A merciless self-analysis of the soul
The soul introspection stage of Step I is an accurate self-analysis that lays bare the emotional and character traits, both positive and negative. It would be tempting to give a subsidiary value to this type of activity, similar in some ways to a psychological examination of the personality; a more significant error of judgment could not be made. That is a crucial phase of initiation on which the future outcomes of the hermetic preparation will depend. Without the emotional balance that it guarantees – if carried out effectively – it is not easy to continue in one’s development.
In this first part of the practice, we will focus on the negative aspects. Take a notebook, or rather, a notebook with tear-off sheets, and begin to write down your defects, negative elements, weaknesses that come to mind, past mistakes, outbursts, prevarications, betrayals, misunderstandings, up to the most delicate nuances. Nothing should escape this close analysis, much less the things we are most ashamed of and that it is challenging to confess even to ourselves. If you find it difficult, think that you are not judging your actions; instead, it is a profound meditation that brings your energies to light, allowing you to use them profitably. Nothing vanishes, but everything turns into something better. However, to achieve this, one must be ruthless with oneself. It’s a somewhat creepy process, so it’s best to provide entertainment and distraction to ease the emotional burden. Using paper instead of a text editor to write the list makes the process more personal, and tear-off sheets are helpful if you decide to change something.
Bardon states that a hundred defects are a sufficient measure. It may seem like an exaggerated number, but in reality, it represents the effort we are willing to put into research. It is not certain that a more or less large number is not good, but if you also consider the minuscule shortcomings, it is not difficult to reach this goal. As for the times and modalities of the practice, we can dedicate a few minutes in the morning and the evening; if you have the possibility and during the day the memory of one or more defects occurs, write them down immediately. Last but not least, ensure the notepad is hidden in a safe place away from prying eyes, given the intimate nature of what is reported.
That is one of the few exercises that Bardon assigns a time limit, one or two weeks at most, to complete the list of defects and move on to the next step, the subdivision of negative aspects according to the Elements. The time limit prevents excessive involvement in the introspection phase; the purpose of this practice is, in fact, to trigger the process of inner transformation, not to plunge the practitioner into a spiral of self-pity.