An approach to Franz Bardon's Mirror System
In his work “Initiation into Hermetics”, in the first level of the practical section, Franz Bardon talks about the activity of soul introspection. It consists of an internal examination of the strengths and weaknesses of the personality, managed according to a logic that we could define as “ruthless”, as it leaves no room for embellishments or considerations of self-indulgence. On the contrary, it requires total honesty towards errors, shortcomings, and fragility, of which we are all bearers, down to the most delicate nuances.
Anyone with experience in the practices described in this work knows that it is a process of reflection necessary to prepare the soul for the work on the Elements. It should also be accompanied by practices related to the physical and mental body to avoid imbalances in the general constitution of the practitioner. But the decision to undertake such a close and, at times, shocking and unpleasant analysis of one’s inner world – and to continue it – can only come from a personality already endowed with sufficient strength to withstand the impact of what, to all effects, is the unveiling of the false self, with its deceptions and its masks. It must be said that faced with courageous personalities, the exercise acquires its autonomy concerning the organic set of practices of the IIH, explicitly intended to train the practitioner in magic; it is undoubtedly one of the most potent self-analysis tools.
We briefly summarise the development of the practice. We start by making a detailed list of our faults without excluding anything and being careful not to assume that what others consider our weaknesses are such; the vital thing at this stage is to see clearly into ourselves. Bardon recommends completing this work in a week or two at most to avoid indulging in excessive guilt feelings – the purpose of this phase is not self-pity but self-improvement. He also suggests reaching the number of one hundred or more defects. At first glance, it may seem like an exaggeration, but for all intents and purposes, it is fine-grained work to avoid cursory analysis.
In the second stage, defects are assigned to the four Elements, reserving a different category (Other) for associations that present doubts. This phase exhibits some execution difficulties for several reasons. When we deal with the Elements, we tend to elaborate their meaning based on our tangible experience, considering them as constituents of matter. However, the Elements of the Hermetic discipline do not only correspond to this partial view, as we will see in the next paragraph. Attributing defects to individual Elements is even more complicated because one or more character traits, especially if considered dominant, can break down and give rise to sub-traits. Each sub-traits will be subsequently assigned to one or more Elements. For example, tobacco addiction can arise from insecurity assigned to the Air Element and a tendency to emulate associated with Water. Or its deep roots lie in self-destructive dispositions given by the Fire Element and so on ( these are just examples; each individual has specific attributions).
Furthermore, a generalised list of defects attributed to the Elements is rarely complete: we can have an Earth aggressiveness, triggered by the tendency to possess, and a Fire aggressiveness, given by a defective control of the vital energy. Having made these considerations, it is understandable why Bardon preferred not to go into too much detail regarding the attribution of defects, leaving the student to work on it patiently. Here, too, the time allowed for the execution of the work is one or two weeks. If this, from the point of view of the organisation of the activity carried out, may seem like a difficult task, let’s not forget that the work does not end here. After this classification, a long and patient meditation work begins over the months (and years), rediscovering the Elemental Equilibrium of our psychosomatic whole.
The third and final phase of attributing defects leads to the tripartition of the same according to their weight or importance concerning ourselves. This work is essential for understanding which aspects of one’s being to act on, starting from the psychic nodes that have the most significant impact on the personality or secondary factors that are more easily resolved and then moving on to the more resistant blocks. Bardon leaves freedom of choice based on attitudes or preferences. In IIH, he mentions three methods of resolving the inner conflicts caused by Elemental disorder: self-suggestion, application of willpower, and transmutation of passions into opposite qualities through meditation and introspection. They are not mutually exclusive, so much so that it is advisable to use them all, with the emphasis placed on the method closest to your temperamental characteristics. Meditative practice is probably the most suitable for effective action on one’s weaknesses. Willpower and self-suggestion are much more adequate after identifying the root causes of the unresolved aspects of the personality.
See the posts on Hermetic practices for an exposition of the exercises in Bardon’s works. An explanation of the Elements according to the Hermetic philosophy can be found in the post Partition of the negative aspects according to the Elements.
- Franz Bardon – Initiation into Hermetics – Wuppertal 1971
- Josef Drábek & Franz Bardon – An Aid for Introspection – Prague 2022