After undergoing the previous stage of putrefaction, one then undergoes fermentation, which is represented in Christian
mysticism by the Passion, the agony of Jesus at Getsamene. Mystics of the Christian tradition call this spiritual condition,
"the Dark Night of the Soul."
Chemically, fermentation is the breaking up of complex compounds, changing it into other structures with the aid of an
agent such as yeast. Psychologically, it is a time of intense psychic activity where doubts assail one's deepest convictions
and beliefs to their very root.
A man never knows the stuff he is made of until tried and tested by life and his rebounding karma. When man becomes "fixed"
in his attitudes and outlook, denying the possibilities of soul-culture and development, when he gets complacent concerning
his place in the scale of evolution and refuses to budge further, then Nature comes to the rescue acting as yeast would do
in initiating a forced change in a compound, which in this case, is the complex being called Man. This forced change comes
in the form of tests and trials; and all of his previous beliefs and misconceptions are analyzed as to their purported value
in sustaining his equilibrium, saneness, and comprehension of life.
Students of Alchemy are advised by adepts to volatilize that which is "fixed" and to stabilize that which is volatized.
Esoterically, this implies that one has to liberate one's self from all delusions, glamour, illusions, and the ignorance of
not knowing; to shift one's focus from the unreal to the Real, and to live in eternity and Truth.
This activity of conversion, or "renewing of the mind," is the result of fermentation, and it is usually undertaken under
the supervision of an adept-master who introduces the "natural state," or the "Clear Light" to the initiate when judged to
After experiencing the "Dark Night of the Soul" of the previous step, the alchemist is faced with a greater test, that
of the "Dark Night of the Spirit," where one feels forsaken and cut-off from one's source of being, from the encouragement,
inspiration, and support from one's teachers and loved ones. Accumulated karma of past embodiments returns in full force with
apparently no mercy, but by remembering that God does not give more trials than Man can bear, the alchemist-initiate makes
it through like Old Job.
In the state of crucifixion, which symbolizes combustion, the emotions and mind on their respective planes are literally
on fire, or conflagration. One overcomes this period by being self reliant, dependent upon one's own resources. Although apparently
neglected, the suffering initiate is never alone.
Combustion causes a reaction, an upheaval in Man's soul, which is accompanied by bliss and pain, symbolised by light and
heat. Jesus expressed this paradoxical state when on one hand with agony he cried out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken
me?" (Mark 15:34), and on the other, after recognizing his error in presuming separation, with total surrender he entered
the blissful state by decreeing to the Supreme One that is supposed to have left him: "Father, into thy hands I command my
spirit" (Luke 23:46).
What causes combustion, alchemically speaking, is God's all-consuming fire. With its descent upon one's psyche, the intensity
of the Light temporary induces spiritual blindness, causing the delusion that darkness had fallen upon the soul. While surrounded
by Light, one gropes around in seeming darkness. With the descent of Divine Fire, a conflagration is begun in the emotions
and mind, generating pain and agony, which is later subdued by being accustomed to God's face. It is said that no one sees
the face of God and live; what perishes are the last remnants of the false ego, and the active identification with the carnal
self. Man dies to his lower self but lives in the glory of his greater Self.
The presence of fire prepares one for the next stage of regeneration, with which it plays a vital role. Combustion is the
baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost as promised by John the Harbinger. From the esoteric anatomical perspective, combustion
is triggered by kundalinic activity. As the fiery serpent ascends in sushumna, sensations of heat, "cold heat," is felt along
All religions fundamentally, are concerned with regenerating Man, in laying the foundations for the regenerative process
to proceed. It is the esoteric side of religion that puts Man into active contact with higher forces and principles that activates
the regenerative phase of Man's spiritual development.Misguided by dogmatic teachings of the Church, the average Christian
believes in a literal resurrection from the grave at the Last Judgment; however, when interpreted esoterically, Paul's writings
present a wealth of information concerning the regenerative process. For instance, he declared that "for as in Adam all die,
even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (I Corinthians 15:22). Adam, or the carnal self, causes the incarnating entity
to be dead to higher realities. He operates his bodies sluggishly like a zombie. By contrast, when the prodigal son absorbs
the universal Christ substance, and Christ Consciousness emanating from his higher principles, he then functions under the
direction of a higher intelligence. He commences his life living in Truth and in eternity. Regeneration consequently, begins
to occur within his four lower bodies, even transmuting the corporeal form into the "Body of Light." To be made alive in Christ
requires a certain spiritual discipline to be exercised. But sadly, the average individual prefers believing rather than knowing
It is the destiny of Man to attain what Jesus had attained in the "resurrection," and thus Paul advised the Romans: "But
if the Spirit of him that raiseth up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raiseth up Christ from the dead shall also
quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you" (Romans 8:11). If the Spirit must dwell in us for a quickening,
then there must be a way for inviting the Spirit to dwell in our bodies, mere beliefs and faith are insufficient to invoke
the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit.