Alchemical Processes

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Alchemical Processes

Postby Mr Ree » Thu Sep 19, 2013 8:29 pm

Here you can browse some brief descriptions of the main processes in Alchemy. Keep in mind
that all these processes go hand in hand with the correct frame of mind when carrying them out
as Alchemy is as much about the Alchemist as it is about the processes involved.

The four stages of the Magnum Opus

Nigredo means putrefaction or decomposition. As a first step in the pathway to the Philosopher's Stone
all alchemical ingredients must be cleansed and cooked extensively to a uniform black matter.

Albedo is a Latinicized term meaning "whiteness". Following the chaos or massa confusa of the
nigredo stage, the Alchemist undertakes a purification in albedo, which is literally referred to as
ablutio – the washing away of impurities.

In this process, the subject is divided into two opposing principles to be later coagulated to form
a unity of opposites or coincidentia oppositorum.

Citrinitas is a term given by Alchemists to "yellowness." It was one of the four major stages of the
alchemical magnum opus, and literally referred to "transmutation of silver into gold" or "yellowing
of the lunar consciousness.

In alchemical philosophy, citrinitas stood for the dawning of the "solar light" inherent in one's being,
and that the reflective "lunar or soul light" was no longer necessary.

Rubedo is a Latin word meaning "redness" that is used by Alchemists to define the fourth
and final major stage in the Magnum Opus.

Both gold, and the Philosopher's Stone were associated with the color red, as rubedo signals
alchemical success, and the end of the great work.

The symbols used in alchemical writing and art to represent this red stage can include
blood, a phoenix, a rose, a crowned king, or a figure wearing red clothes. Countless
sources give mention to a reddening process.

Some Common Alchemical Processes.(in alphabetical order)

Calcination is a process required for the transformation of a substance.

Alchemists distinguish two kinds of calcination, actual and potential.

Actual calcination is that brought about by actual fire, from wood, coals, or other fuel,
raised to a certain temperature.

Potential calcination is that brought about by potential fire, such as corrosive chemicals;
for example, gold is calcined in a reverberatory furnace with mercury and sal ammoniac;
silver with common salt and alkali salt; copper with salt and sulfur; iron with sal ammoniac
and vinegar; tin with antimony; lead with sulfur; and mercury with aqua fortis.

There was also philosophical calcination, which occurs when horns, hooves, etc., are hung
over boiling water, or other liquor, until they lose their mucilage, and are easily reducible
into powder.

Creration is a common practice in alchemy. It is "the mollification (smoothing) of an hard thing,
not fusible unto liquefaction" It is important to have the correct humidity in the process.

Ceration is performed by continuously adding a liquid by imbibition to a hard, dry substance
while it is heated. This typically results in making the substance softer, becoming like molten

Cohobation is the process of repeated distillation of the same matter, with the liquid drawn from
it; that liquid being poured again and again upon the matter left at the bottom of the vessel.

It is a kind of circulation, only differing from it in this, that the liquid is drawn off in cohobation, as
in common distillation, and thrown back again; whereas in circulation, it rises and falls in the same
vessel, without ever being drawn out.

Congelation is the process by which something congeals, or thickens. This increase in viscosity can
be achieved through a reduction in temperature or through chemical reactions. Sometimes the
increase in viscosity is great enough to crystallize or solidify the substance in question.

Digestion is a process in which gentle heat is applied to a substance over a period of several

This was traditionally performed by sealing a sample of the substance in a flask, and keeping
the flask in fresh horse dung or sometimes in direct sunlight. Today, practitioners of alchemy
use thermostat-controlled incubators.

Distillation is a method of separating mixtures based on differences in volatility of components
in a boiling liquid mixture.

Distillation is a physical separation process, and not a chemical reaction.

Note: the first evidence of distillation comes from Greek alchemists working in Alexandria in the
1st century AD.

Fermentation is a process that begins with putrefaction, in which the matter is allowed first to rot
and decompose and then to ferment or come alive again in spirit. It is the introduction of new
life into the product to completely change its characteristics, to completely raise it to a whole
new level of being.

Note: the word “Fermentation was first used in the late fourteenth century in Alchemy.

Filtration is commonly the mechanical or physical operation which is used for the separation of
solids from fluids (liquids or gases) by interposing a medium through which only the fluid can pass.

Oversize solids in the fluid are retained, but the separation is not complete; solids will be
contaminated with some fluid and filtrate will contain fine particles (depending on the pore
size and filter thickness).

Multiplication is the process used to increase the potency of the philosopher's stone, elixir
or projection powder. It occurs near the end of the magnum opus in order to increase the
gains in the subsequent projection. Multiplication is described as subjecting the philosopher's
stone to further maturation by reiterating the same processes as was used to originally make
it, however using the stone, elixir or projection powder itself instead of gold or silver.

Projection is the ultimate goal of Western alchemy.

Once the Philosopher's Stone or powder of projection had been created, the process of
projection would be used to transmute a lesser substance into a higher form, often lead into

Typically, the process is described as casting a small portion of the Stone into a molten
base metal.

A solution is a homogeneous mixture composed of only one phase. In such a mixture, a solute
is a substance dissolved in another substance, known as a solvent.

The solvent does the dissolving. The solution more or less takes on the characteristics of the
solvent including its phase, and the solvent is commonly the major fraction of the mixture.

Sublimation is the transition of a substance directly from the solid to the gas phase without
passing through an intermediate liquid phase.

For example; A wet cloth can be hung outdoors in freezing weather and retrieved later in a
dry state; freeze-drying. The material to be dehydrated is frozen and its water is allowed to
sublime under reduced pressure or vacuum.
Mr Ree
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Joined: Sun Sep 08, 2013 10:09 pm

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