nigredoNigredo, or blackness, in the alchemical sense, means putrefaction, decomposition. By the penetration of the external fire, the inner fire is activated and the matter starts to putrefy. The body is reduced to its primal matter from which it originally arose. This process is also called ‘cooking’. The black earth is closed up in a vessel or flask, and heated.

The Body is to be decomposed, that is one shifts one’s awareness to the inner self. The planets are both stages of the process and energies in the body to be transmuted. The Saturn star is black as Saturn reigns over Nigredo. Sun and Moon are the opposites to be united, and fire and air are the elements stimulating the decomposition. The black crow is another symbol for Nigredo. The two birds coming out of the body are the soul and the spirit. One needs to become aware of one’s soul and spirit. The circle emphasizes the idea of union or unification.

(Basilius Valentinus, Azoth, Paris, 1659)