Category Archives: The Goddess & The Devil

All things “G&D”

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This Date in History:

February 28 ~ March 1, 1692 … The Salem Witch Tragedy begins in earnest. First arrests made March 1.  

Months later …


Time: Sundown, October 11, 1692.

Place: A desolate, barren Hilltop overlooking Salem Towne in the English Provincial Colony of Massachusetts Bay.

Other: The Hilltop is under Siege. A Cannonade of Thunder escalates and encroaches from the West, reverberating through the Skies over Salem Village, a rural inland Parish of the Towne, alleged to be menaced by the Devil.

A Chorus of Crickets, chirping in Unison and unmoved by the competing Din of the chilling northeasterly Winds brushing the Earth with dead and dying Leaves, grows Step for Step with the approaching Fire Volleys in Volume and Intensity.

A Dialogue ensues between Marcus and The Prisoner, whom Nature has brought together, forcing them to confront one another alone atop the dark Hill.

The Prisoner is bound to a Tree by the Will and Hand of Marcus, who addresses his Charge by the respectful Moniker “Teacher.”

Marcus is a minor public Official whose Duty it is to draught and execute Warrants for the Arrest of those accused of the infamous Crime of Witchcraft, acting at the Command and under Authority of his Master, Sir William Stoughton, Chief Judge of the ad Hoc Court of Oyer & Terminer, assembled at Salem Towne for the Purpose of hearing Charges against those so charged and of determining the Innocence or Guilt and the Fate of the same.

Said Chief Judge is away at Boston and due to return on the following Day. Before departing for Boston, the Judge had left his faithful Deputy with express Orders to draught and execute Warrants for the Arrest of any and all Persons accused by any Person of Witchcraft during his brief Absence. He had also ordered his Protégé to effect the Arrest of anyone else who, per his own Judgment, poses an imminent Threat of further Evil upon the already afflicted Community.

To these Purposes, the Judge has entrusted Marcus with his official Seal and all Power and Authority vested therein. Further, the Judge has caused to be posted upon the Door of the Church at Salem Village written Notice, under said Seal, to all Persons of his Protégé’s pro Tempore, ad Hoc Office. Said official Bull was also nailed upon the Door of Marcus’s single-Room Bachelor House, also situated at Salem Village.

In the Exercise of these extraordinary Emergency Powers, Marcus has arrested and detained said Prisoner at the Place and in the Manner aforesaid on Charges, not of Witchcraft, but of Heresy and High Treason, for positing Ideas critical of the Prosecution and Execution of those accused of Witchcraft.

Proclaiming that such subversive Conduct, by its Nature as such, reveals its Source as Evil incarnate … the Devil itself … Marcus reasoned that such an expansive Interpretation of his Grant of Authority was not only justified, but imminently necessary for the Preservation of the public Health, Safety and general Welfare of his afflicted adopted Community.

Marcus, rather than pressing a Determination to have The Prisoner convicted and executed, implores his Captive to recant the alleged heretical and treasonous Postulations in Exchange for that Being’s Release and the Withdrawal of said capital Charges. The Prisoner agrees to do so, but only upon the satisfactory Performance of a certain Term on the Part of his Arrestor, which Terms do not include his bodily Release and the Withdrawal of said criminal Charges.

To Date, nineteen Persons … thirteen Women and six Men … have been hanged until dead on Charges of Witchcraft, and one Man pressed to Death by the Weight of many Stones for refusing, for the Benefit of his familial Heirs, to enter a Plea of Guilt or Innocence to the same Charge. Two Women, one Man and an unnamed infant Child have perished in Captivity. One more Woman would suffer that same Fate some Moons hence.

Marcus keeps vigilant Watch on the western Horizon as its Silhouette becomes one with the darkening Sky.

~ THE GODDESS & THE DEVIL, The Situation

Salem Witch Trials 1

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Knotty Knuggets

The Goddess & The Devil

Marcus   “…. For such a Belief provides an all too convenient Sense of Justification in them to commit the most horrendous Acts of Injustice … whether in the Form of physical or purely emotional Violence … against the fellow Creatures with whom they should seek Harmony for the Good of all. But, nonetheless, Injustice … call it Evil if you will … persists. Nay, it thrives within the Host of human Society.”

   “And this is all attributed to human Emotion?” I examined.

   “Yes,” she replied. “We Humans are strange Creatures. We know what we want … that being Life and Happiness, which is Pleasure and, to my Mind, good. Likewise, it’s our Nature to seek to avoid Pain and Death. But, obviously, we’re, on the Whole, going about it all wrong, as evidenced by the Amount of needless Pain and Death in our World. Rather than employing our Reasoning Skills to stop the Pain, we allow the Pain to morph into Hate toward those whom we believe are to blame for our Pain and seek to inflict Pain upon them … or even destroy them … with the warped Belief that such vengeful Conduct will promote Justice and Happiness. But it doesn’t; it merely perpetuates the endless Cycle of Pain, Hate and Violence … and more Pain … and so on, and so on. Thus, I think we are, as a Race, terribly lacking in Virtue.”

~ The Goddess & The Devil, Act I, Scene 11, Ch. XXXIX

Knotty Knuggets

The Goddess & The Devil

The Prisoner   True. Absolutely. I agree. We can’t see past History with perfect Clarity, but I would venture to aver that we can see it far more clearly than we can the Future. And, though I think both Past and Future to be infinitely large, with the Present being infinitely small, with each passing Moment, the Realm of History from any human Perspective, including our collective Perspective, grows ever larger … never smaller. And thus, with each passing Moment, there’s more that People may more clearly know than they did the Moment before. There’s more to learn from right now than there was just a Moment ago. Say that whenever you will, and you’ll always be right. So, human Society should, theoretically, exist in a State of constant Improvement, not one of Decay.

   Yet, as I said, I agree with you. In some Ways, I think we do become more evil … assuming, that is, that Evil is Ignorance. But, is that the Case, really? And, if not … and you don’t think it is, in such simple Terms … then, what is it?

 Marcus   What is your Point, Man? What practical Purpose does such minute Examination serve? Of what Consequence is it in the Real World?                      

The Prisoner    My Point is that no Human Being knows everything. When you examine Things carefully, you’ll realize that we really don’t know much of anything at all. If what we refer to as our Knowledge of Things in the World is based on the Experience, Communication and Consensus as to mere Appearances, which I believe it is …

~ The Goddess & The Devil, Act I, Sc.2, Ch.V                 

Knotty Knuggets

The Goddess & The Devil

The Prisoner       Well, that sounds somewhat familiar; and I somewhat agree with it. The Sun could rise in the West some Day. Of Course, in Order for that to happen, certain Events … like, perhaps, the Reversal of the Earth’s Rotation … would need to occur that would likely wipe us all out, given our truly fragile Condition. And, of Course, that would not erase the Lines of Time already scribed by the Sun anyway. You see: Even the Laws of Nature that your philosophizing Historian … and you too I believe … have thus far discerned and uphold as divine Perfection in itself only apply to the current State of the Universe … and that only as viewed from Earth. They too could all change someday. But, as I just remarked, we likely wouldn’t be here to discover the Results of so dramatic a Transition.

You hold the Laws of Physics as immutable. But they are not, at least not the ones we can presently discern … like the one that requires the Sun to rise in the East, which is useless Rubbish itself, except as Evidence of Humanity’s childish collective Egocentrism. The anthropocentric Universe. Bah! Ever wonder why it is that all graphic Depictions of the Earth depict the northern Hemisphere as the top Half? Think about it. There really is no Top or Bottom of the Earth. Top and Bottom are relative Terms. There is no Orientation of the Planet we call our own in objective Reality. As with any other Object, its Orientation is a purely subjective Determination. Bottom, Top, Upside-down, Rightside-up, vertical or horizontal: These Terms describe the Object in Question only as it relates to some other Object designated in Advance as the Vantagepoint, or Viewpoint, in Relation to which the Object is measured. And, in Relation to this Relationship between the two Objects, the one dubbed the Viewpoint is more properly called the Subject.

So, what’s the Viewpoint here? And, what’s the Orientation of that Viewpoint from which our Globe is viewed as so oriented with the European Continent and People resting and standing securely on Top, much as they did when the Earth was flat? Is God out there, seated upright, His Eyes toward us, seeing our Planet as you would from a Chair in your Living Quarters view a standard Model Globe positioned on a Table? Bah! Who renders these Depictions and constructs these Table Top Models? And, where are they from? What’s the Commonality amongst their Viewpoints? Answer that, and you’ll have your Answer. I wonder if, were our little Globes designed and formed by People from Regions across the Equator, they would all be mounted with Europe and this here Continent and what we call the North Pole facing down toward the Table. And, if so, would all Drawings of our Solar System be flipped over as well?

I shouldn’t snicker at these particular Europeans though. At least they did round the Church’s flat Earth and get it spinning about the Sun. And some of these Fellows paid quite a Price for that. I guess I should just bow my Head and be thankful. For they risked and sacrificed much in the Coup by which they succeeded in turning, to no small Extent, the reigning God of the so-called North and West on His Head. Neat Trick actually.

Anyway, the physical Laws that govern the Earth, to which you and I are bound, are likewise subject to external Forces far greater than themselves that, like those we do perceive, could obliterate the entire human Race, along with this spinning Mass against which we’re drawn, in one flashing Instant. Something to ponder when you have nothing better to do. Not now though. Later.

~ The Goddess & The Devil, Act II, Ch. XLIII

Knotty Knuggets

. . . If one Group hates another Group that has done them no Harm,” she pursued, “a wise Governour would seek to remove the Hate itself, it being born purely of such negative Passions as Fear and Envy and, therefore, completely irrational. It’s a Fool who exercises executive Power to remove the innocent Objects of such unwarranted Derision, to whom, as I said, he or she … or he and she … owes a Duty to protect. You don’t sacrifice the natural Rights of a Minority Class of Human Beings just to quell the Anger of a belligerent, intolerant and spiteful Majority. It’s patently unjust.” Zahna proclaimed. “Yet, that’s exactly what was done … and, ostensibly, all in the Name of God mind you. For the Love and Glory and good Grace of God.”

~ Querolus, The Goddess & The Devil, Act I, Sc. 11, Ch. XXV

Knotty Knuggets

The Goddess & The Devil

Marcus     . . .  In performing what I thought … or at least what I had hoped … was my Civic Duty, I rendered a most significant Contribution to what could be the greatest human Disaster that the World has yet experienced.

My Nutshell throbbed, as did my Heart, as this Report continued down the Chute to my painfully attentive Ear … still from the Mouth of the Counselor, Signor Spinale: “That is not all, Signor LaPinto. Master, do continue. Tell him of the private Buyers.”

“Ah, yes,” continued Signor Avarriccio. “We have also executed Contracts to supply numerous Men of Business … much like us, they no Doubt flatter themselves … with steady Shipments of small Arms to be sold among the private Citizenry.”

“Yes, Signor LaPinto,” confirmed Signor Spinale. “Again, the Fine Art of Business was at Work in the masterful Hands of our Lordship. Tell him, Signor.”

“With Pleasure,” replied the Man. “Once the first Arrangement was made to have a private Dealer selling the new small, Self-reloading Firearms was completed, similar Deals made themselves along a Network branching out from that first Spot and stopping only at the Land’s End.”

“So,” interpreted Nicolo LaPinto, “with the Citizenry of one Locality purchasing our new Weapons, all adjoining Communities, seeing the deadly Threat of so well-armed a neighbouring Herd, will thus see themselves in Need to arm themselves to no less a Level in Order to deter or repel any forthcoming Aggression, the Means of which were doubtlessly at Hand and the Desire for which, in our present human Condition, should always be presumed by any Individual or Group with the slightest Desire for Self-Preservation. And deadly Weapons designed and manufactured to the Standards of the highest State of the Art are the ultimate Equalizers among Men.”

 

The Prisoner     Death … our Mortality … is the ultimate Equalizer among all living Beings. But deadly Weapons do hasten Death. They’re rather efficient in that Way.

 

Marcus     Naturally, I agree with you in full.

There. I have taken another of your Pawns with my Bishop.

 

The Prisoner     Good … I mean … that we agree on so vital an Issue.

Now, Qh2 to h1. There! I’ve checked your King again! Go on while you plan your Escape.

 

Marcus     “And so on, and so on will our Fire spread,” stated the Counselor, continuing along the younger Protégé’s Path of Logic, “until the very Skies draw the sole Boundary of our conflagrating Market.”

“Most remarkable,” agreed Nicolo, still with the awestruck Tone. “But, how were you able to convince that first prospective Dealer to retail our unique Products?”

“Nicolo, dear Boy,” replied the top Man, “I needed only to convince him that he would make one Sale, which I accomplished by telling him that I had already made Sales of our Products to another Vendor nearby.”

“Only one?” pursued the inquisitive Understudy.

“Only one,” was the firm Response. “The People would take it from there. Just as whole States and Communities would recognize the Need to arm themselves against the Threat of one presumptively aggressive neighbouring Herd, so too would the Individual within the Community feel the Compulsion to arm himself against his Neighbour, who must also be presumed to harbour hostile, greedy Intentions. After all, why would any Person living within a residential District wherein not a single Inhabitant possesses such Firepower as we can provide suddenly equip himself like a front Line Soldier in the most sophisticated military Outfit in the entire World? How well would you sleep while within Range of his Death-dealing Bolt, now extended well beyond Earshot?”

“I see it well,” responded the youngest Signor, his scratching having at this Point reached a frantic Pace. “A Conflagration it truly is! You saw the Volatility of human Fear ready laid across the Continent and simply lit the Match.”

I hoped that the noticeable Shortage of Wind flowing through the Neck Pipe of the last Speaker provided Evidence of some lingering Sense of Humanity. Just as with the Chairman, but with more Spine and Brains, Nicolo LaPinto appeared engaged in OmniVirono’s foul Business beyond the Point of any peaceful Return, should that at some Point be his Desire.

~ The Goddess & The Devil, Act I, Sc. 4, Ch. XIV

Knotty Knuggets

Knotty Knuggets

   . . . But ever forward did I fly, for Hell was no less quickly encroaching upon my Hind.

Daring to cast a Gaze over my stiffened Shoulder to check my Time and Progress, I marked the ghastly Shape of that horrid Hill with its one Tree standing dead and alone atop its Summit. The Silhouette of this Bag-o’-bare-Bones, though only two-dimensional, drew me straight in. A most eerie Composition it was to behold. Dancing in the cold, damp Autumn Breeze, it captivated me … compelled me. Its every crooked Line … every Detail … every gnarled, bony Limb … stood out in crisp Contrast against the glowing Orb that rose up at its Rear … obscured only somewhat by a dwindling Column of Smoke rising from a single smouldering Ember just aside of the Base of its Stem.

Upon the Winds, the Tree spoke to me … clearly and unmistakably. It appeared as though a glowing Head … a sculpted Autumn Gourd with great inner Fire, mounted Stem-down … upon Shoulders of pure Stone.

Like a sudden Flash, a great Quake erupted within my Core. That familiar Sickness welled up within my Gut once again. I thought for a Moment to stop and let the Disturbance pass; but I foresaw that it would not yield to my Pause. It would only grow stronger and more crippling. I had to keep moving; and I did just that. Losing not a Stride, I regained my Breath, refocused my Lights back forward and pressed straight on, cupping my Ears, as if to do so would strike the relentless, cockaded Musketeers from the very Earth.

Next came what I then feared most: The Firing Squads had met up and joined Forces before me and sealed off my only Means of Escape. Still, I could not see them; but, sure that I soon would, I drew the Shades down over my Lights, having no Safe Harbour at which I could cast my Gaze. But, what next slapped my Face was no Chicken; it was the Earth itself. For, deaf and blind, I somehow stumbled and tripped.

I lay there for a While, frozen in the fruitless Hope of being swept up and away to some mythical Paradise by some equally mythical Force. But such was not to be. Time to face Reality. I rose gently, bravely to my Knees, spitting out the Serving of Dirt and Gravel and dead, decaying Leaves and Twigs I had just been administered … but, not before acknowledging that the Spoonful was well-deserved and much needed.

I opened my Eyes and Ears. My House. I made it. But, was it the Darkness that marked my Way Home? Or, was it the Light of the new Day that, tickling its feathered Heralds into a blasting Frenzy, guided me there? Or, was it the Hill? … which cast that dark Shadow … which Shadow, vanquished by the resurrecting Sun,  was fast retreating back to its blinding Source. Any or all of the above I figured, depending upon which Aspect of “me” I had in View.

But, before reaching the Safety of its own cold Lair, that dark Umbra … the very Shadow of which I now speak, and without which I had never moved since my Arrival in this so-called New World … had to pass through me first. Slithering down the Face of my modest Abode … and then down the Back of my humble Frame, now rising to its Feet … I let the Darkness go. I left it behind me. It will return next Morning to challenge the Light; and it will retreat again, as it will do Day after Day after Day. That I can not prevent; and nor should I try to.

So long as there be Light, Darkness will come with each new Day. But I have at last emerged from the Shadow. And, now firmly upon my own two Feet, I was determined never to be swept back into the Abyss. But my Trials here at Salem Village were not yet finished.

My Door was noticeably ajar. But, whether it was I who had left it open, I could not recall. For, even with great Effort, I could not summon the mental Image of my Self stepping out across the Threshold that now lay visible before my dirty Boots. Strange, for it was ever my Wont to not wander out at Night.

But, whatever the Cause, my Door was open … though only slightly. And there upon it stood to greet me a little gray Ghost … left abandoned and exposed by its departed, dark Master. A most hideous Creature it was. It was the very Beast that had been long unseen to me, lurking and hiding within and against its matching gray Canvas. Only this ghastly Gate-Keeper, over-proud with its over-inflated Sense of Power to instill Fear and assert its Control, stood between me and the Rediscovery of my own House.

I confronted the Ghoul. Seeking to confirm its Identity, though quite aware of just who … or what … it was, I granted the Thing its fair Trial. I stood still and stared. I turned my Head to the Side, and then back straightforward. I closed my Eyelids, and I drew them back open again. The ghastly Form was still there, aping my every Move, challenging me to challenge it Head-on and charge forth against it. It thought it was taunting me. But it was wrong … deluded. For I was now taunting it.

In a Display of Strength and Courage, I turned my Back on the Daemon completely around to face the Hill and rising Sun. Without a Tremor, I turned back around for the final Confrontation … Face-to-Face. I reached out to it. I pressed the Devil’s Hand and, casting it boldly aside, entered my House again for the first Time.

Exploring its full Depth, I observed yet another Shade, this one occupying my far, forward-facing, Interior Wall. It was roughly circular and, except at its Base, engulfed within a flowing, flaming Corona.

Knowing that this Phantasm could not have been of my own Projection, I directed my Eyes slowly and deliberately to the Left, where I discovered seated at the Table in the forward Part of my single Room a familiar Face, its discerning, permeating Features brilliantly illuminated, and its Eyes fixed squarely upon my own.

I must have given a Start. For next, Zahna urgently cried out, “Please, Marcus! Wait! Don’t fly from me again!”

“Of Course, I will not run,” I firmly replied. “To where else would I go? And, from whom or what would I be flying?”

“I found your Door ajar,” she reported. “I recall you telling me that, whenever your Door is open, it is open to me … and that you would leave this Candle burning to serve as a Beacon that I might find my Way back Home to you.”

“I did utter Words to that Effect,” I recollected, turning my Head back toward the open Door, silently pondering whether to effect my Escape once more. But, as I did so, I caught a Glance of my dark Profile, flitting nervously upon the exterior Plane of that Door. I marked that its Nose became longer as I turned my Face toward the Aperture through which I contemplated flight. But I did not fly. No. I turned back toward the Source of interior Light; and, as I did so, I felt that Poker recede into Place.

“The sweet Pillar stood near full Length when I arrived, so I knew you couldn’t have been yet far off,” she reported. “But, as you can see, it’s nearly run its Course. Nice little Invention you’ve got here … a hollowed Pumpkin Shell to encase the unattended Flame. Safety first. I like how the glowing Orb descends in perfect Step with the Flame. It’s mounted on a small Platform, mounted on the top Rim of the waning, sweet Wax Column … like a human Bust … Head and Shoulders. And the Shoulders support the full Weight of the Head … which is all they need do. And quite a Piece of Artwork as well. Form and Function. But the scary Face you carved into it … well … I hope you don’t mind that I created a happy one on the other Side. I had some to Time on my Hands here. At first I was worried about you and considered immediate Pursuit. But, with a little Thought, I found my Faith in that you’d come back. You’re not one to leave such gravely important official Business unfinished.”

“Well, I am here,” I needlessly announced, intimating that she state her Case forthwith.

“Marcus, I know you found the Letter from my Cousin,” she told me. “There could be no other Reason for your parting from me so hastily at the Ironsides Inn, whereat I fear and apologize that I had slept too long and too deeply. I surmise that, in your Haste, you must not have read it through, else you would not have flown. It was my Intention to have you examine fully the Communication in my Presence, and in that of its Author, there at the Inn so that we could both attest to the Truth of it. But my neglectful Slumber has allowed more than four long and dark Months to lapse Meantime. I hope I may regain that Opportunity now, if you would be so willing.”

I pulled up beside her in my extra Chair, kept for just such an Occasion. I removed the Autumn Gourd from its Mount and examined Zahna’s Artwork. “It’s lovely,” I told her. “I like it much … much better than the one I left here last Evening.”

By the flickering Light of the now fully exposed, and very short, Bee Wax Candle that set both our Faces aglow, I confirmed that it was, in Fact, the same Letter before me, the Intelligence contained therein which I had failed to fully learn before. …

~ Querolus, The Goddess & The Devil, Act III, Sc. 1

Knotty Knuggets

Knotty Knuggets

“Why must you have killed the poor Wretch, Mr. Executioner?” pleads the lone compassionate Voice in the Mob. “He did only as he was bound to do.”

“Yes,” answers the Executioner. “And so did I. You of all should understand that. …”

~ Querolus, The Goddess & The Devil, Act I, Sc. 9, Ch. XX

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“Forget you not our Mother Earth: she to whose Breast we are both bound fast; she whose Hair glows deepest azure when turned to face the Sun; she from whom we all are born and into whom we must all return. She is a powerful Maiden, but she loves us not. And in Wait for the Word of none does she ever stay her Hand. She rotates and revolves; and while she does, she creates and destroys without a Care. Now, tell me your Story. You have my unfettered Attention.”

   ~ Querolus, The Goddess & The Devil, Act I, Scene 1, Ch. I [The Prisoner]

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