In this article I will discuss the magician who has most influenced my magic and views. His name is Franz Bardon, this article will be a discussion of his unusual life and work.
Franz was born in Czechoslovakia during the early part of the twentieth century, he was the oldest of 13 children. He grew up in a Roman Catholic household and supposedly his father was a christian mystic. At some point his father being unable to progress further in magic prayed to be initiated by a true adept. As the stories go this happened by his oldest son Franz being possessed by a highly evolved spiritual being. This being having entered through an uninitiated boy made a deal to accept all of the negative karma the boy had thus had. Supposedly this made Franz a very ill and unhealthy man. From this point on Franz had amazing occult powers. He became a stage magician in Germany under the pseudonym of Frabato (a mix of his name and his home town) from around 1920 to 1930. He was very successful demonstrating occult magic and healed, hypnotized, and convinced many of the people he performed before that magic is real and can do amazing things. Many stories from this time abound such as him acting as a medium. In this story his face changed and voice altered to fit the departed spirit, he also used the exact handwriting style of the departed and convinced mothers, husbands and wives that he had truly brought forth the lost family member. Another story is one in which he called forth lightning in front of a group of spectators on a clear day. For more such stories I refer the reader to "Frabato the Magician" by Otto Vittoria.
1941 through 1942 Franz was arrested by the Nazi party. Supposedly one of his students did not listen to Franz's advice and did not destroy the correspondences the two had shared about magic. The Nazi's discovered the letters and put the student and Franz in prison. Supposedly Franz was offered a high level position in the 3rd Reich if he would assist Hitler in winning the war. Franz declined and was tortured in very cruel and unusual manners which the Nazi party is so famous for. some time in 1942 a plane fighting in the war damaged the prison wall where Franz was staying. Through this he escaped and returned home to work as a healer, teacher and to dictate three books on magical method.
Franz Bardon was heavily influenced by Taoism and Hinduism. Many of his students claim he created a completely original system of magic but this shows they are not well versed. He borrowed heavily from many occultist from his time. He was very well read and even apparently read some of Crowley's work. For in his first work Initiation into Hermetics he says "Love is the law, Love under a strong will." Crowley of course had one famous quote which was "Love is the law, Love under will." Bardon in his second work used spirits from other grimories and changed their names using a code he shared only with his friends and students. With all of this said what Bardon does do is present a system of magic which is adaptable to any belief system so the student of magic has an outline of magical development. Franz's work is focused on working with the elements, the electric and magnetic fluid (think yin and yang) and the student working on their character development. Through the book he asks for balance of the total person as well as a slow methodical approach to developing powers and control over the elements. It is sometimes humorous to hear reports of how long it takes to complete his system from 3-4 years all the way to several lifetimes (supposing one can find re-prints in your next life). Bardon was highly detail minded and demanded perfection and a high level of skill. He even comments that if only a handful of people complete his system it will complete the purpose of his books. Bardon wrote for students who had no master or group to practice with and wanted a great magical system to follow. here is the curriculum which Franz's first book covers:
(taken from Tim Scott's article "who was Franz Bardon")
1. Self-Analysis & Basic Exercises
the student works diligently on understanding and harmonizing the four Elements within his own being before doing any further occult work. Bardon prescribes several weeks of minute, mercilessly honest self-observation and recording of one's faults and failings. The student classifies each under the four Elemental categories to see which Elements are out of balance in his Self. A similar exercise classifies his virtues and strengths. Since the magician is to have control over all the Elemental worlds, he must not be unbalanced or have any obsessions that would impede his effectiveness, or allow weak spots that could cause his undoing.
2. Intermediate Concentration & Breathing
In the next step, the student strengthens his ability to concentrate and performs breathing exercises and the techniques of autosuggestion. Bardon regards these as the secret key to the subconscious.
Bardon distinguishes carefully between two kinds of breathing: Pulmonary (normal) and through the skin. This second type of breathing takes practice. The body can respire automatically, but the student needs to learn to control it, combine it with voluntary pulmonary breathing and selectively inspire the various Elements and Akasha.
3. Advanced Visualization Exercises & Element Manipulation
This step entails intense concentration on and visualization of increasingly more complex objects, and "inhaling" the Elements into the body. The student also learns the "loading," or charging, of talismans, rooms, or objects for protection, healing, or other purposes.
4. Accumulation of Elements & Rituals
In this part of the training the student, works to perfect the balancing and concentrating of Elementary energies in the students own and other person's bodies. In Bardon's system, "rituals" are mot what we normally think of as such, but rather mnemonics based on hand gestures, verbal formulas or visual keys. He claims that once you understand the energies properly, can recall an energy or situation with merely a surreptitious hand gesture, a silent formula or a combination thereof.
5. Transplanting Consciousness & Levitation
This step consists of a graduated series of exercises to prepare the student for physical and astral levitation and astral travel, as a prelude to communication with astral beings. Communication with the astral world can either be active or passive. Passive techniques are simpler and safer, thus Bardon presents them first.
6. Introduction to Astral Beings & Astral Travel
Besides astral beings and travel, this chapter deals with the creation of non-physical beings for the magician's use. Bardon also discusses the perils of accidentally creating them. This inadvertent creation of phantasms which can attach to and parasites the operator is a great danger for the dabbler in occultism. At this point, Bardon again insists that the student not skip any step in his development, in order to avoid this serious problem.
7. Development of Clairvoyance, Clairaudience & Other Abilities:
Creation of Elementaries
Bardon gives formulas for accessories such as special eye-baths and ear-plugs to aid in development of super-sensory perception. He also discusses magic animation of pictures and statues.
8. "Fluid Condensers"
These are special tools which the magician creates to concentrate, store, and manipulate the electric and magnetic fluids. He gives fairly detailed instructions for making, charging and using these "condensers."
First, Bardon teaches that even minute quantities gold can add enormously to the accumulative power of any condenser. Thus, he recommends preparing a gold tincture to "charge" any condensers the student makes. The easiest way is to dissolve a gram of soluble gold chloride in 20 grams of distilled water. (Gold chloride is fairly expensive - about $50 per gram.)
Here is an interesting example of Bardon's condensers: Put a handful of fresh or dry chamomile flowers into a pot. Pour enough cold water over them to cover them completely. Let the chamomile flowers boil for about 20 minutes. Cool them, but leave the lid on the pot and strain the decoction. Put this on the fire again and allow it to evaporate slowly until it weighs about 50 grams. A few drops more or less do not matter at all. Let the extract cool and, for better preservation, mix it with the same quantity (in this case 50 grams) of spirit or alcohol. (Remember to never use methyl or wood alcohol in any preparation meant to be used in or on the body.) To this mixture add about 10 drops of the gold tincture prepared above.
If you wish to use the condenser for your own purposes, you may still strengthen it, by adding a drop of your blood or sperm, if possible both together, on a swab of cotton wool, throw this afterwards without any scruples into the condenser and shake the lot well. Then, pour all, in a funnel, through filter paper or linen into a small bottle and keep it well corked in a cool and dark place, ready to use.
The magician can use these condensers in many ways: mixing them with liquids to drink, for anointing, mixing them with incense compounds, or pouring them in small bowls to collect and concentrate certain energies.
Any fluid condenser which has been prepared in this manner does not lose its efficiency even after many years. The condenser must be well shaken each time you are going to use it, the bottle is to be corked again after withdrawing some out of it. In the same way you can prepare several universal condensers from Russian or genuine Chinese tea, from lily-blossoms-best are the white ones-popular leaves, alraune roots or mandragora roots, arnica montana, acacia flowers. Any simple fluid condenser, prepared from one plant is sufficient for normal use such as influencing through the elements, or developing the astral senses by means of the fluid condensers.
9. Magick Mirrors for Astral Travel & Healing
The magick mirror (of which the crystal ball is a species) is valuable for many experiments in clairvoyance, clairaudience and the like. After a brief description, Bardon lists many ways the magician can use it. He describes treatment of the sick using electro-magnetic fluids and the magickal loading of talismans, amulets and gems.
10. Elevation of the Spirit to Higher Levels
This chapter discusses the various ways the student should improve his spiritual qualities. Bardon wraps up with a discussion of several occult topics such as exteriorization, levitation, production of natural phenomena, suggestion, hypnosis, psychometry and long distance impregnation of rooms.
As one can see this outline shows that Bardon covered a great deal in his books. Unfortunately for the student who just finds Bardon he does not know Bardon expects the student to give flesh and blood to his system. In truth Bardon gives one the skeleton of magic which the student must bring to life. Without this knowledge the student will become quite an old stooge and a bore at parties as well in life. My recommendations is to stay well read in other systems and to take Bardon's warnings with a grain of salt. Experiment and be creative, do not ever take what is in the book as the only thing you must do.
In his two other books Bardon discusses what the magician can expect as well as a field guide to further magics. His second book The Practice of Magical Evocation is a wonderful treatise on the subject and gives detailed information on the creation of magical tools. His third book The Key to the True Kabbalah appears to be unfinished or not properly done. It does give much information on using color, musical tone and feeling to transform the universe as a divine being would. Supposedly he finished a fourth book but it has mostly been lost to us and only a few pages exist.
July 10th 1958 Franz Bardon died. He was not paying taxes on the alcohol he was using to create his alchemical healing tinctures. March 26, 1958 he was arrested. Bardon had a severe case of pancreatitis. He sent word to his wife to make him a treat called a "speck" which is made with very fat bacon. Now to someone with pancreatitis eating bacon is like taking poison. Bardon ate the treat. For three days he had severe cramps and pains and was finally taken from prison to a hospital (they believed he was faking). When at the hospital he died, one of his students who was a doctor only a few floors down and unaware his master was dying. From this we are led to believe Bardon committed a crafty suicide and in essence a way to escape yet another prison.
Whether or not all the stories and legends of this man are true or not one thing is for certain. In all of my searching one is hard pressed to find a better step by step method of magical development for the serious minded student to progress upon. Bardon is consistently honest, forthright and shows humility. However I must again state that the seeker keeps afloat of many magical ideas and thoughts. A good way to keep Bardon's work in perspective is a healthy dose of Robert Anton Wilson and or Christopher Hyatt Phd. And have some fun for goodness sake, also watch out for taking yourself to seriously!!!!