Alchemy, an ancient art and science of transmutation, worked to transform a base substance into a purer, finer substance of ultimate value. The gold produced as a result of the process of the stages of the opus (or sacred work) ” . . . is not the ordinary gold,” and is a metaphor for the innate value of purified being, or a deep insight or realization that fundamentally transforms one’s being. This ‘inner’ treasure, which requires dedication, devotion, patience, and the grace of God to obtain, was most commonly referred to as the philosopher’s stone.
The philosopher’s stone is an ancient symbol of the perfected and regenerated man whose divine nature shines forth through a chain of purified and unfolded vehicles. . . . Just as in the hand of the skillful lapidary a rough diamond is transformed into a scintillating gem from whose facets pour streams of varicolored fire, so upon the lathe of the Divine Lapidary the soul of man is ground and polished until it reflects the glory of its creator from every atom.
The Secret Teachings of All Ages, by Manly P. Hall
Those of us who choose to integrate and heal our beings continue this sacred alchemical work, in all its challenge, mystery, and significance. Discovering that alchemy symbolically correlated to his own psychology of the unconscious, Carl Jung saw in its workings a metaphor for Self realization, the outcome of which he called the process of individuation. He found that the stages of the opus map the process through which we move toward integration of the opposites, their transcendence, and finally, unification of body, spirit and soul in whole and harmonized being.