A Peer in the Time of the Plague

Five months ago I was recognized by Their Majesties of Atlantia, Anton & Luned, and the Order of the Pelican at Virtual Ymir: the Giant Sleeps. Despite almost half a year having passed, it still hasn’t quite sunk in that I am now a Peer of the Society; that all of my hard work over the years has been recognized.

The Pelican pin gifted me by my Grand Peer, Dame Rosalind Delamere, and her husband, Master Gaston Valmont.

From March 2020 – June 2021 the SCA existed in a restricted virtual environment due to COVID-19. Because of this, both my vigil and elevation took place online. It was very odd to experience this significant event that I had worked towards for years in quite limited company. Friends that I had imagined being present were unable to be there. People with whom I very much wanted to speak were not available. What should have been a momentous occasion in any SCAdian’s life turned out to be not only atypical but even a bit sad. And so, the recognition that I received seemed to happen almost within a vacuum.

Despite these unique circumstances, my Peer – Duchess Adelhait Fuchs – was able to fulfill almost every item on my “elevation wish list” and to provide me with an experience that was as close to what I wanted as possible given the nature of the event. For her time and efforts in this endeavor I will always remain truly grateful and forever feel fortunate to have been her student. And so while my vigil and elevation may not have been as I originally imagined, they were still fulfilling and special in their own ways.

For those who may be unfamiliar with SCA vigils and elevation ceremonies, the vigilant typically receives a number of gifts (often including regalia) to recognize the achievement of a new award and/or rank. I was incredibly humbled by the gifts that I received this day and will never have the words to express how much I appreciate the time and labor these amazing artists spent in making the regalia that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

For my vigil, I received a beautiful white dress in silk to wear as I contemplated joining the Order of the Pelican.

Mistress Clare de Crecy made my vigil dress in a gorgeous white silk, provided by my Peer, Duchess Adelhait Fuchs. Her Grace helped to dress me in this beautiful garment while my vigil was prepared.

Vadoma made the towel intended for my hand washing ceremony, while Lady Esa inghean Donnchaidh composed a beautiful text that was read by Her Grace.

Before being placed on my vigil, I had the privilege of hearing the words of a very dear friend, who wrote the following as a part of my hand washing ceremony:

“As you prepare to undertake this vigil in preparation for your elevation, let this water purify your hands and your heart while you consider. Let it not wash away the past, but rather, infuse the present with clarity.

Hear the words of your friends, your peers, and your Crown, and heed well their advice.

Remember that you are both being recognized for your service and also being asked to take up a new burden, one that carries the weight of many expections. Through meditative reflection during this night, may you find a contentment of spirit, a deepened self awareness, and steadfast confidence in your worthiness. Because you are worthy, my dear friend, and you are so very loved.”

The hand washing ceremony is performed prior to the vigil and symbolizes the start of a new journey as a Peer.

Sitting vigil while speaking to friends via Zoom.

The inside of my vigil tent. Beverages included!

I also received an amazing scroll in recognition of my achievement, and several items of regalia: a medallion and chain of state, a hood, and a cap of maintenance.

Lady Johanna le Paumer created both the calligraphy and illumination for my scroll. I’ve included a detailed description of the artwork and additional pictures at the bottom of this post.

Master Stephan Grimm made this amazing, custom medallion.

My Grand Peer, Dame Rosalind Delamere, sewed a hood in my heraldic colors and Mistress Hildegard Bergerin completed the embroidered Pelican.

Lord Cataldo Querini cast a chain of state in silver to accompany the medallion made by Master Grimm.

Lord Cataldo Querini also commissioned a Cap of Mantainence by Sartoria MonRo, an Italian maker of reenactment goods. Master Gaston Valmont generously offered his words on the history and meaning behind the cap as it was presented to me.

In addition to the gifts that I received, I was also honored by those worthies who spoke on my behalf as a part of my elevation ceremony: Duke Christoph Krieger from the Order of the Chivalry, Duchess Adelhait Fuchs from the Order of the Rose, Dame Rosalind Delamere from the Order of the Laurel, Master Stephan Grimm from the Order of the Pelican, and Master Raphael de la Rosa from the Order of Defense.

A masked selfie with my Peer, Her Grace Adelhait, right before my elevation in Royal Court.

After having months to reflect on this experience, I can now say that it truly served as a reminder of the greatness of the community within the SCA. And while this achievement was granted in recognition of my work, none of that would have been possible without the friendship and unwavering support of many other people over the years.

Without friends this game is simply not worth playing.

It is for them that I will endeavor each day to live up to the expectations and responsibilities that have been placed before me, by Their Majesties, and by the Order of the Pelican.

My Peerage Scroll

Calligraphy and Illumination by Lady Johanna le Paumer .

The Nine Worthies (originally depicted as men) were nine historical, scriptural, and legendary personages who personify the ideals of chivalry established in the Middle Ages, whose lives were deemed a valuable study for aspirants to chivalric status. It was a set list, featuring three Christian leaders, three Hebrew leaders, and three pagan leaders.

At some point in the 14th century, writers began to put together women counterparts. Originally, the Nine were all depicted as Amazon warriors, but over time the Lady Worthies also grouped into three Christian leaders, three Hebrew leaders, and three Pagans. The list wasn’t always set; the cast rotated depending on who was writing the text.

A close up of the scroll.
A close up of the nine worthies.

From left to right;

  1. Judith, who decapitated Holofernes (his head is displayed on her arms), the leader of an Assyrian army that occupied Israel.
  2. Jahel, who killed the commander of an enemy Canaanite army by hammering a tent peg (of which six are displayed on her arms) into his temple.
  3. Esther, who saved the Jewish people in exile from a plot to destroy them.
  4. Empress Matilda, (1102 – 1167), daughter of King Henry I, who initiated a war against her cousin, Stephen of Blois, after he usurped the throne.
  5. Johanna II, (1371 – 1435), Queen of Naples, who managed to re-establish herself as Queen after she had been imprisoned by her husband, James of Bourbon.
  6. Minerva, Roman equivalent to Athena, goddess of wisdom and strategic warfare, patron of craftsmen, who carries the Aegis.
  7. Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons.
  8. Penthesilea, an Amazon warrior who came to the aid of Hector at the siege of Troy.
  9. Isabel of Castile, [also known as Elizabeth I of Spain] (1451 – 1504), under whose rule Spain was united and the Emirate of Granada was conquered.

And, of course, the figure in the center is me – wearing my heraldic colors (purple and white) and badge (seven pointed star), with my Baronial coronet, a Pelican banner, and a cap of maintenance.

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14th Century English Noble woman with a passion for archery, embroidery, and service.

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