When I think of archetypal female Elder Leader figures, Joan of Arc comes quickly to mind. She exhibited strengths of a Mystic and a Warrior, and as a Leader, Jeanne d’Arc led an army to victory at Orleans in defense of her beloved France. This brave young woman listened to her own inner voices, whether from her unconscious archetypal assembly and/or spiritual agencies supporting her mission.
I acted in a play while in college in the the role of a schizophrenic woman who believed she was Joan of Arc. For the part, I read all I could find about St. Joan so by the time the play was performed I really did identify strongly with La Pucelle. The night before the first performance of this play, Chamber Music, a well-known author focussing on women’s psychology gave a talk on my college campus and she mentioned Joan of Arc as a primary example of the highest qualities of a heroic figure. She ended her lecture after mentioning Joan, saying, “having spoken of Joan of Arc, I cannot say anything more.”
I felt the weight of the world land on my shoulders then, and I promptly went to my dormitory to re-read the entirety of George Bernard Shaw’s play, Saint Joan, that night.
Now there, now here, swift as a glance,
A cloud, a mist blown down the sky,
Good Joan of Arc goes riding by.In Domremy at candlelight,
The orchards blowing rose and white
About the shadowy houses lie;
And Joan of Arc goes riding by.On Avignon there falls a hush,
Brief as the singing of a thrush
Across old gardens April-high;
And Joan of Arc goes riding by.The women bring the apples in,
Round Arles when the long gusts begin,
Then sit them down to sob and cry;
And Joan of Arc goes riding by.Dim fall the hoofs down old Calais;
In Tours a flash of silver-gray,
Like flaw of rain in a clear sky;
And Joan of Arc goes riding by.Who saith that ancient France shall fail,
A rotting leaf driv’n down the gale?
Then her sons know not how to die;
Then good God dwells no more on high!
Tours, Arles, and Domremy reply!
For Joan of Arc goes riding by.