How To Transform Your Life in Three Easy Steps

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How Tarot Can Transform You

Wrangler Jay Cassels of Jay’s Mystic Blog offered alternate paths for today’s Tarot Blog Hop, exploring the general topic of “transitions.” Of the questions he posed, the one I chose to run with was, “how has Tarot helped to transform you, or your clients?” Transformation has been key to my personal spiritual direction and is foundational to my classes and client work. In this post, I’ll share with you how to transform your life in three easy steps. The steps to transformation are easy. The work is not. But when we let the symbols of the tarot guide us, we begin to see opportunities for transformation each day.

A History of Transformation

I explored a similar topic for a blog hop in September 2012, The Power of Transformation. That post shares part of my personal story. Working toward transformation has been an ongoing part of my personal work my whole life. Likewise, it is essential to my client work. In fact, if you read through my Services page on my website, you’ll see that I define the basic services I offer, tarot and astrology, in terms of how they can transform you.

But the culmination of that transformative work manifests in my signature Empyrean Key process . My current offering, the Empyrean Way Year-Long Creativity Program, is the best thing I offer. It synthesizes Empyrean Key transformation with the core disciplines of tarot, qabalah, and astrology in a matrix of personal development and spiritual direction practices.

The Empyrean Way

Your Goals. Inspired by Spirit. Created by You. This program is for creatives and anyone who wants to discover and understand their natural process for Getting Things Done. But the practical depends on the spiritual. This program is ultimately about connecting to Spirit to create yourself.
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However, I’m not one to sit back on my laurels. My ongoing commitment to transformation for myself, my clients, and my students continually leads me to seek deeper understanding of how we can each improve ourselves and our lives. My commitment is to achieving the most perfect expression of self, the true nature. This is the part of you that is one with Spirit, reflecting Divinity but completely you.

As a result, my studies have continued to deepen. I studied the Cube of Space in a group for several years. My explorations have touched on alchemy in the past. But finally this year I began a structured study of that hermetic philosophy.

The Three Steps

How To Transform Your Life in Three Easy Steps: Nigredo (blackening), Albedo (whitening), and Rubedo (reddening). Three images show three flasks. The first is black and shows and man and woman in sexual embrace. The flask is sealed. The title is "Pvtrefactio" or "Putrification." The second flask is filled partway with white liquid. It contains a queen dressed in white. From the top of the flask a three petaled flower emerges. The title is "Rosa Alba" or "White Rose." The third flask is filled partway with red liquid. In it stands a king dressed in gold. From the top of the flask emerges a 7-petaled red flower. The title is "Rosa Rvbea" or "Red Rose."
The three phases of the magnum opus: nigredo, albedo and rubedo. From Pretiosissimum Donum Dei by Georges Aurach, 1475. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The goal of alchemy is transformation. Moreover, it outlines the steps of transformation. The number of steps varies according to the underlying symbolism. For instance, there can be twelve stages corresponding to the twelve zodiacal signs. Currently I’m studying the seven operations which align with the classical planets. But there are even simpler breakdowns with as few as four or even three steps. In fact, at its most basic, alchemy teaches you how to transform your life in three easy steps.

  1. Die (Sacrifice)
  2. Be Reborn (Resurrect)
  3. Become One with Spirit (Ascend)

Ok, I’ll admit, maybe the steps aren’t so easy. The good news, though, is that they are metaphorical! Phew. That’s a relief!

In fact, it’s reassuring to know that these steps are not “one and done.” Rather, transformation will repeat throughout your life, sometimes working deep, sometimes rising back to the surface. But it is always guiding you, step by step, in getting to know your mysterious self.

The Three Stages of Alchemy

“Death,” “The Moon,” and “The Sun” from The Rose Tarot by Nigel Jackson, published by Llewellyn Publications, 2021.

In alchemy, the various operations are summarized in these three steps.

  1. Nigredo (Blackening)
  2. Albedo (Whitening)
  3. Rubedo (Reddening)

The first stage is Blackening. This equates to a symbolic destruction of self. What are you willing to sacrifice to achieve your ultimate goal? Invariably we do not set out on this path of transformation. Instead, it finds us. We know we have begun the process when our life crashes down around us. Any time you have experienced utter despair, total failure, or devastating loss, you have entered the temple of transformation. Now what? It’s time to face your fears. It’s time to let go of what you’re convinced is true. Now is when you lose all sense of who you are. You are on the path to learn your own truth.

The second step is Whitening. One way of looking at it is as a resurrection into a purified body that has been washed clean. It’s as if the body understands its connection to soul and spirit and recognizes them as its own. But the fullest experience of the connection has not yet been achieved. This sets up a yearning for the ultimate integration of body with soul and spirit.

Reddening is the third and final stage. The body is not only fully purified, but also spiritualized and refined at the most ethereal levels. Now it completely melds with soul and spirit, all levels consecrated, aligned, and unified. The life force is completely concentrated within this synthesis. This stage represents the perfection of the self, a complete individuation. This unity of being is an invisible beacon that draws everything to it. This is its service and reverence.

Black, White, and Red in the Tarot

“Death,” “The Moon,” and “The Sun” from the Rider Waite Smith Tarot by A. E. Waite and Pamela Colman Smith, Pamela-A edition. Courtesy of Sacred Texts.

The next time you pull cards, note where you see black, white, and red. What do these colors tell you about your process? How do they provide perspective on your question?

For instance, perhaps the Death card represents the blackening phase. Everything comes to an end, the temporal part of self dies so the soul is released. What fears do you have around losing your sense of self? What is possible if you sacrifice all that is not eternal?

The Moon card could stand in for the whitening phase. The body is seen as the crustacean, crawling out of the morass. It is guided by the white light of soul and spirit combined, but yet has a long path before it. What is your guiding light? What direction do you need to go to reach it, or to become one with it?

The Sun card represents the reddening phase. Here is the child, free and pure, the offspring of the previous purifications and conjunctions. The bright red flag is the strong life force, plain for all to see. What are you ready to reveal to the world? What shines brightest in your heart?

Advance to the Next Stage

What other examples of black, white and red do you see in the tarot? There are lots! How can they help you in your transformation? Let me know in the comments! And then hop forward or back to read how the other bloggers interpreted the theme of “Transitions.”


Joy Vernon
Joy Vernon

Joy Vernon is widely recognized as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty-five years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup grew into one of the largest and most active tarot-specific meetups in the world. Now Joy runs the Greater Seattle Tarot Meetup. Joy works as a tarot reader, astrologer, and teacher in Burien, Washington. To learn more, please visit

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  1. Welcome back on this blog, I am really glad that you brought it to life again, it took me back to the days when I was running two as well. This post had me going oh yeah, I hadn’t actually noticed the white, black, or reddening, now when I look to a deck it’ll be one of the first aspects I will be noticing.

    Thank you so much for bringing this blog back, and hopping with us <3

    • Thanks, Jay! Yes, those colors play out a lot in the tarot. In fact, in alchemy there’s also a yellowing phase, which I left out this time to keep it simple. But considering the amount of yellow in the RWS tarot, it is very interesting to consider! (Oh, BTW, the blog I resurrected was the other one, Tarot in Love. This one has always been around.)

  2. So much came to mind reading this, Joy! It’s always helpful to have some more symbolism in one’s tool belt. I find that looking at that blackening stage as just the first of three steps extremely comforting, lol. I’ve had a reoccurring dream and reading this it came to mind that the dream is stuck on repeat because it feels like that blackening stage and I’m reluctant to engage with that process. I’ve intuited that it’s an initiation of some kind and I think I may work with these stages you describe and see if it helps me to allow the dream to keep moving until it can get to that next step.

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