LORD SCALES. We come to the Pit and the unseen powers of darkness, of which man must be on eternal guard. The accused has told of many hideous apparitions and spectral phantoms. His testament also relates heavenly encounters, not least during the rite of transformation. But I remain undecided if this is just a case of religious delirium, or the work of a veridical Celestial agent. Speak.
JACQUES. I feign to tell of this supernatural agency. The doctors cannot heed a word without disputing the authenticity of events. Instead they claim it all hallucination, brought on by grand mal seizure. Alas, the compounders of earthly medicine do not understand the soul. They never have sufficient quantity of the required drugs on hand; or they withhold treatment, claiming the prescription is quite beyond them. They count transsexuals as hardly human, and correlate the condition with sexual tendencies in monkeys. They insist my beliefs are not objective criteria. But my testament is not for infidels and sceptics. I leave it for the faithful, who are sufficiently advanced in years and experience, to know that beings of the Celestial order have long been involved in the affairs of men.
I have told of my puberty and the many horrors of its outward manifestations. But this was naught compared to the inward sense of despair, degradation and humiliation. A woman does not belong in the body of a man, any more than a horse belongs in the body of an ox. ’Twill not surprise the court, that Despite Odo’s dire warning, I resolved to venture all things, even sorcery, to regain my state in Paradise. Nothing would stop me attending the rite. I was determined to obtain my proper flesh, or perish in the attempt, even if it meant the eternal damnation of my soul.
LORD SCALES. Noted. But the court must know more of this forbidden rite. Please explain to the jury how you were transformed by the Essence.
JACQUES. I am not permitted. Need I remind you that the Essence of the Titans is a secret revealed only to the initiated, and whose disclosure to the vulgar is forbidden under penalty of torture and death?
LORD SCALES. Are you inferring that we are not worthy to hear such things?
JACQUES. With the exception of you my lord. But I find the jury to be common, obtuse and vulgar in the extreme. As for the bench, they are little better. Besides, the ignorant always kill what they do not understand.
LORD SCALES. So you will not speak of your transmutation?
JACQUES. ’Twas more than just a change of state. ’Twas resurrection. When I was found in the snows, half-frozen to death, they called me Lazarus, after him of Bethania, whom Christ raised from the dead. But my true resurrection was in the Pit, when I shed this hoary husk. Alas, my glorious reformation was all too fleeting, and it pains me to remember. So I humbly ask that Krew tell it instead.
LORD SCALES. Very well, your request is granted. Krew, please continue. And be quick about it. We are running out of time.
KREW. Running out of time. Whose time? Past, Present and Future are Time’s children. But Transsexual Time is not like other Time. Transsexual Time is subject to many distortions, not least dysplasia of gender. The Transsexual Future never follows from its past. The Transsexual Future goes backward, looks backward, dwells backward. Consequently the transsexual is always late, oft’ too late, not only for others, but especially themselves…
Krew is telling it…
Leaving the frater, Jacques runs down the south alley and up the mossy passage to the abbot’s lodging. Breathless, he bursts through the door, climbs the stairs, and darts across the landing. Finding the camera deserted he opens the trap and yells:
His echo fades in the depths. Then a faint voice replies:
‘Make haste my son!’
Snatching a sconce from the wall, Jacques bolts down the stairwell, shutting the trap behind him.
Down, down he goes, into subterranean halls where the restless dead await their resurrection. Head spinning, he flees through the ossuary, watched by flinty sockets that glow with forbidden light. His footsteps reverberate through the souterrain, ringing down shaft and vent. After winding through the catacombs, he stoops along a narrow tunnel. The rock is packed with fossils in vast abundance, chiefly bivalves and fragmentary fishes, all folded in dark shale. He squeezes through a fissure into a low-vaulted rotunda where frescos of bird-headed men adorn the walls. The Titan skull awaits beyond the portal. How it has haunted his dreams! Soon he will be free from his insufferable weight of flesh. His heart begins to race. Surely he will taste the ambrosia of the Gods! But as he clears the portal, he finds the cavern dark and deserted. He calls out:
‘Father, where are you?’
A tenfold echo. Then an irate reply rings amid the stalactites:
‘The Hell Mouth! Make haste!’
Jacques gasps. He’s in the wrong place! At the wrong time! Panicked, he doubles-back through the ossuary, flitting beneath the harpies whose twisted bones make grisly candelabras. Turning left, he descends a rocky promontory that extends into a gulf of darkness. A small light flares on the far side of the chasm. The Janus beckons in the distance, waving his torch:
‘Run Lazarus, run!’
Jacques scuds across the pavement, almost tumbling in the ghast abyss. Picking himself up, he traverses the span, his limbs flung in a nightmare of stumbling and falling. The Hell Mouth looms ahead, its ominous funnel lit by flaming torches. The gaping hole is over fifty yards wide, with steep treacherous walls, like the mouth of a pitcher plant.
The Janus is furious and hops about like a mad toad, dressed in the garb of a Pharisee:
‘Where have you been? You’re late! Late!’
‘Sorry father,’ gasps Jacques. ‘Hique kept me prisoner –’
‘Never mind that now. Tempus fugit! The moon has begun her transit. We must reach the bottom before totality. Quickly – into the casket…’
He leads Jacques down the funnel into a whicker cradle suspended from a stout beam. ’Tis then I see an ingenious engine perched on the rim: it resembles a mason’s lift used for transporting heavy stones. But the machine has been fashioned in reverse, its tread-wheel modified with paddles, which pass through a box of sand. Now, I have seen many such machines in my time, with their wheels, throwing arms, towers and rams; and such technology has hardly changed since the Hellenist days of old. I have no doubt that even an engineer employed by Demetrius Poliorcetes at the great siege of Rhodes(i), would understand the mechanism well, and be happy using it, more than thirteen centuries later…
‘You have been busy,’ remarks Jacques, astonished.
Beside the engine is a colossal coil of rope some ten feet high which winds into darkness, snaking down a passage of indeterminable length. This I cannot understand, for the weight of the rope must be many thousands of talents, and even accounting for such gargantuan timbers, I do not see how the engine could raise so great a length, once it has unwound in the depths… Nevertheless, I shall endeavour to describe the path of this rope in the machine: it passes round the tread wheel three times, then over six smaller wheels before threading through a system of pulleys; these turn a small cog which meshes with an Archimedes screw, whose axle crosses the base of the engine, all fixed with iron collars and rivets. The rope then runs outward along a great beam that cranes over the funnel mouth. At the end of the beam, the rope splays into four separate cords which are lashed to each corner of the cradle. The mechanism is quite ingenious: the weight of the cradle turns the Archimedes screw, which is geared to the tread wheel, which in turn moves the paddles through the sand, thus slowing the descent. The Janus opens the door:
‘Climb in Lazarus. Guard your flame and hold on tight.’
Jacques steps nervously inside and reels as the cradle lurches to and fro:
‘I hate heights,’ he mutters grimly.
‘Don’t look down,’ bids the Janus, climbing after. He bolts the cradle door and reaches for a lever: ‘Are you ready?’
‘Wait!’ cries Jacques, with sudden trepidation. ‘What is this place?’
‘You know not where? The great henge is directly above. This funnel is a telluric conductor, built by ancient sky gods, to channel the elixirs of sun and moon…’
Before Jacques can say another word, the Janus thrusts the lever forward and the engine jolts into motion. The tread-wheel rumbles overhead, the paddles flipping in the sand box.
The descent begins.
Titanic steps gyre round the shaft as the cradle picks up speed. The limestone walls flash past, gleaming in the torchlight. Down, down they go, deep into igneous realms, darkness pressing from above and below. The pulleys whir as the descent quickens and the cradle begins to judder.
‘Hold fast!’ cries the Janus.
I follow after, diving like a hawk into the bowels of Gaia. The torches splutter, glinting on the shaft which streaks past in many florid hues, with shining veins of silver, gold and krystallos. The crystals grow in size, their beautiful facets tinted by iron, copper and manganese. They pass murals of lambent agates, folded in wavy bands of blue and green; these fade into sooty seams of coal that rip past like ribbons: a primaeval forest of pine and fern that grew when the Earth was young. Then yet more gold, the nuggets widely scattered, embedded in a matrix of barytes and other kindred minerals. Another hundred fathoms – flying through kidney concretions, commingled with cloudy masses of chalcedony, amethyst and jasper. Deeper they go, through strata of onyx, magenta, white and black, into river beds of forgotten time, where the Magnolias of Eden once bloomed under different stars…
The Janus bawls:
‘We cross spans of time incomprehensible!’
Yet deeper the cradle falls, past cliffs of apple-green chrysoprase, clear carnelian, and mossy fronds of yellow sulphur. The air turns warm as the depths begin to glow with fire. Yet still the cradle founders, past shards of green emerald, balls of blue beryl and ribbons of sea-green that sparkle like cats’ eyes. Oh! That the lapidarians of Herculaneum might have had them for their necklaces!
The pulleys start to smoulder.
‘How much further?’ chatters Jacques.
Lilith turns to him and leers:
‘Are you frightened little one?’
Onward they go, their bones rattling as they plummet like a stone. The Janus peers over the edge and looks for sign, the rushing wind tugging at his beard. A strange hexagonal floor looms ahead in the gloom. At once he heaves upon the lever. The pulleys screech and the descent begins to slow. Eventually the cradle comes to a complete halt, resting on a magnificent basalt pavement. Yet when I look closer, I see this pavement is a disk of polished stone that fits snug in the base of the shaft: a platform of hexagonal tiles that is altogether distinct from the surrounding rock. But before I can examine it more closely, I am distracted by a cascade of rainbow lights…
It might be the twilight of a dream. I behold a titanic arch carved from purest tourmaline, with crystal prisms, three, six, nine and twelve. The lattice shimmers in the torchlight – a throng of twinkling stars that pulse with telluric life.
‘Ave Maria!’ gasps Jacques, crossing himself thrice.
Beyond the arch is a vast chamber which emits a ghostly blue light. The walls are encrusted with jewels that flicker like luminescent jellies of the sea. The Janus opens the cradle and says softly:
‘Come my son. Too long we have lived under the bane of an evil star; but that power shall wane and our afflictions vanish… This crystal chamber attracts and magnifies the corresponding planetary influences. By your rising star, the conjunction of Venus, and the qualities of your blood, a great change will take place in your sidereal body. Do not delay. Do not question. Just keep your faith and do as I say. Are you ready?’
‘Now follow me…’
The Janus grabs a small casket from the cradle and they step out onto the basalt floor. In the shadows, I spy a humble grave of rocks, piled on the spot where Ricon fell. A small stone is carved with the words:
Quidnam sibi saxa cavata, quid pulchra volunt monumenta, nisi quod res creditur illis non mortua, sed data somno? [Why hew the rocky tomb so deep, Why raise the monument so fair, Save that the form we cherish there Is no dead thing, but laid to sleep?](ii)
Passing through the arch they enter an ancient temple built when the world was young. The structure resembles a vast amphitheatre, surrounded by stately ranges of basalt columns that rise like flutes of some vast subterranean organ. They occur in fantastic forms, some grouped around blind openings, like the pilasters of a tomb, others running in long colonnades, or rising into arbours and radiating out like fan vaulted ceilings. The entire basilica has an aquamarine concretion which glows with faery fire.
Jacques cranes his neck and looks up in awe. A great dome of krystallos twinkles in the vault – with mighty prisms ten cubits wide and fifty long; they form a radial array, their gleaming terminations focused on the altar below…
For in the middle of the chamber is basalt dais, formed by clusters of hexagonal piers. And seated round, on towering thrones, are seven Titanic skeletons that tower over sixty feet: a conclave of giants with petrified bones.
Who were these giants of yore? The sons of Titan Eurymedon? Or of Iapetus and his brothers, Epimethus, Atlas and Menoetius? Those ancient Prometheans knew all the depths of the sea, and built great temples, palaces and harbour works. But no, these giants are far older than my Hellenic age. Six of them resemble Baal, dressed in silver fish-mail robes, with long gilded hats. But the middle giant is more regal and terrible than the rest. He grins like Death and holds a shepherds crook. His leathery hands are all but concealed in crumbling cuffs, but I spy curved talons, as long as scythes. His mighty orbits are dreadful to behold: black and deep as hell, they speak of untold terrors. His cranium is covered in the funereal mask of an Egyptian Pharaoh: a guise of solid gold, beaten and burnished with immaculate skill. He wears a striped royal headdress [nemes] made of gold and lapis lazuli. A vulture’s head looms on the brow, its feathers bejewelled with radiant gems; beside it coils a sovereign cobra, made of solid silver; the scales shimmer with dark blue faïence, and its eyes gleam with cloisonné, inlaid with rubies and pearls; whilst the cobra’s hood, (which is over a foot wide), sparkles with carnelian and turquoise coloured glass…
On the Titan’s chest, extending from shoulder to shoulder, is a broad collar of beaten gold, encrusted with segments of green feldspar, and a lotus-bud border of coloured glass; at each end of the collar is a falcon’s head of white onyx, beset with an obsidian eye and beak.
And so they sit, these frightful giants of yore, watching the sons of Adam who scurry like mice through their unhallowed halls. Man cannot know from what epoch these Titans came. For such spans of time baffle human imagination. But angelic hieroglyphs course above their thrones. Each icon is a gem of knowledge, a pearl of wisdom, a fragment of reality, immediately present. Allow to me decipher what scholars cannot crack, for the truth exceeds the bounds of mortal speculation:
“On fiery ships we came, from constellations far, through mansions of dismal space – the regions of the Great Invisible, ruled by the triumvirate of the Triple Powers. We herald from that Holy realm – the place of The First Mystery, that surrounds the first statute of the Law and the Great Light. For in our pride, we defied the Aeons, and all their orders, and all the emanations of the Great Invisible – and we were cast out into the dross realm of matter. Self-generated and unpaired, forsaken by our lords, and all the habitations of the spheres, we fled to Earth to build a new estate. And so we came to Atlan whose cliffs rose bright upon the Western sea…”
And here the script breaks off. Yet other fragments are carved upon the floor – a numbering system of elaborate calendrical cycles drawn from the movements of the Sun, Venus, and other heavenly bodies. Celestial orbits and ecliptic nodes are marked out with great precision in pavements of marble. The trajectories seep away into halls of darkness, like the remnants of some interstellar orrery powered by mental force.(iii)
Throughout my igneous life I have seen many subterranean wonders, but none that compare to this antediluvian marvel. My father once told of crystal halls hidden deep inside the earth, but their location was always a closely guarded secret, and ’twas strickly forbidden to seek them out. For this temple was not built by Titans of renown, but by the fallen Watchers, who came to Earth in flight from God’s wrath: the forsaken ranks of Satan Gadreel, who in their tumultuous sorrow, sought refuge in the bowels of Gaia. I cannot tell from what celestial realm they fell, but surely this geode chamber reminded them of home. For these crystal wands sing harmonies of The Spheres: hark the geometry of Creation, manifest in sound! The droning diapason of cosmic strings!
Siren chimes start peeling through the chasm – the same ghostly notes that haunted the abbey. As the harmonies build, the geode glows brighter, and ethereal tongues of fire whorl amid the wands. The Janus cries:
‘Quick! Totality has begun!’
Dropping their torches, they rush toward the dais, climbing six hexagonal steps onto an altar of pure krystallos. The altar is smaller in scale and built for mortal men. Standing in the middle is an emerald font, carved with a glassy serpent that emits a lustrous green light. The serpent winds around the pedestal, then spirals out, the coils of its body forming a splendid basin. Beside the font is low plinth of azurite about eight feet long and three feet wide; the hollow of a man is carved on top: the imprint of Adam Kadmon.
’Tis then I glean the purpose of this geode temple: it has been constructed as a fine instrument to magnify the Essence of the soul. For the edifice is a telluric resonator that functions much like the body of a mandolin, attuning the songs of sun and moon. Already I can feel the Light Stream pulsing through my veins: a cadence so pure that it sets my heart aflame.
But what, you might ask, is the modus operandi of this celestial machine? Let me begin with the maxim: Ex Ova Omia. [Out of the egg, everything]. The primordial substance of all things is a fundamental unity; and all differences in form arise from alterations where this primordial essence manifests its activity.(iv) Everything that man might become is germinally contained within the seed of life. But this temple is a receptacle of the macrocosmic force – that great Limbus out of which all life flows. The crystal plinth accumulates the Stellar Mysterium, and for a mortal to lie within its hollow is to be transformed. And so the terrestrial body becomes the living embodiment of its celestial soul. There’s no doubt in my mind: the Watchers have arranged the crystal wands for one intent: to split the braid of man, and re-arrange his atoms…
The Titans look down.
The Janus opens his casket and removes a golden goblet and silver dagger with a crescent hilt:
‘Give me your hand Lazarus. ’Tis time to draw your blood.’
Jacques obeys without question, flinching as the blade slices his palm. A scarlet rill trickles down his wrist and splatters in the cup.
‘Take off your vestements,’ bids the Janus. ‘Lie naked in the hollow. Think of the form you wish to take. Your intention must be pure…’
‘Yesss!’ whispers Lilith. ‘Your intention must be pure!’
Jacques duly strips and reclines in the hollow, his body trembling from foot to crown.
‘Be not afraid,’ says the Janus. ‘This is our communion. Titanic transubstantiation… Your flesh is the wafer, your blood the wine. As Christ is drawn into the Host, so The Essence is drawn into you. We proceed in accordance with the law of Hermes Trismegistus.“As above, so below.” For everything that exists upon the Earth has its ethereal counterpart above, and there is naught, however insignificant it may appear in the world, which does not depend on something higher; so that if the lower part acts, its presiding higher part reacts upon it. The spiritual being whose matrix is your mortal flesh, draws its nutriment from the universal Essence, just as the foetus is nourished by the womb of the mother…’
Yet as I see poor Jacques lying naked on that profane plinth, my heart is riven with grief; grief for his bodily state; grief for his incomplete soul; grief that I could not cure him in the womb; grief that he finds no comfort in the realm of Mind alone; and grief that he now resorts to the sorcery of a mad magus.
The Janus takes a small purse from his scrip and empties a ruddy dust into the goblet:
‘Bone of the Titans, your marrow is our medicine! The elixir of restitution! Mysterium magnum!’
Then turning to the Watchers, he offers the goblet and declares:
‘We come before you in shame and disgrace – the crippled descendants of Adam’s fallen seed. Draw near great princes of old! Progeny of the Bene Elohim! You who were perfect in body and mind; noble in heart and soul! You roamed this Earth before The Fall, when Adam Kadmon shone brighter than the sun! Come now, spirits of Sun and Moon, for the time is fulfilled. Come quick, and with great mercy, that you may clothe our flesh in Essence new, accomplished by the grace of the First Mystery – that Holy ministry appointed by the Ineffable One…
‘We filthy, fallen worms beseech your pity; for the teeth of the venomous serpent has poisoned our flesh; and neither herb nor mollifying plaster(v) can cure our state. But your Essence is sweet to the soul, and health to the bones. Accept the blood of my seventh son, that we may be clothed like the second Adam, according to the commandments of the First Mystery. Pray, transmute our dross flesh, that we shalt never die, but reign with thee eternal! By the power of your sacred corpus, bestow us with the whole glory: the majesty of the First Mystery! For there are no riches above the health of the body: and there is no pleasure above the joy of the heart!(vi)’
And with that, he empties the goblet in the font. The serpent hisses as the crystal matrix absorbs the rheum, and a sulphurous vapour pours from its mouth.
Suddenly the dome bursts with light. Scintillating rays flicker amid the wands. A gaseous glow begins to swell around the central termination. Then a coruscating beam shoots forth and strikes Jacques square on the chest. The Janus falls back, blinded by the flash, cracking his head on the font. He groans and rolls unconscious on the dais, blood seeping from his nose.
Jacques begins to writhe like a pupa in a cocoon of light. High in the dome I behold the majestic form of Grazide, floating in her luminescent orb. And I know that her entire soul is absorbed in an irrepressible desire to which it can give only one name: Jacqueline – the Holy Mediatrix of feminine perfection…
Jacques rises off the plinth in gyres of gold. Rings of light ripple over his body, passing back and forth from crown to foot. As each ring passes, it leaves a glimmering fire that erases his form, melting the flesh like wax. His horns are shrinking, his cankered bones dissolving. But dissolving into what?
The metamorphosis begins in earnest. Heavenly rays dart from the Orb as Sol and Luna fuse into one. The healing light obliterates the male. The winged spirit rises like an angel to await her fleshy transmutation. The old body is gone, that cold dead part of herself, consumed in an amorphous mass of effulgent flame: the solar vessel of fermentation and illumination. The fire of self-cremating passion. So begins the white conjunction, as the royal hermaphrodite quickens with heavenly dew: Death and putrefaction, terminating in the grand fusion of restitution…
The labyrinth resounds with Cherubim choirs that echo down abyssal vents. The Orb grows ever brighter so that I have to shield my eye from its searing light. Within the purse, I behold the alchemists’ stone of multiplication and eternal life. The Blastocyst: a ball of living cells. There follows many golden conjugations of the braid. Differentiation commences anew: a primitive streak and node; then the grooves of tail and head complete, enfolding the optic and cerebral vesicles. But as yet, the face is unrecognisable: it might be another mooncalf…
The foetus shimmers with electric light. At once the heart starts beating, forming a prominent elevation as the umbilical veins communicate with the common sinu-atrial chamber. Then the primordia, thyroid, lung, liver and pancreas begin to swell. The mesonephric tubes pulse into life whilst the alar and basal plates mould into the walls of the neural tube. The lens vesicle closes and separates from the ectodermic sheath. The trachea cleaves from the oesophagus as the secondary bronchi appear. Then the limb buds lengthen and joint flexures appear in the hands and feet. The olfactory pits deepen as the maxillary, lateral nasal and globular processes start to fuse. The liver swells and forms a prominence between the heart and the umbilical cord… Yes!
Soon the limb buds increase in length and three distinct segments are recognised in each. The gut loop extrudes from the abdomen as the flexure of the head decreases. The upper lip completes and the nose points forward as the eyelids fold. The external genitalia manifest between the legs: a most delicate and complex invagination. This is what it takes to make a woman. The head extends and the neck lengthens. The limbs are slender and well developed with tiny nails on each digit. The eruption of hair on the head commences as papillae of skin develop and eyelashes appear. From vertex to heel, the foetus is female, without a single flaw or blemish… The skin is red and wrinkled, coated with vernix caseosa. Behold her swift gestation into glory! Nine calendar moons and eighteen years in the twinkling of an eye! Subcutaneous fat develops round her hips and her breasts swell in graceful curves… Behold the impossible She, who captured his heart and smote his mortal eye – Grazide – the Holy eidolon of Woman… And he is but a dream in her ripe becoming, vanquished by her silken state that shines like alabaster.
Another scintillating flash. The crystal wands pulse subtle rays of red, green and blue. Auroral curtains dance in dome as gloaming serpents coil about the chrysalis. The purse cracks, splitting down its length. The Virgin is born anew. The Essence has formed a goddess – one that I, with all my knowledge of the braid, could never duplicate. My soul is smitten with her beauty. Ave Maria! Pearl of The Telluric Deep! Whose gentle face now blushes like the first rose of dawn!
Jacqueline jolts, as if suffused with the sudden breath of God. She floats in radiant splendour, her body caressed in locks of flaxen hair that flow about her shoulders, waist and hips. She opens her eyes… Blue, more gentian than the sparkling seas of Crete.
The Janus stirs and struggles to his feet. He stands confounded, shielding his eyes from the brilliance of his beautiful daughter who floats before him. Then he cries out:
‘Oh Lazarus! My son! What have I done? Turned thee into woman!’
And taking his staff in disgust, he raises it high and strikes the font with a mighty blow. The holy crystal shatters into shards and a dreadful groan sounds from the deep. The chasm trembles, as if the very foundations of Earth have been rent asunder. The cavern darkens as the wands begin to dim. Then menacing clouds, smutty and thick, gather round the plinth…
Jacqueline wails as her glistening body falls like a landed fish. She trembles with palpitating limbs, running her hands between her legs and through her golden hair. She’s the very image of Maria, despoiled on the vestry floor all those years ago. All her empyrean glory fades before my eyes. The rose moulders, withers, and wilts. Her once luminous face rusts like a dying leaf and oily slicks gather round her eyes. She laments in total dissolution of spirit, clawing at her hair which falls out in clumps:
‘Oh Christ! What has befallen me? I was perfected! But now undone! What shall I become?’
Another groan booms in the abyss. The Janus clasps his head and staggers round the plinth, crying:
‘My Seventh Son! What baneful reversal of sex!’
His voice purls through the souterrain, stirring the halls of preadamite dead. A palpable terror hangs in the air. The Janus cowers, as if awaiting some infernal visitation. Then the orb descends from the heights, engulfing the dais in an iridescent bubble; its filmy membrane swirls like a firmament, banded with nebulous clouds that spume, foam and froth. The clouds dissolve to reveal fronds of ocean kelp, flowing in inky brine. Abyssal phantoms swim amid the depths: shoals of primaeval fish with lancet teeth and luminescent lures. Yet within this grisly horde are other forms that churn and morph like jelly; a zoonomia of beasts in perpetual transformation: molluscs, madrepores, lithophytes, and flitting worms; amphibious quadrupeds; reptilian birds and slithering snakes; carnivorous plants with ugly fleshy flowers. Here is all the teeming of water, land and air: swarming ants, termites, flies, locusts, wasps and bees. Crawling beetles: stag, blister, longhorn, shield, histerid and harlequin. Darting spiders: tarantulas, red-back, crab and fisher, gilding, jumping and golden orb. Dragonflies, sawflies, mayflies and singing cicadas. Bark bugs, bright bugs, assassin-bugs, thorn-bugs, spittle bugs and long-legged stilt bugs. Hissing cockroaches, pill millipedes, caterpillars and whip-scorpions. Leeches, slugs and giant mantids with frothing mandibles… All higher life is there: the reptiles, mammals and fouls of the air; the simian, equine, bovine and porcine; the lupine, ovine, vulpine and cervine. And floundering amid this teeming bolus, are the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve; they struggle blind through the visceral horde, their bodies racked in a pantheon of pain, as one beast devours the other in an eternal cycle of birth, death and decay. The Janus opens his arms and cries:
‘Behold! The multiform teratologies of Flesh! The braids of Satan Gadreel!’
The spectral horde circles the dais, racing in ravenous frenzy. Higher and higher it goes, beyond the Titans, up into the geode dome. Then all at once it explodes into a shrieking swarm of bats. One by one they roost amid the krystallos, smothering the wands with leathery wings. The lights fade and a thick gloom settles round the chamber. Only the central wand remains lit, its mighty terminator throbbing ruby red. A bloody ray shines forth, flooding the plinth below, where the Janus stoops over his fallen creation:
‘Lazarus! My Son! Come back to me!’
Jacqueline wails, scratching at her budding horns, her thickening wrists and ankles. She looks like an hermaphroditic devil, with hairy shanks and paps. Her face grows dark and saturnine, marred with pocks and welts. Whatever light she possessed is gone, smothered by the cowl of Death. And with this comes a paralysing terror that she must dwell beyond an inseparable gulf; apart from herself; apart from the pleasures of the world; apart from the inner and outer light; apart from all the sounds, colours and senses of her body. Yet even now she struggles to remember what she might have been. It comes to her in flashes – ephemeral visions of a girl unknown: the mirror’s misty portrait, who gazes from a spectral realm of subtle hues and scents. How bright those happy sunlit days! Heaven could not bestow a more precious gift. But she has to look away, for she suffers to even glimpse the lost glory of herself. Who shall distinguish this fallen state from the tomb? The gulf is wide; the years long, dark and impenetrable. She reels with horror at such fiendish incarceration: a fallen spirit, entombed in clay, expelled, sectioned and mutilated. Oh that she might have flown, spreading her glorious wings! But that eidolon is gone. Her transit has passed. She lies desolate and defiled, her flesh smeared with a bloody afterbirth that smoulders with ghostly Essence.
The Janus cannot fathom it:
‘Lazarus, was that really you? God forgive me! What devil turned thee into woman?’
Jacqueline lets out a sonorous wail of remorse. Then in the glimmer of the Watchers’ gaze, she seethes within her skin:
‘See what I have become: the demon worm of myself… Must I be content to crawl?’
Prizing herself from the altar, she struggles to stand, her Satanic body rippling and palpitating in ugly spasms. Then she cries to the Titans:
‘O light of powers! Give heed and save me! Let them that seek to take away my light be destitute! Curse them that seek to take my power! Let them be overcome with chaos and shame! Let them descend speedily into the darkness! For now they constrain me, saying, “We have mastered her.”(vii) O light preserve me! For my body is gone and I am destitute! What of your promise O Lucifer? What of my birthright? If thou art my saviour, then preserve me from this chaos!’
And with that she swoons and topples from the plinth. Forsaken, she tumbles down the steps, a creature of dust, her body cankered with maleness, and falls face-down in the mud.
‘She has fallen deep! Sluck! She has fallen far! Sluck! Beyond the abyss of Apsu, into the infernal dwelling place! The last gate has closed behind her, and she dwells in the realm of shadows… In the house of dust, dwells Adam and his son; with the Titans and their priests, and all those whom Satan anointed in the abyss! Behold the sons of clay! Dusk is their nourishment, and their food is mud!’
The Janus storms round the plinth, his heart riven with rage and despair:
‘Be silent whore! We are sons of fire, not clay! Curse the God that made this filthy flesh! Curse the Mother of Suffering who ate from the forbidden tree!’
He falls to his knees beneath the Titan priest, tears smarting his eyes:
‘Eternal Watchers, have pity on us, the wretched children of your ashes! For we are lost and without our rightful bodies! I call upon the elementals of Eden! I summon the demons of base matter! Transmute our curséd flesh! In the name of Dumah, angel of the Dead, Restore our fallen state! The Lord of Hosts has cast us out. Come to us now, O Satans of Gadreel!’
A stentorian groan booms through the labyrinth. Then discarnate shades swoop round the dais like wraiths – their spectral bodies flickering with light. They swell, billow and roll, weaving amid the stalagmites like a tempest. Faster and faster they go, rising in a shimmering vortex that towers to the very apex of the vault. There comes a deep rumble, as of stone counterweights moving in the depths. Suddenly the horde disperses in a warren of holes that perforate the galleries. There follows a terrible silence. Then…
Boom… Boom… Boom…
The strident gait of Titanic steps echoes through the souterrain. The Janus gasps in horror, then scurries down the steps and hides beneath a lintel:
‘Oh! Minsters of the infernal court! Pray do not destroy us! Emet! Emet! Awake! Deliver us from the pit!’
Boom… Boom… Boom…
The earth trembles with each percussive stride. A crystal wand plummets from the vault and shatters on the plinth, showering the floor in coloured gems. Yet still the central shard pulses with ruby light, its bloody ray gleaming on Lilith’s clammy crown. Her obsidian eyes are full of mortal dread:
‘Woe! Woe! He has summoned the Watchers: the eternal ranks of Satan Gadreel, who dwell in the deepest halls of Hell! For they did not burn like grass before the face of God, nor sink like lead in the righteous flood!’
Jacqueline is bewitched. She looks entirely lost, for she does not move nor blink, but lies motionless, staring in trance at the ruby wand above. I know her soul has taken flight, and hovers in the hinterlands between worlds. I’m in mind to save her, despite her wicked defiance. But I dare not move. For what comes from the depths is beyond any magic I have ever witnessed, either in the celestial courts, or the pits of Pandemonium…
Copyright © Nicholas Shea 2008
Image: Cystal Wands Transformation montage Copyright © Nicholas Shea 2020
i. 305-304 B.C.
ii. A verse taken from a ‘Hymn For The Burial of The Dead’ by Aurelius Clemens Prudentius. [From ‘The Hymns of Prudentius’]. Prepared for the Temple Classics by Rev. R. MARTIN POPE, M.A. (St John’s College, Cambridge). 1860.
iii. This chapter, with the Titanic temple here described was written and submitted several years before Ridley Scott’s ‘Prometheus’.
v. Wisdom, 16:12.
vi. Ecclesiastes, 30:16.
vii. Pistis Sophia.