Thursday, April 3, 2014

Creating an egregore

What do the egregores of political parties, Amway conventions, and esoteric traditions have in common? They are all constructed and strengthened though the use of ritual. 

There are two types of rituals that you can use to build up an egregore--one is what is commonly thought of as magic; the other is pomp and ceremony. Considering that I plan on dealing with ritual magic later in this series of posts, let's focus on the pomp and ceremony route tonight--the route used by non-magicians. 

My first experience with a constructed egregore was during high school. Feel free to make a Hellsmouth joke at this point--I do it all the time...but mine tend to end up with the demons dying of boredom. At the time, I had no idea that an egregore was being built, strengthened, and generally dying from a lack of interest in the proceedings at hand. But there was definitely an egregore being built in the gym of the high school that I attended. 

How did a bunch of high school kids build an egregore? Simple, they had cheer leaders. 

I probably should point out that I went to high school in a very small town. During my last year of high school, the senior class only had eighty-four students in it. Everyone knew everyone--not only in the high school, but the entire town knew everyone else. And considering there was very little to get excited about, high school football was a big thing. 

There was a definite ritual involved to amp up the support for the team. 

The day of the game (or the Friday before for weekend games), the football players and cheer leaders would show up to school in their uniforms. Teachers would ask for predictions of how the team was going to perform. The football players were especially annoying that day--pretty much getting away with anything that they wanted to that day. 

And then came the pep rally. There were pep talks, cheers, and ritualized dance movements. Oh, and lots of cheering. A central symbol to focus on--the team colors and emblem. Plus there was a common enemy that we all had to stand together against. 

It was at these pep rallies that I learned one of the most valuable lessons that I know about egregores--how to avoid getting sucked into one. To this day, I can pretend to be excited while wondering if anyone would notice if I went home early. 

After high school was over for me, I joined the military...for about two seconds, just long enough to be exposed to their system of egregore construction, a technique that one of the finer GD leaders like to use. Uniforms, instructors, pep talks, ritualized dance movements, err, I mean military drills, and an enemy that had to be fought against. Just like high school, but with bullets, bad food, and a general lack of sleep. And we had a central emblem to focus on--the flag. 

Upon leaving high school, I worked in fast food restaurants. Uniforms, schedules, a rank system, bad food, silly chants, and a general lack of sleep. Just like the military, except that you were not supposed to kill anyone. And we had enemies, the district manager and the more annoying customers. Our central emblem--the logo of the company. 

In my exit out of food service, I got involved in selling stuff. Not necessarily Amway, but I am drawing a blank of other company that everyone would know that uses the same techniques that I saw being used. Uniforms (ahh, the special blazer), pep talks, lecturers, ritualized dance movements (I kid you not), and a common enemy--the customers who said no to our sales advances. And for a central emblem, the logo of the product that we selling. 

I have seen the same techniques used by politician parties. Uniforms (oh, the holy power suit), pep talks, keynote speakers, ritualized clapping and cheering. And yes, there is a common enemy to band against. Central emblem—the flag, of course. 

And just to drive the point home, in the esoteric traditions that use the lodge system, there are uniforms, lectures about how the work is going to improve us, bad food, ritualized movements and cheers, and in more than one esoteric Order, a common enemy that the membership must band together against. And a central emblem--some symbol of the mysteries. 

Of course, viewing pomp and ceremony though this lens, and the group think that one sees resulting from such manipulations, one wonders why anyone would ever submit to such mechanisms of control--the answer is simple, your average magician stands to gain enough power over their own lives that giving up a certain amount of freedom of thought is worth it. 

Much like, fitting into high school, getting a college education on the slim chance that you might get shot, getting a paycheck, increasing your sales, getting political favors, make all the other manipulations worthwhile.