Occult Author Spotlight: Franz Bardon
I first encountered Franz Bardon’s works approximately five years ago, and was amazed I hadn’t read or explored his concepts earlier. It likely didn’t help that until recently his works were out of print or printed only in German. In 2001, Merkur Publishing translated all of Bardon’s works and re-published them in the U.S.
Franz Bardon lived approximately forty years and was a stage magician as well as a hermeticist. He died in 1958 from pancreatitis, which may have been purposely induced when he was put in prison by communists. Bardon wrote three books on Hermeticism, and was working on a fourth when he died. There is also a biographical book about him called Frabato the Magician. [Ed’s note: This book is by Bardon, so if it’s a bio, it is an autobiography.] Bardon’s work tends to focus on practical applications of magic. While he discusses theory, the books are clearly written to instruct the reader in how to practice magic. Exercises are provided throughout each of the texts. It’s fair to say that the potential of his books isn’t fully realized unless the magician does the exercises.
The quality of Bardon’s work is high. I wasn’t exposed to his work until recently, and while most of the exercises he proposes in Initiation into Hermetics are ones I’ve done variants of, trying out his exercises has proven to be helpful in honing my skills and focus. In fact, it’s fair to compare the quality of his work to William G. Gray. Both tend toward an exactness of description, as well as a thorough explanation of how a practical technique should work, that is sorely lacking in a lot of the other occult literature of the time. The exercises in his first book are useful challenges to aspiring magicians, and I’d also recommend them to experienced magicians who want a different perspective on ceremonial magic than is found through the more traditional work of Crowley and Regardie. It’s interesting to note that Bardon clearly had some background in Far Eastern breathing techniques, as his concepts of pore breathing and energy accumulation are decidedly not Western practices. The energy work exercises are very helpful in improving one’s health.
Bardon’s second work, The Practice of Magical Evocation, provides an excellent explanation of how evocation works in a manner that is unique to Bardon, but nonetheless could easily have influenced the chaos magic movement in terms of how entities are created. Bardon provides readers an opportunity to summon a large number of entities based on planetary attributes, as well as explaining to readers how to develop relationships with said entities. I’d have to say that this book should be considered one of the cornerstones of evocation, as Bardon’s work provides readers an opportunity to really develop their skills in evocation, while also understanding how it works.
I have to confess I haven’t yet read The Key to the True Kabbalah. From what I understand, this work isn’t considered to be as good as the previous two works, though it should be noted that Bardon intentionally wrote his books to build upon each other. So prior experience with the practices in his two prior works may be necessary to unlock the key of the third book. It is interesting to note that Bardon uses the German alphabet in his kabbalistic workings, similar in fact to the work done with the English language and Kabbalah.
Below is a list of Bardon’s works. It’s definitely in the interest of any magician to pick up Bardon’s writing and run with it in your personal practice.
- Bardon, Franz (2001). Initiation into Hermetics. Salt Lake City: Merkur Publishing.
- Bardon, Franz (2001). The Practice of Magical Evocation. Salt Lake City: Merkur Publishing.
- Bardon, Franz (2002). The Key to the True Kabbalah. Salt Lake City: Merkur Publishing.
Taylor Ellwood is the author of Space/Time Magic, Inner Alchemy: Energy Work and the Magic of the Body, and Pop Culture Magick, among other works. You can visit his blog at http://magicalexperiments.wordpress.com/ and his website at http://www.thegreenwolf.com/.
©2008 Taylor Ellwood
Edited by Sheta Kaey