The Magnum Opus

Magnum Opus

Actualize your individuation through the four alchemical stages of transmutation.

What is the Magnum Opus?

The Great Work (in Latin: Magnum Opus) refers, in the alchemical and Hermetic tradition, to the process of transmutation of the primal material (prima materia) into the philosopher’s stone. The philosopher stone is the most refined and valuable substance which through the alchemical process emerges from the crudest and most worthless. In traditional alchemy, this was the transmutation of lead into gold. Later, in the Gnostic tradition, this was interpreted not as the transmutation of metal, but of the soul or psyche of the alchemist himself. [1]

How does this translate into psychology?

Carl Gustav Jung (1875 – 1961), the founder of analytical psychology, usually referred to as “Jungian psychology”, saw in Gnostic alchemy a precedent to the process of individuation, as encountered in his own clinical practice. This was a breakthrough for Jung and offered a vast amount of data supporting his theory of the collective unconscious; more specifically, that psychic transformation follows an archetypal and universal process.  This transformative process happens through the integration of the conscious and unconscious aspects of the subject’s psychology.  Jung describes this process as having four stages: confession, elucidation, education and transformation.[2] This is an analogue for the four stages of alchemical transmutation:  Nigredo, Albedo, Citrinitas and Rubedo. [3]

Individuation as the goal of the Magnum Opus

Individuation, in Jungian psychology, is the process whereby an individual realizes a state of spiritual and psychological wholeness. Through this process, that, which was previously fragmented and broken, is restored and synthesized so that a whole and unique individual emerges; an individual who fully accepts, and is one with, him or herself; an individual who is fully authentic and embraces his or her destiny. It is a movement away from being a pawn in the hands of fate, to consciously collaborating in the realization of one’s unique destiny.

What the Centre for Applied Jungian Studies does

The Magnum Opus online programme in Applied Jungian Psychology is designed to take the student through these four stages of transmutation and transformation. The trajectory and goal of this process is clear, to produce the Philosopher’s Stone. In the terms of Jungian psychology this is individuation. To better describe this goal, we include two additional, essential elements in our stated objective of individuation: consciousness and meaning.

The four stages as four courses

The four stages of the Magnum Opus programme mirror the four stages of alchemical transmutation and of psychological transformation. They they are Nigredo, Albedo, Citrinitas and Rubedo.  In psychological terms Jung described these as: Confession, Illumination, Education and Transformation. Each stage is twelve weeks in duration and focuses on the key Jungian psychodynamic concepts related to that stage. Although these stages are chronological in traditional alchemy, in line with Jung’s psychological model, the course design accommodates entry at any of the first three stages: Nigredo, Albedo or Citrinitas. Admission to Rubedo, however, the final stage, requires the completion of all three earlier stages.

[1] The Esoteric Codex: Alchemy I, Mark Rogers, Publisher, 2013

[2] ‘Problems of modern Psychotherapy’ (Jung, 1931/1954, vol. 16) where Jung details the four psychotherapeutic steps or stages in psychoanalysis.

[3] Papadopoulos, R. K. (2006). The handbook of Jungian psychology: Theory, practice and applications. Psychology Press.

The stages in detail:


This is the final stage of the Opus Magnus. This course is only open to students who have completed all previous stages, namely Nigredo, Albedo and Citrinitas.

This final stage in the individuation process will explore the following themes:

  • Individuation
  • Personal myth
  • The symbolic life
  • Authentic personification

This final stage focuses on what individuation means, how your archetypal dynamics aid you in discovering and living your personal myth. How to incorporate meaning and consciousness through living a symbolic life. And how the persona communicates your essence and purpose to the world.

Magnum Opus 2023

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