The Blackening/The Whitening/The Reddening
The Blackening or Negredo stage begins with entry into The Grail Castle. I was introduced to The Castle in 1990 when I began receiving my instruction during months of deep meditation. The meditation into The Grail Castle is a very personal experience, providing an intimate communication with the Self. I have taken small groups in, but my ability to guide them through, and interpret the symbols is limited, and therefore not as effective for the student. Because of this I recommend individual journeys into The Castle for any serious student.
The Castle is divided into four, four inner areas within the Tower, and four outer areas within the Courtyard. There is a specific design and route, forming a very simple (and I believe ancient) labyrinth. The quadrated formation itself is certainly ancient and aligns to the four chambers of the heart. A similar symbol can be found in the accounts of Eden with its four rivers dividing the garden. Within Jungian psychology it would be understood as a universal archetypal form for Paradise: to be found within the Heart.
The meditation moves into the subconscious world, a connecting space between the conscious and unconscious. Symbols bubble up and fill each area to enlighten us as to what's going on within us. This is important to know as our lives are created from within the subconscious. Without the Castle, we get to see what’s been created, when it manifests into our experience of life. The beauty of working with the Castle is that it gives us the ability to foresee what's coming and work with it before it manifest in our life.
For the most part at the beginning of working in the Castle, the information is around inauthentic aspects that need to be let go of... such as family, societal, and religious expectations that are not supporting or nourishing your Soul. Specific areas will be targeted to work on, while revealing a clearer direction and a truer you. The Mandala comes into play at this point with the map for this inner journey. Having a map is so valuable as this is a new area within the personality that has up to now probably been abandoned, opening up ever new terrain to explore and discover. With a map at our side, we can safely track our journey into this unknown aspect of the Self.
THE ALCHEMICAL PROCESS WITHIN
THE CELTIC TRADITION OF THE GRAIL MYTH
The Whitening or Albedo stage involves the Mandala, which appeared in a complete out of body experience while driving! (I share the whole story around the Mandala, which is quite magical from beginning to end, in the study groups). Its based upon the Arthurian Myth of the Quest for The Holy Grail, and introduces us to the six main characters, or characteristics within us. These are going clockwise from one o’clock, and are the High Priestess, the Maiden, Mother, King, Knight and Magician.
Each myth poses a problem that we ourselves are having. The loss of the Grail is all about the loss of the Soul: that sense of something missing in our lives. As with every genuine myth, it will show us the way to the solution, as does the Mandala. We enter the myth as Arthur sends his Knights off in search of the lost Grail. The Knight that we will follow is Parcival as he makes his journey to reunite with his sister/bride: Blanchfleur(White Flower in english). His first encounter is with the High Priestess. Her wisdom and understanding is just what he needs to steer him in the right direction, and keep him on track. The King symbolises our ability to make the decisions that will direct our lives, and so we can see how these two pair up to work together.
The High Priestess is very apt in correcting our misunderstandings, and revealing a deeper wisdom about our authentic self. As we work with her, our decisions automatically change along with the direction that our lives take. After a while we find ourselves on a more genuine, and enjoyable path in life. Each one of the other characters embellishes our progress until we blossom into who we really are. This is the meaning behind the whole sacred geometric symbolism of the Flower of Life, the Rose of the Heart, or the Lotus. Its about the beautiful opening of the Heart, revealing the Soul: an inner beauty that we can’t help falling in love with.
The Reddening or Rubedo stage brings us into our centre where the Grail abides, creating an experience of living in Unity and Harmony with the macrocosmic plan for creation. It takes us to a point in our lives where we can bring our authentic self into expression.
The Castle and Mandala have both been vitally important in leading us into this Stage of development. The castle is all about transforming our energy: its the means by which we can bring our energy back into wholeness and balance. The Mandala focusses on expanding our conscious awareness of who and what we(and our world), really are.
The Redness within this stage actually does appear as the Garnet: Phiosopher's Stone, which I have described in the workshop section... to quote Carl Jung, "The Stone symbolised something permanent that can never be lost or dissolved, something eternal that some have compared to the mystical experience of God within ones own Soul"