Each month we will explore various archetypes, present day women making a difference, Goddesses celebrated through time and around the world, and women who made a difference from history. This way we can explore the qualities of these women and find them in ourselves and share them with our daughters so she can do the same!
This month I thought it would be interesting to pick a woman from history who did what she was known for in her teens. There were several to chose from: Anne Frank, Cleopatra, Sacagawea, Claudette Colvin, but ultimately I decided to choose Joan of Arc. At first during my research, I got bogged down by the history of it all. How could I encapsulate it all in a blog post that would make sense in this forum? But once I began to consider her as an archetype instead of a name in a history book, my vision became clearer. “We are the heroine of our own life,” Tony Crisp tells us in his article The Archetype of the Hero-ine, “It is such an incredible journey, so heroic, so impossible of achievement, so fraught with dangers and triumphs. It is the greatest story in the world, and each of us live it.”
What qualities of the powerhouse called Joan of Arc can we honor and consider as we honor our inner teen, our daughters, and ourselves? Let’s explore Joan of Arc in her own words.
“I was in my thirteenth year when I heard a voice from God to help me govern my conduct. And the first time I was very much afraid.”
Joan of Arc, only a young teenager when her visions instructed her to seek out Charles, the rightful heir to the French throne, and encourage him to free the French from English oppression. Although she admits that she was afraid, she trusted her faith and herself. I love to imagine, even though she was only 16, how committed she was to her spirituality and intuition to pay attention to those voices and convince her family and community to help her forge ahead toward her destiny in order to secure an armed escort to meet Charles.
“One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.”
As she was escorted to meet Charles by an armed guard, she cut her hair short and began to wear men’s clothing. It was this act that ultimately let to her death by fire at the age of 19. She believed it was the utmost importance to maintain her virginity and wearing men’s clothing was a practical way to do this.
“Act, and God will act.”
Joan reminds us that no matter how much we pray or wish for a thing, we have to do the hard work to make it happen. It took much insistence to gain an audience with Charles. But was finally brought to him, she was able to pick him out of a crowd of lords even though she had no idea what he looked like. Then he took her aside and she bolstered his hope by sharing information that no one else knew.
“I am not afraid, I was born to do this.”
Joan of Arc trained hard before leading the French army into battle. Once there, she carried a banner proudly for the French. She sustained several injuries but her bravery and persistence inspired the French soldiers. This teen girl had an unshakable belief in her life’s purpose that bolstered everyone around her. She outlined military strategies, directed troops and proposed diplomatic solutions just three months after she embarked on her journey to meet the king. How amazing that a peasant girl could find her voice among men of battle to lead the French to victory!
“Children say that people are hung sometimes for speaking the truth.”
Just one year after her historic victory at Orleans, Joan of Arc was captured and abandoned by the french. Inquisitors found that she had an unbreakable spirit. She could not be found guilty as a heretic or a witch, and therefore charged her with cross-dressing. Although she did not want to die, she faced her fate with faith. The messengers had told her she her time was short and she died knowing that she had completed her mission of freeing France and helping King Charles take the throne. She was so courageous, faithful, had such a strong belief in herself and her God despite her humble beginnings. She has always been remembered and canonized.
I encourage you to learn more about Joan of Arc and her story. The qualities about her that inspired me the most, particularly considering she was a teenager at the time, were:
- belief in herself and her life’s purpose
- the ability to inspire others
- commitment to truth
- unshakable faith
Here are some interesting links I found about Joan of Arc: