Revised: September 2019
Standard dictionaries show us that this is the act or process of resolving or dissolving something into parts or elements. Many alchemists consider the term synonymous with Solution, even though modern dictionaries may split hairs. We must remember that sages and philosophers from ancient times, when vocabularies were young, had few glossaries which catalogued words with specific definitions. Terms were mostly passed down from mouth to ear, and translated back and forth n different languages Today these translations can easily confuse the modern reader of alchemical literature. There is a vocabulary of occult terms offered (out-dated, perhaps) in The Secret Symbols by Dr. Franz Hartmann (1838 - 1912) states:
"Solutio-(Alch.) Solution. The act of bringing a thing into a fluid condition."
When we consider the true meaning behind both terms, as intended by the genuine ancient and medieval alchemists, all differences do seem ‘to dissolve’. For what is implied esoterically is the act of meditation. When we meditate successfully what else do we do but: (a) resolve or dissolve something into elements or parts, or (b) bring a thing into a fluid condition? This is a classic meaning of meditation as offered in Swami Vivekananda’s Raja-Yoga.
This agrees with Western Traditions. A surface investigation of the meditative act leads us esoterically to the Hebrew Qabalah. Hegah, הגה, is the Hebrew verb ‘to meditate’. It’s word value is 13, equaling that of achad, אחד, ‘unity, one’, and with ahebah, אהבה, ‘love’. But it is also the root of hegehiah, הגיה, ‘to illuminate, to cause to shine’. This word, however, sums to 23, that of chaiah, חיה, ‘life-force’, as with the summation of the Sun glyph, ʘ (circle 22 + the point, 1). Combine these hints with the Hebrew noun for ‘meditation’ and we discover hegath, הגות, valued at 414, the summation of אין סוף אור, the First Matter of Creation. Meditation, by anyone’s definition, will eventually lead us into the Light of the Sun with unifying Love to the Source of Creation. Small wonder that all of the philosophers recommend meditation at the beginning, middle and end of this Great Work. Essentially what we are dissolving in the psychological sense are all the false ideas about our personality. Effective Dissolution leads to the indescribable Love, Union and Enlightenment with the Source of Creation.
In The Secret Teachings by M. P. Hall, the step Dissolution (solution or meditation) is listed eleventh in the process toward manufacture of the Stone. If this is true then it would correspond to Aquarius, the eleventh sign of the zodiac. In fact the symbol for dissolution and the sign Aquarius is identical, two horizontal wavy lines. According to ancients, Aquarius was/is ruled by Saturn and Uranus long before planet Uranus had been discovered in 1781. Since Saturn is one ruling power of Aquarius, it is a key power in Dissolution, according to alchemists and Qabalists.
Fixed concentration is this key power. Prolonged acts of attention and concentration break down and dissolve all objects under consideration into their primary parts, as the definitions relate. Alchemically, in the Great Work, what we are attempting to dissolve are all those attributes within us that create false ideas about who and what we are actually. The consequence of true meditation is the accurate perception that all elements within and outside us are fundamentally of the same primal substance. Knowing this is a total liberation of the Spirit, symbolized by the Fool in Tarot, to which Uranus is also assigned.
If we avoid or fail to recognize the negative elements within our psyche that prevent our progress, then the energies symbolized by Uranus force us to confront them. Whenever Uranus transits a natal planet or a challenging aspect in our astrological birth charts, Uranus’s potentially explosive tendency may disrupt blockage and force a confrontation by some sweeping change or even disastrous circumstance. Terrifying it might be at the onset, it is actually destroying an adverse condition to release the pent-up energies to be restructured for the positive. We can learn if we are mature enough to perceive the event, and the casue that created it.
The Tarot Key assigned to Aquarius is the Star, attributed to the twenty-eighth path on the Tree and titled שכל מוטבע, Saykel Motebo, ‘The Natural Intelligence’ in the Book of Formation. This joins the seventh sphere, Netzach, with the ninth sphere, Yesod, revealing how meditation impresses the subconscious substance with images of desire. On the Cube of Space, the Star and Hebrew letter Tzaddi occupy the position South-Above. The Sun on the South face is the Anahata Chakra. Remember the Sun glyph above? Mercury, the Sahasrara Chakra, is the face Above. The two centers are stimulated directly by acts of meditation. Since meditation breaks everything down to its first matter, it also forms the matrices with which we build up new manifestations. Within the fourth parable of Solomon Trismosin’s Splendor Solis, Menaldus the philosopher is quoted:
"I command all my descendants to spiritualize their bodies by Dissolution, and again to materialize the spiritual things by means of a gentle decoction."1
Decoction here is understood as "thinking about it," to mull it over in one's mind – in other words, meditation. ‘Decoction’ is another confusing term for modern readers (see DECOCTION). This is how we manifest objects and events, for better or worse, in our present lives. Adepts and Yogis go a step further to manifest imagery into the physical plane quicker. They realize themselves and all about them to be nothing less than the First Matter, and they know, rightly, that they are not the ones who are meditating. The One Life is the meditator. Sure in this knowledge, Yogis release all sense of personal attachment in the process. Devoid mental interference from the 'personal' and separative conscious mind, imagery formulated in meditation may manifest through the inner planes rapidly. This is a cosmic law. Once again Trismosin states in The Fifth Treatise, Part I:
"Dissolution is the First Operation which has to take place in the Art of Alchemy, for the order of Nature requires that the Corpus, Body, or Matter, be changed into Water which is the much spoken Mercury. The Living Silver dissolves the adjoined pure Sulphur."2
Meditation breaks down bodies into their true essence, the First Matter, while it purifies all personal desires into higher desire, free of personal attachment. Note here that Trismosin states Dissolution to be the first operation. Elsewhere it is listed as the eleventh step. And then, under Calcination, Trismosin puts that at the beginning of the work. Imagine the chagrin of the hapless would be alchemist in a physical laboratory. Meditation should indeed be placed at the beginning of the work, in the middle, and at the end. This is mostly what this Art is, and all these operations are the same when it comes down to it. As one performs Dissolution, one Congeals, Calcines and Decocts with a multitude of other operations in the Athanor. Geber is quoted in Splendor Solis:
"All this is nothing else but one thing in another thing, for the philosophers say the Operations are manifold, and so are the times, weights and names in consequence, all of which an intelligent Artist must know well, otherwise he can produce nothing."3
This is made even clearer by Jean d'Espagnet in The Hermetic Arcanum. In paragraph 72 he states plainly:
"The whole progress of the Philosopher's work is nothing but Solution and Congelation; the Solution of the body and the Congelation of the Spirit; nevertheless there is but one operation of both."4
Cross reference with TZADDI, DECOCTION, CALCINATION and CONGELATION.
1 Trismosin, Solomon, Splendor Solis. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., LTD. Reprinted by Yogi Publication Society, no date, pg. 30.
2 Ibid., pg. 38.
3 Ibid., pg. 68.
4 d'Espagnet, Jean, The Hermetic Arcanum. Edmonds, WA: Alchemical Press, 1983, pg. 23.