It was after the visit to Baba Yaga that Belenus, the intellect-ruled donkey, changed forever. And this was not because there was anything wrong with him, but because he wanted it that way. Metamorphosis brought him to a Villa on the outskirts of the City of Ladies, in Cyberia, where he paints the bright pots he makes from rich clay, in his pottery studio in the ancient ways. Had he been human, his name would have been like that of the famous knight of the ancient tales, so angry had he grown about the world, and only relying on the intellect. Yet, now he was human, by transformation. Daily he uncovers ancient treasures from the earth, and uses his hands to create, the thing he envied his very good friend Imogen Crest for. His Villa is known to change colours with the weather, and sometimes with the mood he is in. And of course, Imogen has lost none of her affection for him, residing as she does in her Hermitage Villa in the City of Ladies, closeby, and following her dreams of the intellect and the heart.
Arriving at the City of Ladies
by Heather Blakey
Walk through wooded paths
hear the sound of healing waters
bring an offering to waterfall spirits
and pass through the sacred temple of trees
with silent footsteps.
Sit on the rocks in the dappled sunlight
close your eyes and listen
for the healing which is offered
by the spirits of the waterfall
After completing their Grand Tour of Lemuria a number of residents came to help build the City of Ladies.
Christine de Pizan (1365-1430) is considered the first European woman to make her living as a professional writer. The widow of a French court official, de Pizan was forced by this circumstance to provide for herself, her children, and several other family members. She took on the task of educating herself and astutely began writing for the tastes of the courtiers. Besides writing love ballads and romantic poetry, she actively engaged in literary debates, which eventually brought her to the attention of a number of wealthy patrons.
Appalled by misogynistic themes common to popular literature of the period, de Pizan penned The Book of the City of Ladies in 1405 where she argues that woman are not inferior to men. What is unique about the book is that it does not draw on traditional male voices of authority. Rather, she creates a chorus of female voices, in the characters of Rectitude, Justice, and Reason, to battle common negative female stereotypes. (source: Lori Gloyd)
Christine de Pizan set out to disprove masculine myths and within the context of her time her thought was revolutionary. In her classic ‘The Book of the City of Ladies’ Pizan explains how she had been commissioned to build the City of Ladies.The Cyberian City of Ladies, is a reincarnation of the lost City of Ladies as envisioned by de Pizan. Travellers who have trod the Soul Food Silk Way invariably arrive at the City carrying the creative flame that Baba Yaga has gifted them with.
The City of Ladies is one of those vibrant, artistic environments where kindred spirits impact on one another and, as Lori Gloyd discovered at a chance meeting at the Apothecary, it is possible to meet and mingle with fascinating people.
It was “Mojito Week” at Il Taverna di Muse, and the Proprietress sent me to the Apothecary Shop to purchase bundles of fresh mint leaves, an essential ingredient for the drink. I was excited to make my first visit to the Shop as I had heard it was an extraordinary sensory experience.
The moment the door chimes announced my entrance into the Shop I was assaulted by the pungent scent of spices, the earthy smell of fresh clipped herbs, bundled and hanging from the rafters, and the warm, inviting aromas of tea and fresh baked pastries.
Besides providing apothecary services to the neighborhood, the Shop was also a place for writers and craftspeople to gather who preferred a quieter, less frenetic environment. There were some tables and chairs near the pastry section and in the back was the Stitching Room were some textile artists were piecing together a quilt.
After I made my purchase and was heading toward the door with the wrapped bundle of mint under my arm, I noticed a middle-aged woman in a Victorian-style dress, black silk with starched white lace around the collar. Her hair was pulled high and she balanced a pair of wire glasses on her nose. She was busy reading a book. I stopped and stared for a moment. She was so familiar. Then I knew—it was her!
The woman became aware of me and looked up. “May I be of assistance?” she said with a prim clip.
“Oh, excuse me, I didn’t mean to stare… you look just like…. I mean…. Oh what am I trying to say….Maam, are you Miss Alcott? Louisa May Alcott?”
“I am she.”
“Oh, this is such an honor, Miss Alcott! I’ve enjoyed your work so much.”
“Thank you, my dear. I am gratified that my little women mean so much to you.”
“Maam, I wasn’t referring to Little Women—I mean, don’t misunderstand me, Little Women was wonderful, but I was referring to your…your…..”
“Potboilers? Blood and Thunder stories?”
“Well, yeah.” I sheepishly smiled.
“Please, have a seat, my dear.” She smiled. “Most of my readers don’t know about those stories.”
“And it’s a shame—Pauline’s Passion and Punishment, A Long, Fatal Love Chase, and my favorite, A Modern Mephistopheles—they were innovative, way ahead of their time.”
“Oh, yes, well, you see, I’m from your future. It’s a little strange, I know.”
“Strange? My dear, this is Lemuria. Everything is strange in Lemuria.”
“So you read my potboilers?”
“Yes, maam, as part of a research project.”
“My works will be researched? “
“Yes, indeed. You were, er, ARE, one of the first feminists. Your women’s suffrage work is well documented and your literary works reflect this as well.”
“Yes, a person who supports women’s rights and strives for justice and social equality.”
“I see. And you see this in my writings?”
“Yes. Your female characters are fiery, independent women, most particularly in your potboilers, but even in Little Women—Jo for example.”
Miss Alcott chuckled. “May I share a secret with you, uh…..”
“Lori, the fact of the matter is….” She leaned forward and lowered her voice. “I wasn’t very eager to write Little Women.
I suppressed a smile. I already knew that her publisher pushed her to write this simple moral tale for children. “Really!” I said.
“No, I didn’t really want to write it. Very dull and ordinary.” Her voice lowered to a whisper. “I very much enjoyed writing my potboilers. They are so …lurid.” I believe Miss Alcott was beginning to blush. She continued, “The women in those stories were far more interesting and….and….” She struggled for a word.
“…More real?” I said.
“Yes, indeed. More real.”
I glanced at the clock on the wall. “Is that the time?! Miss Alcott, I don’t want to be rude but I really need to get back to the Tavern.”
“Of course, dear. It was a pleasure making your acquaintance.”
“Likewise, Miss Alcott.” I headed towards the door.
“Did women ever get the right to vote, in the future, I mean?”
“Yes, maam, we did.”
Miss Alcott picked up her book and resumed her reading.
“Outstanding” she muttered with a smile.
Lori Gloyd © 2006
The flame we carry within –
that spark of Passion’s intent
that barely flickers with our vanity,
for it cannot be extinguished by any will;
hold it high, not close — not hid away.
I know that it is not a cross that I must shoulder,
but a lantern to be carried in firm hand and heart.
As Diogenes sought truth in shadows of humanity,
and Albinus fueled the lamp of knowledge and order,
and Mother Theresa carried a flame behind her eyes,
so shall I find a lantern of protected flame to share.
Is it possible I am this to be;
to drop the shuttered casings, –
and let the light shine through
and burn ever so brightly,
and pass the
The Dream of a Contemplative Life by Soul Sister
Entering the City Gates by Lori Gloyd
Guides bring Pilgrims to the City by Heather Blakey
Performing at the Tavern by Gail Kavanagh
A Working Holiday by Imogen Crest
And Today's Special Is by Anita Marie Moscoso
Red Clay Meditation by Soul Sister
Only Women Bleed by Soul Sister
Reason Recitude and Justice by Heather Blakey
Miss Juniper Fox by Traveller
The Callieach Bheurr by Soul Sister
Mira Bai by Lori Gloyd
Troubadours Perform for the Ladies by Heather Blakey
Patchwork by Heather Blakey
The Crone Witches on Holiday by Fran Sbrocchi
Salon de Pizan by Anita Marie Moscoso
Orlando Non Furioso's Villa by Imogen Crest
If you can imagine settling to help construct the City of Ladies just contact heatherblakey at dailywriting dot net. with an application.