Until a few days ago, I had no idea that there was a form of alchemy that dealt with spiritual transformation. I thought it only had to do with ancient scientists trying to change base metals into gold. However, as I’ve read about the way that alchemy describes the process of spiritual transformation, I am amazed at how well it describes so much of what I have been experiencing during this last tumultuous year.
Alchemy describes spiritual transformation as a seven stage process. My impression is that these steps are sequential but not always be entirely linear in that they may overlap or one may cycle through some of them more than once in going through the process. In addition, this is a process that each of us may encounter more than once in our journey through this life as we continue the process of transformation.
I found a wonderful description of the first four steps in an article by Nancy Shandera (which I strongly recommend!), but I have not been able to find access to a good description of the last three yet. My brief summary of the stages is as follows:
- Calcination – This is a stage of being burned to the ground, where life as we have known it is destroyed.
- Dissolution – This stage is filled with many tears and emotions as we work through the losses and our past history to adjust our beliefs to fit our new reality.
- Separation – This stage is a time of loneliness, of feeling separated from others and often involves loss of relationships, jobs, and community. But it allows for the ability to determine what is really Self and what is other.
- Conjunction – This stage brings some balance to the masculine and feminine and an increase in creativity and movement toward the people we wish to be, but the work isn’t done yet.
- Fermentation – This is a stage of rotting and decomposition, a particularly black and miserable time that is a dark night of the soul. However, toward the end of this stage, we begin to see glimpses of the beauty of who we are becoming.
- Distillation – This stage is a period of purification where more of the ego identity is cleared away to let our divine Self shine through.
- Coagulation – This stage is finally the Phoenix rising from the ashes, as move into living as the people we are meant to be.
As I read through these stages, I am reassured that so much of what I have been experiencing is right on track for the process this describes. My experience of this process has made so many people around me uncomfortable so that I wonder at times if I really am just wallowing in my own muck. However, my experience so closely correlates to these stages that it reaffirms my belief that I am doing exactly what I need to do in order to allow myself to be truly transformed by this journey.
Although I see that I have some challenging and difficult times ahead, I am committed to seeing this process through. While the price may be high, the reward of becoming more of the person I’m meant to be is worth the cost, and I am encouraged to stay on course through the process.