Albedo (alchemy)

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In alchemy, albedo is one of the four major stages of the magnum opus; along with nigredo, citrinitas and rubedo. It is a Latinicized term meaning "whiteness". Following the chaos or massa confusa of the nigredo stage, the alchemist undertakes a purification in albedo, which is literally referred to as ablutio – the washing away of impurities. This phase is concerned with "bringing light and clarity to the prima materia (personal material)".[1]

The albedo is the second stage of alchemy.[2] In this process, the subject is divided into two opposing principles to be later coagulated to form a unity of opposites or coincidentia oppositorum during rubedo.[3] Alchemists also applied it to an individual's soul after the first phase is completed, which entailed the decay of matter.[4] In Medieval literature, which developed an intricate system of images and symbols for alchemy, the dove often represented this stage while the raven symbolized nigredo.[5]


Titus Burckhardt interprets the albedo as the end of the lesser work, corresponding to a spiritualization of the body. The goal of this portion of the process is to regain the original purity and receptivity of the soul.[6] Psychologist Carl Jung equated the albedo with unconscious contrasexual soul images; the anima in men and animus in women. It is a phase where insight into shadow projections are realized, and inflated ego and unneeded conceptualizations are removed from the psyche.

Another interpretation describes albedo as an experience of awakening and involves a shift in consciousness where the world becomes more than just an individual's ego, his family, or country.[7]


  • Nigel Hamilton. "The Alchemical Process of Transformation." 1985.


  1. ^ Euryphaessa, Thea (2010). Running Into Myself. Leicester: Troubador Publishing Ltd. p. 39. ISBN 9781848763739.
  2. ^ Cavalli, Thom F. (2002-03-04). Alchemical Psychology: Old Recipes for Living in a New World. Penguin. ISBN 9781101143612.
  3. ^ R. van den Broek, Wouter J. Hanegraaff. Gnosis and Hermeticism from Antiquity to Modern Times. SUNY Press. 1998. p.158-159
  4. ^ Hauck, Dennis William (2008-04-01). The Complete Idiot's Guide to Alchemy: The Magic and Mystery of the Ancient Craft Revealed for Today. Penguin. ISBN 9781440636127.
  5. ^ Morrisson, Mark (2007). Modern Alchemy: Occultism and the Emergence of Atomic Theory. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 4. ISBN 9780195306965.
  6. ^ Titus Burckhardt. Alchemy: Science of the Cosmos- Science of the Soul. Penguin Books, 1967. p.183-189
  7. ^ Cavalli, Thom F. (2002). Alchemical Psychology: Old Recipes for Living in a New World. Penguin. ISBN 9781101143612.