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In traditional Hindu Yoga, much of the work of the āsanas and prānāyāmas is for the “cleaning out” of the nādīs — the nerve-channels of the subtle, transphysical nervous system. These anatomical exercises not only tone and condition the body, but also the mind and that which yokes the mind and body together as a unit during one’s lifetime. In some forms of Tantra, this process is augmented by the occult magical practice of intoning phonemes (the sounds individual letters make, or syllables which encapsulate them or make them pronounceable singularly) within individual regions of the body (and, thus, intersections or plexuses of nādīs). This practice is accompanied by visualizations which invoke particular devas or Mahādevas, setting into motion a very particular flow of śakti (power, energy) within the corresponding channels. The goal of this approach is, in part, to clear out those channels very rapidly, and to get the śaktis moving through them sooner rather than later. Those who teach these methods acknowledge that they are potentially quite dangerous, and will only release the operative details to those who have been well and thoroughly prepared through the baptisms of Water and of Fire (often in the form of consistent ceremonial worship in the Tantric fashion) and the more usual Yoga practices.

A great deal of a student’s work in Initiation Into Hermetics (IIH) serves as the necessary preparation to a very similar process contained in The Key to the True Quabbalah (KTQ). As I said before, one must have mastered at least through step 8 of IIH to engage in the work of KTQ, and not all students of Bardon will even find themselves ready for, or requiring, KTQ’s particulars. It is also recommended that, prior to moving beyond the first few steps of KTQ, the Hermetist has practiced The Practice of Magical Evocation (PME) at least through the “zone girdling the Earth” — Bardon’s idiosyncratic title for the astral region corresponding to the forces and beings of the lunar zodiacal mansions.

As an interesting aside, this earth-girdling zone and its devas are of great historical importance in the practical work of Hermetic talismanic magic. Manuals of this art, such as the famous Picatrix of Islamic-Hermetic derivation, involve the invocation of these devonic powers by way of appropriate astrological timing as well as the inscription and/or intonation of relevant letters and words of power. Relevant to this discussion is the fact that these talismans are noted not only for their effectiveness in achieving so-called “practical”, or material, ends, but also for their visionary-mantic and even therapeutic efficacy. In other words, a thorough course of this lunar-zodiacal talismanry could form a gentle sort of Hermetic-Tantric practice! [Practical information on the practice thereof may be found in Nigel Jackson’s Celestial Magic: Principles and Practises of Talismanic Theurgy, 2003, Capall Bann Publishing, or compiled by the sufficiently advanced student of Bardon’s PME.]

Once one has established the elemental equilibrium, mastered mental travel, and become well-acquainted with the “fifth element” of ākāśa (variously translated as “space” or “ether”, referring to the subtle plasmic mind-stuff back of both the physical and astral worlds), one is considered to be prepared not only for theurgic-spheric evocation a la PME, but also for the tonal-ākāśic magic of KTQ.

This “tonal-ākāśic magic” takes multiple steps of inner training above and beyond the work of IIH steps 1 through 8, and carries one into the practices of steps 9 and 10 serving as aids to the techniques of astral travel and unitive bhakti yoga. The first few steps mostly involve, as in similar tantric practices aforementioned, intoning specific sounds mentally-astrally within corresponding bodily organs, glands, and nerve plexuses. Color visualizations, kinesthetic sensations, and musical notes are gradually built on to each in sequence until, eventually, one’s entire subtle nervous system is buzzing with with śaktis of varying intensities. Again, as with the tantric practices, this both cleans out the subtle plumbing, and begins to move force of appropriate intensities through all of the pipes and streams of the system. Though Bardon only hints at this point, all of this is ultimately in service to drawing one’s awareness every higher and further inward to the divine processes running behind creation, preservation, and dissolution. Just as in Yoga, the Hermetist’s consciousness — and all of his śaktis — merge into the Mahāśakti. This temporary samādhi, which coincides perfectly with the goal of IIH step 10’s devotional concentration discipline, also unlocks numerous magical powers. The remainder of KTQ’s work deals with discovering which of these powers the Hermetist needs for this life’s mission, and then setting about to master those specific abilities in turn. This is done by entering deeply into oneself and, while in this meditative state, activating the appropriate sequence of “letters” (the energy channels developed up to this point), thus routing a great deal of divine power through a very specific course which results in the desired manifestation.

Bardon’s “quabbalistic magic” is the very real speaking-into-existence of a miracle — of the sort promised and not delivered by so many throw-away evangelical prosperity gospel paperbacks. A great deal of discipline is required to master these literally biblical methods of prayer, discipline by which the magician truly becomes an agent of the demiurgic Logos.

[Note to the Reader: If you are at all interested in actually practicing Bardon’s system — and literally any Hermetist ought to at least be tempted! — I highly recommend that you follow Bardon’s teachings step-by-step with rigor and discipline. Skipping through “the basic stuff” will only come back to haunt you later, and any rushing will cause you to have to double back and redo a lot of things until full mastery is reached. I also suggest that one pick up a copy of Rawn Clark’s collection of commentaries, A Bardon Companion, available at his website of the same title. Clark’s commentaries are especially valuable on KTQ, as the published versions of KTQ are evidently based on an unpolished manuscript which contains a very few notable typos (though no major mistakes, as at least one publisher of the book in English translation says) and omits some points which make practice of the material much more straightforward. As such, Clark’s supplement can significantly smooth the road ahead.]