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Understanding the Subconscious Mind, by Tanya Robinson

This article is a revised version from an excerpt published in the title, Equipoise: Insights Into Foundational Astral Training, by the Franz Bardon Community.

Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.

C.G. Jung

There is this one green lion, which closes and opens the seven indissoluble seals of the seven metallic spirits which torments the bodies, until it has perfected them, by means of the artist’s long and resolute patience.

“TheCosmopolite,” (16th century).

‘The Green Lion Devouring The Sun’ is a well-known alchemical symbol that represents the process of purification and transformation. This symbol is derived from the alchemical reference to “vitriol,” a green liquid sulfate that purifies matter and reveals the gold within. Pure vitriol is a powerful acid that can dissolve almost anything except for gold.

In addition to its symbolic representation of the purification process, the Green Lion Devouring The Sun also serves as a metaphor for the transformation of the soul. In this metaphorical alchemical journey, the green lion consuming the sun eventually leads to the sun turning red. This transition symbolises the transformation of the materia prima, the chaotic form of matter, into something more refined.

Overall, the image of the green lion eating the sun embodies the destructive nature of purification and the subsequent transformation of the soul. It signifies the cleansing of the body and the emergence of a more enlightened state of being.

On a human level, the green lion eating the sun is a metaphor for when a person’s “consciousness [is] overwhelmed by violent, frustrated desires” (Fabricus).

In the Corpus Hermeticum XIII,Hermes speaking to his ‘son’ Tat these tormentors are revealed,

Her. Torment the first is this Not-knowing, 1 son; the second one is Grief; the third, Intemperance; the
fourth, Concupiscence; the fifth, Unrighteousness; the sixth is Avarice; the seventh, Error 2; the eighth
is Envy; the ninth, Guile 3; the tenth is Anger; eleventh, Rashness; the twelfth is Malice. These are in
number twelve; but under them are many more, my son; and creeping through the prison of the
body 4 they force the man that’s placed within 5 to suffer in his senses. But they depart (although not
all at once) from him who hath been taken pity on by God 6; and this it is which constitutes the
manner of Rebirth. And . . . . 7 the Reason (Logos). 8. And now, my son, be still and solemn silence
keep! Thus shall the mercy that flows on us from God not cease. Henceforth rejoice, O son, for by the Powers of God thou art being purified for the articulation of the Reason (Logos).1

Corpus Hermeticum XIII

It appears that Hermes perhaps was referring to the uncontrolled or hidden aspect of the subconscious mind that refers to the negative expression of qualities — the tormentors which he lists twelve. Interestingly, Hermes also speaks about a solution to dealing with these forces and offers a key, the use of the logos (reasoning), which refers to the conscious aspect of the mind. Later on in this article, we will see how not only this sentence of knowledge is fundamental in transforming the mind, but also the importance of using the logos to practice conscious awareness in daily life; moreover, we should understand the influence that the the subconscious mind has upon us. Also, we will be delving into the nature of concentration, its importance and link to the subconscious mind, including how the ability to make progress in any path towards adepthood is linked to the ability to concentrate and control our thoughts.

What is the conscious and subconscious mind and why are they so important in our hermetic training?

You will have probably come across this dealing with this aspect of the mind through any self-development
program, or through working on auto-suggestion if you follow the Bardon system. In modern psychology, the
subconscious aspect of the mind refers to a vast collection of unintentional, habitual thoughts, behaviours, and
actions. These actions are non-conscious which means we have no choice in the way the mind responds.

Freud’s Iceberg Model

Freud likened the mind to an iceberg he believed  ”the unconscious mind is the primary source of human behavior. Like an iceberg, the most important part of the mind is the part you cannot see.” The unconscious mind is thought by psychologists to be the place where memories, knowledge, fears, repressed desires, traumatic experiences, violent motives, irrational wishes, immoral urges, selfish needs and shameful experiences are stored.2

Neuroscientists3 have come to the understanding that the brain’s processes operate much like the metaphor
of an iceberg, whereby 10% of the conscious mind is active and in our control and 90% is hidden and is controlled
by the subconscious aspect of the mind’s processes. In earlier an text, Hermes refers to uncontrolled
passions relating to the tormentors. I believe he is referring to the negative uncontrolled aspect of the subconscious

If we look at the list below which attributes are associated with the uncontrolled subconscious mind it is very
interesting to note the form of these tormentors often manifests through them.

  • Beliefs
  • Emotions
  • Habits
  • Values
  • Protective reactions
  • Long-term memory
  • Imagination
  • Intuition

Most people are subject to dealing with negative experiences from the past. Emotions rising up through protective reactions, or people believing they are cursed. Bad habits preventing them from having a full expression in life. The cultural values imposed upon us through our upbringing, to name a few.

Now let us look at the conscious mind in which only 10% is conscious, meaning thoughts and actions that we actively choose through our own will (as illustrated in the iceberg metaphor). If we go back to the references to Hermes he speaks about the Logos in terms of logical reasoning, and if we look at the attributes below associated with the conscious mind we can see there is a direct link.

Short-term memory
Logical thinking
Critical thinking

This again is very interesting. If you look at any training that focuses on adepthood you will note at that will- power, logical thinking, and critical thinking are key to having clarity of mind and to overriding the subconscious processes. As you can see, working on the mind is paramount if we wish to succeed. We have a huge challenge ahead of us since 90% of our mind is not our own.

Not only are we dealing with this fact but we are increasingly faced with the challenges of modern-day society, where we are constantly experiencing so much stimulation around us. Our level of ability to concentrate on one thing at a time has greatly diminished as we have become more accustomed to multitasking. It is such a great issue now that we even have a medical term for it: attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

A study performed by Microsoft 20154 explored the brain activity of 2,000 Canadian subjects researching the brain wave activity of concentration levels using an electroencephalogram. The conclusion from the experiment showed that the average attention span dropped from 12 seconds in a study in 2000 to eight seconds in 2013. One conclusion the study pointed out was that our ability to multitask has drastically improved in the mobile
age, however, the ability to concentrate showed a correlation between users who used the following platforms:

  1. Volume of media consumption
  2. Social media usage
  3. Multi-Screening behaviour
  4. Adoption of technology

The study concluded that “digital lifestyles affect the ability to remain focused for long periods of time,”
suggesting that our subconscious mind is running the show and our conscious decision making has vastly reduced.
A number of online sites suggest the conclusion that attention spans are decreasing in time: Attention spans
have shrunk by 50 percent over the past decade. Children diagnosed with ADHD: .

Not only are we having to deal with a media-driven environment that is continually bombarding us with
stimulation, all this information is also being absorbed by the subconscious. Our minds are being overloaded with
information continuously, which is a contributing a factor that affects our ability to concentrate. We have
established that 90% of our thoughts and actions are not conscious. We can now see the importance of being careful
in what we expose ourselves to on a daily basis. What we watch and read, what we engage in, is continuously being
processed by the subconscious mind including past experiences, actions, thoughts and feelings.

Now let us take a look at the subconscious mind from a hermetic viewpoint. The hermetic view of the subconscious mind
Franz Bardon describes the subconscious as;

The subconscious is the mirror to all negative attributes and is located in the inter-brain in the astral
body. The uncontrolled subconscious is our enemy. It is especially effective at night, in space without
time, in the body when the normal consciousness is at rest.5

Franz Bardon,
Compiled from Teachings of Franz Bardon,
Questions and Answers and the Great

How do I deal with the subconscious mind?

I have offered 3 different approaches from Franz Bardon, Martin Faulks and Virgil. In Step II of Bardon’s Initiation into Hermetics, he [ Franz Bardon} offers a comprehensive chapter discussing the subconscious and how to overcome it by using tools such as autosuggestion, and using magnetic forces to impregnate positive influences using methods such as magical washing and, magical eating. He also offers advice in Questions
and Answers as follows,

We can control our subconscious through autosuggestion if we order it to do something good for us just before we fall asleep. We assign the subconscious to our storehouse of ideas where it exists as our qualitative component. Its quantity is the power to effect and tension of the opposite negative

Franz Bardon, Compiled from Teachings of Franz Bardon, Questions and Answers and the Great

Here Bardon is offering us a key by transmuting the qualitative component of negative thoughts to positive ones, and by using the quantity of our willpower and volition to bring about change.

We can see also Martin Faulks takes a similar approach whereby he tackles this aspect of the subconscious by making positive conscious choices and behaviours in daily life, which over time become habitual. This approach not only takes control by using the conscious mind but also changes the negative patterns of the subconscious mind to positive ones. In Enlightened Living Martin discusses using this approach, not only its effectiveness, but also how it can lead to a permanent state of higher awareness: So the idea is to make this state of consciousness our normal functioning state of consciousness. To do this, it is very important to learn to fully engage in what is happening right now. To always remember that the enlightened person is not going to be beyond troubles, but is rather someone who skilfully deals to the best of his or her ability, with the goal of bringing about the best possible outcome. So when a negative thought enters the mind, it is corrected and then transformed into something positive. Rather than assuming failure at the presence of a negative thought, it is important to correct the mind. It is unrealistic to expect to never have those kinds of thoughts. Indeed to me, this very act of transforming a negative action or thought into something that has positive intentions and outcomes embodies the highest expression of enlightenment.

Using this method, not only does the individual begin to train the conscious mind by being in the present moment, but they also bring into awareness the uncontrolled negative aspects of the subconscious, which are then brought into line by being corrected immediately as they arise. He further offers some motivating affirmations and finally states,

The importance of applying these skills in our waking day cannot be emphasised enough. In spiritual traditions this is endemic. As people continually search for new techniques upon new techniques but never realising that these techniques are only the training, it is the embodiment of the skills, insights
and abilities that aid us in daily life.

To review:

  • Do not put this off
  • It will not suddenly happen
  • Spiritual exercises are training, the true test is applying the lessons to life
  • Embody the state you wish to happen
  • Own every single action

By applying these principles, balance will be found within ourselves because by practicing things that are difficult we become stronger in those areas we are weakest. This acts as a sunlamp on the soul. Skills are transferable, so as we become accomplished in one particular skill, our ability improves in other areas also. For me, this is the true way of enlightenment.7

Martin Faulks, Enlightened Living

Virgil in The Elemental Equilibrium again takes the step 2 approach of Bardon’s three-pronged attack, of using autosuggestion, transmutation and volition, and adds a further 3 to the mix, which he calls the ”six-prongedattack.” He states,

Autosuggestion, volition, conscious eating, conscious breathing and magical washing are specific techniques you can use to transform yourself. Transmutation is not a specific technique, but a strategy. The idea to eliminate a negative trait by developing the opposite trait. For example if you want to eliminate impatience from your personality you can do this by developing patience.8

Virgil, The Elemental Equilibrium

In this method Virgil is tackling directly the subconscious by continually using a focused approach by charging up the food and, the breath, and when washing to aid in transforming negative qualities. Concentration linked to the subconscious mind Our ability to concentrate is fundamental in any spiritual discipline if we wish to progress to any degree.

Why is this so?

Because we need to have conscious awareness over our thoughts and actions in order to know that these processes are actually from our own choice and not through a programmed response generated by our subconscious mind. In order for us to enter into deep concentration we need to clear the underlying vibration or noise that is preventing us from entering into a deep state of uninterrupted relaxation. During concentration, there is a continuity of consciousness and this condition allows our subconscious forces to rise up. The hidden psychological patterns in the subconscious mind start to manifest. Normally, because of our mental distractions, we are totally unable to contact or express our inner power. During deep periods of concentration, we start to understand the deeper aspects of our being. So the fruits of concentration are substantial. Many people, whether they have experienced meditation or not, know that great things are in store for them if only they can concentrate deeply. Because they are not relaxed, however, they force their consciousness to dwell on one point.9

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

As we can understand by this quote, our ability to concentrate is linked to a level of relaxation, a deep level of relaxation directly linked to the relationship we have with our subconscious mind. As Bardon states, often it is the uncontrolled subconscious mind that will bring up negative thoughts and fears generating an underlying anxiety within us. This often manifests in our dreams and when we are in a resting state. Within the Franz Bardon training system in Initiation Into Hermetics in the first step Bardon addresses the power of the subconscious mind and how best to utilise it to our advantage, offering a number of tools to assist. However, this is a continual process throughout life as we continually refine the process of the inner alchemy of turning metal into gold.

What is concentration?

Franz Bardon describes concentration in Questions and Answers, taken from the yogic tradition as:

Concentration is an uninterrupted hold or adherence to a point,
matter, being, abstract, concept, picture, thought, perception etc.
Concentration is divided into three levels according with the
periods of time. The first level is uninterrupted concentration for
twelve seconds is called dharana. The second level is dhyana,
has a duration of twelve times twelve seconds, while the third
level has a duration of twelve times twelve times twelve seconds
and this is called samadhi which means ecstasy, the flowing
together of object and subject.10

Franz Bardon, Questions and Answers and the Great
Arcanum, Compiled from Teachings of Franz Bardon

Another quote from a yogic perspective

Concentration implies the focusing of one’s consciousness towards one point, either external or
internal, to the exclusion of all other subjects or thoughts

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Why is it so important to have the ability to concentrate for spiritual development?

Within the many traditional spiritual traditions, a lot of focus is placed on developing a high degree of concentration. If you notice Bardon’s focus is all on developing quantities and qualities in order to push through the realm of the mundane through the use of concentration to develop imagination skills and willpower. In traditional yoga, the process of transformation of the soul follows a similar path. If you go back to our iceberg model you will also
notice that all these qualities are in fact created by the conscious mind 10% that is visible to us. The ability to concentrate and use our will shows that we have the ability to act in awareness and not to be guided by our subconscious mind. This is fundamental in training. You will notice Bardon also places importance on autosuggestion, magical washing, eating and drinking. Now we can begin to see why. He is aware of the power of the subconscious mind and has put everything in place to combat it.

What does this mean?

Through developing our concentration it allows us to not only gain a deeper knowledge of a subject with clarity and precision but also to merge with it. To penetrate the visible world and go beyond what is in front of us. When dealing with unseen forces it is paramount that we perceive through clarity and free from the bias of the subconscious mind. Only through wilfully acting is this possible. But I believe the author is also talking about entering into a deep relaxation free from the noise of the subconscious mind.

So far we have established the power of the subconscious mind and how little our conscious mind takes part in daily life. We can also see the effects of our environment upon the conscious mind as our ability to act consciously diminishes due to the constant stimulation around us. Another converse effect is our ability to concentrate. So it is not surprising that people following the path of adepthood are faced with an even greater challenge than their predecessors. We need even a greater discipline to avoid daily distractions.

Why does my mind keep wandering when trying to concentrate on visualisation?

Concentrating on one thing is a challenge for the mind because of the wandering tendency of the consciousness. It takes time for the body and mind to relax. To concentrate we need to allow time for this to occur. Due to having busy lifestyles and distractions, most of us are not able to spend the length of time covering all the aspects needed to allow time for the parasympathetic nervous system to take effect and sink into these practices. The passage below eloquently explains from a yoga perspective: Many systems of yoga tell you to place an object in front of you or to visualize an internal image, concentrate on it, and lo and behold you will start to explore the subconscious depths of the mind. Although the method is correct and can bring wonderful experiences, it takes no consideration of the wandering tendency of our consciousness, which makes concentration impossible for most people.

Concentration is possible only if a person is very relaxed mentally and physically. Most people cannot relax, or if they do it is on rare occasions. For this reason, the mind continually projects streams of differing thoughts to conscious perception. As such, to ask most people to concentrate is impossible. And if they try to concentrate, they will tend to try to suppress the disturbing factors in the mind and create more tension in themselves……..Concentration is something that occurs spontaneously in a very relaxed mind and body. Until relaxation is achieved, concentration, real concentration that is, remains
impossible. A system is required that progressively leads a person to deeper states of relaxation until concentration becomes the spontaneous activity of consciousness.[8]

– Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Why can’t I stop my thoughts in meditation?

I wanted to address how one of the main sticking points in any initiation that one will come across in meditation is being able to meditate with the cessation of thoughts. Many practitioners have this problem. As previously stated, the mind has a tendency to go into and follow a stream of consciousness. Unless we begin to address this in our daily life we are only scratching the surface. I believe the lack of concentration in daily life may be a contributing factor and the fact we are not able to enter a deep level of relaxation because we are not allowing enough time for the subconscious mind to process and release the tension that it has created.

If you look around you most people are constantly on their phones in daily life. We are feeding the subconscious continually. If meditation practice is one hour a day but the rest of the time at work or at home is being run by the subconscious mind, then when we sit in our meditation it is no wonder our subconscious mind will be processing thoughts. In effect we are training our subconscious mind, not our conscious mind. We all live such busy lives and the mind and body never really experience a state of relaxation. Learning to become aware of the mental processes throughout the day and cutting negative thoughts can lead to a greater degree of peace. The body and mind need to be in a relaxed state in order enter into a deep level of meditation. The practice of awareness throughout the day is very important because it allows us to control consciously our thoughts and actions. We begin to have the choice over our mind rather than reacting to it.

I have included this effective meditation by Martin Faulks which uses focus on the breath to aid a calm awareness, so the mind can become free from thoughts.

In Conclusion

For us to progress we need to invest time in conscious thoughts and actions using our willpower at every given opportunity. To listen to our subconscious mind and help it resolve and reprogram the negative responses. Most importantly, learn to take time out and relax and develop our concentration skills in daily life. This way we are staying aware and focused throughout the day.

Then we can truly shine like the red lion!

To find out more about Martin Faulks and Virgil please visit their respective author pages.

  1. 4 Mead G.R.S. Corpus Hermeticum XIII. (XIV.)Thrice-Greatest Hermes –
    Volume 2. ↩︎
  2. ↩︎
  3. ↩︎
  4. 6 Microsoft Attention Spans, 2015. ↩︎
  5. Rüggeberg D, Franz Bardon Questions and Answers and the Great
    Arcanum, Compiled from teachings of Franz Bardon,
    Merkur Publishing,
    Inc, 2009. ↩︎ ↩︎
  6. Bardon, F, Initiation Into Hermetics, (Step II Autosuggestion or the
    Secret of the Subconscious), Merkur Publishing, Inc. 10th ed, 2017. ↩︎ ↩︎
  7. Faulks M, Enlightened Living, Chapter 5, The Greatest Barrier to
    Enlightenment,Falcon Books Publishing, 2009 ↩︎
  8. Virgil, The Elemental Equilibrium: Notes on the Foundation of
    Magical Adepthood
    , Falcon Books Publishing, 2017 ↩︎
  9. Swami Satyananda Saraswati, A Systematic Course in the Ancient
    Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya,
    Yoga Publications Trust, Munger, Bihar,
    India, 2004. ↩︎
  10. Rüggeberg D, Franz Bardon Questions and Answers and the Great
    Arcanum, Compiled from teachings of Franz Bardon,
    Merkur Publishing,
    Inc,2009 ↩︎
  11. Swami Satyananda Saraswati, A Systematic Course in the Ancient
    Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya,
    Yoga Publications Trust, Munger, Bihar,
    India, 2004 ↩︎
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