Books, Illustration


Janice Duke shares her thoughts on ‘Quintessence’, art she created for Chemical Serpents.

Janice Duke Illustration

The fourth chapter of Chemical Serpents is titled “The Elements” and explores the concept of the Quintessence. Quintessence means “fifth element” or “soul”. Also known as aether, this was considered the highest element in ancient and medieval philosophy, the element that permeates all nature and is the essence of a thing in its purist and most concentrated form. This fifth element is generally considered transcendent, with the others – such as earth, air, fire and water – being immanent, the elements that make up the world.

Quintessence Quintessence © 2012 Janice Duke

The Vesica Pisces, a pointed oval formed by the meeting of two circles, is associated with the fifth element by various traditions. In Christian iconography, Christ is often shown inside a Vesica Pisces surrounded by the Tetramorph. This consists of four beings, a lion, an angel or man, an eagle and a bull, in Christian iconography said to…

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