Excerpt from Initiation into Hermetics
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Whoever may believe that he has found, in this book, a collection of recipes through which he can effortlessly obtain honor, fame, wealth and power or the means to annihilate his enemies should be told that eventually he will disappointedly put this book aside. Many sects, religious and the like, as well as schools of thought such as philosophy, understand nothing more under the word “magic” than sorcery and conspiracy with the dark forces. Therefore it is not surprising that many people are somewhat apprehensive at the mere mention of the word. Prestidigitators, illusionists, charlatans, so-called stage magicians and whatever else they may be called often misuse the concept of magic, which circumstance contributes immensely to the fact that magical knowledge has always been regarded with a certain contempt. Since time immemorial the Magi were always considered to be the highest initiates; the word “magic” originated from them. The so-called sorcerers are not initiates; instead they are only imitators of the Mysteries who exploit the ignorance and gullibility of the individual and of an entire nation in order to achieve their selfish goals through deception and dishonesty. The true magician despises any such actions. Magic is in reality a sacred science. It is, in the truest sense of the term, the knowledge of all knowledge, because it teaches us how to understand and utilize the universal laws. Whenever you are dealing with true initiation, there is no difference between magic and mysticism or any other similar concepts, regardless of whatever names may be used by the prevailing ideology. It must be proceeded with on the same basis in accordance with the same universal laws. In consideration of the universal laws of the polarity of good and evil, of active and passive, of light and shadow, any science can be employed for good or evil purposes. For instance, the actual purpose of a bread knife is to cut bread, but it can become a dangerous weapon in the hands of a murderer. Everything depends upon the characteristics of the individual. This principle applies to all areas of occult knowledge. In my book, I [Franz Bardon] have chosen the term “magician” for the student as a symbol of his aspiration toward the highest initiation and the highest knowledge. Many readers are probably aware that the Tarot is not a game of cards serving mantic or prophetic purposes. Instead it is a book of initiation in which the greatest secrets are contained symbolically. The first card or first page of this book introduces the Magician, who represents the mastery of the elements and offers the key to the first arcanum, the secret of the ineffable name Tetragrammaton, the Kabbalistic YOD-HEH-VAU-HEH. Here we find the gate of initiation for magicians. The reader of this book will realize how meaningful and how universal the application of the first Tarot card really is. In no other book that has been published so far has the true sense of the first Tarot card been so clearly described as in this work. This system is structured with the greatest of care and with the utmost circumspection; it is not a speculative method, but the positive result of thirty years of research, practical exercises and repeated comparisons to many other systems of the various lodges, secret societies, and Oriental knowledge which are only accessible to especially gifted individuals and to the chosen few. It is — nota bene — from my own practical experience destined for the use of many. All my students have proved it to be the best and most usable system. This does not mean, nor do I [Franz Bardon] make the claim, that this book answers all questions about magic or mysticism. If everything were to be written down about this high knowledge, it would encompass many volumes. It can be said that this work is actually the entrance to true initiation — it is the first key of utilizing the universal laws. There is no question that you will find fragments of Hermetic knowledge in the works of various authors, but the reader will hardly find a single book which describes the first Tarot card in as much detail as this work. In every step of this course of instruction, I [Franz Bardon] have made every effort to be as intelligible as possible in order to make the greatest truths accessible to everyone. To express the truth in simple words so that it is understandable to everyone has been a very difficult task. I leave it to the reader’s judgment as to whether I have succeeded in this endeavor. In several instances I found it necessary to intentionally repeat certain statements in order to underline especially important sections and also to save the reader the time of searching for it. In the past, there have been many complaints by those who are interested in the secret sciences, as well as students of the occult sciences, who were given no opportunity to be initiated by a personal master or guide (guru), and thus true knowledge was only made accessible to the especially gifted or talented. Many true seekers have had to search through many volumes of books to obtain here and there a glimpse of a pearl of truth. Whoever is serious about his own development and who does not pursue this sacred knowledge out of pure curiosity or for the satisfaction of his own desires will find this work the proper guide to initiation. There is not one incarnated initiate, no matter how high-ranking he may be, who can offer more to the neophyte than what is offered in this book. Should the honest student and the attentive reader find in this book what he could not find in any other work, then this book has completely fulfilled its purpose.