The basic stages of the process are the nigredo (the black state associated with depression), the albedo (the white stage often associated with enlightenment), the rubedo (when blood and passion enter the work), the solutio (when psychological contents are dissolved “put in solution”), and the separatio (when contents are separated “taken apart and examined”). Other stages exist in the process, but these are some of the most common.
“In the state of ‘whiteness’ one does not live in the true sense of the word. It is a sort of abstract, ideal state. In order to make it come alive it must have ‘blood’, it must have what the alchemists called the rubedo, the ‘redness’ of life. Only the experience of being can transform this ideal state into a fully human mode of existence. Blood alone can reanimate a glorious state of consciousness in which the last traces of blackness is dissolved, in which the devil no longer has an autonomous existence, but rejoins the profound unity of the psyche. Then the opus magnum is finished: the human soul is completely integrated.”
First there is the nigredo, the blackness, the ‘dark night of the soul’. Then the light enters the process bringing consciousness and enlightenment. The moonlight and the particles of light herald the coming of the light from the sun, consciousness. This light stage of the work is called the albedo. The redness follows; this redness is called the rubedo. In this redness there is a warmth and an emotional relationship to the contents of the unconscious has entered the process. Redness is Eros, passion, and pneuma (spirit).
My work SPLENDOR SOLIS came from a dream. A red man came out of a bog of rotted corpses and was greeted by a red queen. It differs from the alchemical text, the Splendor Solis, where the queen is white. In the alchemical text the red man represents the Moor who will impregnate the Queen and bring about a new king in the form of a prince. The prince represents new form of consciousness.