Fallen angels and demons
- Angels and demons and egregores: book review of "Fallen angels in the history
of Judaism & Christianity"
Some of the ideas in this may have influenced Tolkien's "Ainulindale" and
Charles Williams's "The place of the lion".
And also, possibly, Philip Pullman's "His dark materials", which was where I
first heard of Metatron.
- This was orginally posted in the Williams list, but I thought it was relevant
On 30 Aug 2010 at 22:23, rparisious wrote:
> Steve wrote:
> > What does Guenon say about egregores?
> RNP:It would take us far off topic.The important thing is that the
> traditional term "egregore" meant the spirit(Angel) of a particular
> people(the idea of "race" in the biological sense is a recent invention and
> quite alien to traditional thought).Later on it was applied to the spirit of
> a nation("nation" being a much later concept than "the peoples").The
> Neo-Platonic "Oracles of Zoroaster"
> features the Spirits of Nations and were edited by GRS Mead in 2 small volumes
> circa 1907.(I cannot recollect if Mead uses the term "egregores".)
Bear with me while I get anecdotal.
It has to do with modern education, or modernity and education.
In 1963-65 I was an undergraduate at the University of Natal (now the
University of KwaZulu-Natal - UKZN) in Pietermaritzburg and I majored in
Biblical Studies. Our New Testament lecturer, Vic Bredenkamp, who was a
Methodist, was talking about the "principalities and powers" mentioned by St
Paul, and I didn't have a clue what he was talking about. I thought of the
Principality of Monaco and similar entities, and the "powers" I thought of as
bigger countries that had more weight to throw around. Vic Bredenkamp was
talking as if they were angels or demons.
He referred me to G.B. Caird's book, with the title "Principalities and
Powers", which I read, and made the connection, with the link being
Williams's "The place of the lion" and the Dionysian Nine.
It helped me to make sense of things like the Prince of Persia (Dan 10:13)
and I made a study of the Greek words Archon and Archontes and Exousia. It
also gave me a new understanding of South African politics and apartheid.
Psalm 82 seemed particularly apposite.
It also made sense of C.S. Lewis's fiction -- where Oyarsa=Archon. And it
made me realise that Lewis, Williams & Co had been writing, at least in part,
to make these premodern concepts intelligible to moderns - people like me
whose education had been almost entirely modern, and even in in studying
ancient languages like Latin and Greek.
It also made sense of the Roman religion of emperor worship, where what was
worshipped was not the flesh-and-blood emperor, but his "genius" (ie his
exousia), a notion that was apparently widespread in antiquity, and got
transmuted in modernity into the notion of the "divine right of kings" and
later the "supremacy of the State".
And G.B. Caird, in another book, his commentary on Revelation, made sense of
this too when he said:
"But it must not be thought that John is writing off all civil government as
an invention of the Devil. Whatever Satan may claim, the truth is that 'the
Most High controls the sovereignty of the world and gives it to whom he
wills' (Dan iv. 17). In the war between God and Satan, between good and evil,
the state is one of the defences established by God to contain the powers of
evil within bounds, part of the order which God the Creator had established
in the midst of chaos (cf. Rom xiii. 1-7). But when men worship the state,
according to it the absolute loyalty and obedience that are due not to Caesar
but to God, then the state goes over to the Enemy. What Satan calls from the
abyss is not government, but that abuse of government, the omnicompetent
state. It is thus misleading to say that the monster is Rome, for it is both
more and less: more, because Rome is only its latest embodiment; and less,
because Rome is also, even among all the corruptions of idolatry, 'God's
agent of punishment, for retribution on the offender'" (Rom. 13. iv) (Caird
Ten years later (about 1975) I was leading a Bible study about these things
in a middle-class white Anglican parish in Durban, and the long-established
Anglicans had as much difficulty in grasping them as I had. The ones who
latched on immediately were two young women who were confirmation candidates,
and as part of their preparation I had said they should read Lewis's fiction -
the space trilogy in particular.
It was only about three years ago that someone came up with a name for the
phenomenon I was talking about -- egregores. That was when Matt Stone in
described deities that appeared in works of fiction (specifically H.P.
Lovecrafts Yog Sothoth), acquiring a cult and actually being worshipped.
On looking for a definition I found this:
"An egregore is a kind of group mind which is created when people consciously
come together for a common purpose. Whenever people gather together to do
something and egregore is formed, but unless an attempt is made to maintain
it deliberately it will dissipate rather quickly. However if the people wish
to maintain it and know the techniques of how to do so, the egregore will
continue to grow in strength and can last for centuries.
An egregore has the characteristic of having an effectiveness greater than
the mere sum of its individual members. It continuously interacts with its
members, influencing them and being influenced by them. The interaction works
positively by stimulating and assisting its members but only as long as they
behave and act in line with its original aim. It will stimulate both
individually and collectively all those faculties in the group which will
permit the realization of the objectives of its original program. If this
process is continued a long time the egregore will take on a kind of life of
its own, and can become so strong that even if all its members should die, it
would continue to exist on the inner dimensions and can be contacted even
centuries later by a group of people prepared to live the lives of the
original founders, particularly if they are willing to provide the initial
input of energy to get it going again" (from Gaetan Delaforgem from a Gnosis
It seemed to provide a word for my concept, of authority (exousia) being
greater than the bearers of the authority. And Reed's book helped me to see
more clearly its Old Testament roots.
One of the things that disappointed me about Reed's book, though, was that
she did not say much about Deut 32:1-9, which seems to tie up with the idea
of the "angels of the peoples" being worshipped as the gods of the nations,
and with Justin's explanation of the Watchers getting people to worship them,
and this being the origin of Greco-Roman pagan religion. It's probably all
there in Caird's book, though I probably missed the significance at the time.
Perhaps I need to read it again and make more careful notes.
Now, does anyone know if Williams actually ever used the word "egregore"?