Alchemy is the process of transformation.
Most people think of alchemy as the transmutation of base metals like lead into gold. But for the true alchemist, the process was something much deeper. The alchemists knew the pursuit of science with spirituality was a path to deeper knowledge and spiritual awakening. Thus, they sought to transform the “lead” of an undeveloped consciousness into the “gold” of an enlightened soul. Alchemists discovered that the evolutionary process of transformation is broken down into seven stages. This process is a natural one that we go through all the time, and you may recognize these stages in your own life. However, when left to Nature alone, it usually takes a long time for things to naturally evolve. By harnessing consciousness, alchemists work with forces to advance the evolutionary process towards spiritual awakening.
Day 1. Calcination: The purifying fire
The alchemist reduces life to ashes. To build something new, we must first destroy the old. We experience the fire of Calcination, often involuntarily, when our ego gets burned or when jarring life events force us to think twice. It’s a caustic experience, but one which brings us face-to-face with the facets of ourselves that are holding us back; a conscious awareness of our true feelings soon emerges. A lifetime of conceit, poor habits and hubris stands between us and our philosopher’s stone. We burn what has calcified to the ground and allow us to start over.
Day 2. Dissolution: Stirring the pot
The alchemist dissolves the ashes in water to create something new. A churn of emotions often follows the ego-bruising effects of Calcination, from reactionary disillusionment to resignation. This is the stage of entropy and chaos; a lack of clarity is not unusual. Untethered on a turbulent ocean, we rely on gut reactions, which connects us to the deeper stirrings of the subconscious. Many embrace the creative arts – ritual, writing, music, dance – as they accept and express the feelings that rise to the surface.
Day3. Separation: The good and bad
The alchemist separates what has dissolved. Allowing the wash of emotions and experiences to settle reveals a welcome opportunity for further reflection. Like brushing dirt from a fossil, the natural process of Separation makes visible the aspects of our nature that are authentic and must be retained, and those that are toxic and can be discarded. The parts we choose to keep are ripe for further refinement; the rest will fade to dust in the heat of the playa.
Day 4. Conjunction: The point of no return
The alchemist mixes a cocktail. We’ve faced the truth about ourselves, good and bad, and decided what’s worth keeping. Conjunction, the halfway point in our journey, is the amalgamation and reintegration of the those elements into something new. All the good things, freshly scrubbed, are reconciled with one another in harmonious proportion, igniting a renewed sense of clarity and purpose. This new conscious awareness, along with a strong sense of connection and communion, will be essential for the journey ahead.
Day 5. Fermentation: Death & ressurection
The alchemist creates new life. Putrefaction is the letting go of any remaining influences of the ego – our newly-awakened consciousness will help inform the experience – while Fermentation symbolizes the birth of the newly-developing Self. Lingering impurities at this stage are less obvious and need more soul-searching to resolve, but the result is a higher vision of perfection and a strong and authentic identity. A new, unified vision begins to take root in this fertile ground.
Day 6. Distillation: Refinement in stages
The alchemist uses the sacred fire to burn off any final impurities.Having freed ourselves from undesirable elements, everything that remains is essential, and ready for the intense refinement and elevation of the distillation process. In the same way the alchemists would heat and cool a solution over and over to augment purity, Distillation ensures that no residue of the ego – or our former, ego-centric selves – is left behind, leaving us free and independent in thought and spirit as we cross the final threshold.
Day 7. Coagulation: A new beginning golden light
The alchemist discovers the light of evolved consciousness, the philosopher’s stone. The final stage of our endeavour, and the culmination of our efforts, is to see it all come together in one final, enlightened form: a permanent vehicle of elevated consciousness, embodying the highest aspirations of body and soul. It is normal to brave the journey more than once before coming face-to-face with your philosopher’s stone, for this is not the end of our transformation. Rather, it is another beginning, as we start the cycle anew in search of ever deeper communion with the connected universe and ourselves.