Revised: September 2019
Alchemists may use several different names to hint the same process or operation, for Hermes says of this science:
"Alchymy is a Corporeal Science simply composed of one and by one, naturally conjoining things more precious by knowledge and effect, and converting them by a natural commixtion into a better kind."1
Coagulation is one step alchemists use to explain the process toward manufacture of the Philosophers' Stone. Coagulation is often compared with Congelation, which might create confusion in the minds of some beginners in this Art. However, if we keep Hermes' quotation above in mind, we are not apt to wander too far from the simple point. Because, in this case, the two terms mean the exact same. First let’s compare the two in Webster’s Dictionary:
Coagulate: To drive together; to clot; to cause (a liquid) to become semi-solid.
Congeal: 1.) to freeze; 2.) to thicken; to jell; to coagulate.
Even Webster conceded to very minute differences. Coagulation, in the most physical sense, may be defined as changing something from a fluid state into a thickened mass by chilling or heating. Human blood, for example, coagulates by cooling; egg albumin by heating. So much for the physical sciences. Now let us examine the genuine alchemists’ uses for the terms. Dr. Franz Hartmann offers this concerning Coagulation in The Secret Symbols:
"Coagulatio -(Alch.) Coagulation. The act of some fluid or ethereal substance assuming a state of corporeal density."
We see here that the alchemists had the same idea as the physical chemists. However, the genuine alchemists' process is entirely an interior one. For the ‘fluid, ethereal substance’ is none other than AIN SUPh AUR, the universally dispersed, living, loving, liquid ocean of super-conscious light that assumes a state of corporeal density into the alchemist’s physical body. The process implicates the same meaning as Congelation, which other philosophers in the genre declare, as listed in Manly P. Hall’s Secret Teachings of All Ages, is the second step in the manufacture attributed the second sign of the zodiac, Taurus. Coagulation and Congelation are interchangeable in alchemical writings. It is 'Fixing the Volatile.' The ‘volatile’ matter or substance, AIN SUPh AUR. Consider this quotation from The Hermetic Arcanum, by Jean d'Espagnet:
"The whole Progress of the Philosopher's work is nothing but Solution and Congelation; the Solution of the body, and Congelation of the Spirit."2
We dissolve the lower, separative self into the All Solution by meditation; the volatile prana in the atmosphere is taken into our physical bodies by proper breath control before and during meditation. Remember Hermes’ dictum that “the wind carries it in its belly”. By this method we are invoking the Higher Self to congeal or coagulate into the corpus as replacement. Hence we see the banner inscribed on so many alchemical woodcuts and drawings: 'SOLVE ET COAGULA.' This simple Latin dictum summarizes the entire alchemical Art. Solomon Trismosin explains in Splendor Solis, the Fifth Treatise, the second chapter:
"The next is Coagulation, which is turning the Water again into the Corpus or Matter, meaning thereby that the Sulphur, which was before dissolved by the Living Silver, absorbs the same and draws it into itself."3
Sulphur is our desire nature. Alchemists declare there is a Red Sulphur and a White Sulphur. Red Sulphur is selfish desire working downward and outward for more and better everything to appease base senses. White Sulphur works toward spirit, altruism and re-union with The One. Dissolved by the Living Silver (AIN SUPh AUR) through repeated, prolonged meditations, our Red Sulphur is turned White and then re-absorbed by the same Living Silver, by "turning the Water again into the Corpus or Matter." Water is the most common title for the First Matter. Finally it is coagulated into the cellular structure of the physical body.
The varied physical chemistry terms, used metaphorically in alchemical operations, were not to deliberately deceive the seeker, but to coerce the aspirant to work diligently toward its culmination. Certain aspects of our consciousness, and our brains, need to be worked into maturity that, with progression, opens other, higher developments. There is an intellect which we all use to a certain extent. Then there is the higher intellect which must be developed. Our senses are capable of much finer perceptions, but if we are absorbed with merely placating our lower senses, then we are denied access to worlds unimaginable by those of us poor in spirit.
Many beginners moan and condemn the ‘secrecy’ they believe surrounds genuine alchemical writings. But there are no secrets for those who chose to STUDY and WORK. Merely reading the literature has no lasting effect. This age has entrapped all but a select few willing to pull themselves out of their iPhones long enough to ferret the meaning behind alchemical allegory and metaphor. Anything we wish to excel in, mundane or spiritual, takes study and work turned into action. There is considerably deeper information behind these and other alchemical terms. Solve et Coagula! Please refer to DISSOLUTION and CONGELATION.
1 Bacon, Friar Roger, The Mirror Of Alchemy. Edmonds, WA: Alchemical Press, 1992, pg. 5.
2 d'Espagnet, Jean, The Hermetic Arcanum. Edmonds, WA: Alchemical Press, 1983, pg. 23.
3 Trismosin, Solomon, Splendor Solis. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., LTD. Reprinted by Yogi Publication Society, no date, pg. 39.