Solve et Coagula
“Solve et Coagula” means to dissolve and coagulate, to break a substance down to its basic elements before reforming it into something new. This could be analogous to the destruction of one’s ego before the realization of the true self, or the distillation of a substance down to the prima materia to make alchemical preparations in its purified state of the principles of alchemy.
Frequently the processes of *separation (division) and *coniunctio (union) are identified with the solve et coagula. When a herb or matter is purified and dissolved (solve), its soul and spirit are separated from its body. The body is cleansed of its impurity and the soul (or soul/spirit union) may then be reunited with it. The re-entry of the soul/spirit into the purified matter gives it form, coagulates it.
At the simplest level, the solve is the softening of hard things, and the coagulate hardening of soft things. In order for a complete merging or union to take place between body and spirit at the *chemical wedding, the body (a hard substance) has to be spiritualized or made soft, while at the same time the spirit (a soft substance) is materialized or made hard. This is sometimes termed the volatilization and the fixation of the matter. Many alchemical texts claim that these two processes happen simultaneously and ‘with this solution there takes place simultaneously a consolidation of the spirit.