Be kind, friendly and lenient towards your fellow man, but unrelenting and pitiless with yourself. ~ Franz Bardon
At the time I discovered Franz Bardon, I was fairly invested in the black magic and demonology of various European grimoires. I had been in the habit of invoking and evoking various demonic powers, and had no scruples when it came to using these forces to do harm to those who annoyed me, or even doing so for money on behalf of others. It was as I reached my depth in this area that I met and befriended a guy named Chris; he had been practicing from Bardon on and off for a while, and had seen some results. Out of respect for my new friend (who is, to this day, like a brother to me), I picked up the Bardon books and read them a bit, but ended up just shelving them for a while, as they did not really speak to me.
Not more than two to three months later, I found myself quite unwillingly undergoing what academics insufficiently call “visionary experiences”. Without giving personal details, I was urgently shown the error of my ways and, mercifully, shown a way out of the hole which I had dug for myself. As part of my remedial curriculum, I was to immediately take up the work of Franz Bardon’s Initiation Into Hermetics.
And that I did, with gusto.
Bardon’s was one of the first books on occult practice which I had encountered which was as uninterested in abstractions as it was devoted to genuine spiritual — and not merely psychic — unfoldment. Bardon had no time for any doctrines beyond those strictly necessary to make sense of the practical exercises. Given the sizable heap of tangled mental patterns with which I had to deal before any significant forward progress could be made, this was precisely the stripped-down, essentials-only method that I needed; I, frankly, had no room in my head for particulars.
And right from the beginning, IIH did the job. The knots and tangles of my soul began to come undone. No doubt, this is a frightening process. On not a few occasions, I was gripped by mental fear, buried in anger, entrenched in sloth; but Providence is with one who takes the Way seriously, so I was able to persist. While far from reaching instant enlightenment or freeze-dried perfection, within a year of beginning, I found my temper cooling and overall sense of self-mastery and understanding increasing.
Soon enough, I found myself drawn to those doctrines necessary to delve more deeply. Though he never says so directly, it is clear that Bardon’s whole method is based in the cosmology and theology of Corpus Hermeticum, directly or indirectly. Bardon’s opus thus serves as practical coursework for the doctrinal teachings of classical Hermetism, within a modern occult framework. But Corpus Hermeticum is an entry for another day.