Initiation Into Hermetics
It is my honor to present to you some of my thoughts about the course of initiation presented in Franz Bardon's "Initiation Into Hermetics" (IIH).
[I will be employing the 1999 Merkur Publishing edition throughout my comments. The differences between this edition and earlier editions are minor. The only change is that the present English translation is easier for the modern reader than the original translation.]
When a student first approaches this work, questions inevitably arise. While the best way to answer these questions is for the student to meditate and consider and come to the answers on their own, this seldom satisfies the beginner and many will put the book aside out of frustration. These days, now that the Internet offers us an easy way of getting in contact with others who have been doing the work of IIH for many years, there is little reason for the beginner to have their simpler questions become a barrier to progress.
The answers to the deeper questions though, must still be sought out by the student on their own. In these matters, experience is still the only reliable teacher!
The thoughts that I proffer here come from my own personal experience of working through the Steps in IIH. It is up to the student to prove or disprove what I have written through their own pursuit of the work. What I write is only meant to expand upon some of the things that Franz Bardon outlined, it is not meant to supplant what Bardon wrote. Hopefully, my words combined with the text of IIH, will make it easier for the student to begin the work with greater confidence.
IIH presents a coherent course of initiation. It, unlike many modern systems of initiation, begins at the beginning. Each Step builds upon what precedes it. Therefore, it is prudent that the student skip nothing along the way. What seems simple in the beginning will prove itself to be essential to success in the longer run.
is not a race. It matters little if it takes you 30 years to reach the 10th Step or if it takes only 10 years. Progress at your own pace (without dawdling) and practice both patience and perseverance. I have absolutely no doubt that anyone who sincerely wants to take up this work will meet with the desired success if they steadfastly pursue IIH.
Each of the 10 Steps in IIH is broken down into three categories of work: Spirit (Mental), Soul (Astral) and Physical. Each of these categories are to be pursued hand-in-hand. This brings about a balanced progress that is essential to true advancement in magic. Never should the student go, for example, from the Step One physical exercises, on to the Step Two physical exercises, until the Mental and Astral exercises of Step One have also been mastered. If a certain set of exercises within a Step come easily for you and you complete that category of exercises before you complete the other categories within that Step, then simply improve upon your successes while finishing up the rest of the Step's requirements. The standard of success Bardon lays out for all three parts of each Step must be attained before progressing to the next Step.
The work of IIH requires discipline and commitment. At first the student will need to carve out the time from their daily schedule to accommodate the exercises. I advise that, if possible, the beginner devote at least an hour first thing in the morning and an hour each evening before going to sleep. But do allow yourself occasional exceptions to this regimen -- five days a week will suffice, but seven is better. Eventually this discipline will become a joy and the period during which it is an onus will pass quickly.
Nonetheless, it is important to consider this BEFORE one begins the work. First, the student should read through IIH a few times and get a feel of exactly what will be required. If you see no way in which your busy life can accommodate the time required for this sort of work, then it is best if you put off beginning the work until such a time as you are capable of reshaping your life. In the mean time, you can initiate the changes in your life that will eventually allow you the time for these pursuits.
Be good to yourself. Initiation is not meant to be torture. It is supposed to be, if not fun, at least interesting and inspiring. Improving oneself can be (and in my opinion, SHOULD be) a joyous pastime.
Initiation is not a path toward great riches nor power over others. If these are your goals then you will meet with no genuine success in the pursuit of magic. Asking yourself the question of why you are choosing this work, is essential. It is wise to spend a goodly amount of time thinking about your reasons for taking on this responsibility.
Throughout the course of IIH, your intentions will be tested over and over again. These mark the various "pitfalls" or "blinds" that are spoken of by those who have made progress in the work. Only the "correct" motives will carry the student through certain parts of the path of initiation. If your motives are too selfish or too egotistical, then you will run into a wall and only a reevaluation of your motives will free you. This is a good thing and it is not meant as a blockage, per se. Instead, it is a vital part of initiation that guarantees that the student will either stay on course or give up the pursuit.
In this modern age when information is so easily accessible, we have the habit of seeking answers from external sources. We have lost the habit of looking within for our answers and of trying our damnedest to figure things out for ourselves. While it is easy to accumulate a great deal of information and store it in our minds as knowledge, it is only through experience that information is transformed into understanding. The process of initiation is one of experience, not a mere accumulation of information. Thus, it is important to contemplate every idea you encounter in IIH and puzzle things out for yourself whenever possible. This is especially true when it comes to the "Theory" section. Much of what Bardon says in this section is a mere outline of the facts and is meant less as an answer to all your questions and more as something to spur your own meditation and contemplation. Please rest assured that some of the most confusing bits will clarify themselves over time as you gather more experience.
Initiation requires of the student a radical self-honesty. Watch out for kidding yourself that you have attained to something that you have not in fact attained to. And always be ready to lovingly criticize yourself.
We each have within us a most reliable source of guidance. This is the interior voice of our individual conscience. One of the most important lessons that I have learned is to ALWAYS listen to my conscience. It has never led me astray and I have come to a point where I NEVER disobey its dictates. I advise the same for you. Listen to and follow your conscience and your continued success will be assured!
I wish for you the greatest success in your path of initiation!