Chapter 1: An Overview of Self-Transformation
The Elemental Equilibrium
If you want a specific result, you have to examine if your practices produce those results.
In the past, many magical schools and teachers advised their students to establish an elemental equilibrium. The Golden Dawn, for example, urged its students to “establish thyself firmly in the Equilibrium of Forces, in the center of the cross of the elements.” The fact is, however, it is no good to tell others to establish an elemental equilibrium if you do not also tell them how to do this. In other words, you must give them instructions for doing so. To give ineffective instructions is no better than to give no instructions at all, and as I pointed out in my first book, the vast majority of occult exercises that are designed to help people establish an elemental equilibrium are actually entirely ineffective.
An elemental equilibrium is a state in which the four elements constituting an individual’s subtle bodies have been balanced and purified. Elemental imbalances and impurities manifest as negative character traits. Therefore, the current state of an individual’s elemental equilibrium can be assessed by observing the strength and number of his negative character traits. The process of establishing an elemental equilibrium involves eliminating one’s negative traits, strengthening one’s positive traits, and developing new positive traits. Bardon provides several extremely effective techniques for doing this in IIH, including magical washing, autosuggestion, conscious eating, conscious breathing, and volition. Each time you use these techniques to eliminate a negative trait, you eliminate the elemental imbalance or impurity that was at the root of that negative trait. By eliminating your negative traits one by one in this way, you will eventually remove all imbalances and impurities in your subtle bodies, establishing an elemental equilibrium within yourself.
Crowley’s Postulate of Magic
In the third part of Liber ABA, Crowley presents the following postulate of magic.
Any required change may be effected by the application of the proper kind and degree of force in the proper manner, through the proper medium to the proper object.
You are trying to effect a change on yourself. What is the nature of the change? You are trying to establish an elemental equilibrium, or as many occult books put it, “balance the elements.”i As previously noted, some schools and systems of magic instruct you to effect this change in yourself but do not tell you the proper kind and degree of force, the proper manner, or the proper medium through which you can successfully effect this change. For this reason, their students are not successful.
Let’s consider the factors that lead to success in a student’s endeavor to change himself into someone with an elemental equilibrium.
Table 1: Factors of Successful Self-Transformation
Kind of Force
Your own desire to change
Degree of Force
The proper kind of force for self-transformation is your own desire to change. The wrong kind of force is someone else’s desire for you to change. If someone else really wants you to change but you don’t want to change, you won’t change. You yourself must desire to change, and it is the force of your desire to change that drives you to begin the journey of self-transformation.
The proper degree of force is serious. If the degree of force is unserious or half-assed, you won’t succeed. If the degree of force is obsessive, you might injure yourself. It’s never a good idea to apply an obsessive amount of effort toward achieving a goal—even one as noble as self-transformation. Be serious about self-transformation without being obsessed about it. For example, consider the technique of conscious eating. Don’t try to practice conscious eating while simultaneously reading a book or watching television. If you do that, you aren’t serious. However, there is no need to sit around and do nothing but eat impregnated food all day. That is obsessive behavior, not serious behavior.
The proper manner in which to apply the force is a persistent manner. Practice conscious eating at every meal every day—not just whenever you feel like it or only once in a while. Don’t skip doing the practice unless it is unavoidable.
The medium in the process of self-transformation is the set of techniques you are using to transform yourself. It is through those techniques that the force of your desire to change acts.
And lastly, the object that is being transformed is yourself, so this is the object you apply the force through the medium to.
This combination of factors results in the desired change—the elimination of negative traits and development of positive traits, leading to the establishment and strengthening of your elemental equilibrium.
Many occult books provide exercises for developing an elemental equilibrium. People who desire to change themselves often practice these exercises seriously and persistently. However, despite the presence of the proper kind of force, the proper degree of force, the proper manner of using the force, and the proper object, they do not succeed and remain as immature as they were before. This remains the case even after years and decades of regular practice. How is this possible?
Crowley gives the following two theorems of magic.
Every successful act has conformed to the postulate.
Every failure proves that one or more requirements of the postulate have not been fulfilled.
If aspiring magicians trying to establish an elemental equilibrium are applying the proper kind and degree of force in the proper manner to the proper object but are still unsuccessful in their endeavors, then clearly they are not using the proper medium. The medium is the specific set of techniques being practiced in order to establish an elemental equilibrium. If the techniques you are using to transform yourself are not effective, it does not matter how hard you practice them, how seriously you practice them, or how persistently you practice them; you will still be unsuccessful.
If you have the proper medium, you are set to go. The proper kind of force, the proper degree of force, and the proper manner of using the force (of your desire to transform yourself) follow naturally. They can be summarized with the word “approach.” Once you learn the instructions for a technique, you need to experiment a little to find the right approach to the technique in order to make it as effective as possible. This shouldn’t take too long.
Finding the right medium through which they can transform themselves is the first obstacle many students of magic need to overcome. As a student of the Bardon system, this is not the case for you because Bardon has already provided several extremely effective techniques of self-transformation in IIH. When these techniques are used with the proper kind and degree of force in the proper manner and applied to the proper object, they will result in the establishment of an elemental equilibrium. In other words, if you approach the task of using these techniques properly, you will establish an elemental equilibrium. However, the exact proper approach is slightly different for each individual. Table 1 is only a very generic summary. The purpose of this book, therefore, is not to teach you what the proper approach to each technique is. It is to give you some ideas that will help you find your own correct approach to each technique.
The Three Parts of Self-Transformation
The three parts of self-transformation are as follows.
Eliminate your negative traits
Strengthen your positive traits
Develop new positive traits
This is usually considered the best order, and for good reason. Self-transformation is a process of recreating yourself. Let’s say you have a cake but it is not a very good cake. You want to make it better (AKA recreate the cake into a better cake), so you start by reducing the cake to separate ingredients. Each ingredient represents a personality trait. Upon examining the ingredients (AKA introspecting), you find sugar, baking soda, flour, eggs, butter, milk, rabbit feces, squirrel vomit, and donkey saliva. The first thing you do is you throw out those last three ingredients. It does not matter what the rest of the ingredients are; if a cake contains rabbit feces, squirrel vomit, and donkey saliva, it will not taste good regardless of what else you put in it. Therefore, when you recreate yourself, the first thing you do is eliminate your negative personality traits.
While reading The Universal Master Key, which was written by some direct students of Bardon, one thing I noticed was that the authors repeatedly insist that a positive trait is not of much benefit if it is weak, and that to truly benefit from a positive trait, it must be strong. I think it is fair to assume that Bardon himself must have repeatedly stated this or else his students would not continually emphasize this point. Therefore, this should be contemplated. It is clear that the idea has a lot of merit. You might have some good traits, but you won’t derive much benefit from them if they are weak. For this reason, the second part of self-transformation is to strengthen your positive traits. It is usually easier to strengthen a positive trait you already have than it is to develop a new positive trait from scratch. In addition, your strengthened positive traits can be valuable assets that will aid you when you begin the third part of the process and work to develop new positive traits.
As for the third part, this is partially tied to the first part. For example, in order to eliminate impatience, you must develop a new positive trait—patience. However, there are also going to be positive traits you would like to have but did not develop in the process of eliminating your negative traits. These, you should turn your attention to after you have completed the first and second parts. When recreating the cake, first remove the gross ingredients, then make sure the remaining ingredients are high quality and replace them if they aren’t, and then add in new ingredients like frosting.
The Six-Pronged Attack
Self-transformation is not an instant process. I’m sure at one point or another, we’ve all wished it were possible to wave a wand and cast a spell on ourselves in order to become virtuous or talented. Something like that might work in the world of Harry Potter, but not in our world. True and permanent self-transformation takes repeated and constant effort over a period of time. In Step 2, Bardon writes of a “three-pronged attack” for the purpose of self-transformation. It is as follows,
He also says that one can use the techniques of conscious eating, conscious breathing, and magical washing to supplement this set of methods. In my first book, I grouped all of these together into a set I called the “six-pronged attack.”
In this book, I have removed transmutation from the set. I did this because transmutation is different from the other prongs. Autosuggestion, volition, conscious eating, conscious breathing, and magical washing are specific techniques you can use to transform yourself. Transmutation is not a specific technique, but a strategy. The idea is to eliminate a negative trait by developing the opposite positive trait. For example, if you want to eliminate impatience from your personality, you can do this by developing patience. Or, if you want to eliminate stupidity from yourself, you can do this by developing intelligence. In order to do that, you can use autosuggestion or conscious eating. Think of it this way. The prongs of the six-pronged attack are weapons. Transmutation is not a weapon, but a fighting style. It’s a specific way of using those weapons.
After removing transmutation from the set of prongs, I added another prong, which is intended as a catch-all for any non-magical methods that could be used to eliminate the negative trait you wish to be rid of. The new prong I’ve added is discussed in the eleventh chapter of this book.
The order of the prongs I have used in this book shouldn’t be seen as standard. I address magical washing first because I considered it the best place to introduce the inner adept idea, which I will reference repeatedly throughout this book. I then introduce autosuggestion so I can point out that it can be used to increase your proficiency in using the other prongs. This allows me to remind you of that fact in the following chapters about conscious eating and conscious breathing. I then put conscious eating and conscious breathing together because they are similar in their mechanics. Both involve impregnating a substance and consuming it in order to assimilate the trait it has been transmuted into. I discussed non-magical methods last because this is a new addition to the six-pronged attack, and I wanted to address the traditional prongs readers were already familiar with first. That was the logic and reasoning behind the order I used as I organized the chapters of this book. Again, it’s not standard. If you go onto a Bardon forum or chat group and start throwing around the phrase “Prong 3,” no one is going to have any idea what you are talking about. Refer to it by its actual name—conscious eating.
The self-transformation techniques in the six-pronged attack are remarkably effective. Their effectiveness only grows with practice. Over time, they will allow the student to accomplish “the creation of man by himself.” They will aid the student in acquiring “the perfect emancipation of his will” and gaining “full power over the Universal Magical Agent.”
The message of the sixth card in the Major Arcana is that the more wise decisions we make, the more joyful and blessed our lives will be.ii In his book The Tarot: A Contemporary Course of the Quintessence of Hermetic Occultism, Mouni Sadhu notes that the person in the card standing between the paths of virtue and vice is young. According to him, this indicates the importance of making wise decisions when young because the earlier you make a wise decision, the more benefit you will reap from it.
Deciding to change yourself for the better is a wise decision. Therefore, make this decision as early as possible and get to work! The earlier you do so, the more you will benefit from the positive traits you develop within yourself.
In his book The Lost Art of Listening, Matthew Nichols states that learning to truly listen to others will help improve all relationships. This includes familial relationships. Since the family is the basic unit of society, clearly society overall would be better off if everyone were better at listening.
According to Nichols, one of the things that prevents people from truly listening is something he calls “reactive emotionalism.” It’s a complex concept, but the gist of it is that when we react emotionally, even slightly, to what others are saying, we do things to express our emotional reaction, and this distracts us and prevents us from focusing on and understanding what the person speaking to us is trying to say. The things we do might be physical, but could be mental as well.
Establishing an elemental equilibrium means you are in control of yourself. Other people are not in control of you, and your emotions and passions are not in control of you. In other words, it is the most permanent and thorough solution to the problem of reactive emotionalism. I mention all of this to show just one of the myriad ways establishing an elemental equilibrium will improve your relationships, and therefore your life in general. When you have an elemental equilibrium, your mind and emotions are balanced and therefore stable. Because they are stable, they possess a quality of inner stillness and inner silence that allows you to truly listen, fostering the understanding and empathy needed for a relationship to remain strong and flourish.
Many people think that self-transformation is a gruesome, strenuous, and exhausting process that involves a lot of suffering. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I don’t understand that attitude at all. It is completely illogical.
I suspect that the reason people think this is that they believe the volition prong is the only tool they have to transform themselves. Yes, if sheer willpower alone was the only tool we had to change ourselves, self-transformation would indeed be tiring and frustrating. However, when the other five prongs are also used, it becomes a steady, smooth, and enjoyable process.
A well-known saying by Bob Anthony goes “When it becomes more difficult to suffer than change, you will change.” There are some important messages to take away from this statement. One is that changing yourself is a way to avoid suffering. Do you see the irony in not wanting to change yourself because you want to avoid suffering? If you want to avoid suffering, changing yourself is exactly what you need to do. Much of the suffering you experience in life is ultimately caused by your negative traits and the influence they have on the choices you make.
We see the most glaring illustrations of these basic truths in literature where tragic heroes suffer because of the tragic flaws they possess. With King Lear, it was his pride. With Oedipus, it was his arrogance and ignorance. With Hamlet, it was his indecisiveness. Had any of those characters eliminated their tragic flaws from their personalities with the six-pronged attack, they would have avoided a lot of suffering.
Training for Busy People
Bardon writes in IIH that the busiest person in the world could still work through his system. The system’s efficient approach to self-transformation is one reason for this.iii The techniques of the six-pronged attack are used while eating, breathing, washing your hands, showering, and doing any non-intellectual activity. As a result, you can devote a large portion of your day to self-transformation. These activities are all already integrated into your life. As can be seen, you don’t have to work to integrate powerful techniques of self-transformation into your life. You take activities already integrated into your life and turn them into powerful techniques of self-transformation. Clever, huh?
The thing is, Bardon didn’t choose to include these techniques in his system because they were efficient. He chose to include them because they were the most effective and powerful techniques he knew of. The fact that they also happen to be extremely efficient is a great bonus, especially for us busy folks!
Magic vs. Occultism
In a group chat between various occultists I used to belong to, a well-known occult writer stated that it was ok for magicians to be angry and irritable. He wrote that many religions dogmatically insist that anger is bad, but the magician should not be a slave to such dogma. Therefore, the magician should realize it is ok to be angry and irritable.
There are many problems with these statements and this line of reasoning. It is true that a magician should not be a slave to dogma; however, this doesn’t mean you should just automatically believe the opposite of what religious dogmas say is true. If you do that, you are still a slave of religious dogmas.
When it comes to the question of whether or not it is ok for a magician to be angry and irritable, the magician needs to do his own thinking, come to his own understanding of anger/irritability and the consequences of possessing this trait, and then come to his own conclusion regarding how acceptable it is for a magician to be angry and irritable.
Being angry and irritable is a sign that one does not have an elemental equilibrium. Therefore, claiming that it is fine for a magician to be angry and irritable is the same as claiming it is fine for a magician to not have an elemental equilibrium. For me, this is like saying it is fine for a warrior to have no muscles, or it is fine for a scientist to have no brain. It just does not make sense to me, but it made sense to this occult writer.
This incident was one of several incidents that made me realize that the magic I sought and studied was different from the magic that most people in the esoteric world sought and studied. As I did some research on these two different forms of magic, I realized that although they were both called “magic,” they were in fact essentially different, and a lot of harm could come from confusing the two. One of the reasons I wrote my first book, The Spirit of Magic, was to clarify the difference between the two. I continued to refer to one as “magic” and referred to the other as “occultism” in order to minimize confusion. This book was written for students of magic, not occultism.
Genuine Magical Self-Transformation and the Advantages It Has Over Its Occult and Sorcerous Alternatives
If you’re a human being, there’s a good chance you can’t fly. Let’s say you want to be able to fly. That involves changing yourself. You could try creating a jet pack and using it. The jetpack can fly, but that doesn’t mean you can fly. You still haven’t accomplished your goal of being able to fly. If you want to fly, you need to grow wings. Some might argue that for many practical purposes, owning and using a jetpack is just as good as growing wings and using them. However, the experience just isn’t the same. When you grow wings, you are flying under your own power. You are not relying on some device that is foreign to you and not a part of you. Besides, the jetpack can run out of fuel or malfunction if it is not built correctly.
Let’s say you want to be more charismatic. You could create a talisman that exudes warmth, confidence, openness, and friendliness. If you wear this talisman, people around you will behave towards you as if you were charismatic. In the case of a truly charismatic person, his aura will naturally exude those qualities. But for most practical purposes, it might not matter whether it is your aura exuding those qualities or a talisman you are wearing that is exuding those qualities. Still, the experience is just not the same. Do you want to seem charismatic, or do you want to actually be charismatic? Also, what happens if the talisman becomes destroyed or lost? Those around you who were attracted to your magnetic and charismatic personality would become disillusioned. This is because your personality was never actually magnetic and charismatic. The personality of the talisman was, and that is broken or lost.
Many years ago, a friend of mine needed help passing a course in college. I made him a Mercury talisman and programmed it to help him pass exams. The idea was that the talisman would subtly influence him into marking the correct answers whenever he wore it. It seemed to work, and he wore the talisman during every exam. One day, however, he forgot to take the talisman with him to an exam. When he realized this, he turned to the person sitting next to him and screamed out loud “Oh my God, I forgot my talisman!” He nearly broke down from the panic attack he experienced upon realizing this. In retrospect, instead of giving him a talisman, I should have taught him the six-pronged attack and told him to use it to become more intelligent. You can forget to take a talisman with you to an exam, but if you are intelligent, you can’t forget to take your intelligence with you to an exam. In addition, developing intelligence would have benefited him in many other aspects of his life, not just the academic aspect. Many of his relationships also went sour because of stupid decisions he made. Yep, becoming intelligent would have benefited him in pretty much anything he did.
A client who had trouble making friends hired a witch I knew to perform a ritual to help him make friends and build a social life. She did, and he messaged her about a week after the ritual thanking her and telling her it worked. He had indeed met some people and begun hanging out with them. A few weeks later, he contacted her again and tried to hire her to perform the same ritual again. Somehow, he was back to having no friends and no social life. It turned out that while her ritual had helped him make friends, he had not been able to keep the friends he made because he was a shy and boring person. Workings like rituals and spells can fix a problem temporarily, but if you still possess the personality traits that led to the problem in the first place, that problem is just going to come back. A permanent fix to his problem would have been to learn the six-pronged attack and use it to become charismatic, open, extroverted, friendly, and interesting.
I remember reading an old folk tale about a guy who was possessed by a demon when he was a baby. The guy’s parents took him to a sorcerer who gave him a talisman. The sorcerer said the guy must wear the talisman at all times because it would prevent the demon from taking over his body and manipulating it. The guy managed to wear the talisman continuously until he was an adult. One day when he was working in the field, however, the string holding the talisman broke and it fell off. As a result, the demon was able to seize control of the man’s body and cause him to walk to a cliff and jump off.
Maybe this is just some silly folktale, but I think there are genuinely magical lessons to be extracted from it. Think of the demon as a negative personality trait like irritability, impatience, disorganization, or laziness. Creating a talisman that is programmed to magically suppress the influence of the negative trait is at best only a temporary solution. It’s not a real solution to the problem. You need to exorcise the demon; in other words, you need to root out the negative trait with the six-pronged attack. Consider the following variation of the folktale with the same message delivered in a more literal manner.
Once upon a time, there was a boy who had really bad anger-management problems. His parents took him to see a sorcerer, who gave him a talisman. The talisman was filled with lunar energy because the quality of serenity corresponds to the moon. The sorcerer told the boy that he should always wear the talisman. That way, he would always feel calm instead of angry. The boy wore the talisman continually until he was an adult. One day, however, the string holding the talisman around his neck broke and it fell on the ground into the sewer. The man didn’t notice. Later that day, his wife did something to annoy him. As a result, he got so angry he picked up a gun and shot his wife and their children.
As you can see, the kind of genuine self-transformation offered by magic has many benefits over the illusory self-transformation offered by sorcery and occultism. And let’s not forget that magicians are interested in much more than casting spells to make fast cash or seduce pretty women. Magic is about embodying the highest forms of power and wisdom in order to accomplish divine missions like establishing peace and justice on Earth, repairing the global economy, and eliminating corruption in government. You will have many teachers and helpers as you work in service of Divine Providence. The first of these will be the elemental spirits you meet when you begin the work of PME. Regarding the task of working with elementals, Eliphas Levi writes the following.
To overcome and subjugate the elementary spirits, we must never yield to their characteristic defects. Thus, a shallow and capricious mind will never rule the Sylphs; an irresolute, cold and fickle nature will never master the Undines; passion irritates the Salamanders; and avaricious greed makes its slaves the sport of Gnomes. But we must be prompt and active, like the Sylphs; pliant and attentive to images, like the Undines; energetic and strong like the Salamanders; laborious and patient, like the Gnomes: in a word, we must overcome them in their strength without ever being overcome by their weaknesses
The gnomes respect a magician because he is patient; not because he happens to be wearing a talisman that magically manipulates him into acting patiently via subtle energies. Acting patiently or appearing to be patient isn’t enough to get the gnomes to take you seriously. You have to actually be patient. To do this, you need to internalize and develop that quality so it becomes a part of you, unlike an external talisman that you wear. This passage from Levi’s writings is actually very famous. Surely, numerous students of magic have read the passage and asked themselves how they can eliminate the negative personality traits Levi lists and then become prompt and active, pliant and attentive to images, energetic and strong, and laborious and patient. The answer is through the six-pronged attack.
In my first book, I included the following story.
One day, it came to pass that a certain occultist wished to evoke the salamander king Pyrhum. He drew a circle and triangle, placed Pyrhum’s sigil in the triangle, and proceeded to recite a long series of conjurations. The salamander king appeared, very angry, and began to berate the occultist for bothering him. The occultist, in reply, said ‘In the name of Elohim and by the power of the great angel Michael, I order you to obey me.’ Pyrhum, in response, said ‘I respect Elohim, and I respect Michael, but who are you?’ He then incinerated the occultist and returned to the elemental realm of fire
Those sorcerers and occultists who say things like “In the name of Elohim” are trying to apply magical techniques and principles that have become corrupted and distorted to the point of being ineffective. The magician does not evoke in the name of Elohim. The magician evokes as Elohim because he has internalized Elohim (the fiery aspect of Divinity).iv The process of internalizing the fiery aspect of Divinity begins with developing positive fire traits like charisma, enthusiasm, self-discipline, and independence. Again, this is done through the six-pronged attack. When you have done this, great salamander kings like Pyrhum will respect you and take you seriously when you evoke them. They will teach you the secrets of their element and empower you to perform the work you are determined to perform in order to fill the world with light, love, and joy.
In PME, Bardon states that wings are symbolic of a divine nature. Because angels are divine in nature, they are always depicted with wings. One song about a great magician of the past states “Light and life to all he brings; ris’n with healing in his wings.” Note that it did not say “Ris’n with healing in his jet pack.” It is not enough to have the appearance of virtue and divinity. You must truly be virtuous and divine.
In Byron Sherwin’s book Kabbalah: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism, the author explains that in Kabbalah, humility is considered the most important virtue a student could possess, and that developing this virtue was a prerequisite for serious systematic study of Kabbalah. He cites a number of texts written by well-known Kabbalists to prove his claim.
I once came across the writings of someone who had dedicated his entire life to a particular magical tradition and the magical system that tradition had developed and practiced. We’ll call him Logan. Since magical training is in part a process of spiritual evolution, I figured Logan would be highly spiritually evolved after spending a lifetime working with a system of magic. I was wrong.
Logan’s writings immediately reflected the fact that he was extremely immature. Most of them were poorly written hatchet jobs targeted toward people he believed had wronged him in some way. Furthermore, regardless of whatever he was writing about, all of his writings dripped with ridiculous amounts of arrogance. This is ironic because the magical tradition he was a part of incorporated a lot of Kabbalah. His level of arrogance was actually comical, and many times, I could only shake my head and ask “Are you serious?” Unfortunately, his writings were not some form of satire criticizing arrogant “magicians.” He really was that arrogant. While all of this was amusing in some ways, it was disturbing in many others. I ruled out the possibility that Logan was born that arrogant because, realistically, it is highly unlikely for someone to be born with that much arrogance in his personality. Somehow, he must have become ridiculously arrogant over the course of time, and this process of becoming arrogant happened either in spite of his magical training or because of his magical training. Which was it?
The answer is the latter. It turns out that the system of magic he practiced was incomplete because it did not provide students with effective methods for establishing an elemental equilibrium before working with magical energies. That system happened to work a lot with solar energy. Since arrogance is a trait that corresponds with the sun, he had become ridiculously arrogant as a result of constant work with solar energy. The constant contact with that energy had fed, increased, and augmented the arrogance that already existed in his personality. If he had rooted out the quality of arrogance from his personality before working with solar energy, he would have been fine, but he did not know to do this because the teachings of the tradition of magic he belonged to were incomplete. If you look back at the history of that particular tradition of magic, you will see that many of its members were also very arrogant. This is not a coincidence. We can speak of an “elemental equilibrium” in which you have rooted out the negative traits corresponding to the elements, or we can speak of a “planetary equilibrium” in which you have rooted out the negative traits corresponding to the planets. They are essentially the same thing. The idea is you root out your negative traits so that the magical energies you work with and bring into your body cannot feed them, augment them, and strengthen them.
If you asked most people who knew Logan to describe him, they would describe him as an arrogant asshole. While this is a correct description, I don’t think it’s a fair one. I think it is most fair to describe Logan as a victim of a group of individuals who incorrectly believed they were qualified to create a system of magic. Because they were not actually qualified to create a system of magic, the system of magic they ended up creating was horribly incomplete and unbalanced. Logan was tricked. He was sincere in his desire to evolve spiritually and was told that the magical system would help him do that. In the end, it did the opposite. As the Kabbalists pointed out, the first step in spiritual evolution is to acquire humility, yet after a lifetime of dedication to that magical tradition, Logan is as far from taking that first step as I am from marrying Natalie Portman.
If you go through the old BardonPraxis archives on Rawn’s site and read his responses, you will notice that he is always very humble in his interactions with others. All of the other adepts I know or know of are also very humble, and interacting with them always inspires me to be more humble as well. Humility is truly one of the marks of a genuine adept. Make sure you acquire that trait during the Step 2 self-transformation work. The techniques contained in the six-pronged attack will help you do that.
Meat and Poison
There is a saying that “One’s man’s meat is another man’s poison.” This is very true. The elemental pore breathing exercises of Step 3 are meat to someone with an elemental equilibrium. These exercises will nourish him and further balance him. These same exercises are poison to someone who does not have an elemental equilibrium. They will further unbalance him.
You must know which techniques will help you establish an elemental equilibrium, and you must know which techniques will not help you establish an elemental equilibrium.
You must know yourself so you know what about yourself you need to change in order to establish an elemental equilibrium.
You must know your negative traits because you will need to eliminate them in order to establish an elemental equilibrium.
You must know when a negative trait has been fully rooted out and not just weakened or diminished.
You must know your positive traits because you will need to strengthen them and use them in order to establish an elemental equilibrium.
In addition to knowing your negative traits, you must also know the nature of each trait, and not merely the fact that you possess it. The more understanding you have of a trait, the easier it will be for you to form an appropriate plan for eliminating it. Rawn suggests meditating on the trait. By contemplating it regularly, you will examine all aspects of the trait, see how they relate to each other, and discover the trait’s origin and purpose. Indeed, meditating on and contemplating a trait is a good way to learn about it in order to understand it.
There’s another thing you can do to come to better understand the negative trait you are trying to eliminate or the positive trait you are trying to develop—research it. If you type the trait into a search engine like Google, I’m sure you’ll find numerous articles and websites discussing the trait. Reading them will help you understand it. You may also come across tips for eliminating/developing it as you research it. When I was working to eliminate the trait of disorganization, I found a number of good websites providing excellent tips for becoming organized. I guess another manifestation of this power is knowing that Google is a useful tool and knowing how to use it.
Some people are afraid to change themselves. Various writers have put forth different explanations for why this is the case. I don’t think any of them are right or wrong. For every person who is afraid to change himself, I think there is a unique combination of factors giving rise to this fear. In any case, dare to change yourself. Your courage will be greatly rewarded.
Volition is one of the prongs of the six-pronged attack. Therefore, it is clearly involved in the process of character transformation. Volition isn’t just about using your will to fight against a negative trait when it rises up and tries to control you. It’s also about regularly willing yourself to make use of the techniques of the six-pronged attack. This is especially the case at the beginning of one’s training, before using them regularly has become a habit and a way of life.
To Keep Silence
The most important power! Woo!
The Elemental Equilibrium of a Bardon-Trained Initiate
Bill views the inspiration behind the Bardon system as being closely tied to Saturn. This is the planetary force associated with overcoming one’s limitations and establishing justice. These processes are a big part of magical training and practice in the Bardon system. In Appendix A, I show that even after you have established an elemental equilibrium in Step 2, you will be constantly refining and improving your elemental equilibrium as you work through the rest of IIH. In an essay highlighting the Saturnian nature of the Bardon system, Bill provides the following description of the kind of elemental equilibrium possessed by someone who has completed IIH.
We would be able to say with water: ‘I am a source of love for others—feeling, rapport, acceptance, support, giving and receiving, sharing, union, and intimacy—others find that I amplify everything that makes them feel alive.
In mastering the air element, we would be able to say, ‘I have a telepathic receptivity to the inner life in others. I enhance their sense of freedom and their power of choice. The desires hidden within them and the dark chambers of their hearts are illuminated. My presence is uplifting and refreshing. They feel harmonized and free of personal need.’
Through the fire element we inspire courage, resolution, strength, and conviction. Problems become challenges and obstacles opportunities. Fire, when it is pure and powerful enough, can take the urges to dominate and to destroy and transform them into the desire to heal and to renew the world. This aspect of fire we master on the astral plane until it becomes a part of ourselves.
With the earth element, we convey stability and endurance. The bliss within the earth element is found within silence. It has a peace as deep as the universe. Silence is a magical power which destroys hostility, negativity, and out of control desire. The actions and purposes of akasha, when they manifest, always possess some aspect of silence just as a word spoken in love represents only a small part of the heart which expresses it. The power of silence with its peace and ceaseless activity are a gift we extend to others through our presence.
In the Bardon system, magic is viewed as the art of blessing society. In other words, it’s the art of reducing unnecessary suffering in society and filling society with joy and wonder. Of course, Bardon-trained magicians often do this through practical magical work, but as this passage from Bill’s essay shows, when you have finished working through IIH, your presence alone is a blessing to those around you.
This passage describes a high quality elemental equilibrium, but Bardon expected his students to attain nothing short of just that. Upon reading this description by Bill and understanding that this is the kind of person Bardon expected his students to become, it is obvious why the Bardon system has a serious nature and rigorous standards.
Q & A
Q: Does establishing an elemental equilibrium involve balancing the elements in your astra-mental body?
A: Yes, but that is not the most practical way for beginners to think of the process because, despite what some schools and systems teach, you cannot directly manipulate the elements in your astra-mental body into a balanced state through the use of elemental correspondences, visualization, and occult techniques. In fact, it is actually really naïve to think so. It is better to think of it as a process of eliminating your negative traits, strengthening your positive traits, and developing new positive traits. When you have done this, the elements in your astra-mental body will be balanced (and purified).
Q: As far as magical training is concerned, why is it important to transform your character/personality by establishing an elemental equilibrium in Step 2?
A: If you do not root out your negative traits in Step 2, the exercise of pore breathing the elements in Step 3 will cause them to grow and strengthen. This will cause you to become an extremely unpleasant, unbalanced, and possibly dangerous human being.v In addition, in Step 3, you are reaching for magical power. Such an action attracts the attention of the Saturn principle of the universe, which will put limitations and restrictions in your way that prevent you from developing and acquiring the power you seek until you have the maturity needed to handle it responsibly. The character transformation work of Step 2 is an important part of developing the maturity needed to handle the magical power you develop in Step 3. Without this maturity, there is a greater possibility that you will misuse or abuse your magical abilities, resulting in a significant accumulation of negative karma for yourself.
In addition, as Bardon (and other authors) point out, the quality of your astral senses depends on the purity of your character.
Q: As far as life is concerned, why is it important to transform your character/personality by establishing an elemental equilibrium?
A: When I look back on my childhood, I find that I suffered a lot because of my unbalanced personality. I was way too passive and not assertive at all. I was way too introverted and not extroverted at all. I had way more fire and air traits than water and earth traits. My unbalanced personality not only caused me to suffer a lot, but also prevented me from succeeding in a lot of my endeavors. Thus, for me, establishing an elemental equilibrium by using the six-pronged attack was not about moving on to Step 3. It was about improving the quality of my life.
Q: So is life the ultimate test of how legit your elemental equilibrium is?
A: Yes, that is correct. A lot of your suffering and failure in life will be because of your negative traits, and those negative traits are rooted in elemental imbalances in your subtle bodies. If your elemental equilibrium is truly improving, then you should notice a definite improvement in the quality of your life. If you notice such an improvement after a period of time working with certain self-transformation techniques, then you can be sure those techniques are effective for you. If you do not notice such an improvement after a period of time working with certain self-improvement techniques, you can be sure that those techniques are not effective for you. Too many people who try to “balance the elements” within themselves don’t really understand what that means and therefore have no way of testing whether the exercises they are practicing in order to “balance the elements” within themselves are effective or not. They just keep practicing those exercises because some “authority” told them it was effective. Life is indeed the ultimate test that determines whether or not a technique is truly effective.
Q: What is a perfect elemental equilibrium?
A: A perfect elemental equilibrium is seen in Divine Providence, who is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and eternal. According to some esoteric thinkers, the cards of the Major Arcana represent the spiritual journey of a magician. If this is the case, then the last card, The Universe, represents the attainment of a perfect elemental equilibrium. The four elements are symbolized by the four animals at the corners of the card, and the woman at the center is the magician. The circle around her represents her connection with Divinity. According to Eliphas Levi, the woman also represents absolute truth, indicating that when the magician has reached this stage, he will be enlightened enough to speak of absolute truth. As Bardon points out in the truth section of the theory part of IIH, this is a very high and exalted level of spiritual attainment. The woman also holds two wands. One represents her will and the other represents the will of Divine Providence. It is impossible to tell which one represents her will and which one represents the will of Divine Providence because they are identical.
Q: What is introspection?
A: Introspection is the act of analyzing and examining yourself – in particular your personality and character. In the process, you should not be critical or judgmental. You should be objective, honest, and thorough. As you examine yourself, you should strive to identify the various traits and qualities you possess that cause you to think the things you think, feel the things you feel, and act the way you act.
Q: How does introspection help one develop an elemental equilibrium?
A: To establish an elemental equilibrium, you need to eliminate your negative traits. You can’t begin the process of eliminating your negative traits if you don’t know what your negative traits are. Introspection will help you identify what your negative traits are. It will also help you identify your positive traits so you can begin strengthening them and making use of them in your efforts to eliminate your negative traits.
Q: I don’t need to introspect to establish an elemental equilibrium because instead, I’m going to practice an exercise I found in a book that is designed to balance the elements in your astral body directly. Basically, you visualize symbols associated with the elements in specific regions of your body and vibrate divine names associated with the elements.
A: Ok, good luck with that.
Q: Bardon says that the student of magic “ought to quickly and surely endeavor to get rid of those passions that hinder him most from being successful in the magic art.” Because I don’t know a lot about magic or magical advancement, how do I figure out what negative traits are the biggest hindrance to my magical advancement so I can get rid of them sooner rather than later?
A: Actually, the various factors (karmic, circumstantial, etc.) that determine the rate at which you advance along the magical path are far more complicated than you think and I don’t fully understand them myself. Thus, if you gave me a list of negative traits, I would not be able to rank them by how strongly they hinder one’s magical advancement. Instead of seeking to quickly eliminate the negative traits that hinder you from being successful in magic, I suggest you seek to quickly eliminate the negative traits that hinder you from being successful in life. For reasons I won’t go into here, I have reason to believe that the same traits that hinder you most from being successful in life are also those that hinder you most from advancing along the magical path.vi
Q: How do I know what traits prevent me from being successful in life most?
A: First, take some time to think about what you want most in your current incarnation. Is it a happy and healthy family? Is it a successful career? Is it to leave a lasting legacy? Is it to spread love and joy? Is it to travel a lot? Reflect back on your life and try to identify what traits have prevented you from getting what you want. In addition, make a list of the biggest failures that have happened in your life and try to determine what personality traits led to those failures.
Q: After many years of magical training, I have eliminated every negative trait on my black soul mirror. As far as the task of self-transformation goes, I don’t know what to do next. Can you give me advice?
A: Use the six pronged attack to become a better husband to your wife or a better parent to your children. One can never be too good of a husband or parent. And unless you are seriously conceited, you cannot possibly believe you are a perfect husband or parent, and therefore, must admit that you have work to do in that area.
Q: I am neither a husband nor a parent though. Is there anything else I can do?
A: Well, since I know absolutely nothing about you, the safest answer I can give is to become more intelligent because one can never be too intelligent. The more intelligent you are, the more easily you will be able to think of good solutions to the problems that pop up in your life and the problems society as a whole faces. Therefore, apply your efforts to becoming more intelligent. The fact that you are asking me this question implies you are not intelligent enough to think of a good answer on your own, showing you have work to do in that area.
Q: Why is it suggested we eliminate our major negative traits before eliminating our minor negative traits? Isn’t it better to start with the minor traits because they are easier and therefore we can build confidence in ourselves through our successes and gain proficiency in using the techniques of the six-pronged attack, which in turn will prepare us to tackle the major negative traits? It seems to me like if we tackle the major negative traits first, we are more likely to fail and lose confidence in ourselves.
A: You cannot possibly fail to eliminate a trait, no matter how big or strong it is, if you are persistent. Yes, it might take a long time for you to be successful, but if you keep at it, you will be successful. As Levi wrote, “Constantly dripping water will wear away a stone, and in the end will perforate it. The aim to which you ever devote your will power will be at length attained; you begin to succeed as soon as you begin to will success.” In later chapters, I will explain the mechanics of techniques like conscious eating and conscious breathing. Upon studying the relevant sections, you will get an idea of how powerful these techniques are, and how thorough the transformation they bring about within you is. You will realize that if they are used persistently, they cannot fail to bring about the desired change in yourself. In other words, as long as you are persistent, you will not fail to eliminate a major trait, not matter how strong it is.
You eliminate the major negative traits first because they have the biggest negative impact on your life, and therefore, by eliminating them, you improve your life immensely. In addition, due to the fact that all aspects of the personality are connected and the astral body is one unit, oftentimes the elimination of a major trait results in several minor traits being eliminated in the process. Thus, you kill two (or three, or five) birds with one stone—a big bird and a few small birds that are connected to it somehow.
Q: After developing an elemental equilibrium, can you lose it?
A: Yes. No one’s elemental equilibrium is perfect. You will constantly improve it. However, if your elemental equilibrium can get better, it can also get worse. Never cease to continue improving your personality and character in order to further strengthen your elemental equilibrium. The task of self-transformation does not stop upon completing Step 2.
In The Universal Master Key, a student of Bardon writes that the trait of vigilance is used to protect the temple of Solomon. The temple of Solomon represents an individual’s elemental equilibrium. Protecting the temple of Solomon means guarding the integrity of one’s elemental equilibrium. Vigilance is necessary to do this because by constantly being aware, you will be able to sense if your equilibrium is weakening and take appropriate measures to strengthen it.
Q: How do I know what new traits I should develop in the third part of the self-transformation process?
A: One good idea is to make a list of people you admire and then determine what specific traits about them you admire. If you don’t possess those traits, work to develop them. Another good idea is to examine your life and career and then think about what traits you need in order to be more successful. Then, work to develop those traits.
Q: If I am an adept magician with proficient mastery over the elements, including akasha, is it possible for me to use magical methods, techniques, or rituals to establish an elemental equilibrium in someone else?
A: When it comes to magic, pretty much anything is possible in theory. However, just because it is possible to do something does not mean it is a good idea. A lack of an elemental equilibrium is a disease in the same way that the common cold, cancer, and tuberculosis are diseases. When it comes to healing diseases, the first step is to assess whether the disease is caused by chance or caused by karma. If a disease is caused by chance and has no karmic root, it is a simple matter for an adept to heal it. If a disease is caused by karma, the situation is more complicated. The following passage comes from Memories of Franz Bardon. In it, Dr. M.K. reminisces about Bardon and his teachings.
The master told me once that he healed a young girl whose lungs were already severely destroyed by tuberculosis. Since this ailment was linked to her destiny or karma, for this reason he himself was called upon to account for his actions through incredible obstacles. Eventually he was compelled to undo the entire healing process.
So we see here that to really cure someone of a disease caused by karma, you have to take a portion of the afflicted individual’s karma upon yourself; namely the portion of the karma responsible for the disease. A lack of an elemental equilibrium is a disease caused by karma, and working through one’s karma is involved in the process of learning, maturing, and transforming oneself in order to establish an elemental equilibrium. Therefore, to establish an elemental equilibrium within someone else, you would have to take an enormous part of that person’s karma onto your shoulders. For this reason, no adept in his right mind would do that.
Now, some might argue that there is nothing to prevent a very compassionate adept from doing this if he is willing to take on the afflicted person’s karma. This is true, however, if you establish an elemental equilibrium in someone else, you greatly change their personality. This changes the way they interact with their environment, the way they live their lives, and the way they make choices. You have greatly altered the future of this individual, and this can have highly unpredictable karmic consequences. It does not seem to me that an adept, who certainly possesses wisdom and understands the importance of caution, would be inclined to do something like this.
iOr more accurately, “balance and purify the elements.”
iiThe card shows a man standing between two roads—a road of virtue and a road of vice. A solar angel above him wants the manto live a joyful and blessed life so the angel causes the man to fall in love with a woman symbolizing wisdom. In this way, he is guided towards the right path, which is the one that will cause him to lead a joyful life. See my first book, The Spirit of Magic: Rediscovering the Heart of Our Sacred Art for an in-depth analysis of the card.
iiiThe system has an efficient approach to everything.
ivI want to make a quick not for those who are not in the target audience of this book but are reading it anyway. In modern Western magic, the standard set of correspondences between divine names and the elements is as follows.
Fire IHVH Tzabaoth (Netzach)
Water Elohim Tzabaoth (Hod)
Air Shaddai El Chai (Yesod)
Earth Adonai ha-Aretz (Malkuth)
That set of correspondences reflects the correspondences between the Sephiroth and the elements that is used for the outer order grades. The correspondences taught by the original Golden Dawn order were actually as follows.
Fire Elohim (Geburah)
Water El (Chesed)
Air IHVH (Tiphereth)
Earth Adonai (Malkuth
That set of correspondences reflects the correspondences between the Sephiroth and the elements that is seen in the Rose Cross Lamen. There have been numerous debates in various online esoteric groups about which set of divine names is more “valid” or “correct.” Numerous individuals have spent significant portions of their finite lifespans arguing about this on Facebook. It is clear that some people care a whole lot about this issue. Despite this, I assure you that there is no one who cares as much as I don’t. I have chosen to use the older correspondences because there now seems to be a trend towards that direction amongst those who use divine names.
v At the beginning of the Step 3 astral section, Bardon writes “Before starting on the training for this step, the astral equipoise of the elements in the soul has to be established by introspection and self-control unless you wish to do mischief to yourself.” This is what he means by “mischief to yourself.”
vi Consider, for example, that the magical path begins in Malkuth, which is the real world, the world of daily life.
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