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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 
          sympathetic 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 civilization 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 interestingly 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 systematization into separate (preferably indivisible) single 
          units. Western thought has formulated this problem as the dichotomy 
          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 overall, 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 
          uncertainty 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 goddess 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 

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          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 scientificly 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 morphogenetic 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. 

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          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 realized 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 standards, 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

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          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
          painstaking endeavors 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 neutralization 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 "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

          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

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          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.

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