing back. The trouble is, being a two fingered typist, I'm slow, if wrote it by hand I'd be slightly quicker but no-one would be able to read it. Bad handwriting is the mark of a genius or an illiterate and I'm claiming to be the first, that's my excuse anyhow.

The kids are fine, the trouble is though, I always thought that the older they got the less we'd be involved with them. Wrong, wrong, David is now getting engaged so that means I have to meet her people and so on. What makes it worse, I had to promise David I'd behave myself when we do meet them, you know, have my hair cut, dress somewhat respectable and above all, stay sober. Oh the shame of it all, respectable at last, I never though I'd live to see the day. It's sad you know Ann, that in the winter of ones declining years when one feels the need to do something outrageous only to be told "but father, you're too old for that sort of thing", one is filled with the overwhelming urge to grab a baseball bat and beat the hell out of them.

So there you are. Give my love to all those working with you, and until I hear from you again. Lots of luck, love and above all,

Blessed Be,

To view the actual letter, click here.

You can listen to Dave talk about The Clan of Tubal Cain and 1734 here.

The Crooked Path - Episode 22

There are many Craft people that scoff at the tradition of the laying on of hands, a ritual from the Catholic church by which the Bishop confers power onto a new priest. And, indeed, this is one of the sources of the accusations of elitism and snobbery that have been leveled at us since then. But all the members of the Clan knew what had happened when we returned. And, although they are no less valid and binding, the initiations and Clan adoptions that we performed after that trip had a different quality than the ones we had performed beforehand.

Eventually, the Clan rituals became the core of the Roebuck and the Clan dedicated to preserving the original rituals, and the lore surrounding it, in the form in which we originally learned it. This ritual constitutes the plug into the wall socket which carries the power of the Otherworld to the entire Clan, and those who are oathbound to guard it do not take their task lightly.

The ritual we did with Evan John Jones on that hill in the old traditional way was simple and impromptu without any elaborate script or ceremony. As a result of what we learned from John and what we plugged into we developed a strong group mind with a purpose to reconstruct the Clan of Tubal Cain on American soil.

We also received help from both Bill Gray and Doreen Valiente with our clan workings.

FFF, Dave Finnin
August 18, 2008
Magister ofthe Clan of Tubal Cain

Evan John Jones 1936-2003

In memory of a cherished teacher and a good friend who inspired us to keep studying, learning and practicing our tradition.

John, may your cup always be full and your purse never empty until we meet again.
Bright Blessings,
Dave & Ann

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All pages are copyright September, 1997, by the Ancient Keltic Church. These pages may be printed for personal use only provided they are not changed in any way.