Alchemy: The Great Work

Alchemy Manual (1680), Ulrich Ruosch


Alchemy was a medieval science and a philosophy. The root meaning of the word is “the work.” For Carl Jung, James Hillman, and other analytical psychologists, alchemy provided and continues to provide an anatomy of individuation, along with a methodology for approaching the psyche and experiencing the world.

The goal of alchemy was to transform base matter by liberating the meaning in it. Put in psychological terms, alchemy is a process by which you change your mind, and everything connected with your mind.

The psyche speaks in images, while the mind speaks in concepts. Alchemical language is not a conceptual language, it is one of images; it will therefore appeal to the visual learner, the artist, the poet, and the philosopher as well as the psychologist, the student of life, the person given to asking questions. Following are links to my ever-growing series of articles about all things alchemical.

Introduction to Alchemy


The Processes of Alchemy

Calcination (Nigredo)

Processes: Roasting, conflagration, reduction, trituration
Elements: Fire
Metals: Lead
Chemicals: Sulfuric Acid (Vitriol)
Colors: Black, magenta, nigredo
Odors: Biting brimstone


Dissolution (Albedo)

Processes: Dissolving, corrosion, cibation, Bain Marie
Elements: Water
Metals: Tin, pewter
Chemicals: Iron oxide, rust
Colors: Light blue, white, albedo
Odors: Acrid, vinegary


Separation (Citrinitas)

Processes: Sifting, filtration, fission, cutting
Elements: Air
Metals: Iron, steel
Chemicals: Sodium carbonate (bubbling)
Colors: Orange, yellowing, citrinitas
Odors: Sulphur, rotten eggs



Processes: Fixation, reunion, amalgamation, conglomeration
Elements: Earth
Metals: Copper, bronze, brass
Chemicals: Sodium nitrate
Colors: Green
Odors: Chlorinic



Processes: Digestion, putrefaction, congelation, ceration, cibation
Elements: Sulfur
Metals: Mercury
Chemicals: Liquor Hepatis (Balsam of the Soul)
Colors: Blue-green, turquoise
Odors: Putrid & perfumed at the same time



Processes: Potentizing, exaltation, cohobation, multiplication
Elements: Mercury
Metals: Silver, antimony
Chemicals: Black pulvis solaris
Colors: White, rainbow
Odors: Fresh, after-rain smell


Coming soon!

Coagulation (Rubedo)

Processes: Sublimation, projection, fusion
Elements: Salt
Metals: Gold, silver
Chemicals: Red pulvis solaris
Colors: Violet purple, reddening, rubedo
Odors: Flowery, heavenly-scented


Coming soon!

Alchemical Processes
Map of Alchemical Processes, Edward Edinger

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