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.

SCA in the Time of COVID

A Review of 2020

As is the tradition of most humans, in January of 2020 I wrote out a list of goals for the year. I organized that list into four categories that were important to me at the time: personal, financial, health, and SCA. There was only one goal listed under the category of SCA: Take a break!

Pause for laughter.

Of course, I wrote that goal after the end of 2019 – the year in which I spent 75 of 365 days of the year either at an SCA event or travelling to/from an SCA event. Yes. Twenty percent of my year was spent outside of my home just attending SCA events… That’s not including the time spent at meetings and practices during the week. Or the time spent online during the day helping to coordinate a Royal Reign, or keep up with my duties as a Regional Officer, or organize my classes and volunteers as a member of Pennsic Staff. To call 2019 a busy year would be a bit of an understatement.

So yeah, I needed a break. And thanks to COVID-19, I certainly got one!

From the beginning of March through September of 2020, I didn’t do much. Events were cancelled and everyone in the SCA was struggling to adapt to a virtual environment. Fortunately, the Kingdom of Atlantia responded and evolved quickly. By the end of March, the Virtual Atlantia initiative had hit the ground running. Since then, there has been a plethora of online meetings, classes, events, and other gatherings available on a near daily basis.

Some members of the populace were able to jump into this new virtual SCA with both feet. Others needed a bit of time to adapt. I fell into the latter category since I was initially more preoccupied with a number of other changes that had taken place due to COVID. I transitioned to a full-time remote employee due to office closures and subsequently moved to a new area of Virginia (and a new local SCA group).

But by June I was getting back into the swing of SCA things, hosting a Regional Chatelains’ meeting for my local officers and attending the Summer session of the University of Atlantia. I was also getting ready to submit my letter of intent to serve as Kingdom Chatelain – a goal that I had been working toward for three years.

Happily, my letter of intent was accepted and I stepped up as a Kingdom Officer on September 19th. My break was over!

Testing out the camera prior to taking my virtual oath of fealty to the Crown as a Kingdom Officer.

Since September I’ve been finding my footing as a Great Officer of State (GOofS as they are called in the Atlantia) and as the Kingdom Chatelain. I meet with the other GOofS every two weeks, with my local Chatelains and Deputies once a month, and submit reports on a quarterly basis – all virtually, of course. I am fortunate to be able to work with an outstanding group of people who are all committed to keeping the populace engaged during this time when events cannot take place.

Goals for 2021

Now that I’m in my fourth month as Kingdom Chatelain and feeling more comfortable in this role, I’ve taken some time to write down my goals for the year of 2021.

I’ve decided to organize my goals in a similar way to how I organized my goals for 2019. Those goals were organized into three categories: For Myself, For Others, and New to Me. My goals for 2021 will be organized into three categories as well: For Me, For Others, and For Fun.

For Me

  • Update blog with posts about projects and events from 2019-2021
  • Commission scrolls for the three awards for which I did not receive scrolls
  • Complete five UFOs (unfinished objects)

For Others

  • Finish and gift Master Grimm’s Pelican cloak (write corresponding blog post)
  • Organize and support Pennsic Newcomer Activities as applicable (TBD due to COVID)
  • Continue with efforts as Kingdom Chatelain

For Fun

  • Attempt brewing again
  • Practice calligraphy – maybe even make a scroll!
  • Attempt silk banner painting again

When I organized my goals similarly in 2019, I was successful in completing everything in the category For Others. I was not so successful in the other categories. However, I think that due to the current hold on events through (at least) May 31, 2021, I will have more time to achieve the balance I am seeking.

A Review of 2019

On January 2nd – 322 days ago – I wrote a post outlining goals for the year of 2019. I opted to try a new goal setting format this year, breaking my goals down into three categories: things to do for myself, things to do for others, and new things to try – an activity to break me out of my comfort zone.

The year isn’t *quite* over, but since I won’t be attending any more garbed events until January I think now is a good time for a recap!

For Myself

❌Work to complete unfinished embroidery and sewing projects. Completing small tasks will give me a sense of achievement and motivate me to continue working on A&S projects.
✅Acknowledge that in the past, deadlines that were set to complete new garb were a source of stress. Plan future deadlines more carefully and/or commission or buy garb when possible in order to relieve that stress. Sometimes time is worth more than money.
❌Continue to update my blog with projects and event recaps.

For Others

✅Volunteer to help in the kitchen, serve, and/or wash dishes for any feast I attend.
✅Support my Peer, Her Highness Adelhait, & His Highness Christoph during their Reign as needed – retaining, donating largesse, etc.
✅Organize Pennsic Newcomers University Track & Newcomers Point

New to Me

❌ Make progress on learning to play a plucked/string instrument.
❌ Perform said instrument and/or sing at a bardic circle.
❌ Enter an A&S competition using a new skill. New skill still TBD.

In reflecting upon the goals that I was able to accomplish this year versus the goals that I was unable to accomplish, I can see that I fell victim to one of the classic blunders. While I didn’t get involved in a land war in Asia, I did underestimate the amount of time and effort that is required to support a Reign.

From the time that Duchess Adelhait and Duke Christoph stepped up as Their Royal Highnesses of Atlantia last November until the time they stepped down as King and Queen this past October, I attended 25 events. That list of events includes both Gulf Wars and Pennsic, which totaled three weeks of time. It’s also important to note that the majority of these events were not day trips, rather entire weekends – Friday through Sunday.

The effort required to attend this many events left me exhausted during the week. That exhaustion led me to spend my time resting and recovering, rather than working to complete embroidery projects or learning a new skill as I had intended at the start of this year.

It also does not escape my notice that while I was able to accomplish all of the goals assigned to the category of “For Others”, I was only able to accomplish one of the goals assigned to the categories for myself.

Despite that disparity between the categories, I learned a lot from this exercise. I gained a new perspective on the timing and effort of goals – “big” goals versus “small” goals – and I was able to recognize in myself the tendency to prioritize the needs of others over my own.

And so my goals for next year – 2020 – will focus on balance.

Stay tuned for a blog post in January with my goals for the next calendar year 🙂

Happy New Year!

Last week there was a post to the Kingdom of Atlantia Unofficial Discussion Group (Cheapside Tavern) on the Book of Faces. This post addressed setting goals within the SCA, breaking them down into the following categories: something we do for ourselves, something we do for others, and trying something new – something that will help us break out of our comfort zone.

I rather liked this idea. As I am a very goal oriented person, I decided to try setting my goals for 2019 using this format. I decided on three goals for each category. Here they are (in no particular order) with explanation as needed:

For Myself

  • Work to complete unfinished embroidery and sewing projects. Completing small tasks will give me a sense of achievement and motivate me to continue working on A&S projects.
  • Acknowledge that in the past, deadlines that were set to complete new garb were a source of stress. Plan future deadlines more carefully and/or commission or buy garb when possible in order to relieve that stress. Sometimes time is worth more than money.
  • Continue to update my blog with projects and event recaps.

For Others

  • Volunteer to help in the kitchen, serve, and/or wash dishes for any feast I attend.
  • Support my Peer, Her Highness Adelhait, & His Highness Christoph during their reign as needed – retaining, donating largesse, etc.
  • Organize Pennsic Newcomers University Track & Newcomers Point.

New to Me

  • Make progress on learning to play a plucked/string instrument.
  • Perform said instrument and/or sing at a bardic circle.
  • Enter an A&S competition using a new skill. New skill still TBD 🙂

In past years I have used the SMART criteria for goal-setting. While this method has been beneficial in other areas of my life, I found that setting hard deadlines for projects that were meant to be fun rarely worked well. Most of the goals I am setting this year are more broad and less time-related. I’m interested to see how well this format works!