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7. The Alchemical Great Work
Updated 2012

It is extremely difficult to read and understand old alchemical texts (have a try here), for several reasons:

- alchemists used to hide their knowledge

- our cultural background is very different from the 15th or 17th century

- many authors just copy older texts with small modifications, introducing variations and contradictions among texts

- these old texts mix Esoterism and old science, so you have to filter useless old science from useful Esoterism.

- it is necessary to study Kabbalah, and perhaps some Persian and Indian knowledge before understanding the Great Work meaning and Alchemy.

- etc

Yet, if you study these texts, you will learn that a special alchemical process occurs:

1. this process involves metallic transformations in a certain order, from lead to gold:  lead, tin, silver, mercury, iron, copper and finally gold. (there are some variations, omissions, etc... among authors, but this is the more reliable succession; for example, see excellent John Dee "THE HIEROGLYPHIC MONAD" 1564):

john dee, alchemy, alchemical, great work, philosophical stone, golden stone, Mercury, sulphur, alchemists, tree of life, esoterism
Succession of events in the alchemical process and usual esoteric correspondences Planet/Metal/Color
alch1 Saturn Lead Black
alch2 Jupiter Tin Blue
alch3 Moon Silver White
alch4 Mercury Mercury Violet
alch5 Mars Iron Red
alch6 Venus Copper Green
alch7 Sun Gold Golden
From alch1 to alch7, from Saturn to Sun, from Lead to Gold


Note that this succession is specific to alchemy; in other esoteric fields, the most common orders are: Moon (Monday)> Mars (Tuesday)> Mercury (Wednesday)> Jupiter (Thursday)> Venus (Friday)> Saturn (Saturday)> Sun (Sunday) and also Saturn>Jupiter>Mars>Sun>Venus>Mercury>Moon (test yourself: try to understand the relation between these two successions).

Therefore, the alchemical order is very different from usual esoteric successions and this needs to be understood.

2. the process refers to a certain philosophical stone, whose color changes from black, to white, to red, to gold. It is very close from the succession of metals, since Lead corresponds to black (step 1), later Silver corresponds to white (step 3), Iron corresponds to red (step 5), and finally Gold corresponds to golden (final step 7).

alchemy 1 Saturn Lead Black Stone
alchemy 2 Jupiter Tin Blue
alchemy 3 Moon Silver White Stone
alchemy 4 Mercury Mercury Violet
alchemy 5 Mars Iron Red Stone
alchemy 6 Venus Copper Green
alchemy 7 Sun Gold Golden Stone

It makes sense; the succession seems to be quite reliable.

3. two raw materials seem to be used, with many correspondences:

Mercury White woman Water etc...
Sulphur Red Man Fire etc...

Of course, such a couple symbolizes female and male principles, yin and Yang, passivity and activity.

The use of water and fire suggests alchemy has to do with the theory of elements.

5. going further, the alchemical process includes the 4 elements in a certain order:

"A fire that becomes earth. Separate the earth from the fire, so you will attain the subtle as more inherent than the gross, with care and sagacity." (Arabic Version of the Emerald Tablet of Hermes)

It means fire>earth

Many other texts claim a vaporization occurs and is of great importance: vaporization means water>air

And the same texts claim that after vaporization, a fixation occurs by heating: air > fire (heating) > earth (fixed)

So we have the complete succession: water > air (vaporization) > fire (heating) > earth (fixed)

Once fixity is achieved, old texts explain you have a white philosophical stone and only after it had to become red then gold.

What is of great significance is that we already studied this order:  water>air>fire>earth : it is the elemental succession of the ancient Greeks, which was known long before Aristotle:

alchemy, alchemical, great work, philosophical stone, golden stone, Mercury, sulphur, alchemists, tree of life, esoterism

It means these alchemical texts referred to the seasonal succession used in Ancient Greece.

6. Another ancient text, The Turba philosophorum also claims seasons are involved in the alchemical process :

"Know, also, that the year is divided into four seasons; the first season is of a frigid complexion, and this is Winter; the second is of the complexion of air, and this is Spring; then follows the third, which is summer, and is of the complexion of fire; lastly, there is the fourth, wherein fruits are matured, which is Autumn. In this manner, therefore, ye are to rule your natures, namely, to dissolve ill winter, to cook in spring, to coagulate in summer, and to gather and tinge the fruit in autumn." The Turba philosophorum

Winter Spring Summer Autumn
Water Air Fire Earth

Here is the NATURAL seasonal succession used in Ancient Greece and connected to the model we already developed.

alchemy, alchemical, great work, philosophical stone, golden stone, Mercury, sulphur, alchemists, tree of life, esoterism

A REVERSE seasonal succession may also be used, connected to spirituality (contra - natural) :

alchemy, alchemical, great work, philosophical stone, golden stone, Mercury, sulphur, alchemists, tree of life, esoterism

7. there are curious and symbolic pictures in alchemical books, and they seem to hide secrets:

alchemy, alchemical, great work, philosophical stone, golden stone, Mercury, sulphur, alchemists, tree of life, esoterism

The moon symbolizes yin, the sun Yang. More, there is a succession of spheres from earth to sky, from matter to spirit, just like chakras.

We already studied that (matter/spirit) and (yin/Yang) are gathered in the Tree of Life. (see article)

Is there a  relation between alchemy and the Tree of Life ???

alchemy, alchemical, great work, philosophical stone, golden stone, Mercury, sulphur, alchemists, tree of life, esoterism

The answer is yes, for many reasons:

- several drawings in old alchemical texts show a man, the tree of life, and planets:


alchemy, alchemical, great work, philosophical stone, golden stone, Mercury, sulphur, alchemists, tree of life, esoterism

- let's consider correspondences whe already developed between chakras, planets and alchemical metals.

N Psychological functions, Symbolism Chakra Physiological functions Planet Metal
10 Spirituality = completion = 10 Crown (Sahasrara) Pineal gland; regulates night and day 1st Swirling ---
9 Imagination, Artistic abilities,
art = closest to completion = 9
yin Chandra Ajna area Thalamic area, helps pituitary gland Zodiac ---
8 Rationality = structures = cubic = 8 corners Yang Surya: Ajna area Pituitary gland, controls other glands Saturn lead
7 Justice = law of God = 7 yin Visuddha Throat Jupiter tin
6 Ego, communication = 6 Yang Visuddha To speak, mouth Mars iron
5 Love, Openness = Humanity = 5 Heart: Anahata Heart, circulatory system, blood Sun gold
4 Control of emotions
Social abilities = stability = 4
Yin : Navel Digestive system: 2nd phase assimilation, Venus copper
3 Work = Business = masonry = 3 Yang: Solar Plexus: Manipura Digestive system: 1st phase: digestion Mercury mercury
2 Sexual energy = 1+1 = 2 Sex Swadhistana Reproductive organs Moon silver
1 Physical energy, will to live, survival = basis = 1 Root Mulhadara Spinal column, Adrenal Earth ---

The alchemical process is therefore, in terms of these correspondences :

Alch_order alch1 alch2 alch3 alch4 alch5 alch6 alch7
Metallic_order Lead Tin Silver Mercury Iron Copper Gold
Chakras correspondences 8 - - > 7 - - > 2 - - > 3 - - > 6 - - > 4 - - > 5

Let's draw this alchemical process on the Tree of Life model:

alchemy, alchemical, great work, philosophical stone, golden stone, Mercury, sulphur, alchemists, tree of life, esoterism

alchemy, alchemical, great work, philosophical stone, golden stone, Mercury, sulphur, alchemists, tree of life, esoterism

We've got it: This is the Alchemical Great Work plan. 

The alchemical Great Work is nothing but a spiritual exercise to focus the flow of spiritual energy in the heart, using a spiral through sephiroth/chakras.

Note that the alchemical Great Work uses the reverse seasonal succession, contra - natural and therefore connected to spirituality.

We'll detail it, then explain what are the benefits of this spiritual exercise:

1. Details:

alchemy, alchemical, great work, philosophical stone, golden stone, Mercury, sulphur, alchemists, tree of life, esoterism

It is possible to give more and more details, but 80% of the job is achieved; just read old alchemical books and add details on the picture if you're interested in.

2. Explanation of the benefits of the Great Work's Exercise:

If you understand and practice regularly the Alchemical Great Work, several benefits will occur:

- it increases your resistance to psychological, magical, and karmic attacks, by repairing your aura.

- it improves your feeling of subtle spiritual energies and auras: you feel spiritual energy better and clearer.

- it helps replacing heart and feelings at the center of your life

- it develops general esoteric abilities, consciousness, mental structuration, ...

Note that after having concentrated the energy in your heart, you may practice the reverse exercise, so as to balance energies : move the flow of energy from the heart to the exterior ...

And of course practice progressively and listen to your body and feelings, ...

Androgynous Azoth by Johann Georg Gichtel (1638 - 1710)

Johann had partially understood the Great Work (Androgyny = Male/Female = Yang/yin, Spiral, Chakras, ...). 

Yet, the Tree of life is lacking, introducing a wrong spiral succession: 

Saturn -->Moon -->Jupiter
(check on the picture)

instead of the classical alchemical succession :

(check above)

Nor any representation of the alchemical elements succession :

Water -->Earth-->Fire-->Air 

Nor the color change of the philosophical stone :

Black -->White-->Red-->Golden

in relation with  the spiral succession and alchemical seasons... 

Ask  Aaron

Do you have any question related to this issue ?

Or any question related to :

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