Revised: April 2021
The Latin, Magnum Opus, totals 124 by Latin Cabala Simplex. VITRIOL, the notariqon formed by the first letters of each word in a sentence, was used frequently by Paracelsus. It may also be used in the accusative form:
“Visicabis interiora terra rectificando invenies occultum lapidem veram medicinam.” -- “You will visit the interior of the earth; by rectifying you will discover the hidden stone, the true medicine.”
Seen occasionally, V.I.T.R.I.O.L.U.M. equals 124. The interior of the earth is the human organism holding its finer bodies and the spirit. The Hidden Stone lay within us. The Great Work brings it into crystallization with the reconstituted consciousness and regenerated personality. Another Hebrew word with number value 124 is עדן, Eden, also translated as 'time' in Hebrew dictionaries. The same ODN with different vowel points becomes 'garden,' the Garden in the Book of Genesis. This was/is the state of awareness within collective Adam Quodmon prior to the Fall. Having 'fallen' from Eden humankind is left to traverse eternal space in Time. Redeemed, its number hints the reinstatement of Eden with the end of the Great Work. The Art of Alchemy, the interior Great Work, restores rightful rulership of and by the King, one with the Father, eternally reigning reunited from His Throne of the One-Ego, within us. The first paragraph of Chapter XII in Transcendental Magic, Eliphas Levi says concerning The Great Work:
"The Great Work is, above all things, the creation of man by himself, that is to say, the full and entire conquest of his faculties and his future; it is especially the perfect emancipation of his will, assuring him universal dominion over Azoth and the dominion of Magnesia, in other words, full power over the Universal Magical Agent, disguised by philosophers under the name of the First Matter."1
The root origin of the Great Work is the Creator, He Who is ‘unmade’ Himself. Hermes Trismegistus, in the 17th Book of his Divine Pymander of Hermes, teaches that:
“All things that appear, were made, and are made. Those things that are made, are not made by themselves, but by another. There must be One, unmade, and more ancient than all things that are made. Moreover, all things that are made are visible, but He is Invisible. And for this Cause He makes them, that He may be visible. And therefore He makes them always.”
We are the Creator incarnate. We are the ‘visible’ Him, from the ‘invisible; albeit yet incomplete. The Great Work is also the art of learning the universal laws of vibrations to formulate perfected vehicles through which the Super-conscious energies of the Creator can find expression.
The Great Work is a combination of psycho-physical activities; of the combined powers of self-consciousness and the subconscious. And, essentially, we must grow to recognize our personality level as the means by which the Invisible Unmade can be made incarnate. This is also the Covenant of the Creator. Our personality complex was evolved and made into manifestation as an instrument of the Unmade, so that, through its manifestation, powers and effects may be produced that otherwise could not come into expression; the manifestation of the Invisible, Unmade Creator into the made Human.
Prior to this ultimate realization that the One-Life is the only life, Super-consciousness works through Universal Sub-consciousness as the primary force in charge of our evolution. Many alchemists and philosophers allude to the Great Work as being “Woman’s Work”. That is, the subconscious. In all their writings and in the various mythologies of the ancient world that aspect of our personal consciousness and personality complex has been personified by the feminine. Venus, Artemis, Juno, all the female goddesses, personified some aspect of our subconscious powers. A very great part of the entire work of transmutation is performed by ‘her’. This is not to be construed as the effect of genetics. The human race will not evolve into the Spiritual Kingdom of the Restored Eden through Nature. The Great Work goes far beyond natural evolution. The verse in 1 Corinthians 15:50 rings true. Look this up for yourself.
The Masters who had achieved this Magnum Opus could not pass it on to their off-spring. We cannot inherit the Kingdom, though ironically it is our Divine Heritage. Each of us desiring reunion must transmute our lower nature, symbolized as Lead, into the Gold of which the genuine philosophers allude. This is performed with the aid of our self-conscious mind, 'Our Mercury'. Unless self-consciousness participates with the beginning, and zealously works toward completion, we shall never attain the height of perfection. With the advent, development, maturation and perfection of self-consciousness, we possess all that is required for Return. Make no mistake; Super-consciousness is still the primary mover behind all the phases of consciousness. All that is lacking for reunification is the full cooperation of self-consciousness with desire to do so. We are yet immature at that level when we inhibit the flow of super-conscious light to influence our conscious, waking minds. In our immature state we consciously use our personalities for the aggrandizement of the yet separative ego. The energy necessary for the road of return is squandered on our separative, pseudo sense of self importance. Carlos Castaneda quotes don Juan Matus in a later work of that series, The Art of Dreaming:
"...we must redeploy our existing energy, by any means available. He was of the opinion that self importance is not only the sorcerers' supreme enemy but the nemesis of mankind. Don Juan's argument was that most of our energy goes into upholding our importance. This is most obvious in our endless worry about the presentation of the self, about whether or not we are admired or acknowledged or liked. He reasoned that if we were able to lose some of that importance, two extraordinary things would happen to us. One, we would free our energy from trying to maintain the illusory idea of our grandeur; and, two, we would provide ourselves with enough energy to enter into the second attention to catch a glimpse of the actual grandeur of the universe."2
The “pseudo sense” alluded to above is our lives as we are living them currently. It is an illusion; it does not actually exist. The Great Work ends with an extinction of the ‘self’ as you see reflected in the mirror daily. It transmutes us into the Center of the Cube as the Dancer in The World Tarot key. The Great Work is the full concentration of all three modes of consciousness. We must consciously desire reunion, but more than mere desire, we must work at it. The Way of Return is a way of life. All thoughts and actions are directed toward this end; all thoughts and activities that impede progress are slowly eliminated from our lives. Our personal history prior to taking up this endeavor delays the process, however. Everything we have ever done, all the friends and relatives we have ever known, and all the memories remaining attached, are direct or indirect hurdles and anchors preventing our attainment. From the beginning an aspirant looks into the pathway toward the Self as a sort of funnel, passage through which shrinks down ever more narrow with inner progress, until we find ourselves on a course Muslims call the 'razor's edge.'
The ways of the physical world loom ever more vain and wasteful, as a plane of chaos, darkness and a ‘vale of tears’. Through our White Desire, the Alchemical 'White Sulfur', all the things, people and places the old, lower self held dear will eventually disappear. We are therefore cautioned not to make undue haste on this chosen path. We must be duly prepared for the trials of minimization before us. For some period we find ourselves living double lives while the ‘old’ dissipates to be replaced by the ‘new’. Every level of the inner and outer self must be reshaped. We feed our minds with the thoughts and words from Masters who have gone before; heed their counsel in the selection of reading matter; drop the nonsensical, vain-glorious, superfluous drivel that the collegiate consider intelligent. There is nothing new under the sun concerning these matters save the current fashions of delivery. Rules, mores, fashions, even histories are constantly being rewritten. Conserve personal energy. Get healthy; enlightenment is an organic process. Change the dietary habits to reconstruct a new physical body capable of absorbing and handling the increased light-energy levels forthcoming with growth. Be ever on guard of the lower beasts within ourselves as personal desires, habits, malicious thoughts, speech and actions. Pray for inner guidance from the Super-conscious Self, who works outward and downward for us twice as fervently as we work upward and inward. Surrender to and trust in the Divine Life within to move us closer to union with Itself, according to our desire for that union. We will achieve our goal by His Divine Grace because it is His design that makes it so. We cannot lose once we recognize that we are being pulled. Great indeed is the Work in nobility and magnitude. No other endeavor in this life even merits attention, and all other feats pale in comparison to its completion. Maintain in L.V.X.
1 Levi, Eliphas, Transcendental Magic. New York: Samuel Weiser, 1972 ed., pg. 113.
2 Casteneda, Carlos, The Art Of Dreaming. New York: Harper Collins, 1993, pg. 37.