The Alchemy of the Rosicrucians

Alchemy is the art that leads the development processes, which are laid out in nature, to their perfection. The force for perfection is availble in principle. But it requires a conscious self, to enable this accomplishment.

Paracelsus, the physician, philosopher and alchemist of the 16th Century, speaks of a lower and an upper alchemy.

The lower alchemy is a traditional craft, which, particularly in metallurgy, played an important role in Asia and Egypt even before our Christian era. It causes changes in the direction from basic lead to sublime gold. But the lower alchemy could only be successful, when it was applied concurrently with the upper alchemy.

The upper alchemy is a spiritual process of development, which can arise from the natural, mortal man an immortal spirit-soul-man. It leads to a shift in consciousness, into a supra-personal, spiritual dimension that is beyond time and space, from which new and creative formations are possible.

A true alchemist is a person who is able to perceive the direction-giving laws of natural order, to recognize both the spiritual and the natural evolution in all of their creative modes and design patterns, so that he can be effective as a catalyst and co-worker in this cosmic scene. This is what Paracelsus means when he claims: „You must learn to read in the light of nature.“

A spiritual process

Thus, true alchemy is a spiritual process. The subtle craftsmanship will be considered – so to speak – a ritual accessible to the senses, which symbolically illustrates the changes and purification processes inside of man. In this sense, the alchemy of the 17th Century Brotherhood of the Rosycross was considered as a royal art, as “opus magnum” of a sevenfold change – observed in the alchemist’s vessel and in his own interior experience.

This sevenfold transformation of matter, in the vessel and the human soul, proceeds in seven stages, which are described in the classical alchemy in a certain order:

The seven stages of the great work of transmutation; Cabala, 1616, Stefan Michelsberger
The seven stages of the great work of transmutation; Cabala, 1616, Stefan Michelsberger

1. Calcinatio
2. Sublimatio
3. Solutio
4. Putrefactio
5. Destillatio
6. Coagulatio
7. Conjunctio

Modern authors such as the psychoanalyst C. G. Jung define a different order. This article, however, refers to the structure of classical alchemy.

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