Copyright (C) 1998 by William Mistele. All rights reserved. 

Initiation into Hermetics, Chapter 1, Magic Psychic Training: Mirrors of the Soul

There are four parts to this exercise.  You summarize in a diary all the
"bad sides of your soul."  These include all bad habits, deficiencies,
weaknesses of character and temperament, failings, passions, and negative
aspects of yourself. 
  Second, assign each fault to one of the four elements or as indifferent. 
Third, rate each fault on three levels as to its degree of difficulty. 
Fourth, repeat the first three steps for the positive side of yourself as
      This exercise relates to attaining a magical equilibrium within the
astral body.  I followed this exercise exactly as Bardon laid it out. This
seemed to work fairly well for me since I tend to analyze things and I
like to describe behaviors.  I spent a lot of time on it.  I was not very
happy with my results, however.  Every time I think I understand my astral
body something new comes bubbling up from the depths which defies all
analysis.  It is only lately that I am beginning to understand how the
elements work on the astral plane. 
   Bardon's approach in this matter, however, follows some traditions in
the Western world which do ascribe psychological traits to the four
elements.  The air element for example is sanguine, casual, friendly,
cheerful, welcoming, curious, sometimes over familiar, at ease, balanced,
and so forth.  Earth is solid, stable, enduring, hard working,
persevering, and practical.  The earth element emphasizes attaining real,
physical results.  The fire element is energetic, dynamic, bright and
shiny, intense and earnest, etc. The water element is sensitive, caring,
empathic, giving, nurturing, etc. .
   This approach follows astrology fairly closely so you could just as
easily branch off into a study of yourself in terms of your natal chart. 
Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius relate to the air element though as signs of
the zodiac they each contain a host of qualities.  Gemini is
straightforward and direct, down to earth, but still curious and loves
communication on practical matters.  Libra is balanced in really enjoying
connecting to others in ways which are mutually satisfying. Libra adapts
like air to a situation seeking to retain freedom while also being closely
connected.  Aquarius is like the sky.  It seeks overviews and the great
picture of what is going on.  Like air, it craves harmony and like air it
seeks to serve universal, wide-ranging ideals and purposes.
  So, in this sense, working on oneself in terms of self-analysis of the
four elements in one's soul has a lot in common with astrology.  Some
Bardon students simply convert the mirrors of the soul into studies of
astrology.  Astrologers do not usually, however, say to you that if you
have a lot of fire you need to work on the zodiac signs pertaining to
water and so forth.  They do not tell you to integrate your natal chart so
you in effect create four grand triunes through your own psychological
   I once met an extremely talented astrologer who did a marvelous
interpretation of my natal chart and progressions.  I told her she should
counsel people like therapists who meet regularly with a client over a
long period of time.  She did not understand.  For her, her job was done
once she had conveyed the information.  But this information has to be
applied.  It takes a lot of work to use the knowledge so something comes
of it. 
    For example, I have an Aquarius Mar direct opposition to a Leo Pluto
in my natal chart.  It doesn't really do a lot for me when the astrologer
says, "You will always find yourself opposed by institutions and
individuals with great power.  They represent tradition, authority, and
order.  You represent vision, freedom, and creativity.  This conflict will
remain with you your entire life.  It will be your greatest challenge and
also a source of extreme frustration." 
   I could put that down in my magic notebook as a high caliber problem
with the fire element.  Within me, there is a kind of plutonic fire
burning which involves great power on nearly a cosmic dimension.  At the
same time, a Mars Pluto opposition also gives me a direct link into the
minds of those with great power.  I can read their thoughts and understand
the weaknesses within their systems and within their wills. 
    There is a personal component to this aspect and that relates to
learning to control anger and not getting depressed or obsessed with
things I can not control.  I think this is Bardon's immediate concern in
the mirrors of the soul--to take charge of your own astral body and get to
work on harmonizing and balancing your personality.  But this conflict
remains for me.  It requires specifically that I master the cosmic letter
K which relates to authority and issues governing human and divine power,
magical jurisdiction and spiritual sovereignty. The letter K is a letter
of fire.  It is extremely intense and it rules by virtue of its brightness
and ability to understand whatever it contacts. To master the letter K,
however, requires also that I balance the fire with the other three
elements in equal measure.
   Psychologists are often like astrologers in not asking much of an
individual.  The psychological system which analyzes individual's traits
in terms of thinking/feeling, sensate/intuitive,
administrative/perceiving, and so forth (if I have that right) does not
tell you to work on those qualities you are weak at so you attain a
balance and equilibrium. Psychologists are not that aggressive nor do they
conceive of a master plan for spiritual development.  But this is
precisely what Bardon does conceive of and so he asks you to spend some
time trying to make sense of the elements at the beginning of your work.
Obviously, it would help if we had a number of books relating to the
elements and the psychologies of transformation associated with them and
this will come fairly quickly I hope.
   There is somewhat of a gap in Bardon's first book on Initiation when it
comes to the elements.  He mentions the qualities of the elements and
magic mirrors at the beginning. And he has the student work on condensing
the four elements within himself fairly early on.  Around chapter 6 he has
the student meditate on the four elemental qualities on the mental
plane--feeling, thinking, will, and consciousness.  And then at the end of
the book he has the student begin meeting the elementals and also working
with the four divine aspects of the four elements--immortality,
omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence.
    This leaves a lot of work to be done on connecting the energies of the
elements in the personality to those of divinity.  And also a student has
to figure out how the elemental energies themselves exist as a continuum
between our everyday personality experiences and our experiences with the
four elements on the inner planes and as aspects of Divine Providence.
   In my stories with the elemental beings, my interactions with Bardon's
elementals often lead into discussions of what it is like to feel and
think and perceive as an elemental being.  I know individuals who on
occasion act like a sylph or a salamander or a gnome.  There is an overlap
between the astral bodies of human beings and elemental beings and I
continually try to explore that.  To this end, I have written four essays
and meditations on how to find the undine/sylph/gnome/salamander in
yourself.  I use the specific qualities of four elemental beings to assist
me in those essays.
   For example, in meditating with the gnome Erami I work with him on
developing four steps for mastering his aura.  I happen to like that
approach.  It is kind of shamanistic.  It involves increasing your
attentiveness to the land where you live.  Some of the etheric energy in
the land then makes its way into your aura.  You begin to feel a part of
the earth the way a gnome like Erami does.  This results in a feeling of
well-being and of being grounded. 
    I have already met individuals who have Erami's sense of well-being. 
I have kept an eye on them and communicated with them for decades watching
how they live their lives and how they think and feel.  But until I worked
with Erami on this inner peace I have not seen anything in literature or
psychology which gives me the faintest clue as to how to develop these
qualities in myself.  You could say for me that to balance my magic mirror
I really need to make the elemental beings close friends.  They possess
many of the astral qualities I need in order to feel whole and complete. 
I am extremely grateful for having had the chance to meet so many masters
from different religious traditions.  Yet none of these masters can hold a
candle to the powers and energies which are found in these elementals
mentioned by Bardon as least as far as the astral and etheric planes are
    As is typical in Bardon, you can work with a spirit to master an
energy or quality.  You can also just work with the energy itself without
connecting to a spirit.  In this later case, we are doing a kind of
psychology--we are universalizing our astral body little by little so we
are comfortable with the energies within the natural world around us.  For
example, we can meet loving people.  We can also contemplate divine love
and omnipresence.  But the undines embody an expansive awareness of love
which exists between the human personality and the consciousness of
    We do not need to evoke an undine but the seas of the earth shine with
a magnetic field which has the nature of love.  Sailors do not know about
this.  Theologians and scholars are completely ignorant of this bliss. 
Scientists dismiss the possibility as ridiculous.  Lovers occasionally but
only occasionally encounter ecstasy this rich.  But off and on a poet or a
mystic will gaze upon the ocean and feel in their heart that God's hand
has designed this wonder so that when we are ready we will understand
something of His nature.  You have to understand, that in a galaxy such as
ours it takes perhaps a billion stars to produce a planet this beautiful,
a planet in which the four elements are this rich and this magnificent. 
   My point is that the astral body of a human being is very important. 
We need to understand our own personal peculiarities and our strengths and
weaknesses.  Then we are more prepared to introduce within our astral
bodies the vast fields of energy already existing around us.  When we
study the water element in all its qualities within human beings, then an
encounter with an undine is not so shocking and enchanting.  The undine is
simply a part of our own nature.  He or she embodies the qualities we
ourselves are intended to master .
  Can you close your eyes and focus upon your own feelings and then feel
flowing directly like a strong current or the taste of the water in a
clear mountain pool the astral body of anyone else on earth?  This open,
receptive and free clairsentience is the most natural of things.  But how
could it ever be learned?
     If you are with an undine like Isaphil or Istiphul, they can meditate
for a moment and feel the waves breaking on any shore on any island on
this planet.  They can feel the rivers that flow and hear the songs of the
whales anywhere they choose.  They can sing a note so beautiful the entire
magnetic field of an ocean for a moment is captured in that song and lends
its power to what they desire. 
   Jungian psychologists would call descriptions such as these archetypes
and to some extent the Bardon elementals resemble archetypes.  They are
both the same and yet always unique and different for each individual who
encounters them.  Their domain is the collective unconscious but they are
more than this.  They have an intelligence of their own, their own harmony
and nature, and also are void of the human preoccupation with a personal
identity.  They reveal themselves in a unique manner to whomever they are
with. But they are more the consciousness which the human race has yet to
attain--an awareness of all the energies which shape and animate this
planet on which we live.
   At what point does your magic mirror of the soul lead you to connect to
these archetypes?  Bardon leaves this to the last chapter of his first
book on initiation.  They are also the first set of beings to work within
his second book on evocation.  Bardon prepares you for these encounters by
having you develop immense mental, psychic, and etheric powers.  But again
I would like more literature, psychology, and methods of transformation
relating to the elements set forth as a compliment to Bardon's system. 
And this is one of the main things I am working on.
  A number of the earthzone spirits also specialize in magical equilibrium
such as Jvar at 4 degrees Leo.  And others specialize in astrology.  There
is on a higher level backup and wisdom for those who can make those kind
of connections.  Once, for example (in my third year of practicing
Bardon), Jvar suggested I internalize within myself a sylph's light, airy
cheerfulness and playfulness since I tend to be overly serious.  I think
his suggestion was right on and still this is an area I continue to work
on.  That light airy quality also manifests as an artistic temperament. 
Another earthzone spirit, Zagriona, brought back from a former life a
sympathy for writing poetry which falls under the air element also. 
   Still, as much as we need a lot of material to help us better
understand the four elements, Bardon himself is emphasizing that the
student develop direct perception of his own astral body.  For example,
when you internalize and breathe in fire you get a feeling for that degree
of heat and the intensity of fire.  You can sense it is energizing and
expansive and this naturally leads to a feeling of being in charge and
commanding.  When we are angry, we can supposedly notice that anger is
also astral fire energy but more negative--it is demanding and forceful
and out of control.
    Now anger has been studied a great deal in psychology but certainly
not in these terms of fiery qualities.  A magician can certainly learn a
lot from the physiology and psychology of anger in terms of how to deal
with it.  But a magician also goes on to work with fire on the astral
planes and in encounters with elemental beings and then psychology is not
going to be real helpful.  Psychologists, for example, do not understand a
whole lot about the power which is used by politicians or the political
will to survive or the will that only wants more. 
  The salamanders have immense powers in their astral bodies relating to
many aspects of fire which are still fairly unfamiliar to science and to
scholarship.  I again have sought to describe these fiery qualities in a
number of stories I have written on my encounters with the Bardon
salamanders.  And yet when we raise the fire content in our astral bodies
from working with fire in some form we still have to be acutely aware of
how this fire effects our personalities.
      It is counterproductive to master fire on the inner planes only to
end up being a manic depressive and domineering individual in our personal
lives.  The latter will cancel out the advantages of achieving the former. 
Magical aptitude will then be controlled and expressed by our weaknesses
rather than by our higher intuition and conscience.  And this is probably
the strongest reason for seeking to attain magical equilibrium.  Without
it, all spiritual and magical abilities become the playthings of an out of
control personality.  You can see this again and again in the lives of
various spiritual masters who in their daily lives are sometimes driven by
obsession with illusions they have never bothered to examine. 
   Also, in a number of my encounters with the earthzone spirits I often
get in a trance where the four elements are in perfect balance. Sometimes
this is just like Bardon suggests with earth in the legs, water in the
abdomen, air in the chest, and fire in the head.  Other times it is more
like the cosmic letter J in the cosmic language in which the four
elements, like the colors in opal, shine in and through each other
blending together in harmony. Sometimes as with Cigila, an earthzone
spirit in Pisces, the four elements become indistinguishable and fused
into one consciousness.  So, there is an integration to be achieved, a
wholeness, and a completion in working with the four elements. 
  There are however countless ways for seeking mastery and integration of
the four elements.  If you take the alchemical motif, there is often an
intensive internal process which goes on inside the individual.  You seal
your senses and aura off from the outer world in some way during practice
to blend and fuse the elements together during a process of refining and
   When I do this with the gnome Erami it feels wonderful but gnomes, that
is, the earth element also includes the energies within nature relating to
the animal and plant kingdoms. So when I run into a new energy which is
powerful I often will find myself transferring my awareness into some
suitable image from nature.  I did this when I wrote the poem on the
wolverine which I posted under poems and stories on my web site.  That is
more a shamanistic exploration of the elemental energies but a magician
should feel comfortable transferring his awareness into anything.  After
all, actors like Anthony Hopkins and Dusty Hoffman have incredible range
when it comes to identifying with characters and they do so in an
effective and convincing manner.
    When I work with the gnome Mentifil, his methods are supremely
advanced and also feel really neat but his system requires many years to
master.  Mentifil is like a physicist who emphasizes mastering the
energies of the periodic table at least as far as the planetary metals are
concerned.  But his method is also typically alchemical in that it is very
internal and sealed off from the external world. 
  Meeting and working with the elemental beings is not at all internal. 
You become acquainted with the elemental energies and then transfer your
consciousness into the elementals realms and gradually make their domains
a second home, a place you learn to know very well.  When you return to
your ordinary personality, eventually you feel balanced and detached like
sylphs or incredibly empathic like undines, astonishingly grounded like
gnomes, or intense like a navy seal or a commander in the special forces. 
Indeed, some salamanders present themselves as pure power which is focused
only on the mission under consideration. 
    There is, then, a center point the hermeticist wishes to attain on the
tetrapolar cross in balancing the four elements in himself.  And there is
also a gradually alchemical process of transmuting the dark qualities and
energies into bright and transforming energies.  I am interested in
transpersonal psychology becomes within it I find some tools which
emphasize a gradually process of self-exploration which lead to wholeness. 
These psychologists also insist that the dark aspects of the personality,
e.g., the shadow, are essential to explore in order to become transformed. 
The dark contains the energy and the unconscious awareness which
eventually becomes a clairvoyant tool and healing energy in the hands of
the magician, that is, when you finally master it. 
    But in the beginning, as in alchemy or the cosmic letter OE which
relates to alchemy, there must be acceptance, appreciation, and compassion
for yourself.  You do not flee from self-knowledge.  You become aware of
all aspects of a problem.  You observe your history, your behavior, your
thoughts, your emotions, and the dynamics of how these interact.  Then,
with this expanded awareness, you are ready to undergo a process of
    I would suggest that magick is also a study of creativity in all its
forms.  Ira Progoff points out that creative individuals have a special
way of taking the impulses and intuitions they have and constantly
reviewing and monitoring them.  There is a continuous interaction between
their conscious minds and the streams of energy running through them on
deeper levels.  Creativity finds ways to express these deeper streams
sometimes sinking into them and flowing with them without having the
faintest clue as to where they are going.  And sometimes with great effort
you consciously dig a well down to them so they can be brought up to the
light of day and used in practical ways. 
  A lot of great masters do not emphasize art because they have reached a
level where life is art and what could compare to the sounds and sights
they can hear and see just by closing their eyes and contemplating?  And
what need is there to share art with others to express themselves when
their very presence is inspiring? But I think for students it is really
important to cultivate the ability to express one's feelings and
intuitions in any suitable manner as a way of sharing with and enriching
other's lives. 
   And it is also important to emphasize keeping oneself inspired for this
is one of the great paths to transformation--having the light present in
one's soul which possesses sufficient beauty and desire that it can take
hold of all other desires and conflicts and, absorbing them into itself,
transform them on to a higher level.  Bardon does not seem to mention
anything in the area of having and maintaining a rich devotional life or
some means through which inspiration is cultivated.  He does talk about
having high and pure thoughts before going to sleep at night as a way to
influence the subconscious.  And, as I have mentioned, at the end of
Initiation identifying with Divine Providence becomes a formal exercise. 
Also, in his third book, he mentions combinations of cosmic letters which
are used purely as an adoration for Divine Providence.
    Acts of devotion, adoration, meditation, contemplation, appreciation,
worship, faith, etc. are also a means for spiritualizing the astral body. 
I notice that the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids likes to collect and
publish students poems.  This serves as a means for the members to share
their inspiration and experience with each other.  Under the Home Page of
akasha on my web site I have written some poems on the cosmic letters
which are inspiring for me and reminders of my own experiences during
    I know some people are shocked and upset that I write publicly about
the elemental beings.  But I am convinced that some of the undines, e.g.,
would love to have a woman portray their songs and dances on a stage on
Broadway if the musical was well written. Water encompasses this planet
and hears the songs of the stars at night.  The human race has barely
begun to perceive and listen to the dreams which water contains.  These
dreams are part of our destiny when we are ready to listen. 
    In other words, I do not see a group of secretive masters developing
out of the Bardon tradition--not after Bardon has gone to such great
lengths to publish the sigils and descriptions of over five hundred
spirits along with the cosmic language and a training system which
prepares you to use these things.  I conceive of a community of
individuals in which nature, human, and divine are joined and celebrated. 
This light and inspiration are so radiant and engaging they transform our
world. According to legend, there once was a civilization in which
scientist, poet, politician, warrior, and magician all sharted the same
heartful inspiration.  The time has come for this to return. 
    The fourth part of this exercise is to list all the positive aspects
of yourself, assign these to the four elements, and rate them also on
three levels. It may be easy to ignore this exercise but it is also
important.  One of our great tasks in life is to find situations where our
unique skills and abilities can be of greatest service to others.  To do
this, we must also know ourselves very well and learn to rely upon our
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