Daily Doodle #53: The Mentor's Gift
From the Doodler:
In the third stage of Joseph Campbell's "Hero's Journey Cycle," the hero, who has been called upon to leave the ordinary life for adventure, meets her mentor, a source of wisdom and encouragement, before crossing the threshold into the perilous unknown.
I imagine that moment with the mentor, like being in the eye of a storm, quiet and serene, held safely in silver wings, gaining confidence and resolve for the journey ahead.
Titles and Captions From the Scribblers:
"Her mother had warned her not to trust the bird people, but when she looked into Jose's eyes all her mother's warnings fled from her mind." -Elijah H.
"A divine love. Isis and Quetzalcoatl meet halfway between their homelands to enjoy an intimate rendezvous beneath starry Atlantlean skies." -James L.
"Warm from the winter's weather in an angel's wing..." -Valerie
"Gonna wrap you up in my love" -Karri M.
"Here's what this couple said before this Daily Doodle was painted. I wrote it down word for word. I was there, so you can trust me on this...
He: "What should we go to the costume party as?"
Her: "I think you should go as a white feathered bird."
He: "Ahh, like an albino Hawk? Done. I think you should go as Cleopatra, but only wearing some beads and girlie stuff in your hair, and nothing else."
Her: "Hmmm... I'll think about that."" -Casey M.
A brief conversation between the Doodler and the Doodle-Song Sommelier:
Sommelier: Long flowing hair, long flowing feathers, wing wrapped around to make the shape of a heart -- this is rock opera power-ballad stuff. I think the song for this is "Angel" by Aerosmith.
Doodler: I'm seeing the third stage of Joseph Campbell's "Hero's Journey Cycle," but what do YOU see?
Sommelier: I wish I knew you saw it that way when I chose the song. I actually toyed with "Set Them Free" by Sting and "Free As a Bird" by The Beatles. I didn't pick them because I thought they were too lesson-y. I wanted something that captured more of the relationship I saw in this. So "Angel" by Aerosmith is still definitely my pick; but. if you see it more as a mentor-student relationship, one of those might work better for you.
Doodler: I love it with Aerosmith's Angel. Because these are doodles (which I define more by their improvisational nature than by anything else) my thoughts on them are interpretations not intentions, so have no more inherent veracity than any other thoughts or interpretations of them. In fact, much of my joy stems from discovering my art through other people's eyes who have completely different perspectives on it than me. Also, creating them and sharing them in a single day, means I am often far too close to see all that it could mean anyway. So far, responses to this doodle have ranged from comical to mythological. Stick with the Aerosmith, Trusted Sommelier!
And the real treat that comes with this doodle, is a story, scribbled for it by Cyndi Deaton. Enjoy!
Rosca knew she was in trouble when she walked into the room. The eyes of the men narrowed as they saw her step forward. She wore the battlements of a warrior, and with her slight shape, the garments seemed awkward and overwhelming on her. But they weren’t. She felt more at home in these clothes than she did in the robes that she’d been raised to wear. But that didn’t mean that these men saw her that way.
“What do you want here, young woman?” asked the Elder. He was the highest authority present, so Rosca addressed herself to him.
“You called for a champion to fight for the woman you hold prisoner.” The woman in question wasn’t even in the room. The deadline for a champion to step forward to defend her honor was today, and these men didn’t even see fit to have her present to see if someone would step up.
“We did. But you are not a champion. You are a woman in a champion’s clothes.”
“I am willing to stand up for her; the clothes do not matter. It is what is in my heart that does.”
“The documents do not forbid a woman standing in as champion,” this came from the greasy-looking man standing next to the elder.
“But tradition and the spirit of the documents speak against her standing up for the prisoner, Natku,” said the Elder. “The gods will not be happy with her. A woman’s role is to make the home, not to be a champion.”
“If she angers the gods, that is on her head, not ours,” said Natku. “We can only do what the documents spell out, not what we chose to read into them. If the gods are not happy with that, they can change the documents and in the future we will follow those new rules. For now, we have only what is before us.”
“If it helps at all, I have no intention of going away,” Rosca added. She was not worried about the gods. They had better things to do than to worry about one woman doing what was right to help another. Besides if they were going to be angry with her over that, chances were good they were going to be angry with her again, so she may as well feel their wrath over this as anything else.
“There is nothing I can do to convince you to step aside?” the Elder asked. “You know that you are unlikely to win. You will likely anger the gods, be injured or die, and solve nothing for your efforts.”
“I have to try,” Rosca said, her voice small. But she took a deep breath, found her courage and continued. “Someone has to stand for this woman. She deserves the chance to live her life. You wish to take that chance from her because she dared to break your rules. Rules that favor men simply because they are men. Let her live her life in solitude, or find others who want to live with her. But don’t take her life simply because she wants to live outside the narrow confines you have defined for her and other women.”
The Elder looked annoyed at these words. “The gods define what our roles are. We only enforce as they deem necessary.”
“And they deem it necessary for you to take this woman’s life because she chose to learn to read what is in those documents you cling to so tightly?”
The Elder went pale. “She, nor any woman, has read what is in these documents. Her crime is that she taught herself to read, and was seen reading religious texts.”
“But she could have read these documents,” Rosca said. She squared her jaw. “I will be her champion.”
Natku smiled, and it was not a comforting smile. “You will face the village’s champion then.”
The Elder did not look as happy at this prospect. “It appears I have no choice but to accept you as champion. I will, however, give you another chance to back down. You need not anger the gods and put your life on the line for this woman. She is nothing to you.”
“She is something to me,” Rosca answered angrily. “She is a living being, and she is a woman. She has done no wrong. Even if I should not succeed, she will know that someone stood up for her.” Rosca hesitated, then continued, “I would like to speak with her, if that is permitted.”
The Elder looked contemplative. “I see no reason why you shouldn’t speak with her. Perhaps she can talk you out of this foolishness.”
He nodded at one of the guards near the door. “Take this woman - “ He paused and looked at her.
He continued, “Take this woman, Rosca, to see the prisoner.”
Rosca held up her hand to the guard and looked at the Elder. “I would like to speak to her alone.”
“You will not be able to help her escape,” Natku was not pleased with this turn of events and was distrustful of Rosca’s intentions.
“I have no plans to help her escape. I am honest in my intent to stand as her champion. I just wish to speak to her before we begin the ceremony.”
The Elder addressed the guard again. “You will stand out of hearing range - but within sight. Let her have her conversation, but nothing more.”
Rosca left the room with the guard. He led her to behind the building to a small cage. The bars were rough-hewn metal, and closely placed. There was barely room for an arm to reach through. And the rough metal would bite into any exposed flesh that contacted it in the attempt.
The guard followed his instructions and stayed near the building. Rosca approached the cage alone.
“Hello?” she called as she approached. “My name’s Rosca. I’m here to be your champion.”
A small voice answered from within the shadows of the cage. “I’m Verta. Do I know you?”
“No, I’ve heard of you, and I’ve seen you from a distance, but we’ve never met.”
Verta’s face peered white from between the bars near Rosca. “Then why would you want to be my champion?”
“Because someone needs to stand up for you. And none of the men in this village will.”
Verta looked down, her face cracking. “Not even my husband? No one came forward?”
Rosca had not known Verta was married. “No. No one has stepped forward. I don’t believe what you did was wrong. So I will stand for you. I will do what I can to see you freed.”
“But you are a woman! You cannot fight!”
“You are a woman. You cannot read.”
“But I CAN read. That is why I am here.”
“And I can fight. That is why I am here.”
The two women looked at each other through the bars. Verta reached her arms between bars. Rosca stepped forward and into the embrace. She let her hands rest on Verta’s arms as the two shared a moment of silence.
Rosca stepped away and looked into Verta’s face. “Today, either both of us will walk away, or neither of us will. My fate is tied to yours.” With that she turned and walked back to the guard.
Verta watched them go, tears pooling in her eyes. She had a champion.
Rosca stood in the center of the village square. The square was full of people who had gathered to watch the champions battle for Verta. If Rosca won, Verta would be allowed to go free. If Rosca lost, Verta would face her punishment - death.
The village champion stood next to the building that served as a temple to the gods. According to the documents, he was the champion of the village. He was also seen as the champion of the gods. It was their law that was being protected, so he fought to preserve their order.
Rosca looked at the crowd that had gathered. Many of the faces smirked to see a woman in the gear of a warrior. Others looked simply curious.
The Elder stepped to the center of the square, and the village champion stepped away from the temple to join him.
“We decide the fate of Verta, who is charged with reading religious texts. Shivo will stand as champion to the village. Rosca will stand as champion to Verta.” The Elder looked at Rosca. “If you wish to withdraw your support of Verta, do it now. You will not be given another opportunity.”
Rosca shook her head. “I won’t need another. I will stand as champion to Verta.”
“Then let it begin. The competition will end when either of you concedes, or if one of you should be incapacitated or killed. May the right win.” With that, the Elder stepped up onto the platform before the temple. The temple priests had also stepped on the platform. There was one for each god and goddess in the pantheon; each priest wearing the colors and symbols of his chosen god or goddess. They would serve as the earthly representatives of the gods during this match.
Rosca crouched, ready to counter whatever attack her opponent would open with. He would be expecting her to be afraid. He would think her unable to fight, so his opening attack would be restrained. He would use it to test her reaction. She made herself look uncertain. Shivo would read her and be certain of his victory. He would believe her ready to concede at the first threat of violence, so he wouldn’t fully commit to the attack. He would depend on his threatening stance and masculinity to cower her. She tried to look sufficiently afraid.
Shivo moved toward her, his speed slightly checked and his chest filled out, shoulders thrown wide - making himself appear large and violent. But Rosca knew that he was not committed to the action. He would not strike out at her until he knew that she would actually fight. She took advantage of this to spring out of the crouch and move directly at him. He reacted to this by pulling back slightly and hesitating. Rosca used this hesitation to her advantage. She stepped under his chest, and turned slightly so her side was facing him. As he dropped his chin to see her, she raised her head swiftly to meet his lowering jaw. His head whiplashed back at the unexpected contact. Rosca jammed her shoulder into his chest as he was set off balance by his head whipping back. He staggered, but trying to regain his balance. He couldn’t fathom the idea that a woman was actually attacking him.
Rosca threw herself at Shivo again, taking advantage of his precarious balance. She intended for them both to go sprawling onto the hard pan of the square. It happened just as she pictured it. With her full weight thrust against his off-center body, Shivo tilted backward, his arms windmilled briefly before grabbing at her and dragging her after him. Shivo landed on his back, with Rosca on top, straddling his midsection. Shivo was still disoriented by the fall, but Rosca had expected this, so was ready. She reached her right hand down into her boot and pulled out her dagger. She shoved it up under Shivo’s chin; her left hand clutching his throat below his Adam’s apple. The tip of the dagger penetrated the flesh slightly, creating a dimple that oozed a slow trickle of blood. Her left hand supported the weight of her body as she leaned into it and squeezed.
The big man beneath her took in the situation. He was larger than Rosca, and he could dislodge her if he tried to stand. But her dagger would slide home with any upward movement. He could grab hold of her and throw her from him, or pummel her with his fists. But the dagger at his throat and the look of determination in the eyes just inches from his convinced him that she would make sure to drive the dagger home before he could dislodge her, or do serious damage.
Rosca saw the moment that she had won in his eyes. She saw his options play across his face, and then saw the moment when he surrendered. She held steady, not giving an inch, until the words crossed his lips.
“Shivo concedes.” Rosca dropped the dagger and slid off the big man. She did not reach out to help him up. That would be cruel. Shivo would no longer be considered village champion after losing to a woman. He would be seen as even less if he accepted her help to get up.
Rosca turned her attention to the platform. The priests were visibly angry at her victory. She could hear the chants and prayers coming from the platforms. Since their champion let them down, they were going directly to the gods.
Rosca did not fear the wrath of the gods. She had never seen a god; never seen them take action. Why would they now?
But as she thought this, she felt a change in the air. The sky darkened, but the air increased in warmth. Rosca looked up to see the sky roiling and darkening. There were flashes of lightening crossing the darkness.
The people who had made up the crowd started fleeing; many of them to the temple. As Rosca watched them retreat, ash started falling from the sky. Rosca watched, fascinated. She only turned her face away from the sky when she felt a hand tugging at hers. She looked to see Verta.
“Come on! You need to take cover!” Verta looked frightened. Rosca was pleased that the Elder had kept his part and freed Verta after Shivo had conceded.
Rosca pulled her hand free from Verta’s. “You go if you want. I want to see what happens next.”
“You are insane! The gods are angry, and they will make us both pay for this! We can’t stay.” Verta’s eyes had the wide look of fear.
“You go. Take cover.” Rosca looked back up to the sky. “I plan on seeing what the gods intend.”
Verta gave up her pleading and ran. Rosca was pleased to see that she was running away from the village. This wouldn’t be a safe place for her any longer.
The ash had turned from cold white to hot orange. Embers were now raining down on the village. Rosca felt them stinging as they lit on her cheeks, but the leather she wore protected the rest of her. Some of the embers had landed on bales of hay or dry grass. Smoke started rising where the embers and caught. But Rosca still didn’t retreat. She was alone in the square. Everyone else had fled to shelter.
Thunder cut through the darkness, its deep sound shaking the walls of the temple. The embers were falling faster now, and the sky was filling with what sounded like echoes of the thunder. The echoes almost sounded like voices to Rosca’s ears. Angry voices. She started to doubt the wisdom of standing in the square waiting for what approached. But she couldn’t retreat to the temple. She wouldn’t be welcome there, and she couldn’t support gods who handed down rules that punished women for wanting to learn, wanting to fight.
So she stood, the embers raining down hot upon her. The winds picked up, blowing embers in a swirl around her. Shaking in fear and suppressed motion, she stood her ground. The wind pushed harder against her, first from one direction, then another; the heat crashing into her body. The echoes of the thunder had taken on their own sound and grown, the noise beating against her ears. She felt as though she would lose her footing and fly off into the sky. But still she held.
Just when she thought she could stand no more of the buffeting winds and stinging embers, when the sounds in the sky had reached a point where her ears could take no more of the roaring sound, she felt a coolness in the wind. She saw in the distance a flash of white among the embers. The white flashed again, and then was there, enveloping her, protecting her from the embers. Within the white, the sound quieted.
Rosca held still within this white. Her ears heard nothing. No embers reached her, no wind howled or pushed against her. She was in a bubble of cool quiet.
After holding for a minute to see if this white held its own threat, Rosca looked up. She saw a face looking down at her. It was serene and unearthly. The eyes that looked back at her were wise and of an age long past.
“Hello, Rosca,” said the winged being who held her. “I am here to train you.”
“Train me? For what?”
“To be a champion.”
“A champion? For who?”
“The gods have had many champions. These champions have fought for the gods, for priests, for men. We goddesses have been in search of a champion of our own,” said the being - the goddess. “And I believe we have found her.”