Revised: May 2021
Alchemists call the third step of the twelve-step process for manufacturing the Philosophers’ Stone, Fixation. Frequently we may see or hear the phrase, ‘fixation of the volatile,’ and assume it to be the same as the step Fixation. While the assumption might not be entirely false, something else is implied by this step of the process. This form of ‘fixation’ will be addressed further down.
Mr. Manly Palmer Hall wrote notes and commentary in the reprint of the Comte de St. Germain’s The Most Holy Trinosophia. The Compt's manuscript itself is divided into twelve sections. Mr. Hall lists twelve steps of the Alchemical Process with the zodiacal signs on page 107. He correlates Fixation with the sign Gemini, the sign ruled by Mercury. So it suggests that the power of that planetary center and metal is the key to Fixation. The Lovers Tarot Key represents Gemini in pictorial symbolism, but not all Tarot packs out there are very accurate as esoteric picture books. The packs offered by Crowley, Mr. A.E. Waite, and notably the B.O.T.A. version, reveal the most insight for alchemical purposes. In both latter versions the Lovers are depicted facing each other with an archangel extending beneficence from the above center. The whole scene is the true Alchemical Marriage, illustrating the relationship of the three phases or modes of consciousness. The archangel represents both Super-consciousness and the Universal Mercury; the male figure, self-consciousness and Alchemical Sulphur; the female, subconsciousness and Alchemical Salt. All alchemical steps or operations are performed by one, or the combination of any two, or even all three of these modes. This is the Fixation we must learn to keep fast in our conscious awareness.
The very first picture-plate in Splendor Solis illustrates glyphs of the Sun, Moon, and Mercury. It is titled "The Arms of the Art" (See Plate I of Splendor Solis within the Articles section). Similarly, paraded in the first three Major Arcana of the Tarot is the Fool (super-consciousness), the Magician (self-consciousness), and the High Priestess (subconsciousness). There is nothing else. Both picture books allude to their importance by positioning them primary. It might also be advisable to study and learn all we can about these three modes of our ‘personal’ consciousness; what each does; how they work together and separately. It is advised to learn non-interference with the many subconscious processes, and not consciously second guess the intuitive insights from the subconscious, nor doubt the miraculous powers of the super-conscious level. Alchemists refer to this process as the ‘Fixation of Mercury’, learning the intricacies of these three modes of Universal Mercury.
We have been programmed from false teachings, and as well from accumulated subconscious habit patterns, that subconsciousness is amenable to suggestions from the self-conscious mind. And this is true. However, in this Alchemical Art, we as aspirant must see and learn that suggestions from our self-conscious level is fraught with errors derived from a separative ego. We are trying to reverse these errors. It is ironic, but as we progress with this Great Work, we are learning to give self-conscious suggestions to our subconscious to NOT RECEIVE and act upon these self-conscious inductions. We learn through ‘special’ practices in Alchemical Fixation whereby subconsciousness is released from acting upon errors from the separative self-conscious level. This places our subconscious deductive processes in its rightful office of receiving and accepting all future suggestions from the Super-Conscious level. This is the accurate Chemistry of Consciousness known as the Great Work.
Fixation, this Third Step of the Great Work, refers to the method where a harmonious relationship between self- and subconsciousness is brought into actual expression. But before we can harmonize the two, we must accurately distinguish the functions between self-consciousnesses and subconsciousness. It calls for discrimination to discern our subconscious conflicts and negative, knee-jerk response patterns that interfere with our goals toward advanced enlightenment. Until this relationship is brought into some appreciative harmony it can unravel into a carousel of mutual negative responses to and from both.
On the Cube of Space, Fixation and Hebrew letter Zain occupy the upper edge, East-Above. Since this placement is on the top side of the Cube it is primarily a function of the self-conscious mind as Mercury, being the ruler of Gemini, also suggests. Once again, East-Above joins the Top face with the East face. 'Top' is assigned to the Magician and planet Mercury (the self-conscious mind), and the 'East' is attributed to the Empress and planet Venus (imagination). This now presents three references to Mercury and the self-conscious mind being the primary agent in this step. Acts of attention, concentration and discrimination are predominant here, reminding us constantly that our conscious mind, 'Our Mercury,' is a Transparent Intelligence for the Universal Mind to flow into and through. It is advised that we learn to drop all sense of attachment to outcomes, and surrender to the Omnipotent One-Will in all our daily activities. Unless we feel an all consuming desire to do so, we need not give up our jobs, relationships, locations, or any other necessity in our lives. On the other hand, should any of these leave us or begin to slip from our pseudo control, it is advised to surrender them willingly. We have to see these as actions from the One-Life, changing the people and circumstances in our personal world, and drawing us closer to our true heart's desire.
Surrender. Fix full trust in the deeper, higher workings of the True Self to move us into situations toward conformity with our previous images. Imagination (Venus), the other potent element in Fixation, fixes images of health. Imagine circumstances shifting in accordance with a Higher Will, then learn to accept the present moment, even if temporarily uncomfortable, as a phase moving toward balance from previous trespasses. Use imagery to drive home the fact that we are truly points of pure Light, within oceans of Limitless Light, in perfect ebb and flow through eternity. This is far from the mental tricks of mind-over-matter for which so many counterfeit messiahs dupe followers into paying thousands of dollars. To labor for circumstances and positions contrary to our Divined Path is to continue the lie of a separative existence that a True Alchemist labors to dissolve. Find, and know the True Self. Knowing Self, and what Its Will is for us, provides us with everything that is comfortable and necessary in this life, or any lives to follow through eternity. "Seek ye first the Kingdom," how many times do we need to hear this? Fixation of true imagery is in our path. Fix the true image of union with the Higher Self. Imagine being, rather than wasting time with pictures of things to have. Having enough is ultimately assured.
Now, as for the “Fixation of the Volatile”. This is a subtle, higher phase of the ordinary ideas behind Fixation. It is primarily concerned with ‘fixing’ the volatile essence within the Elemental Air, Prana, into the body Chariot. Within the body-laboratory the thoughtful fuel intake from food is digested and distilled into chyle, addressed frequently within this site. Chyle, the Virgin’s Milk, has been identified by sages through ages as the special form of the First Matter most available to us for our physical transmutation. Essences from nourishing food-stuffs pass through the small intestines and the lungs. The elements from nourishing food receives chyle from the intestines. This amalgam then traverses into the lungs. However, if certain, nourishing elements from food are NOT in the bloodstream when it passes through the lungs, then the ‘volatile’ Prana in the atmosphere cannot be added. There is no solid basis with which to hold the volatile. When Prana is added to the aforesaid amalgam the process impregnates human cell tissue with all the necessary essences to renew the body-vehicle at the cellular level.
If we are to succeed to any level of this Great Work we must be mindful of the ‘gross work’ in the body-laboratory. This is where it must begin, or the rest is mere intellectual information to no avail.