Heresy – It’s Alchemy!

Alchemic Citadel, colored pencil, 9 x 11″ (1997)

For the Heresy, Kingdom Come collectible card game (CCG), I did around 36 cards. Most of which were the Alephs, or magic items. This group of Heresy cards are informed by the occult discipline of alchemy. There were several religious and esoteric belief systems incorporated into Heresy: Judeo-Christian angels, demons, and artifacts; Alchemy; Hermetic magic; and even Astrology. No real practices of these belief systems were employed, but they were incorporated to give the game a sense of historical authenticity (in my opinion). So, to further this attempt for historical accuracy in the belief systems, I did research and tried to use real, historical esoteric symbols and visual traditions in my designs for the cards. In this case, the lettering on the circular scroll in Alchemic Citadel are characters from an “angelic alphabet”, taken from medieval sources and a fantastic book called A Dictionary of Angels by Gustov Davidson.

Basilica Philosophica, colored pencil, 9 x 11″ (1997)

Some of the concepts for these cards were a bit obscure. I discussed them with the creators of the game, and I found imagery that illustrated the concept they were trying to portray. This card, I believe was about transformation. So I found an alchemical sigil that represented the transformation from lead to gold, through a series of ten steps. It’s from one of my weird books….

Cosmic Furnace, colored pencil, 9 x 11″ (1997)

This card, called Cosmic Furnace, is a pretty straightforward alchemical concept. The forces of the cosmos create a furnace, which is a standard alchemical symbol for the crucible of transformation, the environment in which change can happen. The snake biting its tail is a common symbol for cyclical change. The world itself is our Cosmic Furnace, transmuting our souls into a finer substance. You see, alchemy was not the pursuit of turning lead into gold. That is mere base matter. The REAL object of alchemy is the transformation of the soul.

Rodolphine Tablets, colored pencil, 9 x 11″ (1997)

The final card in this group is Rodolphine Tablets, a straight-up magic item, common to most fantasy games. They are tablets which are obscure astronomical charts or diagrams, giving the player some kind of magical assistance. I had to find a way to make them strange and alien-looking, yet appear functional. The background is a familiar star-chart theme of mine, which I have used in many projects, like in EQUINOX.

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