If we have been able to surrender to the darkness of the nigredo, we may find that a shift begins to occur.
The blackness that once seemed to only grow ever deeper begins to recede. The heaviness starts to lift as we relinquish our attachments to past beliefs, habits, ways of being, etc.
As with any death, the decomposition of these old forms releases a great amount of energy that is now free to be used in new and different ways.
It is not enough to meet our shadow in calcination or to grieve and release our past pain and sorrows through dissolution.
We must then proceed into the next stage of the work, the separation and the conjunction which comprise what is known as the albedo, or the white phase of alchemy.
In the process of separation, we are tasked with using our discernment to determine which parts of our shadow (our repressed and previously unacknowledged qualities and other psychic material) are worth saving.
Not everything that we meet in the darkness is to be feared. We may often be surprised to find there is much that is worthwhile and good there.
These positive traits are sometimes referred to as “the gold in the shadow,” which refers to the unrecognized parts of ourselves that have value and are truly authentic to us. These could be the parts of ourselves we learned to hide or diminish due to disapproval we may have encountered from parents, peers, or other parts of our society.
The second operation of the albedo is known as conjunction. It involves the reunion of the disparate elements which were separated in the previous phase. It also requires a rebalancing and harmonization of the masculine and feminine parts of ourselves. The result is the creation of “the lesser stone,” or what is sometimes called “the Philosopher’s child.”
The conjunction requires that we become comfortable with the apparent duality of our being, and join the forces of our soul and spirit. The result is the development of what the Egyptians called “the Intelligence of the Heart,” a condition or state of being where logos and eros are united in the self to create something greater than the sum of their parts.