Alchemical distillation--- Finding the soul in matter
Distillation usually follows the process of Fermentation and it indicates further purification. This is
water and fire, washing and separating, boiling and reducing and subjecting the solution to a new
form of sublimatio. The substance needs to ascend to the top of the vessel where it coagulates
once again into a more refined form.
There were many ways to depict this process in old alchemical texts. Sometimes we find a
fountain or a tub where both the Sun and the Moon are bathing. Or we find the image of a
pelican, or a green lion eating the sun, or even a flower blossoming.
I like to think of distillation as highly transformational psychological release that comes after much
brooding, much self analysis, much fermentation and dying to old forms of being. It is like the
final stage before the rebirth of the Self: a higher form of albedo that leads to Rubedo and to the
consecration of the Stone.
This is what the Art of alchemy is all about. Temperance, Key XIV of the Major Arcana that
combines fire and water is another example of distillation and of gaining access to higher
awareness through human trial and error.
The two examples above come from the Alchemical Tarot, and the Tarot of Prague
Ten of Vessels from the Alchemical Tarot, Copyright © 1995 Robert M. Place
Temperance image from Tarot or Prague