Monday, December 27, 2010

Owning the Fire

The only flames that flicker in our annual January 6th Joan of Arc parade are the processional candles we hand out to spectators with matchbooks for Joan's birthday (this year--599 numbered candles will be given out for spectators to light and walk with alongside the parade). This is our way of giving homage and celebrating her life, rather than emphasizing her death (as is more common with saints, who are celebrated on their feast days, i.e. their death days, NOT their birthdays!).
Yet it's impossible not to associate Joan with her burning at the stake--alas, it's the only thing most people know about her. That's why we are especially glad that her birthday falls on Twelfth Night, when we can acknowledge her achievement of the coronation of King Charles sharing king cake at the Joan of Arc statue we're recognizing what she was "born for", as she put it: to ensure that the Dauphin became King, as her Voices said he would--with her assistance.
But because Joan is so deeply and obviously associated with fire, we have representation of it at the beginning of our parade. Local fire artist Monica Ferroe (pictured here) will be at the Bienville statue before we roll, showing us the power of fire--and the power of a woman who wields it. In this way we are turning the tables on the fire that surrounded and extinguished Joan. While the religious Joan may find it perhaps not as reverent as our processional candles, I think Joan's soul would rejoice to know that the fire is not swallowing the girl--but instead, the other way around.