Copyright (C) 1999 by William Mistele.  All rights reserved. 

Chapter 2, Physical Level Exercises

Pour breathing and pour breathing inhaling and exhaling various
Position of body
Physical control in daily life

There are four exercises for the physical level of chapter 2 of
Initiation into Hermetics.  Since the first two relating to pour
breathing raise a great many questions, I will review them last. 
EXERCISE:  Control of Body. The goal of this exercise is to learn
to sit "quietly, comfortably and without any trouble" for a half hour.  
   The point here is that there are a great many exercises in the
Bardon system of training.  Part of this training requires the student
to disengage his or her five senses from the physical world.  To do
this, the body has to be relaxed enough so it provides no
disturbances to the mind.  It is always important to have a physical
sense of peace, well-being, and harmony at the beginning and at the
end of your practice sessions.  This reassurance enables you to
return to your personal and everyday activities after working with
transpersonal and cosmic levels of consciousness and energy. 
Mastering body position helps develop this. 
   You begin the exercise by practicing for five minutes.  Sit in a
chair with your back straight, your feet flat on the floor, and your
hands resting on your thighs.  In the beginning, you can learn
against the back of the chair.  Close your eyes and then observe
your body.  Notice all you can about your body while you continue
to remain motionless.  Add a minute to each of your subsequent
practice sessions.  Eventually, you will be able to sit quietly for a
half hour without feeling in any way disturbed, anxious,
uncomfortable, or constrained. 

COMMENTS.  It might appear that this exercise is mechanical in
nature.  You learn to sit without moving as if your body is frozen. 
Members of the special forces such as Navy Seals learn to freeze
their body posture for hours whether they are in a stream, on top of
an ant nest, or beneath a bush, it does not matter.  This is an
exercise of mind over body.  Those in the armed forces or those
undergoing special training in the martial arts do this because of the
importance of their mission--the body is an instrument and a
weapon under the command of will.
   Bardon also points out that will is an element in this exercise.  He
says that you can work with controlling physical posture as a means
for developing will power.  For example, he says you may wish to
practice some of the many asanas of yoga positions in the orient. 
He recommends, however, that you first learn to sit upright in a
chair for an hour before going on to practice asanas. 
   The above exercise is fairly straightforward.  Different individuals
will find it relatively easy or more difficult depending on their
previous training.  Some individuals such as those who are
hyperactive may find it actually uncomfortable to try to sit still. 
There is a lot room in the Bardon pantheon of spirits for individual
   There are a number of spirits who, for example, teach magical
dancing or ritualized movement as a means for practicing magick.  I
can imagine individuals who get on perfectly well working through
many kinds of exercises by combining them with movement. 
Movement has rhythmic and also artistic dimensions and these are
also important in magick.
   Some individuals may also wish to find their own approach as
they work with their body.  They may want to practice sitting still
after doing yoga, stretching their muscles, or even creating or
finding the right setting in which to practice.  This could be a matter
of practicing in a temple, out of doors, or with other individuals,
with music, etc.  The point is to take the exercise and make it work
for you individually.  
     When I began practicing meditation, no one pointed out to me
the importance of being aware of the muscle structure of my body,
my breathing, and the various exercises for relaxing.  I did,
however, have a little bit of a martial art background and a natural
flair for shamanism.  
   When I am in a woods and see a deer, I can freeze my body and
not move for a half hour because I like to blend in and feel a part of
nature.  I like to feel that I am a tree, a rock, a wolf, or a deer.  My
body likes drama and the excitement of a quest.  
     I think it is fair to assert for many individuals that if you work
through some stretching exercises, it becomes much easier to relax
and sit still.  There is a natural high and euphoria the body
experiences as you stretch and then relax various muscle systems
one after the other.  The blood circulation and level of vitality
increase with slow, rhythmic breathing.  The body enters a state of
deep relaxation and peace and no mental imagery or element of will
power is required to sit still.  Sitting still is then effortless and
completely natural. 
   Of course in magick, as with the martial arts and special forces,
you want to be able on occasion to focus a hundred per cent of your
attention without your body in any way interfering.  You want to be
able to do this at any time under any circumstances.   If you have
experienced a natural process of deep relaxation, I think it is perhaps
much easier to enter this state when you need it.  Your body is more
ready to cooperate with your will without interference.  The greater
your awareness of the kind and location of tension in your body, the
quicker you will be able to identify, to relax, and free yourself of
that tension. 

EXERCISE.  Body control in everyday life.  Bardon says, "It is
entirely up to the scholar to control and force body and nerves by
will-power."  Bardon gives examples of this exercise such as forcing
yourself to do something when you are tired;  if you feel hungry,
don't eat for a half hour;  if you feel thirsty, wait a while before
drinking something;  if you are usually slow at doing things, try
doing them quickly;  and if you are always active, try slowing down.  

COMMENTS.  The point of this exercise is to observe your
behavior and routines and learn how to change them at will.  There
a number of components involved in being a magician.  A magician
is able to observe the world with a great deal of detachment.  This
means you learn to see yourself as if you are observing the behavior
of another person.  You want to bring crystal clarity to your
   Other traits magicians have are curiosity and a need to experiment.
There is that frame of mind which is always ready to ask, "What can
I learn if I do things differently?"  "If I observe the process carefully,
what goes on in my thoughts, feelings, and body when I change one
of my routines or behaviors?"  "If I feel resistance or anxiety when I
change something in myself, can I track down that resistance to its
source in my nervous system, psyche, or belief system?"  
   I think a magician is also an artist.  It is perfectly natural for him
ask, "How can I make my life flow more smoothly so it is more
satisfying and harmonious?"  He sees his life as a work of art.  Like
an artist, he feels free to change his methods, style, and the content
through which he expresses his experience.  But like any artist, he
masters the material he is working with.  For this reason, a magician
studies himself and tries to test his limits.  He remains flexible,
adaptable, and ready to change his behavior.  

EXERCISE.  Conscious pour breathing.  Bardon says, "Sit
comfortably in an arm-chair or lie down on a sofa, and relax all your
muscles.  Try to think that, with each inspiration, not only your
lungs are breathing, i.e., inhaling air, but the whole body is doing so. 
Be firmly convinced that, together with your lungs, simultaneously
each single pore of your body receives vital power and conveys it to
the body.  You ought to feel like a dry sponge which, when dipped
into water, sucks it in greedily.  You must have the same feeling
when breathing in."  
COMMENTS.  The use of imagination in this practice facilitates the
movement of vital power to move from the etheric energy in your
surroundings into your body.  You also practice exhaling the life
force as well.   Bardon mentions that each individual will feel this
flow of vital energy in their own way.  Basically, then, we imagine
our skin to have a magical ability.  It can draw vital energy into the
body in a way somewhat analogous to the way the lungs draws
oxygen into the blood stream.  
   One of the keys to magick is to imagine that you already possess
the ability you are trying to master.  It is through imagination that
you produce the feelings and experiences you are seeking to acquire. 
A scientist constructs a hypothesis using a conceptual system, an
image, or a metaphor to explain in advance what he does not yet
understand.  What a magician does is similar.  Except the magician
goes inside of the metaphor to experience it first hand.  This
increases his awareness and accelerates his ability to learn.
     Let's use the image of a sponge absorbing water.  Try this. 
Imagine you are holding a dry sponge in your hand.  Slowly lower it
into basin of water.  Notice the rapid way it absorbs the water and
how it becomes heavier as a result of the water spreading through it. 
   You can also notice the vacuum in your lungs which is created as
your diaphragm contracts as you breathe in.  You can then imagine
your entire body is empty inside producing a vacuum which the
energy in the air rushes in to fill.  Tree roots absorb water and
minerals from the soil.  Leaves absorb sunlight.  Imagine you are the
tree's roots and leaves.  It is the ability to absorb which you are after. 
As you concentrate on these various processes, you then
imaginatively extend a similar ability to your body.  
   Another key to magick is employing firm conviction.  There are a
whole set of concepts which are closely related and yet each is
distinct--faith, conviction, belief, trust, knowing, certainty, truth,
commitment, confidence, credibility, determination, etc. I once
asked my old philosophy professor and chairman of the department
at a Christian college if there were any studies in phenomenology of
the nature of faith.  In other words, what is faith if you describe the
personal experience of it without referring to doctrines, content of
belief, religious images, stories, or theological and ecclesiastical
issues.  His reply was that Christian theology has been and still is
preoccupied with the relation of faith to reason.  Faith itself has
been left undefined and is not an area of philosophical investigation
or exploration.
   In magick, the amount of faith and conviction an individual has is
proportionate to the amount of the electrical fluid the individual has
control over. The strength with which you believe in something and
incorporate this belief into your life are separate from the content of
what you believe in.  Consequently, a fanatic who believes in killing
for his ideal may have the same strength of conviction or amount of
electrical fluid within him as a supreme court justice who believes in
the rule of law.  Both men have great influence because the power
of their belief is radiant and penetrates the auras of those they come
in contact with though obviously the content and application of our
two mens' beliefs are different.  
   The electrical fluid relates to our belief in being able to make a
difference, to make something happen, or manifest something.  It is
quite possible to imagine breathing in life force to the extent that the
experience feels completely real and is entirely convincing.  But this
may be no different than going to a movie where for two hours you
are completely absorbed in the action.  When you leave the theater,
you are your old self again.  For all the catharsis and euphoria you
experience during the movie, there is no application or concrete
result.  Nothing is changed in the world in which you live.
  The electrical fluid or firm conviction adds to our exercise an
overwhelming belief and complete certainty that you are developing
the power to change yourself and the world.  We all have this level
of firm conviction within us.  For example, recall several times in
your life when you acted with total conviction.  You may have
believed in what you were doing because of your commitment to
some ideal or principle.  For this reason, you were neither confused
nor did you have doubts because of the obstacles you faced or the
strength of those opposing you.
   You may have taken great risks when no else would because of
your great confidence that you had the right stuff--the experience
and the knowledge--to get the job done.  You may have had an
inner feeling of certainty, conviction, or intuition that you could do
something creative or difficult even when no one else was offering
support or understanding.  There may have been major life
decisions during which you said to yourself words to the effect,
"This is what I need to do to make my life work."  And then with
real courage and determination, you followed through with what
you said you would do.  Or more simply, were there times when
you felt on top of the world, completely confident, and totally in
charge of yourself even if this was only for an hour, a few minutes
or a few moments?
   The point is, whether the experience was major or minor,  there
are times when we have all acted with boldness, courage,
conviction, or determination.  Relive a few of these moments.  As
you do so, notice how you feel.  Carry the best part of these feelings
over to the exercise with pour breathing.  Go back and forth several
times in your imagination between the level of conviction you
possessed in this other experience and this moment.  Apply that
same conviction to your ability to breathe in life force through the
pours of your skin. 
   Conviction, confidence, knowledge, and certainty--these are also
an energy you produce within your body.  If you produce this
electrical energy through reliving a past experience, hold that energy
within yourself.  Sustain its strength.  Apply it to this exercise.  This
is one way in which magick works:  you extract from life experience
its essence. You refine it, strengthen it, and then apply it in new and
creative ways. 
   Initially, it is sufficient to gain a sense of vital energy entering
leaving the pours of your skin.  You may feel warmth, increased
pressure, tingly sensations, an increase in vitality, a flow of energy
almost like air or a liquid moving through your skin, etc.  Notice
very carefully these sensations and feelings. You will want gradually
to strengthen and amplify them. 
   In the long run, what Bardon is after in this exercise is not only a
clear and convincing mental plane imagination of breathing in vital
energy.  He wants more than a rich and overwhelming feeling of
becoming saturated with life force.  He wants the student to produce
an etheric result.  He wants the student to be able to change the
world--to produce concrete effects in himself and others.  To
accomplish this, you will need to put all of yourself into the exercise. 
You will need the full power of your imagination and the full
strength of your spirit almost to the extent that you can command
the life force to obey your will.
   EXERCISE.  In this exercise, you add to the lungs and pour
breathing the desire inhaling mentioned in chapter one.  That is, you
inhale through the whole body "health, success, peace, mastering of
passions, or whatever you need most urgently."  When you have
attained a degree of success with this exercise, go on to exhaling
those things you do not like such as character faults, illness, or
whatever causes you to fail in your life.  
    COMMENTS.  This practice develops further the exercise in the
first chapter.  Recall that in the first chapter we impregnated the vital
energy entering our body with an image or idea.  Combining intense
concentration with vital energy strengthens the ability of the idea to
   If someone is trying to sell you a car or some other item, the
salesperson probably will not be very effective if he or she is tired
and lacks enthusiasm. But if the salesperson is warm, inviting, and
has a radiant sense of friendship, the customer is more likely to be
interested in making a purchase.  The same thing is true about
putting thoughts into action.  If you take an idea and enliven it with
excitement, good feelings, enthusiasm, and imagination it will have a
greater opportunity to make a difference in your life. 
   Part of the process of exhaling psychological qualities or illness
involves making yourself empty.  By exhaling, you are letting go and
freeing yourself of attachment.  In exhaling, there is release and a
peace so strong nothing can hold on to you.  
   You do not distance yourself from life by letting go and emptying
yourself.  Exhalation is a way of opening oneself to receive new life.
Within the emptiness is also a oneness which unites us all.  In other
words, part of the psychology in exhaling things you do not like
involves the feeling that as you exhale you are opening yourself up. 
This involves trust and a sense of belonging to a greater whole.  
   Some individuals may wonder how you exhale sorrow,
depression, anger, lust, etc.  Thoughts and emotions are also energy. 
Here, at the beginning of Bardon's training system, we are learning
to treat them as such.  We are all continuously drawing in, releasing,
and circulating energy with the world around us.  Therefore, it is not
a loss to let go of something which we carry inside when we can
replace it with something better.