Dr. Franz Hartmann defined Silver in The Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians:
"Silver - (Alch.) An emblem of Intelligence, symbolized by the Moon. Amalgamated with Mercury (the Mind) and penetrated by the Fire of Divine Love, it becomes transformed into the Gold of Wisdom."1
Paracelsus wrote in his Alchemical Catechism:
"Question: What do the Philosophers understand by their gold and silver?
Answer: The Philosophers apply to their Sulphur the name of Gold, and to their Mercury the name of Silver.
Q: Whence are they derived?
A: I have already stated that they are derived from a homogeneous body wherein they are found in great abundance, whence also Philosophers know how to extract both by an admirable and entirely philosophical process."2
Finally, says Jean d'Espagnet, in Hermetic Arcanum:
"They that hold Sulphur and Mercury to be the First Matter of the Stone, by the name of Sulphur they understand Sol; by Mercury the Philosophical Luna; so, without dissimulation, good Raymond Lully adviseth his friend, that he attempt not to work without Mercury and Luna for Silver; nor without Mercury and Sol for Gold."3
Silver, like Mercury and Gold, has several connotations that must be taken in context. From the outset this should not be all that alarming or surprising, since everything in the philosophical writings can be distilled down to just three major modes of activity in one, homogeneous body, AIN SUPh AUR. Note that Paracelsus above says pointedly that the process is “entirely philosophical,” - no physical laboratory implied here. First, the authors are equating Silver with Mercury, that is, IDA (see same), the left channel of the sympathetic nervous system coiled about our spinal column. This is the subconscious, patient, feminine and passive White Work of the Moon. When Paracelsus tells us they are derived from a homogeneous body and in great abundance he is writing the truth. Self-consciousness and sub-consciousness are both differentiations of, and found within, the all-pervading Universal Super-conscious whole Self. There are an unlimited number of expressions in the subconscious and self-conscious modes.
Silver is also the Metal of the Moon Center (Ajna Chakra). The Great Work is performed by its operation, aided by Mercury. Three modes of consciousness are all there is. Argentum contains a number value totaling 89 by Latin Cabala Simplex. This number connects Silver with the third principle, Salt, in that Anima Mundi, one name for the Divine Soul seated in Binah (and Salt) sums to 89. Alchemical Salt fixes or coalesces the formation of bodies. In addition, גוף, gooph, another Hebrew word for 'matter, body,' sums to 89. So Silver, as ARGENT VIVE (see same), is understood as the Universal Mercury within the Sea of Awareness alchemists call Salt, one of the three great principles, and one of Three Principles (modes) of consciousness within the macrocosm.
In the microcosm, humankind, Silver is one of Our Metals to be washed, transmuted and sublimated. It corresponds to the pituitary gland at the root of the nose. When this metal is over-strong we tend to be too sensitive, crying at the slightest rebuff, real or imagined. It tends to over-dependence on others, occupies our attention with idle visions, and gives us frequent digestive disturbances. On the other hand, deficiency in this gland provokes a short and harsh temper. There is also lack of rhythm, poor memory and a sense of imbalance. Imbalance affects the body cell-life with lack of coordination, which may create diseases like cancer in certain organs. Alchemically speaking these effects are due to a saturation of the Salt mode in the metal Silver. By coordinating Sulphur with Mercury within Our Silver, we suppress the Salt tendencies and eventually make Mercury of that metal. By the action of our aspiring desires, through meditation, the sublimation of Silver renders a balanced emotional nature. It restores the rhythmic sense in song, dance and poetry, sharpens and deepens our memory, and finely hones our psychic awareness. When our subconscious warehouse is finally cleared of past ignorant habit patterns and preconceived ideas of what life in this physical world means to us, our subconscious mind acts as a mirror. It reflects the Gold from Tiphareth (originating from the Universal Mercury in Kether) and transmits the Pure, White Brilliance into our daily existence. This is the meaning behind Dr. Hartmann's definition of Silver. The 'emblem of Intelligence' is Kether, amalgamated with Mercury. At first reading all this may seem quite confusing. Alchemical literature is deliberate that way. But if we keep just ONE-THING in mind, it becomes sorted with time, through the subconscious process akin to fermentation. Persevere. The reality will manifest.
1 Hartmann, Dr. Franz, The Secret Symbols Of The Rosicrucians. Trans. by Hartmann. Mokelumne Hill, CA: Health Research, 1969. Vocabulary of Occult Terms.
2 Paracelsus, Theophrastus, Alchemical Catechism. Edmonds, WA: Alchemical Press, 1992, pg. 19.
3 d'Espagnet, Jean, The Hermetic Arcanum. Edmonds, WA: Alchemical Press, 1983, pg. 9.