LORD SCALES. Jacques Vallin, your earthly life unfolds before you in a myriad of bubbles; behold them floating in the air: a hundred thousand spheres, each one a world of infinite possibilities. Some bubbles encapsulate whole seasons; others but a fleeting emotion, experienced in a heartbeat. Look closer, and you will see that all things are recorded in the minutest detail: a single second is a codex more than ten leagues long. Each bubble is a skein of worlds within worlds. These spheres of perception subsume everything you ever did, every thought and action, seen from every point of view – yours, and every person you touched; what you said, what you didn’t say, and all correspondences in every particular; for no two people experience the same moment in precisely the same way. In reviewing your life, you may choose bubbles in any order. Most men proceed in a linear sequence from birth to death; although some heretics have been known to start at the grave and finish in the cradle. Of course, all men are drawn to those bubbles which are in accord with their affections. But, when occasion demands, we will examine other, more irksome bubbles, according to our pleasure. When entering a bubble, all your earthly deeds will be laid bear for our perusal, including those secret intentions which occupied your mind at the time. All your deceits and pleasures will be dissected with the utmost surgical precision. For ’tis written in the gospel of Luke: There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed: nor hidden that shall not be known. For whatsoever things you have spoken in darkness shall be published in the light: and that which you have spoken in the ear in the chambers shall be preached on the housetops…[i] Be aware that whilst you perceive each bubble as a single entity, we behold them all at once and in totality. Only when we deem it wise, shall you be endowed with our universal vision; at that moment of becoming, you shall comprehend the entire meaning of your life in relation to the Godhead. Do you understand?
JACQUES. As far as I am able. Is that really me? I behold my death as if I were another person.
LORD SCALES. A temporary excursion of the soul.
JACQUES. Do not send me back into the body; the pain is more than I can bear.
LORD SCALES. You shall remain in spirit until the jury has reached their verdict…
JACQUES. But will I always look like this in spirit? Must I keep my earthly visage, with hirsute flesh and horns?
LORD SCALES. Your spirit body shall be changed after death, though in what manner we cannot yet determine. For ’tis easier to turn a dog into a dove, than to transmute a devil into an angel. Some men live according to the lusts of the world, others to the laws of heaven. Thus your spiritual visage will be determined by your earthly deeds.
KREW. Look yonder: your bubbles swirl in a spumous haze, like seafoam on the shores of Time. There are so many orbs to choose from. Where shall we start?
JACQUES. Within these ephemeral spheres, the days of my life unfold like blooming flowers. Look! There is the house where I grew up. If grace will lead me right, I will flout heretical convention and start at the cradle. That bubble there – the one with the oak tree sighing in the breeze. I should like to begin there…
LORD SCALES. And so you shall. But first there is the small matter of the earthly charges.
JACQUES. Ah yes, the earthly charges: a conspiracy against me. Needless to say, my confession was extracted on the rack. What did I avow? Forsooth, I know not what came into my head. ’Twas completely off the cuff and quite out of character. As for the crime of infanticide, if you would just let me explain –
LORD SCALES. Be silent! This man of clay has an ungovernable tongue. Immodica lingua! He summons us to judge his crimes, but now he fears the consequences. Vides quam flexibiles hominum voluntates sunt! [You see how fickle the tempers of men are!] Jacques Vallin, your crimes will be examined in accordance with diamonic law which shall be explained in due course. The ultimate nature of your sin cannot be hidden from our sight; there is no possible room for deception; so whatever you confessed, true or false, it shall be made apparent to the jury. All your works shall be revealed – both your interior thoughts, and those exterior actions you presented to the world. Have I not made this clear already?
JACQUES. Yes my Lord. Forgive my wagging tongue. All I ask is that you show mercy when judging my wretched soul.
LORD SCALES. Wretched indeed. For you are a spirit who has usurped heaven and delighted in clandestine acts of heresy.
JACQUES. Like any diamon, I sinned bravely – if I sinned at all.
LORD SCALES. Do you mean to tell us that you deny all the charges?
JACQUES. No my lord, but I fear your methods. Shall you put me to the question like the grand inquisitor?
LORD SCALES. I find the comparison most insulting. I am nothing like the grand inquisitor.
JACQUES. Forgive me my Lord, but what I mean to ask is, do you plan to torture me?
LORD SCALES. Torture you? God forbid! For he saith to Moses: I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy. And I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy. So then, ’tis not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.[ii]
JACQUES. But who is your God?
LORD SCALES. I might ask the same of you. Christ or Satan? I fear you do not know. Perhaps your philosophy is so derogate that you cannot tell the difference. Who is your God? Christ, The Light of the World, or Lucifer, the Light Bringer? You refuse to answer. ’Tis quite clear, even from a precursory glance of your aura, that the tapestry of your life is woven from many contradicting threads; so before we continue any further, you had better make your position clear.
JACQUES. Look at my broken body, tortured in the name of Christ. Mother Church is a rapacious and vindictive whore, who perverts the laws of God. Her greedy priests are steeped in hell and destruction; ’tis their chief delight to profit by indiscriminate torture; with missal in hand, they go about committing all manner of infernal crimes. They promise men salvation but soak the earth in blood. They insist that the perfection and power of heaven increases with its number. But how many Christians must die to bring about the New Jerusalem? Christ promised He would come again. The priests always insist He is coming back soon. Yet more than thirteen thousand years have passed since He ascended into Heaven. Alas, He remains absent to this day. Christ sent us out as sheep amongst wolves. Yet still He does not deliver His flock. All His servants are cut down like flowers of the field. His tabernacle has become the habitation of demons, full of corruptions and malice. Innocence is trampled underfoot and the truth is burned with hatred. The goodmen of the Word are sentenced to the pyre, whilst the proud pope of iniquity is exalted in His name. ’Tis written that Christ is with us, even to the ends of the Earth. But I fear doomsday has come and gone already. The land has become a burning pitch, full of pestilence and death. Malignity and ignorance sit crowned on high, whilst justice and wisdom are banished to the deepest dungeon. Give me a bubble of Elysium wherein I can forget myself – some green-wooded hills, far from the haunts of men. For this earth is a fallen realm and darkness reigns in every corner of the compass. My body is little better than a corpse. Why must I fuse with such foul flesh? Can it be so wrong to make a pact with the Prince of this world, when the King of the next ignores all my suffering?
LORD SCALES. Your predicament is noted but not entirely unfamiliar. Alas, you are sadly deceived: toto erras cœlo. Men understand scripture by the letter only, and fail to grasp its spiritual inflections. Error longe lateque diffusus. [A widespread error]. If you think the New Jerusalem is a literal city, then you are sorely mistaken. And if you believe that the Second Coming shall see the Son of God descending from the clouds in great glory, then you are fool. The Christ can only return in the hearts of men. And until mankind awakens to his higher purpose, he shall flounder in seas of chaos.
JACQUES. Then let me be the ripple that turns the tide.
LORD SCALES. Vir ingenio pollens. [A man of wit]. Yet still one of imperfect action and conflicting agencies. As I peer into your soul, I see so many defects, blots and flaws, that the accumulated sins cast doubt upon the veracity of your motives. I fancy the jury will not admit in your favour. Nevertheless, let us see what kind of man you really are. Ostende qui vir sis. Choose a bubble if you please…
SATYR STYX. Er, my Lord, if I may be so bold, permit me to interrupt. Before the accused chooses a bubble, there is still the small matter of the earthly charges. The jury has yet to hear them. The bench must review the charges before we can proceed.
LORD SCALES. Ah yes, the earthly charges. Forgive me Satyr Styx, but I was so intrigued by this miscreant that I forgot due process. Of course, you are right to correct me. I shall now address the jury… Goblin jury, in assessing the charges, you must keep in mind four things. Firstly, is the accused willing to state that each of the articles is erroneous, and that he abjures them; secondly, whether he will confess that he committed the crimes which have been proved against him by witnesses; thirdly, in admitting the crimes, does he show contrition, or does he remain impenitent; fourthly, in denying the veracity of the earthly verdict, does he perjure heaven and defy the opinion of its holy doctors… Are there any questions? None at all? Very well. Here begin proceedings in matter of faith against Jacques Vallin, commonly known as “The Mad Abbot”. These are the earthly charges… That the said accused, from the time of his youth, has performed many charms and divinations; he has called up demons, familiars and evil spirits; he has entered into pacts and treaties with them; and he has given counsel and favour to others doing the same thing. Moreover, he has affirmed that to use such charms and divinations was not sinful, but lawful, worthy and just. Throughout his life, he has confessed to worshipping Satan, both in his private chamber, and at the witches’ sabbat, where he revelled in the most heinous acts. And in performing these evil arts, he bewitched many others into doing the same thing. Furthermore, he has let himself be venerated by healing the sick. He has preached heresy to his brethren and uttered things contrary to the Catholic faith. He has renounced Christ, defiled the cross and stolen holy victuals from his house. He has confessed to the murder of many devout men – both in this kingdom – and further abroad. In committing such sacrilege, he admits that his sole intention was to uproot Mother Church. In the perpetration of these obscene crimes, the said Jacques has been caught, tried as a Luciferan, and condemned to the stake. Jacques Vallin, how do you plead?
JACQUES. Guilty as charged, my lord.
LORD SCALES. Excellent. Your interrogation will be conducted according to the doctrine of Diamonic Law. And according to the said same law, the familiar will act as witness. Remember, to lie about your sin is folly: you cannot deceive a diamon. What men inter, we exhume; what they kill, we resurrect; what they prize, we deem as dust.
JACQUES. Then truly Lord Scales, I was always more diamon than man.
LORD SCALES. A noble sentiment. But the truth will out. For we shall interrogate you like no other. We will bait and taunt you, deceive and pry you. Question us unwisely, and we will lie. Scorn us, and we will pillory you. Bore us, and we will vanish on the wind. We have come from illimitable depths to hold a mirror to your soul. Jacques Vallin, do you swear on The Divine Throne of His Imperial Satanic Majesty, to reveal your true self at all times?
JACQUES. I swear.
LORD SCALES. You have pleaded guilty to the charges brought against you. That plea will be assessed according to The Rule of Infernal Inversion. This means, if we find you innocent, you will burn at dawn – as men decree. On the other hand, if we find you guilty (and a worthy disciple of Satan), we shall save you from flame; and when the cockerel crows, you shall enter The Garden of Demonic Delights. Do you accept the perversity of the law?
JACQUES. I do.
LORD SCALES. Behold The Scales of Satanic Justice. Before this night is out, your very soul I will take, and weigh it in my pan. Poor is the soul that cannot tip the balance. If The Needle of Salvation swings right – you burn; if it swings left, the joys of the Underworld are yours for all eternity… Jacques Vallin, the court has heard of your earthly confession. Is there anything else you wish to add? Speak man of clay: reveal the true depths of your depravity…
JACQUES. Most noble Lord, these other crimes I shamefully admit… At the age of eight, I stamped on three frogs – just to see the colour of their guts. Their beauteous eyes still haunt me to this hour. At eleven, I lay with sheep, and conjoined myself with hens. Throughout my wretched life, I used images to bed women of various estate…
KREW. Especially virgins.
LORD SCALES. Silence Krew!
KREW. But my Lord, he had a whole convent! Sixty nuns in seven nights! Nothing could sate his tireless cock!
LORD SCALES. Order! Order in court! Satyrs, stop stomping! Goblins stop jeering! Silence from the Jury! I see no cause for amusement here. Krew, another outburst like that and I will have you removed from the proceedings. Sixty nuns indeed. And, if I’m not mistaken, your “lustrous” eye has turned quite green… You will get the chance to speak Krew, but until that time, you are asked to keep your opinions of the accused to yourself. Is that clear?
LORD SCALES. Then let us continue. Now that this matter has come to my attention, I will ask the accused. Jacques Vallin, is this true – that you had coitus with a whole convent?
JACQUES. Yes my lord. The entire sisterhood – from the hag abbess right down to the youngest novice.
LORD SCALES. By what magic did you seduce these Brides of Christ?
JACQUES. I made like images from wax, bat’s blood and spittle. These I consecrated to the Devil at full moon. To seal the compact, I wrapped them in linen soaked with my own semen.
LORD SCALES. A most vile bewitchment. How were these images employed?
JACQUES. I crept in the dorter at sunset and hid them under the pallets.[iii]
LORD SCALES. A demonic crime of the highest order – to snatch these virgin postulants from their lord and master Christ. What is worse, you show no shame for their defilement.
JACQUES. I hold all women sacred. What fate for a bride who has given herself to Christ? Shall his Spirit consummate her flesh? I say no. She renounces the world and withers in her cell like an unpicked fruit. For the flesh lusts against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh.[iv] Better that she meet Him on earth through me, before the worms devour her.
LORD SCALES. You think, that by your compact, these nuns were easily corrupted?
JACQUES. Oh yes, they adored the most depraved and damnable acts!
LORD SCALES. Members of the bench, let it be noted, that but for three frogs, the accused shows no remorse for the wrack and ruin of his life. He has admitted his guilt and confirmed that the charges brought against him are true. In other words, he believes, without a shadow of a doubt, that his sins are just. You must determine if they are… Jacques Vallin, your sin is great, your appearance foul. You were born a man, but both body and soul show little semblance of humanity. Never, in all my years of office, have I judged a malefactor like you. I must admit, I find you most perplexing. One thing is sure: your heretic heart is black as pitch. I am keen to know the root of this corruption. Speak…
i. Luke, 12:2-3.
ii. Romans, 9:14-16.
iii. At Carcassonne in 1329, a Carmelite monk name Peter Recordi was condemned by the Inquisition for a similar crime. See “Witchcraft in The Middle Ages”, by Jeffrey Burton Russell, Chapter 7: ‘Witchcraft and Rebellion in Medieval Society’ [Heresy and Witchcraft] p. 186.
iv. Galatians 5:17.