Nigel Hamilton is a UK based Sufi teacher of long standing.
This is the introduction and summary of Four Stage version of transformation as contained in a PDF foundhere ~ http://www.sufismus.ch/assets/files/omega_dream/alchemy_e.pdf
Understanding Transmutation as the Basis of Alchemy.
Alchemy is best known for its belief that lead can be transmuted into gold. However, the
transmutation of non-precious metals into gold is simply a metaphor for the soul being freed from a
“dead, leaden state of mind,” to that of realising its own light nature and that is derived from pure
The “Four Stage” Version
The process can be basically described in four stages as nigredo, albedo, citrinitas and rubedo.
At each stage the alchemist is subjected to an increasingly intense purification, which is followed
by a union with the fire of that stage (alchemical marriage), a rebirth of a new sense of self and
then the death of that sense of self (in order to proceed to the next stage). At each stage the fire is
twice as intense as the preceding fire. The fire could also be seen as awakening four degrees of
fiery love in the heart of the alchemist by his anima or “inner female soul mate” (in the case of a
man) or by her animus or “inner male spirit” (in the case of a woman).
In alchemy the anima (in men) and the animus (in women) therefore pass through four stages of
development corresponding in turn to the four steps of the alchemical marriage. At each stage the
experience of this “fiery love” purifies and awakens the alchemist, in order that a greater sense of
self be realised and a vaster reservoir of feeling open up in his or her heart. Fire therefore is the
fuel of the alchemical work and the main agent of its continuous process of transmutation. Once
kindled, the alchemist’s fire is maintained without interruption until the completion of the process
Stage One: Nigredo or “Blackening”.
In the first stage the fire is “slow and mild” as of the flesh or “embryo,” gradually helping to bring
about the first stage of the work, culminating in the earthly nigredo or “blackening.” This stage
involves a purification of the earthly nature in us.
From a psychological standpoint, this stage is experienced as entering a dark and chaotic
unconscious inner world. St John of the Cross has referred to this as the first of two dark nights,
the dark night of the mind, which is an encounter with the darker aspects of our self.
What we are concerned with is
removing the veils of unconscious attachment to the world so as to get a clearer sense of who we
are in this world. For example, I am not my family, nor my job, nor my status that people
acknowledge in the world. The identification of the self with the earth element is experienced in
terms of our attachment to worldly objects (our body, material objects, parental figures, etc.) and
so long as we remain attached to the worldly objects we remain separated and divided inside. In
letting go of the attachments we can turn within to discover inner guidance and our inner animus or
anima, for which a passion (and later love) is awakened, leading to the first alchemical union or
More description of this stage given at Source Article ~ http://www.sufismus.ch/assets/files/omega_dream/alchemy_e.pdf
Stage Two: Albedo or “Whitening”.
Just as stage one is called the earthly encounter, so stage two is called the stage of the moon.
This requires a further purification of our psyche and a receptivity to our soul nature, which
originally incarnated free of worldly impressions, of the family, the environment, and society.
Becoming conscious of our soul nature is the first real step in answering the question “who am I?”
Alchemical texts speak of the soul now becoming conscious of itself by becoming aware of its own
light nature – the reflected light, symbolised by the moon, and discovers the source of its life and
light, which is pure spirit.
The fire of stage two is considerably more intense than the preceding stage, even though it is
described by alchemists as “moderate and temperate, as of the Sun in June.” Correspondingly in
life we are confronted with the necessity to be far more scrupulous, open, courageous and
discriminating than ever before. The path is lonely as we journey inward, but to continue the
process demands a tremendous integrity, strength and persistence.
As with stage one of the process, the point is reached in which the second alchemical marriage
takes place. Here the anima figure corresponds to the moon woman, an object of romantic love.
This is the goal of Eros, not of sex, a classical example being Helen of Troy. The corresponding
animus figure (in women) becomes the romantic hero, the poet (Byron) the film star (Harrison
Ford), author (Ernest Hemingway), explorer, political liberator, etc. Following the inner marriage a
second Rebirth “of the lunar child” takes place. The baby-child, representing the newly acquired
state of consciousness, is particularly fragile and innocent, reflecting the purely receptive state that
the consciousness has reached. The sense of self now identifies with the soul nature.
Stage Three: Citrinitas or “Yellowing”.
Alchemists refer to Citrinitas as the stage of the sun, or the dawning of the “solar light” inherent in
our Being. Now the light is no longer reflective as in the lunar or soul light. Its nature is direct and
it is all pervading (we do not experience it as having a source). This light is “great and strong, as of
a calcining fire.” It is sometimes referred to as the original Light or the Light that is pure, creative
Intelligence. Some alchemical texts describe it as the Divine Intellect (as distinct from the human,
mental intellect). It is said that the only true knowledge is revealed to us when this Light becomes
conscious in us.
Now in describing the second stage, mention was made only of an alchemical marriage and a
rebirth. Stage three begins with the “yellow death,” i.e. there is a dying away of the “lunar light” to
the point of complete darkness, which is in fact “black light,” a light so bright we cannot see it as
our inner sight is veiled and it appears as darkness. St. John of the Cross speaks of this in a
personal account of his own “Dark Night of the Soul.” This “death” is also described from a
Buddhist point of view as a death of the sense of self as being a separate individual. It is a
complete dying of the dualistic state of mind that perceives subject and object as separate.
marriage reveals the anima figure as corresponding to the Divine Virgin, or heavenly woman, the
object of spiritual love. This love is devotional in nature. One example of this would be Dante’s
Beatrice, who leads the poet on to the spheres of paradise and the marvels of heavenly love. The
corresponding animus figure appears as the spiritual guide – the professor, clergyman, guru, who
is seen as “elevated and spiritualised.” The Rebirth is in terms of the birth of the Solar
consciousness, a revelatory light..
For further details consult the Source Article ~ http://www.sufismus.ch/assets/files/omega_dream/alchemy_e.pdf
Stage Four: Rubedo or “Reddening”.
In stage four, the alchemist awakens to the desire to return to the earth and to fully incarnate his or
her state of “illuminated” consciousness into the mind and body. To achieve this, a purifying fourth
fire, “burning and vehement, as of fusion,” must be used to bring about a new coagulation of spirit
and matter. The culmination of stage three leaves the alchemist completely free in a state of Pure
Spirit, Pure Intelligence, beyond space, time and form but without a consciousness of body or
mind. Thus the death or “Red death” at the start of stage four involves the death of the freedom
inherent in this state and the death of the conscious state of Pure Spirit (and Pure Intelligence) as
an individual soul that desires to be embodied without the sense of separation from its original
pure state. It is only when the soul is finally incarnated in the mind/body (psyche) that it can realise
its state of spiritual completeness. Heaven and earth in the alchemist are now united.
the anima becomes the Mother of God, or Consort of God, the object of mystic love. The
corresponding animus figures are Illuminated Ones – Christ, Buddha, the Saints, etc. What this
means is that God consciousness, in being born into the world of the earth, realises its Godlike
nature consciously – as an enlightened, transcendental individual and in a state of oneness with
the Cosmic whole. This then is the philosopher’s stone that the alchemist has been seeking for. It
is the grand culmination of the Great Work..