9. Albedo, the white work, part 2, Practical considerations
What we need to understand is that Albedo and Rubedo flow in and out of eachother, one cannot happen without the other. Thus, there are those who will read operations and material pertaining to the rubedo phase from an albedo perspective. Often those of us who believe we are experiencing rubedo are genuinely in the throngs of albedo.
As one of the most successful and knowledgeable Alchemists of our time, Orphë, points out, the Nigredo does not necessarily mean that it is subjectively experienced as the blackest phases of death and Albedo does not always mean we are constantly joyful. After all, Black is the colour of the fertile earth and White is the colour of the bones that come out after death...
The four (often 3 or 5) alchemical phases each contain within themselves the four(3/5) other phases.
Thus Nigredo has its own nigredo-albedo-citrinitas-rubedo and then through projection the final phase of the one becomes the next starting phase of the other.
Without wanting to mix in too much Qabalah into this, I might just add that the concept of the four levels of the Tree of Life being linked on one single tree is exactly the same idea.
We can say. with not too much of a stretch of the imagination that, the Crown of one level is the Foundation of the higher realm and through projection of this into Daath, the Well of the Alchemist, we are able to create the new Materia, The Kingdom. From this the higher tree manifests.
So for those who like the modern/hermetic Qabalah, it would look something like this:
I am aware that it might prove exceedingly difficult to follow this article as it becomes more and more abstract. It is my aim to try and bring this down into material terms and examples as often as possible, however keep in mind that unless the Prima Materia has been found and the Royal Secret unearthed, we are still blind men describing a Hippogriff yet we were all told to be expecting an Elephant!
Yes, it smells like a horse. Yes, it lays eggs. Yes it has wings.
Thus, the below explanations are not completely true, they do reflect a simplistic explanation. They are the best we can do via this media.
There are three alchemical bodies.
Lead/Copper -The Material Body
Silver - The Lunar Body
Gold - The Solar Body
There are also levels of consciousness
(The Vegetable consciousness)
it might be easier to see this as
The Universal (yes it does sound exceedingly cheesy, doesn't it?)
The alchemical body and the level of consciousness is linked.
A Saturnian/Copper/Lead body starts off with a Terrestrial consciousness, but should in a natural state uphold a Lunar mind.
What happens next is dependent on which version of alchemy we do, what our primary function is, where in the world we are incarnated, what our psychological and spiritual imprints are.
The consciousness transforms/manifests a specific alchemical body and an alchemical body usually gives rise to a specific consciousness. This is therefore a two way street of manifestation. It is like a cybernetic feedback loop. The Saturnian body asks for sex, power, shelter, food, the consciousness is occupied with providing the body with sex power shelter food. Because the Consciousness is focusing upon the world of the body, the vibration of the body will not change.
Many armchair magicians will scoff at this and immediately assume this is a bad state of affairs. Let me highlight that this is not the case. The Age of Saturn is referred to as the Golden Age for a reason. A small note is that traditionally it is believed that different ages in a persons life automatically correspond correspond to a specific phase. I do not believe this to be the case anymore.
What are the bodies and the levels of consciousness?
The Terrestrial body is your body. It is your lifeforce and everything that is measurable.
The Saturnian mind is completely focused on the material aspect. This is both a paradigm and a way of thinking and a way of prioritising. It is best described by a consciousness that claims "I am".* Most humans alive today leave the Terrestrial consciousness behind at a very early age, thanks to society.
As the vibration of one changes, so also does the other. The chalice and its host interact, there is a periodic washing/dipping of the host in the chalice. If the chalice is not prepared properly it might react aversely to the host. If you dip the Sun into a chalice of lead, the chalice will melt. If you have ever heard of someone whose life was changed completely for the better after a single acid trip or went completely down the toilet than you have heard this being described. In one case the heavily concentrated Plant Stone (the acid) was a literal Vitriolic acid. Simillarly, if the Chalice is purified, than that which is washed and dipped into it will itself transmute. Its hard to be a horrible person if you lead a chaste and virtuous life. Thoughts give rise to action and right action gives way to right thought.
I consider the "normal" state of affairs would always be to have the chalice uphold a host one level higher. Most human beings do not behave like primates or vegetables, unless there is something seriously wrong physically.**
An interesting aside is of course that the Grail should always uphold a consciousness higher than itself.
The natural sequence being
Lead Body - Lunar Consciousness
Silver Body - Solar Consciousness
Solar Body - Universal Consciousness (Yes, it is a cringeworthy expression.)
It is not difficult to develop the Lunar consciousness. In practice this means that the Saturnian consciousness becomes illuminated by the light of an invisible sun, and the blackness, often symbolised by the new moon, becomes the lunar crescent.
The body remains the same but now the chalice upholds a Lunar consciousness. This consciousness contains within it the previous one as well, but uplifted. The reason luna is often shown as a crescent moon, facing left or right at this point is because the lunar consciousness is one of duality. Its focus is the emotional and mental realms. The Lunar consciousness has three phases just as the moon.
The first is still clinging to the Saturnian way of thinking and all emotional and intellectual effort is directed towards the manifestation and upholding of the Saturnian body. It is still a phase of ME but with an awareness of "others" as well.
The second phase is where the greatest interaction is between the Self and the Others. The effects of our actions and how they affect others becomes integral and the self is realised as not being the result of the Saturnian processes of the terrestrial body, but the interaction of the mental and emotional flames of ourselves and others.***
This is the stage of the mental and emotional, the Lunar world interacting with our physical world.
The third phase is often described as some form of peak experience. The world is understood and experienced as being both material and spiritual. The material affects the spiritual and the spiritual is directly manifesting the material. Intense religious experiences fall into this category. The highest level of the lunar consciousness is often symbolised by the lunar crescent shown as a pair of Horns, symbolic that it is able to uphold the sun. This is often why some authors incorrectly claim that the Moon is the hidden power behind the Sun. This is a misunderstanding of the dynamic between the Lunar body and the Solar-consciousness. Since without a properly developed Lunar Body, the Solar Consciousness is not able to interact with and exert influence upon the greater world. The lunar body is thus the medium. However the power itself always resides in the Sun, since even the Lunar consciousness.
It is when the Lunar consciousness becomes tinted with the drop from the Sun that it transforms slowly, or violently into the Solar consciousness.
Now most people will rotate through these phases in their day to day lives. A jewish person may experience it as: Spending most of the day working in an office in the first phase, but then experiencing the second phase in the park on the way home, and the third phase being the Shabbath, the ritual, the prayers, the meal in the presence of one's family and the Presence.
The lunar consciousness is characterised by the ability to affect ourselves and others emotionally, the knowledge, not belief, that there is more than material determinism. The ability to experience what most call spirituality. If you have Pistis, if you have experienced and manifested things from meditative, religious or physical exercises, and know that the inner affects the outer, Then you either have or are capable of entering the lunar consciousness.
Remember the beginning of the article claiming that the consciousness and the body go hand in hand?
Well, what is described above is when the realisation comes from within to without. It is a way of thinking, a way of seeing the world. it is however possible to do it the other way around.
Physical exercises, the imbibing of diverse plant matter and vegetable and mineral elixirs can produce the manifestation of the lunar body.
This is why it is possible to create a lunar body just by following outer rituals and doing exercises. Qi Gong, Falun Gong. Living according to a belief and an intellectual understanding may give rise to a very powerful lunar body. This is often the case with systems that are process rather than gnosis oriented. The work will transform/give rise to the lunar body.
This post is full of sidenotes. There is a reason why initiation exists. Whether the system works from a Gnosis perspective where the focus is on the lifting up of the consciousness of the initiate, or if it is a system that is process oriented and focuses on the transformation of the Terrestrial (Saturn) Body into the Lunar one, there could be an argument made for the initiation being what actually accomplishes the change and the work before and after is either a preparation for this moment to make sure it works or a way of dealing with the effects. I am here exclusively talking about traditions that actually have an alchemical element, not only an egregoric, skillteaching or social aspect. In those cases the word initiation is not really applicable in the sense that is meant in this context.
Through hard work the Saturnian Grail may be polished and transmuted into a Chalice of Silver.
Through hard work the Lunar consciousness may be uplifted to a Solar consciousness.
The Lunar body is the Resurrection body. Adepts would consider the view that everyone automatically experiences everlasting life as extremely naïve. It is only a Lunar body that is able to fully uphold a Solar consciousness and it is only a Solar consciousness that is able to withstand that which happens to the Being after the death of the physical body. The Lunar consciousness cannot remain one and undivided after death, instead it is washed in various levels of existence, the many heavens and hells as it were, until there is no trace of individuality left and the whole thing is recycled. The Solar consciousness is from this perspective, indestructible and then Lunar body is the armour surrounding it. Initiates agree however that this is not the end result, the final stone. The Lunar body has been called many names. The soul, the double. It is a body that is not a body. The Stone that is not a Stone. Anyone who truly is in possession of the Stone should be able to prove it. It is through the mediation of the stone that true initiation can occur, that the beginning of true "occult" powers are manifested.
There would be no point in discussing the extent of the abilities that the lunar body gives access too. It is enough to say that most of the common magical phenomena in any and all traditions happen when the Lunar consciousness of the individual manages to transform/manifest the lunar body for a short time. Therefore the permanent possession of the Lunar body is a permanent state of being that most seldom reach.
It is often said that this stage of the great work is child's play and women's work. If you are able to be as a child at this stage then the stone will manifest. Traditionally, there are various exercises that assist in the creation of the Lunar body ranging from the worship of and assumption of Godforms in a western or eastern perspective, various energetic exercises of an inner meditative and outer physical nature, and also the imbibing of various elixirs of a mystical or alchemical nature. Arguably, the True Mass would fall under this category, Yogic and tantric methods of the Hindu and Buddhist variety, severeal Daoist systems of alchemy, Theurgia and Magia, certain nigromantic work etc.
At this stage, breath and mind are key, as is doing that which is in conformity with your true destiny in absolute freedom.
The creation of the solar body starts when the Lunar body is perfected, however it cannot be perfected until all dualities have been completely reconciled, something which is not possible as long as the two ultimate dualities of the great God Thanateros have not been met, and the Tomb of this world hasn't become the Womb of the great Goddess Nyx.
In this, our work, the lesser work of Darkness is within the first stone, the black stone of the foolish, whose number is five and whose extent is as far as we can will it.
The Greater Work of Light is within the second stone and without the first, the white stone of the philosophers, whose number is 6 and and that materialises the spiritual and is to the gross body what the lunar consciousness is to the animal.
The Great work is one.
*In meetings with others sometimes it is possible to experience the Lunar body that is created in the meeting between two or more individuals. The spirit of a tribe of people. The "us" when you refer to yourself and your loved one. The "Family"... all these things are instances of a Lunar body manifesting. This is however not -YOUR- Lunar body.
In a similar way, there are things which allow our consciousness to react. Music, substances, things of beauty, ideas.
**This is not a dig at people with learning difficulties, or chromosome damages. It is simply the case that someone in a coma is highly unlikely to be manifesting any level of consciousness let alone a lunar one. use common sense people. This is not elitism. Alchemy is a way of trying to describe the world, not the other way around.
***At this stage one often experiences that what one ought to do or wants to do conflicts with the life one has built up and should do.
As a nod towards the earlier point about the stages being linked to physical ages, one could say that this is where the duality comes when you decide to stay in the abusive relationship "for the sake of the children" or to leave your loving spouse and kids and buy yourself a new car and get a new lover, because you never could.