The difference between Virgin Earth and Volatile Salt is not so trivial when dealing with marriages. Sabine Stuart Chevalier presents it on her Discours Philosophique chapter on Earth.
An introduction to Sabine Stuart de Chevalier can be found at “Lessons on the first three elements”. My translation from the original french.
Discours Philosophique page 39: “We are not talking here about our stepping ground, but of an earth we can find in the vaporous exhalations and which we called Virgin Philosophical Earth. It doesn’t need a preparation other than to purify the spirits within contained. It will be well prepared when these spirits are properly purified; but it cannot be used as Matter, than after having destroyed its form and given it another one, by re-incrudating (making crude again) its seed in order to develop the fruit which contains the germ. When one has this earth, which is called Volatile Salt, one has achieved at the same time the fire, air and Mercurius of Philosophers.
Nature, since the beginning, prepared this earth towards the four elements conjunction; and it had always been keeping to do that in order to separate all the impurities and superfluities, till the subtleness which will assume the form which it is destined to it.”
When Stuart Chevalier talks of element earth she seems to indicate a substance in solid state. But when talking of the Virgin Philosophical Earth she designates the Mercurius/Secret Fire extracted from salts volatilization ( a spirit is indeed the product of a salt volatilization), purified from what she called mineral sulphur, if you remember my introduction post on her dealing with metals formations in mines, Stuart Chevalier talked about a greasy sulphur which naturally composes, together with mercurius, all minerals. That’s being the first marriage of our virgin. When a mineral then undergoes volatilizations this greasy substance get lost, and in so doing the girl regains her virginity and is ready for the alchemical marriage.
This Virgin Philosophical Earth main use is unquestionably to dissolve our metals, which should then be incrudated, or reduced to……another Virgin Philosophical Earth, since the Mercurius is always reducing to Mercurius, but it is no more defined so. Put in a easier way, nothing like Secret Fire itself is entitled to extract another Secret Fire from a raw salt or Materia Tertia. However the first Virgin Philosophical Earth is said to be useless as first Matter, or Materia Prima. Of course I do not believe anymore, and never believed, that such a thing like a “ seed” of metal may ever be in existence. Here Stuart Chevalier tells us that such metallic seed is the result of a soaking into our Universal Dissolvent. If you really intend to go on with this seeds stuff you are going to inevitably find yourself in a cul de sac. We have to translate this ancient wording in a more understandable system. The Secret Fire contained in our Dissolvent is fairly good. But we need a huge amount of that in order to reach our Perfect Sulphur, which only metals can make us certain to happen. In fact only a metal can provides us the real Volatile Salt. Of course incrudation is not a process to be achieved in a single dissolution. It takes still a long way to achieve the Volatile Salt Stuart Chevalier mentions (1), which is fire and air and Mercurius of Philosophers, so the grand total is earth. The name “ Volatile Salt” is not an undue frill, since this salt is really extremely volatile, of course being the ultimate product of an extreme salts volatilization, till tingeing, processes.
This earth results from the destruction and re-construction of the four elements, which nature is processing from the very beginning. We modern can call the process as a never ending change of state (2) to reach a new body, very different from the old one.
Discours Philosophique page 40: “ These admirable virtues fall downward to the earth by means of the stars beams which penetrate our globe, where the four elements are contained. All the stars beams are heading to the center of the earth; there it is where they gather together and where they attract all the seminal virtues of the forms of all things.
Earth is consequently the mother of all things, of all four elements, for it conquers and contains the seed of all things: it continuously distributes the gifts it receives from the above and that will be till skies are moving. Raimundus Lullius thought that are the waters closed inside the inner of the earth to attract these celestial influences, moreover those one promoting the generation of metals by condensation and separation of vapors.