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The Alchemy of the Rosicrucians

The alchemist's vessel
The alchemist’s vessel

1. Calcinatio – the operation of fire

In the laboratory, an ashing process by direct combustion occurs, which burns up the matter. Subsequently, a purification on a steady flame takes place, that does no longer singe, but turns the black ash into a fine white powder. This is the process of Albedo (whitening) by Calcination.

On the psychological level, Calcination is a first degree of purification: The ego with his fiery self-will has to be “ashed”, so that a purified, soul-serving ego can be developed. This work can of course only be done, if the person has opened his mind for a spiritual understanding. In this process, the sacrifice of self-will is the liberating factor, which allows a transmutation of consciousness.

An “unburned” ego would inevitably lead to imitation, which holds the referring person in its long-term bonds and paralyzes him. Therefore Paracelsus emphasizes that without the realization of the first degree of Calcination, the remaining stages of the work can not be accomplished.

2. Sublimatio – the operation of air

At this stage, in the alchemist’s vessel, the fine material is separated from the rough material. Therefore, the alchemists also often speak of this process as Separatio. From the ashes of the sacrificed self-will, as if in a sublimation, the purified element of the “materiae mater” rises – the matter of the pure, virginal soul, out of which the sublime materials are extracted for the realization of the spirit-soul-man. At this level, the feelings, thoughts and impulses of human action will be guided by the subtle soul vibrations, which have been separated by the Sublimatio and can appear to him as a pure image.

3. Solutio – the operation of water

In the alchemist’s vessel, a solid substance is dissolved in a liquid. The resoluted substance is then contained in the resolution. The Solutio is a slow and silent operation. The process of being dissolved in water is often called the drowning of the “Old King” – the „King I“.

On the inner path of the soul, Solutio means the complete self-surrender, the drowning of the old ego in the soul-self. This is the classical Rosicrucians’ principle of “in Jesus morimur”, also called „Endura“ in today’s spiritual school of the Golden Rosycross. This decline of the ego in the soul is simultaneously liberation of the soul and inclusion within world-soul.

4. Putrefactio (rot or decay) – the operation of earth

In the process of decay, a mild fire affects the matter, which dissolves all its components down to the last elementary level, but at the same time also introduces a new beginning to a higher complexity of structural or biological life.

In the wording of the alchemy, this act of Putrefactio is also known as Mortificatio. According to tradition, it lasts 40 days, under full covering. The inner symbolic significance in its parallelism to the emotional development can be regognized very clearly here. The Israelites wandered 40 days through the desert in search of the Promised Land. Jesus fasted 40 days in the desert, and it took 40 days from the Resurrection to the Ascension. The Putrefactio is an act of final declaration. Any forms of seduction and relics from skillful imitation of the ego are finally exposed and rejected.

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