Twelve Alchemical Processes
Some alchemical manuscripts mention twelve operations, although they are not always given in the same order or name. Actually there is only one operation, and that is the purification of the alchemist himself. The different operations are only aspects and different ways of describing this one process. The twelve operations are sometimes compared with the twelve signs of the Zodiac. The Zodiac is used as a symbol for progression of the Great Work. There is also a connection to the Twelve Labors of Hercules. Hercules is sometimes portrayed in alchemical iconography. The hermetic Philosophers were well versed in Greek mythology, and thus one needs to read up on the stories of these Twelve labors because they are all symbolic for inner, spiritual work that a candidate for the spiritual path needs to undergo.