From: Tyagi@cup.portal.com Date: 08-14-93 (09:54)
Who Was Franz Bardon?
Franz Bardon is one of the most important but least known occultists and magicians of the Twentieth Century. He is mainly known
through four books he wrote which were published in the 1950's. Many
have borrowed his techniques and terminology without giving him proper
credit, sometimes unknowingly, but not always. I recommended his book
"Initiation Into Hermetics" to a person who had studied occultism for
some years. He was stunned to find that a teacher of his in the past had
distributed Bardon's materials pretending he had written them himself.
Bardon was unusual in that he stressed practice and practicality
above all else. Although his books contained lengthy theoretical
sections, his emphasis was on the tangible, usable results of magickal
training. His stated purpose was to give the serious student of magick
the most complete and best possible magickal instruction obtainable
outside of an occult lodge and without the benefit of a personal
teacher. Did he succeed? The only way to judge is by trying his
Bardon's Life and Work
Bardon did not appear to be trying to create a legend about
himself. The only self-references in his works are occasional
attestations that he had himself tried this of that experiment or
ritual. I can't resist comparing this to a much more famous magician of
this century who wrote voluminously about his own life and adventures,
and had no qualms about glorifying himself in so doing
According to his student and close friend Otti Votavova, Franz
Bardon was the oldest of 13 children, and the only son of a very devout
Christian mystic, Viktor Bardon. Although he had achieved a certain
amount of spiritual advancement, Viktor felt that he was unable to
obtain and advanced initiation, and prayed that he receive this
blessing. The story is that an advanced soul entered the body of his son
Franz to become Viktor's initiator.
In later life, Bardon became a stage magician who gained some fame
in Germany in the 1920's and 1930's under the stage name "Frabato".
As Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party ascended to power in the 1930's
various groups such as the O.T.O. and the Freemasons were banned and
some of their members arrested. Otti Votavova avers that Hitler belonged
to the legendary "FOCG" or "99 Lodge" of black magick, described in
Frabato The Magician and Fire And Ice (see the bibliography). Apart from
this, Hitler and some of his intimate friends were supposed to be
members of the "Thule Order," which was the external instrument of a
group of powerful Tibetan black magicians.
Arrest & Imprisonment by the 3rd Reich
Through the negligence of one of Bardon's disciples (who had not
destroyed their correspondence as Bardon had ordered) the Nazis arrested
and imprisoned them both in late 1941 or early 1942. While the prisoners
were being whipped, the disciple lost his control and uttered a
Qabalistic formula to immobilize the torturers. However, the effects of
the formula were eventually canceled and the disciple was shot as
revenge. Adolf Hitler offered Bardon high positions in the Third Reich
under the condition that he help win the war with his magick. Bardon was
further expected to reveal to Hitler the address of the other 98 of the
99 Lodges spread all over the world. When he refused to help, the Nazis
cruelly tortured him. Among other things, they performed operations on
Bardon without anesthesia, and forged iron rings around his ankles and
fixed heavy iron balls to them.
After the war Bardon found, with the help of his magick abilities,
that Hitler had escaped abroad. For fear of recognition, Hitler had
undergone several of surgical operations on his face.
Dieter Ruggeberg(publisher of Bardon's books) makes this comment on
the above statements: "So much for Otti Votavova's recital of facts. In
the years of my acquaintance with her I was able to convince myself of
her love of truth."
After regaining his freedom, Bardon recommenced his occult work and
healing. It was apparently this last work that got him in trouble with
the Czech authorities. They strongly discouraged this type of thing in
the very repressive political climate of postwar Czechoslovakia.
Arrest and Death
Regarding Bardon's last years, Ruggeberg wrote to me as follows:
"The profession of Bardon was natural healer. He was able to cure cancer
until the 2nd degree, without steel and rays, only with his own medicine
made from plants and treated with alchemical means. For this reason the
doctors of the official medicine became very jealous, because they could
not reach such success with their chemical and nuclear treatments. After
the publication of his books in 1956, a number of people came from
Germany to visit him. The doctors took this opportunity to accuse Bardon
to be a spy from the West, and that was the reason he was arrested in
1958 in Opava, Czechoslovakia." Russian Communist ideologies, thus they
persecuted free-thinkers, Gypsies, Jews, Freemasons and anyone
interested in the occult or esoteric subjects.
Bardon died July 10th, 1958. What connection, if any, his death had
with the arrest I have been unable to determine. If he was a
professional stage magician in Germany in the 1920's and 1930's, we
could assume that he was born roughly around the turn of the century,
and thus would not have been very old at his death.
The Fraternity of Saturn
Bardon stoutly maintained that he was not a member of, nor under
any obligations to a magickal lodge or order. However, some sources
indicate that he was actually a member of the Fraternity of Saturn, an
important occult lodge which flourished in Germany in the early part of
the 20th Century. During the ascent of the Nazi party, they closed or
persecuted all Masonic, religious and occult organizations. They closed
and banned the Fraternity of Saturn Lodge sometime between 1933 and
1937, but it was revived in 1950.
I have not yet been able to positively identify Bardon as a member
of the Fraternity of Saturn. While recognizing the power and validity of
sex magick, Bardon emphatically discourages the student from dabbling in
it until he understands its full implications.
Franz Bardon's Writings
Each book follows a roughly similar pattern: a mainly theoretical
exposition followed by practical instruction. Reading and understanding
them is a challenge, as they have been translated from German-and
possibly from Czechoslovakian before that-into non-idiomatic English.
Translational difficulties aside, one thing that makes an enduring
impression is Bardon's evident sincerity. He insists frequently that he
is doing as much as possible to transmit a system of occult development
to the serious student who is either unable to find a teacher or work in
a group. In line with this, he also frequently reiterates that he has
personally performed such and such an experiment, ritual or procedure.
Before describing some of Bardon's theories, it is good to keep in
mind that many of the words he uses have different meanings in a mundane
context and even in other occult systems. Impregnation, fluid,
condenser, sphere - all have special meanings.
For instance, Bardon appears to have originated the concept of the
so-called "fluid condenser." "Fluids" are magickal qualities, not fluids
as we understand them in daily life, and are divided into "electric" and
"magnetic" types. A "condenser" is a magick wand, mirror, or other
device the magician crafts to "condense", or concentrate, these fluids.
An example of preparing a fluid condenser is given later in this
Many of his occult ideas can be traced to earlier works, such as
Eliphas Levi and Barrett's The Magus. Bardon also seems to have been
familiar with Tibetan occultism, or at any rate the works of Alexandria
David-Neel, whom he cites now and then, and from whom he does a fair
amount of borrowing. He mentions, for example, kylichors(magickal
diagrams), and tum-mo (the ability of Tibetan adepts to stay warm in
freezing weather). The mental exercises Bardon prescribes, such as
one-pointedness, watching the roaming of consciousness and so on, are
commonplace in yogic and other occult works.
Although Bardon does not mention Crowley or any of his writings,
"The Beast's" influence is present. Compare Crowley's famous dictum:
"Love is the law, love under will" to Bardon's: "Love is the law, but
love under a strong will."
Bardon's Theories: The Magickal Universe
Bardon postulates an energetic model of the universe modified from
Far Eastern theories, including Taoism and Hindu cosmology. His
"electric" and "magnetic" fluids compliment each other in the same way
that Yin and Yang do. These are clearly not the physicist's forces by
the same names, but there is a certain analogy between them. "Magnetism"
is a cool, negative force with a blue emanation; and "electricity" is a
warm, positive force with a red emanation.
In Initiation Into Hermetics Bardon refers once to the "OR" and
"OB" forces. My guess is that these might represent the "Red"(OR =
"Odyle Rot") and "Blue" (Odyle Blau") or electric and magnetic fluids.
Or perhaps they are adaptations of the OD and OB forces described in
Eliphas Levi's Transcendental Magic. Whatever the scientific validity of
this approach, it is certainly rich with suggestive possibilities.
Bardon's "od" or "odyle" energy, which Baron Karl von Reichenbach
originally developed in the mid-1800's. The negative pole of a magnet,
he claimed, appeared blue to persons with high psychic sensitivity and
induced a feeling of coldness. The positive pole appeared red and had
the property of warmth. He elaborated this theory into a highly complex
system of occult anatomy and mysticism. Bardon usually called od "vital
power" ["lebenskraft"], but once or twice reverts to the term "od."
Bardon teaches that each part of the body is governed by either the
electric or the magnetic force, or it may be neutral. Disease is caused
by parts being out of balance.
The Four Elements
Bardon made use of the ancient four elements - Fire, Earth, Air and
Water - plus Akasha, or Quintessence. His attributions of the elements
are essentially the same as those in other systems and books.: Water for
emotions, intuition; Fire for aggressiveness, passion, etc. In his view,
the skillful magician was one who could manipulate the Elements to
achieve desired effects. Of course, before the student could become
master of the Elements, he had to harmonize and control the
manifestations of all Elements in his own being.
Bardon taught that man was superior to all spirits, demons and
angels in that only man was a "four-pole" being - that is, combining the
energies of all the Elements . For instance, gnomes are strictly
creatures of Earth, sylphs of Air and so forth. He cautioned the student
to beware of tricks and deceptions on the parts of these creatures, who
wished to capture a part of the human's soul.
In Bardon's words: "Any deliberate cause, may be such as a wish, a
thought or any imagination created in this sphere together with the
dynamic concentration of willpower, unshaken faith and fullest
conviction is bound to be realized with the help of the elements... .
"Consciousness knows neither time nor space, and is therefore an akasha
principle. He also instructs the student to re-dissolve the akasha into
the universe rather than keep it accumulated. In other words, the
"magickal" frame of mind should not be the same as the everyday one.
Preparation of the Student
A pillar of Bardon's method is the point that the magician must be
balanced in the Elements that make up his own being. A student with an
excess or lack of any Element could not achieve great success, no matter
how much work he does. An analogy would be an auto engine: no matter how
much fuel you feed to it, it can only generate so much if it is not
properly tuned and balanced. After a point, the engine will either wear
out quickly or fail if you attempt to make it perform beyond its limits.
The difference with humans is that our limits are self-imposed.
Bardon also insists on the point that the student begin at the
beginning and not skip any section of his training. The student must
completely master each step before proceeding on to the next. Again, the
analogy to other endeavors is clear. If magick is a skill like flying,
then the student cannot neglect the study of airplanes, weather, safety,
avionics and so forth, without serious difficulties in the future.
Finally, as many teachers say, the student must keep a complete and
accurate record. Without this, it is hard to repeat successes and avoid
Outline of Bardon's Magickal Curriculum
Although Bardon divides his praxis into ten steps, these are
somewhat arbitrary. Here is a summary of his main points:
1. Self-Analysis & Basic Exercises
As mentioned above, the student must work diligently on
understanding and harmonizing the four Elements within his own being
before doing any further occult work. Bardon prescribes several weeks of
minute, mercilessly honest self-observation and recording of one's
faults and failings. The student classifies each under the four
Elemental categories to see which Elements are out of balance in his
Self. A similar exercise classifies his virtues and strengths. Since the
magician is to have control over all the Elemental worlds, he must not
be unbalanced or have any obsessions that would impede his
effectiveness, or allow weak spots that could cause his undoing.
2. Intermediate Concentration & Breathing
In the next step, the student strengthens his ability to
concentrate and performs breathing exercises and the techniques of
autosuggestion. Bardon regards these as the secret key to the
Bardon distinguishes carefully between two kinds of breathing:
Pulmonary (normal) and through the skin. This second type of breathing
takes practice. The body can respire automatically, but the student
needs to learn to control it, combine it with voluntary pulmonary
breathing and selectively inspire the various Elements and Akasha.
3. Advanced Visualization Exercises & Element Manipulation
This step entails intense concentration on and visualization of
increasingly more complex objects, and "inhaling" the Elements into the
body. The student also learns the "loading," or charging, of talismans,
rooms, or objects for protection, healing, or other purposes.
4. Accumulation of Elements & Rituals
In this part of the training the student, works to perfect the
balancing and concentrating of Elementary energies in the students own
and other persons's bodies. In Bardon's system, "rituals" are mot what
we normally think of as such, but rather mnemonics based on hand
gestures, verbal formulas or visual keys. He claims that once you
understand the energies properly, can recall an energy or situation with
merely a surreptitious hand gesture, a silent formula or a combination
5. Transplanting Consciousness & Levitation
This step consists of a graduated series of exercises to prepare
the student for physical and astral levitation and astral travel, as a
prelude to communication with astral beings. Communication with the
astral world can either be active or passive. Passive techniques are
simpler and safer, thus Bardon presents them first.
6. Introduction to Astral Beings & Astral Travel
Besides astral beings and travel, this chapter deals with the
creation of non-physical beings for the magician's use. Bardon also
discusses the perils of accidentally creating them. This inadvertent
creation of phantasms which can attach to and parasitize the operator is
a great danger for the dabbler in occultism. At this point, Bardon again
insists that the student not skip any step in his development, in order
to avoid this serious problem.
7. Development of Clairvoyance, Clairaudience & Other Abilities:
Creation of Elementaries
Bardon gives formulas for accessories such as special eye-baths and
ear-plugs to aid in development of supersensory perception. He also
discusses magick animation of pictures and statues.
8. "Fluid Condensers"
These are special tools which the magician creates to concentrate,
store, and manipulate the electric and magnetic fluids. He gives fairly
detailed instructions for making, charging and using these "condensers."
First, Bardon teaches that even minute quantities gold can add
enormously to the accumulative power of any condenser. Thus, he
recommends preparing a gold tincture to "charge" any condensers the
student makes. The easiest way is to dissolve a gram of soluble gold
chloride in 20 grams of distilled water. (Gold chloride is fairly
expensive - about $50 per gram.)
Here is an interesting example of Bardon's condensers: Put a
handful of fresh or dry chamomile flowers into a pot. Pour enough cold
water over them to cover them completely. Let the chamomile flowers boil
for about 20 minutes. Cool them, but leave the lid on the pot and strain
the decoction. Put this on the fire again and allow it to evaporate
slowly until it weighs about 50 grams. A few drops more or less do not
matter at all. Let the extract cool and, for better preservation, mix it
with the same quantity (in this case 50 grams) of spirit or alcohol.
(Remember to never use methyl or wood alcohol in any preparation meant
to be used in or on the body.) To this mixture add about 10 drops of the
gold tincture prepared above.
If you wish to use the condenser for your own purposes, you may
still strengthen it, by adding a drop of your blood or sperm, if
possible both together, on a swab of cotton wool, throw this afterwards
without any scruples into the condenser and shake the lot well. Then,
pour all, in a funnel, through filter paper or linen into a small bottle
and keep it well corked in a cool and dark place, ready to use.
The magician can use these condensers in many ways: mixing them
with liquids to drink, for anointing, mixing them with incense
compounds, or pouring them in small bowls to collect and concentrate
Any fluid condenser which has been prepared in this manner does not
lose its efficiency even after many years. The condenser must be well
shaken each time you are going to use it, the bottle is to be corked
again after withdrawing some out of it. In the same way you can prepare
several universal condensers from Russian or genuine Chinese tea, from
lily-blossoms-best are the white ones-popular leaves, alraune roots or
mandragora roots, arnica montana, acacia flowers. Any simple fluid
condenser, prepared from one plant is sufficient for normal use such as
influencing through the elements, or developing the astral senses by
means of the fluid condensers.
9. Magick Mirrors for Astral Travel & Healing
The magick mirror (of which the crystal ball is a species) is
valuable for many experiments in clairvoyance, clairaudience and the
like. After a brief description, Bardon lists many ways the magician can
use it. He describes treatment of the sick using electro-magnetic fluids
and the magickal loading of talismans, amulets and gems.
10. Elevation of the Spirit to Higher Levels
This chapter discusses the various ways the student should improve
his spiritual qualities. Bardon wraps up with a discussion of several
occult topics such as exteriorization, levitation, production of natural
phenomena, suggestion, hypnosis, psychometry and long distance
impregnation of rooms.
An amazing book on Communicating with Spirits
Bardon's second published work, The Practice of Magical Evocation,
is a remarkable and unique work of nearly 500 pages. The first of its
two parts is an exhaustive description of the many tools and apparatus
the magician needs to work. The topics he treats include: The Magick
Circle, Triangle, Censer, Mirror, Lamp, Wand, Sword, Dagger, Trident,
Crown, Cap and Magus-Band. This book is much more ceremonially oriented
than the first, which requires a minimum of apparatus. The Practice of
Magical Evocation is a classic magickal grimoire, or instruction manual
- probably one of the best ever written.
The second part of of the book is a huge catalog of spirits or
entities that the student is supposed to be able to contact after
perfecting the techniques in the first book. A short paragraph
accompanies most of the entries explaining the the specialty or purpose
of the being and what skills, knowledge or advantage it can bring the
occult practitioner. Bardon states several times that he has contacted
all these entities himself and is writing what he knows in the first
person. In fact, he says there are many more entities he has omitted,
because of their unsuitability for beginners.
The names of these spirits are quite interesting. A few of them are
the same as the corresponding names in the "classical" magickal
traditional. His "72 spirits of the Mercury sphere" are exactly the 72
angels of the Schem-ha-mephorash. Some of them are oddly changed. For
instance, "osrail" is clearly the same as "Azrael," and Opollogon"
appears to correspond to "Apollyon." These spirits are described in
Barrett's The Magus, among other books. The changes in spelling may be
due to the fact that Bardon originally wrote in Czechoslovakian or
German. However, most of his other spirits I have been unable to trace.
For instance, here are some of the spirits of the Mars sphere, none of
which I can locate in other references: Rarum, Gibsir, Rahol, and Adica.
These names may be from an obscure medieval grimoire, have different
meanings in Czechoslovakian, or have some relation to his own Qabalistic
system - but so far I have been unable to make such a connection.
Bardon's Unique Qabalistic System
After the second book, the coherence and organization of Bardon's
work deteriorates noticeably. His third published work was The Key to
the True Qabalah. His Qabalistic system depends on the sounds of the
various letters of the alphabet. It's not clear that this was
exhaustively thought out, since there are many alphabets in use (even
among Western languages). Hebrew, Cyrillic and Arabic all have different
alphabets, and some (Chinese) have no alphabet at all. He uses his
Qabala somewhat differently than other occultists: he connects
Qabalistic formulae to various processes (e.g., a vibration consisting
of the sounds "KTM" is a formula to load a room for protections, "AAQ"
is used for remote healing, etc.).
Bardon also uses his Qabalah as sort of shorthand: once the
occultist has made contact with some planetary intelligence, for
instance, he can re-contact the intelligence by using its "phone number"
Later Books of Rough Quality
It is clear that after the first two books, much less time or
assistance was available for Bardon to get his work in print. Perhaps he
was incarcerated or dead and unable to to help with the editing. In any
case, Bardon's production after this point declined rapidly. The next
book was Frabato the Magician for which Bardon only had notes. In the
English edition, the publisher added extensive notes to indicate that
the book (and appended material) is, in essence, Bardon's unedited
notes. However, this is an intriguing occult novel somewhat along the
lines of those of Dion Fortune.
Franz Bardon Today
A few years ago, an enthusiastic student started the "Franz Bardon
Foundation" in Denver, Colorado. He showed his devotion to the "Magus
Guru", as he called Bardon, by changing his name to "Jim Bardon." For a
time, I subscribed to this newsletter, which was 4 or 8 pages and issued
a few time a year. The newsletter was, I am sure, a sincere effort and
often had interesting and useful ideas. Unfortunately, it also included
much peripheral material that seemed to have no direct connection with
Bardon's works. Each issue repeated much of the same information about
:Jim Bardon's" predictions of major recessions and at least one world
war between 1989 and 2005. I'm not sure if the recent Persian Gulf war
would qualify. There is nothing in Franz Bardon's own writings that
would support these theories. Furthermore, Jim Bardon, in his bulletins
also advertised his own publications, astrological service and hermetic
I lost contact with him when he raised the yearly subscription for
his newsletter from $25.00 to $50.00 - in order, he said, to separate
the sincere from the frivolous. Apparently Mr. Bardon's Foundation is
still in existence. A classified ad in a recent issue of Llewellyn's New
Times gives a phone number for it in Seattle,
Summary of Franz Bardon and Editorial
Perhaps it is unfair to make such comparisons, but it is
interesting to contrast Franz Bardon's works with those of the of the
other great magickal teacher of the century, Aleister Crowley. Although
when the spirit moved him, Crowley could be intensely disciplined, kind
and helpful to his students and magnanimous, he also enjoyed a life
filled with sex, drugs, alcohol and bon vivant - all of which are
integral parts of his magickal philosophy. Crowley was continually
heaping praise on himself, excoriating those he felt were beneath him,
discarding students as unworthy, and continuously justifying his
behavior. He praised strength and sneered at weakness. Crowley's writing
are full of literary practical jokes, insults to the reader's
intelligence, and deliberate deceptions.
Bardon represented almost everything that Crowley was not. He
appeared to be patient, devout, non-judgmental and earnest. He insisted
that only through balance and purging of excesses could one achieve
success in magick. And (though this probably reflects my personal
biases), it seems that Bardon's reticence and cautionary tone concerning
sexual magick is a much more reasonable attitude than Crowley's,
especially for beginners.
Certainly not one occultist in a thousand has made good use of sex
magick, whereas an unfortunately large number have become obsessed, or
worse. How many people have you heard of who have improved themselves
through sex magick? But it's certainly a heck of a lot more fun than the
drudgery of discipline. Similar observations apply to students whose
magickal work revolves around the use of intoxicants and narcotics.
I feel that Bardon does deliver what he promises: detailed magickal
instruction for the diligent and serious student who, for whatever
reason, cannot or will not attach to a magickal order or group. It is
sometimes a challenge to penetrate the mediocre translations of his
works, but with supplementary magickal study things do become clear.
*Franz Bardon's Works*
Der Weg zum Wahren Adepten (1st ed. 1956).
Die Praxis der Magischen Evokation (1st ed. 1956).
Der Schluessel zur Wahren Qabalah (1st ed. 1957).
Frabato: Ein Okkulter Roman (1st ed. 1979).
Initiation into Hermetics (1st English ed. 1962).
The Practice of Magical Evocation (1st English ed. 1967).
The Key to the True Qabalah (1st English ed. 1971). The formulas
mentioned above, to immobilize one's enemies, are in this book under the
headings "E-M" and "E-N."
Frabato the Magician (1st English ed. 1971). This is an "occult novel"
which Bardon's student and friend Otti Votavova claimed was based on
true events. This edition also contains fragments from a work that
Bardon was never able to complete. Published under the title "the Golden
Book of Wisdom" and an unpublished tract titled "High Magic."
*Other Related Works*
The dates given after the titles are the years of first English
publication. Most of the works listed below have been reprinted in
various formats, some many times.
Barret, Francis, The Magus, London (1801), offers information on
"Blatter fur Lebenskunst," August 1956, p.3.
Cavendish, Richard, ed., Man, Myth and Magic (1970). See articles on
"Magnetism" and "Double" for information on Baron Von Reichenbach's
David-Neel, Alexandra, Magic and Mystery in Tibet (1931) and Initiation
and Initiates in Tibet (1932). Bardon refers to these in a few places.
Flowers, S. Edred (pseud. of S. Edred Thorsson), The Fraternity of
Saturn (1990). This is surprisingly good. It is well documented and
relatively sane. Of course, in order to sell the books, it emphasizes
the sexual magick aspect of the Fraternity of Saturn.
Howe, Ellic, The Magicians of the Golden Dawn (1972). See p. 282, Note
1, on the banning of the Fraternity of Saturn.
King, Francis, Sexuality, Magic and Perversion: The Secret Rituals of
the O.T.O. (1973), The Magical World of Aleister Crowley (1977).
Although long on sensationalism, King's works are usually reliable and
Levi, Eliphas (pseud. of Alphonse Louis Constant, transl. by A.E.Waite),
Transcendental Magic (1896). This is an English edition of Dogme de la
Haute Magic (1855) and Rituel de la Haute Magic (1856).
Ruggeberg, Dieter, letter to the author, Oct 28, 1988. Herr Ruggeberg,
the longtime publisher of Bardon's books in English, wrote this in
response to a query for more information about Bardon's life.
von Reichenbach, Baron Karl, Physico-Physiological Researches on the
Dynamics of Magnetism, (1850, 1851) and The Odic Force: Letters on Od
and magnetism, (1926, reprinted 1968).
Wilson, Colin, The Occult (1971) offers information on von Reichenbach's
c1991 by Tim Scott