Since the Magical Order of the Aurora Aurea decided to leave the Golden Dawn, there has been some somewhat strange comments about egregores including one very confused comment from one clearly uninformed “chief of an order.” Ironically there was been one comment from a chap who has spent a long time claiming I was not Golden Dawn for years, suddenly insisting I was because I did the same rituals as him. It is nice to be wanted, I guess!
Since I learnt about egoregore early on in my training it never occurred to me that people did not really understand how they worked, so I thought I better explain. If anything it will make why we have walked away from the GD egregore clearer.
An egregore is a spirit, similar to the Roman concept of a Lare in that it forms spontaneously and appears to have a personality. It is formed when a group is started and in psychological terms is called a “group mind.” In my book Gathering the Magic I said that this egregore is made up of the sum total of aspirations, beliefs of all group members past and present. In psychological terms they refer to it as a ‘group mentality’ however they stop short of describing it as an individual, although some like British psychoanalyst Wilfred Ruprecht Bion from the Tavistock Clinic who pioneered some work on the ‘group mentality’ have found them themselves reluctantly labelling it as an entity.
Among his therapy group Bion found this entity could behave like primitive human with the entire attendant drives. For example, if the group was attacked they would all behave in a ‘flight or fight’ reaction against the external foe. This is all standard stuff. It could be seen a rowing club or a drama club. Bion noted that an egregore personified the ‘basic assumption of the group’, which if the person fought against a ‘group undertow’ would drag them in another direction. If they don’t go with the flow then the group will enact a fight or flight reaction against them. Again, this is something that an unscrupulous leader will use. If a second in command can present enough of a case to the group that the leader should be removed, they will work quickly to expel him on the flimsiest of evidence extremely quickly. This can happen intentionally, but sometimes it happens that the second in command gets swept along with the group mind if they find that their leader has been misbehaving. In the Golden Dawn revolt of 1901, Florence Farr and William Yeats, who until then had been identified as friends of Samuel Mathers, found themselves with the rest of the mob holding the pitchforks and torches.
|The Golden Dawn suffers from some major parasites.
Magical groups, because of their dependence on imagination and astral images develop an unusual form of particularly powerful egregore. It can actually assist them reach higher states and do more than an individual could manage. A group egregore is powered up every time a rite is performed and the longer and more often a group meets the more powerful it becomes until it has the power to do lots of interesting things some good, some bad.
On the plus side it means that all the magic you do, whether you are with the others or not, suddenly develops a special power. It is like you are tapping into a reservoir of energy that you never had as a solo magician. I had been carrying out a Golden Dawn ritual called the Ritual of the Pentagram to clear out any lower astral nasties from a room for years before joining a Golden Dawn group. But somehow, upon joining the old dusty rite developed a brand new sparkle; it was easier to visualise and the room felt completely different afterward.
On the negative side you can fall foul of a group egregore if you don’t toe the group line on everything. You can wake up one morning with a different view of the world, go to your group working as normal and find that you just do not get on with any one any more. After a while it becomes clear that you are not welcome and you have to leave.
There after the people in the same group that you have known and loved will shun you and speak your name in whispers. Nothing particularly bad, although you might have the distinct opinion that if they had the choice they would beat you with sticks and shove your head down a toilet. This is because your sudden change of viewpoint goes against the mindset of the egregore.
Each group has an egoregore and it is part of a larger one for an Order. There is often a larger one which represents the tradition (in our case the Rosicrucian tradition). When a group is formed its leaders and teachers attempt to form a link with first the tradition and then a contact which agrees to work with them. This link is then attached to the egoregore. In the Golden Dawn this egregore is powered by the Second Order.
Over the years egregores will become corrupted. Some of their members, or chiefs might let the side down. Or a politically motivated person might try to take over the group. They can also attract astral parasites, which are the astral wildlife which feed off intense generation of energy and emotion. The Golden Dawn had several methods to spring clean every year (the equinox ritual and the use of the HRU and HUA).
While a group is active it is fairly easy to see how it all works. The difficultly comes when a group breaks up or becomes inactive as was the case with the Golden Dawn. Generally an egregore remains dormant on the astral and will become activated again when people start to identify with it.
Despite what many might think, working with another group’s egregore is easy. It is a matter entirely of identification. If you think your group is connected to the Golden Dawn, or Gerald Gardner or Alistair Crowley it is. It might not be rational, egregores are not intelligent. If you say you are a Golden Dawn order you are – even if there is a lot of evidence that you are actually a four kids with a copy of Regardie. This issue of identification is more important than things like rituals. Rituals might help you focus on an egregore but they are not needed for the egregore. External identification is also important. How outsiders see your group will help define it because an egregore is built by thought, and thought can change it. It is for this reason that the Golden Dawn oath prohibited the disclosure of the name of the temple. It is also the reason why, after the Horos Trial the Golden Dawn changed its name. Suddenly its egregore could be modified by the great unwashed.
|Felkin pulled his Order out of the GD and the SM egregore
When we started the Magical Order of the Aurora Aurea we were firmly connected to the Golden Dawn egregore by our own identification. It was because we saw ourselves as working within the Golden Dawn tradition. This was particularly important when I was the only member of the Second Order. But what we found was that the egregore of the Golden Dawn was ultra-conservative. If we bought about a logical change, the egregore kicked and screamed – after all it had more than 100 years defending itself against too much change. Identifying too much with the Golden Dawn egregore opened us up to all the pathology of a 120 year old order which had not cleaned itself up enough.
However connection to the Golden Dawn egregore was optional. There had been several cases even within the GD history where leaders had NOT connected to the GD egregore. Dr Felkin disconnected his Stella Matutina from the GD egregore and later disconnected his Smaragdum Thallasses from the SM. Paul Foster Case pulled his order from the AO egregore and Waite did it several times.
The way they did it was by reconnecting their new order to an impulse behind it. They also proceeded to identify themselves with the new current rather than the old one. This meant purging the old name from the rituals and course material and (often) changing godforms, moving the inner locations of the temples and of course using a different name.
The claim that the rituals are important to the Golden Dawn egregore is pretty bogus. The rituals were written by someone who was never in the order, after being reworked by someone who was never initiated into it. They have been used by a wide range of different orders who have clearly different egregores – BOTA, Stella Matutina, Waite’s Holy Order, Whare Ra, HOGD, AO, and Hidden Light.
|The Whare Ra vault based on different designs
What this allowed was for changes to come in which would not be contested by the egregore and means that you do not have to deal with the sins of the past, or its old chiefs or the old parasites.
For us, this desire to change seemed to arrive with the creation of our Second Order – which powers the first. Initiations started to take on a different favour and power of their own. Much of this came as an experience of the 5=6 and approach which was different from the original order. This flowed into the outer order where the Golden Dawn egregore came up to bite it. It is obviously better to spend a few months rewiring that egregore into something new, than it is to keep fighting it.
As a side note I am also disappointed that the GD safeguards to clean up its egregore clearly do not work. HRU and HUA appear to be too obscure (and unknown) to help. It might be because we have lot any teaching to do with these figures.