Egregore is an overused word, often in the wrong context. And it is usually miscomprehended, which leads to us being influenced by egregores without really understanding why - and in this sense, not knowing this influence or even not believing in it won't make any difference. Jumping from a building while not believing in gravity won't make you float safely to the ground.
Due to the frequent misunderstands on this topic, I will start from an apparently unrelated subject.
We know that there are several energy currents flowing through our body. There are hundreds of books talking about the chakras. It is important to know at least a little bit about how those energy centers work, and about the energy channels in our body, to make it easier to maintain a balance which allows us to live in an harmonious and productive way.
But it is not only those internal energies that influence us; we live immersed in many energy flows, in hundreds of mental, astral, spiritual forms. We receive the impact of energies from pretty much all the life forms we get close to, and all of that in synergy (or opposition) with these internal flows to determine the general conditions in which our life will unfold. So it is not enough to know the internal flows. We need to investigate the external flows, and its influences over us, to - in the same way we do with our individual energy - use it in our advantage.
Very well. So, what is an egregore?
The word egregore comes from the greek egregoros, meaning "vigilant", from egeiro, "to observe". We find references to this term in the Bible, for example in Daniel 4:13: "As I was lying in my bed, I also saw in the visions of my mind a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven". "Watcher" in this sentence was a translation of the term egregoros. There are references in various religious groups of mental or astral constructs, animated by some entity, created for protection or some other goal, and that also receive the name of egregores.
In this article, we call by egregore an astral, mental or spiritual construct sustained by several people over a long period of time, giving them a character of permanency which is not dependent upon a particular individual. This permanency attribute allows some egregores to go through millennia, sometimes becoming more and more strong over this period. Egregores are not "mystical" things. No doubt there is a catholic egregore, a judaic one, another for the rosaecrucis, for the umbanda... But there is also an egregore for Coca-Cola, Adidas and your University. We live in touch with hundreds, if not thousands of egregores.
One egregore is created when an astral, mental or spiritual form finds echo in another similar forms, and start to "grow". For example, when we read a book from Blavatsky, we create thought forms related to her and to the teachings on her books. Other people, reading the same books, will create similar thought forms, which will find echo in the forms created by us. This process, repeating itself over a long time, and being fed by several people, creates a stable form, with which we get in tune any time we thought about Blavatsky. Lets make it clear: we are not getting in tune with Blavatsky herself, but with the egregore composed by all the thoughts related to her. We can even get inspired by ideas which are part of this egregore and that were not "imagined by us".
Egregores are usually formed not only by matter from a specific plane, like the astral or mental. It is more common for them to be formed by matter from all of these planes, awakening this way a mix of thoughts and feelings in those who link themselves to them.
And these "collective constructs" do affect us all the time. When we walk into an environment and feel uncomfortable, what we are experiencing many times is the conflict between the energies expressed by the local egregores and our personal energies. There are ways to protect ourselves from these conflicts, but this is for another article. What matters here is that if we are "immersed" in egregores which are harmonious with us in that moment, we will tend to feel good. If there is any shock, we will tend to feel bad.
In general egregores may be linked to physical places. A church, a stadium. Stonehenge. Who never heard about a sports commentator explaining the advantage one team had because they were playing "at home"? The team egregore, strengthened by his supporters, for sure acts more intensely in his own stadium. It is important to keep it in mind when we are looking for a specific influence. It is usually better to study in a library than in a stadium.
Using theosophical concepts, we can say that our subtle bodies vibrate in a frequency which is determined by our emotions, thoughts, by our "spiritual tonic". And those vibrations resonate with egregores vibrating on similar frequencies. Through this resonance, the vibration both from the egregore and the subtle body in question have their amplitude magnified. That is why we strengthen egregores when we are in harmony with them.
And it is to attaining this resonance that self help techniques sold in books like "The Secret" point to. Attuning ourselves to a specific egregore, we make it easier to realize the goal it represents. The problem with these books is that they make people believe that following their recipe everything can be changed in our life. It doesn't work quite like that... The energy from the egregores do help, but they won't materialize a Porsche in front of you just because you want, a lot, a sports car.
There is an important consequence of this resonance. Lets say that we are cultivating bad feelings. Certainly sooner or later these feelings will find echo in some egregore. By resonance, we will see those feelings get intensified, and meanwhile we will also strengthen the egregore. And because we are vibrating in a similar frequency, we will keep ourselves attuned to this egregore! That leads us to a vicious circle, in which we feed negative egregores, which in turn instigate us to be more negative. Not knowing how this mechanic works tend to turn us into its slaves. Egregores don't have "self consciousness" (it is possible for an entity to animate a thought form, or to link itself to an egregore, but it is another subject), but they do act like if they want to get stronger, to preserve themselves, because they are attracted to people with a similar vibrational pattern, being "fed" by these people.
And aside by chance, the only way to break these cycles - or strengthen them when they are positive - is to know they are present, how they work, and use that knowledge to our advantage.
Figuratively, we function as a TV set, tuning different channels according to what we are interested in. If we want to see a movie, we won't choose a news channel. In the same way, if we want to watch a soccer match, we will look for a sports channel.
We could say all the available channels in a community, in a nation, in humanity are the "collective unconscious". This "collective unconscious" is a source almost inexhaustible of knowledge and inspiration - we just need to tune ourselves to the desired subject. But it is also the root cause of one of the biggest diseases in our society: people usually have their thoughts so scattered, changing his focus between so many of those influences so fast, that almost all of their time is dissipated, spent in a very unproductive way. We solve our work problems thinking about the chores at home. We study remembering our last trip during the holidays. We talk with our wives while mentally listing what we left undone at work because we were concerned about the house chores. And that cycle never ends, we keep tuning every 30 seconds new channels which have nothing to do with the activity we should be giving our attention.
Zen Buddhism tells us that we should always focus our attention in the present moment. Something along the lines of "being present in the present". If you are brushing your teeth, pay attention in the motion of the brush, in the feeling of the contact between it and your gums, in the sound produced. If you are eating, feel the taste of the food, its scent, its temperature, pay attention to the rhythm you are chewing on, to the moment you swallow the food. If you are talking to someone else, focus all your attention in that person, listen to what is being said, pay attention to what you answer. While working, dedicate yourself to the work. While studying, study. When you go out to have fun, just have fun, without worrying about work or study.
Doing that, we are "tuning" the best possible egregores for the activity at hand, and we create an harmonious relationship, of synergy between the internal and external energy flows, increasing the potential of whatever we are doing.
Notice that it is not advisable to oppose an egregore, as a way to fend it away. Opposition implies in focusing our attention in a given egregore, therefore attuning ourselves to it, which only strengthen the egregore. The more effort we dedicate in oppose an egregore, the more intense is our link to it. The best we can do is simply stop consciously connecting to it. Direct your attention to other egregores, positive ones. After some time the link to the negative ones will fade by itself. It is that simple, although it is not necessarily a quick process. The main point is to persist, and to use our will in a conscious, directed way.
Japanese people have many daily rituals which naturally make them concentrate in the present moment. To fold a kimono is a ritual, drinking tea is a ritual... But even in our culture we have some simple and efficient rituals. For example, it is common in many families to give thanks for the food before eating. This alone is enough to bring everyone's attention to that moment, and to make them more receptive to more tranquil energies. If the lunch is filled with productive conversations, or used to strengthen the family bonds, this energy will be well used. Unfortunately it is more common to turn on a TV and eat while watching some random thriller.
To finish this article, the most important concept we need to keep in relation to egregores is that our will, expressed through our thoughts, determines the external energies with which we harmonize ourselves. The WILL is so the main tool in the building of our daily lives. Using the will in a consistent, directed manner, we dive into the potential accumulated by hundreds, thousands of people. In some cases, this potential is cultivated by the whole humanity. It is a force almost limitless... And it is available to everyone. In that sense, it is completely true saying that everything we ask for will be given to us. Wherever we direct our will, there we will be.
But how difficult it is to keep our will where we need it! Mastering the art of "living in the present", and learning how to keep our focus long enough for us to achieve our goals is without doubt one of the greatest challenges we all face.