You are entering a period of intense bodily, mental, and spiritual transformation.
You have begun a process of profound change in which you have pierced through the illusions of everyday life and seek something greater and more truthful to live by. However, to transform anything permanently, it must first be reduced to its most fundamental ingredients. All the dross, falsity, and extraneous material must be removed. It is the job of this fundamental operation in alchemy to see that this purification is done correctly and completely. The Emerald Tablet tells us “Its father is the Sun,” and the alchemists called this initial Fire operation “Calcination” and represented it by the symbol for a crucible. Calcination means literally “reduced to bone” by burning in an open flame. In the laboratory, it is the heating of a substance in the fire until all that is left is a pile of white ashes. On the personal level, those white ashes represent the purified essences of your personality ¾ the real you stripped of all pretenses.
If you do not begin Calcination with the right attitude, it can be a negative and even frightening experience. Signs that your attitude during Calcination is wrong are usually expressed as constant frustration and anger. You feel as if everything is going wrong in your life no matter what you do. Everything you attempt seems to backfire on you. These are the fires of Calcination attacking your ego, assumptions, and habitual thoughts. As strange as it seems, your quality of consciousness or inner attitude has a lot to do with how life treats you, with what kind of “justice” comes your way on a daily basis. The only proper approach to Calcination is one of humility and sacrifice. Like it or not, you are moving to a higher level of consciousness, and the stronger you cling to the previous level, the hotter the fires of Calcination become.
Psychologically, Calcination is the destruction of the leaden center of consciousness, which is the ego and all the illusions and self-deceptions it maintains to protect or enshrine itself. Personal Calcination means getting free of the stranglehold of earthbound ego and replacing it with the true Self, which is rooted on a higher plane of reality. For most of us, Calcination is a natural humbling process as we are gradually assaulted and overcome by the trials and tribulations of life. People caught up in Calcination often feel as if they are trapped in the fires of Hell, burning up and suffering through their life yet unable to escape. Surprisingly, it is not until these fires are burning that your transformation begins, for the only way out of Hell is rise up with the flames.
During this primary phase of transformation, you have to turn up the fire of consciousness and concentrate on your thoughts, habits, assumptions, and judgments. You have to be utterly truthful about all situations, all relationships. In this way, you learn to recognize falsity and burn away the leaden or crystallized thoughts that often take on a mind of their own and become unintended responses or robotic reactions to people and events. During Calcination, you use the flames of consciousness to burn through illusion, self-deception, defense mechanisms, bigotry, and all the other dogmas and dramas of the Tyrant Ego that has usurped the throne of the transpersonal Self, who is the rightful ruler of the personality. As in the Grail legend, the kingdom of your personality will wither and decay until the true King is restored.
Controlled Calcination begins with a deliberate surrender of our inherent hubris (pride or vanity) through a variety of spiritual disciplines that ignite the fire of introspection and self-evaluation. Before undergoing Calcination, people are stubborn, materialistic, and fearful of change. About the only positive quality that can be found in such a person is a certain practicality born from having their dreams repeatedly squashed. However, those who have passed through Calcination no longer approach the world through the pulpit of ego, for they have discovered a more genuine identity at the tabernacle of soul. People describe being in the presence of a calcined person as “refreshing.” They sense the freedom of no longer having to be manipulated or controlled by deceits of someone else’s ego.
Remember to keep a sense of humility during Calcination. Seek out new teachers, read books on alchemy and other spiritual sciences, and stay open to new ideas. Realize that the viewpoint of ego is materialistic and narrow and concentrate more on intuitive feelings, invisible forces, and lasting truths.