Bardon, Franz (1909–1958)
Franz Bardon was one of the most important figures in the
occult revival of the twentieth century and the author of three
influential books Initiation into Hermetics, The Practice of Magical
Evocation, and The Key to the True Qabalah. He was, however, a
reclusive individual and much of his life remains obscure. He
was born and grew up in Czechoslovakia, the eldest of 13 children.
His father, Viktor Bardon, was a mystic. As a youth, Franz
sought some illumination and finally felt an advanced soul entering
his body and providing him with his first initiatory experiences.

In the 1920s and 1930s he worked as a stage magician under
the name Frabato. He also became an accomplished practitioner
of real magic. It has been alleged that Bardon was a member
of the Fraternity of Saturn in Germany prior to its being disbanded
by the Nazis in the mid-1930s. However, no proof of
that association has been produced. In 1941 he was arrested by
the Nazis and after refusing to assist Hitler magically, was imprisoned
in a concentration camp and tortured. He escaped his
execution when the Allies bombed the camp where he was confined.
He escaped and spent the rest of World War II (1939–45)
in hiding. He returned to his hometown after the war, continuing
his occult work and writing the books for which he became
well known. While studying, he made his living as a healer
using alchemical preparations. Bardon was arrested in 1958 by
the Czech government for publishing occult materials, and
died in prison on July 10, 1958.
During the 1950s, Bardon set about the task of writing his
three books as serious texts from the aspiring magician who did
not have a teacher or working group. He wrote in Czech and
his finished manuscripts were translated into German and published.
English translations became available at the beginning
of the 1970s. His work shows a broad familiarity with the magical
writings of Francis Barrett, Éliphas Lévi, Alexandria
David-Neel, and even Aleister Crowley. However, he synthesized
the tradition and focused on his own work and the magical
activity that he verified in his own experience.
Like Levi, he saw the universe undergirded with cosmic
power, but divided those powers into magnetic (a cool negative
force) and electrical, (a warm positive force). The magician
learns how to control and manipulate these forces. The magician
is composed of the four traditional elements (earth, air,
fire, and water) understood psychologically, and the accomplished
magician must be a balanced person with a developed
psyche in which each element, such as intuition or passion, is
present but not so dominating as to push the other elements
aside.
In his first book, Initiation into Hermetics, Bardon leads the
student through a basic course in magical training. The second
volume, The Practice of Magical Evocation, treats all the magical
instruments from the wand to the magical mirror, and explains
in detail the process of contacting various kinds of spirit entities.
The final volume is a more detailed treatment of the Qabalah
(or kabbalah).
Bardon was assisted by his long-time student Dieter Rüggeburg,
who published both the German and English editions of
his several books and continued to keep them in print. In the
1990s, a Franz Bardon Foundation was established and for several
years issued a newsletter, but appears to have disappeared
as the decade came to a close. Students of the Bardon literature
have developed a web presence, possibly the most important
site being httpwww.franzbardon.com.
Sources
Bardon, Franz. Initiation into Hermetics. Wupperthal, Germany
Dieter Rüggeburg, 1970.
———. The Key to the True Qabalah. Wupperthal, Germany
Dieter Rüggeburg, 1971.
———. The Practice of Magical Evocation. Wupperthal, Germany
Dieter Rüggeburg, 1970.
Scott, Tim. ‘‘Who Was Franz Bardon’’ New Moon Rising
(Beltane 1999) 66–72.

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