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The alchemical process has seven interdependent stages that follow from one to the next as long as we are intuitively open to the leadings that are produced from the initial awakening of our Soul. This “conversion” of our attitude can be seen as stage 0 which is the Fool card in the Tarot:
The "Fool":Tarot card 0 from the Rider/Waite pack:
The adventurous youth steps out on the path of Self-discovery accompanied by his familiar the dog which represents our primal nature. About to step off the precipace into the abyss, our hero seems unaware of the impending "danger" and perhaps even negligent - but this indictates the instinctual knowledge that the drop is part of the Journey as well as the trust that the Path with all its ups and downs, is necessary however it unfolds for us.
1. Nigredo; Blackening. The first stage of the alchemical fire begins with the trials in our lives. The illumination of the Soul will bring an honest self-reflection to show the role our own ego and decisions play in our life's suffering. This is the start of the shadow work.
2. Calcinatio; Calcification. This is the beginning of the dissolving of the ego whereby its role is better understood in our trials and the first stage of a dis-identification with the ego begins: “I am not this job; I am not this social programming … ”
3. Rubedo; Reddening. This is the second of the three levels of illumination in the process. It comes with the revealing of the childhood pain and especially the core complex. Our heart chakra becomes an exhilerating fire that burns within our chest and leads us in our next levels of Self-awareness.
4. Sol Niger; Black Sun. This is the ego's natural reaction to the injustice we encounter where we fight against the negative intrusions. Unfortunately this only leads to self-righteousness and a spiral of conflict. The temptation is to langusih there.
5. Separatio; Differentiation. Because of the extreme nature of the ego's reactions it throws the motivations of the Soul into sharp relief. The ego and Soul are therefore fully defined as having separate agendas in our conscious awareness.
6. Purificatio; Purification. The power of the ego's negative reactions is harnessed with the transforming illumination of the Philosopher's Stone and diverted into a positive and creative force.
7. Hieros Gamos; Sacred Marriage. This is the resolution of opposites that brings wholeness as the power of the shadow is changed from destructive into constructive and absorbed into the Soul for a powerful transformation into the adept.