IIH is the common acronym used for the book 'Initiation into Hermetics' by by Franz Bardon.
The three books of Franz Bardon - abbreviated at IIH, PME (for Practice of Magical Evocation), and KTQ (Key to True Kabbalah) - are regarded as the best modern initiation pathway for the western culture and current age.
IIH is a self-training manual written for the contemporary person and does not require any guru or master. The book consists of ten gradual steps of concurrent development of the different bodily principles of Man: so not just the soul (and later spiritual 'I' or Man's higher triad) but also physical, etheric and astral bodies. Whereas the first three steps overlap with Rudolf Steiner's writings, such as the exercices in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds (KHW) and Outline of Esoteric Science (OES), Initiation into Hermetics takes things much further and can be regarded as an initiation manual 'on steroids'. Exercices are described in their essence in the most concise and maybe dry way, leaving it fully to each individual to make them one's own and discover much more by just practicing the exercices.
This page aims to provide an overview of the ten steps and initiation exercices in 'Initiation into Hermetics', linking these to Rudolf Steiner's explanations and lecture references that provide a spiritual scientific perspective on these exercices.
Lots of additional flanker material and literature on IIH exists in the form of companion guides, interviews with experienced practitioners, and so on. See 'References and further reading' below for a non exhaustive sample.
The elements and tattvas are introduced: fire, water, air, earth, and the akasha or ether as a fifth.
Every element has two polarities, namely active and passive or plus and minus. The plus is always constructive, creative and procreative, whereas the minus is decomposing and destructive. Hence when we speak of an element, we must always speak of two fundamental attributes.
The fire principle is in possession of expansion .. we will call it the electrical fluid. Later we will discover the reason for the analyse between the electrical fluid and material electricity.
The fundamental attributes of water are coldness and contraction; the active pole is constructive, life-giving, nourishing and preserving, whereas the negaive pole is decomposing, fermenting, divisive and dispersing. Since this element's fundamental attribute is contraction, the magnetic fluid came forth from this element.
The two elements fire and water are the fundamental elements with which everything was created, consequently we have to reckon everywhere with these two main elements, and furthermore with the electric and magnetic fluids as opposite polarities.
The elements and/or principles of air and earth are described as 'not actually representing a true element', furthermore:
.. out of the reciprocal action of the three aforementiuoned elements the Earth element came into being as the last element, which, through its specific attribute of solidification, contains the other three elements. This attributed of solidification has given these three elements their concrete form, at the same time limitiung their activity and, as a result, space, measure, weight and time have come into being. The reciprocal action of these elements became tetrapolar, therefore the Earth principle can be considered a tetrapolar magnet. The fluid in the polarity of the Earth element is electromagnetic.
The elements arose out of the akasha or etheric principle
the original cause of all things and everything created, the causal sphere which is spaceless and timeless .. it is the fifth energy, the primordial energy which created everything and keeps everything in equilibrium. It is the source of all pure thoughts and ideas, the causal world in which everything created maintains itself, beginning with the highest spheres downwards to the lowest
Bardon puts forth a number of terms, deliberately not describing with theoretical concepts and details, but with high-level metaphoric terms. He wants us to imagine then, and then develop a connection with what they are through experience, as the exercices of the steps in IIH progress.
However we can try to map these to the spiritual scientific framework put forth by Rudolf Steiner, starting with:
- the Spectrum of elements and ethers (Schema FMC00.084 and others on that topic page)
- Planes or worlds of consciousness (FMC00.079)
In that we can now re-read and project or translate Bardon's description - see also Schema FMC00.300 below:
- the etheric or akasha maps to all non-physical layers, the astral but especially lower and higher spirit world where we find the higher ethers and etheric formative forces arising from the elementary kingdoms
- the creation of our material or mineral physical reality (earth element or principle) arises from the combined workings of the various etheric formative forces, the etheric formative forces steering the elementals of nature. This maps to what is described as the 'golden chain', see Schema FMC00.141 and Schema FMC00.141 on Overview Golden Chain.
- the electric and magnetic fluids, and the electromagnetic combination giving rise to our material or mineral physical reality (earth element or principle), is what is described in the above framework on The two etheric streams in Schema FMC00.051.
- observe that Steiner links (see eg Schema FMC00.084)
- electricity to the light ether (as the 'sub-physical astral world' and the province of Lucifer), and
- magnetics to the chemical ether (as the 'sub-physical lower spirit world' and the province of Ahriman)'
Spirit: Though Control, Thought Discipline, Mastery of Thoughts
Soul: Introspection (Self-Cognizance)
The Mystery of Breathing, Conscious Intake of Nourishment, The Magic of Water
see: Conscious breathing
Today, when a man eats — that is, unites external nourishment with his organism — he thinks: There inside is the organism, which cooks the stuff and takes from it what it needs, and lets the rest pass away unused, and so it goes on. On the other hand, I look out into the world through my senses. I take up the perceptible and transform it by my understanding; I take it into my soul, as I take nourishment into my body, What is out there, what eyes see and ears hear, I then carry within me as a mental picture; what is out there as wheat, fish, meat or whatever, I carry inside me, after having digested it.
Yes, but this leaves out the fact that the substances used in nourishment have their inner aspect. The experience of food through our external senses is not related to our deeper being. With what your tongue tastes and your stomach digests, in the way that can be confirmed by ordinary scientific research, you can maintain your daily metabolism; but you cannot take care of the other metabolism, which leads for example to the change of teeth about the age of seven.
The essential thing in this other metabolism lies in the deeper forces at work in it, which are not observed today by any chemical study.
What we take as food has a deep spiritual aspect, and this is very active in man, but only while he sleeps.
In your foods live the spirits of the highest hierarchies, the Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones. Hence in your food you have something cosmically formative, and therein lie the forces which provide imperceptibly for the change of teeth, for adolescence, and for the later transformations of the human being.
Only the daily metabolism is brought about by the things known to external science. The metabolism which goes through life as a whole is cared for by the highest Hierarchies.
And behind the sense-perceptible world are the beings of the third hierarchy (H3): Angels, Archangels, and Archai. Hence we can say:
- sense-perception, third hierarchy H3
- foodstuffs, first hierarchy H1
- and in between is the second hierarchy H2, which lives in the breathing, in all the rhythmic activities of the human organism.
[editor note - Bardon uses conscious breathing (H2), conscious eating (H1), and senses (H3)]
The Bible describes this quite truly. The spirits called the Elohim, together with Jahve, are led into men through the breath. The ancient wisdom was quite correctly aware of these things, in an atavistic way. Thus you are led through a real study of man into a true cosmology.
Spiritual Science re-inaugurates this way of looking at things. It looks for man again in the external world, and brings the entire universe into man. This can be done only if one knows that man is really a trinity, a threefold being. Today both revelation and experience are suppressed; man does not do them justice. He does not do justice to his sense-perceptions, or to the foods he eats, for he regards them merely as material objects. But that is an Ahrimanic distortion, which ignores the deeper life that underlies all created things, of which foodstuffs are an example.
Spiritual Science does not lead to a contempt for matter, but to a spiritualisation of it. If anyone were to look at food with contempt, he would have to learn that Spiritual Science says, in a way that would seem grotesque to him: the highest hierarchies (H1), Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones, they are alive in nutriments.
1922-12-03-GA219 also talks about conscious eating & drinking
To begin with we will confine ourselves to the fact that man is related to the outer world during the waking state through his senses and through his metabolism. We will consider this at first in connection only with things that are common knowledge.
Let us then start from the fact that during his waking state man takes foodstuffs into himself from the outside world, inner activity being promoted by the process of digestion. But it must not be forgotten that while, in the waking state, after the food has been taken, inner physical and etheric activity proceeds under the influence of the intaken foodstuffs, this physical and etheric organism of man is permeated by his I-organization and astral body.
It is also the case that during the waking state, man's I and astral 'being' take command of what goes on in the physical and etheric bodies in connection with the process of nourishment.
But what thus takes place under the influence of the I and astral being does not continue during sleep. During sleep the physical and etheric bodies of man are worked upon by forces that issue, not from the Earth but from the cosmic environment of the Earth—from the world of the Stars.
It might be said—and not in a figurative sense for it has real meaning—that
- day man eats the substances of the Earth and
- by night takes into himself what the stars and their activities give him.
In a certain sense, therefore, man is bound up with the Earth while he is awake and removed from the Earth while he is asleep; heavenly processes take their course in his physical and etheric bodies during sleep.
Materialistic science thinks that when a man is asleep, the substances he has consumed simply activate their own forces in him, whereas in reality, whatever substances a man takes into himself are worked upon during his sleep by the cosmic forces in the environment of the Earth. Suppose, for instance, we consume white of egg—albumen. This albumen is only fettered to the Earth through the fact that during the waking state we are permeated by our soul and spirit—our astral body and I. During sleep this albumen is worked upon by the whole planetary system from Moon to Saturn, and by the world of the fixed stars. And a chemist who wished to study the inner processes taking place in man during sleep would have not only to be versed in earthly chemistry but also in a spiritual chemistry, for the processes then are different from those that take their course during waking life.
The I and astral being of man are, as you know, separated from the physical and etheric bodies during sleep and are not directly related with the world of the stars ; but they are directly related with the Beings of whom the Sun, Moon and Stars are the physical mirror-images—namely, with the beings of the hierarchies.
Man asleep is a duality; his I and astral body - I could equally well say, his spirit and soul - become subject to the spiritual Beings of the higher kingdoms of the Universe. His bodies, the physical and etheric bodies, are subject to the physical reflections, the cosmic-physical mirror-images of these higher Beings.
Aware of himself as an earthly being, man has become more and more a materialistic philistine under the influence of intellectualism. Almost as aptly as the modern age is called the epoch of intellectual and scientific progress, it could be called the epoch of materialistic philistinism. For man is not conscious that he is dependent on anything else than sense-impressions coming from the Earth, the rhythmic processes set going in him by earthly processes, the metabolic processes also occasioned in him by earthly conditions. Hence he does not know his real place in the Universe. The factors in operation here are of tremendous complexity. As soon as the veil that is spread before man in order that he may see only the sense-world and not the spiritual world behind it, is drawn aside, life becomes extraordinarily complex.
Soul - Auto-suggestion or the Secret of the Subconscious
see: Transformation of soul mirrors
The Fire Element
The Air Element
The Water Element
The Earth Element
Physical Body: The Practice of Accumulation of Vital Energy
Addendum: room impregnation, bio-magnetism
1922-04-09-GA082 is a lecture about the visual arts and architecture, but worth reading in full (and what an opportunity for us to now be in the audience almost 100 years later), so here follows just a short teaser:
.. I touch here on a secret pertaining to our human way of looking at the world - a secret that our present-day perception has, one might almost say, quite lost.
You will permit me to set out from a way of looking at things that is apparently - but only apparently - quite abstract, theoretical. But this excursion will be brief; it is intended only as an introduction to what will be able to come before our minds' eyes in a much more concrete form.
When we intend to apply to objects in this world the space of which I spoke yesterday - we apply it, of course, geometrically, using, in the first place, Euclidean geometry - we set out, as you all know, from a point and set up three axes at right angles to one another. But there is another space than this ..The secret of this space is that one cannot set out from one point and relate all else to it. One must set out from the counterpart of this point. And what is its counterpart? ..
Nothing other than an infinitely remote sphere to which one might look up as at, let us say, the blue vault of heaven.
Imagine that I have, instead of a point, a hollow sphere in which I find myself, and that I relate all that is within it to this hollow sphere, determining everything in relation to it, instead of to a point by means of coordinates. So long as I describe it to you only in this way, you could rightly say: Yes, but this determination in relation to a hollow sphere is vague; I can form no mental picture when I try to think it. Well, you would be right; one can form no mental picture. But Man is capable of relating himself to the cosmos — as we, yesterday, related ourselves to the human being (the “anthropos”). As we looked into the human being and found the three dimensions — as we can determine him in relation to these three dimensions, saying: his body extends linearly in one of the dimensions; in the second is the plane of the extended arms and all that is symmetrically built into the human organism; and in the third dimension is all that extends forwards and backwards, backwards and forwards — so, when we really look at the “anthropos” as an organism, we do not find something extended in an arbitrary way in three dimensions. We have before us the human organism built in a definite way.
We can also relate ourselves to the cosmos in the same way. What occurs in the soul when we do so? Well: imagine yourself standing in a field on a clear, starry night, with a free view of the sky. You see regions of the vaulted sky where the stars are closely clustered, almost forming clouds. You see other regions where the stars are more widely spaced and form constellations (as they are called). And so on. If you confront the starry heavens in this merely intellectual way — with your human understanding — you achieve nothing. But if you confront the starry heavens with your whole being, you experience (empfinden) them differently.
We have now lost the perceptive sense for this, but it can be reacquired. Facing a patch of sky where the stars are close together and form almost a cloud, will be a different experience from facing constellations. One experiences a patch of sky differently when the moon is there and shines. One experiences a night differently when the moon is new and not visible. And so on. And precisely as one can “feel” one's way into the human organism in order to have the three dimensions — where space itself is concrete, something connected with man — so one can acquire a perception of the cosmos, that is, of one's cosmic environment (Umkreis). One looks into oneself to find, for example, the three dimensions. But one needs more than that. One can now look out into the wide expanses and focus one's attention on their configurations. Then, as one advances beyond ordinary perception, which suffices for geometry, one acquires the perception needed for these wide expanses; one advances to what I called, yesterday and the day before, “imaginative cognition”.
If one were simply to record what one sees out there in cosmic expanses, one would achieve nothing. A mere chart of the starry heavens, such as astronomers make to-day, leads nowhere. If, however, one confronts this cosmos as a whole human being, with full understanding of the cosmos, then, in face of these clusters of stars, pictures form themselves within the soul — pictures like those one sees on old maps, drawn when “imaginations” took shape out of the old, instinctive clairvoyance. One receives an “imagination” of the whole cosmos. One receives the counter-image of what I showed you yesterday as the basis, in man, of the three geometrical space-dimensions. What one receives can take an infinite variety of shapes.
Men have, indeed, no idea today of the way in which men once, in ancient times, when an instinctive clairvoyance still persisted among them, gazed out into the cosmos. People believe today that the various drawings, pictures - “imaginations” - which were made of the zodiacal signs, were the products of phantasy. They are not that. They were sensed (empfunden); they were perceived (geschaut) on confronting the cosmos. Human progress required the damping-down of this instinctive, living, imaginative perception, in order that intellectual perception, which sets men free, should come in its place. And from this, again, there must be achieved — if we wish to be whole human beings — a perception of the universe that attains once more to “Imagination”.
If one intends to take, in this way, one's idea of space from the starry heavens, one cannot express it exhaustively by three dimensions. One receives a space which I can only indicate figuratively. If I had to indicate the space I spoke of yesterday by three lines at right angles to one another, I should indicate this space by drawing everywhere sets of figures (Konfigurationen), as if surface forces (Kräfte in Flächen) from all directions of the universe were approaching the earth and, from without, were working plastically on the forms upon its surface.
One comes to such an idea when, advancing beyond what living beings — above all, human beings — present to physical eyes, one attains to what I have been calling “Imagination”. In this the cosmos, not the physical human being, reveals itself in images and brings us a new space. As soon as one gets so far, one perceives man's second body — what an older, prescient, instinctive clairvoyance called the “etheric body”. (A better name is “body of formative forces” (Bildekräfteleib).) This is a super-sensible body, consisting of subtle, etheric substantiality and permeating man's physical body. We can study this physical body if, within the space it occupies, we seek the forces that flow through it. But we cannot study the etheric body (body of formative forces) which flows through the human being if we set out from this space. We can study this only if we think of it as built up out of the whole cosmos: formed plastically from without by “planes of force” (Kraftflächen) converging on the earth from all sides and reaching man.
Conscious Creation of Elementals
Magical Development of Astral Clairaudience
Development of Astral Clairsentience
Magical Schooling of the Physical Body
The Act of Creation
Magical Animation of Pictures
The Great Now
The Electric and Magnetic Fluids
- Control of the Electric Fluid: the inductive and deductive methods
- Control of the Magnetic Fluid:the inductive and deductive methods
Magical Schooling of the Physical Body
Magical Influence through the Elements
Influence through the Fire Element
Combustion or Burning
Influence through the Air Element
Influence through the Water Element
Influence through the Earth Element
The Preparation of a Simple Fluid Condenser, The Compounded Universal Fluid Condenser, The Preparation of a Solid Fluid Condenser
The Life Elixirs
Preparation of Magic Mirrors
Spirit: Practice of Clairvoyance with Magic Mirrors
- Loading of the Magic Mirror
- The Magic Mirror as a Gateway to all Desired Planes
- The Magic Mirror as a Communications Link between Living and Departed Human Beings
- Employment of the Magic Mirror as an aid to Contacting Powers, Beings etc.
- The Magic Mirror as a Means of Influencing Oneself or Others
- The Magic Mirror as an Instrument of Emanation for the Impregnation of Rooms and the Treatment of the Ailing
- The Magic Mirror as a Transmitter and Receiver
- The Magic Mirror as an Instrument of Defense against Harmful and Undesirable Influences
- The Magic Mirror as a Mechanism of Projection of all Energies, Powers, Forces Beings and Pictures
- The Magic Mirror as a Television Set
- The Magic Mirror as an aid to Study the Past, the Present and the Future
Conscious Separation of the Astral Body from the Physical Body, Impregnation of the Astral Body with the Four Divine Fundamental Attributes
Treatment of the Sick through the Electromagnetic Fluid, magical Loading of Talismans, Amulets and Precious Stones, volting: Realization of a Wish through the Electromagnetic Spheres in the Akasha
Communications with Deities
Magical Schooling of the Physical Body
Brahma and Shakti
Mass Hypnosis of the Fakirs
Thought Reading or Mind Reading
Influencing the Memory
Working in the Akasha
Room Impregnation from a Distance
Messages through the Air
See Cleansed phantom and resurrection body
Practices with the Four Elements
Levitation Phenomena, Natural Phenomena, Power over Life and Death
Schema FMC00.300 illustrates the tetrapolar magnetic and the electric and magnetic fluids (left)
Schema FMC00.133 shows, on the left, the structure of Man's bodily principles with the threefold soul or Human 'I'. On the right, from a very different angle, a schema by Rawn Clark mapping the ten steps in Bardon's IIH initiation book to the Gra Tree version of the 'Tree of Life'.
Comments on this drawing;
- the 'archetypal realm' represents the higher Spirit World (or formless arupa devachan), whereas
- the 'mental realm' below is the lower Spirit World (rupa devachan).
- Regarding the pillars of form, self and force at the left. This links to the Three dimensions of evolution, see also Schema FMC00.171 on Force substance presentation (or zooming out broader also meta schema FMC00.303 on Creation by the three Logoi). Also compare with the three pillars in the Jewish Kabbalah 'Tree of Life': Equilibrium between Justice and Mercy, see J and B pillars on Golden Legend.
- Note the term Greater Self also maps to the concepts explained by Rudolf Steiner under Unification and Group souls of humanity, see also the description in FMC00.298 of the next CoL on Earth rounds perspective.
This 'concatenation' of the representations shows the pivotal consciousness soul as the central point requires to 'work' Man's higher triad of spirit self, life spirit and spirit man. See also Schema FMC00.128 on the Human 'I' page. More on Schema FMC00.133 under the Discussion section below.
Schema FMC00.148 gives an overview on the availability of IIH and the other related books to Franz Bardon's teachings in various languages:
Lecture coverage and references
In IIH steps 1 and 2, we are asked to work on elemental balance, by self-assessment of our character and self-transformation using the four elements. Later, the same principle is used at a higher mental level of the soul.
For further reading, see:
- Franz Bardon Questions and Answers
- The Universal Master Key
For a complementary spiritual scientific view and the teachings of Rudolf Steiner, first read the Discussion in the Theory section above, regarding the electric and magnetic fluids in IIH, considering the two etheric streams.
Now compare this with what Rudolf Steiner describes as Luciferic and Ahrimanic influences. Man's soul is a battlefield of different opposing spiritual beings and influences, and the Christ provides the balanced pathway between the two opposing influences.
- The Luciferic can be linked to warmth and air (or warmth and light ethers),
- the Ahrimanic to the elements of water and earth (or chemical and life ethers).
We can say that:
- the Luciferic work on our astral body and I, our air and warmth bodies or organisms, in willing and feeling.
- the Ahrimanic influence our etheric (fluid) and physical (mineral) bodies, and our thinking, and have the greatest influence in Man during his sleeping state.
This schema was added because of the interesting correlation. Rawn Clark is an initiate who has followed Bardon's three books and has been instrumental in supporting other people doing so, a.o. with forum Q&As and the Bardon Companion guide(s). However he is not into Rudolf Steiner's teachings or anthroposophy. As an advanced initiate he has developed his own terminology and works based on own experience. Yet the schema shows that this self developed terminology corresponds strikingly to the characteristics described extensively by Rudolf Steiner. The merit of the schema therefore is that an independant path of discovery has come to quite consistent results, thereby validating the overall framework and bringing together theory, or explanation (Steiner) and practice (Bardon).
The schema is worthwhile to contemplate more deeply, coming from both angles and with all the background from those two teachings, as of course the drawing wants to make a point but has its limitations.
Rawn Clarke's Bardon Questionnaire
In the 14 months between 15 August 2002 and 15 October 2003, Rawn Clarke received 500 responses on his the Bardon Questionnaire is now closed. He wrote on his website (SWCC).
The online community of Bardon practioners now have a valuable statistical resource. If you're wondering how long it took folks to complete a specific Step, how many folks have read which books or have which interests, or the age ranges, genders or countries of online Bardonists, you now have a place to look for that information.
- Initiation exercises
- Franz Bardon and initiation
- Man's transformation and spiritualization
References and further reading
Related books with publishing of notes from the original student circle of Franz Bardon:
- The master key
- Questions and Answers
Several people have written companion guides, a.o.
- Rawn Clark: 'A Bardon Companion' (V2 of 2010 after V1 of 2002) is the most well known
- Justin B. magician
Meanwhile additional practitioners community sites exist, a.o.
- Falcon Books Publishing - see e.g. the interviews with practitioners.
In a different league is a book with a report by someone who has followed Bardon's initiation system for decades
- Marten Crawford: The adept magician