Revised: April 2020
If the lists in Secret Teachings of All Ages, and again in The Most Holy Trinosophia, are to be relied upon then alchemists rank Sublimation as the seventh step in the order toward manufacture of the Philosophers' Stone. There is much confusion and miss-information around this step of the ‘process’ in the early stages of our High Art. Many beginning aspirants believe that they must immediately uphold strict celibacy toward total abstinence regarding the sexual act. In early times it was so misunderstood that some aspirants voluntarily performed self castration to become eunuchs. There are ‘levels’ to this Art. Sublimation in its most profound application as celibacy is practiced toward the very end of the Work. Up to that point the only requirement is gentle and intelligent continence. Consider the definition here.
Random House College Dictionary offers the following for Sublimate:
“1. Psychol. to divert the energy of (a sexual or other biological impulse) from its immediate goal to one of a higher social, moral or aesthetic nature or use.
2. Chem. a.) to sublime (a solid substance); extract by this process. b.) to refine or purify.”
“To divert the energy…to one of higher social, moral or aesthetic nature or use.” With regard to Alchemy the suggestion is to raise, refine or purify the act of coition from a mere recreational sex act into one of genuine love and affection. It is the squandering of the reproductive force as we might squander our hard earned money on ridiculous speculative ventures, like addictive gambling. Genuine love and affection with a deserving partner enhances the indwelling spirit of both partners. It energizes consciousness to go about the life with renewed purpose. Draconian attitudes toward sexual love have no place on our path to enlightenment. The Puritan and Victorian eras are long gone. Aspirants need not trouble themselves by harboring religious guilt from days gone by. It is wanton licentiousness and concupiscence from which we divert. After years-long practice with growing physically, mentally and psychologically healthy, then may we begin to focus our energies toward a higher, alchemical purpose.
When Consciousness is ready, and that readiness wells up from the subconscious mind as a natural tendency, it is then that we feel the necessity of conservation. Then, on another level, this is when the reproductive force plays a distinct, pivotal and vital role.
The Philosophical Research Society reprinted The Most Holy Trinosophia, allegedly written by the Comte de St. Germain. It is a most arcane and difficult tutorial text for the Comte's own disciples in Qabalistic, Alchemical and Hermetic mysteries. Mr. Manly P. Hall offers notes and commentary at the rear of the text where the alchemical definition for Sublimation is presented:
"Libra – Sublimation – The refining of elemental bodies; the increasing of the vibratory harmonics of the body."1
Combining the definitions above then, it may be stated that Sublimation is the lifting or exalting the same powers that were previously expressed immaturely, and without changing their essential nature, raise them to a higher level of expression. The reproductive force is now redirected toward sharpening the edges of the Glass Vessel and purifying the Astral body of subconsciousness.
Libra, the seventh sign of zodiacal powers, is ruled by Venus and the sign in which Saturn is exalted. The Venus Chakra and creative imagination are therefore key elements in Sublimation, which exalts the powers of Saturn. As Libra is an air sign it must be surmised that breathing and breath control in meditation is foremost behind the efforts of Sublimation. In the 32 Paths of Wisdom (attached to some versions of the Sepher Yetzirah) Libra and the Justice Tarot Key are assigned the 22nd Path titled the ‘Faithful Intelligence’. A.E.Waite’s commentary on this path states: “...because spiritual virtues are deposited and augmented therein, until they pass to those who dwell under the shadow thereof.”
Breath control in meditation most certainly will augment spiritual virtues. The underlined portion hints that those of us who have not turned to the Spirit within are yet under Libra’s scales, which Qabalists teach is Karma, the causes and effects of a life devoid spirit. It takes Work and Action (the essential meaning behind Karma) to lift or Sublimate ourselves to freedom from the ‘merry-go-round’ life in a physical world. Meditation primarily involves Creative Imagination (Venus). We visualize our path forward growing closer the THAT WHICH IS WITHIN; the only Path offering solace and Grace to all us prodigals. Genuine aspirations of this sort gently maneuver our lives by assuaging the negative causes and effects on our path and stimulates the exaltation of Saturn, the Central Self symbolized by the Dancer in the World Tarot Key. Creative Imagination (Venus) visualizes the Glass Vessel and the Astral Vehicle, while condensation (Saturn) forms the Mind-Stuff around the image.
On the Cube of Space letter Lamed, assigned to Libra and the Justice Tarot Key, is positioned at the North-West edge. North is the face of letter Peh, and planet Mars. The face West is occupied by Kaph, and Jupiter. Sublimation is brought about through the combined energies of these two chakras. The Mars center generates reproductive power in the human organism. Rechanneling this reproductive force, as the psychological definition from the dictionary above suggests, is what refines and increases the vibratory harmonics noted by Manly Palmer Hall's definition (see HERMETIC SEAL). The reproductive force, wasted or squandered by the animal human, is the very force that reproduces healthy cell tissue. Qabalists and the genuine Alchemists teach that Sublimation is simply the lifting of this same power without essential change, to a higher level of expression. This energy, combined with the essential force hinted by Jupiter, manufactures Aurum Potabile. The Jupiterian force is the circuitous action of the sanguinary system. The healthy blood mixture from air, food, water and light is charged with other vital essences from glands influenced by these two chakras. The resulting combinations literally 'pump up' the aura, making it resilient, and creating what Yaqui Indian Knowledge calls “the glow of awareness.” Awareness augments the Faithful Intelligence assigned to Lamed and the Justice Key. The ruling power of Venus, being Creative Imagination envisioning a healthier physical vehicle, which sets the stage for the exalted force of the Serpent Power raised from the Saturn Center. Sublimation refines the elemental body through the process just described, and releases us from the hypnotic tendencies of Salt within the seven Metals. This turns us toward the Mercury expressions by the power of Sulphur. Consider this quotation from Chapter VII in An Open Entrance to the Closed Palace of the King:
"The Mercury of the Sages is the Bird of Hermes (now called a goose, now a pheasant). But Eagles are always mentioned in the plural, and number from 3 to 10. Yet this is not to be understood as if there should be so many weights or parts of the water to one of the earth, but the water must be taken so oftentimes acuated or sharpened as there are Eagles numbered. This acuation is made by Sublimation. There is, then, one Sublimation of the Mercury of the Sages, when one Eagle is mentioned, and the seventh Sublimation will so strengthen your Mercury that the Bath of your King will be ready."2
Acuation is the 'keenness of thought or vision gained through sexual continence'. Rechanneled reproductive energy generates power into our imagery toward manifestation. This is another typical hint from so many sages that the whole process is an inner, philosophical procedure. Note that the Eagles number “from 3 to 10,” the difference being the seven interior stars or force centers. “The seventh Sublimation” makes Mercury of all Our Metals, builds faith in the True Self, and 'goads' the powers of the Life-Breath symbolized by Aleph, also an Air element as Libra. The outcome of our total trust is a success process, influencing all our circumstances. Such resilient faithful trust prepares an aspirant for the next darker step, Putrefaction, under the zodiacal powers of Scorpio. Please learn to control the breath before and during meditation. And, please be mindful that this whole venture is a life-long endeavor. We cannot rush this unfoldment regardless our zeal for immediate reward. Live the Life with sanity.
1 St. Germain, Comte 'de, The Most Holy Trinosophia. Commentary by Manly Palmer Hall. Los Angeles: The Philosophical Research Society, 1983, pg. 107.
2 Anonymous, Open Entrance to the Closed Palace of the King. Edmonds, WA: Alchemical Press, 1984, pg. 11