Glossary

- A -

Air is one of the Four Elements of alchemy. Air in the alchemical sense carries the archetypal properties of spirit into the manifested world. It is associated with the operation of Separation and represented by the metal Iron.

Albification is making the matter in the alchemical work become white. Refers to both physical and spiritual processes.

Alchemy The word is derived from the Arabian phrase "al-khemia," which refers to the preparation of the Stone or Elixir by the Egyptians. The Arabic root "khemia" comes from the Coptic "khem" that alluded to the fertile black soil of the Nile delta. Esoterically and hieroglyphically, the word refers to the dark mystery of the primordial or First Matter (the Khem), the One Thing through which all creation manifests. Alchemy, then, is the Great Work of nature that perfects this chaotic matter, whether it is expressed as the metals, the cosmos, or the substance of our souls.

Alembic is the upper part of a still; a stillhead, a type of retort. The term is often used to refer to a complete still. (see cucurbit; Distillation)

Alkahest is the power from Above that makes possible alchemical transformation. The word is usually translated as "universal solvent," which alludes to the ability of the alkahest to dissolve or reduce all physical matter to its basic essence. With metals, this meant transmuting them to their purest form, which was gold. In the human body, this meant the creation or revealing of a golden body of consciousness, the Astral Body.  

Aludel is a pear-shaped earthenware bottle, open at both ends. It was used as a condenser in the sublimation process and thus came to signify the end-stages of transformation. Also called the Hermetic Vase, the Philosopher's Egg, and the Vase of the Philosophy.

Amalgamation is the formation of an amalgam, or alloy, of a metal with mercury. This term is sometimes extended to mean any union of metals. Amalgam.

Animals are often used to symbolize the basic components and processes of alchemy. They may be used to symbolize the four Elements such as the lion or ox (Earth), fish or whales (Water), eagles (Air), or salamanders or dragons (Fire). Aerial animals generally indicate volatile principles, while terrestrial animals indicate fixed principles. Whenever two animals are found, they signify Sulfur and Mercury or some relationship between the fixed and the volatile.

Antimony is from the Latin word “antimonium,” which was probably used by Constantinius Africanus (1050 AD) to refer to stibnite ore. According to one legend, alchemist Basil Valentine named the metal, after feeding it to some monks in a Benedictine monastery. The monks got violently ill and some even died, hence the Latin name that means "anti-monk." Spiritually too, monks feel most threatened by their own animal nature. Oddly enough, the Tincture of Antimony cures venereal diseases. Associated with the attributes of Lead.

Aqua fortis is Latin for "strong water" and refers to nitric acid. Various grades of aqua fortis were prepared depending on the length of its Distillation, which concentrated the acid. A mixture of aqua fortis and spiritus salis ("spirit of salt," i.e., hydrochloric acid) produces aqua regia ("royal water" -- so named because it can dissolve gold). It was first prepared by distilling common salt with aqua fortis.

Aqua vitae is "living water" or water "with spirit." An aqueous alcohol concentrated by one or more Distillations.

Arcana ("magical secrets") are archetypal influences that transcend space and time. According to the ancient text Archidoxies, the arcana are pre-existing powers that "have the power of transmuting, altering, and restoring us." In this view, the arcana are the secret workings of the mind of God, the  logos of the Greeks or what the alchemists referred to as the thoughts of the One Mind. In the Tarot, the arcana are represented by symbolic drawings that the reader tries to work with through meditation. In the Cabala, the arcana are represented by the esoteric properties of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, energies that the cabalist tries to work with in the Tree of Life. In the in the ancient Chinese system of divination, the I Ching, the arcana are represented by the sixty-four trigrams, each with its own properties and influences. The alchemists believed the arcana were expressed on all levels of reality -- from chemical compounds to our innermost moods and desires.

Arcanum Experiment. The early alchemists divided their chemicals into major and minor arcana. The major arcana consisted of the four compounds: Vitriol, Natron, Liquor Hepatis, and Pulvis Solaris. Three out of the four consisted of dual ingredients that were easily separable. Vitriol could be broken down into sulfuric acid and iron. Natron appeared as sodium carbonate and sodium nitrate. Pulvis Solaris was made up of the red and black varieties. Thus, the seven chemicals comprising the minor arcana were: Sulfuric Acid, Iron, Sodium Carbonate, Sodium Nitrate, Liquor Hepatis, Red Pulvis Solaris, and Black Pulvis Solaris. The alchemists believed that these secret chemicals could be combined in the Arcanum Experiment, the single laboratory experiment that would demonstrate the archetypal forces and evolution of the universe. Ideally, such an experiment should succeed on many levels, not only corroborating the deepest philosophical and psychological principles, but also providing concrete evidence of their veracity. The Arcanum Experiment exposed the hidden principles connecting heaven and earth, offering a framework in which to explain both microcosmic and macrocosmic events.

Archaeus is the “Thing Itself” of a substance. According to Paracelsus, it is the “secret inner matter of a substance,” its oldest part that goes back to when it was just an ideal image, thought, or vibration of spirit in the Above.

Archetype is an elementary idea rooted in the mind. It is the ideal or essence from which an existing thing has been copied and is part of creation itself. Archetypes are primordial patterns that show up on all levels of reality.

Athanor comes from the Arabic word "al-tannur" (oven), the athanor is the furnace used by the alchemists to perfect matter. Built of brick or clay, the athanor usually was shaped like a tower with a domed roof and was designed to keep an even heat over long periods of time. The alchemists considered it an incubator and sometimes referred to it as the "House of the Chick." Symbolically, the athanor is also the human body and the fire of bodily metabolism that fuels our transformation and the ultimate creation of a Second Body of light. The mountain is a symbol for the athanor, since the perfection of the metals takes place under the guise of Nature within mountains. Sometimes a hollow oak tree is used to symbolize the athanor.

Azoth. The term "Azoth" is formed from the first and last letters of the English alphabet ("a" and "z"), which stand for the beginning and end of all creation -- the alpha and omega of the Greek philosophers, the aleph and tau of the Hebrew cabalists. Therefore the Azoth is the ultimate arcanum, the universal spirit of God in all created things. The alchemists believed that the liquid metal mercury carried the signature of this omnipotent archetypal spirit.

- B -

Bain Marie (Balneum Marie) is a warm alchemical bath. Chemically, it is a double-boiler in which a container of water is suspended in a simmering cauldron. Psychologically, it is the gentle warmth of emotionally centered meditation used in the Dissolution process. The Bain Marie was named after Maria Prophetissa, a Jewish alchemist who wrote much about the methods and equipment of the Water operations of Dissolution and Distillation.  

Balsam is a resinous or waxy semi-solid compound that captures the essence of a liquid medicine or perfume. To Paracelsus, the balsam was the "interior salt" that protected the body from decomposition, and earlier alchemists considered the Balsam of the Elements to be the Quintessence, the result of the Conjunction of alchemical principles. Because of it amalgamating ability, mercury was considered the balsam agent of the metals. In the chemical arcana, Liquor Hepatis mixed with fat or wax was known as the Balsam of the Soul.

Basilisk is a symbolic alchemical creature said to have the head of a bird and the body of a dragon. The wingless serpentine animal was hatched from a hermaphroditic cock's egg and nursed by a serpent. Psychologically, the Basilisk represents the melding of our higher and lower natures in Conjunction, a process that must be continued in the next three operations of alchemy for this "Child of the Philosophers" to become the Living Stone of the fully integrated Self. Biologically, the Basilisk represents the mammalian embryology, the genetic replaying of the stages of evolution within the egg or womb. The Basilisk also has chemical connotations, which probably have to do with a metallurgical process involving cinnabar. 

Baths in alchemy symbolize the Dissolution process in which the metals are cleansed and purified.

Birds Ascending birds indicate the volatilization of compounds or their sublimation. Descending birds indicate the fixation of compounds or their condensation and precipitation. Birds shown both ascending and descending indicate the process of Distillation.

Black Lion is the darkest part of a substance, its caput mortum or black salt that cannot be purified any more. Carbon.

Black Phase (or Melanosis) is the first stage in alchemy. It phase begins with the operation of Calcination and lasts through the Putrefaction stage of Fermentation.

Blue Vitriol (or Bluestone) is cupric sulfate.

Brimstone (from German “brennstein” or “burning stone”). Sulfur.

- C -

Caduceus is the magical staff of Hermes, the Messenger of the Gods and revealer of alchemy. The staff is entwined by two serpents repre-senting the solar and lunar forces. Their union is the Conjunction of alchemical principles and their offspring, if it lives, is the Stone. This Stone is represented as a golden ball with wings at the top of the caduceus.

Calcination is the first operation in alchemical transformation. It is denoted by the symbol for the first sign of the zodiac, Aries. Breaking down of a substance by fierce heating and burning usually in an open crucible.

Child A naked child symbolizes the innocent soul. In alchemy, the child is the offspring of the King and Queen, the result of their marriage or union. A child crowned or clothed in purple robes signifies Salt or the Philosopher's Stone.    

Cibation is the addition of new material to the contents of the crucible. During Dissolution, it requires adding liquid to the desiccated matter at precisely the right moment.

Cinnabar (Vermillion) is the bright red ore of mercury sulfide. Known as "Dragon's Blood," the roasted rocks emit a thick reddish smoke, as pure glistening mercury oozes from cracks. Psychologically, cinnabar represents the hardened habits and terrestrial marriages of soul and spirit that must be broken asunder in Calcination to free the essences with which the alchemist intends to work.

Circulation is the purification of a substance by a circular distillation in a pelican or closed distillation apparatus. Through heating the liquid component separates, is condensed and descends again to the substance in the flask. Sometimes it refers to a rotation, in which a liquid is circulated over a solid in a sealed vessel.

Coagulation is the thickening of a thin liquid into a more solid mixture through some inner change, as with the curdling of milk. This can be accomplished by a variety of means - by the addition of a substance, by heating or cooling. Coagulation is the seventh and last operation in alchemical transformation is Coagulation.

Coction is the cooking or heating of a substance at a moderate heat for an extended period.

Cohobation is a kind of Distillation in which the distillate is poured back into its residue; a method of redistillation. Cohobation involves the frequent removal of the moist component of a substance by heating. Often the moist component (or some other liquid) is added and the process continued.

Congelation is a loose or temporary Conjunction of opposites; a mixture in which a liquid is gelled or made semi-solid; intercourse. The process is represented by the sign for the constellation of Taurus. The conversion of a thin, easily flowing liquid into a congealed thick substance, often by heating.

Conjunction is the fourth operation in alchemical transformation. It is the coming together of the opposing archetypal forces of the Sun and Moon or the King and Queen. Conjunction is the joining of two opposite components, often seen as the union of the male and female, the subtle and gross, or even the elements. Copulation is a Conjunction, or joining of two opposite components, seen through the metaphor of the union of the male and female, or the union of the fixed and the volatile.

Copper is one of the seven metals of alchemy. Copper (and sometimes bronze and brass) is associated with the operation of Conjunction and the element Earth.

Crown symbolizes the successful completion of an alchemical operation or the achievement of a magisterium. It also signifies chemical royalty or the perfection of a metal.

Crows are the symbols of the black phases of Calcination and Putrefaction. 

Crucible is the melting vessel of the alchemists. It is made of inert material such as porcelain and can withstand great heat. Used to liquefy the metals.

Cucurbit is the lower part of a still, containing the original liquid. It is made of glass or earthenware and was also known as a "gourd" on account of its shape; a receiver. (see alembic; Distillation) 

- D -

Dew is symbolic of divine incarnation or manifestation from Above. Alchemists believed natural dew contained the divine Salt (thoughts of the One Mind) that could transform the Sulfur and Mercury of the First Matter. In many ways, dew represented the Elixir or contents of the cup of God, the Holy Grail.

Diana Appearances of the Greek goddess Diana in alchemical drawings and treatises signify the Moon and Lunar consciousness.

Digestion is a kind of Putrefaction in which the nutrients or essences are reabsorbed; the slow modification of a substance by means of a gentle heat.

Dissolution is the second operation in alchemical transformation. The process of dissolving a solid in a liquid; the reduction of a dry thing in water. Represented by the sign for the constellation of Cancer. The dissolving or transforming of a substance into a liquid.

Distillation is the sixth operation in alchemical transformation. Denoted by the symbol for the constellation Virgo. It is essentially a process of concentration, no matter on what level (physical, mental, or spiritual) it occurs. The separation of a volatile component from a substance by heating so as to drive off the component as a vapor that is condensed and collected in a cooler part of the apparatus. The entire setup consisting of the boiling flask, condensing tube, and receiving flask is called a Distillation Train.

Dogs signify primitive matter, natural sulfur, or material gold. Dogs represent a domesticated life force in the service of man. A dog fighting with a wolf symbolizes the process of purifying gold using antimony.

Dove is a symbol of renewed spirit or infusion of energy from Above. Chemically, it signifies the change from the Black Stage to the White Phase of transformation.

Dragons represent the spirits or life force of the metals.  A dragon in flames is a symbol a metal undergoing Calcination. Several dragons fighting is symbolic of metals undergoing Putrefaction. Dragons with wings represent the volatile (spiritual or pure) principle; dragons without wings represent the fixed (crude or material) principle. A dragon biting its own tale is the Uroboros and signifies the fundamental unity of all things. In formulae, the term “the Dragon” usually refers to the mercury-acid obtained from metals.

- E -

Eagle is always a symbol of volatilization. For instance, an eagle devouring a lion indicates the volatilization of a fixed component by a volatile component. Denotes sublimation or distillation.

Earth is one of the Four Elements of alchemy. Earth in the alchemical sense carries the archetypal properties of manifestation, birth, and material creation. It is associated with the operation of Conjunction and represented by the green ore of copper.

Egg is symbolic of the hermetically sealed vessel of creation. Stoppered retorts, coffins, and sepulchers represent eggs in many alchemical drawings.

Elixir of the alchemists is essentially a liquid version of the Philosopher's Stone and has the same ability to perfect any substance. When applied to the human body, the Elixir cures diseases and restores youth.

Exaltation is an operation by which a substance is raised into a purer and more perfect nature. Exaltation usually involves the release of a gas or air from a substance.

- F -

Fermentation is the fifth operation in alchemical transformation. It is represented by the sign for the constellation of Capricorn. After the rotting of a substance, usually of an organic nature, digesting bacteria appear often accompanied by the release of gas bubbles.

Filtration is a kind of Separation, in which material is passed through a sieve or screen designed to allow only pieces of a certain size to pass through. The operation is represented by the sign for the constellation of Sagittarius, the Archer. The process or removing the grosser parts of a substance by passing through a strainer, filter or cloth.

Fire is one of the Four Elements of alchemy. Fire in the alchemical sense carries the archetypal properties of activity and transformation. It is associated with the operation of Calcination and represented by the metal lead.

Fixation is the make a volatile subject fixed, stable, or solid, so that it remains permanently unaffected by fire. The process of stabilizing and incarnating a substance; depriving a substance of its volatility or mobility to congeal or combine it. The process is represented by the sign for the constellation of Gemini.

Flores is the oxide of a metal.

Fountain The alchemical Fountain of Fountains is a symbol of the Ouroboros. Three fountains represent the three principles of Sulfur, Mercury, and Salt. The King and Queen sitting in a fountain signifies a bath or the Water operations of Dissolution and Distillation.

- G -

Geber (or Jabir) is the Latin name of Jabir ibn Hayyan (721 - 815 A.D.). He is the father of both Islamic and European alchemy. He knew of the existence of the Emerald Tablet and spread the doctrines of the Four Elements and the Mercury-Sulfur theory of the generation of the metals. 

Gold is the most perfect of the metals. For the alchemist, it repre-sented the perfection of all matter on any level, including that of the mind, spirit, and soul. It is associated with the final operation of Coagulation.

Green Dragon is probably an acetate of lead which originates from a green oil, however in general, it refers to the underlying essence and source of all the metals. Philosophically, the Green Dragon is a “tamed” dragon sharing the crystallized energy that it had formerly so ferociously protected. Psychologically, it represents elements of the unconscious that have been assimilated into consciousness.

Green Lion is the green acetate of lead in its liquid or crystallized form. Philosophically, it is the same as the Green Dragon.

Griffin's Egg The griffin is a half-lion and half-eagle creature that symbolizes the Conjunction of the fixed and volatile principles. The Griffin Egg is an allusion to the Vessel of Hermes.

- H -

Head is the top of a retort flask used in distillation. Sometimes it also refers to the spout/condenser of the classical retort.

Hermaphrodite (or Rebis) represents Sulfur and Mercury after their Conjunction. Rebis (something double in characteristics) is another designation for this point in the alchemy of transformation.

Hermetically Sealed means sealed airtight so no outside influences might corrupt the contents.

- I -

Impregnation is the alchemical process is sometimes paralleled with the gestation of a child. Thus impregnation follows from the union or copulation of the male and female, and leads to the generation of a new substance.

Inhumation is to bury under the earth, sometimes used to mean any process that buries the active substance in a dark earthy material. Also applied to placing a flask in the warm heat of a dung bath.

Iron is one of the seven metals of alchemy. It is associated with the operation of Separation.

- J -

Jungian Alchemy Psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung rediscovered the images and principles of alchemy surfacing in the dreams and compulsions of his patients and began a lifelong study of the subject. He concluded that alchemical images explain the archetypal roots of the modern mind and underscores a process of transformation leading to the integration of the personality.

- K -

King in alchemy represents man, solar consciousness, or Sulfur. The King is naked in the early operations of alchemy and regains his royal robes at the end of his transformation. The King united with the Queen symbolizes Conjunction.

- L -

Lead is the first and oldest of the seven metals of alchemy. It is associated with the operation of Calcination.

Lion is any salt or fixed substance obtained from metals. It is red, green, or black according to its state of perfection.

Litharge (or letharge) is the left-over scum, spume, or ashes of a metallic operation; reddish-yellow crystalline form of lead monoxide, formed by fusing and powdering massicot.

- M -

Magnesia was a mystical term to the alchemists that denoted the primordial transforming substance in the universe. It was one of many symbols used to describe the central mystery of alchemy that was never to be spoken of in common wording.

Matrass is a round-bottomed flask with a very long neck. Also called a "bolt-head."

Menstruum is an alchemical term meaning a solvent or alkahest having both the power to dissolve and coagulate at the same time. Based on the belief that the ovum takes its life and form from the menses, the menstruum was also referred to the as the Mercury of the Philosophers.

Mercury (called Quicksilver by the ancients) is a liquid metal that could be found weeping through cracks in certain rocks or accumulating in small puddles in mountain grottos. It was also obtained by roasting cinnabar (mercury sulfide). The shiny metal would seep from the rocks and drip down into the ashes, from which it was later collected. The early alchemists made red mercuric oxide by heating quicksilver in a solution of nitric acid. The acid, which later alchemists called "aqua fortis," was made by pouring sulfuric acid over saltpeter. The reaction of quicksilver in nitric acid is impressive. A thick red vapor hovers over the surface and bright red crystals precipitate to the bottom. This striking chemical reaction demonstrated the simultaneous separation of mercury into the Above and the Below. Mercury's all-encompassing properties were exhibited in other compounds too. If mercury was heated in a long-necked flask, it oxidized into a highly poisonous white powder (white mercuric oxide) and therapeutic red crystals (red mercuric oxide). Calomel (mercury chloride) was a powerful medicine, unless it was directly exposed to light, in which case it became a deadly poison. When mixed with other metals, liquid mercury tended to unite with them and form hardened amalgams. These and other properties convinced alchemists that mercury transcended both the solid and liquid states, both earth and heaven, both life and death. It symbolized Hermes himself, the guide to the Above and Below.

Mortification is a process during which the substance undergoes a kind of death, usually through a Putrefaction, and seems to have been destroyed and its active power lost, but eventually is revived.

Multiplication is a process of Distillation and Coagulation in which the power of transmutation is concentrated; an increase in the amount of the Stone as obtained from its pristine form. It is represented by the sign for the constellation of Aquarius. Multiplication is the operation by which the powder of projection has its power multiplied.

- N -

Natron means salt, though this word usually refers to native sodium carbonate. To the early alchemists, however, the word Natron stood for the basic principle in all salt formation and the creation of bodies in general. The Egyptians accumulated the white salts formed from the evaporation of lakes and used them to preserve mummies. Known as soda ash (sodium carbonate), the oldest deposits are in the Sinai desert. Another naturally-occurring sodium compound mined by the Egyptians was cubic-saltpeter (sodium nitrate). The alchemists referred to both these salts as Natron (from the Arabic word for soda ash), because they suspected that both had a common signature or archetypal basis. Common salt is sodium chloride (NaCl).

- O -

Oil of Vitriol is sulfuric acid made by distilling Green Vitriol.

Orpiment (Auri-pigmentum). Orpriment is yellow ore of arsenic; arsenic trisulfide.

- P -

Pelican is a circulatory vessel with two side-arms feeding condensed vapors back into the body. It has a fancied resemblance in shape to a pelican pecking at its breast. Pelicanization is the circulation or rotation of a liquid over a solid performed in the pelican retort.

Philosopher's Stone is the ultimate Stone is the goal of the Great Work of the whole universe.  It was viewed as a magical touchstone that could immediately perfect any substance or situation. The Philosopher's Stone has been associated with the Salt of the World, the Astral Body, the Elixir, and even Jesus Christ. 

Precipitation is a process of Coagulation in which solid matter is created during a chemical reaction and falls out of solution. The descent of a substance out of a solution; the precipitate descends to the bottom of the flask.

Projection is the final stage of Coagulation in which the power of transformation is directed toward a body; the final process in making gold, in which the Stone or powder Stone (the powder of projection) is tossed upon the molten base metal to transmute it. It is represented by the sign for the constellation of Pisces. The throwing of a ferment or tincture onto a substance in order to effect a transformation of the substance.

Pulverization is the breaking down of a substance to smaller fragments through being repeatedly struck with a blunt instrument, such as a hammer, or mallet.

Purgation is purifying of a substance by casting out a gross part of it.

Purple Phase (or Iosis) of the Great Work is the third and final stage of transformation. It is marked by the purpling or reddening of the material and occurs during the Coagulation operation.

Putrefaction is the first stage of the Fermentation operation; a digestion in which decomposing essences are reabsorbed. The process was represented by the symbol for the constellation of Leo. The rotting of a substance, often under a prolonged gentle moist heat. Usually the matter becomes black.

- Q -

Queen symbolizes woman, lunar consciousness, and Mercury. The Queen is naked during the early stages but regains her royal robes at the end of her transformation. The Queen united with the King is the operation of Conjunction.

Quintessence (Quinta Essentia) is the fifth Element with which the alchemists could work. It was the essential presence of something or someone, the living thing itself that animated or gave something its deepest characteristics. The Quintessence partakes of both the Above and the Below, the mental as well as the material. It can be thought of as the ethereal embodiment of the life force that we encounter in dreams and altered states of consciousness. It is the purest individual essence of something that we must unveil and understand in order to transform it.

- R -

Receiver is the flask attached to the outlet of the condenser tube during distillation which contains the distillate or distilled product.

Rectification is the purification of the matter by means of repeated distillations, the distillate being again distilled.

Red Dragon is the pure red oil of lead; the untamed dragon or First Matter. It is also associated with the Red Dragon of Projection at the end of the Great Work.

Red Lion is the red acetate of lead in its crystalline form. It carries similar signatures as the Red Dragon.

Retort is a spherical container (usually glass) with a long neck or spout. It is used to distill or decompose solutions  by the action of heat or acids.

- S -

Salt is the third heavenly substance in alchemy and represents the final manifestation of the perfected Stone. The Emerald Tablet calls it "the Glory of the Whole Universe." For Paracelsus, Salt was like a balsam the body produced to shield itself from decay. It has also been associated with the Ouroboros, the Stone, and the Astral Body. In general, Salt represents the action of thought on matter, be it the One Mind acting on the One Thing of the universe or the alchemist meditating in his inner laboratory. Common salt is sodium chloride.

Separation is the third operation in the alchemy of transformation. Symbols of Separation include swords, scythes, arrows, knives, and hatchets. The operation is symbolized by the sign for the constellation of Scorpio. The making of two opposite components separate from each other; often alternated with the Conjunction process.

Serpents. Two serpents represent the opposing masculine and feminine energies of the Work. Three serpents stand for the three higher principles of Sulfur, Mercury, and Salt. Winged serpents represent volatile substances; wingless serpents represent fixed substances. A crucified serpent represents the fixation of the volatile.

Silver is one of the seven metals of alchemy. It is associated with the operation of Distillation.

Skeletons signify the processes of Calcination and Putrefaction, on all the levels in which they occur.

Soul in alchemy is the passive presence in all of us that survives through all eternity and is therefore part of the original substance (First Matter) of the universe. Ultimately, it is the One Thing of the universe. Soul was considered beyond the four material elements and thus conceptualized as a fifth element (or Quintessence).

Spirit in alchemy is the active presence in all of us that strives toward perfection. Spirit seeks material manifestation for expression. Ultimately, it is the One Mind of the universe.

Square or cube is symbolic of matter and the Four Elements of creation.

Stone is the end result or product of a working. See Philosopher’s Stone.

Sublimation is the first stage of Coagulation or last stage of Distillation, in which the vapors solidify; represented by the sign for the constellation of Libra. The vaporization of a solid without fusion or melting, followed by the condensation of its vapor in the resolidified form on a cool surface. The elevation of a dry thing by fire, with adherency to its vessel. This occurs when a solid is heated and gives off a vapor that condenses on the cool upper parts of the vessel as a solid, not going through a liquid phase. An example is sal ammoniac.

Sulfur (Sulphur) is one of the three heavenly substances. It represents passion and will and is associated with the operation of Fermentation. Flowers of Sulfur are light yellow crystalline powder, made by distilling sulfur.

- T -

Three Levels. The key to understanding alchemy is to realize that alchemical thought is extremely dynamic and takes places on three levels at once: the physical, the psychological, and the spiritual. Thus turning lead into gold meant not only physically changing the base metal into the noble metal, but also transforming base habits and emotions into golden thoughts and feelings, as well as transmuting our dark and ignoble souls into the golden light of spirit. By developing this ability to think and work on all three levels of reality at once (becoming "thrice-greatest"), the alchemists created a spiritual technology that applied not only to their laboratories but also to their own personalities and to their relationships with other people -- and with God.

Tin is one of the seven metals of the alchemists. It is associated with the operation of Dissolution and the element Water. Pewter (a mixture of lead and tin) represents a metallic state between the operations of Calcination and Dissolution.

Transudation occurs if the essence appears to sweat out in drops during a descending distillation.

Trees symbolize the processes of transformation. A tree of moons signifies the Lesser or Lunar Work; a tree of suns signifies the Greater or Solar Work.

Triangle represents the three heavenly principles or substances of Sulfur, Mercury, and Salt.

Trituration is the reduction of a substance to a powder, not necessarily by the use of grinding, but by the application of heat. To grind a solid into a powder; to pulverize with a mortar and pestle. Crush. A process just after Calcination, when the ashes are ground into a fine powder for Dissolution.

- U -

Uroboros (or Ouroboros) is the symbolic rendition of the eternal principles presented in the Emerald Tablet. The great serpent devouring itself represents the idea that "All Is One," even though the universe undergoes periodic cycles of destruction and creation (or resurrection). In Orphic and Mithraic symbology, the Ouroboros was called the Agathos Daimon or "Good Spirit" and was a symbol for the "Operation of the Sun."  In Greek terminology, the Ouroboros was the Aion, which Herakleitos likened to a child at play. To the Greeks, the Aion (from which our word "eon" is derived) defined the cosmic period between the creation and destruction of the universe.    

- V -

Vitriol was the most important liquid in alchemy. It was the one in which all other reactions took place. Vitriol was distilled from an oily, green substance that formed naturally from the weathering of sulfur-bearing gravel. This Green Vitriol is symbolized by the Green Lion in drawings. After the Green Vitriol (ferrous sulfate) was collected, it was heated and broken down into iron compounds and sulfuric acid. The acid was separated out by distillation. The first distillation produced a brown liquid that stunk like rotten eggs, but further distillation yielded a nearly odorless, yellow oil called simply Vitriol. The acid readily dissolves human tissue and is severely corrosive to most metals, although it has no effect on gold. White Vitriol is zinc sulfate; Blue Vitriol is copper sulfate.

- W -

Water is one of the Four Elements of alchemy. Water in the alchemical sense carries the archetypal properties of cleansing and purification. It is associated with the operation of Dissolution and represented by the metal tin.

White Phase (or Leukosis) is the second stage of the Great Work and takes place during Distillation.

Wine is symbolic of the process of Fermentation and the spiritization of matter.

Winged Lion is the sublimated salt used to make the Philosopher’s Stone. It is the volatile or spiritual aspect of an ingredient.

Wolf symbolizes the animal nature or wild spirit of man and nature, and it was often associated with the metal antimony.

- Y -

Yellow Phase (or Xanthosis) is an intermediate stage that takes place between the Black and White phases of the Great Work. The term was used by Chinese and Alexandrian alchemists to describe changes that took place during the Fermentation operation.

- Z -

Zodiac. According to the Doctrine of Correspondences in the Emerald Tablet ("As Above, so Below"), the stars must find expression on earth and in mankind. In alchemy, it was essential to consult the zodiac before commencing any of the major operations.