FALCON BOOKS INTERVIEWS
EXPLORING ENLIGHTENED LIVING
THROUGH HERMETIC MEDITATION
With William Mistele
Falcon Books is presenting a series of interviews with seasoned Hermetic practitioners and those who follow a spiritual discipline. The aim is to share the wisdom, knowledge and understanding of these practitioners with those just beginning the path and as an inspiration to us all. The focus of these discussions are guided towards the spiritual seeker.
Presenting today and interview with William Mistele, many are familiar regarding his work with the undines. William is an author and a Franz Bardon practitioner with over 40 years of experience in this field. You can view William’s writings on his Facebook and blog where he offers a biography his life and experiences with studying Franz Bardon Hermetics. To find out more you can visit his Youtube account.
Hello Bill and a cordial welcome to Falcon Books. Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.
1. Falcon Books: Could you please tell us a little about your journey? How did you come to find Bardon’s works and what inspired you to follow this path?
William Mistele: My life path was dramatically shaped by nightmares beginning when I was around seven years old. I would sit in a fundamentalist Christian church and the preachers would preach about hell fire. And then I went to elementary school and the teachers had us practice “duck and cover.” This was a method of protecting yourself in case of a nuclear war. You hide under your desk as a three-megaton nuclear missile from Russia vaporizes the city of Detroit where I lived. There was a fire in the inner spiritual/religious world and fire in the external world, though obviously the fire in the external world was produced by human beings.
Furthermore, there is speculation that we almost lost the city of Detroit in 1966 when a breeder reactor south of the city was at risk of a reactor core meltdown. So the question dawning in my mind over the years was where is the wisdom that governs society and nations so that human beings can possess things like the nuclear fusion of the sun without destroying themselves.
And speaking for myself, this question about wisdom governing nations was part of why Franz Bardon wrote his three books. Supposedly, people who died in World War I complained to Divine Providence that they had no genuine teacher when they were alive. It took forty years and an even worse world war for Divine Providence to respond to these complaints through the publication of Franz Bardon’s three books. Consequently, in my mind, the first thing some of Bardon’s students might direct their attention to is putting an end to wars.
Eventually, a trained Bardon student is able to look into the minds of anyone on earth and evaluate their karma (or let’s say their positive and negative traits) as well as the karma of nations. And this is not pretentious or overreaching. The human race since the fifties has at least six times been minutes and sometimes seconds away from an all-out nuclear exchange.
At least four of the 360 Earthzone spirits Bardon describes specialize in issues of war and peace and the fate of nations. These spirits send their vibrations and inspiration through the entire planet earth for four minutes each day. Consequently, they are already right here talking to all of us daily. You just have to listen. I do a lot of listening. So for me, it is the most natural thing in the world to want to learn from such divine spirits. I would like to act on their wisdom so that diplomats and national leaders are more skilled, wiser, and committed to benevolent outcomes in their international interactions.
This “can do” approach I acquired from growing up in my family. I would come home from school and there was my father in the backyard grilling hamburgers for people such as the vice president of Ford Motors, the mayor of Grosse Pointe, the Chief of Police, the CEO of the largest retail store in the U.S., etc. My father was later on asked to be press secretary for a presidential candidate.
My uncle oversaw General Motors operations in its manufacturing of weapons in WWII. My mother had long conversations about who started WW II with Captain Fuchida who was the pilot who led the attack on Pearl Harbor. My father organized a “reunion” of Japanese and American admirals and generals in Honolulu for the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.
In my family of origin, I met people who were not just involved in world historic events. They helped shape these events. And yet there remained this void, a terrible absence of wisdom, regarding how to communicate, understand, negotiate, and resolve conflicts between nations. The external world does not have adequate tools for solving these problems. To find what I was looking for, I needed a greater wisdom and a perspective on human history and a means for transforming human nature.
In 1970, when I was out of college, I began studying spiritual anthropology. I wanted to extract methods for transforming consciousness that were drawn from the oldest esoteric traditions on earth. I wanted a psychic, magical, and spiritual set of practices.This was in part because it was clear to me that the previous five hundred years of Protestant interpretation existed in a spiritual vacuum. They emphasized literally reading of words without any self-reflective, contemplative, meditative, or intuitive training of any kind. I had met a great many Christian teachers before I went to college and so I had a fairly accurate basis for my conclusions.
I then studied with many masters of a variety of traditions. In 1975, I began visualizing for a half hour each day the first three Tarot cards–the Magician, Isis, and the Fool. I then had a dream about finding four magic books, the first three were Bardon’s. Shortly after this, a friend handed me Initiation into Hermetics, which she thought I might be interested in. I immediately began to study this book seriously, since I had been looking for something like this for ten years previously.
2 Falcon Books: When you were working your way through IIH, which step did you feel was most difficult for you and why? In addition, how did you eventually get through it?
William Mistele: For the first ten years, I tried to follow Bardon’s instructions exactly as he offers them. I started over from the beginning at least seven times. The problem is, I can get a lot of things to work for me the way they are taught. But at a certain point, my body and nervous system refuse to cooperate.
Take the lung and pour breathing exercise. I could do that. And I could get a sensation of emitting waves of light from the condensed vitality I had compressed within my body. Years later after interviewing “incarnated mermaids,” I realized these individuals were using the water element to heal others, sometimes healing even terminal patients.
By contrast, Bardon was emphasizing a fiery kind of vitality–it is hot, condensed, dynamic, pressured, and explosive. On the other hand, the watery method of healing is gentle, soft, soothing, extremely empathic, extraordinarily clairsentient, and it operates like dialysis–it takes and purifies the individual’s vitality.
My body is oriented toward the watery form of healing. Given who I am, Bardon’s method is the worst kind of vitality for me to work with in the beginning.
Equally disastrous for me was Bardon’s mental exercises, involving concentration. Though concentration is natural for me, when I do it as Bardon presents the exercises energy gets trapped in my third eye and I get terrible headaches. Again, my nervous system requires a different approach. Namely, by meditating on the void–as being nothing and part of a vast space of nothingness/emptiness/void–energy does not get stuck in any part of my body. There is no image or outline of my body present in those meditations so there is nowhere for energy to get stuck or blocked.
And in a similar manner, any ritual magic involving visualizing circles, triangles, pentagrams, or the use of magical tools like crystals, wands, robes, magic mirrors, etc. simply shorts out my nervous system and causes physical ailments. My body is so sensitive that I cannot even wear jewellery.
Over the years, another problem that I ran into with the early chapters of IIH has been with the soul mirror and magical equilibrium. Again, it is easy enough for me to follow the directions as presented. I can say to myself, “Oh. There is this fire element within me. It is in part positive and also in part negative. It makes me insatiable curious beyond what I have met in any other human being. And it gives me an immediate and nearly absolute certainty that there are solutions that can be found to solve any problem. This is Sagittarius energy with positive and negative aspects.
And this fiery sense of command and vision come from both my mother and father. Looking back, I was exposed to the cosmic letter K with its fiery sense of absolute command. And my father used that authority so well that mafia dons had respect for him, not because he was bad. Rather, he could do what they could not do–get men to work extremely hard and be completely loyal to him far beyond what the mafia was capable of doing.
But such primordial command is easily interwoven with negative traits as well. The alpha male often will use his position of power to absorb the will, the emotional life, and life force of others into himself. It has taken me forty-five years to find a meditation that would free me of that kind of negativity.
In other words, what appears as a personal vice or weakness may, in fact, connect directly to a collective/archetypal conflict that exists in human civilization. In my experience, eliminating something negative like that in myself requires I go on a kind of spiritual quest and accomplish what has not been accomplished before in recorded history. To solve some problems for yourself you have to also solve the problem for all other people as well. There are times when changing oneself is simultaneously changing the world.
One day I was meditating on the void (the cosmic letter U) and the problem with my father and the cosmic letter K vanished. The void is beyond the reach of any abuse of power or anything negative. It would have saved me forty years of failed or misdirected efforts in magical training if someone, in the beginning, had said to me, “Oh. Your nervous system is not like other human beings. You need to begin meditating on the cosmic letter U. Find in yourself a stillness that embraces the universe. Then and only then through that mastery will some of these personal problems of yours disappear.
But this experience with trial and error, with experimentation with its successes and failures, served a purpose. I am a writer. I tell stories. It was essential that I be able to trace each step between the ordinary consciousness where I began and the magical meditations I do now. I am supposed to write a manual on effective, practical, and field-tested ways for eliminating war on earth.
In the twentieth century, at least three hundred million people died of smallpox. After twelve thousand years of smallpox plagues, in 1979, through careful work, the United Nations eliminated smallpox from the earth. Eliminating war is a similar enterprise. You do the work, you get the results Initiation into Hermetics is not a prayer book for the devout. You train and then you take into your hands the powers of creation.
Practicing IIH is not about making little changes that upgrade your life and make you a better person. You really do not need this caliber of magical training to do something positive and constructive with your life. IIH is altogether different. It gives you the ability to act as a divine being and to interact with all aspects of human evolution.
In looking back, I think of my uncle again: when blindfolded, he could take a car engine apart and put it back together again. That is my approach to the Bardon exercises. I have to reverse engineer, experiment, modify, rewrite and compare them to what other traditions do. To take them apart and put them back together again to see how many different ways I can make them work. Then hopefully I find something that fits me personally. And in the process perhaps what I discover is useful to someone else as well.
3. Falcon Books: What advice would you offer to Bardon students working their way through IIH?
William Mistele: Though IIH is self-initiation, I would recommend to you, read whatever commentaries you can find on the internet about the first book and Bardon’s other books as well. Especially find questions and answers related to the chapter you are working on. Find a mentor, someone who you can bounce ideas off of and who can assist you in solving problems.
If you have difficulties, investigate other traditions relating to the chapter you are working on. If you have trouble stopping thoughts and developing an empty mind, drop in on a Quaker, or other silence meditation groups. Take a look at Zen monasteries of different national cultures, a Vipassana meditation group, or a dzogchen Tibetan meditation group. Take a look at an Aikido dojo, a Tai Chi Chuan group, a yoga meditation group, or someone who does biofeedback, etc.
Each tradition has a slightly different perspective and understanding of how the mind works. Some first relax and energize the body through stretching which makes the mind much easier to quiet. Some do these very peaceful, hypnotic chants with incense and a restful ambience of a temple surrounding you. Spend a lot time concentrating single-mindedly on slow movements of the body that the mind is already trained to sink “chi” downward in the body to the lower Tan Tien.
With one exercise, you may excel. With another exercise, you may need external help as if you have some sort of learning disability. Observe your progress. Discover what works for you. I could easily write an essay on Forty Things to Do with an Empty Mind. Perhaps one or two of those forty things you are already adept in. All you need to do is take what you are good at and gradually expand it so it accomplishes the purpose of the original exercise in IIH.
For me, the first three chapters in IIH are a summary of everything in Bardon’s three books. Everything else is just refinement and application. The empty mind exercise turns into work on the cosmic letters E and U. The transference of consciousness exercise turns into mental wandering and contact with spirits. The astral mirror exercises turn into an understanding of other’s karma and the fate of groups and nations. You take an exercise and you can explore it on multiple levels. In other words, for me, there is no end to practicing the first three chapters. These first exercises just get deeper and richer.
4. Falcon Books: You have given a list of examples from students (in your blog post) why they do not fully complete steps 1- 3 ( in Bardon’s IIH) or give up. What would you say in your experience are the main causes of this?
William Mistele: “For me, there is a high level of difficulty in practicing IIH just because of the nature of the subject matter. Bardon has the formidable task of taking a human being and placing him on a path where he ends up reflecting the greater universe in himself. This training system is intended to give a human being the full powers of an Earthzone spirit while he is still in incarnation.
Taking on such training system is a lot to ask of a student. It is kind of like saying, “Here is the perfection of wisdom taught systematically in ten steps that awakens you to a multi-dimensional awareness and that enables you to not only interact with beings of other realms but to make those realms a second home.” You could take any chapter in IIH and use it as the central goal of an esoteric lodge, or to start a new religion.
All the same, if you pick up IIH and read the introduction, a student might imagine that with serious work he can proceed exercise by exercise and chapter by chapter and finish the book in five to ten or maybe fifteen years. And yet obviously everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses that they bring to the practice.
I have sat and meditated with a Zen master. It took him 15 years to master his first koan. He said, “it is impossible to stop your mind from thinking thoughts.” That was his experience. I have sat and with meditated with martial artists who have astonishing abilities in their chosen field of self-defense. Some work out for six hours every day for decades. But very few of them have any healing ability.
Similarly, I have sat in classes with world level philosophers and skilled psychologists. Again, the above individuals are genuine scholars in their chosen professions. And yet, given my interviews with various people from around the world, these philosophers and psychologists have next to no understanding of what human beings are or what they are capable of becoming. Their understanding of human nature is shaped by the ideas of a tiny intellectual community originating over here in the Western world.
When I look at what Bardon is asking the student to accomplish in chapters 1 through 3, he is asking for an individual who has the imagination of a Steven Spielberg. As a writer/director, give Spielberg a movie script and he has the ability to sit down and visualize all the scenes in a movie including camera angles, hear all the dialogue including sensing the feeling expressed verbally and non-verbally, and also imagine how that finished movie would play to various audiences. I think Bardon expects this level of imagination from his students.
Add to this the level of self-understanding Bardon is after in attaining astral equilibrium. It is like he wants a student to have at least the understanding that might arise from having two PhDs in psychology. After all, astrologers will talk about the traits you have from looking at your natal chart. But when has any astrologer on earth said to you, “Now I want you to master all 12 zodiac signs so that the elements of earth, air, fire, and water are equally balanced in your soul.”
“If you sun sign is Leo, I want you to develop yourself so you have the open-mindedness and understanding of an Aquarian who sees the big picture in terms of what life is all about. If your sun sign is Aries and you are bold, down to earth, and assertive, I want you to equally develop the sign of Libra in yourself. Learn to produce a balance between yourself and other people. Always stay focused on the harmony of a relationship even if you have to turn into a director and producer who subtly assists another person to feel connected and happy.” And so forth.
Similarly, in the Myers-Briggs Personality system, there are personality traits that are paired off together such as thinking-feeling, extrovert-introvert, judging-perceiving and so forth. But where are the psychologists who offer you a class in balancing all these opposites in yourself? Kind of like,
“Are you an introvert? Let’s learn to be an extrovert so that feels equally comfortable.
Are you a perceiving kind of person who wants to carefully observe and draw conclusions based on direct, personal experience as opposed to an individual who wants to label things and place them in clear categories so there can be order and organization? Well then let’s learn to be organized and act like an administrator so we can get more done.”
Psychologists do not ask people to strive for such balance. But that is exactly what Bardon insists we accomplish.
Bardon is asking his students to balance the four elements in their souls. And yet, given the level of energies we are working with, such balance becomes essential. If you start evoking fire or water in your soul, you will definitely need the self-perception to sense how exposure to these powers of nature affect you. Astral equilibrium is not something to work at and then move on. It is a lifetime practice and some weaknesses, or negativities in the soul will require a lifetime to work out. And there is the physical level of training.
And there is the physical level of training. Imagine being able to radiate vitality like the sun. Or, if you prefer, work with magnetism and watery energy to heal others. how many people do you know can heal terminally ill patients, or who can walk into an emergency room in a hospital and provide relief from pain for everyone there? I know a few individuals who can do these things. But they are not magicians or even human. They were born with those abilities which they brought with them from their own elemental realms.
All the same, Bardon is asking his students to master their own vitality as if they are sixth don Aikido master or a very gifted Tai Chi Chuan master. A lot of people just are not interested in their physical bodies to the extent Bardon demands.
For me, you can read the exercises, put in the work, and seek to move on. Or you can read the exercises and take a serious look at what Bardon is after. A magician for Bardon is a master of body, soul, and mind. He is literally a divine being. And such divinity in human form does not come without severe tests, difficulties, and a massive effort to overcome one’s limitations.
Mastery over the physical, astral, mental, and akashic realms is a key component to Bardon’s magical system. My advice is to fall in love with your body and its life force, with your soul and its feelings, and with your mind with its thinking and concentration. Each level of awareness opens up wondrous realms to be endlessly explored. Make the effort to solve your problems and in the end, it is like you will have experienced the equivalent of three or more lifetimes packed into one.
5. Falcon Books: Leading from question 2, I can see there is a danger of becoming delusional in your practice and convincing yourself that you have completed a step and are ready to move on when in reality this may not be the case. How can the student prevent this from this occurring if they are working on their own without a teacher?
William Mistele: It might help to make the exercises a part of yourself so you live and breathe them. They are not chores or prerequisites for something that comes later. They are something you fall in love with and cherish.
The feminine is nurturing, supportive, sensitive, tender, and uniting. The masculine is constantly testing, experimenting, rigorous in training demanding excellence and perfection. Both approaches are required in order to take an exercise and bring it to life within yourself.
The problem in working alone is similar to problems in any kind of self-education. I taught myself trigonometry and geometry during the summer before my senior year in high school. I was gifted in math so I managed to accomplish that without sitting in a classroom.
I taught myself theology in college to validate required classes, since I felt the classroom presentations on this topic were terribly boring. Self-education in this instance was of great benefit for me because I could focus on making original observations that operated outside of traditional interpretations.
In college, I also taught myself geology and validated a test so I did not need to take any science requirements. I was not so good at this since geology requires some hands-on experience observing minerals.
When I studied Aikido I was already practicing Bardon visualization. This gave me a tremendous advantage. I could mentally rehearse various movements in my mind and so walk into class having memorized the previous session. And early on I could do things the Aikido sensei could not do if it involved concentration. But this accelerated mode of learning came with a price. My body was not used to the levels of concentration I was using and so I developed severe abdominal cramps. This would not have occurred if I had learned more slowly like other students.
I also had this idea I could learn languages on my own since I could do very well in a classroom. But it turned out my brain would simply forget anything I had learned if I took a two-week break from studying.
It took me three years to figure out that I had a learning disability when it comes to languages. Learning a language is not like studying other things on one’s own. It did not follow similar patterns and for me, it requires first-hand interaction with other people.
So a high level of self-reflection is required in teaching yourself anything. It helps to check your progress against what others are doing. It helps to keep a journal of your practices and notice where you are advancing and where you are having difficulties.
Early on in my Bardon practice, I acquired a very high-level skill in clairsentience. I could feel auras of people and of any kind of spirit anywhere. But I had to develop my own system of interpretation of what different aura vibrations meant without any assistance from others. This required rigorous observations and note taking. But it also meant I could study the mind of masters and the qualities of spiritual beings. And I could “feel” the vibration of Bardon exercises. This meant I could “magically enhance” any meditation or exercise I did.
Sometimes this gave me a great advantage because I could sense exactly when I was doing something right. And other times magically enhanced meditations are no advantage at all. You just have to repeat the exercise over and over and observe everything you can in order to succeed.
For me, Bardon’s approach goes like this: If you do not get an exercise after repeating it thirty or forty times then don’t stop. Try repeating it three or four hundred times. But do not be stupid. Vary your approach and add to your practice anything you can that might assist you in mastering something.
To summarize, to overcome problems inherent in self-education you have to devise different ways of testing yourself. I went and meditated with a great many teachers so I acquired a sense of what they can and what they cannot do. And gradually I discovered my own path of training.
For me, learning magic is not like learning trigonometry or German. It is more like art or storytelling. You learn the basic structure of what makes a good story. But then you have to add your own content. It takes a lot of work. But without the inspiration, you are dead in the water.
You can judge for yourself if there is any value in my approach by reading my books, Stories of Magic and Enchantment and also Mermaid Tales.
6. Falcon Books: How does one strike a balance between moving on and lingering on a step too long in an attempt to try to perfect its exercises?
William Mistele: I often get emails from students who say they have spent years and are still not through the first step. Perhaps if we had the equivalent of a magical university on-line, we could hold seminars and roundtable discussions about each chapter. You could ask different experienced individuals about their various approaches and suggestions.
And if we had extensive archives a beginning student could read through ten or twenty answers to a question about various difficulties and remedies for each exercise. It may be a system of self-initiation but that does not mean you should avoid learning from others or working in a group.
I would suggest a student engaged in a serious study of Western magic and the history of magic around the world. Before you study for a PhD you review the history of your field of research. It is important to be able to think critically. Answer for yourself questions such as what is Bardon striving for in the mental, astral, and physical level exercises of IIH? How does IIH relate to his next two books?
And also, what problems crop up that prevent students from getting through the exercises at various levels? Who has succeeded in overcoming what appeared initially to be an insurmountable difficulty? Who has encountered difficulties unique to their own karma, life situation, and a set of personal aptitudes? And what do you do when you have a PhD level of mastery of one exercise but are back in kindergarten with another exercise in the same chapter?
If you have an overview of what is being asked of you, then you can set up your own schedule and design your own personal approach to working through the exercises. Part of my training as a spiritual anthropologist is discerning the difference between what someone says they are doing and what they actually do.
If you are practicing an exercise and not getting the results you would like, then you might reexamine the way you are reading the exercise. You can ask yourself, Is there another approach I might use that would work better for me?
And this is pretty much then your question–Should I go on or spend more time deepening an exercise I feel I have already worked through? Should I pursue one exercise at a time or work at two or more exercises that seem to complement each other?
The best I can suggest is that you have to experiment and observe what works for you.
A big thank you to Bill for his hard work and thoroughness in answering these questions. Please check out www.falconbookspublishing.com for moe interviews pertaining to these subjects.
Click to read PART 2 INTERVIEW WITH WILLIAM MISTELE
Please note forthcoming books by William Mistele, Problems in the Study of Magic, Problems in the Study of Mermaids, Non-Erotic Touch, Body Awareness and Astral Immortality.
Stories of Magic and Enchantment by William R. Mistele, now available in Paperback and Kindle. To find out more about this title and read excerpts, please go to Our Authors.
To Find out more about William’s work and his other publications by North Atlantic Books below please click below to purchase:
- Undines: Lessons from the Realm of the Water Spirits
- Mermaids, Sylphs, Gnomes, and Salamanders: Dialogues with the Kings and Queens of Nature