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Internet Book of Shadows, (Various Authors), [1999], at

              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 "artif-
      icial" , 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 (stron-
      gly  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 per-
      sonal 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  scientiffical  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
      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 philoso-
      phical 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  oown
      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
      Space seems  rather solid and unbudging;  even magic can do  very little it
      seems  to overcome  its buttresses  of solidity  and apparent  inertia, oc-
      casional  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  beauti-
      fully, 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 polit-
      ical  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 par-
      ticular 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 "preven-
      tion  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 "objec-
      tivity" 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 neutral-
      isation of all magic powers.
      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 "electro-
      magnetic" or  the like.  For if you  do, you  become the  victim of  scien-
      tists`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  viola-
      tions 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.

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