Altering Egregores

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Well. Last night, I went to a gathering of friends who talk about and do theurgic work — that is, they do magic as part of their spiritual path. They’re pretty awesome people, and we’ve been meeting at equinoxes for a few times.

Our preferred format for this equinox celebration was the Equinox ceremony from the Golden Dawn, as published by Israel Regardie… until this week.

See, a whole set of circumstances conspired together to prevent our scripts for the event from arriving at our gathering place last night. We laughed, we debated what to do on several levels, and debated “what it all means”. And then our current president got down to brass tacks, grabbed our one surviving GD script, and led us through a discussion of the different components of the ritual, all the way asking, “What are they trying to do in this part? How would we do it?”

So we wrote a new ritual, along the way developing a new theory and a new practice of magic weaving together bits of our own practice and our own development. And then we did it.

It totally worked.

Over the last few days, I’ve been reading about the ongoing discussion (OK, blooming flamewar) in the GD community, and the last outburst of it a number of years ago… and I realize that in my own magical practice I’ve been moving away from GD magic for a few years, at least. It’s no longer how any of us do our work. We’ve bowed out of the current, and I caught a sense during ritual that the egregore of the GD said a kind farewell as we went… and, I think, found a new egregore — the one we’d already been nurturing and developing, that was doing its own thing, and now doesn’t have to try to interface with the GD egregore any more; any of them.

During discussions afterward, it came out that two of our colleagues with teenagers are having a lot of challenges with the public high school that serves the town. Their children are unusual and gifted, and yet they’re getting a lot of grief from administrators and teachers for a) not conforming, and b) not really being in trouble, but not really being out of trouble, either, and c) not being utterly awesome.

And I was reminded, yet again, that it’s really hard to change the egregores of schools. It’s very difficult to change the underpinning, almost theological reality of what American schools are like. What my friends and magical colleagues objected to, was the way in which their kids’ school tried to control what their kids wore, what they said, what they said that they wanted to do and be, and how they wanted to live their life. Out of an average of seven teachers a year, for four years of high school (28 teachers) these two teens liked, and felt they had learned from, two teachers. The same two teachers. The others had seemed indifferent, and occasionally had been bigger bullies than the other students — not physically, of course, but far more in the way of mental intimidation. A 7% or so success rate of teachers helping two kids is not great.

If we as a country are going to resurrect the concept of public education, we’re going to have to do a better job of serving students and their families, because if kids are unhappy in school (particularly of their teachers) they’re not going to learn; the amygdala will see to it that the learning structures in their brains are turned off. Only, it’s going to take more than a shift of ritual structures to turn schools away from a possibly-toxic, tainted egregore such as we have now. It’s going to take some serious rethinking. At the core, though, are the three questions that our ritual president was asking:

“What were they trying to do here? Is that something worth doing? How would we do it ourselves?”

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