The 1734 Tradition was founded by Robert Cochrane (born in 1931) at an unknown point; his first connection appears to be attendance at a Circle in 1953. He originally claimed to be a hereditary witch of some sort, though sometimes he downplayed this idea.
The origins of his tradition are murky. It is said he was initiated, but whether this was by a Gardnerian or a non-Gardnerian High Priestess is unclear from my researches. Doreen Valiente met him in 1964, and she recalls him being contemptuous of the Gardnerians, and he may have in fact coined the term "Gardnerian".
Originally, the tradition was called "Clan of Tubal-Cain", also known as "The Royal Windsor Cuveen", the former name being based upon his career as a blacksmith. Time, however, caused the tradition to be associated with the enigmatic number 1734. As originally espoused, the tradition ran towards "British-Celtic" though it is now more "Celtic-eclectic"
The number "1734" holds an unusual position. Many believe it refers to an address
or a date
, but those in the tradition say it is neither. Rather, it is claimed to be a cryptogram
for this tradition's name of High Goddess
, with 1737
being associated with the High God
. In a letter to Joseph Wilson
written in 1966, Cochrane refers to them as
"...the order of 1734 is not a date of an event but a grouping of numerals that mean
something to a witch. "One that becomes seven states of wisdom - the Goddess of the Cauldron. Three that are the Queens of the Elements - fire belonging alone to
Man, and the Blacksmith God. Four that are Queens of the Wind Gods. "The Jewish orthodoxy believe that whomever knows the Holy and Unspeakable name of
God has absolute power over the world of form. Very briefly, the name of God spoken as Tetragrammaton ... breaks down in Hebrew to the letters YHVH, or the
Adam Kadmon (The Heavenly Man). Adam Kadmon is a composite of all Archangels - in other words a poetic statement of the names of the Elements. "So what
the Jew and the Witch believe alike, is that the man who discovers the secret of the Elements controls the physical world. 1734 is the witch way of saying YHVH."
Cochrane was a big fan of riddles
, and sent letters containing them to those that wished to learn. Apparently, each group, while sharing information
with other groups, may well have solved them in their own way, making for a variety
of beliefs espoused by those who call themselves 1734 and no central authority. Instead of facts, Cochrane preferred poetry and folksongs, and instead of strict dogma
he preferred inspired research
. While this tradition has no common Book of Shadows
, the letters from Cochrane are considered to serve the same purpose. It is considered important that the student arrive at answers to the questions by themselves, in a sort of Socratic
Covens in this group tend to require at least a year and a day as well as a good deal of study before initiation. They also tend to have a degree system, similar to other traditions of British origin. Unlike slightly older traditions emphasizing ritual, practitioners rely heavily on meditation and vision, giving this tradition some shamanic overtones that started with Cochrane. They also feature a form of channeling called Aspecting. In this tradition, the coven is considered a family, and high ethical standards are of paramount importance.
On the summer solstice
in 1966, Cochrane died of a drug overdose
. Some believe he did this to be an actual, rather than symbolic, male ritual sacrifice
. Modern 1734 members claim that there is no use of hallucinogens
as an aid to vision
For more information, check out the Covenant of the Goddess
page at http://www.cog.org/wicca/trads/1734.html
or the official 1734 page at http://1734.net/