Questions and Answers regarding Ælflæd's decision to become an Anchoress
I don't think these will have been "frequently asked" questions, because if I put the answer here after the first time, that should be plenty for anyone. The first few are direct from real e-mail exchanges with friends and the others are extrapolations or from later questions.
Q: What are you doing lately?
A: I'm working on a slight persona change. I've thought about it for years and years and even talked about it some, but having decided last August to be active again, and having nearly completed a year of serious and deep activity..., and finding that most of the good I did was done from my own home anyway, I've decided to be Ælflæd the Anchoress.
Q: Are you really a hermit? Even still? Have you cloistered yourself away in seclusion? I didn't think you were THAT religious. :)
A: Hey, I would be TOTALLY religious if I believed there was a God.
I think I want a plausible, focussed explanation for my pending decision to play SCA from home. Most of what I'm doing and what I have planned happens here anyway. I could still do the show'n'tell project I was planning for next winter's Wednesdays, and I could do philosophy discussions, without leaving the place here. And I really do want to focus more on writing and on getting more of that I have in the filing cabinets online where others can see it. I have lots of documents and notes on the history of the SCA and the Outlands and al-Barran. I have the only copies of some cool stuff, and I don't want to have kept it all these years for nothing. So there will be a kind of electronic scriptorium aspect to it too.
Q: What's an anchoress?
A: It's the feminine form of "anchorite." An anchoress was someone who applied for approval to park herself in one place and stay there for a long time, or life (depending). Sometimes the place was a small house in a churchyard. More often, I think, it was a room attached to a church (or a couple or three rooms) with a window to the inside of the church (for sacraments), one for food and that sort of thing (housekeeping) and one to the outside so visitors could come for counselling. Anchoresses were apart from the world, yet still part of the world. I'm collecting links and quotes about medieval anchoresses here.
Q: But what if you really want to go to an event?
A: There are accounts of anchoresses leaving for special occasions. It's not like prison. It's not like a magical enchantment. I wouldn't turn into a rat or a pumpkin. I won't become invisible. But hey, if I WERE to become invisible then it would be fun to go to events and sneak up on people.
Q: How will you keep in touch with people?
A: The window through which I'm communicating right now has been open for years. I have the same phone number since the late '70s. There are people in and out of the house every day. I have e-mail.
Q: Can you really play SCA without being at events?
A: That's a big question that would involve a lot of analysis of what and where the SCA is, and what participation means, and how events happen. Can someone really play SCA who only goes to events and doesn't do anything to prepare for them between times? (With support people such as myself, some do.)
The vast majority of what I've done for the SCA has been between and away from events, even when I was going to an event every weekend. The cooking, sewing, calligraphy, music learning, letter writing, gathering of dishes and candles and candle holders and making tents and researching all of the above plus games and stories and persona this'n'that—that happened at my house, at thrift stores, the flea market, the library.
I don't think just anyone could do it. I played pretty hard in person for many years, so I have experience and contacts, memories and souvenirs to surround and sustain me.