The Three Phases

The Three Phases of The Great Work

The stages of the transmutation

The Great Work

The goal of the Alchemical Process – weather it be research, laboratory work or mental & spiritual development – is to gain an understanding of the flow of the life force energy. The purpose is to illuminate the darkness, the sickness, the impurity, the imbalance and the unconscious. To bring it into the light – into awareness – so that it can be purified, unified and transmuted into a higher state of vibration – a state of wholeness. 

This process can be assisted by the practical use of remedies, such as special elixirs from metals, gem stones and plants. Or through energetic work like meditation, visualization, healing, prayer and ritual.

The three phases of development – Nigredo, Albedo and Rubedo – are understood as different degrees of bodily, mental and spiritual healing. The goals are inner maturity and development of consciousness.

The state of ultimate harmony corresponds to the level of Rubedo, because when everything flows harmoniously into each other and the energy flow is neither hindered nor blocked, then the life force can move freely throughout the body. Which enables our capacity to develop our forces of consciousness completely. Thus the harmony of Rubedo is reached by inner development and insight. Only through the process of inner maturing are we able to cope with daily influences in a flexible way, without drifting off course and loosing our energetic harmony.

Blackness of Nigredo

Nigredo is the lowest level of vibration and the first stage of experience in the process of The Great Work.
Every person who embarks on the Alchemical journey of self-development will be confined to the Nigredo phase for a while. And just a fair warning, this part of the process will not be easy. It will bring old traumas, fears and other negative emotions and memories to the surface – into your awareness. It will feel like everything is stuck and hardened, like nothing moves or changes, and you might feel a sense of suffocation. It is the death of the older self, setting the stage for the emergence of a new higher self. 

This phase is where the operation of putrefaction takes place. In other words, this is where the fixed gets dissolved by the volatile.

A permanent inner transformation is initiated by strengthening the fiery element of Sulfur. It is through the transformation of the negative emotions and the old reaction patterns that a strengthening of the “heart quality” can commence. By becoming aware of the volatile mind, of old subconscious patterns, the bodily consciousness is diminished, and the mental and spiritual consciousness is increased. 

The personality of Nigredo:
When the dark and impure qualities of the salt-vibrations of the planets are dominant in a person, then the capability of self-reflection is very low. As such, a Nigredo-person is absent-minded and quite easily manipulated. For them the world only consists of their own desires and needs, which they tend to follow quite unscrupulously. The Nigredo-person is dominated by simple patterns of emotions dictating their cognitive capacity.

Symbols of Nigredo:
In alchemical symbols Nigredo is always indicated by something black: the raven, the dark jacket, darkness, the night, the Solar or Moon eclipse, the tomb, hell, and death. When the matter has entered the stage of blackness, it is a vibratory match to Lead and Saturn – the first step in the Ladder of Planets. Developing on to the vibration of Tin and Jupiter.

Whiteness of Albedo

Whiteness of Albedo

The second phase of Albedo is the middle level of vibration. It is the realm of emotions, mysticism and the path of the heart. This is the perfect putrefaction, when all blackness has disappeared and the color white appears, after the fire in the furnace of Nigredo. Then it is said, that life has conquered death. 
However, this phase is only a further purifying, intermediate stage, overcoming the stiffness of Nigredo. It is a stepping stone on the way to the highest level of transformation, the ultimate vibrancy of Rubedo.

When the purification of the Self has occurred, during meditation, by eliminating thoughts, and creating new reaction patterns, then at a certain point light appears. This light can be experienced as a visual light inside oneself, or more metaphorically as an absolute clear and pure awareness of Self.

Similar to the way the substances are distilled and purified in a laboratory, we are purified by ‘fire’ and ‘water’ of the emotions. Albedo, is to separate the essences and recombine them at a higher level of purity. During the development of  the higher heart qualities, we are able to make better choices between light and darkness. This process will reshape our character and the quality of our consciousness. Fears, trauma and blockages has been dissolved and the entire energy will flow with full strength into and through the Seals/Chakras.

The personality of Albedo:
When the Albedo-forces of planets are dominant in a person, the emotions are easily aroused. Nevertheless, the Albedo-person is focused on improving self-reflection and attentiveness. However, the persons sexuality can often contradict the development of a higher form of love and unity. 
The Albedo-person is in a more fixed position, that can no longer be destroyed by fire. In this more stable phase, the person is very much in the here and now, elevating and expanding the consciousness

Symbols of Albedo:
The most common Alchemical symbols of Albedo is the White Queen. But it can also be depicted as a fountain from which two streams of water flow into one basin.
On a planetary level the phase of Albedo is linked to Iron and Mars and Copper and Venus.

Redness of Rubedo

Redness of Rubedo

Rubedo is the final and highest level of vibration, which is characterized by the color Red. In the laboratory, the white becomes united with red by increasing the heat in the furnace. The achieved whiteness of Albedo needs to be purified further, sublimated, until the matter becomes totally fixed and completely stable.

When the divine light has emerged during meditation at the end of the Albedo phase, you needs to make it last. This demands a continued effort of holding your attention to this pure awareness, not only for the length of the meditation session, but more permanently during the flow of everyday life. Reaching the state of Rubedo for the first time is no guarantee to remain in this heightened harmony and energetic level. However, at a certain point the pure awareness of the higher self will be permanent.

The phase of Rubedo is the infusion of new life into the dead matter that came out of the Nigredo phase. This is accomplished by the union of opposites. Symbolically it is the loving union of the White Queen with the Red King, who work together during Rubedo in a cosmic process referred to as the “Marriage of the sun and the moon”. Clearly, these are profound symbols with deep universal meanings.

The personality of Rubedo:
When the planetary vibration of Rubedo is dominant in a person, there is a distinct ability for self-observation and self-reflection. The spiritual development becomes an inner need. A Rubedo-person recognizes that the body represents a cosmic “laboratory” in which the consciousness can learn, experiment and grow.  It is the realization that we are in a position to direct and complete creation by holding the greatest possible vibrancy. Psychologically, it is the integration of opposing and rejected elements in the personality and the experience of the true and divine Self.

Symbols of Rubedo:
The Alchemical symbol of Rubedo is the Red King. As mentioned, the White Queen and the Red King are often depicted together, as a symbol of the union of the polarity. The Rubedo phase is linked to Quicksilver and Mercury, Silver and the Moon and finally Gold and the Sun. 

On a Final Note

In some schools of Alchemy the phase of Rubedo is split into two stages. A yellow stage called Citrinitas, which present a sign that the golden stage of transformation is coming. And a purple stage called Iosis, which is an indicator that the gold quality has arrived, and eventually will grow to transform the entire matter. However, it does not seem to have been part of the original teachings.

Further Your Understanding

Now that you have gained a deeper understanding of The Universal PrinciplesThe Three PrimesThe Five ElementsThe Seven Planets & Seals, and here The Three Phases of Alchemy. You are finally ready to embark on The Seven Step Process of Alchemy – also known as The Great Work. Get ready to transmute your soul into the divine Gold – into the Philosopher’s Stone. 

Alchemy & Creativity

Creativity is a big part of the alchemical journey of self-development. It can be a powerful tool, especially working with symbolism and ancient sigils and the transmutation circle designs. Here is a visual representation of a transmutation circle. See more Alchemy inspired art by SheeArt.