We each are familiar with a simple form of mental wandering which we know as daydreaming. In a daydream we can project our imagination any where and any when. But there are many differences between a daydream and what Bardon describes here as mental projection, travel or wandering. The main difference is that in a daydream our projection is entirely imaginary and has little direct connection to actual events, whereas in mental wandering, we learn to observe actual events and places. In a daydream, we explore only our own inner mental landscape of desires, but through mental wandering we are able to explore the external universe.
Contrary to what the passive reader might assume, the magician does not simply exteriorize their mental body and right off the bat begin receiving accurate perceptions of their surroundings. It actually takes long and arduous practice to make the transition from the daydream-like imagination in which everything perceived is one's own creation, to the actual perception of what is real. There is no trick to making this transition other than repeated practice. For some, the training of previous Steps, combined with a native ability, may make this transition an easy matter, but for many students, this will take a great amount of effort and time.
The first exercise of this section involves sitting in front of a mirror and transferring your consciousness into the reflected image of your body. Some have assumed that this practice has something to do with a magical land that lies within a mirror's reflection but this is mere superstition and the student of magic will immediately see that this is not the case here. The point of this exercises is simply to accustom the student to the transferal of their mental body into their own image and the perception of their surroundings from that perspective. This is only introductory.
For the actual work of mental wandering, the student does not rely upon the transferal into a mirror image. Instead, the student transfers their awareness into their own mental body itself. Here you will see the importance of the Step Six work of becoming conscious of your own mental body. To begin the mental wandering, the student must sense their mental body with full consciousness and then step with it, out of the astra-physical shell or body. This is very different than a mere transferal of consciousness.
Bardon cautions the student against giving in to the feeling of freedom that is immediately felt once the exteriorization has been achieved and it is wise to heed this warning. This is important as it teaches the student control. The recommended approach is one of incremental steps.
At first the student is to stand very close to their physical body and observe the details of its appearance. Then the student looks around at their surroundings. Only when the surroundings are clearly and accurately perceived is it wise to venture further. This is followed by walking into the next room or a short distance from the physical body.
At each stage, the student must learn to clearly and accurately perceive the details of their surroundings. To verify the reliability of their mental perceptions, the student must examine the same area when in their physical form and check to see if what they perceive with their physical eyes matches what they perceived with their mental vision. Again, you will see the importance of past work, specifically that of developing the subtle senses in the previous Step.
An important factor in the alignment of your mental vision with that of your physical eyes are the meditations that Bardon explains. At the beginning of each mental wandering exercise, the student is instructed to meditate upon the ability of the mental body to perceive the external universe with accuracy. The student must be assured, at a very deep level, that this is so. This is reminiscent of the Step Six exercises concerning the action of the spirit but here it is taken to a new degree since the mental body is now separate from the astral and physical forms. Here, the student must learn how to look through the mental eyes alone and not through the astral and physical eyes as before. This difference may seem subtle to the passive reader but it is very significant in the actual practice.
When the student has reached the stage where their mental perceptions reliably match the physical reality of their immediate surroundings, then s/he may venture further. At a certain point (distance of travel), the student will no longer be able to travel physically to the same location and verify with their physical senses whether or not their mental perceptions match the physical reality. Thus it becomes necessary to test the accuracy of their mental perceptions by trying to alter what they see by imagining it differently. If the imagination alters what is perceived then the student will know that their mental perceptions do not match the physical reality. With repeated practice the student will eventually reach the state where their mental perceptions are accurate and reliable, and they will no longer be able to effect their surroundings with their imagination alone. This is the crux of the matter when it come to genuine mental wandering -- it is very easy to project what you want or expect to perceive and fool yourself that this is indeed real when it is in fact not. It is also easy to convince yourself that you are unable to change things with your imagination and thus short circuit your ability to test your perceptions. This is especially pernicious and should stand as a warning that the previous Steps must first have been completed since the preparatory work is what provides the magician the ability to know when this subtle sort of self-delusion is happening.
When the student reaches, after long practice, the stage where their mental perceptions are accurate regardless of the distance traveled, then and only then, is it time to venture into other realms. To where and to when the mental wanderer may travel is limitless and dependent entirely upon the maturity of the initiate. The mental wanderer may also be able to cause magical effects upon their surroundings, from within their mental body, by following the practices learned in previous Steps.
I have said in the past that there is a way to tell the difference between a mental journey and an astral journey. The main difference is in the nature of the sensations that the wanderer can perceive while separated. When one wanders with the astra-mental form (astral wandering), the sensations will be very similar in quality and quantity to those experienced by the physical body. But when wandering in the mental body alone, the perception of sensations will be of a lesser quality. But I must warn you that the mental body is capable, through the plastic imagination, to amplify the lesser mental sensations to such a degree as to be almost like those of astral wandering. Nonetheless, there is a distinct difference. The true astral sensations invoke a near physical feeling of ecstasy.
Mental wandering is the magician's most amenable tool when it comes to exploration of the external universe. With the mental body, the initiate is capable of traveling to any 'where', any 'when' and any 'why'. This is not the case with astral wandering where the magician is limited to exploration of the astral and physical realms -- the astral body is simply not fine enough to penetrate the mental realm itself. The advantage of astral wandering is that the magician can cause magical effects from the astral realm immediately, whereas with mental wandering it takes greater effort to cause an effect to manifest upon the astral and physical levels. At times, it is advantageous to be able to manifest an astral density in order to communicate directly with astral beings, etc. But for most purposes, mental wandering will suffice and with extended practice, mental wandering can net the magician the same effectiveness as astral wandering.
The main point of mental wandering is to familiarize yourself with the universe. This is especially important as a preparation for still higher work, specifically that of merging with deity (which by its nature is omnipresent). A part of the preparation for the actual experience of omnipresence involves getting the feel of the infinite nature of the universe through a thorough exploration. Furthermore, without the ability to wander mentally, the art of evocation is an impossibility for the student.
For the magician who has completed the eighth Step, the universe is an open book.
This section begins with a few words about the magician's character and achievement. This is a very important matter and what Bardon says should be considered deeply by the aspiring student before proceeding any further.
Bardon speaks about the Akasha preventing the unprepared from further progress and about it "protecting" the Mysteries from those who would abuse them. I would like to clarify this a bit for the passive reader.
These functions of the Akasha are very real but they are not of the nature of a parental or demagogic intent per se. They are simply laws of Nature. In other words, this aspect of the Akasha is not meant as a punishment for those who would step beyond their true capabilities. There is not genuine, conscious intent here such as we would think of it in human emotional terms. The Akasha acts, in this regard, without bias -- this is just the way the universe is structured. It is not so much that the Akasha consciously prevents the rise of the unprepared student; rather, these requirements that Bardon speaks of are, by their very nature, what opens the Akasha and allows for a deeper penetration into the Mysteries. This is a difficult concept to describe and I can only hope that my words have clarified the matter for you to some minor extent.
The actual exercises of this section concern the manipulation of the Electric and Magnetic Fluids. Bardon describes two methods for accumulating the Fluids -- the inductive and the deductive.
By inductive, Bardon means from the outside in. In other words, the corresponding Element is visualized as surrounding the student and the Fluid is drawn from the external Element and accumulated within the interior of the student's body.
By deductive, Bardon indicates a reverse process. The student accumulates the corresponding Element, in the normal manner, within their own body to such a degree that the Fluid itself accumulates on the surface of their body.
Both of these methods serve different purposes as outlined by Bardon. The primary purpose of the inductive and deductive exercises however, is to prepare the magician for the regional accumulation that follows. Here the student accumulates the Magnetic Fluid in the lower region of the body (that of Water and Earth) and the Electric Fluid in the upper region (that of Fire and Air). This is similar to the accumulation of the Elements into the four regions explained in Step Four. Once this is mastered, the student extends the exercise and directs the Fluids from these regions into the left (Magnetic) and right (Electric) sides of their body, and eventually, condenses this accumulation into their right and left hands accordingly.
After extended practice of these very complex and difficult exercises, the student becomes a master of the Fluids and can at any moment charge either hand (or both) with their appropriate Fluid. This allows the magician to do many things in a blink of an eye that would otherwise have taken more time and effort to accomplish through the manipulation of the Elements.
There are two important things for the passive reader to understand here. First is that the Fluids are the essence of the Elements and thus, the magician can accomplish things more quickly and effectively through the use of the Fluids than through the labor of the Elements. The second thing has to do with the nature of the student's ascent from 'lower' magic to 'higher' magic. What differentiates 'higher' from 'lower' magic is the degree to which the student masters the essential nature of the forces employed. Here, the hands-on labor of the Elements is considered 'lower' because the magician is not working with the deeper essence of the Elements but with their outer form. The work with the Fluids however, is considered 'higher' because the magician wields the true essence of the Elements. There are still higher forms of magic than the mastery of the Fluids. An example is that of communion or merging with deity, for deity is the essence of even the Fluids.
Here again, the exercises listed have nothing to do with the magical schooling of the physical body. What Bardon presents in this Step are various techniques that the student can employ for their own purposes. The student of Alchemy (the physical application of Hermetics) will find these techniques of great interest.
There is little that I can add to what Bardon relays in this section other than to comment upon his recommended use of gold in the Fluid condensers. Many will think that this presents a large expense, but this is not the case. I purchased a simple homeopathic preparation of gold chloride several years ago (a little goes a long way) for just a few dollars. This homeopathic preparation is very effective and I recommend it highly. Contrary to what one might think, there is enough gold in a gold chloride solution for use in a fluid condenser.
[NOTE: In the introduction to both PME and KTQ, Bardon states that the student must have completed Step Eight of IIH before beginning the work of magical evocation and/or kabbalah Please consider for a moment the degree of training and magical maturity of one who has genuinely made it to this stage. Such a one will possess an absolute magical equilibrium, be capable of the three-part action, be able to journey with their mental body with ease, and have absolute control over the Elements and Fluids. All these attributes are essential for success with evocation and kabbalistic speech. Anyone who dares to begin work with PME and KTQ before reaching this stage risks great harm to their mental, emotional and physical well being.]