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By Franz Bardon

(Commentator's) INTRODUCTION --

Writing this commentary upon Franz Bardon's third book, "The Key to the True Quabbalah" (KTQ), has been a struggle of sorts for me.  In the past, I have been extremely reticent to discuss the actual practice of this Art openly.  To me, kabbalah is a very sacred thing and it pains me to see how often it is misunderstood and its concepts abused.  So I have historically refused to say too much about it for fear of promoting the sort of disrespect that is everywhere rampant.

Yet many have asked, quite sincerely and respectfully, for some insight or at least some guidance toward a truer understanding.  So I have been torn between, on the one hand, wanting to oblige the sincere student, and on the other hand, maintaining the integrity of this sacred tradition. 

On the occasions that I have written about kabbalah, my thoughts have been met with an interesting variety of reactions.  For some, my ideas were too radical, especially for those involved with the Western Hermetic sort of kabbalah popularized by the likes of the Golden Dawn.  The reason for this discomfort is that I speak openly about how the Western understanding of kabbalah is so very different from the original Jewish tradition, and this is usually perceived as a criticism and a personal affront.  In other words, to most Western Hermetic kabbalists, I'm too Jewish in my approach.  And unfortunately, to most Jewish kabbalists, I'm too Western in my approach!  ;-)

I recognize that my understanding of kabbalah is neither strictly Jewish nor Christian.  In fact, my study of kabbalah has not been shaped by any specific religious perspective -- I am neither a Jew nor a Christian.  I am an Hermetic, through and through, and my analysis is thus unhindered by religious dogma.  Granted, my understanding also lacks something that only someone who has been raised in Judaism can achieve with Jewish Kabbalah, but then again, it matches that lack, point for point, by the fact that I am thus able to view kabbalah from a variety of perspectives freely. 

Even though my understanding of kabbalah is not a religious one, this Art is no less sacred to me and I am no less protective of its essential truth, than is a Rabbi who has spent his or her life immersed in its study.

With these things in mind, I grappled with the idea of writing a commentary upon Bardon's KTQ.  Should I say all of what I want to say, or should I, instead, increase the confusion and protect these sacred mysteries from those who would treat them as playthings?  Seeking some counsel in this regard, I conferred with my inner guidance and sought out the spirit of Franz Bardon.  From this experience I received clear permission to follow the middle course.  Thus I will say what I want to say, but I will also leave some things unsaid that are truly the responsibility of the magician to discover for themselves.  As Bardon points out, anything that one can say or write about kabbalah will mean nothing to one who is unprepared to understand it.  Ultimately, these mysteries protect themselves.

Throughout the writing of this commentary, I sought out the guidance of the spirit of Franz Bardon.  Each time that I sat down to write, I touched my favorite photo of Franz until I felt the appropriate tingle up and down my spine that indicated contact, and then I asked that he guide me to write something truly useful to the student of Hermetics.  I feel that I have accomplished this and hope that you will feel the same.

Prior to beginning the actual writing, I had expected my commentary to be rather brief, but as it turns out, this commentary rivals my IIH commentary in length and thoroughness.

Like my own, Bardon's Quabbalah is neither strictly Jewish nor strictly Western Hermetic.  Bardon blends a Jewish understanding with an essentially Western Hermetic methodology.  His correspondences come directly from the Sepher Yetzirah and some of his techniques mirror the works of ancient Jewish kabbalists, but the remainder of his approach is Western.  What is most new in Bardon's KTQ is his explanation of how one makes a word truly a matter of kabbalistic speech.  Never before has this been so plainly stated.  This same technique is hinted at in the Sepher Yetzirah, but it is done in so symbolic a language as to be hidden from view.  Bardon however, explains this mystery much more plainly and in terms comprehensible to the modern reader.

At the same time, Bardon leaves certain things unsaid that I think the sincere student will benefit from reading.  Primarily, these have to do with the relevance of kabbalistic cosmology or philosophy; explaining the sequence of truly kabbalistic "formation" or at least relating Bardon's sequence to that displayed in the Sepher Yetzirah; and, the specifics of what the student just starting out along the path of Hermetics can begin doing in regard to the practical study of kabbalah.  My goal with this specific commentary is to express my thoughts concerning these matters and to encourage the reader to look beneath the layers of frivolous speculation found in most books on the subject of kabbalah, and thus excavate the truth.  You, dear reader, must still do the digging, but I hope the shiny new shovel I'm loaning you will make your labor easier.

[NOTE:  I will be employing the 1986, Third Edition of KTQ, by Dieter Ruggeberg, throughout this commentary.]


(Author's) Introduction:

Bardon begins his introduction with a warning similar to that found in PME.  Namely, that only the person who has done the work of his first book, IIH, is considered properly prepared for the work of KTQ.  Here, he implies that the student must have first mastered the entire ten Steps of IIH, but further on, he modifies this to say that only the first eight Steps must have been mastered.  The truth lies somewhere in between, for the magician who is beginning Step Nine of IIH, can indeed begin the Steps of KTQ, but will not be able to use the second, third and fourth keys until well after completing the tenth Step of IIH.  The first seven Steps of KTQ will likely take just as long to accomplish as the final two Steps of IIH and will, in fact, facilitate the final Steps of IIH and the work of PME. 

Bardon cautions that beginning with KTQ, without having first done the work of IIH and PME would be of little benefit.  This is a very accurate statement since the basic techniques of kabbalah require certain magical abilities that would take longer to learn through this particular practice than through the work of IIH.  Furthermore, the first seven Steps of KTQ prepare the student's own microcosm for truly creative speech, and if the student's microcosm has not already been matured to a certain degree by the work of Hermetics, then this preparation would take, literally, decades to achieve. 

Contrary to popular occultism, where the student begins with supposedly kabbalistic practices immediately, in the Jewish tradition from which kabbalah arises, this is a very late study.  One must at least master Torah and Talmud as a prerequisite to kabbalah.  This translates as decades of study and practice before beginning the work of kabbalah.  It is commonly said that one must be at least 40 years old to begin kabbalah and many have mistaken this as an age requirement.  In truth it is merely a symbolic way of expressing the need for a certain degree of maturity that is usually related to being 40 years old.

Bardon uses the remainder of his introduction to explain that this book is like no other book on kabbalah available.  If you are expecting a book on kabbalistic cosmology, philosophy or on the proper religious observances, you will be sorely disappointed.  Essentially, Bardon uses the term 'kabbalah' to indicate the cosmic language or creative speech, and not the corpus of Jewish kabbalah.  He does however draw upon the Jewish kabbalah, but states that an understanding of kabbalah is not a prerequisite to the practice of creative speech.  While this is true, I would argue that such knowledge surely doesn't hurt and may in fact make all the difference in the ease with which one will ultimately master this Art.

If you are well versed in kabbalistic philosophy, then KTQ will present you with a deeper understanding that will likely cause you to reconsider many of the conclusions you've drawn from your prior studies.  This is especially true if you are familiar with the root document of Jewish kabbalah, know as the "Sepher Yetzirah" (Book of Formation).

Bardon also argues that you do not need to have studied biblical Hebrew in order to master creative speech.  This is true, but is untrue if you wish to understand Jewish kabbalah.  In Jewish kabbalah, the Hebrew Letters are of paramount importance, and English translations of Hebrew are ALWAYS incomplete and lead to misunderstanding.  In this regard, one does not need to be able to speak the Hebrew language, but one must be able to read it and understand its structure, etc.  Without this ability, one can penetrate only so far into the mystery of kabbalah.  Yet even then, there is much in the way of confusion to be navigated since many kabbalistic texts seem to contradict one another.  Needless to say, kabbalah is a difficult and consuming study.

Kabbalistic texts are very similar to Alchemical texts.  Both are cloaked in so dense a symbolism as to be penetrable only by those who already know enough to recognize what the author is speaking about.  Many instances where readers have thought that one author is contradicting another are nothing more than instances where the separate authors are speaking of slightly different perspectives and are not in fact disagreeing with each other.  But there are also many instances where authors do disagree and one must, in these cases, discern which is speaking from direct experience and which is speaking only from theoretical knowledge.  Many books concerning kabbalah have been written by the latter and are completely useless.

[Note:  In my commentary, I will be referring to the Sepher Yetzirah, so if you are not familiar with this text, my comments may be of little use to you.]


The Quabbalah:

Here Bardon briefly explains what distinguishes kabbalah and a kabbalist, from magic and a magician.  Briefly, kabbalah is the cosmic or divine language through which creation was/is enacted.  This is not an intellectual language such as English, French, Chinese, etc.  It is not used for purposes of communication between separate beings.  Instead, it communicates intent and meaning directly into manifest substance, be it mental, astral or physical substance.

The phrase "the word of g-d" should not be taken literally when relating it to kabbalah.  Kabbalah is not based upon the silly idea that some fellow in a white robe and long hair, sat in his throne and spoke a bunch of words, and poof!, the world was created.  This is meant only as a symbolic representation by way of the "as above, so below" law of analogy (i.e., alikeness).  What it represents is the natural descent of spirit (Mind) into matter, which on a cosmic, divine level, occurs outside of time-space (i.e., in eternity). 

Where kabbalah differentiates from magic is that in kabbalah, the connection between intent and manifestation occurs outside of time-space and all the natural processes of descent are bypassed.  With magic, on the other hand, the magician works from within the realm of time-space and the transition from initial intent into manifestation does follow the natural processes of descent.  Only when the magician has succeeded in consciously uniting with the divine, are these natural processes circumvented.  Thus, only one who can truly merge with the divine is capable of kabbalistic speech.  The kabbalist is the highest form of magician.

Yet I should be clear that kabbalistic speech is not the equivalent of the "original" divine creative use of the word.  The "original" (the use of the word 'original' is problematic since this act occurs at a level beyond the realm of time-space) divine creation made "something out of nothing" or "existence out of non-existence", to paraphrase the sages.  Whereas human kabbalistic speech works at the next lower level and makes something new by combining things that already exist.  In other words, we modify the original creation and are a part of its evolution -- we do not make "something out of nothing".

The kabbalist, by way of analogy, connects with the original divine creative force and, through the use of kabbalistically spoken letters, mimics the macrocosmic creativity in a microcosmic manner.  Consequently, only the individual who has achieved the highest level of ethical maturity is capable of true kabbalistic utterance.

To illustrate the student's path into this sacred science, Bardon says: "To achieve this maturity and height of quabbalistic initiation, the theurgist must first learn the letters like a child."  This is born out in the Sepher Yetzirah (S. Y.) which mainly concerns the preparation for true kabbalistic speech.  In the S.Y., one begins by integrating the Sephirot at the most subtle level and then slowly introduces them as progressively denser expressions.  Then one begins "learning" the letters and integrating them into the Sephirotic structure.  Only when the entire structure of Sephirot and letters is built, does one begin using the letters creatively. 

In KTQ, Bardon focuses upon the integration and the use of the letters and mentions the Sephirot only briefly as the ten primal numbers/ideas.  I believe the reason for this is that the work of IIH and PME fairly well accomplishes the integration of the Sephirot in ways equivalent to what the S.Y. describes.

Bardon goes on to state that KTQ does not concern itself with the mantic (predictive) or numerological (in the modern sense) kabbalah so popular in occult literature.  While true kabbalah has nothing to do with these practices, it does have much to do with numbers -- as symbols for ideas.  Hebrew itself has several levels of meaning.  Each letter represents an idea, a numerical value, and a physical sound.

It is important to note that Hebrew numbers are not the same as modern numerals.  In the Hebrew language, the numbers are spelt out and are not shown as integers such as '1', '2', etc.  But when it comes to the individual letters, each has its own value.  For example: Aleph=1, Beth=2, Gimel=3, Yod=10, Kaph=20.  To signify the numerical value and ideological significance of 13, one could combine Gimel and Yod (3+10=13).  However, in Hebrew there is often more than one way to symbolize a specific numerical value.  With 13, one can also use ABY (1+2+10=13), ABGZ (1+2+3+7=13), HCh (5+8=13), DT (4+9=13), GDV (3+4+6=13), etc.  The higher the numerical value, the more options there are for expressing it through letter combinations.  Thus one can express many nuances of meaning depending upon which, and how many, letters one uses.

This doesn't become important until much later in the practice (Step Five: The Ten Quabbalistic Keys) when the fourth pole of the quadrapolar concentration is encountered.  This is where Bardon speaks about the numbers 1 through 10 which represent the ten primordial ideas underlying the creation.  What Bardon leaves out is the manner in which these 10 ideas relate to the letters themselves.

Man as Quabbalist:

This is a lovely essay on what it means to be a kabbalist.  Bardon says more here than actually meets the eye, but this, I think, would be apparent only to one who truly understands the path of the kabbalist. 

One passage I'd like to elaborate upon is where Bardon writes: "The functioning and working between body, soul and spirit comes to pass automatically with every human being, no matter whether he has been initiated into the secrets of hermetic science or not.  For the quabbalist this is the multiplication table: he knows all the processes and is therefore able to arrange his life in accordance with the universal laws."

This says two important things.  One is that the natural processes, which are generally subconscious in the average person, are conscious and willful within the kabbalist.  Second is that these processes, developed into conscious faculties, are the material that the kabbalist works with (the "multiplication table").  This means that the kabbalist must first integrate the multipliers (the Letters and numbers) into their own three bodies, and then, in the act of kabbalistic speech, project these attributes from within themselves, outwards.  It is this projection outwards from within that establishes the connection with the divine creative word.

Therefore, the kabbalist must be conscious of their three bodies (mental, astral and physical) at a most intimate level and must also be able to manifest the universal qualities within them.  In KTQ, this is accomplished (assuming that the student has indeed worked through at least the eighth Step of IIH) through the work of Steps One through Five.  Steps One through Four build the universal qualities into the initiate's three bodies.  Step Five introduces the fourth pole of the quadrapolar concentration -- the numbers -- which further integrates and orders the universal qualities.  Only then is the initiate truly prepared for the first key of kabbalistic speech.

Another passage I would like to note is:  "The genuine quabbalist thus is a representative of the Creation, but he remains the most obedient servant of the universal laws, the more he becomes an initiate, the humbler he is towards Divine Providence.  He is, indeed in possession of the greatest power, yet he will never use his power for his own purposes, but only for the welfare of mankind."

Many have sought the knowledge and use of the true kabbalah merely for the purpose of gaining great power, but none of these have succeeded.  This will always be the case.  Part of the Mystery is that in order to achieve this high a degree of initiation, one naturally outgrows all petty desires.  Another part of the Mystery is that power this great is bound by the universal laws and can never violate those laws.  In other words, even if the kabbalist could wish to use this art for a mundane purpose, he or she would not be able to.

I would like for you to carefully think about the deeper significance of this.  Consider for a moment all of the truly horrific things that occur in our world daily.  Throughout every moment of our human existence, these things have been occurring to one degree or another.  Simultaneously, there have always been individuals among us who have wielded the great power of the creative word or kabbalistic speech, any one of which would, in theory, have had the power to rectify these tragedies.  But herein is another part of the Mystery -- they have not rectified these wrongs because this would violate the universal lawfulness.  The kabbalist does not work 'against the darkness'; instead, the kabbalist works 'for the Light'.  There is a difference here that should be carefully considered, for the kabbalist realizes that the darkness is just as lawful a thing as is the Light.

One final comment for this section concerns the passage: "On the way to perfection there should not be any haste.  Everything takes time and needs the necessary maturity for its perfection."

I know of at least one group who is taking the KTQ and having their novices (folks with little or no magical training) begin the practices with the tripolar concentration exercises.  I think this and similar approaches arise out of a basic impatience with the prospect of a long magical development.  This is a great failing in our modern world for it misses so much of the richness of life and especially of magic.  Truly, someone who approaches kabbalah in this manner looks forward to decades, if not lifetimes, more effort than one who begins with IIH.  But there is little that can be said to dissuade this approach -- how many of us as children truly listened to our elders? 

For those of you who are willing to listen to your elders, then please do heed Bardon's words and take your time.  Starting with KTQ before you've passed through the work of IIH is The Longest Way.  Truly, the shorter, quicker Way is to do the work of IIH first.  Even so, the true kabbalist will still take lifetimes to reach perfection -- but don't short-change yourself since many who come to this work with a serious intention have already spent lifetimes along The Way.  To the kabbalist -- one who has attained an eternal perspective -- time is of no concern.

The Laws of Analogy:

The difference between an intellectual understanding of the laws of analogy and a magical understanding is significant.  The magician not only knows the laws intellectually but also experientially.  The work of IIH integrates the macrocosmic laws directly into the magician's own microcosm.  This is what enables the magician to actually manipulate those laws.

If you have not read the seminal document known as "The Emerald Tablet of Hermes", then I suggest that you do so since it forms much of the basis of the Hermetic approach.  It is from the "Emerald Tablet" that the oft repeated phrase "As above, so below; as below, so above" is derived.  This is the most rudimentary statement of the law of analogy.

In kabbalistic cosmology, this is found in the doctrine of emanation.  Accordingly, Kether (the highest, primordial Sephirot) contains within itself the remaining nine Sephirot, in a state of unrealized potential.  Each successive Sephirot contains both the realization of those that precede it and the potential for those that follow.  Thus the universal qualities exist throughout every level of the creation either in potential or in manifestation.

Bardon mentions "chaos" in passing but I'd like to comment further.  To say that there is no such thing as chaos is, on the one hand, an accurate statement, but on the other hand it doesn't afford any insight into why people think that such a state exists.  Chaos is a term that expresses a certain degree of ignorance and merely identifies a state of existence that supersedes time-space (i.e., sequence).  In the eternal realm, things exist without the ordering of sequence and from the normal human sequentialized perspective, this realm appears chaotic.  This is because, as sequentialized beings, we have no reference points by which to understand the non-sequentialized realm.  Chaos exists only in the minds of humans.

Next, Bardon refers to the "Sepher Yetzirah" and I must say a few things in this regard.  The S.Y. does not speak of the "original" creation -- it speaks of the "formation".  This is a bit complex so please bear with me while I explain. 

In the kabbalistic cosmology, there are four "Worlds".  The first world is called "Atziluth" and this is the "original" archetype within which all the manifest universe exists in a state of unrealized potential. 

The second world is called "Briah" (creation) and this is the "original" creation.  The book (sepher) that describes this phase (in VERY symbolic terms) is the first chapter of Genesis (i.e., the creation story).  It is from this passage of the Torah that the "32 Paths of Wisdom" were derived (from the 32 times that the Name "Elohim" is mentioned).  At the stage of "creation", the entire universe exists as manifest, yet un-realized, potential.  This is the nadir of the non-sequentialized realm, known commonly as "chaos".

The third world, known as "Yetzirah" (formation), is the concern of the S. Y.  At this stage, the lower mental and higher astral aspects of the universe are manifest AND realized.  It is this level of "formation" that the kabbalist employs, but in order to employ formation, the kabbalist must first achieve a Briatic level of consciousness.  This Briatic consciousness is the same as union with divinity.  Creation, whether it be divine or mundane, is always a downward/outward projection of self.  Thus it is from the higher level of the Briatic/creative consciousness that one engages in "formation".

The fourth world of the kabbalist is "Assiah" (making).  This encompasses the lower astral at its apex and the material realm at its nadir.  The S.Y. does not refer to "making", but only to "forming".  Yet from our normal Assiatic perspective, "formation" is "creation". 
The S.Y. refers to "formation" but this is also the first step in "making".  Bardon draws out what the S.Y. has to offer the kabbalist and extends it into the realm of "making".  This is what I meant earlier when I said that the S.Y. concerns mainly the preparation for true kabbalistic speech.

It is important, when considering these four worlds and the four types of creation, to understand that the realms of Atziluth and Briah exist outside of time-space, so these creative acts do not occur in any sequence.  In other words, it is not proper to say that they "did" occur or in what sequence.  Much time and intellect has been wasted trying to specify which part of the "original" creation occurred first, second, third, etc.  The "original" creation occurred all at once.

The levels of Yetzirah (formation) and Assiah (making) on the other had, do occur with sequence and are what constitute the realm of time and space.  This is the level at which the kabbalist works.

In closing this section, Bardon mentions the analogies pertaining to the letters and numbers, without going into any detail.  In fact, no where in KTQ does he explain the numerical analogies of the letters.  I presume it is because of space considerations and the fact that it is up to the student to investigate these things on their own.  Further on, I will be providing the numerical corollaries for most of the letters Bardon uses based upon their relationship to the established numerical values of the Hebrew Letters.  There are however, similar numerical systems in existence for the English, Greek and Latin alphabets that run contrary to the one I will provide.  It is my contention that Bardon's kabbalah relies upon the Hebrew analogies and not upon these more recent developments. 

Where number comes into play in KTQ is with the fourth pole of the quadrapolar concentration.  Bardon is a bit vague about this, but basically the fourth pole is the ideation conveyed through number.  This must be taken into consideration because it is the final key that unlocks the universal lawfulness and allows for material effectiveness.  The four poles are: Fire/Color, Air/Tone, Water/Feeling, and Earth/Number.  Each pole is part of the complete analogy of each letter.  Only when all four poles are perfectly integrated is true kabbalistic speech possible.

Esoterics of the Letters:

Here Bardon delves a little more deeply into the analogy of the letters which form kabbalistic speech.  Yet still he gives no specific corollaries.

One thing the reader must understand is that these analogies are not applied to mundane words, or as Bardon puts it, intellectual language.  It does little good to examine the analogies to the letters that compose the English word "dog".  The analogies have no relationship to the meaning of this word since it is only an intellectual word and not a kabbalistically composed word.

It may be difficult to comprehend exactly what significance letters may have in terms of actual creation.  To do so, one must distance oneself from taking the concept too literally.  Do not assume that "god" literally spoke a language in the human sense and thus effected the creation.  But as a symbolic statement, it bears close examination.

In human terms, speech is our primary form of communication.  Through language we externalize an inner meaning and through this expression we give this inner meaning shape and some degree of concrete manifestation.  With kabbalistic speech, each letter or group of letters expresses a specific idea or meaning that we wish to externalize and bring into manifestation.  The letters act as a conduit for this particular meaning. 

Now, meaning is no simple thing, especially the expression of it, so we combine the atoms of meaning (the individual letters) and form more complex molecules (words), then we put these molecules together to form concrete substance.  Furthermore, each letter is expressed in each one of the three realms (mental, astral and physical), giving it even more depth of meaning -- fleshing it out, as it were.  Ultimately, the kabbalistic language can encompass a truly infinite variety of meanings.  This is what transpired with the "original" creation which is infinite.

Analogy is a microcosmic thing.  In other words, at a macrocosmic level there is no need for analogy since all meaning exists directly in its raw or primordial form.  It is only in the expression of meaning that requires analogy.

Thus the analogy or esoterics of the letters mimics the divine creative expression in human terms.  And since we are humans, we use letters kabbalistically to creatively express our inner meaning.

Bardon mentions the analogy between the ten fingers and toes of the human body, and the ten primordial ideas that serve as the foundation of the manifest universe.  In the kabbalistic cosmology of the S. Y_ however, there are more analogies than just this drawn between the human form and the cosmic form.  For example, there are three (the number of kabbalistic Elements) "Mothers in the breath filled soul": head, womb, and respiring chest.  There are seven (the number of planets) "apertures in the breath filled soul": two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, and the mouth.  There are twelve (the number of the zodiac) "directors in the breath filled soul": two hands, esophagus, stomach, spleen, liver, intestines, gall, two kidneys, and two feet.

Thus we find that each letter also corresponds to a body part, while the ten primordial ideas or Sephirot correspond to the fingers (positive) and the toes (negative). 

As an aside, I think it is important to note at this point that in the S.Y. there are only three Elements, expressed through the "Mother Letters".  These Elements also correspond to the three Hermetic realms of Mental, Astral and Physical. 
The uppermost Element is Fire, represented by the Hebrew Letter Shin.  This roughly corresponds to the Mental realm.  The middle Element is Air, represented by the Hebrew Letter Aleph, which corresponds to the Astral realm.  The lower Element is Water, represented by the Hebrew Letter Mem, corresponding to the lower Astral and Physical realms.  In the Genesis, chapter one, creation story, the Shin/Fire is referred to as the "upper Waters", and the Mem/Water as the "lower Waters".  Needless to say, the Hermetic conception of the Elements and realms differs slightly from that of the Hebrew kabbalists.

The idea of Earth as an Element comes later in the development of kabbalistic philosophy and can be seen, in an obscure way, in the arrangement of the "32 Paths of Wisdom" tradition.  Here, Aleph/Air is the eighth Path, Mem/Water is the sixteenth Path, Shin/Fire is the twenty-fourth Path, and Tav/Earth is the thirty-second Path.  Thus each Element is a multiplication of the number eight, and this, in an esoteric manner, signifies that the Letter Tav corresponds to the Element Earth.

One can also draw parallels between the four kabbalistic worlds and the four realms of the Hermetic.  Thus: Atziluth=Akasha, Briah=Mental, Yetzirah=Astral, and Assiah=Physical.  Of course these are rather loose associations, but they are close enough for the purposes of this present work.

The Cosmic Language:

Here Bardon clarifies the difference between the cosmic language of kabbalah and that spoken between non-corporeal beings such as the beings of the Elements and of the various planes.  This latter, Bardon calls the "metaphorical language".  Simply put, it is a matter of quadrapolarity versus monopolarity.  Each being speaks with the single pole of its realm, whereas the cosmic language is spoken with all four poles simultaneously.  Thus the metaphorical language is not creative throughout the whole cosmos as is the quadrapolar language. 

Only a being capable of uniting itself consciously with deity can achieve a quadrapolarity akin to deity, and thus speak creatively.  This may be difficult to comprehend, but the key to it is that we are beings which span the entire gambit of creation.  We are composed, in the terminology of metaphysics, in the divine image and thus we are able to untie ourselves consciously with the whole of the creation.  A being of one of the higher, non-corporeal planes, is not able to encompass the whole of the creation since it cannot truly encompass the physical realm.  We are unique in this regard.  Which is not to say that we humans are the only corporeal beings capable of this, but rather, that only a corporeal being of a certain basic structure is capable of this.  In other words, there are other physical, non-human beings capable of quadrapolar expression.

The Magic-Quabbalistic Word -- Tetragrammaton:

Bardon's explanation of the Tetragrammaton ("four-part word") is problematic for a number of reasons.  The most glaring of which is his association of the individual Letters to the Elements.  Unfortunately it is a bit more complex than Bardon implies.  Please bear with me as I try to better explain the significance of the YHVH.

First of all, YHVH is "unpronounceable" because it has never been given vowel points in the Hebrew language.  It is the vowel points that make a Hebrew word utterable.  [All of the Hebrew Letters are consonants which require separate figures called "vowel points" in order for them to be spoken.]  This tradition arose out of the esoteric idea that this is The Name of g-d, and as such, it deserves the utmost respect.  Therefore, it is never spoken aloud -- except in kabbalistic speech

A Jew reading aloud from the Torah will never vocalize YHVH.  Instead, the word Adonai (ADNI = "lord") is substituted.  Later renderings of YHVH, such as the Christian Jehovah or the modern Yaweh, are merely inaccurate conveniences of intellectual language and have no true power. 

The fact that YHVH is not vocalizable presents difficulties when the Torah is translated into another language.  Most often the word "lord" or simply "god" is used, but in the Hebrew Torah, the YHVH is very important.  YHVH is often combined with other indicative terms such as ADNI or ALHIM or TzBAVTh, and in each case will mean something different.

There are kabbalistic practices, such as those of Abraham Abulafia, which do speak the YHVH by inserting vowel points, but this relies upon quadrapolar, kabbalistic speech and is not a matter of intellectual language. 

Now, regarding Bardon's association of the Elements to the Letters of YHVH, his attributions as given are profoundly incorrect.  I cannot explain why this is so other than to suggest that the difficulties with the manuscript that the publisher notes may be a contributing factor.  I don't imagine that Bardon so misunderstood as to have really believed what is printed in KTQ.

At any rate, Bardon puts the correspondences as follows: Y=Fire, H=Air, Vav=Water, and the final H=Earth.  In reality the correspondences should read: Y=Fire, H=Water, V=Air, and the final H=Earth.  Yet even this is a twisting of the deeper meaning.  It is convenient for the Hermetic, but it is not strictly accurate from a kabbalistic perspective.

In the S.Y., 1:13 it says: "He chose three letters from among the Elementals, in the Mystery of the three Mothers: Aleph, Mem, and Shin.  And He set them in His Great Name."  Thus, through a few twists of esoteric logic, Y=Shin/Fire, H=Mem/Water, and V=Aleph/Air.  As in the Genesis, chapter one, creation story, where there are upper and lower Waters, the H of YHVH serves in two capacities, and at the end it signifies the Element Earth and the nadir of the lower Waters.

From an Hermetic standpoint, the YHVH represents the sequence of the Elements thus:  First the two primordial polarities of Fire and Water come into existence -- Y & H.  This is followed by the product of the polarization, Air, the mediating influence -- V.  The final interaction of Fire and Water, through the continuum of Air, results in coherent manifestation, Earth -- the final H.  Since this is 'Form', it is more akin to Water, thus it is represented by the letter H.

When working with the YHVH kabbalistically per Bardon, the Y=Akashic realm, H=Mental realm, V=Astral realm, and the final H=Physical realm.

Thus Bardon uses the YHVH to signify both the quadrapolar concentration pertaining to the four Elements, and the four realms within which the kabbalist must work.

Toward the end of this section, Bardon mentions the Shemhamphorash.  For clarity's sake, I should point out that this Name is not composed of 72 letters as Bardon infers.  Rather, it is composed of 72 three-letter names, which in combination make up the 72-Fold Name.  The shemhamphorash is derived from three lines, containing 72 letters each, found in Exodus and which, with a little trickery, are broken down into 72 three-letter groups.  This belongs to the third key and is seldom used in its total as a 216th key conglomerate.

The Mantras:
The Tantras:

Since these two sections really have nothing to do with kabbalah and since I know little of either, I will not comment upon them.

Magic Formulas:

Here Bardon clarifies the difference between the common magic formulas such as "Abracadabra", which fill many popular books, and those referred to later as kabbalistic formulae.  Kabbalistic formulae are nothing other than the Letters spoken in a kabbalistic, quadrapolar manner, either singly or in combination.  The lesser magic formulas, are not of the same ilk and their effectiveness, if any, comes from either the entity involved or from a volt built up by repeated use. 

Theory of Quabbalistic Mysticism:

Bardon makes the point that over the centuries, many mystical writings have been misinterpreted; either taken too literally or not literally enough.  This is very much the case with kabbalah and each student must wrestle with the interpretation of these ancient writings.  What Bardon offers in the following sections on practice, seems to cut through this confusion and penetrates to the heart of the matter.

I will now diverge a bit from the thread Bardon is developing in this section and will concentrate on a few matters that I think are important to the student of the true kabbalah.

As I mentioned previously, Bardon speaks of a quadrapolar concentration: Fire/Color, Air/Tone, Water/Feeling and Earth/Legality (Number).  With this quadrapolar concentration, the kabbalist must work tripolarly: Mentally, Astrally and Physically.  In other words, one uses the quadrapolar concentration within each of these three realms, through one's own three bodies, simultaneously.  This is similar to the Alchemical philosophy which posits three philosophical principles (Mercury, Sulphur and Salt) and four Elements (Fire, Air, Water and Earth).

When Bardon mentions the uttering of a kabbalistic letter, he speaks of three phases or modes: mental or silent, whispering, and aloud.  The first is effective only upon the mental plane and occurs solely within the mind of the kabbalist.  The second mode, whispering, occurs aloud but with only the breath and mind, and without any vibration of the vocal cords.  This is effective only upon the astral plane.  The third mode, aloud, involves mind, breath and vibration of the vocal cords, and is effective upon the physical plane. 

When uttering a letter kabbalistically, whether with mind, breath or vibration of the vocal cords, great care must be taken in pronouncing only the letter involved and not the vowels associated with the common pronunciation of the consonants.  For example, when we pronounce the letter 'B', we say "bee".  This means that we pronounce both the consonant 'B' and the vowel 'E'.  In kabbalistic speech however, only the 'B' itself is to be pronounced.

In kabbalah, the consonants are divided into groups according to the way in which they are formed in the mouth:

Dentals: Z, S, Sh, R, Tz
Palatals: G, I, K, Q
Gutterals: A, Ch, H, O
Linguals: D, T, L, N, Th
Labials: B, V, M, P

The vowels, on the other hand, do not fit into any of these groups and are therefore of an entirely different nature, dependant only upon breath and the shape of the mouth, etc.

The best way to understand these consonantal groupings is to carefully practice with each letter in a whispering mode.  Once you have mastered the correct pronunciation with breath alone, then integrate the vibration of the vocal cords.  As you work with the various letters, you will notice that some are explosive and of short duration, such as the 'K' or the 'T' sounds, and others can be extended, such as the 'S' or the 'R' sounds.  The vowels, of course, can also be extended to the limit of the breath.
Each of these features correspond to the meaning of the letters and must be mastered before one begins the actual practice of the quadrapolar concentration.  This is especially important when speaking them mentally.  As anyone who has done the work of IIH will know, the exact sound must be reproduced in the imagination.

True kabbalistic speech is a very complex matter.  First there is the quadrapolar concentration, then the tripolar action, then the placement or projection of the letter into the appropriate realm, and then the actual pronunciation of the letter as noted above.  All of which must occur simultaneously. 

The question will arise as to where Bardon got his correspondences and why there are other sets of correspondences that seem to contradict these.  For example, there is a system of colors used in the Golden Dawn and its derivatives known as the "Scale of colors for the four worlds".  These colors have absolutely no relationship to those offered by Bardon yet they are an effective scheme.

Essentially, there are many such valid systems and what Bardon offers here is merely one such.  However, it is important to understand that each of these systems nets a different result.  Similar to mathematics, different components result in a different sum.  For example, the use of the color sky-blue for the letter 'A', combined with the tone 'G', the feeling of 'ease' and the legality of the number 'one', will result in the effect noted by Bardon.  But, if one uses instead, the color 'bright pale-yellow' and the tone 'C' for the same letter, a different effect will result.

Ultimately, there is no absolutely correct correspondence.  But, there is a correct correspondence for each effect one wishes to incur.

The question will also arise as to how one will know if one has achieved the correct color or the correct tonal value.  The key to this is the kabbalist's own intuition.  For example, the correct tone, when achieved will be apparent to the practitioner in much the same way as when one tries to match tone with a song on the radio.  When you reach harmony, it feels right.  Thus it is for the kabbalist when they reach the correct tone or color and the sensation of harmony occurs.  In other words, you will know with certainty when you reach this harmony and if you do not feel this certainty, then you must continue practicing and refining until you do.

For kabbalah to truly reflect the infinite nature of the creation, it must be capable of an infinite variety of expression,  This occurs not only through combination of the letters but also through the infinite variety possible within each letter.  At first the kabbalist learns just one set of correspondences for the letters and then, with long practice, learns a greater variety of expressions for each letter.  This, after all, is an art form, not a science.

Bardon reproduces the equivalent of only 21 of the 22 Hebrew letters -- only the Tav (Th sound) is unaccounted for.  He also lists two letter sounds that are not, strictly speaking, in accord with the Hebrew alephbet -- Bardon's 'J' and 'U'.  Although, Bardon's 'J' may be considered a phonetic aspect of the Hebrew Gimel (in its secondary, soft form) or a symbolic equivalent of the Hebrew Tav; and his 'U' may be the equivalent of one of the Hebrew vowel points.  [At a symbolic level, Bardon's 'U' is most likely Chirik and I have indicated it thus in the upcoming charts that you will encounter in my discussion of Step I.]

Bardon lists only 27 letter sounds, but there are many more, all of which have creative value when spoken kabbalistically.  But in practice, at least in the beginning, this is unimportant.

Towards the end of this section, Bardon writes the following: "It corresponds with the construction of genuine quabbalah, of true quabbalistic mysticism, that these four basic qualities of the spirit [i.e., the quadrapolar concentration] be first kept apart by the quabbalist to enable him later to project a letter, with its powers and analogies, practically into the spheres of the spirit, the soul and the physical matter within himself and outside of himself, now using all four basic qualities of the spirit."  What this rather long sentence means is that the training must by necessity occur in parts and each part must be developed fully and separately before they can be effectively combined.  Thus Bardon follows the same pattern as he does in IIH of gradual and balanced training.  The student learns the speaking of all 27 letters, integrating one pole at a time, and once each letter is mastered, the four poles of a letter are then combined kabbalistically as the first, single-letter key.  Then, once the quadrapolar use of all the single letters is mastered, within the mental, astral and physical realms, the student begins to work with the second, two-letter key, etc. 

Quabbalistic Magic:

Here Bardon defines the difference between the preparatory work of kabbalistic mysticism and true kabbalistic magic.  By kabbalistic magic he means the actual kabbalistic speech.  By kabbalistic mysticism, he means the work of IIH and that of the first five Steps of KTQ.  This latter prepares the three bodies of the kabbalist and integrates the universal qualities to such an extent that they may then be used creatively.  This process utterly transforms the entire being of the kabbalist and makes of her or him a true reflection of the macrocosm.

Bardon states the following: "To speak quabbalistically means to create something out of nothing."  This is not strictly accurate although Bardon does not mean it to be taken absolutely literally.  As I hinted previously, only once was "something made from nothing" and that was during the 'original' creation of the macrocosm.  The kabbalist however, works within the microcosm and therefore merely reshuffles the already established "something" into new forms.  Figuratively speaking, this seems like making something out of nothing, but strictly speaking it is not the same.  It is important that the student of kabbalah realize this from the outset otherwise there is danger of self-delusion.  The kabbalist is only the agent of Divine Providence, not the fullness of Divine Providence herself.

Near the end of this section Bardon makes the following, somewhat premonitory, statement:  "It is reserved to Divine Providence alone to decide whether I shall be allowed to publish systematically any further keys relating to the micro- and macrocosm.  This, of course, depends, above all, on the question of how much longer I shall have to remain on this planet." 

Shortly after the writing of this book, Bardon was incarcerated for the final time and eventually died in prison.  His statement gives us an interesting insight into this amazing person.  One thing it tells us is that he declined the available knowledge of his own fate.  In other words, he chose to not know his exact future even though such knowledge was readily available to him.

I suspect that what we have of KTQ is a first draft of a manuscript that Bardon had hoped to refine.  It certainly has its rough spots, and as Dieter Ruggeberg notes, the original manuscript no longer exists.  There are parts of KTQ that, on the surface, contradict other parts -- although these seeming contradictions resolve themselves with further study -- and there are some passages where it seems Bardon tried out several ways of saying a certain thing and thus repeated himself.  All of these things would, I presume, have been rectified in a rewriting of the text.

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Rawn's Commentaries

English Translation

Introductory Material

Initiation Into Hermetics

Introduction & Theory

Step One   

Step Three   

Step Five     

Step Seven   

Step Nine     

Step Two

Step Four

Step Six

Step Eight

Step Ten

The Practice of Magical Evocation


The Key to the True Quabbalah

Introduction & Theory

Steps I through V

Steps VI through XII