We are thrilled to feature Crystalf on our blog. As a seasoned practitioner, he consistently offers incredibly practical, insightful, and straightforward responses to our questions. If you appreciate the valuable insights he shares in this post, we highly recommend checking out his blog for even more valuable information..
PAA: Welcome to Perseus Arcane Academy, I am sure many will know you but the new people could you please introduce yourself and how you came to be a practitioner of Franz Bardons Hermetics.
Crystalf: Thank you for your warm invitation! I am very glad for the opportunity to share some of my thoughts with other Practitioners on the Path of Hermetic, magic and mysticism. As I get this question quite often, I copy here a modified version of a text that I wrote before to answer this question: “For me, it is always an interesting question, how I came to practice Franz Bardons work. There are so many inspirations that depending on my mood and time, different ones come primarily to my mind. So let´s think about, which one I want to focus upon. I remember some of them more dominant like (clearly) Bardons book itself, others more reluctant. But all of them are part of my individual desire to grow beyond my mundane capabilities. Maybe the earliest memory I can remember of, that has something to do with personal growth is … Luke Skywalker! 😀 Honestly, some of my earliest memories about the desire to grow in self-improvement is, when I was around 7 years old and watched Star Wars the first time. I was deeply impressed with Luke trying to become a Jedi Knight, to grow from a mere farmer boy toward a “wise warrior” like Obi-Wan. As probably every little boy I loved warriors, but since then I couldn´t get along with the pure muscle types; there had to be more, the wisdom to know why and when to fight for what, just like “Old Ben”. This memory was probably part of my subconscious desires, when I started my own quest – I think this triggered something; there was a spark that got alighted. Well, around three years later I started training martial arts: Shaolin Kung Fu. Maybe to fight better: but what I learned was not to fight, but to control myself – my body and mind. This was the first conscious step toward transformation and I still practice Shaolin Kung Fu, Shuai Jiao and Tai Chi Chuan to this very day.
Of course I got in contact with the so-called “youth occultism” in the mid of the 90ies too, but it did not impress me in the slightest; in fact I was more repelled by its egomaniac self-centeredness. And honestly: even as a fourteen-years-old I could not grasp why making a wand should give me magical powers. The magic had to come from me, not the wand. So I concentrated on school…
My first real act of magic I did with around 21: I had a bad argument with a person very dear to me – and I won the argument. Sure, I won, but I hurt her by my words, my anger…and when I came home, it became crystal-clear to me that this wasn´t the kind of person I want to be. So I decided to change myself, to develop into a person I feel comfortable with looking into the mirror. And this conscious decision – without books, Bardon, rituals, etc. was the most magical act I had done so far.
A year later I stumbled upon IIH and found it immediately the perfect tool to reach this goal. IIH appeared from the very first moment as a systematic system of self-development, including magic – all the myths inherent still in my (the human?) consciousness, but without the tam-tam and ballast found in many modern systems of occultism. It appeared to me nearly scientific in its systematic approach, but nonetheless all about the individual. And it had no dogma! After I began the work I did in fact gain experiences in a lot of other occult systems and initiations, but after a while I realized that none of them really gave me a lasting feeling of maturity. Sometimes they even led to quite the opposite. So after a few years I quit with the other stuff and concentrated on IIH, restarting in the process and since then I walk the hermetic path.
And I am still on that journey to transform myself. Still struggling from time to time, but walking on step by step. In my experience it is not important to be perfect, but never to stop walking. Then the goal will be reached in time…”
PAA: How important are exercises like the Depth Point Exercises and of Step 5 in Initiation into Hermetics (IIH) and the Four Region Elemental Exercise in Step 4 in the rise of a practitioner within IIH?
Crystalf: Well, this question could be asked for ANY of the exercises in IIH – how important are they specifically? Can they be skipped? Should I focus on them more or less? The answer is that they all are important in their own way and in the step they´re placed in. The great achievement of Franz Bardon isn´t so much in developing the exercises found in IIH, but instead of placing them in the most systematic approach of self-development to be found anywhere. And still, even after decades of research into magic systems, I don´t know any other system of magical development so concise as IIH. And that´s the reason why no exercise should be skipped – in doing so, the student destroys the concise systematic of IIH and will, at some point, need to go back and catch up what is missed, losing time without need.
But to come back to the exercises you asked for: indeed, while every exercises is important, many of them are only needed for very specific magical tasks, while the depth point and the Elemental Harmony have a much more universal character for the magician. Those exercises will even in higher Steps, or while practicing PME or KTQ, stay in the daily routine of the magician. Especially Depth Point can be very beneficial and easy to practice even in the direst of situations. So, on the long run, they are very important indeed.
PAA: In your opinion is Physical Training important for a magician? If so, how does it benefit aside from the importance of health and fitness to keep the temple healthy?
Crystalf: Yes, of course! And isn´t health be benefit enough? Without health every exercise of magic will become much, much harder for the magician, or even impossible. So, health IS the most important aspect of the physical body. So, if we take our journey of self-development serious, we need to train physically to stay healthy. But how to define health? Here it becomes interesting. Is it just the muscles? Surely, training the muscles and the body is important, and every Magician should engage in sports. But maybe there is more to it? As a practitioner of Chinese Martial Arts I strongly believe that health isn´t only defined on the purely medical level, but also on the level of the nearly physical, like energetic organs like Chakra or the meridian. So the cultivation of the life force / Od / Prana / Chi. So physical exercises should not only train the physical body, but also the energy body. That´s the reason, why Franz Bardon puts exercises like the Eucharist, Water Magic and especially everything about working with the life force into the training of the physical body. And also every kind of spell work is found the physical section of IIH, as the body, energy body as well as physical body, not only needs to be trained but also be used. A magician is not someone sitting in their chamber studying creation, but someone experiencing creation and even shaping creation.
PAA: When a practitioner is first approaching the work of Mental Travel what advice would you give to avoid the imagination becoming mixed up in what the practitioner perceives.
Crystalf: Exercise and radical honesty. Nothing more is needed. Try to leave your body and look around. Come back and open the eyes. Does it fit? If yes, remember how it felt when you had the right impression. Does it fit not? Also remember how it felt. The next time you try mental travel, remember the feelings of before. This will give you hints as if you either experience your surroundings or imagining it. To truly mental travel is a matter of a loooot of practice, patience and failing. And when you´re sure, that you are capable of experiencing the truth, it still will fail regularly. Keep working on it. Then by time the nature of the mental planes become obvious and the magician will be capable to overcome the barriers of space and even time. Then he will realize that his experiences so far were altogether false, as on the mental planes, time and space flow together and it is very hard to perceive a certain moment in time on the mental plane. To spy on the physical plane, astral travel is much better. Mental travel becomes the perfect tool to overcome the barriers of time and space and to travel the spheres. Then you´re truly free to visit and experience all of creation.
PAA: Franz Bardon was very clear about the role of the HGA in magicians training, how significant has the impact of working with the HGA been in your experience?
Crystalf: Well, let´s be honest: the HGA as a concept is very Crowleyian in nature and the strong impact in the training too. The magician in Bardon´s Training get´s very easy into contact with his transcendent teacher (you can call it HGA, if you fancy, but root guru is fine too, or just Guardian Angel, without the “holy”, or teacher, daimonos, maybe just consciensce…). You don´t need to make a fuss about it, like Abramelin did, but by following Step by Step on the hermetic path, Your Angel will try to contact you. So by finishing Step 5 you´ll have a very intimate contact with your Angel. And as he WANTS to talk to the magician, and the magician hopefully longs for his Angel, too, he´ll probably meet it long before Step 10. You see, Step 10 is not really a separate Step, but a form of experience, but I digress… in my experience the magician doesn´t work much with the Angel, in the sense of really doing special rites and workings, but it merges with the magician, becomes part of his being, as it should be. So, the Angel and the magician develop the most intimate of connection that eventually doesn´t need some fancy working, but just existing.
PAA: Have you known spheres outside the solar system, or heard by any other means of their distribution and nature?
Crystalf: Yeees, but… honestly, even the Pluto sphere is already of such a strange nature and not relevant for the human development at all, that behind that sphere there´s nothing to be found pushing the magicians experience. Still, as it always has been, Saturn is the gate to the sphere magicians merging with Providence, and the spheres behind the Saturn sphere at this point in human development lead to diversion. Maybe it is what the old perceived as a form of hell, maybe creation is just unformed there. Eventually, it´s a little bit like in Lovecrafts Great Old Ones, just less evil: it´s strange out there 😉
PAA: Any advice on using the magic mirror?
Crystalf: Keep it hidden, keep it safe. Let your apprentices not clean it, no matter how seductive the notion might be… but use it in any case! The different usages mentioned by Bardon in IIH are fun, but most of them are not very useful in the long run, so they´re mostly for training purposes and fun as mentioned. But for evocation it´s the best tool ever! It makes things so relaxing… train yourself in charging the mirror and you´ll find it the most comfortable of tools in visiting the spheres. Have one for protection, one for the being to show itself in and your focus can remain on connection with the divine. No need to sweat during a magical ritual, but easy time for chatter…
PAA: Where do you find clairvoyance can be most useful?
Crystalf: Interaction with the invisible worlds. That´s what clairvoyance is about in 99% of the cases. Don´t waste your time in the “clairvoyance” as some PSI-researchers tried to define it. There is no use in identifying playing cards. Or in spying on your spouse, while they´re away… the magician – like the shaman of old – needs clairvoyance to perceive the invisible worlds, interact with its inhabitants and moderate between them and us. It´s the needed basic requirement for any magical work outside of yourself. Especially the perception of elementals and their deletion is a main work of a magician these days… Also clairvoyance will be tremendously helpful in healing work as the magician will perceive how a certain illness manifests itself on the energy level and can work with this energy accordingly to draw out the illness and sustain the body with healing energies.
PAA: Can you tell us something about the history of one of the spheres?
Crystalf: I still don´t understand the question, as the spheres aren´t nations or even places, but states of being. They don´t have a “history” in that sense as they came into being with creation and will stay as long as creation endures.
PAA: What is the element that sustains consciousness inside the spheres?
Crystalf: The earth element obviously, as it is connected to consciousness – but as earth is nothing else as the manifestation of the other elements it is the equilibrium that sustains the magician travelling the spheres. And that´s the reason why a profane person or a lesser developed magician won´t be too successful in mental travel as the training of IIH do have its sense and leads to this ability.
PAA: How can one make the mental body survive the highest levels of light saturation with awareness and wakefulness?
Crystalf: Two factors are interacting in answering this question: endurance and patience in practice on one side and connection with the divine on the other. To be capable of enduring the highest levels of light saturation the magician need to have experienced the union with divine in one form or another. Enlightenment can take many forms but needs to take place in some form on the magical path, if one wants to reach the highest forms of working with the light body. Then to stake wakeful and aware is the natural outcome of the work.
PAA: Are there different polarities ruling, say, the sphere of Mars and the sphere of Venus? And what could these polarities be?
Crystalf: Yes and no. Every sphere has every polarity of the fluids in it, as this is the requirement for existence. But a single sphere is not balanced in itself, as only the combination of the spheres leads to perfection. That´s why we need to travel through all of them and internalize all of them into our being. They can be imagined like a form of slider between electric and magnetic fluid with the slider on different points. These points are analogous to the polarities of the different spheres. So Mars might be more electric than Venus, but Venus is less magnetic then Moon and so on.
PAA: Are the cosmic letters organized between them as, for instance, the Tree of Life is? Are the cosmic letters interdependent and/or does each cosmic letter stand on its own?
Crystalf: No, in my experience there´s no indication for an organization of letters between the spheres. That´s not something, coming from practical cabalistic work, but hyper-theoritisation. Surely it can be fun, but has in my opinion no foundation in practical work. In general a symbol like the Tree of Life is just that: a symbol. It doesn´t show reality, just like a map doesn´t show reality. It helps navigating in reality, but only if you´re looking for the right way to get from A to B. A map doesn´t help in solving love issues f.e. And the Tree of Life is just that: a map of the spheres, drawn for certain issues in travelling them. Nothing more. The spheres are made of the letters, and the letters aren´t pathways. The letters are the basic building blocks of creation.
PAA: What is the most significant relation between the Earthzone and the Zone Girdling the Earth (or Earth Belt Zone)?
Crystalf: They are one – there is no difference between them. It´s just another level of perceiving our sphere of existing. It´s like when we focus on different aspects of our existing. The birds might be singing, but when we´re reading we might not hear them, but as soon we make a break we start to listen. The same it is with the Earth belt Zone or the Elemental spheres – they´re just there, we only have to focus on them…
PAA: Is evolution triggered differently from sphere to sphere, are there different magical and mystical methods in each sphere, generally speaking?
Crystalf: Real evolution leading to perfection can only be started in the physical world or the Earth Zone, so to speak. Here´s the starting point. The Earth Zone is the mirror of the Godhead, so the Earth Zone is potentially perfect, it has the godhead in it. By walking up through the spheres we´re only focusing on different aspects of creation, all inherent in us from the very beginning of our path. So in the sun sphere we´re triggered by our solar weakness and strengths, and we´ll need to develop our own solar “spellwork” to progress further. We have to overcome what wants to let us stay in a sphere. For most humans the Venus sphere is the hardest to climb out of this reason, because most people have difficulties of overcoming their sexual desires. But that´s a general notion and everybody will face their own adventures. The magical methods of the different spheres are the rewards from going through the evolution of the sphere, and internalizing the part of creation it rules over.
PAA: How can astrology and astrological cycles help in understanding the spheres (if they can)?
Crystalf: Astrology is like map-drawing: it prepares the magician intellectually for what he´ll encounter in a sphere and what his personal quest in a sphere might be. The birth chart is the predisposition, the magical development the overruling and integration that disposition, the mental travel the challenge when the magical development has to face its toughest testing in a certain regard.
PAA: Does nature on Earth reflect the workings of the spheres? If so, could you give examples of how it works and why this reflection takes place?
Crystalf: In Alchemy we call it the lore of sympathy. The most obvious is the nature of the metals, where you can see the nature of the sun in gold, of moon in silver and so on. But also in the plants you can see the working of the spheres, most beneficial in healing herbs. That´s why Spagyrics is such a great workplace for hermetic magicians. It makes it much easier to understand nature than any other approach I am aware of.
PAA: Can you access the Akasha to determine the nature of global events? If so, what would you say is the best method to do it?
Crystalf: Sometimes, yes, but it has to be very short before. But ask yourself: why should you do it? Akasha is the realm of all potentials, outside time and space, but having it all inside it. To foresee a certain event you´re interested in takes a very, very, very specific question and way of searching in this infinite pure being. The better way is to simply trust Akasha that it will show the magician, what he needs to perceive. That leads me to a very general notion: in most cases the magician should refrain from doing spellwork for their own interests – if they truly change themselves, reality will also change to fit their needs. If the magician trusts in Akasha, it will show what they need to know.
PAA: How best can one translate the teachings of the spheres to applied knowledge on our material plane and daily life? Aware that this depends on the occasion, could you give us an example?
Crystalf: This task of “translating the teaching of the spheres to applied knowledge on our material plane and daily life” I found very hard! Of course we perceive the teaching of the spheres while receiving them as intellectual, but as soon as we return to normal consciousness this intellectuality dwindles and what remain translates mostly in habits. Acting accordingly to the spheres is the best book you can write on them…
PAA: What kind of limits does a being in the Akasha still have, if any?
Crystalf: Everything a magician in the Akasha initializes has nonetheless in some, whatever strange way work with the laws of nature to come into being. This makes throwing fireballs a very unlikely event (I am very sorry, really! I know you hoped for a different outcome, but no… Mages don´t throw bolts – no firebolts, lightning bolts, ice bolts…), but stopping an attacker by making him stumble might… 😀
PAA: Franz Bardon does differentiate between the planetary spheres and the planets themselves. Do you have knowledge of how to access the planet and how the difference is felt?
Crystalf: Yeah, he does that – especially with Venus. But I think, that this is a problem of translation because he never mentioned that anywhere else in his book. It´s totally out of context. So, to be honest I never gave this Venus humans very much attention. You see, the description of the spheres in PME is not the interesting part of PME; sometimes I even think it´s just to fill out the book, make it a little bit bigger. The magician doesn´t need Bardons experiences on the planes and with the being – he should make his very own experiences, writes his own grimoire. The first part, in which he gives the tools for that journey is the interesting part, and when the magician travels the first realm for himself he´ll realize that reality has nothing to do with the experiences of others, might their names be Bardon or some other sphere magician.
PAA: Finally is there anything else you would like to mention.
Crystalf: Yes, please trust in yourself! The system Bardon constructed is wonderful, but its goal is it to turn its student into masters, not into master’s students. Bardon mentioned it himself: as soon as the student has experienced the divine himself and has full contact to his Angel/guru, there is nothing more Bardon can teach this magician anymore. The other books are hints, but eventually the magician has to let Bardon behind, jump into the great unknown. When he has trained himself thoroughly by what Bardon teaches, he has everything he needs to make his own journey. But by clinging to Bardons words in PME and KTQ the magician keeps himself from becoming the sovereign he should be. He remains a master’s student instead of becoming a master himself. But Franz Bardon wanted to give a system that leads to mastery. And a master walks his own path – he remembers his own master with deep love and respect, but in the end he has to walk alone. Have the strength to walk your own path!
PAA: Thank you very much for spending time answering our questions.