The Nature of the Egregore
Editor’s Note: This article was composed and published in December 2006, when Michael Jackson was alive and well. There was and there is no disrespect intended with use of his name here.
Standard Definition of Egregore
Wikipedia currently defines egregores thusly: “Essentially, an egregore is the ‘spirit of a thing,’ usually a human group or organization, shared by the members of the group, for whom it provides guidelines concerning principles, beliefs, and goals. Companies, religions, states, and clubs all can be said to have egregores. An example of the presence of an egregore could be when ‘a project takes on a life of its own.'”1 In my twelve years of working with spirits, I have observed the phenomenon of egregores to go considerably further than this.
An egregore, based on my observation, is not in itself a being (in the strictest sense), but the living source of energy from which a being draws its life. Think of it as a vast “energy cloud” encompassing the collective view of the subject. The word egregore has its roots in the Greek egregoros which translates to vigil, thus giving “egregore” the sense of “watcher.”2 I consider an egregore capable of sustaining an infinite number of manifestations simultaneously, as needed by the collective. For example, hundreds of people, perhaps thousands, report seeing or talking to the Archangel Raphael at overlapping times. This is most apparent in occult circles by those who take view of a personal relationship with the archangel through rituals such as the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP). Not only is it possible for the egregore of Archangel Raphael to manifest thousands of Raphaels at once, it is also possible for each manifestation to be what the individual finds most useful or necessary (not necessarily by choice, but rather by need). Meridjet (my spirit companion; you can read more about him in this month’s Into The Aethyr) calls this “refraction.” Think of a faceted crystal hanging in a window. Sunlight hits the crystal and sends hundreds of multicolored rays of light into the room. Raphael would be the the light, the egregore would be the crystal, and each of the manifestations of Raphael would be a ray of light refracting from the crystal.
Thought Over Matter
The strength and the life of an egregore (and therefore the lives of its manifestations) depends upon the strength of the energy it is fed. Magical energy takes many forms: emotion, attraction, repulsion, magnetism, inspiration, and others. These may be kinetic or potential,3 created by the chemical reactions within the cells of the body or brain, or something altogether else. The point is that thought can affect matter4 (witness the placebo effect, among others). Firewalking is a case in point. I attended a weekend workshop in firewalking in 1995. After a few exercises in which each of us demonstrated (to ourselves more than to the other attendees, I think) that our intent held the power of success, we spread the coals and began the main event of the evening. The first time I witnessed someone walk the coals, I literally swooned with the power of it. The key, we were taught, was to focus on the far “shore” of the “lake” of red-hot coals (a healthy 15 feet, or nearly 5 meters, away) and visualize a goal there. Choose something that means a great deal to you, a goal or accomplishment that you are determined to win. Then, focused on this goal, you walk barefoot across the coals to symbolically win the prize. I walked three times that night, and I can tell you that focus made all the difference. After walking twice and thinking there was nothing to it, I made the mistake of walking across without focusing — and I got burned. I went home and soaked my feet in a tub of ice water, having broken out into a few blisters that even then were oddly painless and essentially gone by morning. My attention on the goal wavered — and that was enough to change the outcome of the walk completely.
Attention is a very common and yet quite powerful form of magical energy. The egregore of something like Microsoft is not dependent only upon the people who make up the Microsoft employee base, but also upon the perspectives of those viewing from outside. This is an important point, as it is the reputation of the thing viewed that colors the manifestation for the individual doing the viewing.
Empathic Awareness of Energy Signatures
Contact with an egregore is primarily kinesthetic (at least initially). It’s a sort of deeply empathic understanding of the nature of a thing based purely on the feelings it inspires when one is in contact with it. (This also works on a smaller scale with one-on-one encounters with people.) Via the contact itself, one is able to instinctively or intuitively understand the essence of the contactee.
When you think of Microsoft, again, you are likely to think of a software giant who fights aggressively over its self-perceived turf in the software industry. Whether you see this to be negative or positive is purely a personal choice, but the feeling of Microsoft is large, looming, and watchful, aggressive and perhaps intimidating. If you were given this feeling alone in a metaphysical taste test game, there’s not much chance you’d mistake it for the much smaller and “softer” egregore of Quilted Northern bath tissue. This intuitive understanding is at the heart of all interaction with egregores, and indeed, at the heart of most interaction with any sort of spiritual being, whether that being is natural or manmade.
While it is true that an egregore can attach to anything from a nation (consider the current worldview of the United States, for example) to a small group project (such as a Wiccan coven), it is my observation that egregores are also attached to individuals of any degree of renown. This is because the individual is still the focal point of a collective view, of a large and even massive group of people. Consider, if you will, the different impressions you feel, intuitively, when you think of Queen Elizabeth versus Madonna, or the difference between Angelina Jolie and Oprah. Not much mistaking any of them for the other in our blind taste test, either.
Egregore Overpowers Original Source
The public view feeds the celebrity, which creates the egregore. The egregore then feeds the public view, as well as the fame of the individual, enlarging the circle of renown. The resultant increase in celebrity stimulates more attention, so the new public view sustains the egregore. This circle of sustenance builds until the egregore begins to feed on itself or recede for something brighter and shinier. We can feel when it starts to wane. We can feel when the egregore shifts, usually due to a gradual yet contagious shift in the public view — yet often the individual manages to do something of such power that they initiate a huge shift nearly overnight, essentially “poisoning” their own egregore and leading to their fall from public grace.
Michael Jackson is one clear example of an alleged self-poisoning, leading to an egregore feeding upon itself as the perspective of the collective public changes. In the 1980s, Michael Jackson was nothing short of a pop god, going so far as to name himself “the Prince of Pop.” His popularity seemed to know no bounds, despite speculation regarding his constantly-changing appearance. Then he was accused of child molestation, and his popularity took a nosedive. This affected Michael on a personal level, and changed the flavor of his own reaction. (This is an important point, but there’s no room to cover that right now.) Despite his efforts to return public opinion to his favor, the changed egregore (the energy supplied to Michael’s fame and reputation) proved stronger than his own personal power and intent. What he saw as his power was truly the power of the collective attention of the world, and when that soured, it was essentially curtains for Mike. What was once a huge wave of admiration for the star became a nightmare of equal proportion. This is the power of the egregore.
Magical Uses of the Egregore
The usual attraction of the egregore for the occultist or magician is one of invocation and archetypal influence. While the available archetypes in standard symbol sets may be limited, there is usually a media-based character that a magician can use to his or her benefit. If, for example, a magician wanted to see a person receive their comeuppance, he or she could invoke the energy of Bugs Bunny (a trickster who always managed to lure the enemy into sabotaging himself), and watch the person stumble themselves into their own just rewards. Invocation of an egregore allows one to personalize and even humanize the work one is doing and the results one would like to gain.
Another way that I see egregores used in magick and occult application is via the phenomenon of SoulBonding5. A “SoulBond” is a (generally fictitious and often popularly known) character that manifests to an individual as a spirit. This spirit is classified as outsourced, (created in canon by a writer and used in a manuscript, film, video game, or the like), or insourced (an original, self-created character, often used in one’s own story-writing). The latter is more along the lines of a servitor and so is not topical to this article. Many SoulBonders believe that their SoulBonds actually originate in an alternate or parallel reality and that the canon author tapped into their reality and wrote their story via channel. For example, this idea has surrounded J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy for decades, and now has spread to become a rather common phenomenon, particularly in the online occult community. While I certainly do not discount individual paradigms and I acknowledge that anything is possible, it’s my belief that a majority (if not all) of SoulBonds are essentially manifestations of the character’s egregore that grew in the mind of the individual until the character took on independence and a personality that is both true to the original and individual to that manifestation. This is another example of refraction as described earlier in this article. In my opinion, this is what allows umpteen people to all SoulBond Sephiroth from Final Fantasy, for example, though most SoulBonders will say that the multiverse (i.e. infinite universes are home to infinite Sephiroths) is responsible for this.
The potential use of the egregore is enormous and all magicians should gain understanding of that potential. If magicians could egregore-shift the way chaos magicians paradigm-shift, then our use and manipulation of energy via the juggling of egregores could result in a great shift in awareness of not only our psyches but also the nature of the subtle planes and how beings on those levels behave and interact with humans on our plane of existence.
- Wikipedia. Retrieved November 2006
- The History of Magic by Eliphas Levi, translated by A. E. Waite. Originally published in 1913 by Rider; republished in 1999 by Weiser Books, Inc. This particular reference is the first footnote on page 40 of the Weiser edition.
©2006 Sheta Kaey.
Sheta Kaey is a lifelong occultist and longtime spirit worker, as well as Editor in Chief of Rending the Veil. She counsels others with regard to spirit contact and astral work. You can read her blog here.