- Religion and Philosophy
What is an egregore?
An egregore, or egregor, is a metaphysical term for a sort of group consciousness, like a Zeitgeist, or an archetype. It derives from the Hebrew word for "angel" and also for "city",and it has enjoyed many misadventures on its way to English. Like a servitor entity, an egregore is created - whether intentionally or otherwise - by people. But unlike a servitor, an egregore is shared by more than one person, and its power increases as it is invoked.
Modern group structures, like nations, corporations and websites, have their own egregores. They are invented thoughtforms, like conscious morphic fields, that are repeatedly invested in and invoked by the members of a group. Often the symbolism of that group is spread to others, and this strengthens the egregore as more people encounter it, develop awareness of recognition of it, and may eventually join the group and reinforce the egregore themselves. Corporations are very big on "branding", getting their logos out there and increasing public awareness of their company or products. This is even the case when a corporation like McDonalds is already widely-known, and they hardly expect anyone to suddenly discover them through their advertising. The marketing explanation seems to be that reinforcing the brand image in the minds of consumers as a dominant, almost omnipresent force, increases the likelihood that they will buy from that company in the future through familiarity alone. The metaphysical explanation is that companies, whether they know it or not, are promoting their corporate egregore by putting its identifying sigils and symbols out where a lot of people will encounter them. They also use product placement in television shows and movies to accomplish the same purpose, and the metaphysical explanation for them is the same. Nations have flags, songs and customs, social scenes have their own music, clothing style, "look" and trends, and even churches have their own ritualism. All of these feed into an egregore, like a magickal group ritual repeated many times.
Egregores often start as an intentional act of creating a servitor entity for someone's personal use. If others begin to work with the servitor, it can gather momentum - much like a kind of intelligent morphic field - and sentience, and start to act upon its own. As a sentient being sustained by the choices of others, it can find better ways to accomplish the agenda for which it was created. As its influence expands, it can take on bigger goals to accomplish its agenda in more powerful ways. Fotamecus, for example, was initially created to compress and expand time, but once his sigil was posted on the internet and more people began to work with him, he became much more powerful and began to take on Time itself.
Occasionally, egregores can be created unintentionally, by a strong desire or strong unformed tide of emotion, or even by a corporate marketing campaign. A lot of people working to accomplish a goal, or even a societal desire or need that isn't often expressed but resides just beneath the surface, will form egregores as well. If enough people want something enough, it will take on a life all its own, as they say. They're like a kind of Greco-Roman deity, a metaphysical entity created with a particular theme or purpose, whether this creation is focussed and intentionally established or not. When a website, for example, soars in popularity and renown, its egregore has gotten quite powerful. As sentient beings created by a collaborative choice, egregores can be considered "team spirit", in a very literal sense.
Egregores can often tie into each other, interacting. For example, HubPages' egregore would be under the dominion of the internet's own egregore - which demonstrated its significant power as far back as 1999.
Sometimes, servitors can become egregores if they're worked with enough, by enough people. As they grow, their power and their agendas expand, particularly as they get more input from those who work with them. Egregores get a certain sense of what's desired by those who work with them, and increasingly act upon more fundamental motivations than they may have been designed with. It's wonderful to think that as many people encounter an egregore, it gets an increased sense of where it should be in the grand scheme of things - for example, my experience leads me to think that what the egregore Fotamecus is actually after isn't so much to dissolve the confines of Time, but rather to loosen the binding chains of Causality itself - that "law" or perception that Event A causes Event B, which in turn causes Event C. Looking at Creation from a spiritual perspective, Love causes all things... and what wasn't caused by Love was never truly created in the first place, but rather just a joyless illusion. This is the only way to reconcile belief in an omnipotent, Loving, Perfect Creator with the world we see around us.
Egregores often start as an intentional act of creating a servitor entity for someone's personal use. If others begin to work with the servitor, it can gather momentum - much like a kind of intelligent morphic field - and sentience, and start to act upon its own.
Ghouls gone wild
When an egregore gets powerful enough, it often becomes difficult for its creator to control it anymore. Like any teenager, it's now old enough to accomplish its agenda as and how it sees fit. If the goals of an egregore were initially less than benevolent, it can easily go off the rails and become a very powerful force for a negative or selfish agenda in the world. The timeline is rife with this sort of thing happening, all over the world. From the cliched villains on Saturday morning cartoons making Faustian pacts with stronger, malign entities who eventually snack upon them, to Tibettan folklore of tulpas (living thoughtforms made real by holy men) going sinister and out of control, to Japanese mythology about kami (sentient nature spirits) who are worshipped inadequately or not at all cursing people and going violent and destructive, to Hebrew folklore about priests making golems who later went berserk. Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, the first science-fiction novel ever, and in the 60's and 70's when computers were just emerging we had all sorts of computers and robots getting out of hand. Even The Simpsons had giant corporate mascots becoming animate, sentient and destructive in "Attack of the 50-Foot Eyesores". With computers becoming so commonplace and accepted, we seldom have stories like this today - we just live out that kind of science fiction on a daily basis with oppressive corporate and nationalistic agendas that nobody can seem to put a stop to. Society itself has become a powerful, strongheaded egregore, just like Frankenstein's creation. If only we hadn't used an abnormal brain.
A few small repairs
And that's just it, isn't it. An egregore is principally defined, individually at least, by the agenda it was given. The agenda was set by its creator, and when people work with it to accomplish that agenda, they're sharing in the choice that gives it its purpose. But the agenda and the choice is only as well-made as the person who made it in the first place. Let's face it, if someone designs an egregore and they're mentally incompetent, shortsighted, or just doing it unintentionally because they're extremely angry, it's not going to be pretty. We all encounter frustrations in our lives on an ongoing basis. When we share in that, and harbor vengeful feelings, what kind of an egregore are we creating together?
Egregores like notoriety. Of course they do. They enjoy it for the same reason that celebrities enjoy publicity - if they don't stay in the public eye, they fade away. They're fueled by our dreams, our hopes, our wishes and our desires. But in order to remain worthwhile and relevant, in order to gain positive notoriety and not behave destructively, they must pursue a benevolent agenda and they must do it benevolently. Because their agenda is created by someone who may not have thought it through all the way, the agenda that it pursues may be very goal-oriented and short-sighted. It may need some fine-tuning, to redefine its agenda in a way that is more in harmony with greater overall agendas.
In Marbles & Matchsticks, I outlined a map of superior states of Creation and of consciousness. The closer one is to a True State of Creation, the more leverage one has against lesser positionalities, because those lesser positionalities have less Creative force behind them - they're less real. This kind of High Magick seems to be the only effective approach to a situation like this, because the kind of leverage that kind of position affords can provide enough clout to overhaul the agendas of powerful but potentially miscast entities like destructive egregores. By reassessing the basic agenda and motives of an egregore from a superior state of consciousness, one can redefine it in a healthier, more positive way. This basic Light-dispelling-Darkness motif is prevalent throughout the cultural mythology of the world, and this kind of "egregore career counseling" is a peaceful approach that does not create friction because it is nonaggressive. And if for some reason the egregore should decide to resist or reject this "tuning up", one can take solace in the fact that a lower positionality (as described in Marbles & Matchsticks) necessarily results in a greater authority to leash the egregore once more, bringing it under more constructive control.
The implications of this are absolutely staggering. We know that egregores are not just created intentionally by occult practitioners, but that they also exist in large corporate and political agendas; indeed, nationalism itself has all the hallmarks of egregorehood. From a superior state of consciousness founded in Love, one can address, interact with, counsel, and if necessary bind entire corporations and nations as spirit-based entities. This is not new information.
"...[b]oth the ancient Romans, and quite recently the Chinese, have recognized the existence of guardian spirits set over cities. Indeed, one author reports as follows on the occult war waged on enemy cities by ancient Rome: `The Romans, when besieging a city, made a habit of carefully enquiring the name of the city and of its guardian spirit. When they knew these, they would summon the guardian spirit of the city and its inhabitants, and conquer it.'"
- Willy Schrodter, from: Commentaries on The Occult Philosophy of Agrippa
But it certainly demonstrates the power of egregores, and why magickal societies were so hush-hush about them in the early 1900s. That was before the internet was introduced and people learned that "security through obscurity" was a strategy that didn't work. With enough Love, one can bind the spirits of of corporations and entire countries to a constructive, Love-based agenda. Like anything else, it is unremarkable or inadvisable if it is not approached with Love - but approached with Love, any sufficiently competent occult practitioner could improve the world in staggering ways.
A mage attempting to realign an egregore with more fundamental values will have a much easier time of it than the Romans did. After all, the mage isn't attempting to "take over" or bind the egregore - it isn't a battle of Wills, and presumably the mage doesn't truly want control over the egregore. Rather, what the mage wants is to correct the aberrant approach of the egregore, getting down to the basics of what the egregore's purpose and nature is to a more refined degree. It's somewhat like a software patch, a purification, or assistance with self-actualization. Like an exorcism, the power of the mage to do this doesn't come from the mage alone, but from what the law refers to as "derivation of authority". In attempting to harmonize the egregore with more powerful Divine laws of Creation, one is working from a derivation of authority of Divine Love, like a priest exorcising in the name of a higher power. But unlike an exorcism, the mage is working in the interests of the egregore itself, to allow it to fulfil its potential in a more efficient and effective way. This means that there is no inherent conflict of interest between the mage and the egregore - although the egregore is of course free to disagree. Disagreement, however does not change the fact that the mage's motivation gives them a superior derivation of authority over the egregore, no matter how powerful that egregore otherwise is. This is simply due to the nature of Creation.
In its True State, everything is Perfect. It is only when something rejects an alignment with Love that it appears to mutate into something repulsive and warped. What the mage is seeking to do in realigning an egregore is merely to dispel this warped illusion through an agenda of Love, supplying the Love that was missing in the egregore's agenda, and applying a little spiritual insight and creativity to redefine the egregore's nature and agenda as something that is more in accordance with Divine Will, and its own True Nature. This apparent "change" is only a "change" on a manifest level - what the mage is seeking is to self-actualize the egregore, unlocking what the egregore's True Nature - or something much closer to it - is and always was. The mage is striving to better align the egregore more fully with its own inherent belevolent Purpose, whatever the mage who initially created it envisioned its Purpose to be. The Purpose should ideally be as close as possible to the egregore's predefined Purpose, and altered only inasmuch as its new Purpose is better aligned with Love. After all, just like a good parent the mage's goal isn't to tell the egregore what to be, but rather to enable it to live a healthy, functional, satisfying existence.
Propagating egregores typically involves spreading its sigil publicly, to increase its power. Some occult practitioners have found that spreading awareness and recognition of an egregore or servitor entity by spreading its sigil and description through the internet, or simply advertising its sigil offline, to be enormously powerful, but I'd like to propose a slightly more novel approach.
Basically, what's in a name? A rose is a rose, after all. If an egregore is to embody a certain approach, objective, purpose or agenda, surely it can be referenced by that agenda, rather than by its' name or sigil. Suppose, for example, you wanted to create an egregore whose purpose was to embody and enhance manifestations of benevolence in the world, and in people's lives. (This is admittedly high, spiritually-based magick, rather than low magick, but it's what I generally practice anyway.) So rather than promote your egregore by placing sigils around your neighborhood and the internet, you would promote it by making choices that were in accordance with benevolence. Egregores are collective choice, after all. How better to contribute to it? By making spiritually powerful choices, one can invest in great amounts of metaphysical strength, and use that potency to strengthen an egregore. Writing internet articles is a great way to propagate anything truly worthwhile, and combining it with an agenda of benevolence is very easy to do - in fact it's what I've been doing. Every act of Love or benevolence strengthens every other act of it, and it is my hope that the "spirit" of benevolence and Love will grow more powerful in its effects upon us all.