An Elusive Roebuck

Luciferianism and Paganism in Robert Cochrane’s Witchcraft

Ethan Doyle White

The English occultist Robert Cochrane (1931–1966) has remained an enigmatic figure ever since his death under mysterious circumstances almost fifty years ago. The Magister of a coven known as the Clan of Tubal Cain, Cochrane was a co-founder of Cochranian Witchcraft and a vocal critic of Gerald Gardner (1884–1964) and mainstream elements of the Wiccan movement. Cochrane’s legacy is today evident in a variety of contemporary magico-religious groups, including the rejuvenated Clan, the 1734 tradition and the wider “Traditional Witchcraft” current of Western esotericism. Recent academic thought has maintained that Cochrane’s tradition was a form of contemporary Paganism akin to that of Gardner, although this has not gone unchallenged; in recent years, Cochrane’s successor Shani Oates (1959–) has argued that Cochranianism is not a tradition of the Pagan Craft, but should instead be understood as a Luciferian and Gnostic spiritual path quite distinct from contemporary Paganism. In this article, the author endeavours to explore this complicated issue, using both historical textual sources and information obtained from oral histories.

Traditional Witchcraft; Robert Cochrane; Luciferianism; Contemporary Paganism; Contemporary Witchcraft