The Black Opus ... Niger nigrius nigro : the black blacker than black is the so called "First Work" in the Alchemical process. This is the first necessary step or colour that should be provoqued by the action of the Secret Fire upon and in the matter enclosed in the vessel.
Here is an example of Black Opus in Dry Way.
We have a kind of deep Black Obsidian Glass.
This phase is symbolised by the Crow, it can also be seen as a Dragon or a Devilish Creature.
You can see that the fans of a crow have a kind of black petroleum peacock colour somewhere, like also the black tail of some kind of roosters. This is the last breath of the Sulphury part in the Matter before the total death.
The Coffin is the symbol used for the egg or vessel during this part of the work. Of course, it can be used both for the Sage's vase (the glass vessel) or the Nature's Vase (the Matter itself).
Atalanta Fugiens, Michael Maïer. (I colored it).
The Death process is often shown as a dismemberment of the body. The breaking up of the unity lead to chaos and duality, darkness and night of the soul.
Atalanta Fugiens, Michael Maïer.
Splendos Solis, Salomon Trismosin.
Here the Sword is of course the Secret Fire. In the Shamanic tradition, a part of the initiation in the Nagual, is to be dismembered, or even, eaten to the bones. This is a kind of schyzophrenic experience. breaking up the limits of the body in a painful manner.
Catacombes under Paris.
Night of the Soul, beause the Sulphur is the Soul of the matter and the matter swallow it entirely, and then, the sun cannot shine any more.
Splendos Solis, Salomon Trismosin.
The Eclipse or the Black Sun is the astronomical way to explain this death passage.
Note that a Sun eclipse is the Moon passing in front of the Sun.
This is in link with the said "Caput and Cauda Draconis". The axis of Darkness.
Here is the Eclipse again, with the Crow (not far from Crown), the skeleton.
The putrefaction, death, rotting process, is the first secret, or Key of the Art to discover or uncover.
When something is rotten by the Art, Nature's Cycle begin. In a Great Sorrow is the seed of the Great Joy.
Saturn's sickle in the skeleton's hands in well known under this popular form :
Tarot of Marrseille's Arcana XIII is not the "Death", it is the Arcana with no name.
“The LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” (Jonah 1:17, King James Version).
King James translation of Matthew 12:40. This verse says “He (Jesus Christ) will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, just as Jonah was “three days and three nights in the whale’s belly.” (Matthew 12:40.)
The myth is the same, because the Laws of Nature are the same. The seed, to be multiplied, need to die in earth during winter.
Jesus not yet Christ.
When you work in the lab, one of the aspect is the death of the matter, and the other is the link between the matter and you, your aura, your psyche. This is a very important law : the interdependence law. What you generate in other, you feel it too, in backward ! Not only in the lab, but also everywhere/time in your daily existence ! This is very important to understand that.
When you face the Dragon, someone I know say "making it going out of the woods", and you terrace it, (mean put it into terra, or earth = burrying it for putrefaction), you die with it. It is fully an energetical and psychological process that takes place in the Alchemist.
De Lapide Philosophorum, Lambsprinck. Secunda figura, "putrecaftion".
You face the Dragon and its deadly breath.
This process can be lived and experienced in several manners, by dreams for examples, or visions. But in everyday life it can be like a nervous breakdown, a melancholia in the clinic sens of the word.
This is really going deep in the "Tartar" or Hell (why do you think the tartar salt or wine salt, is called like that ? Something to dig here maybe, and the barrels' end are like the symbol of "salt" principle = all this surely because the secret fire is the generator of the process in the matter), encountering the lowest part of yourself, in the Kingdom of Hades and Hecate, your shadow, like Peter Pan, running after it and wanting to reintegrate it back to himself. Everything crush and you have no more energies to go on.
Some soap to fix it ?
Like a fever outbreak, the inner Black Stage can go up and down, but it is still there, often during several years. Sometime, suicide is the end of this stage for some Alchemists. Most part of the time, we experience the zomby state, being a dead man, a dead soul in a "living" or almost, body. Almost because when you have an outbreak you cannot even walk, all your forces are elsewhere, you don't know where and you don't even care.
Some matters are harder to bear. They fit us too much. We are too much linked with them, they really, actually are our Dragon. What they feel, even a little, we feel it too...Very much. Be careful with Nigredo, do not lead to death any kind of matter just for fun, you'll have to bear that after. What you begin, you have to finish. Like if you take normal people and you crushed down all their life for fun, without resurrecting them to something higher. You manipulate lives, life, forms of life, and as a bringer of Secret Fire, you are responsible for your actions and its applications.
If you kill it, you resurrect it.
Just do what the Secret Fire teaches you.
Finally, we understand that more the death is profound, more your resurection can be dramatic. That's just an equilibrium.
You not have to be dead physically in Achemy, but dead internally, until all your cultural aspect dies, and all your natural aspect live (you see, you read this page with symbols on it, theses symbols are culturaly generated, a pure invention, like your name. This is very important. Alchemy is too much often transmited under a deep blanket of culture, cultural aspect, historical things, myths, stories, weird names and symbols ... all this crush when you have enough of it. Why should you care about culture when you seek to understand nature ? Don't you have enough of the process evolving in the egg to show you everything you want to know ? The fantastic aspect, romantic, or "mysterius" atmosphere dissolve. No more name is applied to things, you don't even care about names, you just see the things.
This is a way of the integration of the Black Opus in your self, do not fear death and its profound signification and gifts. More you resist giving the putrefiable things, more you suffer. What you resist persist !
I've also though about the enjoyment of the Black Stage. It is a little crazy to think like that, but at a moment you do not really care about the Blackness. You already know pain, you already know what is suffering. You already know what is Black, and what it means. Also where it lead you to.
In Holotropic breathing, death is linked to the birth process. You were in heaven in the mother's womb, and you are expulsed, violently, and suddenly. Like Adam and Eve. And this passage is tremendously painful for the baby. And when you are out, it is the resurrection, but ... you are separated from the heavenly state of before (you didn't even know maybe that you were so well, but appears so by the contrast of the birth process). The child, will repress this traumatism and build himself around a wounded psychism, a post traumic desorder not healed. Black Opus is reliving this in a sens.
Animus, Spiritus et Corpus.
A crow on the navel/belly, the whole in a closed circle/womb/vessel/egg.
The planets are the different stages of the processus of evolution, and Saturn is shown Black.
In Kriya Yoga we are told about granthis, one of them is in the Sri Lahiri's system, the belly granthi located in the navel/ wound, directly linked with the trauma of birth. This is not only a trauma for the child, physical child, but also for the soul of the child, diving deep into darkness and density of the physical plan, under a vast pressure of matter. Do you know that human baby is the only animal that have a navel ? A wound, maybe physically healed, but not really psychically.
The Secret Fire's action in the Athanor, and the expulsion of all the insanity of man.
So, before birth, or springtime, you die. And when you are old, and you think your time is over, you non healed trauma of birth reactivate (like everytime you feel bad, or are afraid of something). And you are afraid of death, because you unconsciously "think" that it is the same painful process than the so called "birth" (of the baby) !
With this integration of the Black Stage, you begin to see the print of fear of death everywhere in your life, and in the world. In the slightest thing. Could you imagine a world where nobody would be afraid of death ?
The inner Nigredo can be triggered by some pathworkings. I will not give here a lot of details, I think that, when you are ready, you know where to go in order to find this place.
Meteorologia cosmica, Robert Fludd.
The Black Sun, Eclipse.