ALCHEMY AND THE THREE PHASES
Part 1 of 3
What is Alchemy
From an alchemical text entitled "Splendor Solis"
"Study what thou art,
Where of thou art a part.
What thou knowest of this art,
That is really what thou art.
All that is without thee,
Also is within."
Alchemy is known as the Science and Art of Transformation from a lesser to a more noble state, be that of Spirit, Soul, or of the physical being. The alchemists defined this as the raising of vibrations, and is best known as the process of the transmutation of Lead to Gold. In the mystical sense we understand this as being the transformation of the baser, dark crudeness of that which is belonging to the worldly consciousness into the finer, brighter light of philosophical gold, as the incarnated sun, light of the soul, the higher self and cosmic consciousness.
· A Science
Alchemy is described as a science because there is a certain knowledge and technique to its operation known as the Modus Operandus. The ancient texts write, "Seek ye the , for without it nothing can be achieved in our Art". Without fire there is no alchemy. The alchemical work is one that is known by the alchemists, mystics and philosophers as being the regiment of a certain secret fire that expresses itself in three degrees or stages as the Black, the White and the Red stage. We will speak of these shortly.
· An Art
Alchemy is also expressed to be an art, because to know how to set this fire, to control it, and work with it is an art and a development, with certain disciplines involved. The teachings of our order go through great lengths in teaching its members the proper techniques and use of this inner fire. Fire is fire on all levels of being. Fire has to be respected on whatever plane of being we speak of. Just as the fire of a candle flame is beautiful, warming and comforting in a darkened room, if misused or abused it can burn down ones house. So too it is in the inner alchemical work. Intensified psychic energies must be respected as any fire should be. So we must nurture, feed and tend to the inner flame, and it will do all the work that is in its nature for us. Its nature is one of light, warmth, purification, elevating, and comforting. It is constructive energy, creative, positive, healing, life giving and transforming.
From the Chaldean Oracles of Zoroaster
"There is above the celestial fire an incorruptible flame, always sparkling; the spring of life, the fountain of all being, the original of all things !
This Flame produceth all things, and nothing perisheth but what It consumeth. It maketh Itself known by Itself. This Fire cannot be contained in any place; It is without body and without matter, It encompasseth the heavens.
And there goeth forth from it a little spark, which maketh all the fire of the sun, of the moon and of the stars. Strive not to know more of Him, for that is beyond thy capacity, how wise soever thou art.
There is in God an immense profundity of flame! Nevertheless the heart should not fear to touch this adorable Fire, or to be touched by it; it will never be consumed by this so sweet Fire; whose mild and tranquil heat maketh the binding and harmony and the duration of the world.
Nothing subsisteth but by this Fire, which is God Himself. No person begat Him. He is without mother. He knoweth all things and can be taught nothing. He is infallible in His designs and His Name is unspeakable. "
How do we light this fire?
It is written in many ways that, until it is awakened, "this most adorable fire lies hidden under a hard shell, still weak and unable".
For some it is faintly alive and burning as embers under the ashes of their being, waiting to be fanned into flame. For others it is burning brightly in their hearts and souls, and to some, it is just about out and needs the help of those who have it, to rekindle it in them.
The setting of this fire is achieved through a "path of the breath and the blood", to arrive at a concentration and purification of the Vital Life Force in us. Through an inward way, the metaphysical force is then directed through aspiration, visualization, concentration, mystical zeal, inspiration, and love for that which is the divine in us. Before we end this introduction into spiritual alchemy, we will show and perform an exercise that will help us awaken and tend to the alchemist's oven, the athenor, and kindle and fan within it the sacred fire into soothing mystical warmth and thus allow it its expression.
· A Philosophy
Above all else, Alchemy is a philosophy known as the Hermetic philosophy which pierces the very mysteries of creation and being, and it is the foundation of all religions, philosophies and psychologies. Alchemy has even influenced modern psychology of today through the works of the likes of Karl Jung. Just as the Masonic brotherhood uses symbols of masonry to build a moral and upright character, so too the alchemists transpose inwardly symbols of chemical operations to reveal through correspondence spiritual techniques of purification, regeneration and exaltation of the spiritual forces in man and his consciousness.
The Three Phases of the Great Work
Once the alchemical flame is set, and because of its nature, a process of purification begins on its own. As we have said it is a constructive, creative, cleansing, healing, up-lifting, life giving, regenerative and transformative divine essence. This is that thing, in the alchemical texts, which is everywhere to be found, and practically very few know it. It is this soothing and calm fire that is thus generated, through art, that will do all the work for us. All we need to do is tend to it and allow its expression. The teachings of our Order have been very revealing in the mastering of very esoteric techniques, which have been very veiled and hidden in the many ancient texts. As the ' ' states: " And believe ye me without seeking further. I command ye only to cook; cook at the beginning, cook in the middle and cook to the end, without doing any other thing than cook, and so Nature will be borne to completion". We speak here of our own nature as the integration of the trinity of Spirit, Soul and Body. Of course here we are to understand this cooking as a metaphysical and spiritual incubation. More specifically, we mean, a warming, as thawing of ice or as an energizing or as a quickening of our inner most nature. To be continued.
Alchemy and the Three Shases of Transformation 2011 Steve Kalec
Part 2 of 3
The Black Stage or the Nigredo
The first stage of the alchemical process is called the Black Stage, the darkening of consciousness, also known as the Dark Night of the Soul. It is a darkening of the level of consciousness, and more precisely, a darkening of the ego's light. We would ask here, why the raising of vibrations, would cause a darkness in the process. Let's try to understand this process.
When the concentration of the soul's vital life force reaches a certain level, the spirit is so energized that one's ego consciousness begins to feel the threat of the emergence of something bigger than itself. The ego being a light in itself, as a lesser light, starts to feel the presence of a light that is greater than its own light. A sort of psychological eclipsing of the ego's light is experienced as if being invaded by a greater light that is emerging out of the unconscious self. (Give example of candle light in darkened room vs. outside in sunlight).
It is said that the darkest hour in the night is just before dawn. Mystically understood, the dawn is the moment of the resurrection of the Greater Self, the rising of the divine Sun, the inner Gold, our alchemical King and Inner Master. However, in the mean time, before the dawn, the hour is darkest. The ordinary personality as the vulgar gold, the little king that would be king, begins to feel its alchemical death, its philosophical mortification. Many allegories have been very profoundly written on this. It is said that at this time, the seed of our soul personality is placed in the earth representing the unconscious within us, there to putrefy and die in order to be reborn to bring forth its potentiality. A seed planted into the ground must die and putrefy before it can germinate and break through the earth. A tiny seed holds within itself its' potentiality of being. Within a tiny seed, there lies the potentiality of a giant tree. This also holds to be very true for the seed of consciousness. When the seed of our soul, (as the potential inner gold of the alchemists), is placed in the black earth as the womb and the raw richness of the darkness of our unconscious, the tomb of Osiris (or the sepulcher of Christ), and after putrefying, it is reborn and blooms to full flower and grows into the full expression of the potentiality it held. But it is not dawn yet and the alchemist, mystic and philosopher who is prepared for the black stage, undergoes through a living experience the philosophical death of the old self. One must dare die to be reborn to a new and regenerated self. It is in the mystical Dark Night that the deepest understanding of our true self unfolds. The ego surrenders from its separateness and false ground that it stood on. A new reality dawns from having merged with the greater wholeness of the Self, blooming into a regenerated higher expression of life, as we will see in the next stage. The White stage.
St. John of the Cross wrote, " the endurance of darkness is the preparation for greater light."
Carl Gustav Jung wrote, "As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being. The essence of darkness is Gold"!
The White Stage or the Albedo
As the alchemist passes through each stage, the warmth of the transforming fire of his soul intensifies. Where during the previous black stage, the temperature was that of incubation levels, the alchemists speak of the warmth of the whitening stage to be that of the sun on a warm day in June. These are allegorical meanings for us to be able to discern the level of control of the raising of the inner metaphysical vibrations. As we can see, it is a gentle work, and nothing should be overdone, skipped and hurried. We must remain moderate in our work and allow nature to take its proper time.
As we continue to tend to our fire we enter into the White stage of the work. Where the Black stage dealt with the death of the old self that was identified unconsciously with the earth nature, the purification in the work continued through the fire element. We arrive thus into the resurrection in the White Stage, which is the Lunar stage as the reflective and receptive aspect of our soul nature. It is here that the alchemist encounters his Anima, the light of his soul, his goddess Diana. Fulcanelli has said that the moon absorbs the rays of the sun, and secretly nurtures them in her bosom. Thus we have here the alchemical wedding.
Julius Evola, in "The Hermetic Tradition", explains well this stage. "Spring, resurrection, light and life, flowering and birth; these are the expressions of the active ecstasy that uplifts the human condition as is expressed in the alchemical art." This is the experience of the alchemical process of the "whitening" as a spiritual purification. The alchemists say that this is the drawing out of the life giving Magic Light from the center of the elemental cross. Such is the power that is achieved through the mastered techniques of inner spiritual exercises. This light is truly a light that brightens the inner space of the subjective self. This state of illumination produces an inner rejuvenating magnetism, and one can feel its force as an inner vitality, extremely clean, pure and as the clearest of water flowing through one as the uplifted universal life force. It is a luminous essence perfectly lucid, brilliant and transparent.
Alchemically this is our first order of the transmutation where our inner darkness, as the unconscious, is transmuted into the inner reflective light of our living silver. One cannot doubt this blessed event because it is marked by a feeling of sublimation, elevation, ecstasy, inner most joy and a sense of immortality that cannot be put into words. One simply feels eternity as the universal spirit shines and flows through him. It is said that, "when the white appears in the Great Work, life has conquered death, and our King has been resurrected from his tomb." One is simply made alive with life itself. This resurrection is symbolized by the birth of the inner child Mercurius as he is called, because this is the experience of Mercury as the universal Spirit in one. It manifests through an inner spiritual heat generated through a passion and desire to become. The child is symbolic of the mystic centre as the youthful reawakening force of the alchemical process. This level of the alchemical process is considered by the alchemists as being a manifestation of the alchemical wedding, because as we have said, the alchemist has contact here with the light of his anima, his soul, and is a spiritual ecstacy of love with his inner feminine. We will see this in the Magic Flute opera, when Tamino expresses his spiritual ecstacy and love for Pamina when he sees her portrait. For women, the experience would be of similar ecstatic love, for light is light, however where the anima for men is the feminine goddess, for women the animus may be that of the masculine Hero figure, a knight in shining armor, a romantic poet like Byron ect. In all cases, it is an experience in light, life, love, resurrection and rebirth. It could be instantaneous or could be gradual. Coming out of a depression is an example here.
Matinata. a beautiful poem describing the emotional uplifting of such a rebirth through the White Stage.
Oh morning in all your bright glory,
You've chased all the darkness away.
And dewdrops are glistening in sunlight,
You've opened the gates to a new day.
The sun is caressing the flowers,
A butterfly is flapping about.
Oh morning in all your bright glory,
Your beauty is beyond any doubt.
Now that your wearing your bridal gown,
Let me embrace you, I'll sing along .
I'll sing with your birds,
I'll sway with your flowers.
Morning I'm singing your lovely song.
Alchemy and the Three Phases of Transformation 2011 Steve Kalec