Where’d Bardon get his elemental breathing?

If you’ve read Bardon’s Initiation into Hermetics, you know two things:

1. Translating from the Czech into the German and then into English does not make clear or elegant prose.


2. Central to his system is a “pore breathing” method of bringing the elements into one’s body and consciousness.

If you’ve read Donald Michael Kraig’s Modern Magick, you probably also remember that pore breathing technique. But Kraig makes less of it than Bardon.

The thing is, once I got past Bardon’s horrid prose (which took me a long time to do — not his fault!), I recognize the utility of his method. Using the breath to absorb, through visualization (visual and tactile), elemental essences is a remarkably handy tool. It is more versatile than the Middle Pillar (which has other uses, though, as well) and one doesn’t have to be limited to elements. I’ve absorbed planetary essences, even spirit names, by visualizing them as colored lights or mists. But I wonder where he got this method from?

Could Bardon have read some Taoist books, and absorbed the idea of “colored mists” from Taoist magic?  I don’t know — I know the approximate dates that Taoist materials made their way into English (believe it or not, it was an important point in my dissertation), but I don’t know when they might have arrived in German or Czech.  Jan Fries details, as well as he can (it’s not easy, since translations of the relevant texts are few and far between even now) several such methods that resemble Bardon’s method. Or did Bardon get it, as might be more likely, from Hindu “Pranic” breathing? Either way, Bardon makes it something uniquely his own, and offered it to the Western Mystery Tradition. As techniques go, it’s one I like.


2 Responses to “Where’d Bardon get his elemental breathing?”

  1. The most popular one that comes straight to mind is “secret of the golden flower”, which is translated into by Richard Wilhelm in the 1920s, he’s a peer of Carl Jung. This taoist text would’ve been in German, of course.

    However, early Jesuits have begun mucking it up with Taoist texts as early as 1800s that is, textually accounted. I must however suggest that you also look into the Vajra Tantra that is also quite quite prevalent and did stir up interests if the German esotericists, and their secret tantric techniques are heavily dependent on visualization techniques amongst others.

    A possible leak would be ALexandra Daivd-Neel, she is trekking through the mountains as early as 1890s. She wrote a book called the secret oral teachings of tibetan buddhism. The funny thing is, I went on the proverbial “round the block to get next door”; where I found out about david-neel’s text after involvement with tantric practices. It is a nice little travelogue to read. I recommend coffee or perhaps if you a drinker, a lovely port.

    A “last, but not least” conjecture might be the Koldun and znakhar practices common in Czech/ russian/ rumania areas. Now, I know the koldun’s rep is far from squeaky clean; but it is the esoteric mechanics that I am merely alluding towards in regards to the pore breathing. Some practices have these koldun and znakhar as psychic or etheric or spiritual vacuum cleans where they hoover up all the bad vibes in the area or a rural village wedding festooned with superstitions — lovely events these; part communal celebration, part xenophobic-paranoia.

    Hope this helps!

  2. oh goodness, excuse the terrible terrible typos and mis-prepositions!

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