Books, Illustration

Lapis Philosophorum

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

Janice Duke Illustration

For the last in this series of eight articles about the illustrations I produced for Chemical Serpents I would like to wrap up by discussing the cover. The cover art for Chemical Serpents is called “Lapis Philosophorum”, which means “Philosopher’s Stone”.

8_2 Lapis Philosophorum Janice Duke © 2012 Lapis Philosophorum © Janice Duke 2012

The Philosopher’s Stone has a history and mystery that goes back a lot further than the famous Harry Potter book. Reference to the stone can be found as far back as Cheirokmeta by Zosimos of Panopolis circa 300 AD, and some writers go further, claiming that its history goes back to the biblical Adam who is said to have gained knowledge of the stone directly from God. This knowledge is said to have been passed down through biblical patriarchs, providing the source for their longevity.

Regardless of this mythic claim, the theoretical roots of the stone’s creation can be traced to Ancient Greek…

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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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Books, Illustration

Tria Prima

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

Janice Duke Illustration

The third chapter of Chemical Serpents is titled “Trinity”, with each of my illustrations for it concerning threes and trinities. You may have noticed that the first chapter, the second and this one, concern the one, then the one becoming two, and now the three, or the two becoming three. This theme carries forward throughout the book, with successive chapters concerning increasing quantities and their symbolism.

Tria Prima Tria Prima © 2012 Janice Duke

Tria Prima means “Primary Three”. With this image I focussed on the trinity of Salt, Sulphur and Mercury, from hermetic alchemy, personified as three angels or helping spirits, with the symbol for each element painted on their faces (left, Salt; right, Sulphur; top, Mercury). This symbolism found its way into European Hermeticism during the Renaissance via Paracelsus, changing the duality of Sulphur and Mercury that had been used previously into a trinity. In Jungian psychology

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Books, Illustration

Solve et Coagula

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

Janice Duke Illustration

The second chapter of Chemical Serpents is titled “Eggs and the Androgynous Child”, carrying the general theme of serpent symbolism from the previous chapter into its relation to eggs, their offspring and serpent-like mythic beings, with specific reference to the Philosophers Egg, the Cosmic Egg, the Monas Hieroglyph, and the figures of the Androgyne, Baphomet, N’Aton and Sophia.

Roman Caduceus

At this stage I would like to point out the smaller illustrations I created to accompany the entire text. Each image is different but unified with the others by being contained within a golden egg. The egg theme also extends to the full page images, which each reference eggs and form egg shapes within the image. To me, the egg is a powerfully spiritual symbol. It is a cocoon in which disparate elements merge and transform into a unified whole. It is a protective shell of limitations within which we grow and…

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Anton Channing, Books

WhIP Presents: Chemical Serpents

cover promo

Our first book, Chemical Serpents by Anton Channing, is available once again: [Click Here]. The third edition is a paperback, featuring full colour interiors beautifully illuminated by the stunning visionary artwork of Janice Duke, with several new illustrations by her.

Ubiquitous throughout human history, the serpent has been with us in many forms and guises, wending its way into our earliest rituals and imaginings.

With the serpent as guide, chaos alchemist Anton Channing explores the alchemical, mystical, magical and mythological symbols of the path to illumination found throughout the world’s mystery schools and religions. A journey that spans the practises of meditation, contact with spirits, astral journeys to the heavens and the underworld, sexual mysteries, entheogenic sacraments and the discovery of one’s own true will.


“A feast for the eyes and mind…would not be out of place in any esoteric library.” – Freeman Presson, Spiralnature