Copyright © 2009 by William R. Mistele
A Study of Water and the Magnetic Fluid: Supplemental to Bardon’s Basic Exercises
This essay explores a variety of psychological and spiritual states of awareness that an individual may encounter when practicing Bardon’s basic exercises. Among other things, I will touch on questions relating to the essence of the feminine spirit and how to feel like a mermaid or merman. Some of the material in this essay I have used elsewhere but place here in order to provide greater clarity and context.
In Chapter Three of Initiation into Hermetics, Bardon recommends drawing into one’s body and then dissolving each of four elements. In this essay, I am going to consider just the water element though the methods I use apply equally to the other three elements—earth, air, and fire.
Toward the end of his book, Bardon has the student project his consciousness into the astral domains of the elemental beings such as undines, sylphs, gnomes, and salamanders. In his third book on Quabbalah, Bardon combines an element with light and with sound to form cosmic letters. These letters or keys to creation are used to create dynamic energies on the physical, astral, mental, and akashic planes. It is up to the student at that point to meditate on these energies to discover the great many states of awareness and divine perception they possess.
However, here in the third chapter of the first book, the exercises can teach an individual what it is like to feel and perceive as an elemental as well as to vastly expand the feelings within his personality. Without saying it directly, Bardon is training his students to perceive as spiritual beings right from the beginning.
For example, an undine feels one with the oceans and waters of the earth. In a very similar manner, Bardon has the student imagine he is at the center of a universe made up of water or at the center of an ocean. The sensations and feelings that accompany this form of imagination evoke precisely the kind of awareness and ecstasies that undines are known for.
In short, the presence of an element in one’s body can trigger specific kinds of vitality and feeling-awareness. There are a vast array of feelings associated with water. These go from a basic sense of well-being, serenity, and empathy right up to and through states such as perfect contentment, perfect love, oneness with another, and a feeling of being one with the universe.
For men in particular, there is the advantage of being able to encounter and unite with one’s opposite—the essence of the feminine revealed through the magnetic fluid within water. Rather than struggle his entire life trying to catch a glimpse or gain a brief taste of this wonder from individual women, he can discover this mystery within himself. After all, this is one of the purposes of magic as well as of life—to know oneself from the core of your being.
Summary of the basic exercise—Chapter 3, Initiation into Hermetics
Imagine your body to be completely empty like a container or vessel. Also imagine that you are surrounded by cold water as if you are at the center of a vast ocean. The cold water is contracting. Water, of all substances in nature, absorbs heat the most quickly and stores it the longest. Water holds, contains, and sustains.
Next imagine that water enters your body with each breath as you inhale. Also at the same time water enters through the pours of the body. You breathe in this sensation of cold water so that your body now feels it is full of water.
Bardon wants the student to master the sensations of the elements and the ability to concentrate, accumulate, and then dissolve these elements both on the inside and outside of the body. This is a basic exercise in developing a trained imagination.
With Bardon it sometimes helps me if I try to do his exercises in as many different ways as I can think of. With children growing up, with those who are masters of their professions, and with those who have high learning curves, there is always an element of play present. You work with something to see it from all sides delighting in it until it feels right for you.
For example, for the purposes of this essay, you do not have to draw energy into the body through the breath and pours. Simply using your imagination, you can transform some of the surplus vitality already inside your body into the element of water. After all, if Bardon’s exercise calls for you to imagine yourself surrounded by water you can use the same imagination to create watery sensations directly inside of your body.
For Bardon, it is enough if the student slowly acclimates his body over time to increasingly strong concentrations of water, accumulating them and dissolving them. However, I find it incredibly interesting in the beginning to explore the different qualities of the four elements and the kinds of feelings that accompany their presence in the body.
For Bardon, an individual must learn to bring the four elements into balance so that they are equally positive and strong. He primarily recommends using will and mental concentration to do this. For my self, it is more natural to study the various astral qualities of the four elements along the lines I am describing here: by creating a mild charge or presence of the element within oneself and then taking time to study how this element causes changes in feelings and perception.
Sensations of water in the physical body
If I focus on my physical body and in particular anything relating to fluids and water, I can sense the flow of blood through my body. Some people can feel when there heart skips a beat. With experience, you can feel blood flow into parts of your body when you relax them. The blood vessels dilate with the result that there is more blood flow into the area and it becomes warmer.
Some people can sense the pulse of their blood as it surges through the body. It is the liquid, flowing quality of the blood that is the water element. Water is in tears, sweat, salvia, urine, moisture in the lungs, the eyes, and various body fluids.
As I concentrate on the flow of blood, immersing myself in this sensation and awareness, I definitely get a sense of the actions of the blood—circulating, purifying, nurturing, and reviving. If I use my imagination with the sense of liquids or water flowing rapidly as blood, I get images of a steam or a river with its rapids and waterfalls.
The Etheric Body
Besides sensations relating directly to the physical body, it is possible to sense a more subtle set of sensations relating to the etheric body. These sensations refer to vitality and health. The etheric body is often encountered in the practice of pranayama, the control of breath. Concentrate for example on your hand. Imagine that with each breath you are breathing vitality directly into your hand. As you practice you may be able to sense increased warmth, a feeling of gradually building pressure, different kinds of intensity of energy, and so forth.
Some of these sensations relate to the dilation of the blood vessels with increased warmth as the blood moves closer to the surface of the skin. But there is again something more subtle occurring. In martial arts, it is quite common to learn how to move this vitality, chi, or ki to different parts of the body to enhance health and physical performance.
But vitality also has the four elements within it. Sometimes in martial arts, the practitioner focuses on weight and being grounded—the earth element. Sometimes the emphasis is on being light, being able to move quickly as if weightless. Other times one focuses on fire and a rapid, forceful expansion of energy outward.
Perhaps the most difficult to imitate or teach in the martial arts is the element of water. The founder of Aikido was a great master of the water element but his personal style was nearly impossible to teach. In some traditions of chi kung, the student learns to imitate a cloud or to flow like water through movements that are circling, spiraling, and curling with gentleness and grace, almost like moving slowly under water.
We can pursue the difference between the physical and etheric energies and sensations by imagining that the body is empty inside and filled with cool water. If you were immersed in an actual pool of water, you could imagine that the inside of your body has the same water that is surrounding it on the outside. Etheric water is far more refined than physical water. It is the watery, fluid, or flowing aspect of vitality.
I focus on the vitality in my etheric body. Again, I imagine my body is empty inside and that my awareness is only of vitality in its flowing, fluid aspect. What occurs is that I feel extremely relaxed. There is a sense of letting go and just being calm and at ease. When I do this I am often reminded of floating in a tide pool next to the ocean that has a high salt content. The body floats higher in the water almost as if the entire body is being supported, the tension dissolves, and there is total release.
The Astral Body
The astral body pertains to the realm of the soul, to feelings and emotions. The astral body is very sensitive to concrete imagery—to situations, people, and places. The astral body is active, for example, in dreaming. A dream often produces strong emotions even though the circumstances or dramatic situations of the dream are unreal. You respond as if they are real. The astral body is where these emotions occur. The astral is sensitive, responsive, and impressionable.
When you feel the opposites of happiness and sadness, elation and depression, excitement and boredom, joy and despair, love and hate, etc. these occur within the astral body. Though all emotions produce sensations within the physical body, at this point we are after the way feelings are underneath, behind, or accompanying physical sensations. With practice and being attentive, it becomes easy to notice the differences between the physical sensations accompanying feelings and the feelings themselves.
The astral body also gives a sense of connection to others. It is full of attracting and repelling forces. When individuals fall in love, it is often an astral experience—they are in the astral plane living a dream that two share in common. When individuals break up, the same intensity of feeling may be present but it may change into an opposite, repelling emotional force.
Just as we all have our own unique physical body, we each have a unique astral body. The astral involves our ability to feel alive and to appreciate the world around us. The elements present in the astral body will strongly influence our ability to feel wonder, awe, and beauty as well as experiences with ecstasy and rapture.
Just as we can discuss the four elements in terms of physical sensations in the etheric body and their applications, for example, in the martial arts, we can also describe the four elements in the astral body. In the astral body, fire is not a physical or etheric force. It is a feeling relating to enthusiasm, courage, confidence, charisma, etc. Air relates to being curious, playful, artistically sensitive, cheerful, etc. Earth relates to being practical, no nonsense, patient, stable, etc.
I imagine my astral body to be similar in shape and size to my physical body and etheric bodies, but more subtle almost like seeing an image of oneself in a mirror or a dream. I imagine it again to be empty, without physical substance. Then if I imagine this astral body to be filled with cool water.
In this case, meditating on water in my astral body, I sense feelings specific to water. These are contentment, peace, serenity, and happiness. There is a sense of well-being that is timeless and independent of space, of who you are and where you were born and where you are now in life. It is just a pure endless sense of peace into which you can let go and simple be without having to do anything to earn it.
Imagery of Water in Nature on Three Planes
After sensing the physical body, etheric, and astral bodies, we can turn to the images of water in nature to explore and to enhance our physical sensations and feelings. We can do this using a simple form of contemplation: focus on some scene in nature and allow your mind to be still like a mirror. Hold the image before your attention so that nothing else is present in your awareness. Then notice the sensations and feelings that arise in your body. You can also enter the image, moving in and through it or identifying completely with it.
Consider a mountain pool with a small water fall. Hold this image before you mind. Imagine sitting or floating in the pool. Try becoming the pool so that noting else is in your awareness than this imagery. As I do this, I have the sensations of flowing, bubbly water. The movement of water is gentle.
Notice that through imagination you can produce physical sensations of being in water. The contemplation also allows you to sense different kinds of vitality in your etheric body. These are again sensations relating to flowing energy that is cool, relaxing, releasing, letting go, etc. But there are also astral feelings that accompany the physical and etheric sensations. For me these are serenity, relaxation, and happiness.
Consider another image, of being inside of an iceberg frozen in a bay at the North Pole. The sensations are icy cold, frozen, and still. The feelings are an inner stillness, a mirror like reflection, and an otherworldly observing of life from a distance of time and space.
With the image of a lake, I have sensations of being calm, open, receptive, and gathering in. The feelings are contentment, peacefulness, and hope. With a waterfall, in addition to water falling through air and splashing, there is a sparkling effervescence and a renewal of life. In a river, I let go and move with the flow, yielding to gravity’s pull drawing me to join with the distant sea.
To feel like an undine or merman: I focus exclusively on water in my etheric and astral bodies. I also imagine water to be around the outside of my etheric and astral bodies extending for a vast distance. In this case, I invariably get the sense of the way undines feel—I am a part of anything that is near to me; or, as a merman, I feel united to the life and vibration within water--I am committed to preserving, expanding, and clarifying magnetic fields produced by water. This is my vocation and my soul. I celebrate magnetism in all my actions.
This exercise seems to grant an affinity for any way in which water appears in nature. For me, it is a life altering meditation. The boundaries between the body, either physical or astral, dissolve and my awareness, senses, and nervous system extend outward into wider fields of energy. This is essentially the basis for the merman/mermaid sense of identity. It produces a profound state of well-being and inner peace.
For those who master this, whatever makes life special is always near to them. They can find it within themselves, touch it as a bodily sensation, and feel its closeness and support.
Those who practice magic often balance the four elements either within their bodies or when they evoke the four elements at different points of a magic circle. In this way, an equilibrium is achieved through ritual. From my point of view, the problem with this approach is that once the individual steps out of his magic circle he enters a civilization that does not have a balance between the four elements.
If you rated the knowledge of the elements in terms of Western civilization, earth, air, and fire would be up in the eighty percentile as far as our scientific and technological applications are concerned. Water, however, is far weaker. It would be around three or four per cent of its usable capacity. The psychological and spiritual aspects of water are very poorly understood.
When I practice the water on the etheric and astral levels inside and outside of my body, as I mention, I develop a strong sense of being connected to the domains of the mermen and mermaids. However, I come from an overwhelmingly strong masculine culture. It is characterized by dynamic will and power directed toward changing the external world. It has almost no self-reflective capacity. There is no tradition of contemplation. There is no awareness of the light within the psyche or the opportunities to explore and deepen awareness of the soul.
Being able, then, to evoke in myself merman awareness within a minute or less of meditating is a staggering achievement for me. It is an encounter with my opposite. It is like evoking in my self the essence of the feminine as it exists within nature and spirit. I wrote a poem after I found I could make this elemental connection in myself:
There comes a time when the white knight
Climbs off his mighty warhorse with burnish’d hooves
Takes off his armor, his brazen greaves and feathered helmet too,
To sit beside a still lake and simply wait
To find happiness, and yes, infinite peace inside himself
Without having first to rescue and then possess a fair maiden in distress.
Look at him! In his soul all the waters of the earth
And simple human contentment intermingle and flow—this I know.
According to the poem, the opposite of a man is not a woman. It is the feminine within him joined to the feminine within nature. This includes the abilities to form within oneself may of the qualities already mentioned: an inner peace with the universe, profound abilities involving empathy and caring for others, and a feeling of being fully alive that arises naturally from out of the sensuality of five senses.
A man may be able to taste these things through a relationship with a woman. But it is next to impossible for him to internalize these qualities within himself by depending on a woman to somehow transfer them to him.
The Mental Body
The mental body is again in the form of the physical body but more refined or subtle than the astral body. It relates to ideas, thinking, and analyzing. Unlike the astral body with its sensitivity to concrete images and situations, the mental body works with abstractions. We size up situations and solve problems with our minds. The mental body is rooted in concentration and attention. Here we choose when and how we focus our attention. Forming plans, setting priorities, and determining time frames and means for fulfilling our purposes are mental plane activities.
Experiences with the astral body are more personal and emotionally engaging. Mental body experiences are more detached, almost as if we are observing something from a third person rather than a first person perspective. Too much mental emphasis and an individual may be excessively detached and aloof. Too little mental emphasis and an individual loses clarity and perspective.
If I imagine my mental body to be filled with water I find myself exploring the deeper aspects of serenity, stillness, and clearness. There are also magical forms of perception. The mental body filled with water can act like a magic mirror or crystal ball. You can feel reflected in yourself the life within any other being.
Akashic or Spiritual Body
The spiritual body is an intuitive level of awareness that operates independent of thought, feeling, or physical forms though it may express itself through any of these. In other words, it is consciousness that does not identify or define itself through any specific form. It can also penetrate through space and time with its awareness or intuition.
On this level, we experience universal aspects of water such as cosmic or all-embracing love. There is a sense of presiding over the ideals that guide and inspire all beings. We sense the one life that flows through all of us. On this level, we feel one with all beings and also an inner peace so deep we feel one with the universe.
The Magnetic Fluid
Within the water element is a magical energy called the magnetic fluid. One way of imagining this is by placing your mind within water. Then you focus on the bonding, attracting, and contracting qualities of the water. Remove the sensation of water and focus on these qualities alone and you may be able to sense a magnetic field of energy.
For myself, I think of the magnetic fluid as the essence of the feminine spirit. This is not the idea of femininity as defined by gender roles in a society or culture. It is the yin or receptive aspect of energy in nature and throughout the spiritual universe. It is one of the two energies present in any form of genuine creativity.
The essence of the feminine spirit or magnetic fluid is cool, soothing, and attracting. It is nurturing and supportive. It is rhythmic, receptive and gentle. It possesses healing power.
In psychological terms, it is empathic, sensitive, and responsive. It draws together, bonds, joins, and unites. On a mental level, it is receptive in a psychic sense: it senses things that are distant. And it can place itself within or make itself a part of another person to the extent that it can sense the entirety of the other’s life within itself.
In spiritual terms, it reaches toward embracing, all-encompassing love. It presents us with feelings of wonder, ecstasy, and beauty. This feminine awareness reveals the deepest mysteries at the core of the self.
We could say that peace, happiness, contentment, serenity, well-being, delight, affection, tenderness, sensuality, pleasure, bliss, ecstasy, compassion, and love are qualities that are present when the magnetic fluid is operating successfully.
Though largely unknown in our world, the feminine essence or magnetic fluid is so receptive, so giving it has power over everything because it is the source that gives birth to all of life. The magnetic or feminine essence also controls its opposite—the electric fluid. In geopolitical terms, those who master the feminine mysteries are able to take responsibility for the unfolding of the world—they have the capacity to guide, inspire, and also set boundaries on all acts of executive power.
Almost all of Western civilization is focused on acting on and producing results in the external world. We have an extroverted civilization. The magnetic fluid holds a different vision. It has a direct, inner connection to anything that exists. It has able to feel and be a part of anything else simply by extending its magnetic field into and around another anywhere on earth.
The electric fluid has the power, for example, through nuclear weapons, to destroy the world. The electric in itself does not know how to recreate the world through love. The magnetic has this specific power: it can join and unite, not through propaganda, beliefs, or ideology, but rather though a heart to heart connection to others. Just as there are no limits on the yield of a hydrogen bomb, there are no limits on the influence of the magnetic fluid to create peace and love.
A Simple Exercise for the Magnetic Fluid
Imagine a blue ball of water six feet in diameter in front of you. It is cool, magnetic, and contracting. It is attractive, soothing, and calming. It shelters, protects, and heals. It is receptive as in utterly empty of form and completely open—able to receive and contain the soul of any being within itself, nurturing, inspiring, and empowering it to attain to completion and fulfillment.
Now imagine this ball changes into an exact replica of your self. It is you standing or sitting there in front of you. Sense how this person is different from your self. What qualities and powers does this person have that you do not? Now imagine that you are this person who embodies the spirit and primal energy of the feminine. What is this like for you?
The Essence of the Feminine Spirit
When I imagine water surrounding myself and also inside of my body, I can also sense a magnetic field of energy. The magnetic fluid is similar to magnetism in a magnet or in nature but it is more subtle. If you place your hands into water, you can feel the water touching the skin and also from the pressure and cooler temperature get a sense of the water surrounding the skin. If you focus on the binding, contracting, and attracting qualities in the water but remove the actual water, you have a sense of the magnetic fluid.
Though the magnetic fluid can be treated purely as an energy, it also has many psychological, cultural, and spiritual implications. For example, we might attempt to bring these into focus by asking, What is the magnetic energy that balances the world at this time? Also, what is the essence of the feminine spirit? What feminine power can balance, harmonize, transform, and inspire the extroverted, electrical energy in our world?
I pursue the answer to these questions on four levels. On the physical level, this energy is already present in nature. It is the entire world in its wintery, watery, nurturing, and preserving aspects. Its imagery and presence are in an arctic bay, a frozen lake, ice melting at the beginning of a small stream, a snow covered field, etc.
On a physical level, water becomes an extension of our consciousness the way the body is an extension of or vehicle for our conscious awareness. If I imagine for example Sacred Falls here on Oahu, it does not start as an image in my mind. I feel I am right there in the pool. I can feel the entire surface of the pool and how its edge touches the cliffs. I can feel ripples contacting the stones, the currents beneath the water, and the temperature change from sunlight producing warmer water near the surface.
The magnetic fluid enhances feeling and perception. I perceive in and through the element of water without the need for human thoughts to intervene. With a slight change, I can become the entire stream beginning with the raindrops falling at the summit of the mountains and ending as the stream flows into the sea.
To put it simply, you perceive as if the water is a part of your nervous system. Aspects of water involving changes in temperature, fluidity, movement, and magnetism you sense directly. You touch something with your finger and you feel it in your fingertip and also in your brain. Water becomes your fingertips and your body and your skin.
What is most remarkable is how this awareness contrasts to normal perception. We are land based mammals. We experience space and separation in extremely distinct ways— spatial orientation, territories, body shape, and personal space. But awareness of and in and through a magnetic field is altogether different.
On an etheric level, it enables one to sense he vital force in all beings. You feel a part of the vitality in all beings.
On an astral level, the magnetic fluid enhances a psychic ability--to immediately connect with and sense another’s inner life, nurturing and inspiring the other as well. When I am sitting close to a woman who has strong magnetic energy in her aura, my psychic abilities are enhanced. Without effort, I can sense the personality traits of someone she is talking about who I have not met and who is not present.
I could meet and interview someone for several hours and so in this way get to know the person. With the magnetic fluid strong, without meeting someone, I can know the other from within in ways that no interview could ever reveal. The magnetic fluid, in effect, enhances soul connections.
Undines have this capacity. They identify with the water element of the world in which they exist. Anything appearing within water they sense as if it is a part of them. The magnetic field is a medium of awareness. Its lines of force reveal the characteristics of whatever it passes through.
If I focus on another individual, it is as if that person is in front of me now. The connection feels completely real almost as if you can reach out and touch, communicate with, and sense the other’s feelings from within. This is perhaps why the realm of the undines has been closed off to our civilization and to the human race. Undines use their abilities for the sake of empathy, beauty, and sensuality. Human beings, however, could easily abuse such powers for selfish reasons.
In a sense, then, a great cultural and spiritual war has been going on in Western civilization to conceal the knowledge of the magnetic fluid. Its abuse would immediately undermine the development of will and also of science. The qualities of intellectual objectivity and also of freedom of volition, the individualism in our world, would rapidly deteriorate.
The task of the masculine, among other things, is to set and to defend boundaries for the sake of ego identity and productive capacity. The feminine, by contrast, overcomes all boundaries—it alone has the power to unite opposites. Working together, the masculine and feminine are responsible for human and divine creativity. Opposed, they destroy human beings, culture, and the world.
The bottom line is that the proper use of the magnetic fluid depends on one’s heart: does an individual and a society have the commitment to seek and then to use power for the sake of love? The feminine spirit is no less powerful than the masculine. All our war machines and political and military hierarchies mean absolutely nothing before the magnetic fluid. This is because our world depends on external power and might. It has no defenses against those who can easily extend their awareness anywhere on earth.
For this reason, our stories and fairy tales about undines reveal almost nothing about these beings. Our theologies, metaphysics, and science are ignorant about both the spiritual universe and the many roles magnetism has yet to play in technology and industry. In the past, in spite of the suffering that has resulted, it is possible that this has been for the best. But you can not put off the deepest issues within the heart forever. There comes a time when the choice has to be made as to whether we are committed to love or to fear and to hate.
On the mental level, the magnetic fluid is inspired and compassionate. It is motivated to set up the learning conditions and environment in which each person can develop in the best way. It finds the optimum influences and circumstances for growth. It senses what others need and seeks to fulfill those needs.
On the akashic level, it establishes a feeling of oneness with all beings and that all beings are one with each other. It has the capacity to be continuously one with you from within. In this sense, it acts to make you feel whole and complete, healing you, drawing you together, sheltering and protecting your inner life.
If you put all four planes together, the magnetic fluid in its positive aspect is everything that nurtures, enhances, amplifies, brings to completion, satisfied, and inspires. It is the image of the mother, daughter, sister, maiden, lover, muse, divine guardian all at once. It is one with you forever continuously and it is there to bless you and establish wholeness within.
Such energy annihilates loneliness and separation because you feel and perceive your connection from within to others. A woman, or man for that matter, who embodies the magnetic fluid does not play the role of a mother or a caregiver for a limited number of years—for example, until a child reaches adolescence and leaves the home. The power to nurture and to be connected to others, inspiring and guiding them, never ends. The physical function of being a caregiver makes a natural and powerful transition into becoming a spiritual function. Similarly, responsibility and involvement in one’s individual family gradually extends out to encompass the entire world.
We have at present a global community based upon external modes of communication and relationships. But the religions of earth do not at this time provide us with a global inner community, a direct heart to heart connection to others anywhere on earth. The magnetic fluid, as an expression of the essence of the feminine spirit, offers this.
The magnetic fluid is so empty, so utterly receptive, so giving, so free of identifying itself with form that it has power over everything because it is the source that gives birth to all of life. It is the power to shelter, contain, nourish, and transform the life and soul of any being. As such, the feminine spirit is and always will be the guardian of the deepest mysteries at the core of the self.
As I mention elsewhere, if you went on a quest for the Holy Grail and found it, the Grail would still be an external thing. The quest, the search and journey, might lead you to test and to establish qualities of nobility, courage, compassion, and justice within yourself. This is a great accomplishment.
Finding the essence of the feminine spirit, the magnetic fluid, within your self is far more than a Grail Quest. It is actually joining with your opposite. It is internalizing within oneself one of the most powerful forces in creation. Our world knows nothing about this journey and this quest. Attain to this and you discover all-embracing love and oneness with all beings. Take time to master it and you have the powers of an angel or a divine spirit while still incarnate as a human being.