Today we have an interview with Jason Read, someone who has undertaken a very interesting course of study in Asia, he is a student of Franz Bardons work and the author of what I think will be some very interesting books on hard to find subjects within Taoist Magic, due to be released in the coming years. I hope that as more information comes out about his books we can do another update, but for now we have his insight on some questions I raised primarily focusing on Bardons work, for the Taoist segment of this interview scroll down to read about the training Jason received. Be sure to visit Jason’s blog after reading the interview. Update: Here is his new website.
PAA: Please introduce yourself and let us know how you found the teachings of Franz Bardon.
Fraternal greetings. Well I’m Jason Read, and I expect a few people know me through my work in Chinese folk magic rather than Hermetic endeavors. I found Bardon in my early twenties after having gone the usual route …you know…Dion Fortune, Israel Regardie, Crowley and the usual resources available in the 1990s. Back then Bardon was not very well known and I ordered his books from an advertisement I found in an astrology magazine of all places. I quickly realized that this was a logical system with definite goals and devoid of obscuration of method.
PAA: Many have problems with the early steps like VOM in step 1 and the visualization
exercises in step 2 (These are exercises in the first manual of Franz Bardon ‘Initiation into Hermetics’ often called IIH). What advice would you give to help students pass these steps?
I expect most people say this, but stick with it. I think the alchemists speak of this in terms of fixing the volatile. Sustaining a concentrated image is hard work, and to make it real is even harder. Think of it in terms of alchemy. The imagination /mind is like Mercury, but the passion and sustained discipline is like sulfur that fixes the image so it becomes crystallized, salt. Yet don’t be rigid and tense in the visualization, relax into it, enjoy it. As alchemy texts say yet again, alchemy is child’s play!
PAA: What in your opinion are the crucial steps of IIH that ensure success and did you follow IIH by the book or did you go your own way with it?
The key of it all is sustained, gentle effort. The development of character is also important but overlooked by those wanting quick results. In fact the way your visualizations go can quickly indicate psychological complexes that are blocking the free flow of elemental energies. Even niggling muscular tensions as you sit in meditation may be locked in emotional traumas and the like.
PAA: What challenges did you face during your training in IIH/ PME/KTQ. Was there any specific step that took longer for you than others?
The most challenging aspect for me personally was inertia. Getting moving in the practice. Another challenge is distinguishing mere vivid imagination with actual ‘mental wandering’. I tend to think students mistake vivid mental impressions with actual experiences in spiritual realms and that can lead to delusion. I did exactly that, until one day there was an actual audible click at the base of my skull and an apparently complete disengagement from normal consciousness. That was a eureka moment for me, and I thought…’’Oh, so that’s it!’’ It’s a world away from my previous controlled fantasizing.
PAA: Are you able to share anything from your work in the second and third book? Such as experiences in mental wondering? First Evocation etc.
I had some experiences with invocations of the Elementals as at that time that was my capability in all honesty. Some interesting experiences, and I seemed to work well with Air and Fire in particular. In one experience we used in an experimental fashion, audio tech to record voices, similar to EVP, an experiment others might pursue with more gusto. Some interesting sibilant voices on the background of white noise.
PAA: You have travelled and studied extensively in Asia. Can you share with us your journey and explain what you learned?
Well yes. To cut a long story short I ventured to Malaysia and China to learn , specifically magic. By my (Chinese) wife , then girlfriend I was put in touch with a master of the folk magical tradition and studied with him for some 12 years. For me it consolidated alot and dare I say filled in some gaps. I can definitely see some Daoist aspects in Bardon’s work, though Bardon taught it at a basic level. I would say, my teacher, Dr Liang is one of the few people who I met who can authentically demonstrate magic physically.
PAA: This sounds fascinating, can you give more details about the kind of training you underwent in Asia?
Yes , of course.
I will try to quickly summarise the methods used in our particular school, though they do vary from sect to sect. Of course there is also quite a lot that can never be discussed publicly nor printed due to oaths of initiation, what we call ‘Entering the Door’. So first and foremost you have to be inducted or passed through the door. Like many Asian systems you have to receive a transmission from an acknowledged Master who is capable of aligning you to the ancestral reservoir so to speak. You couldn’t just buy a book and hope to succeed in the methods even if they were fully published. It would be like, for example, trying to start up a computer with no electricity. Until you are ‘wired’ you cannot work with the method.
However this isn’t a guru type relationship where you are ‘worshipping’ the teacher as some kind of living embodiment of a god as in some orthodox system common in Buddhism and Hinduism. So having your transmission or ‘chuan, the next stage is geared towards self-healing. In Daoist belief you have to revert towards , for want of better words, a ‘child-like’ state, something we refer to as the Pre-Heaven Nature. Generally speaking there is a kind of deterioration of the totality of the potential of human beings from puberty onwards. The energetic functions are lost, bits of your soul essence are scattered by trauma and repression, the workings of the energetic system are off balance and so forth. So for the first several months or even years there is work done to retrieve lost fragments of the soul complex and rebalance the energetic system that is represented by the six organs and meridians more well known to acupuncture and other TCM practitioners.
Another aspect of this is ridding of spiritual parasites, some of which we are born with and
have various names in Daoist literature, such as the Nine Worms. Another aspect is paying off your debts to the universe. Daoists believe you cannot function magically at your full potential until your debt to the cosmos is paid off. In other words we are all born in a kind of debt. There is a special set of ritual practices designed to do exactly this but due to brevity I won’t go on.
Having all this complete, and aside from training in the basics of cosmology, and other aspects of Chinese metaphysics, then meditation and neigong can begin. Until the person is ‘repaired’ however, Daoists teach that magic is only a fantasy, and results, if any, are statistical at most. One only has to quickly read any number of ‘astral accounts’ on the occulture internet to quickly realise that those accounts are far more based on a fevered imagination than reality. Daoist esotericism constantly stresses the need for Zhen, reality. Yes, I realise this won’t be a fashionable statement in today’s world of Tik-Tok occultism and entitlement. It is at this point I should mention some interesting parallels to Bardonian magic. They are only parallels though, and we should not read too much into them.
1. THE LIGHT IN ENERGY TRAINING.
Getting beyond mere qigong which is an art these days more geared towards health and
martial arts in most (not all) cases is difficult even in Asia. Due to Sun Yat Sen and Mao
Ze Dong, much of the magical tradition in China was thrown away or discarded.
However in the underground are to be found real magical exercises.
One of these is called Jin GUAN Fa, the Golden Light Method. It is a special magical exercise in which the dizi (student) pore breathes golden light after speaking a special invocation and holding a mudra over the third eye and mentally envisioning a special Seal. (see picture). Particles of Golden Light infuse the body. These particles of pure solar light can be stored at the Yellow Court Centre (solar plexus) or Dan Tian (near navel). Advanced students can direct this light for healing or exorcising Xie (unhealthy qi or Spirits). It can also, in Masters, be seen by other students and even photographed as a golden aura around the master.
COMPARE. BARDONS LIGHT EXERCISE.
2. ELEMENTAL BREATHING/ORGANS.
In five colours of red, green, black, yellow and white, representing fire, wood, water, soil and metal, the master inhales the elemental rainbow to empower, balance and strengthen the harmony of elements within.
Along with this is associated the conscious centering of mind in corresponding internal organs. Going beyond this he actually communicates with the spirits and intelligences of the organs as entities in their own right. The organs are filled with purifying, life giving elemental essence. This can be extended into magic such as magically induced fire, and healing.
COMPARE: BARDONS ELEMENTAL BREATHING, TRANSPLANTATION OF
CONSCIOUSNESS AND ORGAN LOADING.
3. CONSCIOUS EATING AND DRINKING.
In Magical training, Taoist fangshi (magicians) are taught an intricate art of empowering food such as fruit, buns (Bao Zi), rice and water for certain aims. A typical one involves empowering water by use of a special seal called Zi Wei. the Seal of the Purple Palace to empower water with a purple essence representing the powers of the Stars. This is drunk and absorbed to help build a tangible magical body. Sometimes talismans are infused with will and entity essence and burned. The ashes were mixed with water, tea or wine and drunk.
COMPARE:BARDON EUCHARISTICAL MYSTERY.
4. CREATING MAGICAL ELEMENTALS.
A basic process in Maoshan is to carve a wooden figure, usually with willow or peach Wood. It is drilled with a central axis from the top of the head (bai Hui) to form a hollow spinal channel. This is filled with special ingredients similar to FLUID OR SOLID CONDENSERS. In special cases the magician will employ ashes of bones of the recently deceased to kick start the operation by using an astral shell of the dead. The magical familiar is cultivated over a period of 49 days and fed a drop of blood, incense, rice etc. The Familiar can work for the magician.
A highly developed art with many variants in Maoshan.
Note that all statues and images undergo Kai Guang or consecration using light reflected
from mirrors, filling with the 8 Treasures and opening the senses with cinnabar.
In lesser operations a simple paper doll or zhiren or a straw doll of 36 straws is used but
is opened with cinnabar ink.
COMPARE BARDON CREATING ELEMENTARIES AND VOLTING.
5. MAGICAL MIRRORS.
Many kinds, moon mirrors, sun mirrors. Absorption and projection mirrors. Some are
convex, some concave and some a flat plane. All are loaded.
Even the well known bagua mirror has to undergo Kai Guang with cinnabar and ritual or
it is inert.
PAA: How does what you have learned from the Eastern approach fit with your experience of IIH? Are you able to combine them or do you practice them entirely separately?
Some of the methods of IIH and Daoist magic are so similar that there is no need to practice
them separately. All genuine systems have similar templates so to speak. For example, as well as energy work, visualization, mental and astral travel, we have the use of solid and fluid condensers in both mirrors and small statues made of willow that are used as mediums to converse with spirits.
PAA: Where do you see your practice going now that you have the experience from both the Western and the Eastern systems?
These days I am almost exclusively a practitioner of the Chinese system, but I acknowledge my debt to Bardon, who in many ways led me to that path. Bardon’s work also helps me to explain the Chinese system in concrete terms to those westerners who show an interest.
PAA: Closing thoughts – anything you wish to discuss. This could be advice for practice, information on your own projects like books, podcasts etc.
Franz Bardon has given a wonderful and genuine system to students. I believe it to be a great foundation for the exploration of other systems as it was for myself. Do not be discouraged when the system takes time to produce results…..they will come!
As for myself, I am currently writing a series of books via Mandrake of Oxford on the subject of Chinese Magic that goes beyond just theorizing about qigong, martial arts and so on to the meat of actual practice.
Thankyou for your time!!!
PAA: Thank you very much for sharing journey with us.
Amazing info from Jason. I hope we hear more about this tradition and its goals in training as time goes on.