Franz Bardon was a European Hermetic mystic, who wrote extensively about Hermetic magic, emphasizing practical aspects. In fact, his work is regarded by many as the best magical training program written in the 20th century, allowing students to become magic-users even without access to a teacher.
Personally, I am interested especially in Bardon’s dreamwork, specifically his instructions on how to project out-of-body, which I cover in depth below.
The Practice of Magical Evocation
Bardon’s books are designed to be followed in a specific order for proper benefit, therefore only after mastering Initiation Into Hermetics, his first book, should the student progress to his second book, The Practice of Magical Evocation.
This is a practical guide for the proper evocation of and communication with divine entities.
Regarding dreams, specifically about the importance of astral projection, Bardon writes:
The magician will have experienced during his mental and astral wanderings, when his mental and astral body was split off, that in the astral sphere the ideas of time and space do not exist for him, so that in one single moment he is able to travel any distance and on his way there are no material hindrances which he would not be able to penetrate with his mental and astral body. Every human being will have the same experience after his physical death. The initiate, however, has the advantage of getting acquainted with this fact during his lifetime, and that already in this material world he is liberated of one sorrow: the fear of death.
Bardon teaches how to astral travel in the first book. In this more advanced work, he covers the various entities you may get in contact with during your astral journeys and how to deal with them.
Laosa, for example, is a female intelligence of the zone girdling the earth, who is an “excellent initiator into the magical practices of mental and astral wandering,” while Nudatoni can accompany you on your astral wanderings into hot springs, stalactite caves, hidden treasures, or anything else which is to be found under the surface of the earth.
The Key to the True Kabbalah
To bring one example of the methods provided in this book, let us take a look at the Qabbalistic Alphabet and at what Bardon calls the Twofold key: double letters which serve as magical formulas.
The twofold key creates causes of a mental nature, and therefore also causes mental effects.
When working with this key, first imagine your astral and mental body, then, pronounce the two selected letters in a qabbalistic manner as a spirit with three-sense (visual, acoustical, and emotional) concentration. Start with the first letter and then take the second.
For example, the “C-U” formula is can be applied in the astral body by the help of dynamic breath, evoking the permanent ability to emit, at will, the astral body, fully conscious and with full power, not only by astral wandering.
Initiation Into Hermetics
Bardon’s first book, Initiation Into Hermetics, is about self-realization in the Hermetic tradition. It is divided into 2 sections:
In the theory section of Bardon’s Initiation Into Hermetics, covers esoteric theory and Hermetic philosophy, dealing with such topics as the 5 elements (fire, water, air, earth, and akasa or ether), Karma, occult anatomy, the 3 planes (material, astral, and mental), religion, and God.
Bardon also speaks of the following forces:
- an “electric” force – the universal active force
- a “magnetic” force – the universal passive force
These are expressed in the positive and negative aspects of the four elements.
The Akasa (Ether)
Akasa (known in the West as ether) is in a sense the world of ideas. It is the highest reality, which gives rise to the four elements.
The 3 planes are constructed from the 4 elements: First, come the principle elements, fire and water. Out of their interaction, arise the pseudo-elements air and earth.
Within ether, electric and magnetic vibrations are generated, which together with the elements, are the cause of the entire existence.
Since akasa is the origin of all existing things (past, present, and future), by accessing what’s known as the akashic records, one can know everything that ever happened and ever will.
Bardon teaches using a magic mirror to investigate the past, present, or future. He explains:
All thoughts, perceptions, feelings and physical actions leave behind them exact records in the akasa or primary source, a fact that enables the magician to read like an open book in the akasa with the help of his magic mirror or directly while in a trance.
Three Planes of Existence
According to Bardon, man exists simultaneously in the 3 “planes,” each world forming a matrix for the world below it:
- Our Body lives on the material plane – the physical world is the lowest of the planes.
- Our Soul (or Astral Body) lives in the astral – the next plane down contains the archetypes of the physical world and to some extent the vital energy behind it.
- Our Spirit occupies the mental world. This is the highest reality (except for akasa) and is the true and eternal ego. This plane sets the ideas of akasa in motion.
The Soul / Astral Body
The Astral Body (which is connected to the body by means of an “astral matrix” or a “silver cord”) with the help of the bodily senses makes use of the elements to receive perceptions of the physical world, from where they are passed to our immortal Spirit, which is the seer or the one who is experiencing.
The 4 elements make up the Soul in the following manner:
- Fire – causes in the Soul what is constructive.
- Water – animating.
- Air – balancing.
- Earth – causes what is thriving, compound, and preserving.
The elements determine man’s temper, and therefore his character. When they are in the active form, they represent good properties; while in the passive form, they bring about bad qualities.
Moreover, according to its development, Spirit has a different electric or magnetic fluid vibration, which affects the soul, resulting in one of four temperaments:
- The choleric temper is due to the element of fire:
- active polarity – activity, enthusiasm, eagerness, resolution, courage, productivity, etc.
- negative form – gluttony, jealousy, passion, irritability, intemperance, bent to destruction, etc.
- the sanguine temper is due to the element of air:
- active form – capacity of penetrating, diligence, joy, adroitness, kindness, clearness, lack of grief, cheerfulness, optimism, eagerness, independence, familiarity, etc.
- negative form – continual feeling of being affronted, contempt, propensity to gossiping, lack of endurance, slyness, garrulousness, dishonesty, fickleness, etc.
- the melancholic temper is due to the element of water:
- active form – respectability, modesty, compassion, devotion, seriousness, docility, fervor, cordiality, comprehension, meditation, calmness, quick to give one’s confidence, forgiveness, tenderness, and so on.
- negative form – indifference, depression, apathy, shyness, laziness, etc.
- the phlegmatic one is due to the element of earth:
- active form – respectability, reputation, endurance, consideration, resolution, firmness, seriousness, scrupulousness, thoroughness, concentration, sobriety, punctuality, reservedness, objectivity, infallibility, responsibility, reliability, circumspection, resistance, self-assurance, and so on.
- negative form – insipidity, unscrupulousness, misanthropy, dullness, tardiness, laziness, unreliability, laconism, and so on.
The intensity of these qualities shown outwardly depends on the polarity, the electric or the magnetic fluid.
According to Bardon, the astral body still has two centers in the brain:
- Cerebrum – the seat of normal consciousness
- Cerebellum – the sub-consciousness
Chakras (psychic centers) also have their seat in the Soul. Kundalini yoga is the Indian practice of awakening these chakras.
- Muladhara (earth) – the lowest center occupies in the lowest part of the Soul.
- Swadhisthana (water) – in the region of the sexual organs.
- Manipura (fire) – in the umbilical region and the center of the soul.
- Anahata (air) – in the region of the heart .
- Visudha (ether / akasa) – in the region of the neck.
- Ajna (volition and intellect) – between the eyebrows.
- Sahasrara – the supreme and most divine center is regarded as the thousand-petaled lotus, from which all the other powers of the centers are derived.
Beginning at the top, from the Sahasrara, along the spine, down to the Muladhara, runs the Sushumna channel, connecting and controlling the chakras.
The Relationship Between Our Bodies
We have three bodies, one in each of the three worlds. We also contain all 5 elements within us, including the fifth element, the akasa or Divine element.
Developing each of our bodies and elements in a balanced way ensures success in the development of an understanding of oneself and the universe and attainment of the goals of the practice.
The mental and astral bodies are connected to the physical body by a very subtle elastic ribbing that shines like silver, the so-called silver cord, which Bardon refers to as the astral matrix.
If the link between any two of these bodies is cut, the lower forms dissolve and death results.
For example, if the astral matrix, which is connects the astral body to the physical body, becomes severed, the astral body moves to the astral world, devoid of a physical body, and therefore, presence in the material world (which equals death).
Astral projection involves temporarily loosening the hold between the bodies. The astral body is separated from the physical body, and become able to visit any physical location at any point of time in this dimension and others.
The Astral Plane
The astral body exists on the astral plane (which is the fourth dimension after time and 3 dimensions of space) is similar to the material world, but is denser than the akasa and less dense than the physical.
In the astral plane an emanation of the timeless and spaceless eternity, having neither a beginning nor an end, can be seen, which offers the adept the capacity to attain knowledge of the past, present, and future.
Who inhabits the astral plane?
Various kinds of inhabitants of the astral plane have been reported:
- deceased people – depending on one’s spiritual maturity, one may find oneself in the astral world after death.
- other beings, such as:
- elementaries – entities with one or only very few qualities, according to the dominant vibrations of the elements.
- larvae – entities which are brought to life by intense sensorial thinking, through passions of the lowest step of the Soul. If they succeed in seducing men to give in to their suitable passion, they feed and thrive on the emanation of this passion. The more passions man has, they more such larvae one attracts to the lowest sphere of his astral plane.
- salamander – fire elementals.
- sylphs – air elementals.
- mermaids or undines – water elementals.
- gnomes or goblines – earth elementals.
- wood maidens
- water goblins
These beings can be visited by astral projection or seen through clairvoyance.
While it is impossible to set precise disciplinary rules (sine everyone is different), Bardon stresses the importance of keeping the balance everywhere. He speaks of 3 types of discipline required of the student:
- Discipline of thoughts
- Ennobling the soul through control of passions and instincts
- Harmonizing the body through a moderate and natural way of life. For example, by being moderate in eating and drinking.
The practical section is divided into 10 steps, each containing Physical, Astral (Psychic), and Mental exercises, which the student must master before moving on to the next step.
The exercises bring about development of Body, Soul, and Spirit, as well as of occult abilities.
While all 3 types of exercise must be practiced together for a balanced development, in this article, I focus on the astral (psychic) exercises since they contain Bardon’s dreamwork.
Mental exercises of the Spirit begin with observing the mind.
Astral (psychic) exercises of the Soul begins with introspection and systematically cataloging positive and negative aspects of the self.
Physical exercises of the Body emphasize physical health.
In step 2 of Bardon’s magickal psychic training, the program goes into balancing the elements.
The student must find which elemental powers are prevailing in him on the good as well as the evil side, endeavoring to establish the balance of these elemental influences at all events.
This can be done by fight or control, autosuggestion, or by transforming a quality into the opposite quality.
In step 7 of the psychic training, the student start developing the astral sense as well as the following powers with the aid of visualization techniques and use of magickal herbs (fluid condensers):
- Clairvoyance – seeing, without making use of the physical eyes, events taking place at a distance and in the past, present or future, or seeing deceased people.
- Clairaudience – hearing, without making use of the physical ears, voices even at the remotest distance and, at the same time, to understand the language of all beings.
- Clairsentience (clairfeeling) – acquiring knowledge by means of feeling.
In step 8, Bardon deals with the problem of leaving the body, “or the separation of the mental and later on the astral body from the material one.”
This faculty allows the magician to leave the physical body at any time he desires, transferring himself to anywhere he wants, where he will see, hear and feel everything.
There are two kinds of out-of-body travel, according to Bardon:
- Mental travel – temporarily severing the mental body (or consciousness or spirit) from the material one, while the astral body remains inside the physical body.
- Astral travel – temporarily disconnecting the astral body (along with the mental body) from the physical body.
Before astral travel can be mastered, the disciple begins with mental travel exercises, which are the first step in Bardon’s program for the astral separation from the body, known as the ecstasy, during which not only the spirit but also the soul together with the spirit separate from the body.
Mental Travel – Preliminary Exercise
- Sit down in your conventional asana in front of a mirror in which you can see yourself entirely.
- Regard your reflection for a few moments, then close your eyes and imagine mentally your reflection in the mirror. If you are able to imprint your features very distinctly on your imaginative faculty, especially you head and facial expression, move on to the next step.
- Transfer your consciousness into your reflected image in such a manner that you feel embodied in it. If you succeed, move on to the next step.
- Observe any objects visible in the mirror from the perspective of your reflected image.
- When this faculty too has become a habit, you are ready for actual mental travel.
- Take up you normal position and concentrate on your spirit.
- For a few moments, think that it is your spirit that is perceiving everything and that it is able to move around, free from time and space constraints.
- Imagine yourself stepping out of your body just as from a shell and standing beside it.
- Look at (in the beginning, imagine) your body sitting in its customary position as if it did not belong to you at all, focusing your attention on the body, watching every single detail on your body, such as your facial expression, breathing, your seat, etc.
- Examine your close environment.
- Return into your body, wake up, and check if everything you imagined corresponds to what is actually there. When your perception becomes accurate, move on to the next step.
- Leave your body again, but do not remain in one spot; move around in the room as if you were relying on your physical body. When that becomes easy, move to the next step.
- Leave the room to the hall or the next room, where again you try to see what’s there, then return to the physical body to verify the accuracy of your vision.
- Leave your house and take short walks outside it. For example, visit your neighbor’s house or the houses of friends who live near by. Check what they are doing and then verify you perceived correctly in the physical world.
- Eventually, you will be able to perceive the world accurately from within your mental body. Then, you can start visiting places where are unknown to you.
The mastery of mental travel is an indispensable preparation for the next step of Bardon’s program, astral travel.
In Bardon’s 9th step, we come to Bardon’s technique of separating the astral body from the physical body consciously, allowing the student to move around not just with the Spirit but also with the Soul.
The difference between mental and astral travel is that in mental wandering, the astral matrix remains in the physical body, while in astral projection, the astral matrix is pulled out of the body too.
Experientially, the difference is that in mental travel nothing can influence you, while astral travel feels almost as intense as if you are using your physical body. It’s also more difficult to move away from the physical body in the astral than in the mental.
Astral Projection Technique
- Sit in your asana posture (though these exercise can also be done lying down).
- Let your mental body escape from your physical body. This step is not altogether necessary. It is also possible to leave the physical body with the astral and mental bodies conjoined.
- Allow the physical body to fall asleep while remaining awake (this is the state of ecstasy or trance).
- Imagine that your astral body (which is in the shape of your physical body) is being drawn out of your physical body by your willpower.
- Unite yourself with your astral body by entering the astral shape and breathing regularly; only watch the breath. Conscious breathing in the astral body brings about the separation of the astral matrix.
- In the beginning of this preliminary exercise, do not stray far from your body.
- Observe your immediate surroundings.
- Withdraw gradually from your body, only a few steps at first, and return instantly. Every time you practice this exercise, distance yourself a little more from the physical body until you are able to move freely.
Comparing Bardon’s method of astral projection to more contemporary methods, such as the one promoted by Robert Bruce, reveals a highly complex and difficult system, which requires months, if not years, of hard work.
An Amazon reviewer who was a member of a group of advanced practitioners with 20 years of serious study and training in magic, writes in his review titled “Mind boggling results if you can stay with it!” it took them about a year and a half of almost daily study to get through all the material properly.
To keep this article short, I didn’t cover all the steps that one needs to take before reaching actual mental (8th step) and astral travel (9th step). According to Bardon, one cannot skip any step. Robert Bruce has a 90 day program which is comprehensive and requires at least 30-60 minutes per day of practice. With Bardon you’re looking at a program that is probably unrealistic for most people nowadays.
If you find yourself attracted to Bardon’s method, then I’d recommend getting a book called A Bardon Companion: A practical companion for the student of Franz Bardon’s system of Hermetic initiation by Rawn Clark, which greatly simplifies the complex writings of Bardon (which presumably are even harder to understand in the English translation than in the German origin.) As one Amazon commenter put it
this work deciphers and even challenges Bardon in ways that are not only helpful, yet vital […] I would consider this book an actual requirement to master Bardon’s volumes and would recommend a physical copy over anything else.
One interesting point that Clark makes is regarding the difference between astral projection and lucid dreaming. While lucid dreaming involves the astral body, it is not a form of astral travel. In lucid dreaming all one can explore is one’s own inner psyche. In order to leave personal this realm behind and venture into the broader and non-personal astral realm, conscious astral projection is needed.