A simpler question though. What gets gathered in a fluid condensor? If it is a symbol, than why bother with ingredients like gold and chamomile?
Fluid. Which is Bardon’s metaphor for power. Power is an abstract idea, and lots of symbols could point to it: fluid and energy among them. I don’t understand the second question: you seem to be implying that symbols are somehow less real than matter, and you know I think otherwise, so that must not be what you mean. Obviously the gold and the chamomile are both kinds of matter that express the idea of Bardon’s “power.” So it makes sense that you’d want them as allies to express that idea to the Nous. You put together three symbols, two of them expressed by pieces of matter, one by the magician, and you get an object of power.
I think you have a misapprehension that I think anyone who talks about energy is stupid. I don’t. Energy is a valid metaphor for power. But it’s not power. It’s not literally true that there is a magical energy and many, many people who practice magic think that there is. This misapprehension limits them. “Energy” as a symbol for power works fine, until and unless you start thinking it offers:
1. Explanatory force for why or how magic works;
2. A one-for-one metaphoric analog to power (complete with slots from the energy domain including “scarcity” and so on, that don’t apply to magical power.)
3. A literal, physical reality to magic, which reduces magic to another kind of materialism.
Magical power is more accurately understood as a kind of communication, not a kind of electrical charge. It’s the authority to get your idea across to the Nous, so as to change reality. If we have to visualize that authority as a fluid we breathe with our pores, or an electrical charge we get from the heavens, or a light that gathers in our chakras, or whatever, so be it. Just know that’s a visualization of an abstract idea, a metaphor and not the thing in itself.