egregore is derived from a Greek word meaning "to be aware of" or
"to watch over". An egregore is commonly understood to be magical
entity purposefully created by a group or order as an
encapsulation of the group's collective aspirations and ideals.
One such example is the entity GOTOS, created by the adepts of the
Fraternitas Saturni. Stephen E.
Flowers, in "Fire & Ice" (Llewellyn Publications, 1994) describes
the function of GOTOS as:
"Through the experience of the GOTOS the Saturnian Brother or
Sister is able to feel directly the qualities of personality that
he or she is expected to develop as an initiate of the FS:
compassionless love, willpower, resolution, severity (with him- or
herself and others). These are developed in order to create the
conditions for higher spiritual development through mastery of
oneself and the environment. In other words, these are the
characteristics of the Saturnian magician."
Flowers goes on to relate how certain initiates within the FS were
able to gain 'astral visions' of the humanoid appearance of the
GOTOS, and that it's image was subsequently cast in bronze.
According to Flowers, all members of the FS at one time possessed
a bust of the GOTOS in their private sanctuaries. From what
Flowers relates concerning the relationship between the FS and the
GOTOS, it appears to have been utilised as a source of 'psychic
power' - tapped into through both lodge and individual work as a
source of fortitude and resolve, and a guide in the collective
developmental aspirations of the FS.
Flowers notes the similarity between the concept of the GOTOS and
the Golden Dawn's use of "Secret Chiefs". However, there are some
major differences which help define the nature of an egregore. In
esoteric movements such as the Golden Dawn or the Theosophical
Society, the Secret Chiefs or Inner-Plane Adepts were remote
figures, accessible only to the leaders of the organisations,
who's 'ability' to make contact with them became a source of
legitimisation for their mundane authority in those bodies. From
what Flowers tells us, access to the GOTOS in the FS appears not
to have been restricted. Further, whilst the Secret Chiefs/Inner
Plane Adepts appear to have only been vaguely defined (by those
who claimed contact with them), the persona of the GOTOS of the FS
appears to be very clearly defined.
Another aspect of the egregore is the notion of direct
communication nowadays known as 'channelling', and much-practised
by the white-light magical orders and so-called Spiritualists.
With a few notable exceptions, the quality of the majority of
channelled communications from supposedly 'higher beings' is low
in the extreme. From Flowers' description of the GOTOS, it seems
unlikely that the FS were concerned with attempting to gain verbal
'guidance' from their egregore. Rather, the GOTOS functioned as a
'mask of the void' - a projection of "future otherness" which
could be used as a focus for personal, and group development.
Given that the GOTOS provided an archetypal guide for the
development of FS initiates in becoming "Saturnian Magicians", it
would seem to be more appropriate to examine such egregores in the
light of modern conceptions of the Holy Guardian Angel or Augoides.
Further examples of this type of entity include the Typhonian-Thelemic
entity LAM, the antinomian Nyarlathotep in the Cthulhu Mythos, and
possibly Odhinn in the guise of master magician. Such entities
reflect the aspiration of the magician to become "other". Such
entities can be considered ?gateways' through which the magician
prepares himself to move into a particular state of consciousness.
By this I do not refer to those ethereal ?higher' states so often
associated with magical development. Rather, this is a lengthy
process of expressing the state of consciousness typified by a
particular ?gateway' through aligning one's Behavioural/Emotional/Cognitive
patterns in a consistent manner. Since most ?gateway' entities are
multi-faceted in the extreme, this is not a restrictive work, but
nor, by the same token, is it everyone's choice.
The practice, as related by Flowers, of FS initiates having their
own personal representation of the GOTOS, in addition to it's role
in lodge workings, reflects another common practice of working
with so-called 'aspirational entities. This practice is common in
degenerative western manifestations (such as Spiritualism) where
individuals seek 'messages' from well-known guides. In oriental
religions it is common for disciples to maintain a shrine to a
particular guru, in reverence of their influence. In tantrism, it
is similarly common for adherents to maintain a shrine to a
guru-entity such as Shiva or Dattatreya, however, the focus here,
is to aspire to the condition of freedom and attainment that the
figure represents, rather than mere worship or obeisance.
Dattatreya, for example, is seen as the 'legendary' founder of
many tantric clans, and as such, embodies the aspirations of those
who come after him. The tantric practitioner is thus aspiring to
the mastery of Dattatreya, rather than simply revering him as
occurs in the Bhakti cults.
It should be understood that, in these terms, it is the qualities
embodied by an egregore that is important, rather than making
contact with it in order to seek 'hidden wisdom' or the
legitimisation of one's own 'spiritual' authority. Further, it
seems from the exposition of the GOTOS as given by Stephen Flowers
that the egregore is distinctly created to act as such a focus and
then subsequently utilised by the members of the group or order
whose ideals the egregore reflects.
Thus the egregore becomes a focus for what in known in the Chaos
school as "Ego Magic" - the work of integrating and transforming
the facets of the personality, in accord with a particular set of
aims. In the case of the FS; to become embodiments of the
qualities of the "Saturnian Magician".
Ego Magic is an area of magical work which is often ignored,
possibly due to the fact that it is somewhat unglamorous, having
few of the trappings of ritual magic for example, and possibly due
to it's nature. It is easier, after all, to convince oneself of
one's magical prowess, yet ignore glaring deficiencies such as low
self-esteem, or lack of confidence when dealing with that most
tortuous of magical ?planes' - the everyday world.
Self-examination is often painful, yet the challenge of magic is
constant self-awareness and vigilance.
The use of an Egregore as a focus for individual work can be
extremely useful, since the egregore is a focus for a particular
set of attributes and may be worked with as a kind of
?shadow-self'; a perspective through which one experiences the
world during specific periods, rather than in the limited space of
an invocatory working. Thus the magician draws upon the power of
the egregore by seeking to express those qualities which it
encapsulates, in appropriate circumstances.
According to Cabalistic doctrine a Group Egregore must be
carefully managed. If the qualities which the egregore is stated
to embody are not made clearly explicit, the egregore is in danger
of attracting to itself the 'lower' emotions and negativity which
abound in a group or order, becoming eventually, little more than
an 'astral shell' without a coherent persona, thus reflecting and
reinforcing the uncontrolled emotions and conflicting desires of
those who work with it. Very much a case of "Garbage in - Garbage
There is, I feel, more than a grain of truth in this view. The
creation, implementation, and subsequent work with any
higher-order entity requires a good deal of discipline and a
structured approach to work. Common occult doctrine holds that any
created entity can become uncontrolled and 'malignant' over time,
and experience has shown that this can certainly be the case with
servitors and tulpas. Caution is thus all the more important with
a created entity designed to embody common ideal qualities which a
group can collectively and individually aspire towards.
That a vision may empower both individuals' own work and the
collective development of an organisation appears to be
well-understood by modern corporate consultants:
"Leaders articulate and define what has previously remained
implicit or unsaid; then they invent images, metaphors and models
that provide a focus for new attention. By so doing they
consolidate or challenge prevailing wisdom. In short, an essential
factor in leadership is the capacity to influence and organise
meaning for the members of the organisation. .... [The subjects in
our study] viewed themselves as leaders, not managers. This is to
say that they concerned themselves with their organisations' basic
purposes and general direction. ... Their visions or intentions
were compelling, and pulled people towards them. Intensity coupled
with commitment is magnetic. And these intense personalities did
not have to coerce people to pay attention; they are so intent on
what they are doing that, like a child completely absorbed in
creating a sandcastle in a sandbox, they draw others in."
Warren Bennis & Burt Nanus, Leaders.
Tom Peters, author of Thriving on Chaos points out that to be
effective, visions must be consistently projected and expressed
appropriately by those in positions of leadership. This, he says,
is more effective than any amount of 'Grand Declarations', which,
without being expressed consistently, amount to little more than
rhetoric. Peters warns corporate managers of the trap that all too
many magical orders seem to have fallen into - that it is all too
easy for even the most compelling vision to become static, so that
it impedes the very changes that it was first meant to induce. It
does seem that, increasingly, managers are becoming aware of the
effect of providing an inspiring vision, the core values of which
manifest, and are accessible in a number of ways, to both workers
The creation of a group egregore is the work of those adepts who
have clearly defined and expressed the collective aims and ideals
of the group. The Wiccan admonition to "keep pure your highest
ideals" is certainly relevant here. This in itself is fraught with
difficult in this post-modern era where world-weary cynicism
abounds, yet to be able to maintain one's ideals against the
inertia, ridicule and narrow vision of the majority of the
population is the mark of the true adept.