Each person experiences the steps of transformation in alchemy differently and in various step sequences throughout life. Here is the traditional order:
Black - a distillation of ourselves past the everyday world and mind talk. White - insights and information gained from the experience as we return. Red - living our lives changed from the knowledge of our experience.
If we think of each step as a symbol, with the accompanying color present, we can more easily consider applying the steps to life. Besides each description given, here are other ways to consider the steps of alchemy symbolically, open to your own interpretations as well, since each person's application and experience of the steps are unique.
Following the step references below are instructions for applying alchemy to life.
We are generally letting go of something here, if only temporarily, giving ourselves space in which to work. This can be done at various levels and in varying degrees. If you consider going deep into the earth, as much as you are able to and allow yourself, this becomes a rich metaphor here, suggesting introspection, as well as silence, protection, and time to yourself. We are getting down to the essence of who we are, not trying to do anything else other than just be with and for ourselves.
Key References - letting go, giving ourselves space, going deep, introspection, silence, protection, time to ourselves, realizing our essence, just being with and for ourselves
We are returning with knowledge from the previous step traditionally or coming into knowledge here. We are becoming more stable, giving ourselves time to assimilate and process the information we have. We are working with ourselves in perhaps new ways. We are grounded and balanced, stable or stabilizing ourselves with this new information. It may not necessarily be life-changing, but we are taking in something new and making it our own.
Key References - coming into knowledge, assimilating and processing information, working with ourselves in new ways, grounded and balanced, stabilizing ourselves with new information, taking in something new and making it our own
We have changed here and are living our lives accordingly in honor of being who we are. We may be experiencing more love, more freedom, more joy in life. Others may be recognizing us for the first time and want to genuinely be a part of who we are, others deciding not to be with us anymore. We are more authentic, more empowered, changed for the better in terms of what used to hold us back. We are more comfortably ourselves and are present to the possibilities of who we might be and become in a positive way.
Key References - changed, living life in honor of who we are, experiencing more love, more freedom, more joy, others genuinely want to be a part of our path, others may decide to leave us, more authentic, more empowered, no longer held back by what used to limit us, comfortably ourselves, present to the positive possibilities of who we might be and become
To begin applying the steps of alchemy to life, you identify yourself as being on one of the steps first or feel out which one seems the best to try next in your life. Reading the interpretations above will help you with this. After deciding which step you are on, you determine which one you would like to try next, knowing the order does not matter. Or, after you have determined which step feels the best next to try, you implement this step in your life, regardless of being able to determine which one you are currently on.
For example, say you are experiencing difficult feelings that seem to be interfering with your daily life. You have tried to think about and work through these feelings, but this process does not seem to be helping very much. You are not sure which of the steps you are currently on, but in reading over the steps and their interpretations again, you decide the first one coded in black matches up best with what you would like to try. You feel like being able to take time out for yourself and perhaps go deeply into this will begin to help out, or, this will feel good to allow yourself to go there at least, to experience what this may be like.
Another example: You have come back from a meditation retreat, and you have gained a new sense of yourself and know how you would begin to implement the instruction you received into your daily life. This would mean saying no to certain people and setting boundaries assertively with others in your life, but you do not know if you can do all of this and perhaps think this is best left for now. After struggling with this for a time and not finding a solution to where you are with it, you read over the steps of alchemy to determine your placement in the steps. You determine you are on the step coded white, listed second, and realize the best next step to implement would be the one traditionally following it, coded red. You want to honor who you are now and how what you have learned means so much to you, more than closing off this new knowledge and not living from its wisdom.