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The Way into the Light - The Teachings of Chakra in Alchemy The Way into the Light - The Teachings of Chakra in Alchemy first published in the magazine "Paracelsus" october 2004 (side 10-14)

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The Way into the Light - The Teachings of Chakra in Alchemy

The alchemists called the chakras ‘seals of the planets’ or ‘furnaces of the soul’. The specialty of the Alchemical teachings is that there are three levels of energy on which the chakras take effect: they are called Nigredo, Albedo and Rubedo. The aim of practical alchemy is to reach the highest level of vibrancy, which is linked to a profound development of personality and consciousness.

By Ulrich Arndt

The aim of alchemical research and of the practical work in the laboratory is to fathom out the flow of life energy in order to illuminate’ the dark, the sick and the unconscious and ‘direct it into the light’. Great alchemists such as Paracelsus have reached discernment and transcribed their wisdom into practical remedies, namely special elixirs from metals, gems and plants. But what did the alchemists mean by life energy and how may it enliven man and nature?
According to the idea of the alchemists (and to old Ayurvedic teachings on health) life energy is closely connected to the ‘light of the seven planets’. The seven planets were added to the five planets known at that time: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the Sun and Moon (in Ayurveda there are nine planets, here both moon knots-’planets’ Rahu and Ketu are included as well). Everything on earth emerges from the rays or energies of these planets. Like in a prisma, the planets divide the divine ‘light of creation’ into seven qualities. These create the four elements: earth, water, fire and air (as well as the fifth one, the secret, holy element, the ether) and the three alchemical basic principles sal, sulphur and mercury (simplified they correspond to the body, soul and spirit). Metals, minerals, gems, plants, animals and also man originate through the various combinations of the seven planet-energies, the four elements and the three basic principles. The prevailing ‘blend’ determines what will emerge and what kind of character it will have. Concerning human beings, Paracelsus therefore emphasizes: “When a child is born, its firmament will be born with the seven organs, which have the power to become like the seven planets, thus to become everything that belongs to his firmament.” In his comprehensive scriptures Paracelsus often refers to the great influence that the planets have on the well-being of man – on his physical organs, as well as on his nature and his ‘astrale’, namely on the energetic system of the human being.
The scriptures by Paracelsus portray the complexity and the impact of the planetary forces and demonstrate the profound thoughts in alchemy. But Paracelsus, who was the founder of ‘modern’ medicine and at the same time probably the most famous alchemist in history, did not stand alone. Many centuries ago up until the 18th century, alchemy was a form of scientific knowledge that was well acknowledged. Goethe and Newton studied the main works of alchemy, ranging from the works of Paracelsus to the ‘Aurea Catena’, and they naturally practised small laboratory examinations. In the last two hundred years individual disciplines such as biology, medicine, chemistry, pharmacology, physics, geology, astronomy and psychology developed from the universal science of alchemy. Other fields such as astrology, geomancy, energetic knowledge and hermetic philosophy were assigned to ‘occult science’, esoterics or ‘Para-science’ (para-psychology etc.). In alchemy and for Paracelsus all this knowledge was still connected. ‘As it is above, so it appears below’ is an alchemic-hermetical basic principle according to which the effects of the seven planets were investigated. The alchemists did not only study the influence of the planets during the formation and emergence of gems, metals or plants and the ‘astrological aspects’ at birth, but they also experimented on themselves and their patients, to see how the flow of these seven life energies of the planets was changed by outer and inner influences, and how this flow could be supported and cultivated. This is captured in the alchemical teachings of the chakras and the three energetic levels and qualities ‘Nigredo’, ‘Albedo’ and ‘Rubedo’, which have been addressed in the first article on ‘The Life Elixirs of Paracelsus’ and in the last issue on the ‘Secret Vitriol seven-pointed Star’, where the path of life energy was mentioned briefly.

The Chakra-Model

In the alchemical chakra model the seven planets each send three different ‘qualities of energy’ to the earth that – simply expressed – correspond to the vibrancy of the body, soul and spirit of each planet (in alchemy: sal, sulphur and mercury). Each of the three planet qualities may find resonance within the chakras of a human being and so the three different levels of vibrancy of the alchemical chakra model originated. The vibrancy of sal (= body) corresponds to the planets of the lowest level of vibration of chakras, the so-called level of ‘Nigredo’. The vibrancy of sulphur (= soul) corresponds to the planets of the level of ‘Albedo’ and the highest level of vibration, the mercury-vibration (= spirit) corresponds to the level of ‘Rubedo’.
dotNigredo (= blackness), the lowest level of vibration, support of solidification processes, body, sal
dotAlbedo (= whiteness), middle level of vibration, dissolving and distributing processes are supported, soul, sulphur
dotRubedo (= the red) the highest level of vibration, processes of regulation and harmonization are supported, spirit, mercury
The names are related to the colours arising during the Great Work, i.e. the transmutation of lead from the lowest vibrancy to the high vibrating, bright gold. In the course of this process matter transforms from the black to white (and the yellow) up to the red.
In a healthy, conscious person the three qualities of energy of each of the seven planets are in harmonious balance. The state of utmost harmony corresponds to the level of Rubedo, because when everything harmoniously flows into each other and the energy flow is neither hindered nor blocked, then life energy will flow most intensively through man and he will be able to completely develop his forces of consciousness. A healthy person will also need parts of the lower-vibrating Nigredo- respectively sal-planet-vibration, because they affect compression and crystallization, e.g. during the formation of bones and solid parts of tissue. However, if this quality of energy is very dominant, then man ‘falls’ with his whole being into the lowest level of vibration, the Nigredo – he becomes ‘petrified’ and ‘sclerotic’ in body, spirit and soul (in alchemy in fact interpreted as the ‘fall to sin’). On the other hand if the dissolving principle of Albedo respectively sulphur is dominant, the person will suffer from inflammatory, feverish diseases and loose himself to his emotions. But the harmony of Rubedo is reached by inner development and insight. Only through the process of inner ‘maturing’ are we able to cope with daily influences in a flexible way, without drifting off course and loosing our energetic harmony.

alchemical illustrationAncient alchemical illustration of the chakras with the symbols of the planets. Here the lowest level of vibrancy of the chakras, the Nigredo level is presented, therefore the person is hatched in black.


The alchemical teachings therefore also include a model of development of materials as well as the human being – from the ‘dark’, low swinging and unconscious into ‘light’ and wisdom.
The three steps of development of Nigredo, Albedo and Rubedo were thus also understood as different degrees of bodily, mental and spiritual healing, inner maturity and development of consciousness. To support this highest state of energy and harmony the alchemists produced the ‘High Arcanas’, great alchemical remedies developed from metals and gems, which are today produced again according to recipes of Paracelsus.

Nigredo, ‘blackness’

The most famous alchemical illustration of chakras and their ‘planet seals’ was conceived by Johann Georg Gichtel (1638–1710), an Alchemist from Regensburg in Germany. According to the description the picture depicts an “entirely earthy, natural, sinister man; in stars and elements” and shows how “the wheel of planets, in seven diabolical seals, is laid down on the soul”. At the time, a planetary wheel was described as the course of the seven stars around the earth. In his illustration Gichtel arranged the seven classical planets on the human body and assigned each of them to one of the seven vices or deadly sins, such as pride, stinginess and jealousy. Gichtel wanted to demonstrate the circumstances under which – more precisely under which chakra-relation – the planets evoke negative aspects in man. This planet-chakra-resonance corresponds to the lowest state of vibrancy, the Nigredo. Therefore the figure was also hatched in black.
On this lowest energetic level the root-chakra resonates with the sal-vibrancy of the Moon, the spleen/sexual-chakra with the lowest mercurial vibration, the solarplexus-chakra with Venus, the heart-chakra with the sal-vibration of the Sun, the throat-chakra with Mars, the brow-chakra with Jupiter and the crown-chakra with the sal-vibration of Saturn.
The personality of Nigredo: When the ‘dark’ sal-vibrations of the planets are dominant in man, then the capability of self-reflexion is not very high. These persons are easy to manipulate and are absent-minded. For them the world only consists of their own desires and needs, which they follow unscrupulously. The Nigredo-persons are dominated by simple patterns of emotions dominating their cognitive capacity.
Every person may be confined to the Nigredo-phase for a while. Then everything seems stuck and hardened, nothing moves anymore and a sense of suffocation is felt. ‘Hardening diseases’ such as the stiffening of the limbs, ‘arteriosclerosis’ and other diseases of deposition appear. A permanent inner alchemical transformation is initiated by the strengthening of the fiery, of sulphur, through the transformation of the emotions and the strengthening of the ‘heart quality’. With the aid of alchemical essences such as pearl, gold, silver and emerald, a change may be especially supported. The pearl-essence, which was highly estimated by Paracelsus and rated the second important elixir after gold, adds to a stronger contact with one’s own emotions, and emerald strengthens the higher qualities of the heart. Gold brings back the vital life energy and silver nourishes our soul with motherly care and security. For those who cannot find the way out of a dilemma and daily routine, essences of diamond and amethyst are helpful. Essences of gold, sapphire and iron will give strength and courage to take a new path.

Albedo, ‘whiteness’

In the illustration of Gichtel a hint is given to the way planet may positively interact and how the vices can be transformed into virtues: It is the marked spiral connecting all ‘chakra seals’ alternating between the top and bottom. In this new sequence it shows the way out of ‘blackness’ into the level of Albedo. Depending on whether one considers the heart or the cortex to be the origin, this new planet sequence refers to the ‘path of the heart’, respectively the ‘path of the mystic’. However, these planet-chakra-resonances are only a purifying, overcoming intermediate stage, overcoming the stiffness of Nigredo on the way to the highest level of transformation, the vibrancy of Rubedo.
The personality of Albedo: When Albedo-forces of planets are dominant, the emotions are easily aroused. Nevertheless, a person tries to improve self-reflexion and attentiveness. However his sexuality is often contradictory to the development of a higher form of love (this does not mean he should avoid sex). Similar to the way the substances are distilled and purified in a laboratory, man is purified by ‘fire’ and ‘water’ of the emotions. During the development of higher heart qualities he will always make a better choice between ‘light and darkness’ and will form his character and his qualities of consciousness. Fears, trauma and blockages are dissolved and the entire energy will flow with full strength into the chakras.
In this phase the ‘heart-essence’ emerald as well as the essence of gold and silver are the best helpers in connection with both rescue-blends from the seven metals and nine gems. Here the pearl-essence helps recognise fears still hidden. In addition, diamond, amethyst, zircon and vitriol show the way to the entrance of the higher spiritual levels.

Rubedo, ‘redness’

This third sequence of the seven planets is encoded in a certain geometrical figure by the alchemists: the ‘Vitriol seven-pointed star’. It was already referred to in connection with the geomantic seven-pointed star of the Templers in France, the ‘line of the Grail’, and the extensive energetic system of the earth.1
In the Vitriol seven-pointed star the planetary sequence of Nigredo is also encoded. The planetary order corresponds with a circular connection of the seven planetary rays. The Albedo sequence connects the planets of the seven-pointed star in a zigzag with the ray of the Sun (and thus with the line of the Grail, see last issue) at the top. Now the Rubedo sequence results, if one follows the rays of the star through its centre up to the opposing ray, which means from Saturn to Venus and via Jupiter, Mercury, Mars and the Moon up to the Sun – comparable to the lines of a pentacle, instead of the connecting encirclement through the edges of a pentagram.
On the level of Rubedo the root-chakra vibrates in resonance with the highest vibration of the Sun, the spleen-chakra with the Moon, the solarplexus-chakra with Mars, the heart-chakra with Mercury, the throat.chakra with Jupiter, the brow-chakra with the mercurial vibration of Venus and the crown-chakra with the highest vibration of Saturn. Alchemical healing happens when the chakras start resonate with this highest vibrancy.
The personality of Rubedo: when the vibrancy of Rubedo related to the planets is dominant in us, we own the distinct ability for self-observation and self-reflexion. Our spiritual development becomes an inner need. A Rubedo-person recognises that his body represents a cosmic ‘laboratory’, by which he is able to learn and experiment with his mind. He himself is in the position to complete creation and is able to guide his organism to the greatest possible amplification of vibrancy.
The point now is to preserve the Rubedo-state as well as permanent flow of daily life. Reaching such a state for the first time is no guarantee to remain in this heightened harmony and energetic level. There are many reports on ‘fallen masters’. Here the rhythmical application of the respective, daily changing essence is helpful. Each weekday is subject to a planet that acts as the ‘ruler’, which means that the energy of this planet is dominant and affects us the most on that day. This very old knowledge is preserved in the names of the weekdays and in the divinity of planets (see table). Since ancient times a main metal and a main gem (as well as a certain plant) is assigned to each of the seven planets. And exactly these essences are applied on the respective day. Thereby the energetic system is optimally attuned to the highest level of vibrancy of the planets – man vibrates in the natural rhythm of life energy on our planet: on Sundays the root-chakra is activated more strongly, on Tuesdays the second chakra and so on from day to day up to the crown-chakra on Saturday.
The next article will address the fact that these influences of the planets are not at all just an allegorical idea of the alchemists, but that they can today be proved with measuring instruments and that planetary energy in fact influences certain metals and organs.

1 see “Paracelsus – Health & Healing” issue no. 11

Arndt, Ulrich: Schätze der Alchemie: Edelstein-Essenzen, and Schätze der Alchemie: Metall-Essenzen. Both: Freiburg/Germany: Hans-Nietsch-Verlag
Testreports of Paracelsus essences: www.life-testinstitut.de und www.edelstein-essenzen.de

VITRIOL formula In the VITRIOL formula the different planetary resonances to the chakras are encoded in the three energetic levels of Nigredo, Albedo and Rubedo.

Teaching of chakra in Alchemy

Chakra Nigredo

Albedo I
path of the mystic

Albedo II
path of the Heart

Weekday Paracelsus Essence
8. Chakra       Rahu (related to Saturday) Zircon
7. Crown chakra Saturn Saturn Sun Saturn Saturday = day of Saturn (as Sun-evening it marks the holy day before Sunday which is the start of the week) Amethyst, Vitriol
6. Forehead chakra Jupiter Moon Venus Venus Friday = day of Freya (Freya, the Germanic goddess of love is the counterpart to the Roman goddess of planets Venus) Diamond, Copper
5. Throat chakra Mars Jupiter Mars Jupiter Thursday, in German Donnerstag = day of Donar (Germanic counterpart to Jupiter) Sapphire, Pewter
4. Heart chakra Sun Mercury Mercury Mercury Wednesday = original day of Mercury (French mercredi), in German Mittwoch = the middle of the week beginning on Sunday, not on Monday; in this way its planet Mercury as well marks the centre of the Chakra-sequence, the mediating heart-centre Emerald, Zinc
3. Solar plexus chakra Venus Mars Jupiter Mars Tuesday = day of Zius (Germanic counterpart to Mars; French mardi) Yellow topaz, Iron
2. Spleen/ sexual chakra Mercury Venus Moon Moon Monday – day of Moon Pearl, Silver
1. Root chakra Moon Sun Saturn Sun Sunday – day of Sun Ruby, Gold
Foot-Chakras       Ketu (related to Sunday) Chrysoberyll
The three phases of development: Nigredo, Albedo und Rubedo and the assignment of each planet to the chakras. The Paracelsus-essences are atuned in resonance with the highest energetic level of the chakras: the level of Rubedo and will help to reach and maintain this level. (from the book: ‘Schätze der Alchemie: Metall-Essenzen” (Treasures of Alchemy: Metal essences), Hans-Nietsch-Verlag (publishing house), Freiburg)

Bildquellen: ©Hans Nietsch Verlag

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