Carl Jung Four Stages of Alchemy

I read up on the Mysterium for in regards to a Jungian Mystery School. If you’ve been following my blog you know I’m real keen on Carl Jungs Archetypes and alchemy (not in any particular order).

So I was captivated by Jung on the “Four Stages of Transformation.” In this blog I was able to match the stages of the Mysterium Coniunctionis with Jung’s four depth psychology stages and alchemy’s four transubstantiation stages (aka the Magnum Opus).

Jung’s original sources inspired this adaption. This post quickly explains these stages, how they relate to the four stages of transformation, and how they relate to one other.

“I would venture to regard the sum total of our findings under the aspect of four stages, namely confession, elucidation, education and transformation.” 
-Carl Jung

What is Alchemical Transmutation for Carl Jung

Alchemical transmutation, as described by Carl Jung, is a symbolic process employed in psychoanalysis to aid patients in making sense of and making peace with their unconscious experiences. This method was developed on the basis of alchemical beliefs, which view the transmutation of common metals into gold as symbolic of the process of self-improvement. To summarize Jung’s alchemical transformation:

alchemy stages of transformation


This is the “blackening,” the first step in the alchemical process. It’s a metaphor for the initial condition of dissolution and chaos that arises when one starts to address their unconscious stuff. Throughout this phase, you could feel lost and confused.


Second in the alchemical process, albedo is also known as the “whitening” phase. After the initial confusion of the Nigredo, clarity and purity have emerged in this form. In this phase, you may gain insight and perspective that you lacked before.


Third stage of the alchemical process; also called “yellowing” or “citrinitas.” It heralds the arrival of a higher state of awareness that is replete with originality, intuition, and insight. A sense of insight and comprehension into oneself and the world around them may dawn during this time.


The alchemy process ends in rubedo, also called the “reddening.” This point is the zenith of the process, which is defined by the fusion of one’s conscious and unconscious selves. At this point, one may feel like their life finally has significance and they have found their place in the world.

These steps are not strictly sequential and may occur in any sequence or combination. Furthermore, each person’s alchemical transformation will be different because it is a highly personal and distinctive experience.

Step 1: Confession

Skeleton doing a confession

Confession or catharsis, the first step of carl jung four stages of alchemy. It plays a significant role in Carl Jung’s psychoanalytic process. According to Jung, one’s ability to grow and change is important to integrate their unconscious material (like integrating the shadow). It calls for alot:

  • processing of traumatic memories,
  • Realizing suppressed feelings
  • viewing inside the realm of the collective unconscious and confronting anythying that may be stifling development.

Verbalizing or otherwise articulating these unconscious contents is the process of confession. This catharsis can help bring them into conscious awareness. Therapy sessions, journals, and dream interpretation are all useful tools for this. By doing so, the transformative process can begin. Likewise the individual is then freed from the negative energy bound up in these unconscious elements.

What was the Alchemical connection to confession?

Jung saw parallels between this and the alchemical Nigredo process, often known as the “blackening.” When it comes to alchemical processes, the first step, known as nigredo, is all about disorder and disintegration. The emotional and mental turmoil experienced here is comparable to that which may occur during the confession/catharsis phase of psychoanalysis. The individual can find their way out of the confusion and into a higher level of awareness by facing and integrating these hidden elements of the unconscious.

People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”

The confession/catharsis phase is an essential part of Jung’s psychoanalytic method for achieving alchemical transformation. One’s sense of wholeness and purpose in life might be enhanced by facing and processing previously unacknowledged unconscious information. Although it is a highly private and personalized process, it has the potential to bring about significant development and change in one’s life.

Step 2: Elucidation

Alchemists Library

In this step, you’ll be asked to think about the issue from new angles by using techniques like brainstorming, free association, and symbolization. At this point, the neurosis is analyzed in detail. Seeing how deeply we are connected to our unconscious processes leads to a dramatic shift in perspective that ultimately subjugates our rational mind.

What is the process of Elucidation?

Elucidation is the process of giving thought to the relevance and meaning of the unconscious contents that were brought to light in the preceding step. In this case, psychoanalytic techniques like free association, active imagination, and dream analysis may be used to delve even deeper into the unconscious and uncover more meaning.

What connection did Elucidation have to Alchemy?

Elucidation, in Jung’s view, mirrored the alchemical procedure of Albedo, often known as the “whitening.” After the initial turbulence of the Nigredo phase, clarity and purity develop in this stage. Elucidation, in a similar vein, aids in making sense of one’s internal reality by illuminating previously obscured patterns and themes.

Symbols and archetypes, which are timeless images with important meanings, may also be used in the process of explication. These symbols have the power to aid in the deciphering and interpretation of one’s unconscious material and to facilitate communication with one’s innermost, spiritual self.

Generally speaking, the explication phase of alchemical transformation is an important aspect of the psychoanalytic procedure. Clarity and direction in life can be attained by focusing on unraveling and integrating one’s unconscious content. A deeper and more fulfilling life may result from doing so.

Step 3: Education

Education is the third step in Carl Jung’s alchemical transformation, and this step corresponds to the citrinitas stage in the alchemical process. The term “citrinitas” refers to the “yellowing” or “enlightenment” stage in an individual’s development, which occurs when they achieve greater clarity and insight as a result of their educational pursuits. It is during this stage that the individual starts to see the world in a new light and comprehend the deeper meaning and purpose of their transformation. They also begin to understand the deeper significance of their development.

Why is Education important in Alchemical Transmutation?

During the process of education, the individual engages in introspection and self-reflection. They begin investigating their own psyche and learning about the archetypes and symbols that have been revealed over the previous stages of the alchemical process. Education is a process that leads to a greater understanding of both oneself and the world around one, as well as the opening of new doors to opportunities for one’s own growth and development.

Jung argued that this stage was an essential part of the alchemical process since it is only through education and learning that an individual is able to properly integrate the insights gained in the phases that came before it. The individual can begin to apply these insights to their daily life. It helps them work toward a greater sense of wholeness and purpose.

People should try to get a grasp on the symbols and archetypes that have revealed themselves. By deeply searching people can learn more about their own minds.

Step 4: Transformation

Carl Jung’s alchemical transmutation has four stages; the final one is termed Transformation. In terms of the alchemical process, I would compare it most closely to Rubedo.

The reddening phase, also called the integrating phase, is referred to as the “rubedo” phase. At this juncture, the individual undergoes a radical shift, entering a realm of unadulterated spiritual awareness.

In this ultimate phase of alchemy, a person undergoes a complete metamorphosis, resulting in the establishment of a brand-new self-understanding and set of goals. It also includes incorporating the knowledge acquired over the preceding steps. They prefer to pile things up high.

The sense of completeness and unity that permeates this level is striking. In this state, one realizes who they truly are and starts to act in accordance with their most cherished beliefs. At this point, a person has realized who they really are. Now they can start acting in accordance with their core beliefs and innermost desires.

To Jung, this was the climax of the alchemical process. Simply because it represented the realization of one’s own unique potential through the realization of one’s own self-awareness. During this time, he said, everything were “pretty much perfect.” This is because the person is able to transcend their own ego. Not only is this change a personal triumph, but it also has broader significance because it aids in the transformation and healing of the world at large.

Reaching conclusions

Here, the alchemical saying attributed to Maria Prophetissa, a 3rd-century alchemist believed to be the sister of Moses, holds relevance in the context of these steps.

Maria the Jewess the first Alchemist

I hoped I helped clear up some of the concepts here. I know that it’s rather broad and structured. So it doesn’t seem like you can fit it into one blog post.

On the topic of the application of Carl Jung’s four stages of alchemy for personal growth and integration, it is hard to determine what the outcome could be. The conclusions are probably all different (according to each person) if you apply this in your own spiritual journey.

Naturally, these stages involve confronting and integrating the unconscious, gaining clarity and insight, accessing creativity and intuition, and finally achieving a state of wholeness and purpose. The structure of alchemy and Jungian psychology is an archetypal, universal framework that is implicit in the process of transformation. The final stage of the process, the Mysterium Coniunctionis, involves union with the world and will be explored in this year’s Jungian Mystery School. The process of transformation is attainable and applicable to both modest and lifelong processes of individuation.

David Ex Machina

David Ex Machina


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