Some more details about The Work and alchemy.
In short, The Work is to identify a stressful belief, and inquire into it. Is it true? What happens when I hold onto that belief? What happens if I let go of it? What is the grain of truth in each of the turnarounds of the initial statement?
The alchemical vessel is the noticing of something being off, and then a willingness to take a look at our part of it through self-inquiry, to follow the simple guidelines, and to stay with the questions until a genuine answer surfaces.
The three phases: nigredo, albedo and rubedo
The nigredo is the initial stress (misery, sadness, grief, anger, despair) that comes up when the world does not conform with our beliefs, nudging us to the inquiry.
The albedo, clarification, is throughout the process, from identifying the belief to the turnarounds and the living of the turnarounds in our daily life.
And the rubedo is the fruits of the process, the release from the initial belief, and occurs to some extent throughout the process, but especially during the two last questions and following the process.
The calcinatio is the fire throughout the process. If the person is distracted, or go off in secondary stories, the fire is on the weak side. If there is too much pressure to "get it right", the fire is too hot. And if the simple guidelines are followed, then the fire from simply being with the questions is just right.
The solutio is the softening of attitudes, of attachment to particular thoughts and ideas, a receptivity to the answers that surface on their own, and the fluidity of a shift in view... or rather a shift out of any particular and fixed view.
The coagulatio is the identification of the initial statement (the belief), the structure of the questions, and also the exploration of what happens of the belief is solidified, held onto tight, in questions number two.
The sublimatio is the whole process of clarification, of seeing what is already more true than the initial statement.
The separatio is the process of discernment throughout the inquiry. It is a sorting out at each phase, from identifying the belief, to exploring if it is true, to what happens when it is held onto tightly, to what I would be without the belief, to the grain of truth in the turnarounds, to the disidentification with the initial statement - a relaxation or letting go of the belief.
The conjunctio is the union of opposites, and occurs at the third question, and even more clearly at the turnarounds. It is a recognition of the union that is already there, within ourselves, and between ourselves as individuals and the wider world. (By finding the grain of truth in each of the turnarounds, I find in myself what I see in others, and in others what I see in myself. The attachment to a fixed point of view, which created the sense of separation in the first place, is relaxed or falls away, allowing for a recognition of the union that has always been there.)