Recently I was given the opportunity to review Egregores: The Occult Entities That Watch Over Human Destiny by Mark Stavish. As a Gardnerian witch I was very excited to read this book as egregore are an important part of any magical tradition and there is so little on the topic (my previous go to had been Egregores Ou La Vie des Civilizations by Mabille Pierre), so I was delighted to get a chance to hold it in my own hands.
In Their Own Words
Inner Traditions states “one of most important but little known concepts of Western occultism is that of the egregore, an autonomous psychic entity created by a collective group mind. An egregore is sustained by belief, ritual, and sacrifice and relies upon the devotion of a group of people, from a small coven to an entire nation, for its existence. An egregore that receives enough sustenance can take on a life of its own, becoming an independent deity with powers its believers can use to further their own spiritual advancement and material desires.
Presenting the first book devoted to the study of egregores, Mark Stavish examines the history of egregores from ancient times to present day, with detailed and documented examples, and explores how they are created, sustained, directed, and destroyed. He explains how egregores were well known in the classical period of ancient Greece and Rome, when they were consciously called into being to watch over city states. He explores the egregore concept as it was understood in various Western Mystery traditions, including the Corpus Hermeticum, and offers further examples from Tibetan Buddhism, Islam, modern esoteric orders such as the Order of the Golden Dawn and Rosicrucianism, the writings of H. P. Lovecraft and Kenneth Grant, and the followers of Julius Evola and Aleister Crowley. The author discusses how, even as the fundamental principles of the egregore were forgotten, egregores continue to be formed, sometimes by accident.
Stavish provides instructions on how to identify egregores, free yourself from a parasitic and destructive collective entity, and destroy an egregore, should the need arise. Revealing how egregores form the foundation of nearly all human interactions, the author shows how egregores have moved into popular culture and media–underscoring the importance of intense selectivity in the information we accept and the ways we perceive the world and our place in it.”
All in all, I really think this book has some mostly useful content. It’s got a great deal of information ranging from the practical to the silly, from pop culture to high magic, and I really do think that Stavish tried to cover all the bases.
Remember back there when I mentioned that my go-to was Egregores Ou La Vie des Civilizations by Mabille Pierre? I found myself sort of caught off guard by it’s lack of inclusion in the (admittedly brief) bibliography. It’s so readily available that you would almost have to avoid it if researching this topic, which left me curious as to why the author failed to include it. In other stuff that quirked an eyebrow, toward the end it falls down a bit of a rabbit hole about “escaping” an egregore, which at times read as paranoid.
Finding that the forward was written by James Wasserman was the big surprise, and even more of a surprise was Wassermans hasty vacillation between Nazism, calling the New York Times “a lie […] whose object is incitement and the propagation of insane myths and irrational policies designed to steer a proud national legacy into the oncoming pathway of the Mack truck of globalism and cultural self-destruction,” to complaining about “the antics of Antifa” and “leftist-inspired censorship storm troopers,” to a long winded hate filled tirade on Islam. Yikes. If like me you find yourself identifying more with the “leftists” that Wasserman derides as “jackbooted, mask-wearing street gangs,” well, you might find this forward understandably difficult to swallow.
To be fair, we know what we’re getting into when we open the book to the endorsement from David Metcalfe, which warns us to “put down the fake news, pick up this book, and find out why Enoch warns us that the cosmic control system’s been put on divine probation.” I appreciate that this quote pulls the rug out from under me right away so that I am not caught off guard by the more subtle passages such as the commentary on the telepathic control of the media…
I’m rarely this torn on a book. Is it enough that there’s little on the topic of Egregore and Stavish simply happens to be writing about it? Or is the tone switching, and uncomfortable (racist, fascist, Islamaphobic) forward enough to warrant giving this one a pass? I guess only you can decide that.
As always, feel free to disagree, and I’d be delighted to hear your comments at email@example.com
Edit: After making this post the absolutely lovely Ivo Dominguez Jr. reached out to me personally to extend an invitation to their upcoming workshop on April 17, 2021 which will be going in depth into the topic of thought-forms and egregore – I was so delighted to hear about it that I wanted to come back and make you all aware of it as well. Here’s hoping we see each other there!