The Egregore of a School
by Walter Ernest Butler.
Copyright, © 1970, assigned to The Servants
of The Light, all rights reserved. Permission is granted to
keep one copy for personal use only. Except for permitted sites
no rights for publication will be granted.
In this, I would like to speak
about something that is very important,
but which is usually forgotten by the majority of esoteric students.
This is what is known as The
"Egregore". You may have come across the word in books,
more particularly in books issued is Europe, where the term is
much more common than it is here in England. It may best be defined
as a "collective group mind", in both its conscious
and sub-conscious aspects, which is formed by the united thinking
and feeling of a number of like-minded people.
It need not be ethical or religious
in its tone, but there must be a strong mutual feeling between
all its members. In psychology, the Group Mind is definitely recognised
as one of the factors to be reckoned with in psychological treatment.
And, of course, the orator, the spell-binder, the political and
religious fanatic are all adepts at building and utilising such
a group mind.
From the inner point of view,
we may see it as a composite thought -form charged with emotional
energy. This energy is evoked from all those who are linked with
the thought-form and, if there are those in the group who know
something of the psychic mechanism involved, it can be directed
upon any chosen target. It is obvious that such energy can be
used for good or evil purposes, the intention of those who manipulate
the energy within the collective thought -form determining the
way it is directed.
As a general rule, the thought-form
is built around some person or group of persons, and as the numbers
admitted increase, so the power and range of the Egregore increases,
and a peculiar reciprocal action takes place. Each member of the
group pours energy into the collective thought-form but, equally,
into each member there also passes the influence of the group
as a whole. This reverse action brings to light certain problems.
It is increasingly apparent to
those outside the group that any member of it is being influenced
to some degree by the pressure of the collective thinking of all
linked with it, and unless care is taken , the power of independent
thought may be reduced. For many people this is something they
actually seek, they may feel inadequate in the everyday world
and feel that by being linked in this way, they are protected
from against what they see as aggressive tendencies from other
people. Or again, they may feel inadequate to deal with new ideas
and situations and feel that the Group mind will do their thinking
for them, and they will not be in danger of wrong thinking.
Both these tendencies are unhealthy
bit they are also common, more particularly in occult and religious
or semi-religious circles. Indeed, where the mental and psychic
conditions justify such domination by the collective Group mind
for a limited period, such dependence upon the Egregore may even
be remedial. But any organisation, which makes such dependence
mandatory upon all its members, is treading a dangerous and slippery
path and will, sooner or later, come to grief.
For this reason the wise leaders
in such organisations will steadily discount excess "personality
worship" and encourage each member to both think and act
independently when or if the occasion demands. Not that respect
and love for any individual is in itself wrong, it can often lead
to the sincere endeavour of the disciple to emulate those things
which he or she most admire in the leader or other person concerned.,
and this can be of great value to the entire group. In fact, the
very word 'discipline', in spite of the harsh overtones attached
to it by current military usage, really means that the discipline
is in fact the deliberate choice of the disciple to follow in
the footsteps of one he or she admires. It is a link of admiration
Where the object of this love
is wise and understanding, such a guru-chela, relationship can
be of the greatest value as we have said. But, all too often,
it becomes an unhealthy psychic and mental relationship, which
like a diseased limb, can poison the rest of the body.
Dion fortune used to say that
the best way of judging the spiritual health of any organisation
was not to take its public teachings and statements as proof of
its integrity , but to look closely at the type of person its
discipline turned out. As she put it...." if I join you ,
will I behave like you ?" Here is the ancient touchstone
we can always apply for it is eternally true. "By their fruits
shall ye know them ".
Let us now apply what has been
said to the course of the Servants of the Light. In an article
on Psychic and Occult Contacts, which I wrote for the New Dimensions
Red Book, I said…
"In the New Age we are now
entering, revolutionary changes are taking place, and the esoteric
schools must, to some extent, adjust themselves to the new tempo
of life if they are to be of service to humanity. It has to be
recognised that, like many other venerable institutions, the esoteric
fraternities have accumulated much unnecessary lumber in their
passage through the ages..... some of it can and indeed must,
be jettisoned with advantage. To throw away the useless whilst
retaining the necessary is the problem that lies before those
who rule in the Lodges of the Mysteries."
This is why I chose to use the
pattern of loosely linked groups in my vision for the SOL The
loose linking prevents undue concentration upon one or other of
the personalities concerned with the work. At the same time, there
is no reason why small groups composed of students studying the
course may not be formed, and indeed such groups are welcomed,
and even tend to form spontaneously.
Now this development of the work
inevitably presents new problems to a Director of Studies and
the Seniors who are supervising the students. This brings me to
an important point. Until this time ( Ed circa 1970) I have not
referred to another aspect of the school of The Servants of the
Light but it is now necessary that some reference should be made
and the reason for our silence is simple. An analogy may be found
in some developments in the Theosophical Society at the present
time ( 1970) where some of its members are claiming practical
infallibility to Mdme Blavatsky, the Founder of their Society,
and an equally infallibility to certain letters said to have been
written by her "Masters".
Now, my attitude is that, greatly
though we admire and respect Mdme Blavatsky, and deeply though
I respect those august beings whom it is the fashion to call Masters,
we have not escaped allegiance to an infallible Pope and infallible
Bible to fall into the same trap again. An esoteric school must
be judged by its teachings and by the calibre of those who are
its members, and NOT because of claims regarding Masters, Messengers
or Outer Heads. For this reason the SOL has until now, played
down the Inner Plane assistance it has received, and which in
various forms ALL our students receive, even though they may remain
unaware of it.
Nevertheless, that Inner Plane
assistance has been and still is being given to the Egregore of
the SOL course. There is no need to discuss the putative "Grade"
of our Inner Plane helper(s), grades are like paper money, they
need to be backed up with real currency. I may say however, that
one of these helpers is The Master of Magic to whom we referred
in the book "The Magician ,His Training and Work". Our
Egregore is contacted on the Inner Planes, and on the outer levels.
Primarily it is linked with and draws its power and authority
the Western Tradition. It is a loosely knit Egregore which gives
it flexibility and because of these loose connections to other
Traditions it has much to give those who enter upon its course
in the spirit of those who desire to know in order to serve.