Bardon, Franz (1909-1958)

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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


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.