Tag Archive | SCA

Peasant Perspective, Part the First

Ishiyamadera_engi_emaki_-_Scroll_3_Section_1
Life goals: an oxcart of my very own. From the Ishiyama-dera engi emaki 石山寺縁起絵巻, Roll 3, Section 1 (approx. 14th century). Picture credit Wikimedia commons.

About a month ago, the Peers in the Kingdom of Calontir had meetings to discuss certain aspects about peerage. Not specific persons, but of peerage itself. Calontir being Calontir, of course those of us not so graced also had things to say. Lord Hugo van Harlo wrote up a few topic questions which definitely made me think, and I wanted to discuss my thoughts here, being an Award Of Arms holder of long standing (my AOA having just celebrated its 24th anniversary. It is now out of university and looking for an honest living, bless its heart.)

TOPIC ONE: UPPING YOUR GAME AND FINDING SATISFACTION
The SCA is host to a wildly diverse range of activities and approaches. How do we find our place in it, find satisfaction in how we approach it, and do it without going broke–all amidst an uncertain sea of awards, recognition, student-teacher relationships, and peerage “tracks?”

This is a big and somewhat ambitious topic. For a little bit of background, I’ve been involved with the SCA since 1991 (about 27 years), have lived in three kingdoms and visited several others. I’ve been an armored fighter, an arts and sciences enthusiast, and a service junkie. Not all my time in the SCA has been terribly active, as life does happen. I’ve had to step away while taking care of a sick parent, getting married, moving several times, working a demanding job, and dealing with some serious health issues of my own. But I never completely quit the hobby, just went from very active to not very active and back again as needed.

The SCA is extremely diverse, and that diversity is one of its greatest strengths. There are some boundaries (which, interestingly, have changed over the time I’ve been in), but they are very flexible. The basic requirements as stated in Corpora (law) are these: Anyone may attend Society events provided he or she wears an attempt at pre-17th century clothing, conforms to the provisions in Corpora, and complies with any other requirements (including but not limited
to site fees or waivers) which may be imposed. At business meetings and informal classes, the requirement to wear pre-17th century dress may be waived. All participants are expected to behave as ladies or gentlemen.
Note that you do not even have to be a member to participate in many SCA activities (such requirements do vary by kingdom), although being a member does give one a small discount to events.

Many of us got our start in the SCA as young people, either as impoverished students or impoverished young adults. So having this diversity helps. A new member just needs to wear very basic garb (a tunic works great), and look around to see what of the many facets of the SCA catches their attention. The fact that there isn’t the same kind of rigorous authenticity standards found in many other living history groups allows a new person a chance to slowly build up skills and yet still participate. It’s really a wonderful way to get people started.

The wide range of time periods and localities allowed (any culture that had contact with Western Europe before the year 1600 is fair game) gives many people a chance to explore what is important to THEM. Some people, like myself, end up having more than one persona, exploring more than one time or culture. Others like to narrow in on a particular time and place and learn as much as they can about it. It’s all good. And that is delightful. I love seeing what other people find out as they explore the history that interests them.

So how does one find ones place in the SCA? There are a thousand answers, each one of them correct. One person may wish to explore their family’s heritage. Another person’s imagination may be caught by a time or place completely unrelated to their ethnic heritage. Some people just pick an appropriate-sounding name and bounce around from topic to topic. There is no one right way to do this.

ivanhoe_bryan_dubois_gilbert_vs_wilfred_of_ivanhoe_neal_andrews
The Ivanhoe movie from 1982, which started me on my Ivanhoe addiction. Sam Neill as Brian DuBois Gilbert with Anthony Andrews as the heroic Wilfred of Ivanhoe.

For myself, I started out doing 16th century Austrian. My senior thesis at University was on the relationship between the two Habsburg brothers who ruled much of Europe in the early 16th century, Charles and Ferdinand. I had also portrayed a Habsburg archduchess while working at a local renaissance fair while I was in high school and college, so I tweaked the name a little and continued with the same persona. Later, after I married and followed my Iowan husband back home to his native state, I decided to explore an Anglo-Saxon persona. My main inspiration was a 19th century work of historic fiction, the book Ivanhoe, one of my favorite works since my teenaged days. Then a few years later, I gave in to my passion for Japanese culture, and chose to have a Japanese persona, which is what I use today. However, you’re just as likely to find me in European garb as in Japanese clothing. I love costumes and like to wear a variety of outfits as the mood takes me. If anyone asks, I just tell them it’s my nindo (ninja way). 😉

Finding satisfaction is another very personal issue. From time to time, ask yourself, “Why am I doing this? What brings me the most joy?” The answer one hears from many people has to do with the people they meet and the friends they make through this hobby. That is certainly a large part of what keeps me going, but for me, the SCA offers me a venue in which I can explore history as I want, in the company of like-minded people who also share my passion for history.

The chatelaine in the Barony of the Flame (Louisville, KY) gave me some words of advice when I got started in the SCA. She told me, “This hobby will end up taking up much of your time, or your money, or even both.” At first, I thought that was a rather down-beat thing to say to a complete newbie, but the years have proven the truth of those words. There’s no getting around it–the SCA can be an expensive hobby and an intense one. There are ways to do this hobby on a budget (for many years, most of my garb was made from thrift store cotton sheets or things I could find from the clearance aisles at JoAnn’s or Hancock’s). It took me a long time to get my armor together–even though I had the use of someone’s shop and their teaching skills for free, the materials still cost and the construction took the better part of a year. We bought our bows used–they’re not the best, but they work.

That chatelaine was right in another way: the longer you are in, the more you may want to “up your game”, which means you fork out for better materials and spend more time doing research or construction. Usually, a person will want to give back to their local group in service, and devote time towards helping out at events.

I’ve really struggled with this issue. Budgeting becomes more complex as one gets older, maybe acquires a spouse or partner, a house, car, children, pets, the detritus of everyday life. Some jobs require weekend work. Sometimes, vacation time needs to be devoted to visiting family rather than going to events. How do you choose, especially if you’re trying to improve your SCA game?

There is no right answer. For me, my husband and family must come first, always. Neither of our parents live close-by, so we have to save vacation time/money to visit them, especially as they are growing older. My husband has other hobbies outside the SCA, and it’s only fair I support him as he has always supported me. You have to listen to your heart and do what you think is best for your situation (and never take flack from anyone who tells you differently! Only you know what is really going on in your life!)

For me, improving my game has been a very long process, and not everything has happened at once or on every level. I’ve tried very hard to make my garb look more authentic–I may machine-sew the inner seams, but every outer stitch is done by hand. I try to keep to period-looking footware. It passes the 10-foot rule, but there’s room to grow. I might take modern shortcuts for financial reasons, or if I’m in a hurry, but try to research the heck out of anything I present in a display or competition.

In my early years, authenticity just didn’t matter that much to me. I was just happy to be able to sew on my own, or any other art that came along. Mistress Bianca Rosamund, my first calligraphy teacher, taught me with modern tools and methods. Her belief (one I share) is that you learn the skill-set (calligraphy, painting) with modern tools so you don’t get frustrated, then progress to more period equipment as your skills improve and you can manage them better. My current shodo teacher feels much the same way. And thank goodness, the SCA is designed in a way that people can progress towards more authentic methods at their own pace.

It’s a road and we’re all always learning.

Finally, we come to awards. As someone who has been passed over many times for awards, I’m probably not the best to speak about how to navigate those waters. It was 3 years until I got my AOA, then 9 years and another kingdom until my next two awards (6 months apart). All of these were AOA-level awards. It has been over 14 years since my last award. And my husband is one of those legendary below-the-radar guys who waited 20 years before even getting an AOA. So obviously, I’m not a fan of the current award system.

However, if I try to think about it too much, I get bitter. So instead, I write in a list of people once or twice a year, and I make sure to attend court to cheer on those who have been recognized. Someone was there to cheer me on when the Midrealm’s King Jafar (of blessed memory) called me up in court to give me my Award of Arms. I feel it’s my duty to pass on that cheer to my AOA-siblings. I may not even know you in person, but well done, good job!

I will admit to some tears when I’ve been passed over yet again, but after so many years, I can safely say that no, awards and recognition are not what keep me in the SCA. The same can be said of my husband, who went right back below the radar and hasn’t been noticed by royalty since his AOA 15 years ago.

One thing I might add about awards, though–there are Baronial awards available for those who live in Baronies, but for those of us who reside out in the Shires, at least in Calontir, there is nothing. Maybe something can be done about that–perhaps the Baronages can spread out their awards among the Shires near them. Everyone could use a little pick-me-up.

I think I will address student-teacher relationships and peerage “tracks” in another post. This one is quite long on its own.

I would love to hear other SCAdian thoughts on these subjects, especially from other non-peers.

Ki no Kotori info from the Calontir Wiki

Ki no Kotori

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Photo by Master Edward Hauschild, 2019

Ki no Kotori 紀小鳥
aka Tace of Foxele, Maria Katerina von Adlerhof, Szabo Maria, Kári Gilsson, Ægileif in kyrra

Persona:

Ki no Kotori 紀小鳥 is a 10th century (Heian Era) Japanese courtier who has taken Buddhist vows(Heian Era). She is my primary Persona.

01122017_moi_kosode_kawaii_large
Momoyama-era garb, 2017. Photo by Lord Alfgeirr skytja

moi_uchigi
Kamakura-era garb, 2008. Photo by Lord Alfgeirr skytja.

Tace of Foxele is 12th century Anglo-Saxon lady living in Norman-occupied England, at Foxele (modern Foxholes), in Yorkshire, 9 miles south of Scarborough.

Anglo-Saxon Garb 2004
11th century Anglo-Saxon garb, 2004. Photo by Lord Alfgeirr skytja.

Maria Katerina von Adlerhof is a 16th century Austrian, in the service of the Habsburg Imperial Court in Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

moi_austrian_garb_dragoncon
In Austrian Garb, 1996. Photo by Richard Gilson.

No photos yet for my other persona.

Link to Calontir Armorial – http://armorial.calontir.org/Pages/KiTorame.htm

History in the SCA:

war_bitches_1993
Summer’s End Tournament, Barony of the Flame, Midrealm, 1993. I’m on the left with the red bandana.

Timeline:
* I started in the SCA in 1991, in the Barony of the Flame (Louisville, KY), Middle Kingdom
* Originally I was a heavy-weapons fighter. Injuries have sidelined me.
* AOA awarded by King Jafar and Queen Catherine, Midrealm 3/12/1994 for Service as Chronicler and at Demos.
* Became Squire to Sir David Dragonhawk, 9/24/1994
* Baronial award: Order of the Flamberge by Baroness Cordelia Tichy, Barony of the Flame, 1995, for Service at Demos.
* Moved to Calontir after I met my husband, Alfgeirr skytja. We lived in Coeur d’Ennui from 1998-2001.
* We moved to Dubuque in 2001 and started the Riverwatch contact group in mid-2002. It disbanded in 2006. After that, we were honorary members of the Shire of Deodar.
* Golden Swan awarded by King Valens and Queen Susannah for Calligraphy & Illumination 5/24/2003
* Torse awarded by King Joe-Angus and Queen Phaedra for service to the Riverwatch contact group 1/31/2004
* We moved to the Kansas City metro area in December 2012 and live in the Shire of Cum an Iolair.
* First event: Summer’s End Tournament, Barony of the Flame, Middle Kingdom, Sept. 1991.
*Granted entrance to the Order of the Calon Lily by King Xerxis II and Queen Belanna for Japanese Poetry and Research 9/15/2018
*Apprenticed to Ylva jarlkonna Jonsdottir 2/2/2019
* Link to Calontir OP is here.

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Fighting in the snow, Barony of Fenix, Midrealm, 1994. I’m in the Red and Green armor.

Groups and Affiliations:
* Current Group: Shire of Cum an Iolair, Calontir.
* Previous Groups: Shire of Deodar, Riverwatch contact group (Dubuque, IA), Barony of Coeur d’Ennui (all Calontir), Barony of the Flame (Midrealm)
* Guilds, Households, etc: Scribal guild, Bardic guild (Calontir), apprenticed to Ylva jarkkonna Jonsdottir 2019-present, squired to Sir David Dragonhawk (Midrealm) 1994-present, House Drachenstein (Midrealm) 1992-1994.

Getting my Golden Swan award,Horse and Falcon, 2003
Being awarded the Golden Swan by Queen Susannah, Barony of Forgotten Sea, 2003. Photo by Verla Herschell.

Being Elevated to the Calontir Order of the Golden Lily
Granted entrance to the Order of the Calon Lily by King Xerxis II and Queen Belanna, Queen’s Prize, Shire of Crystal Mynes, September, 2018. Photo by Edward Hauschild (Vilhelm Lich).

Offices:

* Local Offices: Exchequer (Shire of Cum an Iolair); Past: Talon Herald (Shire of Cum an Iolair) Chatelaine (Shire of Cum an Iolair) Deputy Seneschal, Chronicler (Barony of the Flame); Contact person, Herald, Knight’s Marshal, Exchequer (Riverwatch)
* Regional Offices: Assistant Signet (Southern Oaken Region, Midrealm, 1994), Lanner Herald Committee (Calontir 2016-2018)
* Kingdom Offices: None
* SCA-wide Offices: None
* Other service: Autocrat of five events: Summer’s End (1993), Collegium (1994), Christmas Tourney (1993, 1994) in Barony of the Flame, and Triskelion at Riverwatch (2004)

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The Riverwatch Contact Group, Dubuque, Iowa, 2003. Photo by Lord Gaston le Mieux.

Singing at Feast of Eagles 2017
Members of the Shire of Cum an Iolair singing at Feast of Eagles, 2017. Photo by Verla Herschell

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Roderick Noise Maker, HE Margaurite des Baux, and Ki no Kotori playing at the Cum an Iolair Christmas Party, 2018. Photo by Mistress Lilian Bowyer

Classes Taught:

* Basic Calligraphy: Carolingian, Insular Majuscule, Insular Minuscule, Half-Uncial, Shodo (many times)
* Scroll layout (many times)
* The Medieval Middle East (Collegium, Barony of the Flame, 1994)
* How to do Documentation (Riverwatch, 2002)
* T-Tunic Tutorial (Riverwatch, 2002, 2003)
* Let’s Renga! (Riverwatch, 2003)
* Let’s Tanka! (Riverwatch, 2004)
* Successful Event Planning (RUSH, Le Grande Tent, 2003; Flynthill 2005)
* Panel: Design Elements of 16th Century Japanese Clothing (Clothiers, 2017)
* Kosode Construction: Stitches, Tips, and Tricks (Clothiers, 2017)

Anglo-Normal Clothiers 2016
Displaying hand-made Anglo-Norman garb, Clothiers 2016. Photo by Verla Herschell.

Busted Lift
Gratitude Scroll for the Busted Lift, a pub that let the Riverwatch SCA contact group meet in their building. 2002. It was later destroyed in a fire at the bar.

Other Information:

* My SCA blog is Foxeholly
* Some Scribal Examples can be found here.
* Documentation for past projects:
* Song: The Iowegia Song 2003
* Akikawa Nikki (A Poetic Diary) 2005
* Notes from Successful! Event Planning (2005)
* Wimples and Zukin 2008
* 20 Poems from the Shōyōshū (小葉集 Small Leaf Collection) 2015
* Song: Kestrel’s Lullabye 2015
* Poems from Daisougen Nikki 大草原日記 The Great Prairie Diary 2016
* An Examination of Zukin 2016
* Kosode Construction: Stitches, Tricks, and Tips 2017
* Song: The Falcon’s Cry 2017
* Composing and Designing a Japanese SCA Scroll 2017
* Kotori no Uta Hyakushu 小鳥の歌百首 (A Little Bird’s Song 100-Poem Linked Sequence) 2018

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Calon Cross for Saito Takauji by Ki no Kotori (detail) 2017

Scroll: Calon Cross for Saito Takauji

So now that it has been handed out, here are pictures of the scroll that I was working on. The Calon Cross is a Grant of Arms (GOA) level award in Calontir (they do pre-prints for AOA level awards) and is given out for service. Uji is a friend, so I was very happy to be given this assignment.

The text says: That the loyal civil acts of Saito Takauji, for the Society, the Grand Council, and as Gold Falcon Herald are excellent and will be rewarded, is stated thus. We raise him to the Order of the Calon Cross.
Damien, King
Issabel, Queen
Year of the Society 52 year, 8 month, 26 day

Saito Takauji dono ha Shakai ya Dai hyougi-kai no chuusei koto to kintaka denreisha koto ga shinmyou, onjou no jou koto kuden.
Shin juujika gumi ni irareru.

Damien mikado heika
Issabel chuugu heika

Shakai gojuu ni nen hachigatsu nijuu roku nichi
斎藤高氏殿社会大評議会忠誠事金鷹伝令者事神妙可有恩賞之状如件
心十字架組入
ダアミエン帝陛下
イサベル中宮陛下
社会五十二年八月二十六日

The model I used was from the Documents of Iriki, 96-2, #83-C, from Kenmu 3, 8th month, 17th day (September 22, 1336), given to one Shibuya Shigekatsu by Ashikaga Takauji, the first Shogun of the Ashikaga line. I took some set phrases from it, and added what phrases were needed for this award. I had Foro Pallavincino (Baron Christoforo from Northshield, who has a degree in Japanese and lived there for a few years), look over my Japanese text and make suggestions, which I then modified a bit. It is all in kanji–the hiragana that would be used in particles were not usually written down in these documents. Ink on washi paper, pre-mounted scroll. The kanji is written in kaisho script (the original was in gyousho script, but I was going for clarity here). The painting is based on a portrait of the poet Ki no Tomonori (who bears an amazing resemblance to Uji!), done in the Nise-e style.

takauji_finished_scroll_detail

takauji_full_scroll

I definitely learned a lot while doing this scroll. There are some things (mainly in the brushwork) that I feel could be better, but the recipient was very happy, and that is what matters. I’m looking forward to tackling another design in the future.

The Falcon’s Cry

I wrote a new song, that I hope to debut at Feast of Eagles (if the Shire allows it). The tune is Palestinalied (12th century). Here is an example of the tune and original words.

The Falcon’s Cry
by Ki no Kotori

Calontiri, gather ‘round me
Tuck your tender tears away,
Battle calls, we must be ready
To march in and join the fray
Turn your eyes unto the sky
Listen for the falcon’s cry
Thus we live and thus we die

Fierce Huscarls, sharpen your axes
Gallant Fyrdmen, whet your swords
Knights, prepare your best advances
Courage brings its own rewards
For this green and fertile plain
That we may ne’er see again
Our lives will not be in vain

Riders, rally forth your horses
Archers, nock your arrows clean
Artisans, walk proud beside us
Hasten forward with our Queen
For our proud and gracious land
As one people now we stand
Waiting for our King’s command

Forward now, shoulder to shoulder
Lift your shield and set your spear
Though the enemy grows bolder
Their onslaught shall endeth here
Turn your eyes unto the sky
Listen for the falcon’s cry
Thus we live and thus we die

Just for fun, here’s a modern rendition of the original Palastinalied, by the band In Extremo:

On Recruitment in the SCA

I posted this in response to a discussion in the SCA FB group, and I thought I’d share it here as well. The question asked what people were doing to recruit/retain younger members into the SCA. Honestly, the question made me wince, because I think new members of any age have a lot to offer, but I tried to answer as best I could:

As a long-time member and former chatelaine, I would advise listening carefully to any newcomer (of any age!). There’s a time for introducing all the SCAdianisms to new folk, but first, find out what they want from the group, what they are looking for, what they need help with. Some areas are going to have more resources than others (speaking as one who has lived in large baronies and also in a small rural contact group), but do the best you can. Make sure new people know that the SCA is a large umbrella organization, and that there are a variety of ways to participate AND THEY ARE EQUALLY VALID.

For those who are interested in parties, direct them towards others who like that. Some people (like me) really came for the history. I have always enjoyed the courts and ceremonies and courtesies. The SCA is a great place to learn new skills and make new friends (especially if you have to move around a lot), and that is a good thing to emphasize to new people as well. Some of the things we teach for free or low cost are hugely expensive if you try to take a workshop outside the SCA.

Also, check in on the newer people from time to time to see how things are going, and listen to their worries. Sometimes you can help them, sometimes you can’t, but at least they know their opinion matters.

Listening is the key here.

Notes from Successful! Event Planning

Someone on FB was requesting copies of this handout from a class I taught several years ago. I’ve tried to update the information somewhat, but it’s probably a little flawed. However, some might find it useful. In the class, I had also handed out a few copied forms from “Autocratting 101: A Comprehensive Guide for Planning SCA Events” (Compleat Anachronist #113, Fall 2001), but as that is copyright material, I will not post those here. The pamphlet is still available from the SCA Publications Online Store and although it needs updating, still has some excellent advice and useful forms for groups planning an event.

You can find the handout here: Successful! Event Planning.

At the Turning of the Tide

It always amazes me how small things can just turn life on its side. In this case, this Costochondritis or whatever–life has been reduced to managing the pain and trying to get simple things around the house accomplished. One day I’m all ambition, going to do ALL THE THINGS!, and the next, I’m just trying to make it to the next minute. Life suddenly shrinks to simple daily needs.

I was hospitalized last Tuesday with severe chest pain and breathing problems. There were further complications when I had an allergic reaction to some medicine they gave me. I was released after a day, with a tentative diagnosis (Costochonritis–the inflammation in the joints between the cartilages that join the ribs to the breastbone), some pain pills, and instructions to follow up with my primary doctor for further testing next week. The pain is still there, but tests ruled out cardiac issues, so I got sent back home.

I should be grateful that this isn’t a heart problem, but OTOH, people are more understanding about a heart attack than about some weird-ass chest joint inflammation virus which just feels like a heart attack.

I’m seeing the doctor on Wednesday, probably for more testing to make absolutely sure this isn’t a kidney issue. The nurse said that this is physical therapy that can help and since I have decent insurance, I might give that a shot. I’ve had other issues in the past (usually injuries) that physical therapy has improved.

NEW!! EDIT: Doctor’s diagnosis is Tietze syndrome, which is Costochonritis’ mean cousin. The two are quite similar and both involve chest inflamation, but Tietze’s has some localized swelling as well. Further testing determined that this is NOT a kidney issue, for which I am grateful, but dang, I still hurt. I’m scheduled for Physical Therapy until this thing runs its course. Life’s going to slow down for a bit while I recover.

What gets me is that this pain which reduces me to tears and foul language is called “benign.” Supposedly, Costochondritis is usually caused by injury (a fall, a car accident, overtraining at the gym), but none of that applies to me. I walk a bit and swim about three times a week, being very careful NOT to push things because it’s easy to get injured when obese.

However, the doctor said it could also be a virus, which might make more sense, as I get all the weird ones. And somehow this ties in with anxiety, which yes, that definitely has been a big factor in my life lately.

Extremely depressed about all this. I felt like I was starting to make friends around here, make some progress, but now? Who knows? My biggest concern is stupid: I don’t know what to do about my new tent. Should I try to sell it? Should I just wait and hope things even out in the next year or so? First I suppose I need more information from the doctor. Besides, it is tough making good decisions while writhing in pain.

Anyway, hobbies are being shifted into low gear for the time being. I was already starting to pull back from my SCA-stuff because I know I will be needed down in Texas more due to my father’s illness. I can still do local things (and since we’re central, local includes several nearby groups), and keep playing with my little projects, but I’ll be more of a background presence. I’ve had to do this before (which no doubt explains my lack of awards) but real life comes first.

Incidentally, these kind of regular life mishaps are one of the reasons why I encourage SCA newbies to NOT focus on awards, peerages, and other such things. Life happens. To Everyone. To some of us, it happens a bit more. If you are in this hobby for more than a few years, there WILL be times you have to step away. Marriage, moves, new jobs or your current job gets busy. Money troubles come up. People have kids. Parents get sick and require care. That’s just how life works. And the SCA is a HOBBY. A game. And when Life gets Real, you put the game aside and deal with what you need to deal with. The game will still be there when you get back.

Unfortunately, the way the SCA works, there can be set-backs for stepping away. People forget you, they forget what you have done, no matter how hard you may have worked over the years. It is what it is, and honestly, most social hobbies are like that. Which is why I tell people to find what makes them happy in this hobby and cherish that aspect. There is so much to love about what we do, and those things will still be there when you come back.

As for me, I’m not leaving, but just slowing down for awhile. And don’t worry, still writing my poems and doing research!