The Process of Alchemy

The Seven Step Process of Alchemy

Dissolve & coagulate - The art of transmutation

The Great Work

“Mind (as well as metals and elements) may be transmuted, from state to state; degree to degree; condition to condition; pole to pole; vibration to vibration. True Hermetic Transmutation is a Mental Art.” ~The Kybalion.

What is called the Great Work in Alchemy is nothing more than a purification of the essence of the substance and a reunion of the three essentials (The Primes) in a perfected state.

The Alchemical process can be applied to pretty much anything: Laboratory work, personal development, relationship development, business development, society, culture, etc. Mentally it is a purification of Self – finding our inner truths, and balance out our masculine and feminine energies into a united whole.
The goal of the Great Work is to create the Philosopher’s Stone, which in mental & spiritual terms means a perfected state of consciousness that combines passion and feeling with thought and imagination. It’s when the masculine & feminine principle becomes balanced and synergistic within. 

The Seven Steps of The Great Work

The process of Alchemy, also referred to as The Great Work, is divided into seven individual steps that operates on a trinity level. It is said, that for any lasting change to occur, the transmutation must occur on all three levels of existence. In the case of personal purification the three levels are body, mind/soul & spirit.

As you progress the work of your personal self-development working with The Universal Principles, The Three Primes, The Five Elements, The Seven Planets & Seals, and as you go through The Three Phases. Be aware, that this is not a linear process. There will be steps forward, followed by steps backwards, as you learn, grow and integrate the teachings into your personality and consciousness. 
Life is an ever expanding experience, and as such The Great Work is never really truly completed. There is always more knowledge to gain and higher states of vibration to be attained. 

The seven steps of the Alchemical Transmutation process are as follows:

The Symbol of Calcination

1) Calcination – Burning off the Dross

Cipher:   Aries
Phase:  Nigredo
Seal:  Root Chakra
Planet:  Saturn
Metal:  Lead
Element:  Fire

• calcination involves heating a substance until it is reduced to ashes

This first stage represents the process of burning away the mundane and impure within the Self. The energies that have been repressed due to trauma. The projections of other peoples thoughts, words and actions that triggers our ego, and the feelings or emotions that have been manifested because of this. Calcination allows us to bring the energy and feelings to the surface, experience them fully and cause the fires of calcination to burn the energy away along with cutting off anyone that would hold us there. Once this step is complete, the process then leaves us with a feeling of freedom from that negative energy.

• bodily activities, that tones the body and burns off excesses from overindulgence
• producing a lean healthy body

• the process of introspection, burning away the mundane and impure within the self – repressed energies due to trauma, self-doubt, stubbornness, self-sabotage, pride, arrogance, etc. 
• breaking down parts of ourselves that are in the way of our own happiness
• the destruction of our ego & our attachment to material possessions
• acknowledgement and break down of the egotistical  limitations of our being
• a naturally humbling process, as we are gradually assaulted, and overcome by the trials and tribulations of life
• a focus on worries and fears, putting them aside so we can become aware of what is underneath, while choosing to be our greater self

• a deliberate surrender to our spiritual growth through various active activities and practices
• often times the future outcome is not what we had planned for ourselves, yet it is typically for the better

Symbols of Calcination:
•  the King being boiled alive, cremated, or sitting inside a sweat box or sealed vessel

The Symbol of Dissolution

2) Dissolution – Learning to Let Go

Cipher:   Cancer
Phase:  Nigredo
Seal:  Sacral Chakra
Planet:  Jupiter
Metal:  Tin
Element:  Water

• it is the dissolving of the ashes from the calcination process in the element of water

This is an emotional stage which takes us back to “the womb” of childhood where some of the impurities and repressed feelings were attached to us. In this stage these need to be washed away. The feelings, reactions, opinions, thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes must be examined to the reality of what they are, to find whether they are based on repressed feelings and subconscious emotions or present facts. This is a stage of anxiety, fear, denial, illusion and the possibility of mental breakdown, if what is happening is not understood. Once we have moved through this stage, we can then look at what is real, because we have now penetrated past the illusions of the self.

• at times this stage is brought about accidentally by illnesses and misfortunes in our lives which forces us to really pay attention to what we’re doing, shocking us out of our usual avoidance patterns
• the opening up of energy channels in the body, to recharge and elevate every single cell

 the further breaking down of the artificial structures of the psyche
 acknowledgement of the deeper shadow aspect of our true nature
• an examination of our inner childhood traumas
• the beginning of feeling less identification with our false sense of Self; the unconscious, non-rational and rejected parts of our minds
• once we are free from our fear, pride or self-doubt, we can take a step back and truly observe our positive and negative qualities
• we become aware of how our behavior might be affecting others

• the beginning of our spiritual maturity and awakening
• this phase normally takes time, but can be expedited by engaging in creative and/or artistic actions

Symbols of Dissolution:
• the great flood of the Earth
• underground streams, quicksand & reflecting pools
• glass vessels, clay pots, cauldrons, and other womblike vessels of transformation

The Symbol of Separation

3) Separation – Identifying Essences

Cipher:   Scorpio
Phase:  Albedo
Seal:  Naval Chakra
Planet:  Mars
Metal:  Iron
Element:  Air

it is the isolation of the components of dissolution by filtration and then discarding ungenuine or unworthy material

In this stage we become able to see ourselves in two parts. The two worlds represented are what was created and fueled by what we came from and the world of higher consciousness and the true reality of the Soul. Repressed feelings cause a veil to be produced which skews our perception of our true reality. Separation is a process of being able to see and separate the ego Self, which was burned away in the fires of Calcination and the feelings expressed and released in Dissolution and choosing what is important to keep, as the rest is continuing to be burned away.

following and controlling the breath in the body, working with the forces of spirit and soul to give birth to new energy and physical renewal

the process of rediscovery of our true essences,  isolated from ego and subconscious elements
• a realization of the duality – of the opposites within
• truly becoming aware of our authentic feelings for others and ourselves
• undergoing a period of realization, met with new perception on the Self, goals, personal life and duties
• to free our heart from resentment while trying to forgive someone
• to isolate elements of our character in order to honestly see and assess them, to determine what to discard and what to keep

• undergoing shadow work to bring our hidden darkness to the surface for transmutation
• identifying the true Self within and protecting it from any contaminating influences
• to raise the noble parts of our personality and bring them into the light of consciousness

Symbols of Separation:
double-edged axes or swords hanging down from above
scenes of dismemberment
• white birds flying over a burning or blackened countryside

The Symbol of Congelation

4) Conjunction – Creating the Overself

Cipher:   Taurus
Phase:  Albedo
Seal:  Heart Chakra
Planet:  Venus
Metal:  Copper
Element:  Earth

 it is the recombination of saved elements from separation into a new substance

After the purification of the first three stages, conjunction gives us our first look at the higher realms of existence as we come into spiritual connection with our Source.
“That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and That which is Within corresponds to that which is Without”. This is to accomplish the miracles of the One Thing – the Manifestation of our Soul. It is 
recognizing the essences of soul and spirit within and uniting them in a new level of consciousness and spiritual awareness. It is the culmination of the work Below in the realm of matter, habits, and thoughts, and the beginning of the work Above in the realm of energy and spirit.

• in this stage the “ashes” and the purified aspects of the body are reconnected into an improved form

• the purified aspects of the Self are reconnected
• it is the establishment & empowerment of the new Self
• most often felt as a moment of self-actualization
• development of what is required for us to truly and honestly accept all the different parts of our authentic Self
• a feeling of deep integrity and confidence in everything we do
• the issue at this stage is typically that the substance is untempered, in the sense that many people can make it to this stage, but very much so waver from what has been achieved
• it is a stage of introspection, solitude and meditation

• the emergence of a new belief system and intuitive state of consciousness
• all of our unconscious thoughts and feelings bubble up to the surface and into the light of conscious awareness
• it is the merging of thought and feeling to produce a highly intuitive state

Symbols of Conjunction:
the King and Queen embracing or making love
• a double-chambered furnaces
• ropes or chains binding opposing entities
• birds chained to earthbound animals

The Symbol of Fermentation

5) Fermentation – Dark Night of the Soul

Cipher:   Capricorn
Phase:  Rubedo
Seal:  Throat Chakra
Planet:  Mercury
Metal:  Quicksilver
Element:  Earth

fermentation is the growth of a fermenting bacteria in organic solutions

Fermentation is initiated by Putrefaction, which is the stage of decomposition – the rotting of the dead former Self. There is realization on a deep level of our deficiencies, and a real possibility of mental depression at this stage. To look into the dark shadows of one’s Self is to look at what most deny. Carl Jung reminds us of the importance of embracing our shadow, so that the darkness can be made conscious, and brought into the light. This way it can be healed through introspection and understanding of its origin. Regeneration, transcendence, healing and growth begin to take place during this stage.

• the awakening of the living energy; prana, chi or kundalini in the body
• expressed as the vibratory tones in spoken truths

• the beginning of our process of rebirth
• at this point the fruits of our labor has been realized and we are being gifted with new wisdom and knowledge 
• letting go of all the aspects of ourselves and our lives that don’t serve or contribute to our growth
• we begin to experience moments of our new more refined Self
• solidifying the new mental state of our being, as we begin to look at the world in a new light
• we begin to experience moments of great inner peace and stillness

• it is the inspiration from something that is totally beyond us – a spiritual power from above that reanimates, energizes and enlightens
• it is announced by a brilliant display of colors and meaningful visions – representations of a higher spiritual reality

Symbols of Fermentation:
the colorful peacock’s tail symbolices the iridescent putrefaction process at the beginning of this stage
• a farmer sowing gold coins in a field
• the green lion stretching up toward the sky
• the 
two-headed human figure known as the “Rebis”

The Symbol of Distillation

6) Distillation – Consecration of the Stone

Cipher:   Virgo
Phase:  Rubedo
Seal: Third Eye Chakra
Planet:  The Moon
Metal:  Silver
Element:  Earth

it is the boiling and condensation of the fermented solution to increase its purity

Distillation is to use our accumulated newer Self to identify remaining minor impurities. It is the elimination of the parts of the personality that no longer serves the higher Self of our Soul. Like our attachment to the material world along with the thoughts, beliefs and opinions it brings. This stage calls us to release attachments and feel detachment as a true form of Divine Love. This form of Divine Love comes from a higher level of awareness in our consciousness. This can not be achieved until we have let go of our attachments to end results or the future. Distillation helps wash away the dark matter of attachment and reveal the deeper intuitive Self in its purest light.

the raising of the life force from the lower regions of the bodily energetic seals to the higher

• this marks the last purification of the Self from the most minor of impurities, typically latent within our ego
• a final purification of the unborn new higher Self – of all that we truly are and can be
• to integrate all of the achieved self-realizations into our lives in order to allow them to become permanent
• raising our psyche to its highest levels possible, free from sentimentality and emotions
• it is freedom from the emotional energy that often controls and dictates our behavior
• at this point in the process there is a larger risk of straying from the path, so a decent amount of attention is recommended

• finding ways to live from a place of inner peace – even in the daily and most mundane circumstances
• a repeated practice in constant death and rebirth in the present moment, without returning to old habits, attachments and cycles of the mind
• a final inner transformation into our true Self
• at this stage a self inflicted repeat of the previous five stages can be very beneficial

Symbols of Distillation:
flowers in bloom, such as the rose, lotus, jasmine, and edelweiss
• the unicorn, winged serpents, white doves, and other winged creatures
• the green lion eating the sun
• the dragon in flames eating its own tail

The Symbol of Fixation

7) Coagulation – Ultima Matter of the Soul

Cipher:  Gemini
Phase:  Rubedo
Seal:  Crown Chakra
Planet:  The Sun
Metal:  Gold
Element:  Air

coagulation is the precipitation or sublimation of the purified ferment from distillation

This is the last stage of the Process of Alchemy. The union of opposites creates a balance and collapses into a harmony that can easily move between the two realms of matter and spirit.
If successfully accomplished we experience a Soul unification within ourselves on all levels. We are able to join Spirit and Soul with the body, separating from everything that would hinder the ascension into union with The Divine. 
It is characterized by Oneness within the Soul and the Higher Self. It is an interrelationship between mind and matter, between the Self and the world. A realization of the Oneness of all things. 

• when we realize that the physical universe is not separate from the mind or spiritual reality; it is a reflection of it
• the release of the elixir in the blood that rejuvenates the body into a perfect vessel of health

• the perfection and union of the Higher Self
• the point where our existence become self-aware
• a sense of new confidence that is beyond all things and influences
• an embodiment of the highest aspirations and evolutions of the mind
• when our personality has become tempered to an unwary degree

• it is the point of no return, as the Self substance has been completed after multiple phases of purification and tempering activities
• we become free from the mind and have allowed our consciousness – our Soul – to connect with the First Matter: the Spirit.
• when our lives are without duality; when matter becomes Spirit, or the Spirit is manifested in material form
• the emergence of the body of light – the Philosopher’s Stone – the Divine Gold of the Soul

Symbols of Coagulation:
• the phoenix rising from the ashes and its complete resurrection
• a balanced set of scales & an egg-shaped stone

Further Your Understanding

The role of The Pineal Gland or the Third Eye in our spiritual awakening can not be stressed enough. 
Learn about the specific functions of The Pineal Gland and how to decalcify it, to further the progress of your spiritual journey. 

Alchemy & Creativity

Creativity is a big part of the alchemical journey of self-development. It can be a powerful tool, when working with symbolism and the transmutation circle designs. Here is an example of an Alchemical Transmutation Circle. See more Alchemy inspired art by SheeArtworks.