Egregores and Astral Constructs
Written by: Michelle Belanger
In one of his many books on the occult, Colin Wilson tells us of a television show that featured a “created” ghost. The show was one of those psychic phenomenon shows that were very popular in the early seventies. This particular show explored the notion of mediums, seances, and communication with spirits across the Veil. Well, prior to the show, the sitters got together and decided to “make” a ghost. They came up with a name and an elaborate history for this fellow, and they put a good deal of time, effort, and energy into imagining what he would look like, how he might speak, and how he lived his life.
The purpose of this experiment was in part to see whether or not spirits were truly being contacted by the medium during such sittings, or if the details typically gleaned by a medium from a “spirit” were actually being telepathically picked out of the heads of those present.
The experiment proved inconclusive, unfortunately, because this created spirit did not limit himself to the details that sitters were thinking about beforehand. Instead, he proved quite lively, rapping and tilting the table and elaborating on details of his history the sitters had not agreed upon. In essence, he behaved just like a real ghost.
The results of this experiment of course raised the question for the paranormalists, “Is it possible to ‘create’ a ghost?” Most students of the paranormal, if they acknowledge the existence of spirits, assume that the spirit-world is populated exclusively with human ghosts. So the notion of a spirit that was created through the collective thoughts and focus of a small group lay out of the realm of what they could conceive. However, though the parapsychologists might find the notion puzzling, the creation of spiritual entities has long been known to practitioners of magick.
With the proper focus, it is of course possible to “create” a spirit. In some traditions, such a created thing is known as a thought-form or an elemental. I tend to refer to them as constructs. Another more technical occult term for a created spirit is “egregore”.
People can make constructs intentionally, or they can create them accidentally by focusing a lot of energy on a particular thought form, force, imagined entity, and so on. A good example of an accidentally, but very real, construct, would be the "spirit" that haunts a certain house in Greenwich Village of NY, as cited by John Keel in "The Mothman Prophecies" (now a major motion picture). Anyhow, this spirit wears a slouch hat and a long flowing cape and goes stalking about the hallways with a sort of menace to his step. The spirit was well documented, but when people researched the history of the place, there was no one who had died there who even remotely fit the description of this thing.
However, as Keel notes, there was an interesting fellow who had lived there for several years. He was a writer, and he spent some of his most prolific years in that place. His name was Walter Gibson, and he was the creator of the Shadow -- he "who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men."
The Shadow, for those born too recently to know, was a dark and menacing figure who stalked about in a broad-brimmed hat and voluminous cloak (and no, the original was not Alec Baldwin).
Basically, by pouring so much energy, imagination, and intensity into his character, Walter Gibson has left behind an astral construct of the character, and this construct now perpetually goes through the motions of its created existence.
Constructs, from this example, are basically thought given form in the subtle reality. The more energy you put into them, the stronger they are. They can be created for many purposes. A lot of magickal workers create them as guardians. They are kind of like computers or robots in the fact that they function on a simple program and can be made to carry out basic functions -- like the Shadow, who stalks around menacingly in keeping with his character. With a lot of effort and focus, they can be made to be more complex, though this often depends on the skill of the person or persons creating them.
Constructs tend to fade over time unless they are sustained. Some of the more complicated constructs can be self-sustaining and will feed upon energy just like any other entity in the subtle realm. Others will be sustained as long as you continue to put some thought and focus into them - whether you consciously intend to do this or not. Thought is energy, and the more you focus on something consciously, or in daydreams and nightmares, the more energy you provide to strengthen and sustain it.
Some really powerful egregores seem to achieve sentience over time, and these may become independent of their creators, essentially becoming indistinguishable from "true" spirits.
Of course, as constructs and egregores are typically used as what amounts to servants by magickal practitioners, this raises all manner of questions about ethics. If an egregore can achieve sentience, does that make it “real”? Do such entities simply follow programs and patterns that are worked into them, or can they achieve something akin to free will? And since we seem to be able to generate these entities both consciously and unconsciously through our focused emotions and thoughts, what does that say about our relation to them? Are we creating “life”? And if this is the case, do we then have any kind of responsibility toward our creation?
These are very sticky ethical questions that are beyond the scope of this short thesis. But they are questions that certainly bear consideration, especially before you sit down and decide to create an egregore to baby-sit your altar or guard your home.