Stages in the Art
There could be some confusion for some readers between the alchemical stages of the Art and with the steps toward the manufacture of the Stone. Baro Urbigerus wrote in the 95th of his One Hundred Alchemical Aphorisms:
"The constant and essential colors, that appear in the digestion of the matter, and before it comes to perfection, are three, viz. black, which signifies the putrefaction and conjunction of the elements; white, which demonstrates its purification; and red, which denotes its maturation. The rest of the colors, that appear and disappear in the progress of the work, are only accidental, and inconstant."1
All the alchemical allegories from East and West appear in agreement concerning three major stages or phases in the Art. They are referred to as the Black, the White and the Red Stages; in that order. The philosopher, Miraldus, a philosopher from the Turba is quoted in Splendor Solis:
"The principal colours are black, white and red; between these many others appear."2
In Root of the World, Roger Bacon explains:
"Let us return to the black matter in its vessel, continually closed. In the first decoction, which is called putrefaction, our stone is made all black, to wit, a black earth, by the drawing out of its humidity; and in that blackness, the whiteness is hidden. And when the humidity is reverted upon the blackness again, and by a continued soft and gentle digestion is made fixed with its earth, then it becomes white. In this whiteness, the redness is hidden; and when it is decocted and digested by augmentation and continuance of the fire, that earth is changed into redness, as we shall hereafter teach."3
The Vessel is the human aura (see GLASS VESSEL). This is the One Vessel wherein all the work of regeneration occurs. Note that Bacon advises that the vessel be continually closed, that is, Hemetically Sealed (see HERMETIC SEAL). By sexual economy and decoction (meditation), Putrefaction reduces the earth-stone to blackness, the first phase. Again, the Turba is quoted in Splendor Solis:
"Putrefaction is the first and demands the UTMOST SECRECY."4
“Utmost secrecy” is another reference to sexual continence, imperative in the beginning of the work. Putrefaction comes at the end of the Bath (see BALNEUM). The Bath is the 'moist fire' from the metal Iron (Mars Center) that fills the enclosed aura by rechanneled reproductive energy. The psychological effect of this phase is the complete surrender of all our conscious efforts. It is reduced to nothingness when the humidity ascends or retracts inward. Humidity 'ascending' is a reference to the spirit that ascends at the end of Putrefaction, and descends again near the end of the work. When the spirit retracts from the body, the self-consciousness becomes CAPUT MORTUUM (see same). It is truly like a black refuse. The human psyche at this point feels nothing. We even give up the quest for Higher Self in that the 'spirit' is no longer there to be willing. The darkening phase toward complete blackness is affected by continually negating any power to the lower self. We plant firmly into subconsciousness the sublime truth that we do nothing of ourselves, that all we ever were, are, or will be, is due solely to the One-Life living through us. No power whatever is given credit to the separative, personal self. This is a very contrary stance from the current New Age wave sweeping human consciousness. 'Empowering' the lower self is as much in vogue as it has ever been. Subliminal cassette tapes, expensive seminars and workshops by the thousands continue to extort high fees from sincere seekers led to believe promises of a better life with cornucopia abundance appeasing every lower whim. To those with such duped, convoluted reasoning, alchemy will ever remain the greatest enigma.
"It must be known for certain that nothing of the work can be bought." - 48th Dictum 5
At the end of this first phase the aura is black, but Miraldus, Bacon, and Ubigerus quoted initially, hint other colors playing within The Vessel. Human moods and deeper feelings change colors in our aura, “only accidental, and inconstant.” No one color is permanent, but the phase colors are predominant. And the predominant phase 'colors' are not so much seen as felt. The color phases are not actually 'tinted.' They are metaphors for attitudes in consciousness. In our seek we experience myriad mood swings, from the most despondent when we are world weary and feel no progress in the work, to exaltation when we receive a minor satori which goads us onward. Ultimately we surrender, and within the blackness of despondency is whiteness.
The White stage emerges when we have come finally to the realization that we have nothing left to lose in this life…and are glad of it. This is the predominant aura of the saint. In the White phase the work of invoking the Higher Self is constant. Through this phase we impress subconsciousness with conscious recognition of Christ's admission: “Of myself I do nothing, the Father within me, He doeth the works.” From here forward all that we desire, do, say or feel we give credit to the One-Life doing it within and through us. We need not proclaim this aloud, trying to impress, sounding idiotic. It is known in the heart where it rings loudly and truly enough. Our daily acts are not ours. Our guilt is His. Our successes are not of us; our failures, not our design. Through this stage we do not yet know this as fact. The heart knows, but the lower self is yet tinged, profoundly deep, with the erroneous personal guilt for our acts. So other colors still reverberate in and through the aura. The truth of the matter is that we are not responsible. Yet, continuing this real exercise allows subconsciousness to act upon that truth in ways that move us even closer to the eventual certainty of the Red phase. We find our lives taking on new meaning. We discover situations and circumstances more harmonious to the total environment. We come to realize, ever so slowly, that wherever we are is perfect for the moment; a force-flow working through us demonstrates all our surroundings a perpetual continuum, impeccably synchronized.
However, other colors still play through the aura. Mood swings still move within consciousness; but within the whiteness redness lay hidden, as Bacon informs us. When the Red phase blooms, all doubts concerning the total work are dispelled. The Lightning Flash of true perception from the One-Life floods the lower consciousness with Grace and Love. It fills the blessed recipient with perfect confidence in the end result. The Red phase is then “augmented with a continuance of the fire.” We become one with It. There is no doubt as to who is in this physical vehicle. The 'old man/woman' personality is gone; we now enter into a perpetual state of Grace. We lose none of what we were. All our thoughts and actions are now direct consequences of motives from the Inner Doer. The continual decoction and digestion of this newly 'born again' consciousness augments the matter into the Living Stone. Laus Deo, Omnipotente! See: Steps Toward the Stone
1 Urbigerus, Baro, One Hundred Alchemical Aphorisms. Edmonds, WA: Alchemical Press, 1986, pg. 16.
2 Trismosin, Solomon, Splendor Solis. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., LTD. Reprinted by Yogi Publication Society, no date, pg. 65.
3 Bacon, Friar Roger, The Root Of The World. Edmonds, WA: Alchemical Press, 1985, pg. 12
4 Trismosin, Solomon, Splendor Solis. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., LTD. Reprinted by Yogi Publication Society, no date, pg. 71.
5 Waite, Dr. Arthur E., Turba Philosophorum. Notes and commentary by Waite. London: William Rider & Son, Ltd., 1914, pg. 147.