Coagulation | The Seventh Phase of Alchemy

The seventh and final phase of alchemy is known as coagulation, in which the alchemist completes the Great Work and creates the Philosopher’s stone. 

In laboratory alchemy, this is thought to occur after the process of distillation is completed and the matter congeals into a solid substance. 

In personal alchemy, it signifies the completion of the process of solve et coagula, or dissolve and coagulate. 

In what is known as the lesser work, the elements of the lower personality or ego are burned away and dissolved in order to be recombined into a greater whole. 

The great work culminates in the final union of the purified self with the greater whole, a union of the microcosm of man with the macrocosm of the universe. According to Paracelsus, the result is a “completely healed human being who has burned away all the dross of his lower being and is free to fly as the Phoenix.” 

On a spiritual level, the completion of the great work is thought to produce an entirely new body for the alchemist, an energy body of golden light that would survive beyond physical death. Paracelsus referred to this body as the Iliaster, or “the Star in Man.” 

Once the Philosopher’s stone has been created, the alchemist can then use two operations, projection and multiplication, to increase the effects of his powerful achievement. 

Projection is the use of the Philosopher’s stone to transmute base metals such as lead into gold. According to Dennis William Hauck, “it is said that just a tiny piece of the Stone or a pinch of the red powder of projection made from it is enough to perfect the metals and transmute lead into gold.”

Multiplication is the ability to heal and increase the amount of whatever it comes into contact with. “Just a touch of the Stone or a grain of the red powder will cause plants to grow to perfection or cells to be healed and multiply perfectly,” says Hauck. 

This highlights the ultimate purpose of achieving coagulation and creating the Philosopher’s stone: it is not simply to transcend the material plane, but to bring the spiritual wisdom encountered back to heal the earth and other people.

As the Emerald Tablet says, “Its inherent strength is perfected if it is turned into Earth. Thus you will obtain the glory of the whole Universe.”

Finding Gold in the Shadow

I’d spent a lifetime running







doing anything to fill the narrow, trembling void between

self and shame.

One day I stopped running, and my shame

she turned, and came to me.

She took me over and she held me down

in soft savage embrace,

when I finally caught my breath and

dared to look at her straight in

tender eyes, I saw more beauty and more

goodness and more

grace than I’d ever found

in years of wild flight.


This is what it means in alchemy to “find the gold in the shadow.” To be able to look within at all of what is hidden, to see and to know the self in its fullness without fear, no matter what may come—that’s the moment when we first die, and when we are first born.

“We know that the mask of the unconscious is not rigid—it reflects the face we turn towards it. Hostility lends it a threatening aspect, friendliness softens its features.” —Carl Jung


Don’t be afraid to change direction. It might be that you end up finding a friend in what you once feared.

What is Alchemy?

Today I’d like to introduce you to a new series I’m starting here on “The Rhetoric of Magic” about Alchemy.

This topic of Alchemy is one that has always intrigued me. I’ve been captivated by the strange symbolism which, although unusual, nonetheless always manages to strike a chord deep within that resonates with unexplained meaning.

My goal here is to chronicle my transformation from an absolute alchemical novice to perhaps a serious Philosopher, if all goes well. I hope you all will care to join me on this journey. It is my sincere hope that many of you will engage with the material and share your own experiences as apprentice alchemists with us in the comments. And for those who are interested, please note that I’ll be using Dennis William Hauck’s text on Alchemy as my primary resource, along with other materials which I’ll mention as I come across them in my work.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I want to start by asking, “What is Alchemy, anyway?” Is it really about turning cheap lead into the highly valued element of gold? Is this some strange medieval get-rich-quick scheme, or is there more to it than this?

Well, according to Hauck, the most fundamental thing we can say about it is that “Alchemy is the art of transformation.”

As mentioned earlier, when most of us hear the word “Alchemy,” the first thing that comes to mind is an eccentric man alone in his lab with glass beakers and instruments, boiling substances and rising smoke, all in the services of creating wealth from something with little value. Some will know that alchemy is in fact the origins of our modern science of chemistry, but few understand the link between them, as well as the fundamental differences in purpose.

However, even in the context of the lab, we can say that the process involves taking an “inferior” substance as the base from which to create something precious or “superior.” This process refines the original material, improving the quality (or purity) of what we have begun with.

But the lab is simply one setting in which the alchemical process can take place. The transformational process of alchemy encompasses a variety of different situations, using different materials to arrive at different outcomes. The following three types of alchemy listed by Hauck provide just a narrow sampling on the fields in which this process can be applied:

  • Plant Alchemy – the production of tinctures, tonics, elixirs, etc. that have healing properties
  • Mineral (or Practical) Alchemy – the laboratory-based science of turning lead (such as that found in a common pencil) into gold through a series of chemical reactions and processes
  • Psychological Alchemy – the transformation of the mind and emotions into a higher state of consciousness, or from negative feelings to positive, healthier ones
  • Spiritual Alchemy – the “lead” of the soul is transformed into spiritual “gold”

Though it is recognized that Alchemy can take different forms, to the alchemist who knows his subject well, there is really little difference between them. They all use the same systems of transformation to create a pure, valuable type of matter from one which is impure and of little value. We will learn more about why this is possible in future posts about alchemical philosophy. So stay tuned!