The Problem of Group Work using Franz Bardon


I want to thank Phillip Harris-Smith for his ongoing support to Perseus and his generous contribution of this and previous guest posts for the blog. He is a wealth of knowledge and experience and has a pretty unique path with all traditions he has been a part of. So, thank you Phillip this is another great contribution on the work of Franz Bardon! To see his other posts, I have linked to them below:

Phillip Harris-Smith on Magickal After-Effects and the Material World
Interview with British Occultist: Phillip Harris-Smith
Oversimplifying the complex: How the Grimoire Tradition Misuses Occam’s Razor
Alchemical Vegetable Menstruum & Evocation
Esoteric New Year

One of my first successful visible appearances of a Spirit, I mean the spirit was visible at the physical level, was thanks to Poke Runyon’s dark mirror technique. The spirit became visible to all present not just the ‘seer’. My admiration for Poke Runyon increased even more when he made a valuable and insightful observation on his Podcast called: The Hermetic Hour. In essence Poke observed that Golden Dawn practice is predominantly ritual magic. Poke then correctly identifies that Aleister Crowley’s Thelemic magic system is a mixture of eastern yogic practices and western style ritual magic. Whilst there is some overlap the individual components of ritual and meditative training in Thelemic material are addressed in tandem. A period of meditative emphasis once completed enabling an enhanced praxis of ritual work which after a time may in turn lead to a further progression in meditative training. Poke then points out that in Franz Bardon’s Initiation into Hermetics the training which facilitates progress through meditation is the same training that facilitates progress via ritual magic. In Bardon’s ten steps of Hermetic training each step of the work unlocks opportunities for both ritual and meditative work, there is no specific emphasis on one or the other……At least this is what I think Poke was saying, assuming this was what he meant I totally agree.

Bardon asserts two main things in his books.

Firstly the hermetic principals and training he provided are not generally available and were lost to humanity. Apparently Bardon was on a ‘mission from God’ to provide the true Hermetic wisdom to humanity once more.

Secondly; because the ‘True Mysteries’ have been lost any magical groups or orders will not be able to properly train and initiate the aspirant. Bardon observes that if a mystery school of some kind did posses the true Hermetic wisdom this would be optimal for the aspiring hermeticist. However because no group, order, mystery school etc has the true Hermetic knowledge the only option is solo work. Therefore Bardon’s three books Initiation into Hermetics, The Practice of Magical Evocation and The Key to the True Quabbalah are all designed for the solo practitioner.

As more and more people progress through Bardon’s training (Bardon wrote that eventually millions will do this), there is a natural tendency towards what I suppose could be called Hermetic community. Folks sharing experience and personal impressions of the various stages of Bardon’s Hermetic training online and at various physical events, workshops etc.

Because Bardon’s training is designed for solo work various attempts to shoehorn it into a mystery school format have met with problems. One approach that does seem workable is the personal tuition approach similar to that present in martial arts schools. Students at the beginning in large groups performing basic work, as they progress the training groups reducing in number until eventually tuition is one to one, master to student.

As far as I can tell there are two ‘typical’ students of Franz Bardon’s training:

The first is someone who is an aspiring ritual magician, attracted to Bardon’s training by its clarity and rigour. If and when…. they start achieving success with Bardon’s material they eventually realise Bardon’s seemingly arrogant assertion that only he is offering the true Hermeticism is in fact correct. The ritual magician ….now Bardon student will tend to gradually disengage from any magical groups or social arrangements with other occultists. This is because Bardon’s training is solo and the some of the capabilities realised through progress with Bardon’s material are not achievable through the training given in the various magical orders. Also other ritual magicians who are part of the social group are either unaware of these capabilities, uninterested or even dismissive. I place myself in this first category, the ritual magician who started to achieve results with Bardon’s training and gradually became uninterested in the local ‘occult scene’, preferring instead to progress with the training set out in Bardon’s books. It has been put to me that there is material equivalent to Bardon’s stuff, praxis and methods in the higher levels of magical orders but these are secret. Basic verbal reasoning would indicate this is unlikely. In as far as Franz Bardon has clearly and concisely outlined theory and practice to attain various hermetic capabilities through his training, these things are no longer secret. Therefore if ‘the secret is out’ it would serve the interest of any magical order or group to show original manuscripts or papers that give same or similar material to what we see in Bardon’s books. After all if the hermetic praxis is no longer secret there is no need to guard this ‘mystery’ from the profane, it is already out there. Also an order or group that could show it already possessed a particular aspect of hermetic knowledge before Bardon published this in his books; would be able to demonstrate that Bardon was mistaken in his assertion that he….. Franz Bardon on a ‘mission from God’ was revealing long lost hermetic secrets. Obviously I am being deliberately polemic here. The essential suggestion I offer is that not many ritual magicians seem to engage with Bardon’s training compared to a larger number of magicians present in various orders or groups, formal or informal.

It seems to me the second type of ‘typical’ Bardon student is more prevalent. These are often martial artists who practice a martial discipline that emphasises subtle or spiritual energies. Sometimes this second type of Bardon student has an interest in eastern religions and meditative practices, also what is sometimes called alternative or eastern medicine. As far as I can tell they encounter Franz Bardon’s books and regard them as pretty much the best thing since sliced bread. Being trained already in subtle energies and how to practically utilise them this second type of ‘typical’ Bardon student seems to enthusiastically engage with Bardon’s training. There seems a clear contrast between the enthusiasm of this second type of Bardon student and the slow to develop, initially perhaps even grudging appreciation the first type of Bardon student, the ritual magician exhibits. Obviously I base this on my own experience in engaging with Bardon’s training and the reaction of other magicians I knew when they realised I was ‘getting into Bardon’.

So what seems to be a social, hierarchical…almost feudal ‘occult scene’ seems to provide discouragement for ritual magicians to engage with Franz Bardon’s hermetic training. The magician may find it necessary to disengage with magical groups if they were in any and allow friendships with other magicians to lapse so they can properly pursue the training given in Franz Bardon’s books. The Hermetic student coming from a martial arts or more eastern spirituality does not seem to have this kind of discouragement. However there does seem to be one problem for this second type of ‘typical’ Bardon student…..Franz Bardon was not a martial artist or a yogi or any kind of eastern mystic. There is information that he had contact with individuals and traditions of what Bardon calls the orient, sometimes Bardon employs eastern terminology in his books. It is clear however that Franz Bardon was a magician and an Alchemist in the western ‘occidental’ sense of the word.

There can be a pattern mismatch error between eastern spiritual practices however effective they may be and the training given by Franz Bardon; a western ritual magician and Alchemist. Because Bardon provided us with universal hermetic keys I will give one basic example rather than launching into some kind of diatribe. The hermeticist can easily return to the default criteria in Bardon’s works if other practices lose efficacy.

The viewpoint I have seen online relating to how to become conscious of the senses in the spirit (Initiation into Hermetics: step 6 Magic Mental Training. The view seems to be that just say… visualising a thing, feeling it’s elemental nature and knowing it’s conceptual basis is the same as being conscious of the senses in the spirit. This is not so; whilst it is true that doing these shows an operation of the mental, astral and physical this is pretty much the work of Initiation into Hermetics step 3 Magic Mental Training; creating and accurately sustaining a whole environment, a whole sensorium for a sustained period. In IIH step 6 Bardon is not asking that IIH step 3 be repeated. If I have misunderstood what has been expressed online I would be happy to be corrected. IIH step 6 magic mental training is more of an aligning and when the mental, astral and physical are synchronised initially there can be fatigue, a stamina to maintain the synchronisation between mental, astral and physical slowly develops over time with practice. This technique is an early cornerstone for the creative word praxis Bardon gives in Key to the True Quabbalah. Again if I have misunderstood what I have seen on line with respect to being conscious of the senses in the spirit my clarification would be appreciated.

My view here is that there is probably a mismatch error rather than anything actually incorrect.

Many thanks to Phillip for sharing his thoughts with us.

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