Initiation into Hermetics

Initiation into Hermetics” by Franz Bardon: Foolish Fish Review

Introduction

Recently a well-known youtuber and book reviewer Foolish Fish finally did his review of Initiation into Hermetics (IIH) by Franz Bardon that many have been excitedly waiting for. It went as expected as Bardon’s Initiation into Hermetics is a very different method than what Foolish Fish usually covers on his channel.

Before we get into it, I want to say that my following counterpoints are merely my thoughts on the matter, this post is intended to provide a bit of clarity for those who may be put off from Franz Bardons work based on the Foolish Fish review, mainly due to the idea of perfectionism.

I also want to say a big thank you to Foolish Fish, as despite us having some different opinions about the book, his coverage brings literally thousands of eyes to the subject. Only a few days after he posted he already had over 5K views! So just the fact that he featured the book is already a great benefit to the Franz Bardon community. So, thank you.

See Foolish Fish Youtube Channel here

See Foolish Fish Facebook here


Foolish Fish Review of Initiation into Hermetics

Internal Power Vs Ritual System

As Foolish Fish mentioned at the beginning of the video, he is not the intended audience of this book as he has his own practice that he has created that suits him and his mind the best. Though from the little I know about him and his videos apart from being an all-round nice guy he is also practices a more ritual based system. This is another reason why I think the contents and approach to practice of IIH are a bit unfamiliar to ritual practitioners and the idea self-generated power Vs borrowed power.

Sixty Skill mentioned this point very concisely in the comments:

IIH by Bardon is an internal power system based off of the elements as a form of letter magic. As such, it is an equivalent to the Six Yogas of Naropa, Shingon Buddhism, the Eight Limbs of Pantanjali, etc. The primary difference between IIH and most Western systems of magic is that it is not a ritual based system. As such, development is slower than a ritual system, but the practitioner is not influenced by the egregores associated with most ritual systems. The items missing in Bardon’s system are a viable method of body training and breath retention. My efforts, and that of Mark Rasmus, are largely organized around correcting these.

Sixty Skills

This biggest advantage in my view is the lack of egregore influence that comes from the internal power approach; while using ritual approach can be more powerful and quicker but you are possibly coming under the influence of an entity/egregore.

Perfectionism

One of the things that came through strongly from Foolish Fish but also in the comments from viewers was the idea of Perfectionism. IIH absolutely has high standards, and it absolutely requires work but it does not require perfectionism. If you complete the book strictly as Franz Bardon teaches (which you do not need to), he does not ask for perfectionism, at least not in any of the books that I have.

He does ask that you achieve the stated requirements of the previous exercise prior to moving on. As for whether you should move on prior to achieving the step – read more about that here.

Understanding the Requirements

So repeatedly in the video there was this idea of ‘Step 1 requires perfectionism before you reach step 2, and if you cannot be perfect just try harder’. This really shows a misunderstanding of the requirements, this is also to be expected as to review the contents you really need to have performed them in the order and manner described by Franz Bardon, at least the first step to get an idea.

Let’s look at Step 1 requirements.

Step I ~ Magic Mental Training
Thought control, discipline of thoughts, subordination of thoughts

Step I ~ Magic Soul Training
Introspection of Self-Knowledge
Making of the (Black & White) Mirrors of the Soul

Step I ~ Magic Physical Training
The Material or Carnal Body
Mystery of Breathing
Conscious Reception of Food
The Magic of Water

Nothing here should be impossible, the most challenging I think for most is achieving Vacancy of Mind in the Mental Training section. But if the progressive steps are followed and the student understands that this is not looking for some kind of enlightened samadhi, simply the vacancy of thoughts then it is very achievable.

So yes, at the beginning of each Step he does ask you, have you ‘completely mastered’ the preceding steps. Mastered does not mean perfected (not in my opinion), mastered means, achieved the requirements of the step so you can confidently perform it. If you are spending years on Step 1 then there is a high probability that you have misread/misunderstood the requirements. Again, I go into this more in this post.

Suitability of Students

In the review Foolish Fish also discussed students contacting him for guidance feeling like they could not start their practice as they not yet perfect. I am not sure whether he was talking in general or connecting this to IIH. I find this is a shame but it is a reflection of people in general really. No sentence in Initiation into Hermetics says you need to be perfect.

This is all about clarity and perception, people add on all sorts of requirements they have mentally dreamed up and I often see this in emails and instant messages that I receive. I ask where they got this idea from, and often they have not read the actual book in a long time. They read it, got an idea about it, read things online and then this impossible task was formed in their mind.

In this article I wrote this:

Lacking the ability to follow instructions, this again relates to clarity. That despite instructions being very clear to just sit or breath the practitioner somehow adds in their own practices to this and ends up doing the exercise from the book in a completely different way than what is required, dressing it up into some chakra, kundalini energy, rising angel, invoking exercise!

Step 2 visualization is a good example of not following the instructions, it is in the mental section, and we are asked to use our minds eye as it is a mental exercise. Yet people wait and expect some IMAX Movie like quality apparition to appear in front of their physical eyes and remain for years on the same step as the long-awaited apparition never appears. Despite the simple instructions, they were misread/misunderstood/self sabotaged and years are wasted. (This part here doesn’t mean do not come up with your own exercises or approaches; it means we need to understand exactly what Bardon requires first.) So this often results in over complication of a simple exercise, a basic skill set.

Franz Bardons Initiation into Hermetics: Common Subjects & Why No Progress? – Perseus Arcane Academy (Feb 13th 2023)

Franz Bardon writes at the end of Step 1:

We should allow anywhere from fourteen days to one month for each of the exercises. This time allotment is for have already practiced meditation and concentration. Those students who are inexperienced in Hermetics will probably require more time and therefore have to extend this exercise period in accordance with their needs. Success depends upon the individuality of the student. It serves no purpose in practice to proceed to the next step without first having mastered or properly completed the present step.

Franz Bardon – Initiation into Hermetics p.81 Merkur

There is an editor’s addition to the Merkur edition here.

It can take many months for Step I to be fully completed. This should not discourage the aspiring initiate, for spiritual development is all individually based. Such a length of time to complete this step is usually attributed to a lack of theoretical knowledge. Again, the theory must be read many, many times and must become the mental property of the student, as described in the second to the last paragraph of the theoretical part of this book. Also, the instructions must be followed precisely and the exercises must not be interrupted, otherwise the student will severely regress. – ED

Editor – Initiation into Hermetics p.81 Merkur

So, I think we can put this to bed now that there is no such idea as perfection that is required with Bardons training. In fact from Step 1 and the production of the mirrors we see how imperfect we are. The work of the mirrors also does not call for the removal of all imperfections – this is a huge misunderstanding from being unfamiliar with the work. In Steps 1-8 we are never seeking to remove ALL our imperfections, we instead seek to balance the number of positive/white and negative/black characteristics of our personal mirrors.

I do agree that Bardon’s training is demanding, it demands high standards. It requires balance, it requires work. Progress is not had through theory or memorizing rituals (nothing wrong with that, I have memorized lots of rituals). It certainly does seem to appeal to those who prefer quiet practice with no frills. It is boring work with wonderful results.

Possibilities of the System

When you take Initiation into Hermetics, The Practice of Magical Evocation and The Key to the True Quabbalah together, you have a path that will keep you busy for a long time. I feel from the comments maybe many are not aware of how it all fits together. So I would like to share some interviews here with Bob from Sixty Skills.

Initiation into Hermetics
The Key to the True Quabbalah

Approaches to Initiation into Hermetics

If you are currently working on Initiation into Hermetics and the teachings of Franz Bardon and doing well then, I say, wonderful. But if you would like to look at different approaches to the book, how to use body work to enhance your training or prefer to be closely guided by an experienced practitioner then please do have a look here.


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