It has long been believed that Joan of Arc was a French peasant girl born to Jacques d’Arc and Isabelle Romée in 1412 at Domrémy, who received visions of God. On the always-unknown God’s instructions, she supported Charles VII against the English domination. In 1430, she was captured and put on trial and found guilty of heresy for which she was burnt on a stake at the age of nineteen. Her relics were discovered in 1867 in a small glass jar of a Paris pharmacy with the inscription, “Remains found under the stake of Joan of Arc, virgin of Orleans.”
About ten years ago, in 2007, a strange French doctor revealed that the remains of Joan of Arc were false. I am writing this to contradict him.
On Jaipur’s Mirza Ismail Road, inside a collapsing façade, there is an old cooperative coffee house of bright green walls, full of tattered chairs, Technicolor pictures of Jawaharlal Nehru, and foreigners who, for some reason, choose to spend their time in this dull city that is not even desert. In one of the smaller rooms, which are slightly cooler than the main area, I recently found a faded, fragile book on one of the tables. Someone must have forgotten the book where there was no one else apart from me and another girl engrossed in something invisible. In the middle of mysterious alchemical and kabbalistic illustrations, I could make out, from whatever little Latin I know, that it was an ancient book describing the many lives of a young Egyptian princess who had lived sometime between the 3rd and 7th centuries BC (my Latin is bad, I couldn’t be sure). In the city of Men-nefer, near the great temple of Ptah, the little princess once found a black kitten who, in cat years, was almost as young as she was and the two forged such a friendship that everywhere, everyone joked that even in the world beyond this one, certainly could they only be found together, it was impossible even for the divine powers to separate them. As she grew up, she developed severe vertigo: anywhere and everywhere suddenly she would hear the call of the unknown and the earth would start spinning around her and the ground beneath her turned into an endless abyss in which she fell so frequently that she knew by heart its every shape, every face, every devil, every false end.
The next few pages from the book were missing, so it was impossible to tell what exactly had brought upon the death of the young girl. All I could see was a medical description of the young girl’s mummification, and that with her was buried her dearly beloved black cat, found dead right next to her. But the odd book of the princess’s life did not end with her death; there were a few pages left. On each page, a simple illustration of the life the dead princess was foretold to have: a Roman meretrix called Fortuna, a potter in Qombo’ul, an unnamed tantric Buddhist statue in the caves of Ellora, and then a peasant girl in France named Joan.
I did not believe this found book until I had a dream a few nights later of the Jaipur’s resident Egyptian mummy telling me that the book was, in fact, authentic, and that dreams are forever to be trusted more than any scientific or psychological discovery. I told her, the mummy in my dreams, that science never lies. “You’re wrong, it’s the unconscious that never lies,” she said before waking me up.
So, Joan of Arc was once an Egyptian princess?
How did the doctor and his team know that the remains of Joan of Arc were fake?
In the jar, they found remains of an Egyptian mummy, with a piece of cloth, and a cat femur.
Saudamini Deo is a writer and photographer from India.