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Notes on the role of the historical Egregore in modern Magic

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Subject: Notes on the role of the historical Egregore in modern Magic
by Fra.: U.D.

    It is quite easy to poke fun at the historical claims of most
magical and mystical orders, especially when they purport to have
derived from "very ancient", possible even "Atlantean" or, to top it
all, "pre-Atlantean" brotherhoods for whose existence even the most
sypathetic historical scholar worth his name would be very hard pressed
to find any significant proof. Actually, it is rather a cheap joke to
cite, for example, AMORC`s claims that even good old Socrates or Ramses
II (of all people!) were "Rosicrucians". However, the trouble only
starts when adepts mistake these contentions for _literal_ truths.
"Literal", of course, derives from literacy and the letters of the
alphabet. And, as Marshall MacLuhan has justly in his "Understanding
Media" and perhaps even more so in "The Gutenberg Galaxy", western
civilisation has a very strong tendency towards _linear_ thinking, very
probably due to - at least in part - the linear or non-pictographic
nature of our alphabet. The very structure of this alphabet informs us
at quite a tender age to think in terms of linear logics such as cause
and effect, or, more intersetingly in our context, PAST-PRESENT-FUTURE.
This is not at all a "natural necessity" as most people are wont to
think, for the ideographic or pictographic "alphabets" as used for
example in ancient Egypt or even modern China and Japan tend to bias the
correspondingly acculturalised mind towards what MacLuhan terms "iconic
thinking" - a perception of holistic factors rather than the
systematisation into seperate (preferably indivisible) single units.
Western thought has formulated this problem as the dichtonomy of the
_analytic_ and the _synthetic_ approach. But it is perhaps no
coincidence that our contemporary culture tends to associate "synthetic"
with "artificial" , vide modern chemistry.

    Now magical and mystical thinking is quite different; in fact it is
not half as interested in causality as is linear thought. Rather, it
strives to give us an overalll, holistic view of processes within our
perceived space-time continuum; an overall view which includes the
psychology of the observer to a far stronger degree than even modern
physics seems to have achieved in spite of Heisenberg`s uncertainity
principle and Einstein`s earlier theory of relativity. In other words,
mythological thinking is not so much about literal ("alphabetic"?) truth
but rather about the "feel" of things. For example, a shaman may claim
that the current rain is due to the rain goddess weeping because of some
sad event. He might predict that her phase of mourning will be over in
two days` time and that the deluge will then end. A Western
meteorologist might possibly come to similar prognoses, but he will of
course indignantly deny using any of "this mystic stuff" in the process.
His rain godess takes the form of barometric pressure, wind velocity and
direction, air humidity and the like - but who is to say which view is
the "truer" one, as long as abstract and mystic predictions prove to be
accurate? From an unbiased standpoint, the modern demons "barometric
pressure", "wind velocity" and factors of a similar like are just as
abstract and mythic as the shaman`s hypothetical rain goddess -
especially so for us laymen who religiously follow the daily
indoctrination via the TV weather forecasts and satellite photograph
divination: all we can do is _believe_ in what the expert tells us is
the truth. The non-shaman in a shamanic society shares a very similar
fate when he has to believe simply that the rain goddess wants to be
comforted say, by a substantial donation of meat or tobacco in the
course of a fully fledged tribal ritual.

     There _is_ an important difference however. If we accept the model
(strongly propagated by A.O. Spare, who was, of course, in his very
special manner, quite an orthodox Freudian) of magic primarily taking
place within the subconscious (Freud) or, less ambiguous, the
unconscious (Jung); and if we furthermore agree that said unconscious is
not only the source of personal magical energy (mana, or, as I prefer to
term it, _magis_) but tends to think and act in symbols and images, we
might come to the conclusion that our shaman`s explanation may perhaps
not be scientifical more satisfying in Western terms, but it is surely
more in accord with the way our unconscious tends to perceive reality.
In that sense it is not only more "natural" but, one suspects, even
downright _healthier_ for psychic hygiene. It is, so to speak, more
"ecological and holistic" in terms of psychic structure.

     As an aside I might mention that it is the better explanation for
practical magical reasons as well. For at least rain goddesses can be
cajoled into happiness by magical technique, ritual trance and the like
until they stop weeping, a task a meteorologist will hardly be able to
imitate. (Actually I have preferred the magic of rain prevention to the
more classical example of rain making because it is far more relevant to
our own geography and experience).

     In recent years Rupert Sheldrake`s theory of morphogentic fields
has raised quite a hue and cry, not only within the confines of the
scientific community but strangely enough among occultists too. I find
this latter reaction quite astonishing, because a lot of what Mr.
Sheldrake basically claims is nothing more than the old, not to say
ancient, tenet of philosophical idealism: namely that there is what in
both German and English is called "Zeitgeist", a form of unique
time-cum-thought quality, leading to surprisingly similar albeit
completely independent models of thought, technical inventions,
political truths and so on. One would rather expect the people to be
profoundly intrigued to be among materialist/positivist biologists or
physicist rather that occultists who have traded in the Zeitgeist
principle ever since occult thought proper as we understand it arose in
the Renaissance.

     From a pragmatic point of view Mr. Sheldrake is behaving very much
like our meteorologist, replacing mythic explanations with crypto-mythic
"scientific" factors. Unfortunately, most scientific scholars tend to
fear a devaluation of scientific termini tecnici; once they are
mentioned in the wrong "context" (almost invariably meaning: by "wrong"
people) they are readily labelled as "non-" or "pseudo-" scientific -
which is, after all, precisely what happened to poor Mr. Sheldrake
amongst his peers in spite of all his academic qualifications. This
example goes to show how very much estranged occultists can be from
their own sources even when working with them daily.

     Reality too is always the reality of its description: we are
marking our pasts, presents and futures as we go along - and we are
doing it all the time, whether we are conscious of the fact or not,
whether we like it or not, we are constantly reinventing our personal
and collective space-time continuum.

     Space seems rather solid and unbudging; even magic can do very
little it seems to overcome its buttresses of solidity and apparent
inertia, occasional exceptions included. (May it be noted that I include
matter in this space paradigm, because solid matter is usually defined
by the very same factors as is space - namely width, length and height.)
Time, on the other hand, is much more volatile and abstract, so much so
in fact that it is widely considered to be basically an illusion, even
among non-occultist laymen. And indeed in his famous novel "1984" George
Orwell has beautifully, albeit perhaps unwillingly, illustrated that
history is very little more than purely the _description of history_.
(Which is why it has to be rewritten so often. It seems that mankind is
not very happy with an "objective past" and prefers to dabble in
"correcting" it over and again. This is quite an important point I shall
refer to again later on.) History is, after all, the defining of our
past own roots and our _present_ position within our linear space-time
continuum in relation to past and future. Very often, unfortunately, the
description and interpretation of history seem little more pathetic
endeavour to obtain at least a minimum of objectivity in a basically
chaotic universe. The expression "ordo ab chao" is more or less a
summary of Western thought and Weltanschauung, of the issues straining
and stressing the Western mind since ancient Greece. Chaos is considered
"evil", order on the other hand is "good" - then the political
philosophy, if you care to dignify it by this terms, of "law and order",
appeals to people`s deeply rooted fears of loss of stability and
calculability. ("Anarchy" is another widely misunderstood case in
point.) The ontological fact that everything is transitory has never
been particular well-received in Western philosophy and theology.

    Now before you get the impression that I am only trying to impose a
typical exercise in heavyhanded Teutonic style philosophical rambling
upon your overbusy reading mind, let me hasten to point out that if
past, present and future are, at least in principle, totally subjective,
we as magicians are locally perfectly free to do what we like with them.
For the magician is a) the supreme creator of his own universe and b)
the master of Illusion (ref. the Tarot card "The Magician/Juggler").
This freedom of historical choice, however, is seldom realised let alone
actively applied by the average magician. Maybe one of the reasons for
this has to do with the somewhat pathetic fact that most of us tend to
live our lives in a more or less manner, being mild eccentrics at best,
distinctly avoiding becoming too much over the top. There are a number
of possible explanations for this, ranging from "every magician is just
another guy/gal like me" to "prevention of insanity". As we deal all the
time with insanity - i.e. extremely unorthodox states of consciousness
by bourgeois standarts, we magicians prefer some stability in our
everyday lives and makeups, but this is not really our topic.

    Rather than delve into social normality of the average magician I
should like to investigate the many bogus claims to antiquity as put
forward by a multiple of magical and mystical orders from this point of
view. Such orders range from Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism and Theosophy
to such venerable institutions as the O.T.O., the Golden Dawn and many
others. Their historical claims are usually quite stereotyped: the
spectrum covered includes Atlantis, Lemuria, Mu, Solomon, Moses, Dr.
Faustus, St. Germain, the Gnostics, the Knight Templar,the Cathars, the
Illuminati, the Holy Grail myth, prehistoric witchcraft, matriarchy,
shamanism etc.

    Now it is quite common for shamans, to cite one example, to claim
that in the good old days (usually, of course, dating back to a
non-calibrated, non-defined time immemorial) things used to be much,
much better. One of the more profane reasons for this contention may be
the fact that most of these shamans have already achieved quite a
venerable age in their trade; and don`t we all know the typical attitude
of old crones towards modernity ? It may not sound particular spiritual
or holy but maybe all we are seeing here is the primitive`s parallel to
the "Now when I was in Poona with Royal Indian Army, young lad..."
reported occasionally to be heard in some of today`s pubs.

    But there is more to it, I think. By calling up "bogus" ancestors
from Moses via Solomon to Dr. Faustus and St. Germain, the magician not
only reinvents his own history, he also is summoning up the egregore of
these "entities" (along with all their powers and inhibitions of course)
- or, to put into Mr. Sheldrake`s terminology, their morphic fields. By
violating all the painstakeing endeavours of the meticulous historian,
by simply ignoring a number of tedious and possibly contradictory facts
and questions (such as whether Moses and Solomon have ever _really_ been
sorcerers of some standing in their own time) the magician becomes God
in the fullest sense of the expression: not only does he choose his
relatives in spirit quite arbitrarily, he even claims the right to do
what not even the judaeo-christian god of the old testament is ever
described as doing, namely changing "objective past" at will.

    This type of creative historicism appeals, so it seems, very
strongly to the unconscious mind, supplying it with a great deal of
ideological back-up information, thus reducing its
conscious-mind-imposed limits of "objectivity" to at least some modicum
of superficial probability. It is only when the occultist mixes up the
different planes of reference, when he purports to speak of "objective
linear truth", instead of mythic or symbological, decidedly non-linear
truth, that serious problems arise.This should be avoided at all costs
in order not to strain our psychic set-up by contradictory evidence,
which can easily result in an unwilled-for neutralisation of all magic

    But this, of course, is the same problem as with occult scientism.
"Rays" are quite a convincing hypothesis to base telepathic experiments
on, as long as you don`t try to overdefine said rays by epitheta such as
"electromagnetic" or the like. For if you do, you become the victim of
scientists`zealous inquisition boards. Or, as Oscar Wilde might have put
it, it is not truth which liberates man`s mind but lying. (Which, again,
is one of the reasons why Aleister Crowley entitled his magnum opus "The
Book of Lies" in the first place...)

    Let us then resort to _creative historicism_ whenever we find it
useful. Let us not have "historical objectivity" dictated to us by the
powers that be. Let us accept our fuzziness of expression which is,
after all, little more than a honest acknowledgement of the fact that
symbols and images are always more than just a little ambiguous, as our
dreams well prove every night. As in divination, it does not pay to
become overprecise in magic: the more you try to define a spell, the
higher probability of failure. It is quite easy to charge a working
talisman quite generally "for wealth"; it is quite another to charge it
to "obtain the sum of $347.67 on March 13th at 4.06 p.m. in 93, Jermyn
Street, 3rd floor" and still expect success. While the latter may
strangely enough succeed occasionally, this is usually only the freak
exception of the rule. However, by systematically rewriting our past in
fuzzy terms, possibly eventing past lives and biographies for ourselves
consciously or arbitrarily, we are fulfilling the final demand of
Granddaddy Lucifer`s "non serviam". Let nobody impose his or her time
and history parameters on you!

    And for practical exercise, allow your clock occasionally to be well
in advance of your contemporaries`; let it sometimes lay behind for a
few hours _and_ minutes (do not just change the hour hand as this would
make it easy to recalculate into demiurge`s "real" space-time continuum,
making you yet again its slave!) Do this to learn about your former
ill-advised humility towards the current time paradigm - and about the
illusory character of time and its measurement in general. Rewrite your
personal and family history daily, invent your own kin and ancestors.
"Problems with Mom and Dad? Pick a new couple!" Experiment with
retroactive spells, try to heal your friend`s flu before he even
contracted it. But do this in a playful spirit lest your censor should
whack you for your constant violations of the rules of this game by
again confusing the frames of reference. Jump from one parallel universe
to the next one, never permit yourself to stand still and become
enmeshed by Maya`s veil (you are supposed to be the _Master_ of
illusion, remember?). And don`t panic: for nothing is true, everything
is permitted.

 * Origin: ChaosBox: Nothing is true -> all is allowed... (2:243/2)


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