AN OMITTED INDISPENSABLE PART OF OUR RITUAL
By: Carlos Antonio Martinez, Jr.
The Chamber of Reflection… After being told a few words of warning calling for the reconsideration on the steps he is about to take, mysterious words bearing a contrasting and intimidating message of discouragement, the young candidate, compelled by either Conviction or Curiosity, decides to ignore such “warnings”, and valiantly enters that “cavern-like” room on the day of his initiation into the Craft. He immediately finds himself in the middle of a gloomy and obscure scenario – a small table with a skull and crossed tibia, a lit candle, a sand clock about to stop, and a few suggestive wall inscriptions complementary of everything he was forewarned prior to stepping into such a perturbing enclosure. Truly, this is a chamber of reflection.
He cannot help feeling like an unfortunate detainee of ancient times, locked in a dungeon awaiting his sentence. On the small table there are also a cup of water, a small piece of bread, and some salt, which seem to be the only food that he is entitled to ingest for being imprisoned. He instinctively asks himself “Am I a Prisoner?”; “I have not done anything wrong”; “I came here of my own free will and they throw me in here”; “How long will they keep me?”; “I have no idea, but, I want to get out, I want to throw down the towel and surrender in the second round”; “I give up”; I can’t stand it any longer”; “What is this about?”; “Why did they lock me up?”; “Is this how they make Good Men better?”; “Is this what they mean by Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth?”; “They are probably just having fun with me!”; “They have me in such a ridiculous and hopeless state!”; “One of my hands is tied, I’m barefooted, almost naked, without my belongings, and partially blind-folded!”; “My God, what’s next?”; “A ransom?”; “Am I being kidnapped?”; “Are all those sinister rumors about the Masons true?”…
… The young neophyte then recovers his briefly lost sanity, and focus his attention on some of the fluorescent phrases posted on the dark walls: “IF YOU ARE AFRAID, LEAVE”; “IF YOU ARE NOT CERTAIN, WITHDRAW”; “IF YOU CANNOT COPE, RENOUNCE”; All of the sudden, however, these intimidating and daring clauses give him the encouragement to continue on, to test himself, to confront and overcome his own fears, to subdue his vices, and to begin to truly know himself.
Suddenly, a man wearing a black robe hands him a paper with four (4) questions that he must answer in sixty (60) seconds. At that moment, the novice thinks – “Who, in my present state and condition, is going to answer this questionnaire correctly in one (1) minute?” – While reading the questions, he feels like a bucket of cold water has fallen upon him, slightly refreshing his already warm and confused mind. There are four (4) questions he must reflect upon: What is Man’s duty to God? Again, he thinks – “What, didn’t they say that, here, Religion is never discussed?” – He thinks for a moment and answers what he thinks is right. What is Man’s duty to Himself? “Dignity”, he replies. But, again, he cannot help to think – “What type of Dignity can I have or talk about, after being treated like a dirty rag?”. What is Man’s duty to his Fellow Beings? Without hesitation he replies – “Respect”. If your last hour arrived, what would be your Testament? This time, the young man’s face frowns and he thinks aloud – “A last will? “What are they going to do to me now?”; “I’m locked away in a room, I know nobody in this place, and I’m in the presence of human remains”; “Now, I truly feel uncomfortable!” – He stops, thinks again for a few seconds, and replies – “I’d give half of my holdings to my loved-ones, and the other half to people in need”.
He was given sixty (60) seconds, but, he feels as twenty (20) minutes have gone by; his anxiety begins to feel like asphyxia with an unmistakable sensation of claustrophobia. Suddenly, there is a distinct knock at the door, two or three different voices from without order him not to turn around, and, once more, he is completely blind-folded.
As he is taken away, he remembers reading a particular word with three points between each letter: V:.I:.T:.R:.I:.O:.L:. At that time, our young Initiate did not know its meaning, he probably even assumed that it was an unknown reference to God; But, in due time, he will encounter the latin phrase: “VISITA INTERIORA TERRAE RECTIFICANDO INVENIES OCCULTUM LAPIDEM”, which, semi-translated into English means: “VISIT THE INTERIOR OF THE EARTH, THROUGH RECTIFICATION YOU SHALL FIND THE HIDDEN STONE”, and, then, he will realize that such word went hand in hand with everything he saw and read in that “cavern-like” chamber. Studying and analyzing further, he will find its significance, that of visiting and knowing his Inner Side/Nature, and submitting to a Self-Examination of Conscience with which he must reflect over his actions and deeds, and, thus, discover his Internal Self or Hidden Stone, the Philosophers Stone of the Alchemists, the Rough Ashlar of the Free-Mason.
The ancient Egyptian, Persian and Greek Sages adopted the custom of surrounding their teachings with enigmas that could only be contemplated in silence, and which expressed invariable and uniform principles that formed a perfect and harmonious ensemble that, at the same time, defined a ceremony of religious and secret nature needed for the Initiation and Training of all Priests and Priestesses who desired to unravel these enigmas. These enigmas comprise all that relates to the developing possibilities of the human state that culminate with that which has been called “Restoration of Primeval State”, and these are nothing more than a preparation for The Great Mysteries which appertain to the realization of the super-human states, and conduct the Initiate toward states of spiritual order until reaching the Supreme Identity. Thus, the new adept is brought closer to the hidden truths of the divine.
All the Philosophers of antiquity were disciples of an Initiation, being Progress and the Foundation of the Mysteries what enabled them to liberate themselves from the chaos of superstition. In those times, only the Mysteries could liberate Men from barbarousness. From these mysteries were derived the doctrines of Confucius, Zoroaster and Hermes Trismegistus. Such were the timeless characteristics of the Ancient Mysteries, that fragments of these teachings have reached Modern Freemasonry. These influences are found in the various different Rites of the Order. In all these mysteries we find a common factor indicating a same origin, the ceremonies of initiation were all funereal in character featuring a mystical death and resurrection, and the trials were conducted in the darkness of the night – the aspirant had to be examined, tried and purified in order to attain Wisdom and Light.
In the Mithraic-Zoroastrian mysteries, the neophyte was subject to a rigorous fasting and to a series of tests and trials, where the methods of exciting awe and fear varied ingeniously; all types of sounds and noises were simulated, the roaring of ferocious animals, the explosion of thunder, lightning, lashings with sticks, lamentations, screams of horror or pain, and the sensations of heat or cold were also implemented, by having him/her swim in rivers of strong current and walk through blazing areas. All these tests and trials lasted between twenty-four and eighty days, at the end of which the candidate was introduced in an real cavern. These initiation caverns were small in size, their walls and ceilings were painted with astral signs, and represented the world, the dual movement of the planets, and the passage of the souls through the celestial spheres. Once inside, the candidate was caused to walk through a ladder or bridge along which there were seven doors, each made of a different metal symbolizing the respective attributes of every planet. This Ladder was posteriorly adopted by the Jews and featured in the mythical dream of Jacob, and, presently, it is an indispensable symbol in a number of our Masonic Degrees. As the climax of the ceremony was nearing, the new adept was conducted to a larger room where he/she underwent some type of Baptism, and was finally prepared to receive the Seven Lessons that would constitute the completion of his/her Initiation. In due time, this particular ceremony began to be implemented by almost every Mystery School, until it made its way into Masonic Rituals in the form of “The Ante-Room” or “Chamber of Reflections”.
In the Higher Mysteries, celebrated in Elleusis during the month of September, these ceremonies lasted nine days, and were held in honor of the Goddesses Demeter and Persephone. The Temple was divided in three parts: the “Megaron” or Sanctuary (corresponding to the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Temple of Solomon), the “Anactoron” or Main Hall (equivalent to the place of collective prayer), and the Underground Chamber located right below the temple. The Infernal Regions and/or Punishment for the uninitiated impious one was symbolically represented by this Underground Chamber, and it was reminiscent of an episode in the drama of Demeter, Persephone and Pluto. Within the walls of this temple, the beliefs and teachings of a celestial life after death were earnestly imparted to their “Adoptae” or Accepted, and thus expanded to the more profound studies of Cosmogony and Anthropogenesis.
In the Druid Mysteries, almost entirely native to the regions of Britain and Gaul, their rituals, brought from Greece by Scandinavian route, required the Initiate to undergo much physical purification and mental preparation; their First Degree was conferred by inflicting a symbolical death on the aspirant, which, culminated in his/her attainment of the Third Degree or regeneration, at which point he/she was placed on a boat symbolizing his/her readiness to sail-off on life’s journey.
The formidable Egyptians, Mayans and Incas used to leave the Initiate alone, locked inside the actual funereal chamber of a pyramid, lying inside a coffin and surrounded by mummies and other lugubrious emblems, so that he/she could reflect on the steps about to be taken – that unless emerging triumphant, such failure could cost him/her the permanent loss of his/her freedom.
Following these ancient initiatic customs and traditions, divesting the candidate of all personal clothing and removing all minerals and metals from him, the Profane is caused to find himself alone with his own values before a first symbolical approximation that invites him to meditate over the vanities of existence, and warns him of mere curiosity as he seeks membership in our Order.
In modern Free-Masonry, the chamber of reflections is equivalent to the alchemical siphon, where the Recipient shall experience transmutation by means of the conjugation and regulating of his/her recondite energies. The Profane “descends to the Infernos”, he must die first, in order to “resuscitate” and attain the light of Initiation. There he shall leave the dealings of the exterior world, there will be an interior abstraction, like the original matrix, so that he can emerge from the depths of the earth (the chaotic dense matter) to the subtleness of the spirit.
This place is also representative of both Macrocosm and Microcosm, in other words, of the Universe and Man. In it, there are manifested four levels or superposed planes where the basic elements of Alchemy are found – earth, fire, water and air. The first level belongs to that of Fire, the primordial element for the work of transmutation; the second and third levels belong to those of Water and Earth – the transforming substances, and the fourth level belongs to the element of Air, the subtlety of gases related with transcendence.
It is particularly important to underline the use of certain phrases inscribed upon this chamber’s walls; these phrases bore messages such as: “IF MERE CURIOSITY HAS BROUGHT YOU HERE, LEAVE!”; “KNOW THYSELF!”; “DUST YOU ARE AND, AGAIN, DUST YOU SHALL BECOME!”; “TO DIE, YOU WERE BORN!”; “TO BETTER EMPLOY YOUR LIFE, THINK OF DEATH!”; “IF AVARICE GUIDES YOU, GO AWAY!”; IF YOU PAY HOMAGE TO HUMAN DISTINCTIONS, LEAVE, FOR HERE WE KNOW THEM NOT!”; “IF YOU FEAR TO BE REPRIMENDED OVER YOUR DEFECTS, DO NOT PROCEED!”; “IF YOU LIE, YOU SHALL BE EXPOSED!”; “IF YOU ARE AFRAID, WITHDRAW!”. These inscriptions are precisely inviting us to “visit the entrails of the earth”, in other words, to effectuate an introspection of our personalities, by being capable to “rectify”, to separate the dense from the subtle, and, thus, to find the “hidden stone” of the Philosophers, the True Philosophers Stone where the Profane’s real capacity for transmutation resides. For the Free-Mason, the transformation of Led or Rough Ashlar into Gold or Cubical Stone; the manner by which Man and Woman become the object of “The Great Work”.
The disorder and obscurity that prevail in the Chamber of Reflections, giving the appearance of a sepulchral cave, furnished with symbols of death and destruction – a skull and bones, is equivalent to being submerged in the center of the earth, from whence we came and ultimately shall return. Of all four elements that reign in Nature (Earth, Water, Air and Fire), Earth is the first that we must “overcome” during our Masonic Initiation. Our momentary stay in the Chamber of Reflections makes us remember the State of Ignorance in which we humans find ourselves, before knowing one fundamental principle of the Masonic Order: “YOU MUST DIE IN VICES, TO BE BORN IN VIRTUES!”; Or, like Joshua Ben Joseph, alias: “The Christ”, allegedly stated: “HE/SHE WHO IS NOT REBORN, WILL NOT ENTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN!”.
Just before stepping into the Ante-Room, we deposit our material valuables with our Bro:. Exp:. , in order to symbolically enter in a State of Original Purity, making effectual solely our True Values – Moral and Spiritual, glimpsing a new path-way, and disappearing our exterior bonds and considerations to be indefectibly open for a New State of Conscience. This, is the place where two worlds separate, the Profane and the Sacred; This is the critical point where Palingeness (Rebirth and/or Transformation) begins; The return to Life, by finding ourselves and self-divesting of our old personalities (egos and masks), recuperating our authentic being, which, in turn, shall conduct us to the True Initiation, to the Progressive Realization of our being, subjecting to examination our Will and Purpose of Advancement.
Being within that confinement, isolated between those dark walls, the Free-Mason-To-Be completes the strengthening and maturity of his soul, aided by the reflection upon that which surrounds him – the first symbols open to a Candidate’s view.
The ability to “reflect” is most necessary in a Free-Mason’s life! Reflection, per Philosophical Tenets, is the faculty of the human spirit through which the individual retreats and concentrates on him/herself to examine the phenomena subjected to his/her observation. Reflection is so important, that everyone who lacks the capacity of it, is totally incapable of comprehending the mission entrusted to him/her; he/she becomes toy and/or victim of his/her errors and/or passions – giving, instead, to the one who has developed it, an extraordinary superiority in intellectual and moral concepts. Reflection is a complex faculty, by which the active conscience illustrates and completes the Knowledge that the state of spontaneity had left in darkness and confusion.
The Man or Woman who reflects, bothers him/herself solely with matters that take place in the interior of his thoughts, finding him/herself forced to self-isolate from all exterior occurrences that besiege him/her, and to impede their access by suspending the function of the organs which perceive them. The Free-Mason who reflects, needs the retreat, the quietude, the darkness and the silence – to comprehend the phenomena of the spirit, and to clearly distinguish those invisible and impalpable objects concealed by light, and, which, only the silence of the night can reveal.
By proper use of Reflection, the Free-Mason is capable of perfectly distinguishing his thoughts, his ideas of Liberty, of Merit or Demerit. By aide of Reflection, the Free-Mason examines and judges his own actions, weights the consequences of the same, appreciates his moral character, and rejoices in discovering those noble qualities of the soul which, place him above all other creatures. Reflection teaches the Free-Mason the objective for which his glorious attributes call for, and lifts up the veil that concealed his destiny.
While in the Chamber of Reflections, the neophyte symbolically descends to the utmost dense and inferior; he finds himself in the darkness; he is in conflict with the duality of personalities – on one side, the material, composed of a physical body, and, on the other, the ethereal body, mind and emotions that he has constructed with his birth and with his particular circumstances; and, at a higher level, he faces the Elevated Personality, the Superior Individuality where he finds his true being, and shining right above it, is The Great Architect Of The Universe – so that before leaving the Ante Room, on his way to the Lodge Room, he can finally attain the Perfect Expression of the Spirit in the Physical Body.
Through the Ages, the Chamber of Reflection has represented the Initiate’s descend to the Infernos, the apparent death which precedes reincarnation, the re-encounter with a new life, and the Sun defeating the Autumnal Equinox, and rising victorious from its battle against darkness in the Equinox of Spring.
Brothers, a revision and additional embellishment of our Over-Simplified ritual, is most necessary, and way over-due. Our new Brethren must experience what some of us, unfortunately, did not. Our more philosophically and esoterically-inclined “New Breed” of members will cherish the experience of reflecting before seeing the Light. They will treasure the instant when called upon to reflect on their duties to God, to their fellow beings, and to themselves, just like our fore-brothers did, ages before there was even any grouping of four “Non-Operative Masonic Lodges” and their controversial merger into another “Grand Lodge” in England.
The ritualistic lessons of our Craft must be as vivid as possible. Our neophytes must go through the experience of being locked in that room, so that they may confront their own fears and demons. Fears and Demons that, perhaps, they are not aware of. The appreciation, skill, and habit of Reflection must be inculcated in the New Free-Mason beginning on the day of his Initiation. He must be taught to know himself better, to pay more attention to his vices and virtues, and to know the “true secret” on how to successfully polish his “rough ashlar”.
Now is the time for us to pause and “reflect”! … Many times, man fails to use the virtue of Reflection, and even goes through life without ever using it, until his final moment arrives; and, finally, he remembers that he has conscience, and meditates on what has been of his life up to that instant. We, as Free-Masons, should not make that mistake with the same frequency. Unlike the uncultivated, the Profane and Indiffferent Mason alike, we must look into ourselves, see through our Third Eyes, and think before acting.
Thanks to this “catacomb”, feeblemindedly omitted from our present rituals, we, Free-Masons, are what we are, and will be what we will be. In the Chamber of Reflection we are all reborn, and thus we learn to apply to our lives that wise adage that exhorts: “NEVER SAY WHAT YOU THINK, ALWAYS THINK WHAT YOU SAY!”
The 7 Steps in AlchemicaL Transformation
Joseph D. Dismore
The Transformative Processes
There are seven steps in the transformative processes, both for physical Alchemy as well as spiritual Alchemy. Here is a brief list of the 7 Steps of the Emerald formula.
In this series of posts I shall endeavour to give examples of the Physical Alchemical Processes and the Psychological Process of Transformation that each of these 7 Steps includes. We shall start with the First of the Seven Steps: Calcination.
1. Calcination – Calcination is the first of the seven major operations in the Alchemy of Transformation.
Chemically, the Calcination process involves heating a substance in a crucible or over an open flame until it is reduced to ashes. In the Arcanum Experiment, Calcination is represented by Sulfuric Acid, which the alchemist made from a naturally occurring substance called Vitriol. Sulfuric Acid is a powerful corrosive that eats away flesh and reacts with all metals except Gold.
Psychologically, this is a destruction of ego and our attachment to material possessions. Calcination is usually a natural humbling process as we are gradually assaulted and overcome by the trials and tribulations of life, though it can be a deliberate surrender of our inherent hubris gained through a variety of spiritual disciplines that ignite the fire of introspection and self-evaluation.
Psychologically, the Fire of Calcination can be experienced as the metabolic discipline or aerobic activity that tunes the body, burning off excess from overindulgence and producing a lean, mean, fighting machine. Calcination begins in the Base or Lead Chakra at the Sacrel Cup at the Base of the Spine.
On the Planetary level, it is the Fire of Creation, the formation of a liveable environment from molten matter and volcanic ashes.
“The Emerald Formula”
by: Alchemy Lab
“Calcination represents the beginning of a Black Stage, Calcination is described as the destruction of the ego and all its defence mechanisms. For most of us, Calcination is a natural process that takes place over time, as we are gradually assaulted and overcome by the trials and tribulations of life. But for Alchemists, Calcination is a controlled burn achieved by a deliberate surrender of our materiality through a variety of spiritual disciplines that ignite the passion in our souls. In all the instances, Calcination is working with Fire to burn away mental constructs and reveal a person’s true essence.”
“The Emerald Tablet…Alchemy for Personal Transformation”
by: Dennis William Hauck
In the above short descriptions I have given two examples of the 1st Step toward Alchemical Transformation as described in “The Emerald Formula”, and in Dennis William Hauck’s book ” The Emerald Tablet…Alchemy for Personal Transformation.” These are very brief examples of the process but I hope it sheds some small light on the 1st Step of the Process of Transformation, both physical and spiritual.
The Second Section covers the Process of “Dissolution.”
According to the Oxford English Dictionary the word “Dissolution” is defined as – The action or process of dissolving or being dissolved. From Latin – Dissolutio(n), from Dissolvere (See Dissolve).
Dissolve – With reference to a solid – become or cause to become incorporated into a liquid so as to form a solution.
Dissolution is the second major operation in the Alchemy of Transformation.
Chemical, it is the dissolving the ashes from Calcination in water. In the Arcanum Experiment, Dissolution is represented by iron oxide or rust, which illustrated the potentially corrosive powers of water on even the hardest of metals. When Processed, Vitriol breaks down into sulfuric acid and iron oxide, which are the first two arcana or secret ingredients. The Egyptians smelted Iron as far back as 1500 BCE and used iron compounds in tonics as disinfectants.
(Alchemy Dictionary, Alchemy, Magick, Mysticism, Mysticism Dictionary, Body Mind and Soul.)
Alchemy: Alchemy is the art and science of Transformation. This is not an easily understood art, because the primal medium of alchemical expression is through the use of allegory and mythological symbols, which can be interpreted simultaneously both at a material and a spiritual level.
(Alchemy: Magickal Traditions Dictionary on ALchemy.)
Alchemy: (from the Greek, Chemeia, “Chemistry”, the Arabic, Al Kimya, “The Chemistry”, or the Egyptian, Khemeia, “the Preparation of Black Ore”): A form of ceremonial magick commonly believed to be focused on the Transmutation of base metals into precious metals (e.g.: converting lead to gold). The ultimate goal of the Alchemist is to transform the chaotic primordial First Matter (the Khem) into perfection; a goal that is accomplished through spiritual enlightenment.
We shall be concerned with the Spiritual Transformative qualities of each of these 7 Steps in the Process of Spiritual Transformation.
Psychologically, this represents a further breaking down of the artificial structures of the Psyche by total immersion in the unconscious, non-rational, feminine or rejected part of our minds. It is for the most part, an unconscious process in which our conscious minds let go of control to allow the surfacing of buried material. It is opening the floodgates and generating new energy from the waters held back. Dissolution can be experienced as “flow,” the bliss of being well-used and actively engaged in creative acts without traditional prejudices, personal hang-ups, or established hierarchy getting in the way.
Inwardly this represents a further breaking down of the artificial structures of the psyche and a unifying of the different aspects. Traditionally the approach was such that the initiates conscious minds must let go of control, opening the “floodgates” and generating new energy from the waters held back; again potentially a painful process. If the approach involves deeper integration and alliance of the subconscious and even the unconscious to a certain degree then Dissolution can be experienced as a flow of bliss. We are not speaking of traditional psychological therapy but rather a conscious spiritual process available now. through Dissolution one becomes more integrated and able to actively engage in creative acts with less personal or cultural prejudice or limited conditioning entering in to the creative process.
Physiologically, Dissolution is the continuance of the kundalini experience, the opening-up of energy channels in the body to recharge and elevate every single cell. Dissolution takes place in the Genital or Tin Chakra and involves the lungs and spleen.
“Dissolution”- The second circle depicts the black Soul Bird watchi9ng itself undergoing Dissolution literally dissolving before it’s eyes in the powerful force of the unconscious. This internal “water which does not wet the hands” takes the form of dreams, voices, visions and strange feelings which reveal a less ordered and less rational world existing simultaneously with our everyday life. Also reflecting back from the pool of Dissolution is the white image of the essence of the Soul Bird which is exposed in this operation….
Just as Calcination works on the mind and ego to destroy deceptions and impure thoughts, so does Dissolution work on the heart and id to release buried emotions that conceal or distort our true nature….
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This Third Section covers the Process of “Separation”
According to the Oxford English Dictionary the word “Separation” is defined as – The action or state of separating or being separated. “Separate”= Move or come apart; make or become detached, disconnected. From Latin: Separat, Separare ‘ disjoin, divide’, from se- ‘apart’ + parare ‘prepare’.
Separation is the third of the operations of transformation in alchemy.
Chemically, it is the isolation of the components of Dissolution by filtration and then discarding any ungenuine or unworthy material. In the Arcanum Experiment, Separation is represented by the compound sodium carbonate, which separates out of water and appears as white soda ash on dry lakebeds. The oldest known deposits are in Egypt. The alchemists sometimes referred to this compound as Natron, which meant the common tendency in all salts to form solid bodies or precipitates.
Psychologically, this process is the rediscovery of our essence and the reclaiming of dream and visionary “gold” previously rejected by the masculine, rational part of our minds. It is for the most part, a conscious process (that has become conscious through the process of Dissolution), in which we review formerly hidden material and decide what to discard and what to reintegrate into our refined personality. Much of this shadowy material is things we are ashamed of or were taught to hide away from our parents, churches, and schooling. Separation is letting go of the self-inflicted restraints to our true nature, so our true personality can shine through.
Physiologically, Separation is following and controlling the breath in the body as it works with the forces of Spirit and Soul to give birth to new energy and physical renewal. Separation begins in the Naval or Iron Chakra located at the level of the solar plexus.
The third circle shows the operation of Separation in which black, earthbound Soul Bird splits into two white birds that descend to retrieve the saved remains of Calcination and Dissolution. This is the first coming together of Soul and Spirit, and the newly acquired vantage point allows the discernment of what is worthy of being saved from the two previous operations. In Psychological terms, the process of Separation retrieves the frozen energy released from the breaking down of habits and crystalized thoughts (assumptions, beliefs, and prejudices) and hardened feelings (emotional blockages, neuroses and phobias). This misspent energy is now available to drive our Spiritual Transformation. Above this circle is written “Terrae” which means “Of the Earth” and refers to the real essences and energy being separated out from the dregs of matter at this stage…
To summarize, Separation is the letting go of the self-inflicted restraints to our true nature and saving the hidden essence, which becomes the subject of the following operations. The essence is made up of the best parts of our Spirit and Soul, our Mind and Heart. “The Wind Carried It In Its Belly,” says the Emerald Tablet, and this stage is the application of the Element of Air in the work. Separation delivers the retrieved Spiritual Essence safely through the processes of Calcination and Dissolution to the First Incarnation, which is Earthly Conjunction.
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Conjunction-A Joining Together.
Conjunction is the fourth of the seven operations of alchemy.
Chemically, it is the recombination of the saved elements from Separation into a new substance. In the Arcanum Experiment, Conjunction is symbolized by a Nitrate compound known as cubic-saltpeter or potassium nitrate, which the alchemist called Natron or simply salt. Blue-colored Natron acid (aqua fortis) was made by mixing potassium nitrate with sulfuric acid and was used to separate silver from gold. The inert residue precipitated from the acid during the reaction like a child being born.
Psychologically, It is empowerment of our true selves, the union of both the feminine and masculine sides of our personalities into a new belief system or an intuitive state of consciousness. The Union of opposites can also be seen as the integration of the Conscious and Unconscious aspects of the Psyche, when combined and in cooperation bring about a wholeness that generates the Child of the Union, which, can be seen as the Hermaphroditic Essence of the True Self which is freed from the restraints of preconditioned and preconceived moral and social beliefs, that have restricted the True Inner Self from being freed. The alchemist referred to it as the Lesser Stone, and after it is achieved, the adept is able to clearly discern what needs to be done to achieve lasting enlightenment, which is union with the Overself. Often, synchronicities begin to occur that confirm the alchemist is on the right track.
Inwardly this corresponds to the union of both the masculine and feminine sides of our nature into a unified state of consciousness. With this unification comes the potential for direct nonlinear knowing that is more than intuition; but rather a direct knowing by being able to become “part of” that which would be known; a “grokking”.
Physiologically, Conjunction is using the bodies sexual energies for personal transformation. Conjunction takes place in the body at the level of the Heart or Copper Chakra
“The fourth circle depicts the Birds of the Soul the “Anima” and “Spiritus” leaving the earth together, lifting a five-spiked crown (the Quintessence recovered from the preceding operations) into heaven on the realm of the One Mind. This Conjunction is the turning point of the whole alchemical process and denotes the change from Forces of (Anima-Soul) in the triangle of the left to the forces of the (Spiritus-Spirit) in the triangle on the right. Above the circle is inscribed the word RECTIFICANDO, which means “by rectification” or setting things right, and the wings of the Ascended Essence spread over this operation to bless it.”
On the personal level, Conjunction is the empowerment of our True Selves, the union of both masculine and feminine sides of our personalities into a new belief system that must still be nurtured to survive. The alchemist describes this fragile child as a crude hermaphrodite, but alas it grows in strength, The Child of the Philosophers solidifies into the Lesser Stone, a State of Consciousness in which the Initiate is able to clearly discern what needs to be done to achieve lasting enlightenment. This Lesser Stone is often equated with the Emerald Tablet itself, which every one of us must create anew within…
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Fermentation is the Fifth operation in the Alchemy of Transformation.
Fermentation – The chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeasts, or other microorganisms, especially that which is involved in the making of beers, wines, and spirits in which sugar is converted to ethyl alcohol. 2. Archaic- Agitation and Social Unrest.
Fermentation is a two-stepped process that begins with the putrefaction of the Hermaphroditic “Child” from the Conjunction resulting in the death and resurrection to a new level of being. The Fermentation phase then begins with the introduction of new life into the product of Conjunction to strengthen it and inure its survival.
Chemically, Fermentation is the growth of a Ferment (bacteria) in organic solutions, such as occurs in the fermenting of milk to produce curds and cheese or in the fermenting of grapes to produce wine. In the Arcanum Experiment, the process of Fermentation is represented by a compound called Liquor Hepatis, which is an oily, reddish-brown mixture of ammonia and the rotten-egg-smelling compound hydrogen sulfide. Egyptian alchemists made ammonia by heating camel dung in sealed containers and thought of it as a kind of refined Mercury that embodied the life force. Liquor Hepatis means “Liquor of the Liver,” which they believed was the seat of the Soul, and the colour they associated with the compound was green, the colour of bile. Surprisingly, Liquor Hepatis exudes a wonderful fragrance, and the alchemists made a perfume of it called “Balsam of the Soul.”
Psychologically, The Fermentation Process starts with the inspiration of spiritual power from Above that reanimates, energizes, and enlightens the alchemist. Out of the blackness of his Putrefaction comes the yellow Ferment, which appears like a golden wax flowing out of the fowl matter of the Soul. Its arrival is announced by a brilliant display of colours and meaningful visions called the “Peacock’s Tail.” Fermentation can be achieved through various activities that include intense prayer, desire for mystical union, breakdown of the personality, transpersonal therapy, psychedelic drugs, and deep meditation. Fermentation is living inspiration from something totally beyond us.
Fermentation is the rousing or lifting of the “River of Life” through the Crucible of the Heart and into the Throat Chakra. It is expressed as vibratory tones and spoken truths emerging from the Throat or Mercury Chakra.
Physiologically, Fermentation is the rousing of living energy (chi or kundalini) in the body to heal and vivify. It is expressed as vibratory tones and spoken truths emerging from the Throat or Mercury Chakra.
“The fifth ray of the Axoth points to the area where the left wing of the Ascended Essence touches the standing bird spirit. The ray is with the cipher for the metal copper and the planet Venus. This section is often coloured turquoise or green, which is associated with the Emerald Vision… This is the ray of the inspired Spiritual Warrior, the alchemical adept who has seen the way and wants to tell others of his or her discovery and to spread his vision of higher consciousness throughout the world.”
“The fifth circle is under the inscription INVENIES, which means ‘You Will Discover’. This is the operation of Fermentation in which the mystic substance forms the ambrosia of the gods, which represents the first solidification of the result of Conjoining of Soul and Spirit…Fermentation is the introduction of new life into the Product of Conjunction to completely change its characteristics- that is, to completely raise it to a new level of being.”
“Fermentation is flooding the mind with meaningful and profoundly real images from something totally beyond us that lies at the edge of our personal reality. It is like a swinging door between one level of consciousness and another, between Soul and Spirit, between Matter and Mind.”
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|Distillation – Purify (a Liquid) by heating it until it vaporizes, then cooling and condensing the vapor and collecting the resulting liquid. 2. Extract a volatile component of (a substance) by heating, often with a solvent. Extract the essential meaning of.
Distillation is the Sixth Major Operation in the Alchemy of Transformation.
Chemically, it is the boiling and condensation of the fermented solution to increase its purity, such as takes place in the distilling of wine to make brandy. In the Arcanum Experiment, distillation is represented by a compound known as Black Pulvis Solaris, which is made by mixing black antimony with purified sulfur. The two immediately clump together to make what the alchemists called a “bezoar,” a kind of sublimated solid that forms in the intestines and brain.
Chemically, distillation is the boiling and condensation of the fermented solution to increase it’s purity, which is why this is known as the white stage of alchemy. Psychologically, the agitation and sublimation of psychic forces is necessary to ensure that no impurities from the ego or id are incorporated into the next and final process. “It Rises From The Earth to Heaven and Descends Again to Earth” is how the tablet describes the operation, which represents the second or higher application of the Water element in the tablet. The alchemist thought of this phase as working with the heavenly element Mercury to extract and refashion the metals. The ferment, the soft amalgam or balsam resulting from this operation, must be hardened into a Stone before it can be made permanent, and the final phase of Distillation is a Sublimation in which the vapor turns solid, or the Spirit is made Corporeal.
Psychologically, Distillation is the agitation and sublimation of psychic forces is necessary to ensure that no impurities from the inflated ego or deeply submerged id are incorporated into the next and final stage. Personal Distillation consists of a variety of introspection techniques that raise the content of the Psyche to the highest level possible. Free from sentimentality and emotions, cut off even from one’s personal identity. Distillation is the purification of the unborn Self – all that we truly are and can be.
Physiologically, Distillation is raising the Life Force repeatedly from the lower regions in the cauldron of the body to the brain (what Oriental alchemists called the Circulation of Light), where it eventually becomes a wondrous solidifying light full of power. Distillation is said to culminate in the Third Eye are of the forehead, at the Level of the pituitary and pineal glands, in the Brow or Ajna Silver Chakra.
The important Distillation process is referred to in the Emerald Tablet “It rises from Earth to Heaven, and then descends again to the Earth, and receives Power from Above and from Below. Thus you will have the Glory of the whole world.”
“Your feelings and thoughts are the feelings and thoughts of the whole universe.” (from The Emerald Tablet by Dennis William Hauck.) This statement describes the process of Distillation, where we become far more interested in the greater good then merely in our own. It is the transformational stage where we spiritually and emotionally mature enough to merge with the collective conscious and unconscious without becoming devasted by what we find there. The reason we can keep our balance after having arrived at the distillation stage is that the Ego no longer controls us and we can therefore appreciate the mysteries of the collective – and personal- shadow material without the ego’s intrusion. (The shadow is that part of our consciousness, as well as societies, that holds the darker, rejected, denied and powerful aspects. It not only holds difficult material that sometimes feels demonic in nature, but it also is the repository of our gifts, talents, and Soul’s voice until such time as we are ready to fully take them on.)
Distillation brings the creative out of us. It encourages all that we are to manifest in balanced and serenely powerful ways. It heralds the entry of the influence of the higher forces and the balancing of those forces with the lower ones, which provide our “groundedness,” so crucial to wholeness. A distilled person would know that the Soul, rather than the Ego, was now guiding His/Her Life. A distilled person surrenders to the higher forces while celebrating and honoring the existence of the lower ones. A mystical symbol of this state of consciousness which appears in many spiritual and religious logos is the images of two triangles, one with its point coming down to either touch or merge into a second triangle whose point rises up to meet or merge with the other.
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|In this seventh and final section of “The 7 Steps In Alchemical Transformation” I shall endeavor to explain the process of Coagulation. Once again I am attempting to represent the Psychological Transformation or Mystical and Spiritual Alchemy rather than the Physical Transmutation of Baser Metals into Gold. The Process of Transformation is seen to be one of a series of from four to seven stages of Transforming the Lower Personality and Baser Self, into Uniying with the Higher Self or Higher Genius. This Union often occurs after a period of Breakdown some have called the Union with Kether or the Union of the Higher Self with the Lower Self the Seventh Death, called this because the individual loses desire to be in a functioning with the world in which they sought to be a part of.There are Three main Abyss crossings reprented in the becoming whole stage and with each of these Crossings there are changes in Consciousness. In ancient times (and in modern occult lodges) these events were called Initiations. Today, such initiations can happen “automatically” to people who know nothing of the Western Mystery Traditions or of the ALchemical Transformations, these “automatic” Changes of Consiousness are usually diagnosed by medical men and experienced by the patient as a Nervous Breakdown or Temporary Psychosis. The usual symptoms of the First Change or Transformation from the brute lower instinct of man to a higher more mentally and emotionally refined man is proceeded with Emotional and Mental Upheavel, usually they can work things out given time, and some recapitualtions occur almost simultaneously with the Crossing of the particular abyss.
The Second stage is the “Journey into Self”, as Union with the Higher Self,” and is called by Dr. Carl G. Jung “The Process of Individuation.” The Third Crossing is only accomplished by those ready to Transition from Life to the Next Life, so the experience being nbeyond mere words to relate is something that is best left unspoken until the time of our Passing.
This Seventh Section is on the Alchemical Transformative Function of (Coagulation).
Coagulation- Change to a solid or semi-solid state. From: Latin: Coagulare ‘Curdle’.
Coagulation is the Seventh and Final Operation in Alchemy.
Chemically, Coagulation is the precipitation or sublimation of the purified Ferment from Distillation. In the Arcanum Experiment, Coagulation is represented by a compound called Red Pulvis Solaris, which is a Reddish-Orange Powder of pure Sulfur mixed with the Terapeutic Mercury compound, Red Mercuric Oxide. The name Pulvis Solaris means “Powder of The Sun” and the alchemists believed it could instantly perfect any substance to which it was added.
Psychologically, Coagulation is first sensed as a new confidence that is beyond all things, though many experience it as a Second Body of Golden Coalesced Light, a permanent vehicle of Consciousness that embodies the highest aspirations and evolutions of the Mind. Coagulation incarnates and releases the Ultima Materia of the Soul, the Astral Body, which the alchemists also referred to as the Greater or Philospher’s Stone. Using the magical Stone, the alchemists believed they could exist on all levels of reality.
Physiologically, this stage is marked by the release of the Elixir in the blood that rejuvenates the body into a perfect vessel of health. A brain ambrosia is said to be released through the interaction of light from the phallic-shaped pineal gland and matter from the vulva of the pituitary. This heavenly food or viaticum both nourishes and energizes the celss without any waste products being produced. These physiological and psychological processes create the Second Body, a body of solid light that emerges through the Crown or Gold Chakra.
There is said to be a Continuity of Consciousness using the Greater Philospher’s Stone. From the Emerald Tablet:
Coagulation then is the Recombination of Purified and Distilled Ferment of the Lower Personality and Baser Self to admixture in a Union with the Higher Self or the Purified Astral Body or Second Body which when combined and fused, the whole person is then Conscious to a Greater Degree of all things both Inner and Outer, both Subjective and Objective in the Realm of Reality. The Whole Person or Transformed Individual is operating on All Levels of Existence Simultaneously, and a New Vigourousness and Strength fills them with Light and Life.