The Twelve Articles of Accusation
How Joan of Arc and John affect the same persecution
I am born John de Vaillantcoeur on January 6, 1982 in the parish of St. David. It sits in a valley formed by the St. John River, which separates northern Maine from New Brunswick and Quebec. But the Valley defines itself as La Republique de Madawaska and flies the French flag with a gold star in the corner.
God, I must have been adopted or at least stolen by Gypsies.
When I was about thirteen, I began to hear a voice in the wind. It may sound silly, but the voice gave me great comfort and council. To hear him required a particular wind that felt like no other and predicted no weather but itself. After a time, I could conjure the wind with a particular set of wand movements. But at all times I had to be respectful or the voice would sail on to someone more deserving.
I promised the voice to give up all of my divine powers if I became loved.
Last week, while getting dressed for work, I felt swollen lymph glands. It was not the first sign. I had had night sweats for a while, accompanied by a fever. And though I didn’t mind, my weight had dropped severely and quickly. The Centers for Disease Control doesn’t officially recognize the term any longer, but I knew that I had ARC (AIDS-related Complex).
Joan and I will suffer the twelve articles of accusation together.
Joan and I are becoming the same person. To hide the most obvious gift from God, I bound my body with duct tape. Changing the tape slowly denuded me of body hair. I am smooth.
I affirm that when of the age of thirteen years or thereabouts, did, with bodily eyes, see Saint Michael come to give comfort, and from time to time also Saint Gabriel. I had often kissed and embraced them, and sometimes had touched them, in a physical and corporeal manner.
God, even at thirteen, I had loved them both. Though they were older and had wounded me, the voice told me to embrace them. These Saints smelled of Old Spice and pipe tobacco.
We met near a spring which flows at the foot of a great tree, called in the neighborhood “The Fairies’ Tree.” It is said that fairies have frequented this spring and this tree; persons ill with fever have rested there in great numbers to recover their health. This spring and this tree are nevertheless in a profane place.
There and elsewhere Joan and I had often venerated these two Saints.
At this time and very often since, the Saints announced to me, by the order of God, that I was to go in search of a certain secular Prince. I was to promise that, by my help and succor, this same Prince should recover a great temporal domain and the honor of this world. With me he would obtain victory over his adversaries. This same Prince received me, and furnished me with arms and soldiers for the carrying out of what has just been said.
Further, the Saints ordered me, by the command of God, to take and to wear a man’s dress though I am spiritually a woman. I have borne them and do still bear, persisting in obeying this order, to the extent that I would rather die than give up this dress. I have even preferred not to assist in the Office of the Mass and to deprive myself of the Holy Communion of the Eucharist, at the time when the Church commands the faithful to receive it, rather than to resume female dress and to quit this man’s habit.
I will only abandon it by the express order of God.
“The said woman (me, God) has gone too far, under the inspiration of these two Saints. Without the knowledge and against the will of her parents, at the age of seventeen, she quit the paternal roof and joined to a great troop of soldiers, with whom she lived night and day, having never had, or at least very rarely, another woman with me. As to the Church Militant, she deferred and refused to submit herself, her deeds, and her words to it, although many times required and admonished so to do.”
I will say always that it is impossible to do contrary to what I have done.
I will not refer to the decision or the judgment of any man alive, but to the judgment of God alone.
“The said Saints have revealed to this woman (me, God) that she will obtain the glory of the blessed and will gain the salvation of her soul if she preserves her virginity from women which she vowed to these Saints the first time she saw and recognized them. As a result of this revelation, she did affirm that she is assured of her salvation as if she were already in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Lack of experience with women will get me into heaven. There is a God after all.
“The same woman said that the sign, which was received by the Prince to whom she was sent, was that Saint Michael came to the Prince, accompanied by a multitude of Angels, some had crowns and others had wings.” The Angel and I proceeded together, with our feet touching the ground, to the Prince’s chamber. My Angel was accompanied by other Angels and by the two Saints; they gave the Prince a latex crown, very precious and colored of the purest gold, bowing before him and doing him reverence.
This sign convinced the Prince to believe in me and to help me to carry on a war against the majority.
I believe he is Saint Michael because of his good counsel, the comfort, and the good teaching which he did give me and because he had told me that he was Saint Michael. His love was rough but nonetheless was real. (His stubble bruised my skin and made me bleed. He laughed and licked the wounds. They healed. He infected them. I’ll burn won’t I.)
The same woman did say and affirm that he who descends upon her is Saint Michael.
On the subject of occult things, I boast to know or to have known them by means of the revelations that have been made to me by the Voices. For example, I have known by revelation without any one pointing them out to me, men whom I have never seen, and myself revealed and pointed out the existence of their swords which were each hidden within me temporarily, and for all to short a time.
I bind myself to the furniture in solidarity with Joan, who was chained to a log to prevent her escape.
“The same woman did say and affirm that, by the command and good pleasure of God, she had taken, borne, and continues still to bear a man’s dress. Further, she did say that, because she had had God’s command to bear this habit, it was necessary that she should have a short tunic, cap, jerkin, breeches, hose with many points, hair cut close above her ears, keeping no garment which might indicate her sex. She had not desired and did still not desire to resume woman’s dress, although many times required and charitably admonished so to do.”
I know that I am a martyr, born without choice and by God’s design.
“The same woman did avow and acknowledge that she had caused to be written many letters and warnings on which were placed these names “Jhesus Maria,” with the Sign of the Cross. At other times she caused it to be written that she would have those who did not obey her warnings killed, and by the blows she would give they would see who had the true right from the God of Heaven.”
I am a weapon, infected by God with a plague of injustice.
“The same woman (always me, God) did confess that, by revelation and spontaneously, she went to seek a Knight whom she had never seen. She abandoned for this the paternal roof, against the will of her parents. These, when they had knowledge of her departure, were wild with grief. This same woman ordered the Knight to conduct her, or to have her conducted, to the Prince already mentioned. The Knight furnished this woman with a man’s dress and his sword. He appointed and commanded for her conduct a knight, a squire, and four servants.
And God, they were all equally hilt deep into me.
“The same woman did say and affirm that she, with no one compelling her, did throw herself down from a very high tower, wishing rather to die than to be placed in the hands of her enemies and to live after the destruction of her sexuality. She said also that she was not able to avoid this fall, although the Saints had forbidden it. To offend them is, she herself said, a great sin. But she knew that this sin was remitted to her after she had confessed it; she said she received revelation of this.”
In a moment of doubt, I threw myself over the edge. How could I have landed unharmed?
“The same woman said that the Saints promised to conduct her to Paradise, if she did preserve with care her virginity, which she vowed to them. Of this she said she is as assured as if she were already in the glory of the blessed. She did not think she had committed mortal sin through her coupling with Michael and Gabriel; for, if she were in a state of mortal sin, she said it seemed to her that the Saints would not visit her each day as they do.”
How can I be a virgin and so deeply infected?
“The same woman did say and affirm that God loved sundry persons still living, designated by her and named. This, she knew by revelation from her Saints, who speak frequently to her, but in French and not in English, because these Saints are not on the side of the English. Since she knew by revelation that their Voices were for the Prince earlier mentioned, she ceased to love the majority.”
God loves those who are not in the majority.
“The same woman did say and confess that to the Voices and the Spirits now under consideration, whom she calls Michael and Gabriel, she did often do reverence, uncovering, bending the knee, vowing to them her virginity. At times she was found kissing and embracing Saint Michael and Saint Gabriel. She had touched them with her own hands, corporeally and physically. She did believe no less firmly that the Voices and the revelations she receives by the medium of the Saints of whom she speaks come from God and by His order. She believes it as firmly as she believes the Christian Faith and that Our Lord Jesus Christ suffered for us Death and Passion.
God has selected me and infected me. His reward is the gifts he sends me. I am the vengeful arm of God.
I did say and confess that if the Church wished that I should do anything contrary to the orders received from God, I would not consent. This answer and all the others are not from my own head but have been made and given by order of my Voices and revelations. I will not submit, though ordered by the Judges and others of the Assessors, the Article of Faith, ‘The Church, One, Holy, Catholic.’ The faithful are bound to obey the Church Militant and to submit but I will not.
God made me and I am his instrument, crafted as he sees fit. I can not burn.
The text is based on the articles of accusation that were leveled against Joan of Arc and are part of her court record. To deal with his sense of persecution, John folded his life into Joan’s and there are probably several other Johns on our landscape dealing with life in a similar way.
The paper was made from discarded clothing and bedspreads, Judi Conant constructed the boxes, and the reduction woodcuts were modeled from the bodies of Michael Salchert and Gary Datka. Shawn Williams cut his teeth as a studio assistant on this project and may never be willing to distribute type again.
The type is 12 point Bodoni as cast by Mackenzie and Harris with additions from our own typographic plunder. The gold leafed letters are loosely based on Goudy’s Cloister Initials. This book and other projects have received generous support from the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point through the University Personnel development Committee.
In an edition of forty, this is number XX.