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 and love.
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.