Opus alchymicum the Mystical Stages of Transformation

Opus alchymicum, or opus, sometimes called the «work,» is the alchemical process of transmuting cheaper metals into more precious ones.

Initially the opus alchymicum had four stages: the nigredo(black), the albedo(white/silver), the citrinitas (yellow), and the rubedo (red/gold). After the fifteenth century references to the citrinitas stage were gradually phased out leaving the opus alchymicum with three main stages. A.G.H

Within the heart of alchemy, a profound and mystical journey unfolds—the Opus Alchymicum, often referred to simply as the «Opus.» This enigmatic process seeks to transmute base metals into precious ones, reflecting both the physical and spiritual transformation that alchemists aspire to achieve.


Opus meaning and stages

The Nigredo Stage: The Alchemical Darkness

The Opus commences with the Nigredo, the first stage characterized by darkness and blackness. In this phase, the alchemist metaphorically descends into the depths of the prima materia—the raw material of existence. This stage symbolizes the dissolution of the ego, a necessary step in the quest for self-purification and transformation.


The Albedo Stage: The Illuminating Whiteness

Following the Nigredo, the Opus progresses to the Albedo, a stage of brilliance and whiteness. Here, the alchemist purifies the chaotic substances encountered in the previous stage. This purification process mirrors the refinement of the soul, where clarity and enlightenment emerge from the shadows of the self.


The Citrinitas Stage: The Radiant Yellow

Historically, the Opus featured the Citrinitas, a stage radiating vibrant yellow hues. This phase represents the integration of opposites—a harmonious balance of polarities within the alchemist and the alchemical work. While references to Citrinitas waned in the fifteenth century, its symbolism endures, signifying the transformative unity of the self.


The Rubedo Stage: The Glorious Red and Gold

The culminating stage of the Opus is the Rubedo, where the alchemist encounters the radiant colors of red and gold. This stage signifies the attainment of the Philosopher’s Stone—the ultimate goal of alchemical transmutation. The alchemist’s spirit is reborn in the fiery crucible of this stage, embodying divine wisdom and spiritual illumination.


The Alchemical Evolution

The Opus Alchymicum is more than a physical endeavor; it is a profound spiritual journey. As alchemists strive to transmute base metals into gold, they also undergo a parallel transformation within themselves. The Opus is a path of self-discovery, enlightenment, and the integration of the spiritual and material realms.



Drury, Nevil. «Opus, Stages of the» The Watkins Dictionary of Magic. London. Watkins Publishing. 2005. pp. 218-219