IIH (Initiation Into Hermetics) Interviews

Franz Bardon Hermetics – An Interview with Virgil

 

FALCON BOOKS INTERVIEWS

EXPLORING ENLIGHTENED LIVING

THROUGH HERMETIC MEDITATION
AND BEYOND
With Virgil 

Today we are presenting an interview with Virgil, who explored a number of spiritual traditions and magical systems for several years before settling on the one developed by Franz Bardon. Many are familiar with his writings, in particular those posted to his old blog, Emerald Force. You may also view some of his most recent poems and rambles in his new blog, Through Castle Doors.

Hello Virgil and a cordial welcome from Falcon Books. Thank you for sharing with us your time and the wisdom you have gained while walking the path of a magician. I would like to begin with this beautiful poem:
High Steps by a Yellow Bridge
by Virgil
While descending stairs,
Terror grips my heart and vision.
I am bound to a weathered railing,
And slower than an ambling turtle.
This is my ball and chain.
You are fearless.
Walking as if on flat land,
You glide ahead – lower and lower.
My birth keeps me from reaching you,
And asking you your favorite season.

 

The cosmos mandate that you sail away,
Yet grotesque insects block your path.
You stop, unwilling to face their wrath.
I catch up, a heart filled with false hope.
Yet though a broken pattern has delayed you,
And allowed my chain and I to find you,
We still were never meant to know each other.
You belong to worlds beyond my reach;
And so we split across the aging bridge
I go forward into a watery gate.
You go left into another realm.

 


  1. Falcon Books: I was wondering if you could share with us your experience regarding this poem. What inspired you to write it?
Virgil: “I wrote that poem a while ago during a visit to the city of Pittsburgh. One of the neat features about Pittsburgh is that there are three rivers flowing through it. This makes it a very interesting city from a magical perspective because the energetic dynamics underlying the area are quite unique. Each of the rivers is inhabited by a river deity, and since I used to visit the city often, I got to know each of them well.
The poem is about a time I was walking to the Monongahela river in order to converse with its river deity. There is a highway on a bridge. If you walk along the sidewalk, you come to a very high staircase near Duquesne University. I was walking down the staircase. There was a woman in front of me also walking down it. She was very pretty and was talking on her phone. Based on what I heard from her side of the conversation, she seemed really interesting. In addition, her voice was just so bubbly and cheerful, so it stuck out to me since I had purposely built up a solemn and reserved mood within myself in order to more easily enter the state of trance I needed to be in to talk to the river deity. I was still somewhat afraid of heights at the time, so I walked down the stairs slowly. She was practically jogging down them and wasn’t afraid at all. At the bottom, she reached a street and waited for traffic to stop so she could cross to the other side. From my perspective, since I was so high up, the cars looked like beetles. Anyhow, the traffic took a while to stop, and by the time it did, I had actually caught up with her again. She had ended her phone conversation by this point. I wanted to talk to her, since she seemed really interesting, but I also didn’t want to creep her out so I didn’t. Anyhow, when the traffic finally stopped, we walked across the street onto another bridge which was painted yellow. Upon reaching the other side, she turned left and I went forward to look for another staircase that led down to the riverbank.”
  1. Falcon Books: Could you share with us your background regarding your journey along the esoteric path?
Virgil: “Most people’s paths are messy and unfocused at the very beginning. Mine was like that too. When it came to occultism and magic, I was interested in everything – ceremonial magic, evocation, Huna, Reiki, Kabbalah, shamanism, runes, Tarot, hoodoo, Wicca, etc. I read every book I had access to. I tried every exercise and practice I could find. I suppose a description of this period of my life might be interesting to some people, but not in any meaningful way. In retrospect I was wasting my time. There’s a well-known saying – “The hunter who chases two rabbits catches neither one.” I wasn’t chasing two rabbits. I was chasing around fifty or sixty rabbits. Whether or not a person manages to clean up his magical life and get it focused is pretty much what determines whether or not he makes any real progress. There were some incidents along the way that helped me do this.
For example, I used to live near one of the ten best research libraries in the United States. When I moved to that location, one of the first things I did was visit it. Since I was interested in Buddhism, I went to the Buddhism section. It was enormous and filled with a number of extremely rare Buddhist texts. I remember thinking to myself “Wow, how am I going to read all of these in one lifetime?” Later on that night, I was thinking about this and I realized maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to try to do that. Instead, I went online and found a copy of the Dhammapada. Instead of trying to read through fifty or more rare Buddhist texts, I ended up reading and rereading the Dhammapada over and over again, studying it carefully. That was a lot more beneficial for me. I only went back to the Buddhist section of that library maybe two or three times before moving away from the area.
Of course, learning about IIH was the single most important event that helped me to organize and focus my path. It was a major transitional point for me. I had to learn new things, obviously, but I also had to unlearn a lot of stuff. I sold many of the books I owned. That took a while, almost a year to do. I didn’t own a personal computer back then, but I guess the modern equivalent would be removing bookmarks and deleting PDFs. After that, it was just a matter of patiently and persistently completing the exercises in the order Bardon arranged them.”
  1. Falcon Books: When did you begin working through Bardon’s system, and what inspired you to do so?
Virgil: “For several reasons, I’d rather not say exactly when I began working through IIH. One of the reasons is this. Some people think that just because someone has been working through IIH for a long time, they must be an adept and therefore everything they say is the word of an incarnate deity. That is false. Other people think that just because someone has only been working through IIH for a very short time, they must have nothing useful to say and are not worth listening to. That is equally false. I don’t want the way my writings are received to be influenced by how long I have been training in the Bardon system and applying the skills I have developed.
As for what inspired me to begin working through Bardon’s system, I would say my love for the four elements, especially air, and the fact that Bardon’s emphasis on direct work with the elements via pore breathing allows you to build up a much more intimate relationship with them than other systems can provide you with. Working with the elementals in PME is also a part of that too. These days, I converse with Capisi all the time. Sometimes I wonder if I should have chosen a major that would have lead me down a career path in which I could work to reduce air pollution. It’s too late for that, but my current career does allow me to work to improve society and the environment in a different but equally important way. My magical training, of course, is centered around shaping myself so that I can do this as well as possible.”
  1. Falcon Books: What do you feel the differences are between someone working through IIH  and someone working with other systems of magical development such as Chaos Magic, Aleister Crowley, and the Golden Dawn? In your experience are the results the same, or do they serve different purposes?
Virgil: “This is an interesting and very important question. I partially address it at various points in my new book. Here I will try to give a concise answer. In the introduction to his book How to Speak Saturn, Bill writes “The purpose of this book is straightforward and simple. It is my intent to place into the hands of people a means to eliminate corruption in government and to free the world of war and also of dictators.” When chaos magicians, Thelemites, or Golden Dawn magicians write books, do you see them making statements like that in the introduction?
To put it bluntly, Bardon’s system is completely different from chaos magic, Thelema, and the Golden Dawn system. The modern adept Frater Acher wrote a very well-known essay called On Power and Magic. In it, he divides a magical system into three aspects, which he calls the “What Circle”, the “How Circle”, and the “Why Circle”. These three circles are like layers of an onion. The What Circle is the surface layer of the system. The Why Circle is the heart of the system. Bardon’s system might overlap a little with other systems on the level of the What Circle and maybe even the How Circle, but its Why Circle is drastically different from the Why Circles of other systems and traditions of magic. Therefore, despite surface similarities it might have with them, the Bardon system is fundamentally and essentially different from those other systems and traditions of magic.
Or, to put it another way, and answer one of your questions, yes, they do serve different purposes. Chaos magic has never been clearly defined, so I will not try to comment on it. Crowley’s system is designed to help people find their “true will”. Bardon did not believe in a true will. The idea behind a true will, according to Crowley, is that there is one ideal path in life that a person should follow to maximize his happiness and fulfillment in life. This idea reflects a simplistic view of the universe. In IIH, Bardon has you working with akasha a lot. Akasha is a substance which gives rise to not just infinite possibilities, but also infinite actualities. It transcends both space and time. It is omnipotent. It is the source of anything and everything. The more you work with akasha, the more you learn to view things from the perspective of akasha. Once you do this, the idea that there is only one single pre-set path for everyone to follow ends up seeming kind of silly. There are good things about Crowley’s system, and many of his writings are useful, but Crowley’s system and Bardon’s system are essentially different and were created for different purposes. When a Bardonist completes IIH and begins learning and working with the spirits of PME, he will find there are many possible ways he can use the skills he developed during his basic training and numerous spirits to assist him with whatever he decides to do. What he does with his abilities and what spirits he chooses to work with and learn from is all up to him. These choices are his to make and are not predetermined by some “true will” he has to adhere to. The possibilities and opportunities open to him are infinite and endless.
It is a similar situation with the Golden Dawn system. The purpose of the Golden Dawn system, according to its Adeptus Minor ritual, is to “apply myself to the Great Work, which is to purify and exalt my Spiritual Nature so that with the Divine Aid I may at length attain to be more than human, and thus gradually raise and unite myself to my higher and Divine Genius.” This is not the purpose of the Bardon system. In the Bardon system, it’s just an exercise. It’s found in Step 10 of IIH. IIH is just the beginning. It’s a training manual, however, the question one must ask is what exactly are we training for? Soldiers don’t train just for the sake of training. They train so they can go to war and defend their country. Firefighters don’t train just for the sake of training. They train so they can extinguish fires and save lives. Similarly, the Bardonist trains, not just for the sake of training, but so he is better able to accomplish a task. Finding what exactly that task is will lead one to discover the purpose of the Bardon system. I won’t go too much into detail about what that purpose is, although I will say this. A good friend of mine, another magician who has also worked through IIH, once said to me “I think people should laugh and smile more.” That statement lies very close to the purpose of the Bardon system. Bardon lived during a time of great suffering. He wanted to see more joy in the world, and thus, he created a system of training to teach people how to fill the world with joy. In Kabbalah, Tiphereth is the center of the Tree of Life and transmits light/joy to all other parts of the universe. Tiphereth is also the sephirah associated with adepthood, according to Bardon in PME. On page 304, he writes “As soon as the sphere magician is master of the Sun sphere, there exists no problem anymore which he would not be able to solve in the right way. His knowledge has no gap and by means of this sphere he is able to become a perfect adept.” For Bardon, an adept is like the sun because he is a master of the art of filling the world with joy and light.
So, to summarize, the purpose of Crowley’s system is to help people find their “true will.” The purpose of the Golden Dawn system is to help people exalt their spirits in order to connect with something more divine than their mundane egos. The purpose of the Bardon system is to help people become co-creators of the universe so they can recreate the world into one filled with joy and light. Those interested in practical esoteric work need to first determine what they want to get out of their studies and then choose the system that will help them accomplish their goals. For me, that is the Bardon system, and there has never been a conflict between my own reasons for training in magic and the inner inspiration and purpose at the heart of that system. They align perfectly, and that is how I know the Bardon system, as opposed to Thelema or the Golden Dawn system, is the right system for me.”
  1. Falcon Books: How do you feel about ritual magic, and what relation does it have to IIH, if any?
Virgil: “I spent a few years practicing ritual and ceremonial magic. That was a long time ago. It never really resonated well with me, so I abandoned those practices. How you practically apply the skills you develop during your training process is really a matter of personal preference. IIH is basic training. Whatever ritual magic is, it can hardly be said to fall into the category of basic training. A lot of people don’t realize that, and this is where the problems begin. For example, in the Golden Dawn system, the dagger is the ritual tool that corresponds with the Air Element. It represents, among other things, a sharp mind. Therefore, whenever you hold an air dagger, you are asserting that you have a sharp mind. But if you don’t actually have a sharp mind, then you are lying. The fire wand represents a strong will. Whenever you hold a fire wand, you are asserting that you have a strong will. But again, if you don’t actually have a strong will, you are lying. Whenever you stand in the center of a ritual circle, you are asserting that you are connected with Divinity. However, if you have not actually connected with Divinity by entering an akashic trance and elevating your consciousness, then once again, you are lying. Magic centers around truth. Levi says that the woman in the last Tarot card, The Universe, embodies Absolute Truth. Bardon says that only someone who seeks the truth is suitable to begin magical training. Ironically, a lot of “magical” rituals are nothing more than a series of lies. When you pick up your air dagger, you are lying. When you pick up your fire wand, you are lying. When you stand in the center of your ritual circle, you are lying. The thing is, just because a ritual is just one lie after another doesn’t mean it won’t work. Such a magical ritual still might bring you some fast cash or a date with a hot girl. However, in the Bardon system, magic is not about nudging the astral light every now and then in order to increase your material pleasures. It’s about embodying the highest forms of power and wisdom in order to accomplish divine missions that make human society more blessed and increase the amount of joy in the world. Therefore, from a genuine magician’s point of view, a student of magic should remain focused on his basic training. For the Bardonist, that consists of the work found in IIH.” 
  1. Falcon Books: Many students of Bardon’s system have trouble with the fourth mental exercise in Step 1, known as “vacancy of mind.” What do you think of this?
Virgil: “I think it’s hilarious. VOM is by far the easiest and most straightforward exercise in IIH. Of course, that is only the case if you first become proficient in the first mental exercise, which is thought-observation. Otherwise, VOM is impossible. Thought-observation is actually my favorite exercise in IIH. It is also the foundation of the entire mental aspect of magical training. Because of its importance, I devote an entire chapter to just that one exercise in my new book.”
7. Falcon Books: You state that thought-observation is your favorite exercise and that those who underestimate its importance do so to their own detriment. Despite this, the first chapter of your book is the one about asana, not thought observation. Why is this?
 Virgil: “There are several reasons for this. The main reason is that the asana chapter is not just a commentary on the specific practice of asana. It also serves to introduce some important generic ideas about magical training in general. In addition, gaining a basic mastery over your body, which is the purpose of asana, is equally as important as gaining a basic familiarity with your mind, which is the importance of thought-observation.Therefore, asana is an essential exercise, but compared to other essential exercises like visualization and meditation, it is not as widely practiced or discussed in magical circles. I guess putting the asana chapter first was kind of my way of saying to people “Hey, this exercise is important too!”
  1. Falcon Books: Over the years, you must have had many conversations with people interested in esotericism and magic. When it comes to these conversations, what is your biggest pet peeve?
 Virgil: “My biggest pet peeve would be coming across people disparaging, belittling, or condemning a specific religion, religion in general, or religious people. I have no tolerance for that.”
  1. Falcon Books: Could you explain what the most inspirational teachings you have discovered are and why you find them to be inspirational?
Virgil: The most inspirational teachings I have come across are those woven into William Mistele’s writings. If you read one of his evocation accounts or essays about, say, Cigila, you can’t help but reflect upon the fact that contained within the essay is a small portion of the wisdom and knowledge of a powerful being who is connected with Divinity and guides the evolution of the human race. It is incredible when you think about it.
I guess the main reason why I find Bill so inspiring is that he writes what he knows to be true, regardless of how much it clashes with traditional or standard beliefs and dogma. He knows that the stuff he writes is true because it is based on his own personal experience. For example, in many of his essays, he claims that you can practice evocation without a wand, circle, triangle, altar, or any other tools or paraphernalia. To make a claim like that, you either need a lot of balls or complete indifference to whatever the current established ideology of the occult world happens to be. Most traditional magicians would dismiss Bill’s claim as nonsense, but it is true, and he knows it to be true because it is based on his own evocations. When Bill evokes a spirit, he just sits in a chair, uses Step 5 techniques to fill the atmosphere around him with the appropriate element or light-fluid, and then invites the spirit into the room. There’s no circle, wand, triangle, sword, or censer involved at all.”
  1. Falcon Books: The plot of your short story titled A Modern Fairy Tale involves a magician who tries to perform astounding magical feats in public but then finds that he has suddenly lost all of his magical abilities. Why would this happen?
Virgil: “The reason is that if you do something like that, you are going to seriously disrupt a lot of people’s spiritual evolution. Divine Providence is not going to approve of this and will stop you. The first step in advancing spiritually is to learn to have faith. This is true for any spiritual path. If you definitively prove to someone the existence of higher powers by performing amazing magical acts, then you prevent them from learning to have faith. This would prevent them from taking the first step of spiritual evolution until their next incarnation when they no longer remember the amazing magical act. Only then do they once again have the potential to learn to have faith. At our current point in time, that’s the way things are. In the far past, pretty much everyone had faith in higher powers. That’s why people like the prophets could openly demonstrate incredible magical feats. In the far future, Bardon says that science will merge with magic. At that point in time, it will probably be ok to demonstrate incredible magical feats in public, after all, that is basically what technology will be. However, we do not live in the far past or the far future. We live in the present, and as such, we need to take into account the present spiritual state of humanity when we think about openly demonstrating drastic magical acts.”
  1. Falcon Books:  Based on your experience, what do you feel is the biggest trap for those following the magical path and what can students do to avoid falling into it.
Virgil: “The biggest trap is to underestimate the importance of character transformation. Of course, there is the simple fact that unless one has established an elemental equilibrium, one cannot safely practice the exercises past Step 2. However, that’s not really what I’m referring to. Character transformation should not be seen as something you are doing just because you have to do it in order to move on to the later steps in IIH. The vast majority of the benefit, spiritual and material, that you derive from your magical training will come from your efforts in transforming your character. I used to be very irritable. My quality of life was very poor because of this. I lost friends. I had trouble making new friends. Few people wanted to be around me. My irritability plagued me for many years. Even if I charged and activated an electromagnetic volt programmed to bring me money and got a thousand dollars as a result, this would not make up for the poor quality of life I lived because of my irritability. My disorganization, my cluelessness, and my anti-social personality also caused me to lead a much poorer quality of life than if I did not possess those traits. When I changed them using autosuggestion, conscious eating, conscious breathing, and the magic of water, my life improved drastically. So avoid becoming attached to the idea that your life will improve if you learn to direct the elements with your wand, charge talismans, construct electromagnetic volts, create servitors, or perform rituals. The biggest thing you can do to improve your life is to change your character in a wise manner. Failing to realize this is the biggest trap a magician can fall into. In order to avoid this trap, be serious when you make your black soul mirror. Do a thorough job. Don’t rush through it just to get it done. Throughout the process of discovering your negative traits via introspection, you will also discover the various ways they negatively impact your life. This will help you realize the necessity and importance of character transformation. Then, when you actually begin to transform your character, since Bardon’s techniques are remarkably effective, you will begin to see immense positive changes in your life almost immediately. This will definitively prove to you that character transformation has enormous benefits.”
  1. Falcon Books: In your book, you defined a “valid” system of magic as a complete and balanced system. Could you explain what it means for a system to be complete and balanced?
Virgil: “A complete system is one that contains all the exercises and practices you need in order to advance safely. Some people think that just because a system is very complicated, full of teachings, and filled with exercises, it is complete. This is not true. A system could have a million exercises and practices but still be missing the few basic essential ones. In that case, it still would not be complete. All in all, completeness is not a difficult concept to understand. Balance is slightly more difficult to understand. There are two types of balances a system should have. The first is a balance between the four elements. The second is a balance between the three planes. Any advanced student of magic can create a basic training system that is complete and has a balance between the four elements. However, only a true adept can create a system that is also balanced between the three planes because this requires a much deeper understanding of the subtle bodies and inner worlds to do. Therefore, in IIH, it is in the balance and explicit differentiation between the physical, astral, and mental aspects of training that Bardon’s genius really shows itself. How complete and balanced a system is will determine how far along the road of magical advancement it can take you. In IIH, Bardon says his system is designed to guide students to “the deepest initiation and the highest wisdom.” Therefore, he did his utmost best to make his system as complete and balanced as possible. For this reason, I use IIH repeatedly throughout my book to demonstrate and illustrate the concepts of completeness and balance.”
  1. Falcon Books: A lot of people want to lead easy and pleasurable lives. In order to do this, they cast spells whenever they encounter a problem in order to make the problem go away, and they cast spells whenever they want something in order to get it. What do you think of this?
Virgil: “That kind of attitude and approach to life is very far removed from anything that could possibly fall under the category of genuine magic. Magic is closely tied to wisdom. Wisdom is closely tied to understanding. Therefore, magic is closely tied to understanding. In her book “A Wizard of Earthsea,” Ursula Le Guin writes about how magic must be worked in harmony with “the Balance and the Pattern” in order to avoid catastrophic results. Life is filled with uncertainty, so it is always a wise choice to actively prepare for any problems that may come your way in the future. Some people build up a giant collection of spells and rituals gathered together from various books, websites, modern grimoires, courses, articles, and blogs, thinking that is the best way to prepare for any problem they may encounter in life. This is a naïve solution. The people who do this do not understand the Balance and the Pattern of life. They do not understand the Balance and the Pattern of society. They do not understand the Balance and the Pattern of their fates. They do not understand the Balance and the Pattern of spiritual evolution. Fortunately, they almost always lack the power needed to do any major or lasting damage to the Balance and the Pattern of these things when they carry out their magical workings. In PME, Bardon says that a true magician is a master of his fate. To become a master of one’s fate implies that that the magician understands his fate. In other words, he is able to see and understand the Balance and the Pattern of his fate. Once he has reached this level, he is able to directly modify that Balance and Pattern in a wise manner. This is powerful magic, but in order to perceive and work with the Balance and the Pattern of his fate, a magician needs to be proficient in working with akasha. Immature people are unable to access akasha, and only immature people would think that the best way to deal with life is to cast spells to make all their problems go away and get whatever they want. From a magician’s point of view, the best way for a beginning student of magic to prepare for all the potential problems in life is to transform himself so that he possesses all of the qualities (organization, intelligence, astuteness, etc.) needed to successfully deal with most major issues. This can be done via the techniques of autosuggestion, conscious eating, conscious breathing, and the magic of water. My words should not be interpreted to mean that practical magic should never be used to improve one’s life. However, the student should first strive to develop the wisdom needed to discern when practical magic will actually help him and when it will only mess up his life further because of the way the magic is carried out. Again, wisdom and understanding are closely tied to each other, so to develop wisdom, one should develop an understanding of oneself. The soul mirrors are a great way of doing this. As can be seen, in the beginning of IIH, Bardon is already preparing the student so that by the time he learns to work practical magic with the fluid condensers and the elements in later steps, he will be able to carry out that work wisely and responsibly. This has nothing to do with morals or ethics. If you want to use magic to make your life easy and pleasurable, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, just make sure you are actually making your life easy and pleasurable, and not doing the exact opposite because you are approaching your magical work in an ignorant manner. The inner dynamics underlying a person’s current situation, their relation to the person’s fate, and the way they are tied to the Balance and Pattern of his life can be quite complex at times. To fully understand these things and work with them requires genuine magical training, and not just gathering a bunch of spells and rituals to use when problems or obstacles pop up.”
  1. Falcon Books: In your last blog post in  “Emerald Force,”  you spoke about differentiating between “magicians” and “occultists”. I wonder if you could please expand on this for us, including a definition for each category.
Virgil: “A magician is someone who practices magic. An occultist is someone who practices occultism. As for the difference between magic and occultism, instead of explaining it directly, I think it is better to do so using analogies. Magic is a pie. Occultism is a pie crust. Magic is a living human being. Occultism is a corpse. Magic is a Taylor Swift concert. Occultism is a video of a Taylor Swift concert uploaded to YouTube. Magic is gold. Occultism is iron pyrite.”
  1. Falcon Books: Can you briefly discuss the nature of Bardon’s third book The Key to the True Quabbalah (KTQ)? How does the “Quabbalah” Bardon teaches in his book relate to or differ from traditional (Jewish) Kabbalah?
Virgil: “Bardon couldn’t have cared less about traditional Kabbalah. His third book is about the art of creative speaking. Therefore, its title really should have been The Key to Creative Speaking. He chose to refer to the art of creative speaking as “Quabbalah” for advertising purposes because Kabbalah was a subject of much interest in the esoteric community back then, as it is now. While the art of creative speaking, is in fact, a part of traditional Kabbalah (as shown by passages in the Sepher Yetzirah referencing this art), it is hardly unique to that spiritual tradition. It was also practiced by adepts belonging to a diverse array of spiritual traditions from Egypt, India, and many other places in the world. In his third book, Bardon teaches the art of creative speaking in its most pure form, stripped of all the various cultural add-ons and adornments various mystical and magical traditions have slapped onto the art. Bardon learned the art of creative speaking in its original pure form from the Earthzone spirit Amalomi. This Earthzone spirit, like all the other Earthzone spirits listed in PME, does not belong to any specific spiritual tradition, and neither does the art she teaches.”
  1. Falcon Books:  From the wisdom that you have received now, what advice would you offer to the younger aspect of yourself if the two of you were to meet?
Virgil: “Some people say there are three kinds of people – those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who have no idea what the hell is happening. I would tell my younger self not to be the type of person who has no idea what the hell is happening. I think that’s a large part of what the first power of the sphinx, “To Know,” is all about. It’s not about memorizing tables of correspondences or studying occult philosophy. It’s about being aware of your situation and environment, as well as understanding what is going on within you and around you. This is something that will benefit all aspects of your life, not just the aspects relating to magic. Those who are familiar with the Harry Potter series might recognize Severus Snape as an illustration of the importance of truly understanding your situation. He didn’t quite get why Lily was drifting away from him until it was too late. Then, when she was dead, he learned to embody the first power out of necessity. He was at Dumbledore’s right hand as well as Voldemort’s. He knew perfectly well what was happening. And that’s not all. He also made things happen. He was not just a wizard; he was magician.”
  1. Falcon Books: Many people these days claim to be adepts, but of course only a small fraction of these people have really reached that level. What is the best way to determine an individual’s true level of magical advancement?
Virgil:Examine his writings or other works, in particular, those that are intended to be critical in nature. Look to see if the language he uses is unnecessarily hurtful. Of course, there is nothing wrong with criticism, and a mature person will always welcome constructive criticism. However, criticism that is worded in an unnecessarily hurtful or insulting way is a glaring sign that the giver of criticism cannot be past Step 2 or the equivalent level of whatever training system he is using, assuming the system in question is complete and balanced. Otherwise, it is not worth considering. I have come across people who have attained adept-level ranks in some training systems yet they are still just plain mean, rude, and even petty at times. It’s sad that there are people like this, but a recognition of the fundamental attainments of an initiate that are universal across all training systems (like establishing an elemental equilibrium) will be useful in differentiating between those who are adepts by meaningful standards and those who are adepts by modern standards.”
18: Falcon Books: Could you could tell us a bit more about your new book The Spirit of Magic: Rediscovering the Heart of Our Sacred Art. What was the inspiration behind it, and what can we expect to find in it?
Virgil: “Writing the book was an act of love. For me, to love someone is to work to ensure he or she experiences as much joy and fulfillment in life as possible. I think serious magical training will help people become successful, achieve their greatest potential, and get the most out of their lives. For this reason, I wrote the book. Its main purpose is to help students train efficiently and effectively, as well as to help them avoid common pitfalls.
The original source of inspiration for the book is the most beautiful women I ever met. I have no idea where she is now, but sometimes when I close my eyes, I can still see her wearing a brilliant blue shirt with her name on the back while sitting on a chair in a reading room filled with sunlight streaming in through glass walls. I feel a strange sense of contentment when that happens, as if I am being reminded of some divine principle that is beyond words but flows through the very heart of magic. The image is just as vivid as my actual experience the day I first ran across her. A lot of occultists talk about undergoing intense mystical experiences and spiritual transformations when meditating. Maybe that actually happens, and maybe it doesn’t. But when you meet a beautiful woman who embodies harmony, peace, compassion, freedom, intelligence, and the ecstasies of the four elements, and then converse with her for even a few seconds, that is genuinely a mystical and transforming experience. In fact, sometimes, such an experience can be so intense that its effects on you eventually compel you to write a five hundred page book in order to even begin processing what the heck happened to you.”
  1. Falcon Books: Can you elaborate some more on the meaning of your book’s subtitle, “Rediscovering the Heart of Our Sacred Art”? What is the heart of magic, and how did it become so lost that we must work to rediscover it?
Virgil: “In IIH, Bardon states that Jesus was one of the greatest magicians who ever lived. Such a statement has many important implications, but unfortunately, most people don’t understand it. They think that Bardon said this because Jesus could walk on water, turn water into wine, and levitate. That’s hardly the reason Bardon considered Jesus a great magician. In the well-known Christmas carol Hark the Herald Angels Sing, there is a line that goes as follows – “Light and life to all he brings, ris’n with healing in his wings.” That’s why Bardon considered Jesus to be a great magician. All his life, Jesus worked to bring light and life to everyone around him. He raised himself up spiritually so he could heal others. Within that line is the heart of magic. As for how the heart of magic was lost, that’s a more difficult question to answer because there were a number of factors involved in the process. As you are probably aware, Kabbalah in its original form was far more magical than mystical. Someone analyzing texts like the Sepher Yetzirah and the Zohar through the eyes of an initiate can see this very easily. In traditional Kabbalah, humility was said to be the most important quality a student could possess. When I first learned this, I thought it was weird. I could see why it was important, but I couldn’t see why it was considered the most important and held in high esteem above all other virtues and positive traits. I believe I see why now, and I bring this up because I think it is relevant to your question. Magical lore states that the magicians of Atlantis were very powerful, but they used their power unwisely. This lead to the destruction of the continent, and the near-destruction of the human race. The root cause of that catastrophe was the arrogance of the magicians. They thought they could force the currents of the inner planes to act against the harmony of nature and the will of Divine Providence. In more modern times, if you examine the bickering and feuding that has plagued occult schools and groups in the past century or so, a lot of it also arises from arrogance. When magicians allowed themselves to become arrogant, they began to lose sight of the heart of their sacred art. In modern times, whenever you come across a self-proclaimed adept, magician, or magical authority, examine his words, writings, and other works to see if you can detect any trace arrogance in his personality. This will help you assess his actual level of magical advancement.”
  1. Falcon Books:  Is there anything else you would like to add?
Virgil:  “I’ll leave you with a proverb my friend Kayley is very fond of – “Condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance.”

To find out more about Virgil and view excerpts from his forthcoming publication, please go to Our Authors Page.


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28 Comments

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