We all try to make sense of the world. Often we find that the world have no other sense than our own. We perceive the world like this because our reference as an actor in the world is unavoidably a self reference. George Kelly in 1955 in his article about personal constructs, which came to have a huge impact on social psychology in the field we know as the theory(s) of attribution. This study ignited a lot of interesting research, but in a general we can state that what these studies found was that whenever our idea of Self is involved memory, recall and attitudes are enhanced in the affirmation of a Self that is in ongoing construction. In other words, our Self construct is something that is at the same time experienced as elastic, but is often in need of Self anchoring.
In my experience the search for spiritual, sorcerous or magical initiations are following similar rules. The pilgrim is in a phase where the Self construct is entering into a process where a need for something particular to fill the vacant field is sought. Magic and religion, politics and business can all be related to what fills this field to generate a feeling of fulfilment. It is about the experience of Self fulfilment and since the Self is always in construction we are in need of the anchors. These anchors are rudimental matters about our interests, physique, social statues and education and says little about who we really are, beside bringing attention to some preferences we assume is reflecting our Self.
This faculty of reflecting Self take the form of Ego or what we can understand as ‘I consciousness’. This faculty is doubly conditioned, from the environment the organism/being is functioning within and from the silence of Self that speaks through intuition and feelings of the ‘gut’. The Ego is often getting a bad rap, but it is not a bad faculty, it is the faculty that enables us to identify us as what we are and also the faculty that enables us to move effectively in an environment. The Ego is as such important, but can at times be misplaced in relation to Self. Since it is the Ego, the ‘I’ that is acting upon the world and experiencing the world it can also adopt ignorance of Self. Ignorance of Self is quite common for all human beings and we see this in the activity of the Ego to bind things and events to the ‘I’ in such way that Self reference is worked as a tool for solidifying our identity. So, in summary, Ego is the active, while our Self is passive. As we tend to notice more what is acting upon the world we are also more observant with the activities of the Ego that the Self, Ego is mediating.