I think I briefly touched on the meaning of the “Egregore” in one or two earlier posts. And while I had thought of giving the blog (and its readership) a bit of a rest for a spell, a comment this morning by LittleBigMan (and my reply) to “A Very Brief History of Capitalism” suggested I expand upon this a bit. So the meaning of the “Egregore” is the subject of today’s posting.
A lot of people have, in all likelihood, never even heard the term “egregore”, but it’s a very helpful term in coming to understand some peculiar things about our world, consciousness, intentionality, and the process we call “projection”. The egregore is defined as “an occult concept representing a “thoughtform” or “collective group mind”, an autonomous psychic entity made up of, and influencing, the thoughts of a group of people. The symbiotic relationship between an egregore and its group has been compared to the more recent, non-occult concepts of the corporation (as a legal entity) and the meme.” (Wikipedia).
The egregore corresponds, in that sense, to the Jewish “golem“, another very important term to understand because it figures so prominently in the thinking of the cybernetic scientist Norbert Wiener, especially in his book God and Golem, Inc. a warning about potential abuses of cybernetics that greatly concerned and disturbed him.
In effect, the egregore is a semi-autonomous energetic entity, thoughtform, or a “meme” that has gained a measure of autonomy or has become somewhat self-organising. In fact, the very word “egregore” as a “stepping forth” (probably “e-gress”) connects it to meanings of “exist” (ex-stare) and also “projection” (pro-jacere), and therefore what we might understand as an intentional object or entity. For those of you who are familiar with Castaneda’s works, you may recall an episode where Castaneda’s teacher, don Juan, conjures up a cartoonish looking squirrel with enormous buckteeth and round eyeglasses, which sent Castaneda into uncontrollable spasms of laughter that required the physical intervention of don Juan to stop. Don Juan described it to Castaneda as being “true creativity”, and a demonstration of how consciousness, in the form of intent, generates form. The form was, in effect, an egregore.
An egregore is, as a thought-form, an energetic entity that has acquired a measure of autonomy and a degree of autonomous action. It’s sustenance, its nourishment as it were, is the passion that gave it birth in the first place, and which we call “devotion”. Or, it may just as well be fear that sustains it and nourishes it, for by “thoughtform” we don’t mean just some abstract idea or concept. It requires emotion as its propellant, so it is more akin to what we mean by the term “a complex” and the “projection”. This is all-important to understand, for once such a “meme” or “thoughtform” as a truly energetic entity assumes a measure of autonomy, it is implicated in what we call “self-fulfilling prophecy”, and it can be by degrees either benevolent or malicious depending upon the mood that gave birth to it.
Now, the definition of the egregore describes it as something “occult”. This is a bit ridiculous, for what we call State or Church or Corporation are the manifest forms of the egregores, and we even treat them as such, even if we are only peripherally aware that they are, in effect, semi-autonomous thoughtforms. We treat of the Church as “the body of Christ” or of the State as the embodiment of the nation, and as singularities, as “immortal persons”. We do the same with (capital “S”) Science, also. In fact, its safe to say that whenever some more or less abstract idea is capitalised, we are dealing with an egregore — a semi-autonomous energetic entity. We do the same with Capital and Labour, which we treat of as singular dynamic and even autonomous entities, just as much as “Technology”.
In other words, these capitalised nouns are not just words, they are names. They are the names of our gods. And you know you are in the presence of a god or an egregore when they are described in capital letters. And, in those terms, we are actually surrounded by such egregores. They are intentional entities we sustain by our “sacrifices”, “devotions”, prayerful petitions, or even our fears and hates. They are not in the least “occult” or “hidden”. In fact, to a certain degree we function simply as cells or organs within the manifest body of these egregores. Even when we treat cities as having their own personalities, we are dealing with egregores, which you sense, at some level, when you speak of different cities having different “energies”.
“The spirit made flesh” is the description of what we are calling intentional entities, or what we insist is the rule: consciousness creates form, and not vice versa. The notion that what we call “mind” or “consciousness” begins as a blank slate (tabula rasa) upon which society, parents, peers can impress themselves and their own forms and meanings is almost total hooey and malarkey. To put it a little crudely or simplistically, what they do is expropriate this inherent intentionality or native creativity of consciousness to sustain and reproduce their egregores, which is referred to as “the social construction of reality“. In fact, the egregores often take the form of being compelling fates, and when you feel like you are little more than like a dry leaf being blown about by strong winds, it’s often because you are in the grips of an egregore as a seemingly compelling fate. But their power and authority dissolve once you gain insight into them. Understanding freezes action. Science, Church, State, University, Corporation…. these are simply put, golems and egregores that have become too autonomous and too powerful — “too big to fail”, as it were.
There are certain implications of this insight for the meaning of “total freedom” (or emancipation or liberation). It’s also called “withdrawl of the projections”. But, that must await another day. Nihilism and the “deconstruction” are not always merely and only negative and destructive, but also the Dance of Shiva and the dissolution of the bonds of narcissistic fascination.