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IX - The Ninth Key Basil Valentine ca. 1599
“In a circle at the bottom are three hearts out of which three serpents or snakes emerge, their heads arching round as if to seize one another’s tail. On top of this circle are a man and woman their bodies bent so that together they point in the four directions with their head and feet. At the woman’s feet (South) is a Peacock, at her head (West) a Swan. At the man’s feet (North) is a crow or black bird, and at his head (East) is a Phoenix with wings outspread.”
The Black Crow, sometimes also the Raven is the symbol of the blackening phases in alchemy, called the nigredo. This encompasses the first two alchemical stages of calcination and dissolution.
On the chemical level, the calcination process, or purification by fire, involves heating a substance in a crucible or over an open flame until it is reduced to ashes. Psycho-spiritually, it is the destruction of ego and our attachments to material possessions, figuratively reducing them to ashes.
Chemically, “dissolution,” or “solvation” as it is also called, refers to a process whereby a solute (like salt) dissolves in a solvent (like water). In the psycho-spiritual sense, it represents a deep encounter with our subconscious mind. After our ego has been sufficiently reduced from calcination, what remains of our personality has to be further processed, and this is brought about by its dissolution in a solvent like water. The ego has to be dissolved in order for the true self to be liberated.
The White Swan is used to symbolise the whitening phases, or albedo, of alchemy. Albedo corresponds to the processes of separation, conjunction, fermentation, and distillation.
Chemically, separation, or “separation process” refers to the appropriate extraction of one substance from another—for example, the extraction of gasoline from crude oil. In spiritual alchemy, separation refers to the need to make our thoughts and emotions more distinct by isolating them from other thoughts and emotions. In this stage we begin to see what is of value in our life, and what is not.
On a chemical level, conjunction is the recombination of the saved elements from separation into a new substance, such as the combining of sodium and chloride to make salt. Psycho-spiritually, this refers to the proper combining of the remaining elements of our being, after the purification and clarification of the first three stages. It speaks to an inner unification that is made possible by the hardships, purifications, and inner divisions that happened in the first three stages.
Chemically, fermentation is the growth of a ferment (bacteria) in organic solutions, such as occurs in the fermentation of milk to produce curds and cheese or in the fermentation of grapes to make wine. In spiritual alchemy, fermentation has to do with a new stage in the process of transformation in which so-called higher energies begin to be tapped in to. Fermentation occurs in two parts, the first being putrefaction. In biology, putrefaction refers to the breakdown or decomposition of organic material by certain bacteria. Spiritually, this refers to a kind of inner death process in which old, discarded elements of the personality are allowed to rot and decompose.Putrefaction is followed by a stage called spiritization. Here, we undergo a type of rebirth resulting from the deep willingness to let-go of all elements of us that no longer serve our spiritual evolution.
Finally, distillation on a chemical level refers to a separation process of substances. Psychologically, distillation represents a further purification process, being about an ongoing process of integrating our spiritual realizations with our daily lives—dealing with seemingly mundane things with integrity, and being as impeccable in our lives as we can be. At this stage remaining impurities in the mind are flushed out and released, crucial if they are not to surface later on
The Peacock’s Tail or Peacock stage represents a sudden appearance of a rush of colours, an iridescence on the surface of the material in the flask, which made some think they had achieved their goal. This is illusory, a false conclusion. This could arise through the formation of a layer of oil on the surface of the watery mass (in the wet way) or some oxidation-reduction reactions, say on the surface of liquid metal (in the dry way). Many people who have this experience in their inner life often falsely assume they have reached the end of the work, and attained inner transformation and enlightenment. The inner vision of the Peacock’s Tail, beautiful though it may be, is merely a digestion of the polarities of the black and white stage. These must be transformed further into spiritual tinctures, if we hope to have any permanent transformation within the soul.
The Phoenix represents the final stage, rubedo, or “reddening,” corresponding with the process of coagulation, or sublimation. Chemically, this refers to the process in which a substance is heated to a vapor, then immediately collects as sediment on the upper portion and neck of the heating medium. In spiritual alchemy it symbolizes the final balancing of opposites, the spiritual and the material. It is the form of the illumined and fully transformed human, in which matter has been spiritualized, or the spiritual has fully entered the material. We have arisen from the ashes of limited individuality, and been reborn as our true Self. It may be confidently said that very few truly reach this stage in their lifetime.
how do some people just say “send me asks” and they actually get asks like there’s gotta be some voodoo magic behind that shit
New vintage pictures of Gaga.