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Opus 1 The Nigredo All Hell Breaks Loose: Facing Evil and Going Forward Deeds of Goodness ©

Updated: Apr 3, 2022

This is the blog I wrote at the beginning of 2017. I had to dive into my practice to bring all the sacred texts and teachings to consciousness so I could grapple with this Dragon who took office. Now three years later we are in the impeachment proceedings. The alchemical Work still holds true for me, so sharing again..my longest blog post. ©worldrights KwestStudios -no sharing without written permission from author

The Nigredo or the Blackening is an Alchemical state, one of the first operations in the opus or Great Work. In alchemy, the Nigredo, or blackness, means putrefaction or decomposition. Many alchemists believed that as a first step in the pathway to the philosopher's stone all alchemical ingredients had to be cleansed and cooked to black matter. 



The Body or Prima Materia; the First Material-the Thing to be Worked,  to be decomposed, that is, to shift one's awareness to the inner self. The planets are both stages of the process and energies in the body to be transmuted. In the above image the Saturn star is black as Saturn reigns over Nigredo. The black crow is another symbol for Nigredo; the two birds coming out of the body are the soul and the spirit. We identify the matter, and separate the parts. Adam MacLean states, "In alchemy, to meet with the black crow is a good omen. Thus in the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz, as our hero sets out on his journey of transformation, he meets with a Crow which by a turn of fate decides which among the various paths open to him is the one that will lead him to the Castle of the King."

Opus One Nigredo: "Putrefaction is so effective that it destroys the old nature and form of the rotting bodies; it transmutes them into a new state of being to give them a totally new fruit. In a mythological perspective the Nigredo process signifies the obstacles we have to face and overcome on our outer and inner journey through the underworld or black forest (Parcival) . Nigredo is sometimes called ‘blacker than the blackest black’. This is the universal journey of the "Dark Night of the Soul." It's interesting to note that the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) mountain range borders Germany, France & Switzerland is also the noted esoteric site of the Grail Castle where Parcival is said to have wandered in darkness and doubt nine long forbidding years.

In alchemy, one of the symbols of Nigredo is the ‘decapitation’, and also the ‘raven’s head’ (caput corvi) this is a shamanic symbol of the death and regeneration of a dismemberment trial or initiation process. This first step cannot be bypassed, denied or avoided. No Free Passes or Get Out of Jail Free cards.



Our Prima Materia or First Matter has to go through processes of purifying transformations in order to evolve into more phases or metamorphosis.     We could say, that America has descended into a Nigredo State of consciousness. World events have polarized us into two camps; for or against Trump as president of US. People who understood the unreliability of his emotional state did not vote for him. Others, denying or obscuring his obvious emotional unreliability voted him in, perhaps with the help of Putin. Trumps first week in office shows him to disregard, laws or regulations that keep a President in check with the people he governs. But he, himself is ungovernable, a loose canon, cutting a swath through our (so far) collective reality.

But now, a week after the president has been sworn in, he is wreaking such havoc, that even his Republican attendees are mopping up after him, and/or making the bid to stay with him by agreeing to his "Alternative Facts." Apparently, being a reality show star has led him to believe he can get away with criminal & audacious behavior because he owned the show (now as president he thinks he owns the usa) and as a John Hopkins doctor diagnosed him as a "malignant narcissist" Trump wants any kind of attention; positive or negative. He thinks he can get away with murder, he told us so in the campaigns, "I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters."

"And the Crowd Goes Wild!" One week on the internet, newspapers, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram the accusations or triumphs are vitriolic and Wild, Vindictive, Terrified, Delusional, Reactive, Denied, Absolute, Definitive, Scared, Arrogant, Superlative, Smug, Audacious, Angry, Victimized, Incredulous, the list goes on.

This is the first stage of Nigrego. "It's Not My Fault, It's Them" consciousness. But the Nigredo process is the correct or lawful time to react, to get it all out, messy, complicated, non-logical, emotive, tirades, harangues, emotional outbursts, rages, rants, terror, fear, shaking, quaking, swearing, criticizing; We are telling the story. Another polarity is coldly withdrawing from the fray. Instead of outbursts we can withdraw inwardly, indifference, not my reality, fear, pushing our feelings into the dead-zone, intellectualizing and dis-connecting from what is around us, staying in my "happy place." 

Now we all know people who live in the first stage, sometimes their whole lives and they cannot transform what happened to them or what is happening than a constant reaction to; pain, despair, powerlessness, anger,  disappointment, fright, and re-telling the story over and over again. But while, the Nigredo cannot be denied, or skipped over, (and folks that try are just stuck because their denial of this practical messy phase is the necessary beginning to transforming the inner heart/soul blackness to "lifting" it up to consciousness), it has to be born, undergone, journeyed into, sifted, seen and described. We must testify to our thoughts and feelings. This has the feeling of Seeing the Great Abyss at our feet, deep despair can assail us at this point, we know we face the Great Darkness, the divine Binah, the Nothingness of the Ground of the World. And it springs from the deepest sense of powerlessness, we feel we cannot do anything about the machinery of Greed, Power, Evil-or Illness we see in polictics, government, corporate greed, our collective descent into materialism.

America, and most of the world has begun the Nigredo phase, feeling it, emoting it, talking about it, intellectualizing it, screaming it, resisting it, marching against it or for it, it's messy and it's creative with all kinds of possibilities. This is a necessary step because when we are alarmed, there is a chance that we may wake-up! And once we have woken up, it's harder to go back to sleep of indifference. And during our (BeWare or Be-Awareness) awakened state we are out of our comfort zone of our cherished reality...and that's the time change can approach us. Christ cleansing the temple is a picture of this stage, it is filled with unrest, our comfort zone is dismantled and we are filled with anxiety.

So America, I just want to say to the doom & gloom soothsayers, you are right on target for transformation. Nigredo; powerlessness & being a spectator to events of the world around us. We cannot stay in this state, once this stage is completed in order to heal or transform we must take up the next task.

How can we face these daily deeds of darkness? How can we cope with the immensity of the problem? How can we help, or support those suffering? How do we not just go into overwhelm and give up, or spiritually bypass and say, "Oh it will be allright, the universe is love" or simply ignore it and become cold inwardly and indifferent?

This Great Work is soul/spirit work which leads to soul transformation. Alchemy is an esoteric Christian and/or Manichean Buddhist initiation process. In Alchemy there is typically seven steps; 1) Blackening - Black Crow, Raven, Toad, Massa Confusa. 2) Rapid cycling through iridescent colours - Peacock's Tail. 3) Whitening - White Swan, White Eagle, skeleton. 4) Greening - Green Lion. 5)  White Stone - Unicorn. 6) Reddening - Pelican feeding young with its own blood, cockerel. 7) Final transmutation - Phoenix reborn from the fire. But we will be using 5 of these steps for our practice of transformation.

1) Nigredo; The Spectator=Powerlessness

2) The Peacocks Tail;  Entering into Inner Silence Holding Back Personality Bearing the Suffering

3) The Whitening: Listening Accomplishing Being Touched Seeing

4) Rubedo; Witnessing the World Speaks Through Me

5) Gold; Being in Consciousness Participating .................................

Opus Two The Peacocks Tail; the personality,  our little "ego" is like a flared out glimmering peacocks tail. As my friend, Dennis Klocek says,  "Its the Look at Me! dance." The saying, "Proud as a Peacock," states the symbol of the peacock personality. We want to be seen and heard! All our outbursts, disinclinations, denial tactics, diatribes, opinions, talking, arguing, I am right-you are wrong speeches, even our thinking these thoughts have to be obliterated,

Jacob Boehme a shoemaker and Christian mystic revealed;

"What hinders men from seeing and hearing God, is their own hearing, seeing and willing; by their own wills they separate themselves from the will of God. They see and hear within their own desires, which obstructs them from seeing and hearing God. Terrestrial and material things overshadow them, and they cannot see beyond their own human nature. If they would be still, desist from thinking and feeling with their own self-hood, subdue the self-will, enter into a state of resignation, into a divine union with Christ, who sees God, and hears God, and speaks with him, who knows the word and will of God; then would the eternal hearing seeing and speaking become revealed to them. " Jacob Boehme (1575-1624 C.E.)

In these beautifully descriptive words, Jacob has givens us the steps to the mystery. Step 2 in our alchemical practice is to hold back our outer and inner opinions. This can feel like sticking your finger in a overflowing damn and it can feel like you might explode. But this is the key to the next step. We enter within ourselves and we are simply listening inwardly.

In Rudolf Steiner's foundational book, "How to Know Higher Worlds," he gives the practice of Equilbrium to overcome our personality that always has an opinion. "Simply listening to what others say with reverence and devotion, rather than immediately opposing it with our own opinion, need not lead to our becoming slavishly dependent on upon them. Those who have achieved something on the path to knowledge know that they owe everything to patient listening and assimilation, not to their own obstinate personal opinions. We must always remember that where we have already formed a conclusion we cannot learn anything. If we desire only to judge, therefore, we can learn nothing."

 Step 2 is overcoming our lower self and resigning to inner quiet and stillness.   David Appelbaum writes in relation to Meister Eckharts new way of Seeing, "The path is therefore one of “negating negation,” unbinding the attachments that constitute one’s preferences, desires, or inclinations. A person refuses the “me and mine” and lets go. The discovery of “not this, not that,” that I am not who I take myself to be, follows the seeing. Repeating the recognition over a lifetime defines a path."  We overcome our sympathies and antipathies and become inwardly silent.  This stillness enters our innermost heart, this prepares us to Listen. There is a possibility that the soul at this time, may mistake this painful interlude as a completion of the inner work.



The sudden appearance of fleeting rainbow colors in alchemy meant that one was on the right path, and reabsorbed the energies released in initial emergence of the polarities. It was a midway point of the process, which could be seen as a false conclusion. Many people who have this experience in their inner life often falsely assume they have reached the end of the work, and attained inner transformation and enlightenment. The inner vision of the Peacocks Tail, beautiful though it may be, is merely a digestion of the polarities of the black and white stage. These must be transformed further into spiritual tinctures, if we hope to have any permanent transformation within the soul. (see Adam MacLean,  "Animal Symbolism in the Alchemical Tradition") Because this "stillness" is active in that we open to the world events and allow them to enter into ourselves. We allow the world karma, you could say, to penetrate our heart-soul space. This creates a chamber of the heart or a grail space, a resonating chamber of inwardly hearing and perceiving. We have held back our thinking, feeling and willing, but we are not separate from the pain and suffering of the world. We allow that to penetrate deeply as well. We become the world.  

Opus 3 The Whitening; White Swan, White Eagle, Skeleton.

I was not afraid to die, but to die without having been enlightened Comte de Saint-Germain, La Tres Sainte Trinisophie



In stage 3 Inwardly we have become an open listening vessel, we are waiting to receive. We have surrendered our outer/inner noise and in patience we are still and awaiting. We are listening, we are Receptive. We have become the world by allowing the evil or world events/karma to enter us without blaming or judgement. We have not separated ourselves off from the world, we have actually welcomed the world into us, by holding back our little ego, we hold the being of evil, or world events inside of us. Evil is no longer- Out There it is within us. By holding the tension of opposites suspended and creating a vessel, at some point, we understand that the being of evil or World Karma perceives us with the invitation, "Look at me. Redeem me."

Rudolf Steiner's Foundation Stone meditation second panel is speaking to this uniting with the ground of the world.

Practice Spirit Pondering In Balance of Soul Where the On-Surging World Evolving Deeds Thine own I Unite with the World I And You Will Truly Feel In Human-Soul-Creating.

Adam MacLean describes this phase of the inner transformation of soul as, "The whitening is a phase when we sense or have a prevision of the end of the work. It is a polar swing from out of the blackening - the appearance of seeds of the future development of the work. It is that stage of catharsis after some intense experience of being consumed in the crucible, when we glimpse the appearance, however fragmentary, of a new possibility - a flickering light in our souls which draws us towards its promise of change. We all experience these alchemical phases in our inner life, though nowadays, immersed as we are in twentieth century images which often lack a spiritual core, we often fail to recognize these to be of any value, but if we are able to use the alchemical view of inner transformation, which we might need to mold and shape to suit our present consciousness, we can gain much inner perception and growth. For our blackness becomes a pregnant space, and a mere fleeting show of the whiteness, is a significant step towards out goal of integration of the spiritual and the material in our beings."

Thus in alchemy these two phases so fundamentally linked, were sometimes seen as the chaining of a toad and an eagle. The eagle of the spirit is held down by the earthly weight of the toad, while the earthly part of our being (the toad symbol) is lifted up towards the spirit. These pictures, images or imaginations are filled with wisdom and health. They are images with meaning, and contain keys to transformative powers.



The image of the earthly dragon bearing wings was sometimes used to express this same idea.


If we can sense within our souls the need to link the spirit and the material, the spiritualizing of the material and the materializing of the spirit, then we truly have made progress through the blackening to the stage of the whitening. My anthroposophical father used to say to me, "If you are silent, Nature speaks." This was a profound riddle that entered into my being, I contemplated it all my life. What did he mean?  But this is the key to be able to silence ourselves for Something Else to Speak. The thing itself reveals itself to us. The whitening is associated with Lucifer, the morning star, the comforter.

In the famous book/movie "The Picture of Dorian Gray", the painting changes with every good and evil deed Dorian Gray does. Since his proclivities are sensual and violent, the picture-image-imagination shifts to an evil countenance. This is the perfect metaphor of our double or shadow nature. But in this alchemical contemplation meditation we are not working with -just our personal shadow but our collective shadow.


artist: Ivan Albright

In Buddhism, Mara is the demon who assaulted Guatama Buddha beneath the bodhi tree, using violence, sensory pleasure and mockery in an attempt to prevent the Buddha from attaining enlightenment. In Buddhist cosmology, Mara personifies unskillfulness, the "death" of the spiritual life. He is a tempter, distracting humans from practicing the Buddhist dharma through making the mundane seem alluring, or the negative seem positive. Buddhism utilizes the concept of Mara to represent and personify negative qualities found in the human ego and psyche. The stories associated with Mara remind Buddhists that such demonic forces can be tamed by controlling one's mind, cravings and attachments.

In the dream studies program our group was in an all day dialogue at the Lucid Dream institute with Alan Wallace (http://www.sbinstitute.com/) in San Francisco. And this question of evil and Buddha had been living in me a long time.   I asked him, "Alan, did Buddha overcome His own (personal) demons or the Worlds? (Mara)" Alan replied with a big smile, "Yes!" and "Both!"


artist: unknown

Opus 4 The Rubedo; Witnessing the Being of the World Speaks through me.

The jewel has been lost in matter and everybody is looking for it. Some look for it in the east and some in the west, some in water and some among stones. But the servant Kabir has found its value and has it wrapped with care in the seam of the mantle of his heart.

R. Tagore, Kabir

Rubedo, meaning ‘reddening’, is the nearing the final stage and is  concerned with unity, with the result of this unity being the Philosopher’s Stone. The figure of Mercury herein undergoes a symbolic change, no longer being seen as the cause of the process of synthesis of opposites, but now as the goal itself, leading us back to the state of integrated wholeness and unity, the macro and micro-cosmos. Mercury the winged Messenger, can be viewed as a Christ figure. Paul said, "Not I, but Christ Within me." We surrendered our personal egos, so that the Soul of the World Anima Mundi can speak through us. This