Court Transcript

JACQUES. Margot was threatened with fire lest she do exactly as the Janus bade. She told of the tower at the edge of the world, the lofty chamber with its iron door, and all the wretched women chained to that silken bed. Many maids found their ruin there, all kept in bondage for the Janus seed. Margot was summoned at every birth and paid in gold. But each delivery produced a monster and incurred the abbot’s wrath. Goblin jury, fear is not my failing, and even as a child, I was unwilling to believe in a supernatural cause, but when she told of my birth, I felt the power of God surge right through me…

All human things are subject to perpetual change but we are taught to rest on God’s providence, and cast away our material cares. The scriptures say: lay not up the treasures of Earth, for moth and rust corrupt, and thieves break through and steal.[i] Artificers work gold, silver, brass and iron; they carve wood and stone; they weave fine cloth of scarlet and purple silk; they make gravings and cut jewels of many colours. But all these things are vanities. ’Twas Solomon, that most wise philosopher, who set forth the vanity of this world, and told men to withdraw their affections from such worthless toys. But did he not also say that all things have their season under Heaven?[ii] A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away.[iii] We must be prepared for our change of state, and like the smith, we must strike when the iron is hot. To be prepared is to know our season in advance. That it is the hour to rise from our sleep…[iv]

LORD SCALES. Er, the court is well familiar with the scriptures. Why do you quote them so profusely? Unless your intention is to impress us with your pious knowledge?

JACQUES. I quote them to make use of philosophical argument. Unless the court is so tender in religious matters, that it cannot suffer me to quote them? Do you deny me the liberty of speech?

LORD SCALES. Get to the point if you please.

JACQUES. The point is this: our time is fleeting, our season obscure. Our fate is darkly expressed and requires deep meditation, and strict application of Mind. On this matter, naught is more requisite than astrology. Look to the heavens and number the stars if thou canst.[v] The Lord stretched out the heavens like a curtain.[vi] His obstetric hand brought forth the winding serpent[vii] – the constellation of Draco, that coils about the northern star. Aye, the omnipotent power of God has brought forth all things created in Time, conceived in the Divine Mind from eternity… When He wished to bring the Deluge upon the Earth, he took two stars out of the Pleiades and let the Deluge loose; and when He wished to arrest it, He took two stars from Arcturus and stopped it.[viii] For writ in the stars is the constitution of the whole world, and the operation of the elements. Sun and Moon define the circuit of the years, the solstices and seasons – just as the stars define the Nature of men, their characters and fates.

All things come together as specific times. Telluric currents may trickle away unnoticed for aeons, but may be channelled into torrents of cosmic power by alignment of the stars. The stellar winds that stream forth from sun and moon, pass through all things – even babes in the womb. So one cause affects another; from star to star, world to world and atom to atom. Such is the nature of Ether: ’tis more fluid than water, and fills all the vast spaces where the spheres abide.

I shall not insult your intelligence by giving a history of the Zodiac, nor attempt to explain the furrows of the sky and the Monthly Abodes of Apollo. Suffice to say, that the Zodiac is a circle of beasts, all drawn upon the stars. ’Tis well to remember that each planet corresponds to a certain state of the mind. Thus Saturn represents melancholy; Mars a fiery temper; the Moon a dreamy disposition; Jupiter ambition and pride; Mercury intelligence; Venus love and desire; the Sun, wisdom.

The wise man rules his life by seeing that he must first harmonise himself with the stars and then with Sun and Moon – the two luminaries which are the source of Light and life. Quod superius est sicut quod inferius et quod inferius est sicut quod superius.[ix] [What is above is alike unto what is below, and what is below is alike unto what is above]. The high influences the low; the Macrocosm the Microcosm, and all things stand in sympathetic relation to one another. This is The Law of One. Every organ in the body is in harmony with cosmic forces, the former attracting the corresponding sympathy of the latter. Thus the heart is in sympathy with the sun; the brain with the moon; the lungs with Mercury; the kidneys with Venus; the gall-bladder with Mars; the liver with Jupiter; and the spleen with Saturn.

As for the Zodiacal signs and their rulership of the body, let us recapitulate… Aries, the Ram, rules the head; Taurus, the Bull, the neck; Gemini, the Twins, the arms; Cancer, the Crab, the breast; Leo, the Lion, the heart; Virgo, the Virgin, the bowels; Libra, the Balance, the reins; Scorpio, the Scorpion, the loins; Sagittarius, the Archer, the thighs; Capricornus, the Goat, the knees; Aquarius, the Waterman, the legs; Pisces, the Fishes, the feet.

Stellar conjunctions make for various men. Every diamon worth his salt knows his ascendant sign, not to mention the house position of his planets. It so happens that my moon is in Pisces. What does that mean? Well, it means that I am sensitive, gentle and kind, with great faculty of imagination. Yet I am also shy and tender-hearted. Am I not sweet? Behold my rank deformity: does it not speak of great suffering? See how my red eyes twinkle with an innate understanding of how others feel. Oh yes, I am a veritable Saint. My only concern is to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers and cast out devils: freely I have received, and freely do I give.[x] What utter hogwash! Let me tell the truth: a moon in Pisces describes a person of mean and low stature; one who is plump, fat and pale, with bloated face, light brown hair and sleepy eyes; one who is not inclined to action, unless of the worst possible kind; and one who is given to drink; in short, one who is a curse, both to himself and others…

LORD SCALES. So which is it Jacques? Are you sensitive gentle and kind, or a mean and lowly drunkard?

JACQUES. Let the court decide. Actions speak louder than words.

LORD SCALES. You refer to your war on Mother Church?

JACQUES. Precisely.

LORD SCALES. You have perverted Her dogmas, plundered her coffers, violated her tombs, slain her priests, sought gain by turpitude, and dabbled in high sorcery. No wonder she condemned you to the pyre. As if your muddled faith were not enough.

JACQUES. Of course, ’twas hard for Mother Church to understand the tenets my faith, but I always tried to teach the error of her ways. That’s why I burnt down the abbey of Belloc and murdered six monks. Not to mention other devout men – both in this kingdom and further abroad. I have always cheated God to the profit of the Devil. Indeed, the wages of my sin would fill the halls of Hades ten times over. But more of my accomplishments later…

Where was I? Ah yes, astrology. Deformity apart, I am your typical Pisces. First and foremost, Pisces is a bicorporeal sign and double-bodied – just like me; ’tis a feminine sign; a fruitful sign; a sign of short ascension; a southern sign, (being south of the equator); and a Trigon sign, along with Cancer and Scorpio, being watery and moist. I am poorly made with a large face and pale complexion; my body is fleshy and apt to swelling; my posture is far from straight; I stoop when walking, oft’ in pensive thought, with both eyes on the ground; ’tis no wonder that I constantly trip upon my toes. Indeed, the astrologers warn never to begin a building with the Moon in Pisces, because, having a south latitude descending, ’twill soon fall; that’s why they always lay the foundation stone when the Moon is in Aquarius and in good aspect to the ascendant. They also warn never set sail when Saturn ascends in Pisces, for the ship is in danger of being lost, especially if Mars afflicts Saturn by an evil aspect; so whether you are king with a fleet of ships, or just a humble fisherman with a mackerel boat, pay heed to what they say.

DOCTOR BUCKET. They say this. They say that. They say so many things about the stars to make astrology absurd!

JACQUES. I cannot deny it: astrology is absurd. But ’tis also true…

SATYR. Then I might ask the accused: how does the Law of Causality hold good? How does a pre-existing constellation give rise to a given state of affairs?

JACQUES. Must I repeat the first law of cosmic correspondence? As above, so below. The planets are just like us; and we cast that upon others which is in ourselves. Look here: I have four planets in my sign, and all of them at the zenith. I should tell you now, that any soul with so many planets in one sign, and in such rare conjunction, is certain to be notorious. I also have Jupiter and Mars in conjunction with my second house – which is of course, the house of money. Little wonder I became so rich. Alas, the presence of Mars also made gold pass through my hands like water. But look here – the moon is in my second house, and in evil aspect to the planet Saturn. This was the cause of many youthful misfortunes, not to mention my stupendous fall from grace.

SATYR. Yet none of this explains your preternatural gifts.

JACQUES. Well, a magus may plot the planets with great skill, but the Zodiac is full of surprises, and no mortal can fully predict the intention of the Heavens. For there comes a time, once in an age, when the constellations act in contradiction, and bestow a birth with supernal powers. For some unknown reason, the Gods always favour the lowly. Not that I intend, for one moment, to compare myself with Him.

As a child, I would oft’ gaze at the infinite majesty of Night, studded with flashing stars, or watch the silver moon, waxing and waning through the firmament. By what unfathomable power did Her migrations affect my strength? She rules all the functions of the body; She is the giver of life in a female nativity; She is cold, moist and assimilative, and governs the belly, breast and blood. Alas, insanity always ensues when the luminaries of Sun and Moon are conjoined. This is especially true where Cancer, Virgo or Pisces are concerned, and if the Moon, Mercury, Saturn or Mars are placed in either of these signs, calamity will ensue. Alack, I have all four in mine! As such, my infirmities are incalculable, compounded by a retrograde influence of Neptune, which has caused diverse demoniacal affections, not to mention a love of opiates, wine and other intoxicants. What curséd horoscope!

’Tis the judgement of many wise men that an eclipse of the Sun in the sign of Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces (the Watery triplicity) is very ominous indeed; and when it occurs in the eighth house, ’tis the most evil part of the whole heavens. Such a birth will always presage death and destruction. With Jupiter afflicted and so poorly placed, ’tis no wonder my life was plagued with sickness, fines, imprisonment, and marital discord. My incarnation was beset with troubles, misfortunes and enemies. Wherever I went there arose fears, rumours, false intelligences, seditious conspiracies, unexpected mutinies, sins and impieties. When the people saw me coming, they cried: “Each man for himself and the Devil for all!”

LORD SCALES. Enough of astrology. You blame the heavens for your own shortcomings. Methinks you are crafty, malicious, wayward and stubborn. The scriptures warn against fortune telling, but throughout your life you have consulted soothsayers, wizards, and pythonic spirits. You have divined dreams and omens, and sought guidance from the stars. I do not deny your ominous birth, for your horoscope is indeed quite wretched, and had Satan consulted with the stars, he could not have framed it better. But ’tis not all bad. See here – the planets in your chart are in cardinal signs, which makes you a true enthusiast; but you oft’ commenced in rash undertakings, which always led to disaster and landed you in prison or disgrace.

JACQUES. I could not help it. Conciliated with Mars, and posited in glory, Saturn made me reckless, insolent, impatient and depraved.

LORD SCALES. I could not help it. You are cunning, faithless, and foolishly wicked. An impious blasphemer who scoffs at Holy rights. Too oft’ your dealings with men have been fierce and turbulent; you have shown yourself as tyrannical, rapacious and immutable in opinion. Your libidinous impulses have made you treacherous to women. You abused Nature’s laws for you own ends; and your reckless meddling with the Flesh has offended the Seraphim. Jacques Vallin, there is much blood on your hands. But do not accuse the stars. You are far too fond of the occult. ’Tis you, and you alone, who is to blame.

JACQUES. ’Twas the moon that did it! The moon! If I have blood on my hands, ’twas her doing. She tempted me to sin. God knows, I have always been her supplicant. She holds dominion over my entire heart and mind!

LORD SCALES. You cannot blame it all on the moon.

JACQUES. Why not? The moon is the menstruum mundi and exerts a very evil influence. When She is full, I know with everlasting surety, that I am under Her spell. I am attracted to her body like the needle of a compass towards the Pole.

SATYR. The jury will note that the spiritus vitae cerebri of the accused is completely pickled in moonshine. He lives entirely in his brains and idle fancy.

JACQUES. Would I be a lunatic without the poisonous rays of the moon? Ever since my birth I have suffered from sexual passions which caused many injurious dreams and hallucinations. Need I remind you, that the moon is for the distaff side? She is for queen, princess and contessa; for duchess, baroness and marchioness; She is for ladies, mid-wives, nurses, water-bearers, and washerwomen; She is for pilgrims, sailors and voyages by sea. My goddess Selene! To gaze upon her luminous face is to fall bewitched. She is profound, austere and secretive; she is imperious, avaricious and bigoted, yet always charming and full of Virgin grace; she is subtle, gentle and kind – an artful seductress of silvery Light, yet oft’ violent, envious and ill-disposed to men; she is beautiful, yet malignant and treacherous in love; she is very fond of solitude, yet always desires my solicitations; she is imbued with power, yet remains timorous, furtive and fickle. But despite her many faults, she is incapable of shame and holds the world in thrall. All life bows to her majestic orb: the turning tides; the copulating seas; the ebb and flow of blood; the migrating flocks and herds; the resplendent firefly, ant and worm; the germinating corn, and the green sward thrusting from the furrows.

The moon, the moon, the mysterious moon! She has ruled my whole life! Alas, She is thwarted in the highest degree when in conjunction with the Sun. ’Tis an evil testimony to be sure. Goblin jury, you have heard the horror of my father’s birth. Well this is the tale of my delivery…

Copyright © Nicholas Shea 2003.

i. Matthew, 6:19.
ii. Ecclesiastes, 3:1.
iii. Ibid, 3:6.
iv. Romans, 13:11.
v. Genesis, 15:5.
vi. Psalm 104:2 [King James version].
vii. Job, 26:13.
viii. Talmud. Berachoth, fol. 59, col. 1. A legend connecting the Pleiades with the Flood. I have always wondered if this refers to two inter-stellar comets bringing a global cataclysm to the Earth; perhaps the legend is based on scientific truth.
ix. The Emerald Tablets of Hermes Trismegistus.
x. Matthew, 10:8.

Image montage: Copyright Nicholas Shea 2020 from public domain sources.