Posted by: physicalimmortalitythemasspossibility | March 8, 2012

Alchemy, Carl Jung and Physical Immortality Psychology

An excerpt from Jung – The Key Ideas by Ruth Snowden –

‘Alchemy was very popular during medieval times, and was practiced until the end of the seventeenth century and beyond, but its roots stretch back much further into history, at least as far back as ancient Egypt. The best known aspect of alchemy is the idea trying to turn base metal into gold, but in fact there was a lot more to it than that. The ultimate goal was an inner transformation of the alchemist’s psyche, and it was this aspect that interested Jung the most. He saw alchemy as  bridging the frustrating gap between ancient Gnosticism and modern sciences such as chemistry and the psychology of the unconscious. Alchemical thought coincided in surprising ways with his own ideas about the unconscious – it looked at the problem of matter , as well as the union of opposites such as male and female, God and man….

Jung was intrigued to find alchemical imagery cropping up in the dreams of patients who were going through the individuation process. He studied the alchemical process and found that  it went through a series of stages, each one of which could also represent a stage in the development of the maturing psyche :

– Nigredo or ‘blackness’. This is the first stage, where the alchemist heats material up and it goes black. This represents the first stage of individuation, where the person begins to break down the barriers between conscious and unconscious. This stage is often accompanied by depression – the ‘dark night of the soul’… as the person begins to face the inner darkness of the shadow.

-Albedo or ‘whiteness’. This is the next stage, when white flecks appear in the mixture, which eventually crystallizes as a white stone. This represents the gradual cleansing of the psyche as the inner darkness is faced. People often confront and converse with archetypes at this stage…

-Rubedo or ‘redness’ This is the final stage, when mercury is added to the white stone, which goes green then red. This process represents the union of opposites and the result – called ELIXIR VITAE( the ELIXIR OF LIFE) – can bring long life or even IMMORTALITY. It is represented symbolically by a winged hermaphrodite figure or a rose. This stage represents the final stage of analysis – the resolution of psychic conflicts and the balancing of opposites. Jung remarked that much of his work was concerned with this type of balancing process.’

The Jung quote above leaves out the other Alchemical stage – ‘Citrinitas, sometimes referred to as xanthosis, is a term given by alchemists to “yellowness.” It was one of the four major stages of the alchemical magnum opus, and literally referred to “transmutation of silver into gold” or “yellowing of the lunar consciousness.” In alchemical philosophy, citrinitas stood for the dawning of the “solar light” inherent in one’s being, and that the reflective “lunar or soul light” was no longer necessary’. Wikipedia

This is interesting and may symbolise the reconnection to the divine ‘all that is’ within us.



  1. Nice piece. That reflects accurately the Alchemical aspiration. There is however the fly in the ointment – “The How”. Most people usually see lofty aspirations as dreams only with no possibility of attainment at all under any circumstances. They see any person who claims to know “the How” as a liar, con-artist or madman. Almost all esoteric groups and societies actually have no idea at of all that there is in reality, in fact, actually a “How” and really share the same attitude as the rest of society. This pervasive skepticism protects the “How” from coming to the attention of the wrong people. Only the Chosen will ever gain access to the knowledge of how to achieve the Great Work. Those who choose themselves by following the path the gateway of the heart offers will ever have a hope and only those who choose to listen to the teachers strategically placed in their Path will ever know this truth. Choose yourself in this and every moment.

    • Thanks Tim. Like what you’ve said here – especially ‘the gateway of the heart’, ‘we chose ourselves’ and ‘listen to the teachers who appear on your path’
      blessings Janni

  2. Hi Janni, I feel that the first stage lies in separating out the content of what is going on in my life (separatio), followed then by rubedo, which is the heating up, caused by having to hold the tension of the opposites. Then nigredo, a blackening where ego death is experienced followed by albedo, the transformation and moment of transcendence, when a new view is created… best wishes stuart

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