In the introduction to this section of Step Nine, Bardon speaks of the many common methods for developing the subtle senses. I should hope that this will explain to the passive reader why many well trained magicians have so little respect for the seemingly endless number of new-age books written about clairvoyance, etc. These practices are truly harmful to the untrained practitioner. Unfortunately it may be years after following these practices that negative symptoms show themselves and many who suffer will not equate their illnesses with their past pursuit of these exercises.
Another important factor, from a magical perspective, is that the results of these practices are uncontrollable by the practitioner. Especially when it comes to the ingestion of hallucinatory substances. While these may reveal a broader perspective upon the universe to the practitioner, they do not allow one to control the "trip" nor do they allow one to determine the length of the "trip". Both of these factors would be abhorrent to the well trained magician.
The exercises of the magical schooling of the spirit in Step Nine concern the proper use of the magic mirror. This is a very handy tool for the magician and is essential for the work of PME.
While Bardon's instructions are explicit concerning the proper use of the magical mirror, a certain aspect of the practice may be unclear to the passive reader. This concerns the fact that when projecting into the mirror, it is with the mental body alone that the magician travels. The magician may explore the astral realm with the mental body in this manner, but when journeying with the astral body into the astral realm, the magic mirror is not employed.
With the ninth Step astral exercises, the student begins the work of true astral wandering, commonly known as astral journeys or out-of-body-experiences. Bardon's explanations are very explicit and should, of course, be followed to the letter. But considering the large number of books written upon the subject since IIH was first published, I feel it necessary to add a few words of caution and clarification for the passive reader.
To begin with, I'd like to discuss Bardon's technique. He recommends that the student first separate their mental body and then draw forth their astral body. This is wise considering the course that Bardon has established, but it is not altogether necessary. It is just as easy to rise out of the physical body with the astral and mental bodies conjoined. This eliminates the step of merging the exteriorized astral and mental bodies, but may, at the same time, present difficulties at first.
The second thing to note are Bardon's concerns about the cessation of breath and heart beat that occur with his method. Part of what he says about the dangers this presents in terms of being touched by another person (or animal) during separation, are phrased for the purpose of dissuading the uninitiated from pursuing astral separation. But, and here's an important point, it is possible for the well trained magician to maintain the physical breath and heartbeat if desired and thus minimize the danger.
The rationale behind this is that during an astral separation, the silver cord (astral matrix) which connects the astra-mental body with the physical shell, remains intact. The well trained magician is able to keep this connection active enough to sustain the physical breath and heartbeat. All that is transferred to the astra-mental body is the responsibility for the impulse to breathe, not the physical breath and heartbeat itself. To accomplish this, the magician must split their conscious awareness to a certain degree and leave part of it behind to maintain the normal physical functions. When done properly, this does not diminish the depth of the astral experience. One key to this is the joint separation of the astral and mental bodies.
Other than that, the only thing I can add to Bardon's instructions is that it is necessary to afford some degree of protection to the vacant physical shell once you have separated your astra-mental body from it. Please think back to the Step Five exercises concerning passive communication. Therein, the task was to vacate a hand which placed it within the Akasha, so to speak, and made it available to the possession of other entities. The same holds true for the entire body when you vacate it. This means that it becomes susceptible to occupation by another, non-corporeal entity and this should be guarded against. The simplest way to do this is to erect an energetic shield around your physical body that is impressed with the ideation that it will prevent any other being from taking control.
Now, I will move on to other matters that have nothing to do with the instructions provided by Bardon.
It is important that the passive reader understand the dangers of astral separation, especially in light of what has been written by others upon this subject. Many writers assert that astral journeying is a simple matter and can be accomplished by anyone who makes the sincere effort. The magician however, will be well aware that this is not the case. Much of what is labeled as astral journeying is nothing more than a type mental journeying. I have spoken already about the differences between a mental journey and an astral journey so I will not repeat myself here.
The greatest danger is the fact that a true astral separation is, as Bardon states, an ecstatic experience. It is stimulating at a near-physical level and this can be a very addictive undertaking since it so extremely pleasurable. But this is a merely physical sensation, not a spiritual ecstasy. The well trained magician is capable of handling physically pleasing sensations in such a manner as to not allow them to distract from their ultimate goal. This however, is not the case with an untrained practitioner and the danger of distraction is very potent. Many have fallen into this pit of pleasure and belayed their progress. Now I do not mean to belittle physical pleasure as I consider this one of the advantages of a corporeal existence, but it is not the goal of the magician. It requires of the magician a very strong will to avoid this pitfall.
The ability to control one's reactions to any given situation is of prime importance to the magician, especially when it comes to interaction with the astral realm. Astral beings can easily manipulate the emotions and perceptions of the magician who does not possess a high degree of self-control. It is very easy to become self-deluded while within the astral realm, so it is imperative that the traveler be able to distinguish between their own desires and expectations and the objective reality. This is one reason why astral wandering is placed so late in IIH.
The astral traveler who has not previously developed their astral senses to a high degree of reliability will find themselves deaf, dumb and blind once they separate from their physical form.
Astral travel serves a limited function when compared to mental travel. In the solitary mental body, the magician can reach into nearly every realm, but with the astra-mental body, only the astral and physical realms can be reached and explored. The one advantage is that while in the astra-mental form, the magician can interact directly with astral entities. When in the solitary mental body however, some astral entities will not be able to perceive the mental body of the traveler. Also, the magician can more readily cause effects upon the astral realm directly from within the astra-mental body. It is also easier for the magician to condense their astra-mental form to such a degree that it becomes physically apparent to other physical beings, than it is to do the same with the solitary mental body.
As a final note, it should be said that there is a big difference between astral wandering and lucid dreaming. Many maintain that lucid dreaming is a form of astral wandering but this is not the case. Granted, lucid dreaming involves the astral body, but the difference is that in lucid dreaming all one can explore is one's own inner psyche -- there is no journeying beyond this realm into the broader astral realm itself. The dream state is a specific state that is very personal in its focus. It can lead to genuine astral wandering, but when it does, one is no longer in the dream state itself.
The Step Nine astral exercises end with a section describing a series of meditations that must be undertaken concerning the nature of deity. This is very, very, very important work and is an absolute necessity before beginning the work of Step Ten and the merging with one's personal deity. Bardon, of course, specifies four basic attributes of deity corresponding to the four Elements. Each of these aspects must be understood from the inside out, as it were. Please note that when Bardon speaks of "God", he is not referring to the lesser gods of which their are an uncountable number, but to the Unitary, highest form of deity imaginable.
Here again, these are not specifically "schooling" exercises but more in the line of suggestions for practice.
Bardon begins with the subject of healing. It should be clear that this is not the sort of healing that is learned from the study of books on treatment modalities and human physiology. The magician who has progressed to Step Nine will have the ability to perceive the cause and the ramifications of any disease with their own subtle senses and there will be no doubt in the mind of such a healer as to how to best effect a cure. As to the occult anatomy of the human body that Bardon speaks of, this too will be evident to the eyes of the initiate who has progressed to this Step and they will have no need of a listing of what organ is composed of which Fluid, etc.
Every healer is limited, by the will of Divine Providence, as to the scope of what they may cure. Seldom will the magician be allowed to extinguish a disease that is essential to the karmic fulfillment of another individual. This factor will also be evident to the eyes of the magician who has reached this level of development. Karmic debt is the responsibility of each individual and it is only through the will of Divine Providence that the Step Nine magician is allowed to interfere in this regard.
The section on healing methods is followed by a discussion of various techniques for the loading of objects such as talismans, crystals, etc. There are a nearly infinite number of methods to achieve such a loading and Bardon introduces a few of them merely to spur the initiate's creativity.
Step Nine closes with a discussion of magical "volting". This is a very advanced technique and a truly effective one. Needless to say, only the magician of a very high ethical maturity will be allowed to enact their will by these means.