Ah, 'tis a great frustration, but in all research, there ninety failures for every ten successes. And in the Search for the Lost Tepaphone (Indiana Jones theme in the background please) it seemed that there would be a thousand failures until success was achieved.

Now, for thems of you out there who are so benighted as to have absolutely no idea what the hell I'm talking about, I will attempt a bit of enlightenment, not the big Enlightenment that stops you from being reincarnated and all that fun shit, but a little portion of it.

The tepaphone was a semi-legendary magickal instrument used by the evil and notorious FOGC-Lodge (Darth Vader theme, maestro) in Germany between the two world wars. In fact, it was so legendary that no one had even heard of it except for some members of the Fraternity of Saturn and they weren't talking. At least until Franz Bardon's novel Frabato the Magician was published extremely posthumously in 1979 in German with the English Language version (in the usual dreadful translation of Bardon) coming out in 1982.

Now, while Bardon is mostly ignored in Germany and his native Bohemia (Czechland) he is well read by American magicians who are more than willing to put up with his tedious and often incomprehensible prose style (unlike the breezy and joyous experience one gets from reading my stuff) in the hope of learning how to mix the elements of fire and water and make things explode, along with all kinds of other cool stuff.

Being a great fan of Bardon himself and actually having his other books (because when I got them you did not have to take a loan out on the neighbor's children to buy them) I grabbed a copy of Frabato as soon as I could get my information-greedy little mits on it.

There is only one little problem with Frabato the Magician. The book sucks. Bardon himself is supposed to have wanted the book to never see print.

Bardon is not a good writer and as a novella Frabato the Magician makes one actually long for Dion Fortune's material, which is at least entertaining. But Frabato is certainly informative and part of the information contained therein is the story of the tepaphone, the magickal death ray projector.

It seems that the FOGC-Lodge had this machine that could project magickal influence and function as a very effective weapon. And at that point the Great, Wise and Evil Uncle Chuckie started drooling. In fact I went through a couple of hankies trying to keep the book from getting messy. I put the book down and shouted at the top of my lungs, "I WANT ONE OF THOSE!"

At this point my mother came into the back room wondering what new type of land mine they were showing on the news to see her son running out the other door into his room to start tinkering.

And start barking up the wrong tree.

While, in accord with ancient family custom, my mother reacted to my inventive mood by hiding under something heavy that would not be moved in the event of an explosion, I set about to translate Bardon's description into a radionic device while Cleo the Cat (peace be upon her) sat watching me and giving me various looks of encouragement.

Ok, let me backtrack here. I'm sure most of you can remember a teacher before an exam reminding the class to read the question before answering it. I didn't follow that advice at this point and went madly to work on something that had no relationship whatsoever with the tepaphone as described by Bardon. I was off and running on a rather conventional radionic device that would be tuned to the lethal rays used by the tepaphone, totally convinced that it was the operator, rather than the instrument, that mattered.

Digression time.

From 1910 until the 1940s it was assumed that the radionic instrument worked independently of the operator. The operator put in the witness samples, set the dials and the machine worked just like an electric light. You throw the switch and the light casts out the darkness. As time wore this idea down, the theory changed to the radionic instrument being an extension of the operator and that the operator was the one doing all the work and the machine merely a medium of sorts and as radionics was almost forgotten in the United States it became a rather rare medium.

This was the theoretical base that I was working from and still do for that matter. But it led to a serious error in the Hunt for the Tepaphone (more Indiana Jones music). You see there are a lot of things we don't understand about this stuff still and one of them is the fact that certain types of energy influence the workings of the gadgets no matter what the operator is thinking or doing.

There are operations where the imposition of an electric current has a real effect. There are operations where the imposition of a beam of colored light affects the outcome of the working. In addition, radio, microwave and visible light frequencies can act as carriers of the energy used in radionics. For this reason T. Galen Hieronymus termed that energy Eloptic, a combination of electro-magnetic and optical.

In the famous Machine that bears his name, Hieronymus used reflected light focused by a lens as the pickup system for the energy that his device was analyzing. In doing so he removed the usual sample wells and plates with all other radionic instruments utilize. All that is necessary for the operator to do to analyze anything by means of the Hieronymus Machine is to point it at it.

Now let us look more closely at the tepaphone as Bardon describes it in Frabato the Magician.

It would seem to be a relatively small instrument, certainly portable enough to be carried from one room to another. The witness, as we would call it, is placed "in the focus of the rays" coming out of the machine, which means there is an output which is not connected to the witness.

Finally, and most telling, a lamp of some sort, probably an ancient alcohol lamp, is part of the instrument, most likely as the light source.

In other words, what is being described and what I was missing completely, was an ancient magic lantern, an early version of the slide projector. This system used the light source as the concentration point for the energy being broadcast to the target.

So where does that leave us?

There are at least three possible ways to create a working tepaphone with existing technology.

First, a slide projector can be used with no trouble. All that is needed is a new light bulb that is charged with the desired energy and used in conjunction with the focused (no pun intended) will of the operator. This can be easily combined with a slide of a sigil to be projected onto the witness of the target.

Second, an ancient magick lantern can be recreated with little trouble by digging in the local library and finding a good book on optics. In the system described in Frabato, the oil in the lamp was charged, but a specially consecrated candle would probably work as well.

Third, the Hieronymus Machine can be constructed in reverse, so that the light acts as a carrier out of the instrument rather than into it. In this case, the will of the operator is focused by the electronics of the machine.

There are any number of ways the above systems can be constructed and there is not sufficient room to go into detail about that here.

In any event, the tepaphone may soon be a working reality in the temple of many a magician and time alone will tell what impact it will have not only on the world of Magick, but on society at large.