Interview with Virgil Discussing The Christian Hermetics Project

Interview with Virgil Discussing The Christian Hermetics Project

FALCON BOOKS INTERVIEWS
EXPLORING ENLIGHTENED LIVING THROUGH HERMETIC MEDITATION AND BEYOND
With: Virgil

Falcon Books is presenting a series of interviews with seasoned Hermetic practitioners to offer not only their wisdom, knowledge and understanding, and an insight into their own journey,  but also to offer inspiration to those on this path. The focus of these discussions are guided towards the spiritual seeker.

The Christian Hermetics Project

FB: What is the purpose of the Christian Hermetics project?

Virgil: The Christian Hermetics project is actually intended to fulfill several purposes, but its primary purpose is to share the essence of the spiritual wisdom and power of Christianity with the wider Bardon community. To understand the importance of this purpose, it helps to reflect on the following passage from William Mistele’s commentary on the Step 1 mental exercises.

Do not become discouraged. Realize, however, that this line of practice is possibly the most difficult thing on earth to master. After all, in book one (IIH) you are preparing to internalize in yourself the essence of all spiritual wisdom and power that exist on this planet.

At this time, there are already numerous Bardonists who are trying to internalize within themselves the essence of Buddhist wisdom/power, the essence of Taoist wisdom/power, and the essence of yogic wisdom/power. You can tell because if you go onto any given Bardon forum, posts mentioning Eastern spiritual traditions are usually a dime a dozen. This is very much a good thing. These Eastern traditions are viewed by Bardonists as repositories of great spiritual wisdom and power, and they certainly are.

Christianity, however, is often viewed differently. It’s no secret that there is a bit of a stigma associated with Christianity in the occult/esoteric/magical world. Back when I was active on Reddit, one subreddit I posted a lot on was ChristianOccultism. If you take a look at the description of that subreddit, you will see that it is “a safe place for occultists exiled by Christians and Christians exiled by occultists.” Another similar subreddit, ChristianWitch, describes itself as “a safe haven for those who identify as a Christian Witch and/or practice Christian Witchcraft.” Within the occult/esoteric/magical world, you do not see safe places and safe havens for Buddhists, Hindus, yogis, or qigong practitioners, but you do see these safe places and safe havens for Christians, and this is because of the stigma associated with Christianity.

One consequence of this stigma is that many Bardonists shy away from internalizing within themselves the essence of Christian wisdom/power. This is a mistake. In his commentary, William does not say we internalize within ourselves the essence of the non-Christian spiritual wisdom and power that exist on this planet, but that we internalize within ourselves the essence of all spiritual wisdom and power that exist on this planet. Unless we internalize within ourselves the essence of Christian spiritual wisdom and power, we will not have internalized within ourselves the essence of all spiritual wisdom and power that exist on this planet, and we will always be missing something. Those Bardonists interested in internalizing within themselves the essence of Christian spiritual wisdom and power will hopefully find some guidance through the Christian Hermetics project.

FB: What is a Christian approach to IIH?

Virgil: To answer this question, let’s begin with the fact that those who choose to work through IIH generally know, at least to some degree, that the things Bardon writes in his books are true. No one ever says “This Bardon guy is full of crap but I’m going to work through IIH anyway.” If you know that the things Bardon writes in his books are true, then you know that magical training empowers one to be of great assistance to others. It provides the magician with useful magical skills and abilities, it gives him access to inner plane resources, and it allows him to safely interact with spirits who possess knowledge that has never been shared in the outer world before. All of this has important implications because there are currently many people who are in need of assistance. As of now, 1.89 billion people live in extreme poverty, 40.3 million people are victims of human trafficking, and 690 million people are affected by world hunger. Over half of the world’s population lacks access to basic medical services that many of us living in developed countries take for granted. Ethnic groups like the Uighurs are being persecuted in inhumane ways; they are locked in camps, beaten with shock sticks, and given water mixed with acid to drink. Furthermore, in the United States alone, the number of children discovered each year to be victims of child abuse would fill ten football stadiums.

For some spiritual seekers, all of these suffering individuals are nameless faces whose suffering is no one’s business but their own, and the numbers I’ve mentioned are of no interest to them and of no relevance to their lives. In fact, some spiritual traditions even teach that we should not get caught up in the world by helping others, and that we should instead focus on our own spiritual evolution. What Christianity teaches, however, is something very different and very radical. It teaches that all of these suffering individuals are our brothers and sisters, since we all share the same Heavenly Father, and that we should love these brothers and sisters of ours even as our own selves. According to Jesus Christ, all of those who are living in extreme poverty, victims of human trafficking, or affected by world hunger are our brothers and sisters. All of the Uighurs, the Rohingya, and the members of any other persecuted ethnic groups are our brothers and sisters. All of those children who suffer at the hands of abusive parents, all of those without access to adequate medical care, all of those affected by water scarcity or environmental injustices, and all of those who are victims of hate crimes or acts of terrorism are our brothers and sisters. This idea that we are all brothers and sisters, and that we are to love our brothers and sisters even as our own selves, is part of the wisdom of Christianity. It is also the basis for any Christian approach to IIH. Christ told us very explicitly that we should lay down our lives for our friends in the following passage from the Gospel of John.

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:12-13)

This passage is a summary of what it means to follow a Christian approach to IIH. It means engaging in serious magical training as a way of laying down your life for your friends. All of our fellow humans are our brothers and sisters, and therefore our friends. When we train, we train for all of our fellow humans, and we lay down our lives for them. If we did not do this, we would not love them as our own selves.

Let’s consider what it means to engage in serious magical training as a way of laying down your life for your friends. According to William Mistele, “if you are going to acquire genuine divine powers from practicing magic, then it is a really good idea at the outset to have some sort of divine purpose for which you are going to apply those powers.” Let’s say your divine purpose is to work with Hyrmiua (26° Virgo) to help those suffering from mental illnesses. Every time you refrain from watching Netflix so you can practice the exercises of IIH, you are laying down your life for those suffering from mental illnesses. Every time you refrain from spending the afternoon on Facebook so you can practice the exercises of IIH instead, you are laying down your life for those suffering from mental illnesses. Every time you refrain from going to a fun party so you can practice the exercises of IIH instead, you are laying down your life for those suffering from mental illnesses. Every time you refrain from daydreaming so you can practice mindfulness instead, you are laying down your life for those suffering from mental illnesses. Every time you resist eating a sugary doughnut or greasy pizza because you know that good physical health is conducive to magical advancement, you are laying down your life for those suffering from mental illnesses.

The same goes for those whose divine purpose is to work with Harkinon (17° Sagittarius) to help those who are abandoned or hated. Every time you refrain from watching porn and masturbating so you can practice the exercises of IIH instead, you are laying down your life for those who are abandoned or hated. Every time you refrain from watching funny videos on YouTube so you can practice the exercises of IIH instead, you are laying down your life for those who are abandoned or hated. Every time you refrain from gossiping so you can practice the exercises of IIH instead, you are laying down your life for those who are abandoned or hated. If there is a really interesting book on runes out there that you really want to read but you decide to read a book on mindfulness instead because you know it is more relevant to you at your current stage of training, then you lay down your life for those who are abandoned or hated when you choose to read the book on mindfulness instead of the book on runes.

Love
FB: Is love essential to a Christian approach to IIH?

Virgil: Yes, and any approach that does not incorporate love will not even resemble a Christian approach, let alone be a Christian approach. But the love that is essential to any Christian approach to IIH is genuine love, which is love that is selfless and unconditional, and that does not arise from egotism in any way. I think the following anecdote from Sundar Singh, as recorded in the book Wisdom of the Sadhu, does a good job of illustrating genuine love.

Once, as I traveled through the Himalayas, there was a great forest fire. Everyone was frantically trying to fight the fire, but I noticed a group of men standing and looking up into a tree that was about to go up in flames. When I asked them what they were looking at, they pointed up at a nest full of young birds. Above it, the mother bird was circling wildly in the air and calling out warnings to her young ones. There was nothing she or we could do, and soon the flames started climbing up the branches.

As the nest caught fire, we were all amazed to see how the mother bird reacted. Instead of flying away from the flames, she flew down and settled on the nest, covering her little ones with her wings. The next moment, she and her nestlings were burnt to ashes. None of us could believe our eyes. I turned to those standing by and said: “We have witnessed a truly marvelous thing. God created that bird with such love and devotion, that she gave her life trying to protect her young. If her small heart was so full of love, how unfathomable must be the love of her Creator. That is the love that brought him down from heaven to become man. That is the love that made him suffer a painful death for our sake.”

The love displayed by the mother bird in this incident was genuine love, the sort of love we as Christians try to cultivate. But cultivating love can be tricky because there are many vices that often masquerade as love even though they arise from egotism and are therefore contrary to love. One such vice is a savior complex. I once knew a spiritual seeker who had an enormous savior complex. He was perennially trapped in a dynamic known as the Karpman drama triangle. He of course played the rescuer role in the triangle, and in order to keep him stuck in the triangle, the sitra achra would constantly send him new victims whom he could save. He believed that God was sending him these people as a sign that he was born to be a savior to others, and this idea soon went to his head and his egotism grew exponentially. Usually, when an aspiring magician’s egotism grows exponentially, it’s because they work with the fire element or the cosmic letters prematurely. This guy didn’t even need to do that in order for his egotism to grow so rapidly.

Another vice that often masquerades as love is something John of the Cross calls spiritual gluttony. Some people eat a lot of food because they like to experience the good feelings, or “foodgasms,” that come with stuffing oneself. Similarly, some people practice spiritual exercises, especially those that involve messing around with the anahata chakra, because these spiritual exercises can produce blissful feelings of “love” within them and they are addicted to these feelings. Such people do not possess the sort of genuine love that Christ had and was trying to teach. They are like the yogis William criticizes who “are so overwhelmed with a bliss more enticing than heroin that they couldn’t care less for the suffering of humanity.”

FB: Does a Christian approach to IIH have advantages?

Virgil: Every sensible approach to IIH has its own unique advantages, and Christian approaches are no exception. To understand the primary advantage of following a Christian approach to IIH, it might be helpful to think about the following anecdote from Sundar Singh, also from the book Wisdom of the Sadhu.

Once when travelling in Tibet, I was crossing a high mountain pass with my Tibetan guide. The weather had suddenly turned bitterly cold, and my companion and I feared that we might not make it to the next village – still several miles away – before succumbing to the frost.

Suddenly, we stumbled upon a man who had slipped from the path and was lying in the snow. Looking more closely, I discovered that the man was still alive, though barely. “Come,” I said to my companion, “help me try to bring this unfortunate man to safety.” But my companion was upset and frightened for his life. He answered: “If we try to carry that man, none of us will ever reach the village. We will all freeze. Our only hope is to go on as quickly as possible, and that is what I intend to do. You will come with me if you value your life.” Without another word and without looking back, he set off down the path.

I could not bring myself to abandon the helpless traveler while life remained in him, so I lifted him on my back and threw my blanket around us both as best I could. Slowly and painstakingly, I picked my way along the steep, slippery path with my heavy load. Soon it began to snow, and I could make out the way forward only with great difficulty.

How we made it, I do not know. But just as daylight was beginning to fade, the snow cleared and I could see houses a few hundred yards ahead. Near me, on the ground, I saw the frozen body of my guide. Nearly within shouting distance of the village, he had succumbed to the cold and died, while the unfortunate traveler and I made it to safety. The exertion of carrying him and the contact of our bodies had created enough heat to save us both. This is the way of service. No one can live without the help of others, and in helping others, we receive help ourselves.

During this incident, Sundar Singh displayed something known as the spirit of sacrifice. The spirit of sacrifice is at the heart of Christianity and is one of the things that makes Christianity unique. It arises from the love which is the foundation of any Christian approach to IIH, and of Christianity in general. We believe that acting in the spirit of sacrifice is the best way to merit God’s grace and God’s help in anything we do, including our magical training.

Saint Paisios of Mount Athos was one individual who always lived in the spirit of sacrifice. Kyriacos Markides’s book The Mountain of Silence is fairly popular among Christian Bardonists, and is often where they usually first learn about Saint Paisios, since the book begins with an account of one the many healing miracles effected by this saint for those who sought his help. In the book Spiritual Counsels II: Spiritual Awakening, there are two chapters dedicated to Saint Paisios’s teachings about the spirit of sacrifice (chapter 5 of Part II and chapter 2 of Part III). In these chapters, Saint Paisios explains that nothing moves God more than the spirit of sacrifice, and therefore those who live in the spirit of sacrifice will often find miracles worked for their benefit. Thus, those who work through IIH in the spirit of sacrifice will find miracles worked for them to help them with their training. Anyone who intends to follow a Christian approach to IIH should study these two chapters very often and very carefully until they have fully assimilated the information contained within them. Nothing is more important than the spirit of sacrifice. Without this spirit, one’s approach to IIH may be Christianity-themed, but it will not be Christian.

FB: Is humility essential to a Christian approach to IIH?

Virgil: Yes. As Christians, our motivation to work through IIH, or to do anything else in life, must come from love. Without humility, one cannot have love. One can certainly have a savior complex, but one cannot have love. If our motivation to work through IIH comes from genuine love, then the efforts we make towards working through IIH will take us closer and closer to adepthood. But if our motivation to work through IIH comes from a savior complex, then the efforts we make towards working through IIH will take us deeper and deeper into a state of prelest.

FB: Is humility only necessary for those who are following a Christian approach to IIH, or is it necessary for all Bardonists regardless of what approach they are following?

Virgil: In his book Magic: The Principles of Higher Knowledge, Karl von Eckartshausen writes “The door through which human beings enter into the Temple of Wisdom is very straight. Those who are bloated with arrogance will not be able to pass through this narrow door. Also, those who will not bend and bow their heads will not be able to enter because this door is made for humbleness and innocence.” All Bardonists are trying to reach the Holy of Holies at the center of the same Temple of Wisdom. There isn’t one Temple of Wisdom for Christian Bardonists and then another one for Buddhist Bardonists and then another one for Hindu Bardonists. Every Bardonist’s magical training begins upon passing through the door of the Temple of Wisdom, and one cannot pass through this door without humility. Therefore, humility is for all Bardonists regardless of what sort of approach to IIH they are following. Without it, they cannot even begin their magical training.

FB: Is humility still necessary after one has passed through the door of the Temple of Wisdom?

Virgil: Humility is the antidote to prelest. As long as there is the danger of falling into prelest, humility is necessary. No one, regardless of their religion or level of advancement, is immune to prelest, so this is one reason humility is always necessary. In addition to this, the inside of the Temple of Wisdom has many mazes and pitfalls, so anyone who enters needs a guide. In Magic: The Principles of Higher Knowledge, Karl von Eckartshausen also writes “Humility alone is the best guide. This alone will lead the seeker to the Master of Teachers of all Secrets.”

FB: Is a Christian approach to IIH for everyone?

Virgil: In several of his writings, William Mistele states that each of the 365 ruling genii of the Earth-zone could teach IIH in their own unique way, so this means there are numerous possible approaches to IIH. No approach or category of approaches is for everyone, so a Christian approach isn’t for everyone. While working through IIH as a way of laying down one’s life for others may appeal to many people as an idea, in practice a large portion of those people will understandably avoid this approach once they learn what laying down one’s life for others really entails. One of the best sources of practical guidance for those following a Christian approach to IIH is chapter 13 of Book I of Ascent of Mount Carmel. In that chapter, John of the Cross writes the following.

Strive always to prefer, not that which is easiest, but that which is most difficult;

Not that which is most delectable, but that which is most unpleasing;

Not that which gives most pleasure, but rather that which gives least;

Not that which is restful, but that which is wearisome;

Not that which is consolation, but rather that which is disconsolateness;

Not that which is greatest, but that which is least;

Not that which is loftiest and most precious, but that which is lowest and most despised;

Not that which is a desire for anything, but that which is a desire for nothing;

Strive to go about seeking not the best of temporal things, but the worst.

Strive thus to desire to enter into complete detachment and emptiness and poverty, with respect to everything that is in the world, for Christ’s sake.

Christianity teaches that Christ can be found in all people, so anything done for others is done for Christ’s sake. Some people may read John of the Cross’s words and say to themselves “This really resonates with me. It is just what I needed to read in order to stop chasing after pleasures and spend my time practicing the exercises of IIH instead, even when I am feeling tired, or when I’d prefer to be on social media, or when I’m not in the mood to practice.” These people will likely find that a Christian approach to IIH is a good fit for them. But other people will read these same words and say to themselves “This guy is crazy. As far as I can tell, he’s just straight-up telling me to have a bad time. Who in their right mind would follow an approach to IIH that is based on having a bad time?” These people will likely find that a Christian approach to IIH is not a good fit for them.

FB: What role does prayer have in a Christian approach to IIH?

Virgil: Prayer is an essential part of any Christian approach to IIH, and any approach that does not incorporate a large amount of prayer cannot be called a Christian approach. In terms of inspiration, a Christian approach to IIH can be described as an approach centered on working through IIH as a way of laying down your life for your fellow humans. In terms of practice, a Christian approach to IIH can be described as an approach centered on harnessing the power of prayer to accelerate one’s advancement through IIH. In his book The Roots of Christian Mysticism, there is a section in which Olivier Clement describes how prayer eventually becomes something you are rather than something you do. In this section, Clement mentions ascetics who became “pillars of prayer” wandering through the desert. Some of those living in the South and the Midwest are familiar with the sight of powerful tornados advancing unhindered and easily ripping apart the buildings, bridges, and other structures standing in their way. This is what the Christian Bardonist who has become a pillar of prayer is like as he advances toward adepthood. Nothing can stop him or even slow him down. He is a spiritual force of nature.

Prayer is a simple activity, but it is also a profound art. It is an interesting art because on the one hand, it is something that even someone with no experience can do without any training. On the other hand, however, it takes years to master. There are many good books on prayer that one can resort to for guidance, including the ones I mention frequently in my writings, such as The Art of PrayerPrayer of the Heart in Christian and Sufi Mysticism, and all of the books written by Teresa of Avila, the Doctor of Prayer. Anyone who has attained theosis is certainly a valuable source of guidance when it comes to mastering the art of prayer, so this would include any advanced hesychasts, many of whom trained on Mount Athos. Saint Paisios of Mount Athos was one such hesychast who attained theosis, and the chapter on prayer in the aforementioned book Spiritual Counsels II: Spiritual Awakening contains a lot of good advice on the subject.

FB: What role does Mary have for those following a Christian approach to IIH?

Virgil: The various forms of spirituality developed by humanity are sometimes divided into two categories – esoteric and exoteric. Magic is an esoteric form of spirituality. In the Christian tradition, esoteric spirituality is often associated with the Apostle John and exoteric spirituality is often associated with the Apostle Peter. When Jesus was dying on the cross, he gave Mary to John as a mother and told John that he was now her son. Since John was the representative of those following the esoteric path, this indicates that Mary is the mother of those following the esoteric path. Like any mother, she loves us, teaches us, supports us, and protects us.

Now, that being said, we should not make the grave mistake of thinking that those who follow an exoteric path instead of an esoteric path are not children of Mary and cannot rely on her for guidance, support, and protection. The steps leading up to the Temple of Wisdom are still part of the temple, so they are just as much the spiritual children of Mary as we are, and anyone who claims otherwise is speaking nonsense. However, by giving Mary to John instead of Peter, Jesus was hinting at something very important. Mary is not just our spiritual mother. She is also an initiator, appointed by the incarnate Logos himself, who can lead us to the center of the Temple of Wisdom and reveal to us the secrets of esotericism. It is for this reason that we venerate her and seek to build a good relationship with her. For us she truly is the Mystical Rose, the Seat of Wisdom and the new Ark of the Covenant.

FB: What role does the Rosary have for those following a Christian approach to IIH?

Virgil: The Christian Bardonist will always make a serious effort to work through IIH, because he knows that becoming a magician will put him in a better position to serve his fellow humans, all of whom are his brothers and sisters, and many of whom are suffering as a result of extreme poverty, world hunger, water scarcity, the negative consequences of climate change, air pollution, war, etc. Making a serious effort to work through IIH means making a serious effort to break down the barriers standing between oneself and the completion of IIH. For those who are able to employ the Rosary, meaning the Rosary resonates with them and they recognize its power, this necessitates employing the Rosary. For such Bardonists, any effort to work through IIH that does not involve using the power of the Rosary to break down the aforementioned barriers cannot really be considered a serious effort, or even a sincere one. Imagine that you are trying to break down a brick wall with your fists even though you have easy access to a cannon. Would anyone say your effort to break down the wall is a serious or sincere effort? The Rosary is the supreme weapon of the Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven and Earth. To take up the Rosary is to say “I genuinely love all of my fellow human beings, who are all my brothers and sisters, and I will do whatever is needed to become the sort of person who can greatly assist them with their pains and struggles. I am determined to strike down, in the most efficient manner possible, whatever obstacles stand in my way as I make the journey from being an aspiring magician to being an actual magician.”

FB: Can non-Christian Bardonists benefit from the Christian Hermetics articles you write?

Virgil: During his Stoa lectures, Daskalos would say to his audience “If you come here as a Buddhist, or a Hindu, a Jew, a Muslim, or whatever, please leave here as one; but a real one, who knows and practices his faith.” It is the same idea with my articles. I hope the Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim Bardonists who read my articles remain Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim Bardonists. But, I also hope they think about what it really means to be a Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, or Muslim Bardonist. Many times, people learn that there is esoteric knowledge concealed within the Apocalypse of John, or they hear rumors of Rosicrucian lineages guarding alchemical secrets, or they read about the incredible magical skills and abilities possessed by Christian adepts like Daskalos, and they want to be a part of all this so they begin calling themselves Christians. However, they make no effort to live their lives in a way that reflects love. Their behavior, both in the online and in the offline world, remains the same as what it was before they supposedly became Christians. In the most recent email I sent to those subscribed to the Christian Hermetics email list, I pointed out that even an action as small as using Facebook’s laugh react feature to mock others is an action that goes against the virtue of love, and is therefore something no Christian Bardonist would do. Some people might not think twice about using the Facebook laugh react to mock others, since it seems like such a little thing compared to murder, sexual assault, and other ways of hurting others, but Christ tells us that “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10). We must pay attention to the little ways we hurt others as well as the big ways.

That said, this advice is not just good for Christian Bardonists. Love has a place in all religions. Some religions may not emphasize love as much as Christianity does. For example, Theravada Buddhism emphasizes detachment much more than it does love; but metta and karuna, which are two of the brahmaviharas, are expressions of love, so love still has a place in Theravada Buddhism. The same goes for the other religions that do not emphasize love as much as Christianity does. Love may not be the essence of those religions like it is with Christianity, but it is still a component of those religions. No one needs to convert to Christianity in order to take love seriously, but they can still benefit from Christ’s teachings on love, since love is love. It is universal, and this does not change regardless of who is teaching about it.

FB: Do you have any general advice for those seeking to internalize in themselves the essence of all spiritual wisdom and power that exist on this planet?

Virgil: Every time you begin to study a new spiritual tradition, study it in the state of mind known as shoshin. Otherwise, all you will do is compare what you are learning to the spiritual traditions you are already familiar with, and therefore, it will be harder for you to see the unique aspects of the new spiritual tradition you are studying. The essence of a spiritual tradition’s wisdom and power is often what makes it unique, so you may miss this essence.

FB: Do you have any advice for those seeking to internalize in themselves the essence of Christian wisdom and power?

Virgil: If you internalize within yourself the spirit of sacrifice, you will have internalized within yourself a large part of the essence of Christian wisdom and power. The spirit of sacrifice is not internalized through reading about it, but through prayer and through living in this spirit. Therefore, pray often for God to help you develop the unconditional love that produces the spirit of sacrifice, and do your best to live in this spirit. If you are not Christian, then living in the spirit of sacrifice does not have to become your default way of life, nor do you need to force yourself to live in this spirit permanently. However, you should live in this spirit long enough to internalize it. Throughout your magical career, you will find yourself in a wide variety of situations. Dealing with some situations may require you to bring forth the essence of Taoist wisdom/power. Dealing with other situations may require you to bring forth the essence of Druid, Sufi, or Kabbalistic wisdom/power. If you don’t internalize the spirit of sacrifice, you won’t be able to bring it forth if you find yourself dealing with a situation where you’ll need the essence of Christian wisdom/power.

FB: Besides sharing the essence of Christian wisdom and power with the wider Bardon community, are there any other purposes the Christian Hermetics project is designed to fulfill?

Virgil: Christianity is more than just its essence, so not every article I write will be about unconditional love or the spirit of sacrifice. Like every religion, Christian contains many worlds. There is a whole world within the sermons of Meister Eckhart, as well as a whole world within the Dialogue of Catherine of Siena. There is also a whole world within Salesian spirituality, a whole world within the Philokalia, a whole world within Franciscan mysticism, a whole world within the teachings of the Desert Fathers, and several whole worlds within the sermons and divinely-inspired fairy tales of George MacDonald. Christian Bardonists exploring these worlds will find many spiritual treasures that can help them with their training, but since some of these worlds are extremely vast, it is easy to get lost in them. While getting lost may be part of the fun, I do think it helps to have at least a few maps you can use to reorient yourself from time to time if you need to. I hope to produce some maps of the various worlds in the Christian universe for Christian Bardonists, especially of the worlds of Carmelite and Athonite mysticism, which I believe are two of the worlds that contain the most spiritual treasures for Bardonists.

FB: Do you have any advice for those following a Christian approach to IIH?

Virgil: There are many times throughout your training when you may feel some discomfort, pain, or sorrow. For example, if you wake up early in the morning during the winter so you can meditate, you may feel discomfort because of the cold. If you have a headache but force yourself to remain mindful instead of allowing yourself to escape into a daydream, you may feel pain because of the headache. If you know that good health is conducive to magical advancement so you make an effort to improve your health, you may feel discomfort while exercising or sorrow when turning down free doughnuts. In cases like these, take out your rosary, if you have one, and gaze upon the crucifix. Remember that since you are training as a way of laying down your life for others, the discomfort, pain, or sorrow you feel is in a small way a reflection of the suffering that Christ felt upon the cross. This will inspire you to persevere.