“The Wind carries it in its belly.”
Starting with the Albedo Phase, Separation isolates the various components of the substances. This sifting is similar to panning for gold. For the Spirit, this is the stage of discernment where the person works to reclaim their essence.
“Its nurse is the Earth.”
The process of Conjunction comes next. The alchemist brings together the sifted elements to form a new element. (If this fails, the alchemist has to start over.) In alchemy, it is the marriage (conjoining of two opposite components) of the King and Queen, which gives birth to the Child of the Philosophers. If the Child is a stillborn, then the impurities have not been purged.
For the person spiritually, they have rejoined with their shadow. Now empowered and whole, the person has the “intelligence of the heart.” Not yet enlightened, they strive for transcendence, in the next Phase -the Rubedo.
The Lesser Marriage has now been achieved, creating the new element of the Lesser Stone. For alchemists, this is a major achievement. But they will move on to the greater goal of achieving the Great Marriage and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Conjunction is the link between the Below and the Above. The work of the Below is now completed. The alchemist chooses to move forward to the work of the Above.
“Separate the Earth from Fire, the Subtle from the Gross, gently and with great Ingenuity.”
The operation of Fermentation has two stages – Putrefaction and Fermentation. The substance is left to rot (Putrefaction). After it sits for a while, “new life” (bacteria or living energy) is introduced by the alchemist, then fermentation can begin. For a person, this is the “dark night of the soul,” since this process kills and then rebirths the self. With the final cleansing (the Purgation of the Stone), a new being emerges – Rebis, the Hermaphrodite with two heads.
“It rises from Earth to Heaven and descends again to Earth, thereby combining within Itself the powers of both the Above and the Below.”
Distillation filters out the impurities of the matter. The liquid is condensed through repeated boiling and condensation to reduce it to its essence. For a person, they go through a repeated pattern of truth finding to lessen the gap between their inner and outer realities. Eventually, the unborn self emerges from the power of the life force.
“Thus will you obtain the Glory of the Whole Universe. All Obscurity will be clear to you. This is the greatest Force of all powers, because it overcomes every Subtle thing and penetrates every Solid thing.”
The final step, Coagulation, is the Great Marriage. Conjunction is the combination of the male and female, while Coagulation is the two being mixed and balanced. The body becomes the spirit and the spirit the body. The person is united with the Divine, thus the Philosopher’s Stone is created.
Part One can be read here: The Alchemical Process (One of two)