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A General Look at Alchemy Part 4
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Steps in Alchemy

Every spiritual system has its steps or phases of development. The Qabalist has his guide in the fruits and the paths of the "Tree of Life." Mahayana Buddhism teaches its adherents the various "bhumis," or "grounds" that has to be passed; other traditions such as Sufism and Yoga similarly have designated the rungs of the spiritual ladder. The 33 degrees of Freemasonry has its prototype in the vetebrae of the human spine. Kundalini is supposed to climb 33 rungs before she is crowned in the sahasrara chakra. The Patriarch Jacob was shown in a vision how to climb that spiritual ladder. In Alchemy, teachings differ as to the number of stages required; some adepts propound 5, 7, 9, 12, or even 14 steps. We choose to deal briefly with the following seven steps:

1) Sanctification

2) Purification

3) Putrefaction

4) Fermentation

5) Combustion

6) Regeneration

7) Atonement

Sanctification

Sanctification is the act of consecration, of rendering holy an object; or in the case of the spiritual path, the act of committing or consecrating one's life to an occult, esoteric purpose and objective. This step is undertaken when one, like Kaspar or Melchior, who saw the Star, and was determined to follow it despite obstacles, obstructions and hindrances. Psychologically, the determination to follow and see a project to its ultimate conclusion can be said to be an expression of sanctification.

Sanctification is an initiation which offers a test of one's sincerity, of being true to one's Self, to one's principles, and to the vows undertaken at the time of sanctification, which may or may not be in the form of a mystical ceremony. Once a person is sanctified, the eyes of the spiritual hierarchy are focused upon him, guiding, guarding, inspiring, and strengthening his newly-born Christ mind, as symbolised by the Nativity. Every step of the Way brightens the aura of the alchemist, expanding his consciousness and mind to greater frontiers, to greater realities; he develops a keener sense of awareness, comprehension, and appreciation of cosmic verities. The alchemist sanctifying his life never cease to disperse from his four lower bodies the heavy particles that bind him down to mortality and limitation; and incorporating within his principles the atoms of an ethereal nature, conducive to his functioning in higher planes of consciousness.

Purification

Purification is the result of the diet, the spiritual discipline which the alchemist undertakes. By strict adherence to the laws of a spiritual ethical code, the process of purification goes underway. Purification is processed under three principles:

1) The raising of the vibratory rates of the atomic structures and atoms within the lower components of Man.

2) The dispersion of foul matter and toxins which corrupts the sheaths.

3) The prevention of the accretion of heavy atoms which densifies the sheaths and entombs the soul.

In esoteric Christianity, purification is represented by the Baptism. The soul being washed in the fluids of the Cosmic Sea, gradually changes its garments into Christ substance, and emerges into a new world of Light. The first Adam donned clothes of skin, the last Adam dons the apparel of the spiritual body. Purification is an on-going process. It never ceases as evolution never halts to the point of non-progression.

Impurity in Man results in a negative attitude and behaviour-pattern, a "tamasic" expression that makes a man sluggish in his ways. Records of karmic sins lodge in the heart seed atom and in the four lower principles. To the clairvoyant eye, these are seen as blackish-grayish clouds resembling the pollution emanating from an industrial center. The alchemist purifies and purges these astral, physical, and mental toxins from his system by living in harmony with the Tao, and by undertaking spiritual exercises designed to cleanse his being. It is the dark substances that prevents man's union with God, and with the freedom to function in higher planes of consciousness. Love, Life, and Light are detergents that washes and baptizes the soul in the River Jordon. Such divine qualities should be allowed to unfold within one's nature.

Putrefaction

All things go through the change called "death," which is really a transformation into a new state of expression.Only forms change. The energy ensouling the form, or which gave form its expression can never be destroyed or annihilated. Molecules may break from its mass, atoms may disunite from one another and explode into a shower of electrons, but with all of this apparent destruction of identity, a law so profound operates which gives birth to a new being arising from the ashes of the old.

Putrefaction is an intensification of the process already commenced in the previous steps. Astral and mental toxins are dispersed from the spiritual structure of Man by the cleansing force, the Holy Fire, and disintegrating and decomposing the effluvia of the lower realms parasiting upon Man's fears and ignorance, making it possible for the laying of the foundations for the transmutation of tomb into temple. Like the Freemason, the alchemist has to construct a temple not made with hands; a temple worthy enough for the occupation and operation of the Ego.

In this putrefying stage, the alchemist resembles a cocoon who works upon itself internally; habitual thoughts and emotions that are not of an Ascended Master quality are decomposed and released into the Cosmic "incinerator."

The principle of change is symbolised by the Transfiguration of Jesus. Elijah representing Fire, and Moses--Water, are the wisdom and love aspects of buddhi that impregnates and fertilizes the Seed of Gold within Man.

Focus upon the solar principle, God's living fire, is a sure method of burning the dross, the dispersal of impurities, and the transmutation of tamas-rajasic metals of man's principles into qualities of gold. Fire quickens the buddhic seed within our being, awakening it into activity; Water purifies the seed giving it freedom to grow, and nourishing it at the same time. It is said that "putrefaction is the principle KEY to the process of the Transmutation." It is the agent which accelerates growth. The momentum is increased at each succeeding step of the way.

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