Baba's Roll of Honor

Joan of Arc, a patron saint of France and a national heroine, led the resistance to the English invasion of France in the Hundred Years War. She was born 6 January 1412 at Greux-Domremy, Lorraine, France; the third of five children to a farmer, Jacques Darc and his wife Isabelle de Vouthon in the town of Domremy on the border of provinces of Champagne and Lorraine. Her childhood was spent attending her father's herds in the fields and learning religion and housekeeping skills from her mother. When Joan was about 12 years old, she began hearing "voices" of St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret believing them to have been sent by God. These voices told her that it was her divine mission to free her country from the English and help the dauphin gain the French throne. They told her to cut her hair, dress in man's uniform and to pick up the arms. So Joan scraped the sheep manure off her feet, cut her hair "short and round in the fashion of young men", went to her uncle, Robert de Baudricourt, and persuaded him to provide her an escort to Chinon. He gave her a horse and a dagger slender enough for her maiden's hand, along with a tunic and trousers, boots, and a boy's black cap. He heard her six-man escort swear an oath that they would see her safely to Chinon; they wrapped their horses' feet in rags to muffle their clops and set off.

Eleanor of Aquitaine enters Constantinople,
1147 A.D.

Illustration from Women Warlords, Tim Newark, Blandford Press, UK, 1989.

Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the most powerful and fascinating personalities of feudal Europe. At age 15 she married Louis VII, King of France, bringing into the union her vast possessions from the River Loire to the Pyrenees. Only a few years later, at age 19, she knelt in the cathedral of Vézelay before the celebrated Abbé Bernard of Clairvaux offering him thousands of her vassals for the Second Crusade. It was said that Queen Eleanor appeared at Vézelay dressed like an Amazon galloping through the crowds on a white horse, urging them to join the crusades.

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Week 20

Meeting Baba - Our Badges of Identity

Labels? Badges? My God, for so long I was forced to wear them. They are all stuffed in this old box here – the faces are scratched now, the pins rusty, and some are spotted with blood where they dug in and hurt so much…
Gail Kavanagh

Baba Yaga by Heather Blakey

An important part of the Heroine’s Journey requires that you go to Baba Yaga and acquire the eternal flame. If you have never read Women Who Run With Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes you will have missed her Chapter 3 ‘ ‘Nosing Out the Facts. The Retrieval of Intuition as Initiation’

The Heroine’s work at the House of Baba Yaga is based on the Vasalisa story which you will find on the net.

Badges of Honor by Heather Blakey

A young medical student writes, saying that “It goes without saying that we should be smartly dressed (in a white coat where appropriate) and have a prominent identification badge, but the real way that we distinguish ourselves as students is by taking the time to correctly identify and introduce ourselves to the patient concerned. Having given a reason why we are requesting their participation (as part of our ongoing learning), we then ask their permission to take a history and examine them, as medical students.In my experience many doctors still choose to wear their white coat (the “classic trademark” of a medical student). In hospital we wear our stethoscopes around our necks because the pockets of our white coats are crammed full with textbooks and note pads, not because we want to be indistinguishable from doctors. Lets get real, the stethoscope is a medical instrument and not a badge of honour for doctors. Let your communication skills do the talking and not an obscure and arcane system related to the display (or not) of the symbols of our profession."

What badges of honour will you wear in order to help introduce yourself to Baba? Make some badges to wear that will help identify you. Consider making an armband that names you.

Wearing Badges

I think I have always worn one badge. I think I knew about it in a previous life. The badge is yellow, sewn onto my sleeve, it tells everyone I am a Jew. This is the badge my grandparents must have worn before they went to their deaths in the gaschambers.

I have other badges as well. Fatty. I was a fat little girl. I am not a fat woman, but I still feel bulky, uncomfortable in my skin unless I am suffering hunger pangs. Spotty. I had dreadful acne as a teenager and watched my poor son struggle for many years with the same condition until, miracle of miracles, it cleared up - just as mine had done at the same age.

I was a “swot” because I loved reading, a “snob” because I loved classical music and wanted to be a classical musician. I was “naughty” because I never did what my parents wanted, and “wicked”, as I chose my own destiny and turned my back on their values and religion. I was “useless” at art and needlecrafts because I could not fulfill the expectations of my school teachers. Ironically, my other passions in life after literature and music have been art and needlecrafts. Ironically?? Who were they to pass judgement on me - those teachers so long ago, who failed to see me, to recognise me? And yet they did so, making me nervous of my own abilities for many years.
Other badges. Disowned after my parents refused to see me after my marriage. Mother. Wife. Pianist and Teacher. Woman with RSD. Widow. And now Remarried Widow - its alright for her, she;s okay now, all her troubles are behind her.

It seems that badges and labels follow us forever. I want to choose my own from now on. I should pin them on and be damned. My badges will say Dreamer, Artist,Woman against Housework, Reader, Freethinker. I still wear the badges of mother and wife and also Glyn’s Widow but I wear those with pride.

Aletta Mes

Badges and Labels

Labels? Badges? My God, for so long I was forced to wear them. They are all stuffed in this old box here – the faces are scratched now, the pins rusty, and some are spotted with blood where they dug in and hurt so much…

This one is the oldest. DIRTY TINKER it says – there’s lot of luggage attached to this badge. When this was first pinned on me, I was bewildered. Dirty? But I was cleaner than the kids who threw it at me. My mother never let me go out without my hair brushed and clean clothes. Tinker? I was a traveller – no one in my family mended pots and pans, except for themselves. Didn’t these folk know the difference? But there it was, hanging stubbornly off me, even into my teens and early twenties. By then I had learned to laugh about it, but the damn thing still wouldn’t come off.

See this one? DREAMER, it says. You might think it’s a compliment now, but it wasn’t when it was first pinned on, not onto my clothes, but into my skin. I dreamed about all the wrong things, you see – I should have been dreaming of marriage to a `suitable’ man, being obedient and biddable all my life – instead of these crazy dreams about being free, being an artist, choosing my own destiny. I was berated for being “off in a daydream” several times a day, listening to the stories in my head and watching the changing landscape instead of attending to the `important’ things. Every time I was reminded that my dreams were not acceptable in a girl, someone would push that pin right into the bone to make sure I understood. “Dreamer!

BOLSHIE. Actually I like this one, it is still bright red as blood. They hung this one on me in the sixties because I dared to muse aloud on the possibilities of lives lived in peace and freedom. Hell, we believed that stuff then! I was called bolshie not just for my politics but for everything I said or did that seemed `out of step’ or not quite `proper’ – like preferring a ploughman’s lunch at a country pub to dinner in a swanky restaurant. This one left a few scars but I will still wear it, if I have to. Old bolshies never die.

ILLITERATE. This one was pinned right next to the DIRTY TINKER. True, I only ever walked through school gates twice in my life, but I learned to read and write, took correspondence lessons, filled exercise books with boring math, and learned something every day of my life, whether it was on the education curriculum or not. It was the first thing people saw, the label they judged me on time and again. “Can I help, dear? That says flour,” as I debated weights and prices - “You couldn’t read Shakespeare, you don’t even know what a book is.” How this damned heavy label weighed me down. I learned never to say I wanted to be a writer – the reaction would be derision. I mostly kept my writing hidden – the reaction was condescending amazement, as if I were a circus pony trained to count.

Oh the labels – who would have thought they could still prick at me, even after all this time. I shake them up in their box now, rattle them like old bones, and know this is the last time I look at them. No more labels for me. No, I will have balloons, bright candy coloured balloons, with words like FREEDOM, CREATIVITY and LAUGH on them and I will let them go to float high in the clouds. I’ve pinned the dreamer label to one of them. Let it fly.

That’ll show `em!

Gail Kavanagh

Badge Making Tools

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Make some badges to wear to introduce yourself to Baba