The second phase of alchemy, dissolution, comes after the fiery heat of calcination which incinerated the ideas we once had about who we are and our place in the world.
Once the ego has been suitably reduced to ashes, we then become ready to commence the dissolving process of the Great Work.
In laboratory alchemy, this process involved adding water or some other kind of solvent to the ashy powder left over from the burning of calcination.
In terms of psychospiritual alchemy, we now come into contact with the waters of the unconscious. Here, it is as if we are drowned in all of our long-repressed emotions, swamped by our most painful memories, and shaken by the most terrifying of our latent fears and anxieties.
These previous unconscious elements are the deepest, most obscured parts of ourselves which we have worked hard to keep hidden from both others and ourselves for an entire lifetime. These repressed psychic contents are matters of profound consequence, and addressing them fully is a matter not to be taken lightly.
We have seen that the previous phase of calcination tends to involve a kind of destructive fire which rages through our lives, consuming everything it touches as it burns.
However, it is in this next stage of dissolution where we begin our first steps toward conscious awareness of what is truly happening to us.
It is during this phase when we must truly come to terms with our lives and all of the losses we have experienced. In dissolution, we start to deal with our real, lived experiences and our deeply felt sense of what it means to grieve, not merely as an intellectual exercise, but in our hearts and through our bodies.
This process requires that we surrender to the often painful truth of our current realities. We must learn to let go of any grasping or clinging to what our ego has desired or has falsely believed to be true.
In the stage of dissolution, we are being asked to surrender and come face to face with the contents of our own souls as they truly are.