Egregores – The Perfect Pyramid Scheme
(Last week I posted this as a reply to a comment and am reposting it as this week’s article with some additional commentary.)
As a result of the recent article on some of my experiences with various organizations over the decades and my comments on egregores – those psychic entities that many in the esoteric community are so proud of – I have been sent copies of the teachings of several groups.
In examining one set of lessons and comparing it to earlier editions I have seen, what struck me was the repetition of the word “egregore”: how this is a beneficial thing that will protect its members, bring them spiritual experiences, and provide them with material assistance – in times of need, of course, where “need” is apparently defined by the egregore.
What amused me as a reader was the meditation members were to perform to “attune themselves with the egregore.” So what came into my mind immediately upon reading these instructions and seeing the symbol to be used? A pyramid with the organization’s symbol on top.
Egregores are the perfect pyramid scheme.
You see, a “pyramid scheme” is a hierarchical racket in which only those at the top benefit the most, with those in the middle benefiting to a lesser degree, and those at the bottom providing the benefits while being promised of rewards in the future – when they climb the pyramid. Of course, climbing the pyramid consists of “service” to the organization, translated as bringing in new members, making donations, and providing the essential psychic energy the egregore requires for its existence through meditations such as the one above.
As I looked through more of the lessons I saw that the word “egregore” was used at least once in every one I read, and always as a protective, beneficial, and positive entity functioning as the real source of power and success behind members’ experiments and practices. This may in part be true, as that is the reason egregores are sought after, but it is also a damning statement about the methods involved – or the members after years of practice – if the only way they can succeed is within the psychic isolation of the hive mind.
Coupled with the lessons throughout was the notion that all of this “spiritual evolution” puts its members at the forefront of humanity, preparing each of them for their place in which, at some unspecified date, they will help usher in a Golden Age of (you guessed it) “One World Government and One Universal Religion.” It would almost be knee-slapping funny if not for the liberal use of the title “Illuminati” involved, and references to “guidance from invisible Masters” well known to readers of Theosophy.
Now, the leaders of this group – guardians of the egregore – are hand-chosen as a result of their karma and destiny by these perfect invisible Masters to lead the organization, its members, and (hence, by implication) humanity as well. Who better to whisper in the ears of world leaders than the Illuminati guided by the invisible brotherhood? I mean, what can go wrong with that? Look how well that model worked for Tibet…
However, the leadership is not completely to blame for this situation. Yes, tradition plays a part in it, but then so does something else more important: material reality. For the claims of “self-mastery” and all of that, most of these organizations run on a thin budget.
Just stop and think (what I am really saying is pull your head out of your…wherever!) for a moment and do the math. If you want spiritual teachings for less than $25 a month, or $300 a year, then that comes to a total of eighty-two cents a day. Think about that for a second. To deliver those teachings requires an administrative structure or overhead. Someone has got to make it happen. So, since most people want it on the cheap, at as little expense to themselves as possible, the administrative entity needs to do two things to keep the lights on: make it up on the back end (meaning, keep members in longer and ask for donations and provide special “team only” items for sale) and keep a steady flow of people in the front door with full knowledge that turnover will be around fifty percent or more every year or two. So, the bottom half pay the bills that keep the lights on so the upper half can more or less do some of the work they signed on for – and this is on a good day!
In the end, we get into small double-digit or even high single-digit numbers when talking about the quantity of people in a spiritual organization who are dedicated to the actual work and methods of that organization. Out of a group of 1,000 members we can expect around 100 to be working the lessons on a formal and dedicated basis, with another 100 to 200 working with them semi-regularly. To avoid the pyramid scheme with an open-door policy and promises of ever-greater wisdom as one makes progress through the various levels implies an inflationary measure of at least double – more likely ten times – the current cost of membership in most organizations. Of course, one of the issues with smaller dedicated (or “high demand” groups, as they are called) is that, well, they easily and quickly become cult-like particularly when a central leader is involved.
Another aspect is that this type of work takes commitment. While many people make a big deal about their spirituality in some vague manner, it is another story to be focused on a particular line of study and practice with a specific outcome. There has always been a professional priest class as well as professional shamans, professional astrologers, and professional alchemists who have been the focal points of the various traditions. However, it has always been difficult to tell the sincere and genuine teacher from the clever opportunist or even confidence trickster – and with Hermes at the helm of the bark, even more so.
In the end, discussion of one’s egregore easily becomes little more than a marketing angle (consider the advertisement for that “fully contacted mystery school”). Continually mentioning it in one’s lessons becomes a form of indoctrination. Emphasizing it as a means of personal advancement is simply either a misunderstanding of how egregores work or a dishonest representation. If we are to be “self-created” at the end of our journey – to be free – how can we achieve freedom if someone or something is doing the work for us?
Welcome to reality.
Now, it would be very easy to get upset about this situation, but that is the way it is, and it has always been this way. It is part of the allure presented by the egregore to idealize the past, to valorize in a very simplistic manner, all for easy consumption and belief – this further valorizes your participation in the egregore and your future role in it.
In some schools of Hermeticism it is said that the first Virtue (strength or quality) that must be learned through experience is Discrimination. Discrimination is the ability to discern what is useful from what is not useful to us in our journey on the Path of Return. We must look, learn, analyze, and decide, taking full responsibility for what we do – even when we are misled. Only in this way do we learn about ourselves and our motivation and make progress.
So there you have it. I would not have it any other way.
Next week we will begin our analysis of the seven major pitfalls that we encounter in both research of paranormal phenomena and spiritual practices so that you can avoid them and keep moving forward in your journey.
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