Step Three --
Step Three opens with a discussion of the "four pillars of the Temple" -- Knowledge, Volition, Courage and Silence. Often, these terms are misunderstood, or rather, incompletely understood, so I will add a few words of my own to those written by Bardon in this regard.
Knowledge: This does not mean the mere stuffing of the mind full of facts and figures. This alone will not aid the student's magical rise. Rather, the type of knowledge important to the aspiring magician is that gained by combining study with practice. As any serious student of Alchemy will inform you, study alone does not make one an Alchemist. It is only through putting what one learns from study into practical use that true knowledge arises. This is what leads to Understanding and, eventually, to Wisdom.
Volition: Volition refers not only to the power of the magical will to overcome all obstacles, but also to the ability to invoke the feeling of absolute assurance that what one wills is real. This is especially important when it comes to the use of affirmations and the plastic imagination. Volition increases with practice -- it is something that can be cultivated. With a strong will, many doors which remain closed to the ordinary person, open for the magician. But never should the magician's will be a violent thing which rips through a barrier unconcerned. The sort of will the magician wields, is like the undeniable force of running water -- it penetrates obstacles by going around them instead of ruthlessly obliterating them.
Courage: This refers to an unflinching willingness to stand up to any obstacle and to face any challenge which confronts the magician. At the root of courage is the ability to control one's fear and to reach beyond its limits. This does not mean that one should ignore fear for it is a natural and important part of our mechanism of self-preservation. All that is meant is that when fear arises, it should be treated as a valuable bit of information and should, when appropriate, be set aside. Except in truly life-threatening situations, the magician does not allow fear to be a barrier to progress. This aspect of courage comes into play for the beginning student especially in regards to the work of introspection and self-change. Often times we will see things in ourselves that it takes courage to face and to overcome. A good meditation for building one's courage is to consider exactly what the consequences of a fear filled situation might be. Short of death or dismemberment, the consequences of most situations are minor and are usually magnified out of true proportion by the fear itself. There are also other methods for building one's courage. For example, I have an innate fear of heights, so I chose for a short while to become a window washer. This required climbing some pretty tall ladders, but by practicing caution, I was able to go beyond my fear. I still have an innate fear of heights, but now I know that my fear exceeds the real danger and it no longer prevents me from testing my limits.
Silence: This is probably the least understood of the "four pillars". Some take this injunction to mean that absolutely no word of magic or one's experience with it should ever be mentioned, but this is not the case. If this were so, then why, for example, would Bardon have written and taught as he did? At its root, silence addresses two concerns: the personal ego and the sanctity of magical experiences. The part of our human ego that requires approval from others must be contended with by every student of magic. Here, silence about the nature and extent of one's magical experiences and abilities is very handy. If we start bragging about how all-powerful we are, then we feed this ego need and we become distracted from our higher purpose. By maintaining our silence in this regard, we avoid inflating this part of our ego and make it much easier for ourselves to contend with it. Also of note is that magical experiences are of a very intimate, personal nature. Their intimacy is easily violated when we speak the details of these experiences to another. Such a violation subtly diminishes the import of these experiences and does the student a disservice. Personally, I have no problem discussing the rudiments of magic, but never do I relay the intimate details of my own experiences. I have found this advantageous to my own rise and recommend this tact to you as well. This form of silence builds a very powerful charge of intimacy into your experiences that is unattainable in any other way.
These Step Three exercises take the student a step further into the art of creative visualization. Creative visualization as described by Bardon is fairly unique in that the student approaches it in a step-by-step manner and assumes absolute control over what is visualized. This technique is important to the student's furtherance in magic for several reasons. It strengthens the concentration and will, it makes the physical senses and their astral and mental corollaries more acute, and it prepares the student for the later work of magical astral and mental wandering.
While at this stage the creative visualization is only a mental operation, it leads, combined with the other exercises, to actual astral experiences. The distinction between a mental projection that encompasses physical-like sensations and a genuine astral experience (which also encompasses physical-like sensations) is slight, but that is the point. Since it is so slight, mastery of the multi-sensory mental projection leads the student naturally to the art of astral projection. The main difference between these two is that in the astral projection, the realm visited is not reliant upon the mental projection of the magician; rather, the realm visited exists of its own accord. [The same can be said of true mental wandering except that in mental wandering there are no physical-like sensations.]
Another significant difference is that a true astral projection requires that the magician consciously separate the astra-mental body from the physical body and this does not occur with a mental projection.
Yet another aspect of these exercises that is worthy of mention is that through mastery of creative visualization, the student learns how to effectively build an image that can be wandered through astrally. A thoroughly crafted creative visualization effectively establishes a connection with its astral counterpart. For example, this is the secret behind the astral wandering of an occult symbol -- the symbol is projected through intense creative visualization which connects the projection to the symbol's astral counterpart and makes it a thing which can be explored with the astra-mental body.
With these things in mind, I hope it is apparent to the student of IIH that these exercises are of great importance. As a matter of fact, each of the exercises found in IIH are of great importance to a steady, balanced magical rise and none of them should be overlooked.
If the student has indeed mastered the single sense exercises of Step Two, then these Step Three exercises incorporating two or more senses at once should present no difficulty. These exercises are presented in a very specific sequence which should be followed exactly.
The first exercise involves the external projection of a scene. Bardon uses the example of a ticking clock wherein the student combines the visualization of the clock with the hearing of its ticking and chiming. This projection should float before your eyes. Bardon also talks of visualizing a stream or a field of wheat, etc., employing two or more senses, but it should be noted that these also should be projections which are separate from the student -- these are not scenes that the student wraps around him/herself and stands in the middle of.
This first exercise is very much like the Step Two exercises except that more than one sense is employed at a given time. This exercise should be accomplished with the eyes open. The point of this particular exercise is to familiarize the student with combining the senses.
Only when the preceding has been mastered should you turn to the next exercise. This time you will work with your eyes closed and the visualization will be a personally familiar scene which is wrapped around you. This is far different from a projection which hangs in the air before your eyes and which is essentially separate from you. At first, you should make this scene only visual -- the point here being to familiarize you with the technique of stepping into a scene.
After this is mastered for five minutes, then create a scene and add sound to it. Then add sensation, etc. Here, you must involve yourself with the entire experience of your scene -- see its every detail, hear its every sound and feel its every sensation. Smell and taste can also be added to the visualization as appropriate.
Once you have mastered this technique with your eyes closed, proceed to experiment with your eyes open. You will have mastered this when you are able to achieve the same quality of involvement in your scene as you did with your eyes closed.
Next in sequence comes an exercise where you wrap an unfamiliar scene around you. Work as before with as many senses as seem appropriate. Start with your eyes closed and when this is mastered, shift to working with your eyes open. Working with a scene that is unfamiliar to you requires a greater degree of inventiveness and that is, essentially, the point of this variation.
Next, we turn to the multi-sense visualization of various animals. Start with stationary animals and master their visualization with eyes closed and then with eyes open. [Note: This is a projection, not a wrap-around scene.]
Now put those animals in motion and work first with eyes closed and then with eyes open. As before, begin with animals that are familiar to you and then move on to unfamiliar animals.
The final exercises of this section concern the visualization of human beings. Begin with familiar humans and project their image, without sound or smell or movement, first with the eyes closed and then with the eyes open. Then move on to the same exercise with unfamiliar humans.
When this single-sense visualization is mastered, switch to familiar humans in motion and speaking. Employ as many senses as you can, working first with your eyes closed and then with your eyes open. Finally, repeat this exercise with humans unfamiliar to you.
This completes the magical schooling of the spirit for Step Three. At the end of these exercises your abilities with creative visualization should be well honed. You should be able to place yourself within any scene you desire, for as long as you desire, populate it with whatever animals and humans you desire, and be able to employ any of the senses you desire.
1) How real should my multisense visualizations be?
Ultimately, they should be so real that when you reach out to touch them, you are surprised that they have no physical substance. Their degree of detail should be so exact that you cannot visually tell them apart from the genuine article.
2) Why do I have to work first with my eyes closed and then with my eyes open?
These are both valuable abilities for the practicing magician. We start first with our eyes closed because that is generally an easier way to learn the basic exercise. Once it is mastered with the eyes closed it is then relatively easy to master the exercise with the eyes open. The same quality of the multisense visualization should be achieved with the eyes open as with the eyes closed.
3) What's the difference between a visualization that hovers in the air before my eyes and one that I step into?
These are also two valuable abilities for the practicing magician. An example of the "hanging before the eyes" type of visualization is the imagination of a ticking clock which hangs on a wall. Here, there is little direct involvement with the visualization itself.
An example of the "step into it" type of multisense visualization is the imagination of an entire room surrounding you. Here, there is an intimate involvement with the visualization and you can employ all five of your senses at once.
The exercises begin with the "before your eyes" type of multisense visualization because this is an easier way to learn the basic technique and makes the transition to the "step into it" type that much easier.
Before beginning these Step Three magical schooling of the soul exercises, the student MUST (!) have first established a rudimentary balance among the Elements of the personality. In order to avoid any ill effects upon the psyche and the physical body, the student must be absolutely certain that there exists no negative excess of any Element in their personality. All of the most bothersome items found in the negative soul mirror must have been addressed and transformed.
This caution cannot be stated strongly enough. No matter how eager you are to progress, please do not, by any means, enter into these exercises until you have establish this rudimentary balance. If, for example, you still have strong negative aspects of the Fire Element that influence your personality, then working in this manner with the Fire Element will do nothing more than exacerbate that imbalance and cause you grief in the long run. If, on the other hand, you have transformed your prominent negative traits, then this work with the Elements will help strengthen the positive aspects of your personality and cause only joy.
As Bardon states, this work with the Elements is the deepest arcanum of magic. It forms the root of all true magical abilities and the student should pay close attention to these exercises.
The system outlined by Bardon in IIH differs from all the rest in that the student learns how to cause magical effects by their own direct manipulation of the Elements. The student of IIH does not start out by relying upon other beings for these effects (e.g., the Beings of the Elements, or rituals empowered by others, etc.). In IIH, this is seen as later work that is only advisable once the student has themselves mastered the direct, hands-on manipulation. This is what, in Bardon terms, distinguishes the true magician from the sorcerer.
These magical schooling of the soul exercises combine the already established techniques of visualization, ideation and pore breathing. Simply put, the student visualizes their body surrounded by an infinite sphere of the Element at hand (e.g., red for Fire), empowers the visualization with the ideation of the Element (e.g., expansiveness and heat for Fire), and then inhales this empowered visualization with the whole body.
Bardon suggests seven inhalations to start, building over time to thirty inhalations, and it is advantageous to follow his instruction in this regard. It is important that the student build slowly as this gives time for the body to acclimatize itself to the Elemental burden and thus the student avoids any ill effects.
Bardon suggests a particular color for each Element to facilitate visualization: Fire --red, Air -- blue, Water -- greenish-blue, and Earth -- yellow, gray, or black. Strict adherence to these correspondences is not absolutely necessary. Personally, I employ the following: Fire -- bright red, Air -- yellow, Water -- cyan blue, and Earth -- brown, dark gray, or black. These are the correspondences that I worked with before I encountered IIH and they are the most comfortable to me. So, if you have worked with a different set than that suggested by Bardon, by all means continue with it if it works well for you.
Of greatest importance in these exercises is the feeling that the Elements invoke within you. You must feel the heat and the expansiveness of the Fire and so on. This must become for you a physical sensation.
[Note: Bardon speaks here, and in several other places, about what can be accomplished with the Elements, etc. But it is important that you realize these are just examples of what can be achieved after years of effort and that they are not meant as requirements. These are extreme practices and are not advised for the student as they tend to divert one from the more important goal of a balanced magical progress.]
The exercises themselves are very simple. You begin by establishing the visualization and then empower it with the appropriate ideation. Then you inhale the Element with the whole body through the now familiar technique of pore breathing. Again, be careful to avoid altering the normal breathing rhythm -- take empty breaths as needed. Begin with seven inhalations and increase by one inhalation with each exercise till you reach a total of thirty inhalations. Once you have inhaled the proper amount of the Element, spend some time sensing the Element's attributes and circulating the Element evenly throughout your body.
When this phase of inhalation and contemplation is complete, you must then magically exhale (with the whole body pore breathing) the same amount of the Element that you inhaled. The idea here is that you should rid yourself of all the excess of the Element that you previously inhaled. Use the same number of exhales that you inhaled, but be sure that you exhale exactly the same amount that you inhaled.
This is important because it is unhealthy to walk around with an excess of the Element for an extended period of time after your exercise. Likewise, it is unhealthy to go to the opposite extreme and deplete your body of its normal amount of an Element. In other words, exhale neither more nor less of the Element than you have inhaled.
Master this exercise first with your eyes closed, and then master it with your eyes open. Never neglect this habit of working with the eyes closed and then with the eyes open as it will become an important ability further on in the training as you apply these techniques in your daily practice.
Once you have mastered the magical inhalation and exhalation of the Fire Element and increased your capacity to thirty inhalations, then move on to working with the Air Element. Do not work with the Fire Element in one sitting and then the Air Element in the next, etc. Instead, master one Element at a time and work in the order Bardon recommends. This sequencing is important and the student is well advised to follow it exactly.
The Step Three magical schooling of the soul is complete when you can draw each of the four Elements into your body with equal ease and with your eyes open or closed.
1) Is inhaling the Elements any different than inhaling the vital energy?
The technique is basically the same -- surround yourself with a universe of the Element/energy and then inhale it. The main difference however, is that the Elements take a little more ideation than does the vital energy. Each Element feels different and their invocation is less easily sensed than the vital energy. Generally, the Elements take more concentration and you have to spend more time building the ideas associated with them.
2) The directions say to slowly increase my inhalations. Does this mean I'm "dynamically" accumulating the Elements? How is this different from the Step Four exercise?
In the Step Three exercises of breathing the Elements, there is a degree of accumulation and it does become dynamic (radiant), but there is no true "condensation" of the Elements. The "condensation" of the Elements is relegated to Step Four. More on this difference further on.
3) How clearly do I have to feel each Element? Do I really have to register a rise in temperature with the Fire Element?
Your sensing of each Element should be crystal clear. You do not have to actually take a thermometer and measure your bodily temperature, but you should progress to the point where you definitely feel an increase of your body's overall temperature. Likewise, you should feel the attributes of each of the Elements as a physical thing. With the Water, you should feel your body actually get colder; with the Air, lighter; and with the Earth, heavier.
4) What is the significance of the colors and sensations associated with each Element?
First of all, these factors help you get in touch with the Element itself. Secondly, the building up of the image (color and shape) and the sensation associated with a thing is a large part of future practice. Eventually, you will learn how to build not only the image and the sensation, but also the musical tone and the meaning of any force you want to project magically. Later in IIH and especially in KTQ, Bardon speaks of a "three-sense concentration" and a "quadrapolar action", based upon the Elemental correspondences. These Step Three exercises lay the foundation for these future magical abilities.
The Step Three magical schooling of the physical body exercises take the pore breathing technique to a new level. The first stage in this is the breathing of the vital energy into each body part. This is important for two reasons. The first, as Bardon points out, is that this will give you a degree of control over each and every part of your body. The second reason, not pointed out by Bardon, is that this educates the student about the manipulation of their own mental body.
As I stated in the "Theory" section, the mental body is very plastic and can assume any shape it desires and translocate to any place it desires. Where you focus your mental body (conscious awareness), determines its shape. Thus, in the exercise which follows, when your concentration is shifted to a specific body part, you are, in effect, altering the shape and placement of your mental body so that it assumes the shape and location of the organ you are working with. This introductory practice exercises an ability which becomes very important in later Steps involving the transplantation of consciousness into other objects and beings, as well as the practice of mental wandering.
I advise that if you do not already know the exact location of the organs in your body, then buy a book which gives you a visual layout of the organs. Study this information before you begin these exercises.
The opening exercise involves breathing the vital energy into and out of each organ or part of your body. This is not an "accumulation" of the vital energy -- each breath that you inhale of the vital energy is to be followed by an exhale of the energy. Bardon suggests seven such paired inhalations and exhalations. The idea here is to learn how to breathe through each organ -- the accumulation of the vital energy in each organ comes later.
It is wise, as Bardon suggests, to begin with the feet and slowly work your way up to the head. In the body parts and organs that are paired (i.e., feet, legs, hands, arms, ears, eyes, lungs, kidneys, etc.) it is good to first breathe through each side independently and then through both sides simultaneously.
I think it is best if you lie down for this exercise, but sitting is your usual "asana" will suffice. Invoke a deep sense of relaxation throughout your body. When you shift your awareness to a particular body part or organ you must establish a clear, sensory connection with it. For example, when you shift your attention to your right foot, you should sense each toe, as well as every spot on the surface and interior of your foot. Only then should you begin the pore breathing. This is done from the inside of the body part or organ, so your consciousness must be firmly rooted in its interior.
While this is relatively easy with a foot or hand, it is more difficult with the internal organs since our sensory connection with them is generally less developed. Studying an anatomical diagram is very helpful in this regard and I assure you that, with a little effort, such a connection with your internal organs is quite achievable.
This first exercise is complete when you are able to breathe the vital energy in and out of every organ and body part of your body.
The next exercise involves the "accumulation" of the vital energy in the whole body. An accumulation is different than the mere breathing of the previous exercise. Here, instead of inhaling and then exhaling each breath of the vital energy, the vital energy is inhaled several times in succession and retained. Bardon suggests starting with seven inhalations (increasing by one inhalation with each exercise until you reach a total of thirty). With each inhale, the vital energy is retained and the following exhale is to be an empty breath. This builds the vital energy into a dynamic, radiant accumulation.
When you have reached the appropriate number of inhalations, spend several moments (remember to maintain a normal rhythm of empty breaths) sensing the radiance and the nature of the accumulated vital energy. When you are ready, then begin to exhale the vital energy (each inhalation should be empty during this process). Just as with the accumulation of the Elements, you should make sure that you have exhaled the same amount of the vital energy as you inhaled.
This exercise is complete when you are able to accumulate a dynamic charge of thirty breaths of the vital energy within your entire body and then are able to exhale the same amount of the energy as you have accumulated.
The next exercise should only be attempted after you have mastered the above. This exercise involves the explosive release of the accumulated vital energy directly back to the universe. The exhaling breath is by-passed and this is a much quicker method of releasing an accumulation. But, this practice requires a certain degree of resiliency as it can be damaging to a body not used to working with the dynamism of an accumulation of the vital energy.
To begin, accumulate the vital energy through the whole-body pore breathing. When you are ready to release the vital energy, do so all at once. It may help to tie this expulsion to a single exhale, but if a single exhale is not sufficient at the beginning, then by all means exhale whatever vital energy remains. With practice, you will become able to release the whole accumulation in one comprehensive explosion.
The final exercise of this section is to learn to accumulate and release the vital energy from each of your body parts and organs. [Note: It is advisable that you do not accumulate the vital energy in either your brain or your heart (especially if you have any heart disease). Simply breathing the vital energy in and out of these two organs is very beneficial, but accumulating the vital energy in them is neither beneficial nor necessary. This is due to the electrical nature of their function.]
Begin by accumulating seven breaths of the vital energy into the body part or organ (increasing by one inhalation with each exercise) and follow by exhaling the same number of breaths of the vital energy as you inhaled. When this has been mastered with all the body parts and organs, then pass to working with the explosive release of the accumulated vital energy. The technique is the same as for the whole-body release, but you will need to take greater care to not abuse your individual organs. Work first with the explosive release of smaller amounts of accumulated energy and as your plasticity increases, move to larger, more dynamic accumulations.
1) Bardon seems to use the word "accumulation" to mean two different things. Please clarify.
There are actually three types of accumulation in IIH. First and simplest, is what I call a "passive accumulation". This is where you inhale and then immediately exhale a breath of an Element/energy/Fluid. This does not cause a build-up of what you are inhaling -- it only bathes you in the substance, as it were.
The second type is what I call a "dynamic accumulation". Here, you are taking several inhalations and holding them within your body. This typically results in a sense of radiance, where there is a certain degree of pressure felt by the accumulated Element/energy/Fluid.
The third type of accumulation is called "condensation". Here you inhale multiple breaths and build a dynamic accumulation. Then, you condense this accumulation into a smaller space. A condensation can also be accomplished by building up the Element/energy/Fluid into an object or body part directly to a degree that goes beyond a merely dynamic accumulation. In some cases, the difference between a dynamic accumulation and a condensation is subtle, but with practice you will be able to discern between the two. The work with condensing begins in Step Four. For the purposes of Step Three, all you need to concern yourself with is the dynamic accumulation.
2) How am I supposed to feel my Pancreas, etc.?
This is not as difficult as it may sound if you have mastered the mental discipline of the previous Steps. The best method is to get yourself a map of the internal organs, and with that as your guide, do your best to pinpoint the location of each organ. Keep trying to locate your organs until you can actually feel each one.
The basis of this technique is the "transference of consciousness" described in greater detail in the Step Four material. This work of Step Three serves as an introduction to the more complex aspects of the transference of consciousness.
Simply put, what you must do is focus your attention upon the specific location of the internal organ or body part. Your conscious awareness IS your mental body, so what you are doing, in more technical terms, is condensing your mental body into the organ or body part of choice.
Persistence pays off!
3) How clearly do I have to feel each organ and body part?
By the end of Step Three you should be able to sense each organ and body part with great clarity. Since each organ is different, each will feel slightly different -- some you will be able to feel very intimately and others less so. I cannot predict exactly what you will feel with each organ, so it is up to you to decide when you feel enough.
Since you are moving your own mental body to a part of your own physical body, it is relatively easy for you to connect your awareness to the particular astral matrix of the organ or body part and sense what it feels. This is why the lessons in transference of consciousness begin with your own body and THEN progress, in Step Four, to transferring your consciousness to external objects and beings. Once you have mastered this technique within your own body, it is then easier to do the same sort of projection outward into foreign bodies.
4) Why is it advised that I should neither dynamically accumulate nor condense the vital energy into my heart and brain?
The electric nature of the vital energy is such that it interferes with the electrical functioning of both heart and brain. Thus it is unwise to accumulate an energy or Element into them. A passive accumulation or bathing of these organs is safe because there is no actual build-up of the energy/Element. Likewise, it is safe to accumulate a dynamic charge into the entire head or chest area, since there is no build-up in the brain or heart alone -- in other words, the accumulation is spread throughout the region and not focused solely upon the organ itself.
Addendum to Step Tree --
At the end of Step Three, Bardon introduces the student to the magical use of the faculties gained from the pursuit of the exercises to date. This is a very important juncture in the development of a magician and careful consideration should be given before proceeding in these endeavors.
Of greatest import to the further ascent of the magician is the personal morality or code of ethics that the magician adheres to. As Bardon warns, "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." A magician who wishes to rise steadily must sow only the seeds of goodness and compassion -- anything else will stunt the magician's growth and severely limit their rise. This is simply an inviolable law of Nature, a way in which the higher Mysteries protect themselves.
Hidden within Bardon's words regarding the use of one's magical faculties, is a valuable technique which should not be overlooked by the student. This is the technique of drawing the vital energy directly from the universe and instilling it into any object, person or space, without first passing it through the magician's own body. In healing work, this is the preferred method in that it avoids any negative impact upon the magician's being (by passing the vital energy first through one's own body, a subtle connection with a patient's disease is established).
The student should, by now, be able to design their own regimen of exercises that will develop the ability to draw the vital energy directly from the universe and into any object, etc. Please do not neglect to do so as the benefits will far outweigh the effort required.
Read through this section with care and devise your own ways to use the magical faculties you have spent so much effort to achieve. The options available to you are nearly limitless and making use of your abilities will only improve them. Be creative and inventive and remember to ALWAYS adhere to your moral code.
1) In the room impregnation or the impregnation of an object, should I use the same gold-tinged vital energy that I used in Step Two?
This depends upon the purpose of your impregnation and upon the type of object you are impregnating. If your impregnation is to effect the health of a living thing, then use the gold-tinged vital energy. If your impregnation is meant to transfer a specific idea, then you are relying only upon the Akasha principle of the vital energy and it matters little which type you use. If you are impregnating an inanimate object, such as a crystal sphere, then the type you use will depend upon your purpose -- if your purpose is to effect other inanimate objects, then use the pure-white type, but if it is to effect living matter, then use the gold-tinged type. This may sound confusing, but really, with practice, it will become clear.
2) These things (room impregnation, etc.) are all very interesting but do I really have to practice them?
No, you don't HAVE to, but I'll tell you now that you will do well to, at the very least, familiarize yourself with these techniques. How you use your magic is entirely in your hands. Nonetheless, these are valuable techniques that you will need to master before progressing to the following Steps. Once you've mastered them, it matters little whether you decide to use them constantly in your magical practice -- the only thing that matters at this juncture is that you master them.