In the ancient hermetic science of alchemy nigredo, or blackness, meant putrefaction or decomposition. Many alchemists believed that was a first step in how to make the secret philosopher’s stone. Alchemy was often described as being known by a series of color changes which also brings to mind the seven steps of alchemy. Are we to compare seven stages of alchemy processes to a series of color changes in the great work of alchemy? From Ripley’s treatise on multiplication, “Black Black Blacker than Black”. The first stage of alchemy is said to be the black stage of putrefaction, however the seven steps of alchemy list the first step as calcination which some modern alchemists theorize to be philosophical and not taken in layman’s terms. There is also said to be both a dry path of alchemy, and a wet path of alchemy. Many old alchemical manuscripts depict three ingredients as being the composition in the alchemist egg. A certain salt, a secret water rumored to be known only to the alchemist, and some type of “sulfur”. Secret alchemy ingredients for the philosopher’s stone? The color black is thought by some to be important in alchemy.
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